Some guns come with manual safeties and some do not. Most long guns come with a manual safety and handguns are almost split down the middle 50/50. But why, and do you really need the safety on your gun? And should you use it if it’s there?
First, let’s talk about long guns, rifles and shotguns. Yes, you should use your safety on your long gun almost all the time, especially when moving. With an AR style rifle, I think the only time to have the safety off is when you are firing the weapon. The safety is so easy to flip on and off there is no reason not to use it. With other long guns, the safety can be a pain. But you should use it when moving. The problem with long guns is that they are long (obviously). Because of the length, they are harder to control. When moving around, it’s too easy to bump them on something or get the end caught on something and have the rifle move unexpectedly and be out of your control for a split second. When the long gun moves out of your control the trigger could easily get caught on something and discharge the weapon. The gun doesn’t know the difference between you pulling the trigger and that branch you just got caught on pulling the trigger. Since you don’t have complete control of the long gun at that point, the muzzle could be pointed in an unsafe direction.
I know this is splitting hairs, and the possibility is slim, but you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your firearm, on purpose or by accident. Since this simple accident could kill someone else, we, as responsible gun owners, should take precautions to eliminate this possibility. The easiest way is to use the safety on the gun. If you can’t operate the safety efficiently or effectively on the gun you have, I suggest using or getting another gun. There are so many good guns out there that it’s easy to find another one. I’m fond of the safety design on the Savages and Winchester actions for hunting rifles and love the safety design on an AR. I wish every rifle and shotgun would have a thumb safety designed like an AR.
Handguns are a different story. Because they are smaller and lighter, you can move around with a minimal amount of danger with the weapon not on safe. The danger of you getting it caught on something and having it discharge is substantially less. But why do some handguns have safeties and some don’t? Personal preference is the simple answer. I like handguns with manual safeties. It gives me that extra layer of safety if for some crazy reason I screw everything else up. Right now, I’m carrying a Glock 19 that has no manual safety. It’s perfectly safe. The weapon won’t go off unless something pulls the trigger. I just like the idea of an on/off switch.
I do think a pistol with a safety should be carried with the safety on, for the simple reason that Murphy’s Law is always with us. If you carry a handgun with a manual safety, but never use it, somehow, in the worst possible moment, that safety will get flipped on and you won’t know how to take it off. If you have a gun with a manual safety, consider using it all the time. When the handgun comes out of the holster, the safety comes off. When you are done and just before you put it away, the safety goes back on.
It sounds pretty easy, but you should see how much work it takes to get used to that simple act. I suggest that you buy the gun that you want to use. If you don’t want a safety, don’t buy a gun with a manual safety. There are so many good guns out there today, that you can latterly have it like Burger King; “Your Way!” Pick a gun that you want to use and train with it. If you have a manual safety, learn to use to it.