The Tactical 30-30 Lever Action Rifle
Force On Force- Controversy?

True "COMBAT" Gun Safety

TSDGlock-3At the beginning of a class I usually draw my carry gun and hold it before the class (in a safe manner as possible with a real live gun) and ask them what this is for. Usually I get a plethora of bland, politically-correct answers. Occasionally a student answers correctly.


"Its for killing". 


Sporting purposes to the contrary, that is what they are for.  That is not good or bad, it just IS.  Think about it.  You point a pistol at a thug and yell for him to get away from you.  If he does, it is because he is afraid you will shoot, and likely kill him.

Firearms are weapons, and weapons are dangerous. If they were not they would be useless! Weapons, however, are really only tools, harmless and inert until touched by the hand of man.


Safety with firearms means that only the adversary (or the target on the firing range) is in danger of being shot. Absolutely no one and nothing else is in danger. This must be kept in proper context and perspective however. We are training for combat and that in itself is inherently dangerous.


To design a course or a weapon that was totally safe and had no element or possibility of danger would create a something that was functionally useless and which nobody would want any part of.


Safety with anything is a mental process, which must be learned and faithfully practiced to be effective. "Accidents" will still occur with guns that are intentionally made to be too safe to be of any tactical value. Inept and careless handling by people who lack the proper mind-set causes gun accidents.

Part of the Art of the Pistol involves the understanding of gun safety. Now there is an entire subculture that has grown around this issue of gun safety.  I offer this point of view.  I have read the Bible through several times and have yet to find anything in there relating to "Gun Safety".  Thus concepts about gun safety are the work of man, and thus open to reinterpretation and updating. So here is how we roll at Suarez International.

Rule One: Treat All guns as if they were loaded. Notice I did not say the traditional - All Guns Are Always Loaded, because truly they are not. Yet, guns are useless if they are not loaded. So we always begin with the assumption that they ARE loaded. When handling the piece in an administrative manner - we first check it to verify its condition and if necessary, we unload it. We always run a hot range. If you can't be trusted with a loaded gun why are you even in class?

Rule Two: Don’t be careless with your gun muzzle.  Notice we did not say, "Don't Let Your Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy". Why not?  Because your muzzle is ALWAYS covering something.  Even if your pistol is snug in its outside the waistband, IDPA approved, modern technique blessed, holster, you will still cover your leg everytime you draw.  Let's be real about it. 


“Define careless”, some would ask.  Careless is simply allowing the pistol to move in an uncontrolled manner.  We’ve all seen it at one time or another.  But again, let's keep it in context.  In some tactical situations, it is necessary to point the gun at someone who is presumed, but not yet confirmed, to be the adversary. Doing so is not a violation of Rule Two.   

Additionally, look at how you draw. Unless you are standing in a ballerina stance with your feet touching (hardly suitable for combat) you will sweep part of your leg every time you draw or holster. Don't argue! Look at your draw and see what I mean. 


Similarly, it may be necessary to sweep past your leg when drawing from a seated position, such as in a vehicle driver’s seat. This cannot be avoided without compromising your tactical safety, and is NOT a safety violation.  Do we change everything we do so that in no way shape or form does that muzzle cover anything at all? Hardly! We simply understand what we are doing, carry on, and stay alert.  Problems here can be prevented by observing rule three.


Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger, and indexed on the frame, until you’ve made a conscious decision to shoot. This is a last fail-safe method that prevents unintentional shots. Notice we did not say, "Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger 'Til Your Sights Are On The Target".  Why not?  Because our sights are not always on target when we need to shoot.  And yes, we teach point shooting alongside sighted fire.  When handling the pistol in administrative or tactical situations - keep the finger off the trigger. Simple enough and safe enough.


CQB-1What about the safety lever??


Often when we ask why we do something a certain way, we see the shrugging of shoulders and the wrinkling of brows, accompanied with the typical “I don’t know…we’ve always done it this way”. Usually this is tied to some meaningless administrative shuffling of papers, or distribution of memos on minutia. Sometimes, however, it is seen in the field of weaponcraft.


One example is the manipulation of the safety lever, or decocking levers on service pistols. Much of the current accepted practice on pistol deployment has come to us from the use and deployment of the 1911, as well as from military/police circles. Often we see “scary” gunhandling. Scary in the sense that the operator actually seems to be afraid of his cocked pistol. And from that apparent fear of the cocked weapon, we see premature safety engagement as well as premature decocking.


Look guys...gunfights are dangerous. Nothing can be done to make these events “safe”. We bring loaded and dangerous weapons such as pistols to these events to kill our adversaries before they can do likewise to us. With that in mind, we want to delete anything that detracts from that mission.

Premature engaging of safeties, or premature decocking diminishes our fighting capability. I once taught a tactics class to a group of 1911 users. This team had just returned from a very high dollar 1911 school. They were very anal retentive about, “On The Sights – Safety Off – Off The Sights – Safety On”, that I could track the team’s movement through the shoothouse by listening to the sound of their custom installed Extended and Enlarged Thumb Safeties engaging and disengaging. Moreover, as the heat got turned up several operators missed their safety levers because they had been engaged reflexively during tactical events.


Not good!
















The way I teach there are three safeties.


1). Your Brain, which is telling you to Shoot or Not Shoot, based on what you see. If your mind is not switched on and dialed in to the events around you, you have no business with a gun in your hand. Period.


2). Your educated trigger finger, which is indexed along the frame until the brain, decides to shoot or not to shoot.


3).  The mechanical safety/decocking lever (if present) – to be used just prior to holstering the weapon. Anytime the weapon is in hand, the safety should be disengaged. When you decide to relinquish control of the weapon to holster, then engage the safety. 

Witness the Glock pistol with which such a vast number of police, security professionals, and civilian defenders are armed with. Where is the safety/decocking lever? There isn't one, and all Glock shooters, by virtue of weapon design, operate using the methodology we described.  Is the Glock unsafe?  No.  So why would we consider a cocked an unlocked 1911 or a cocked Beretta 92 unsafe?  They are just as safe as a Glock pistol.


Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Do not shoot at a sound or a shadow, it might not be what you think. There is no greater tragedy than to realize that you've just shot a loved one by mistake. Almost as bad is to have shot an innocent stranger. Don't let this happen to you - be sure of your target. Be aware of what is beyond the object of your shooting.


But this doesn't mean you won't shoot if you have a poor background, just that you may need to change your positioning.


None of these rules are based on mechanical safety devices but rather on mind-set. Understand that you can try to make yourself so safe that you lose all combat utility whatsoever.  In my mind, many who aspire to the "scary gunhandling" school, have lost much of their combat utility...although they are very safe.  Don’t let that happen to you.


In the end,