Ever Wonder Why Some Guns Don’t Have Safeties?

why dont handguns have safeties

As a gun owner, I’ve always fancied myself a safety nut so imagine my surprise when I received my Glock 23 and thought out loud if it is broken. Well, um, there’s no safety mechanism, I responded, to which I received a laugh and a yeah, it’s a ‘just don’t do anything stupid kinda gun and like me at this point, did you ever wonder why some guys don’t have safeties? 

Handguns don’t all have visible safety mechanisms. Some pistols like Glock have a long trigger pull and one or more internal safety mechanism that prevents accidental discharge or has a ‘cocked and locked’ option. Double action revolvers have a transfer bar or hammerlock preventing a discharge.  

Although the thought of not having a visible safety mechanism outside the gun could be nerve-wracking, guns are designed with safety in mind. Older revolvers had no such thing as a transfer bar, and the only safety you needed was not to pull the trigger at an inconvenient time. Let us look at gun safety more in-depth.

What Percentage Of Handguns Have A Safety?

The percentage of handguns with a safety mechanism is at least 99%. Like older revolvers and replicas of antique weapons that do not have any safety features, there are a few exceptions.

All modern handguns, whether revolver or semi-automatic pistol, must have some form of safety mechanism. This also includes a ‘drop safety,’ which needs a trigger to be pulled to discharge around. 

Ever Wonder Why Some Guns Don’t Have Safeties? 1

What Are The Different Safety Options On A Handgun?

Here are a few of the available safety mechanisms on modern handguns

  • Manual safety
  • Grip safety
  • De-cocker
  • Drop safety -Safety notch/Firing pin block/Hammer block/Transfer bar
  • Bolt interlocks and trigger disconnects
  • Magazine disconnects
  • Integrated trigger safeties
  • Loaded chamber indicator
  • Trigger disconnector

Other Types Of Safety 

Here are some other safety mechanisms on semi-automatic weapons;

  • Beretta 92F/FS – a stiff double-action trigger-pull with the safety off 
  • SIG Sauer P-series/Kel-Tec P-32 – a double-action with no external safety
  • M1911FN Five-seven – a crisp single-action trigger pull with a manual safety engaged 

The most prolific type of safety mechanism on semi-automatic firearms is the trigger-pull force that is usually greater than the norm on single-action weapons but less than what is required for a double-action trigger firearm. 

Which Handgun Has The Worst Safety Record?

Being one of the most popular handguns ever to be sold, the Glock 17 has gained an unfortunate reputation as the handgun with the most negligent discharges. This handgun is powerful and able to deliver 18 rounds in only nine seconds. 

The Glock has no external manual safety and requires a six-pound trigger pull to discharge a round. This is about half the pressure needed by other semi-automatics. This makes a street-loaded or one-up, unholstered Glock 17 a dangerous weapon. That being said, almost all the discharges were negligent and not accidental. 

Which Handguns Are The Safest?

The safest gun is the one that shoots when you pull the trigger, and only then. Any firearm is potentially secure. The main determining factors that come into play are negligence, inadequate gun safety protocols, poorly maintained firearms, and mixing alcohol and drugs when a gun is involved is a sure recipe for disaster. 

Some handguns that take safety to the next level are;

  • Beretta 98 FS
  • Beretta M9A3
  • Colt 1911
Ever Wonder Why Some Guns Don’t Have Safeties? 2

Why Do Handguns Not Have An External Safety Mechanism?

Almost every gun has a safety feature, even if it not external. Gun designers and manufacturers have free reign over what they produce so long as the gun passes the ATF safety requirements. 

The onus is solely on the gun owner to ensure safe and responsible handling once bought unless there is a visible manufacturing defect. 

So why are these guns allowed not to have external safety? As long as the firearms pass the ATF safety regulations and the manufacturer can prove that the weapon can be ‘made safe’ by other means without the external safety mechanisms, the gun is good to go. 

Are The Safety Mechanisms Fail-Safe?

There are safety mechanisms that are more fail-safe than others. As you pull the trigger, the hammer is brought down and springs forward to strike the firing pin. The mechanism that holds the hammer back can get worn out and fail, and then should the gun get dropped, and it could accidentally discharge. 

To prevent this from happening, mechanical safety can block the hammer from striking the firing pin. The purpose of a safety selector is the prevention of a mechanical malfunction. The safety selector is only needed if you carry a gun in a holster that exposes the trigger, and as you draw the weapon, the safety can be disengaged. 

Many handguns that have manual safety cannot be unloaded without the safety disengaged. The slide cannot be pulled back to eject the loaded round unless you disengage the safety first. Preventing the round from going off is the gun owner’s job. The purpose of manual safety is to avoid a discharge should the gun owner fall and knock the gun on the ground. 

What Are The Advantages of a Manual Safety?

Many gun owners feel safer if they have a gun with a manual safety mechanism. As far as safety goes, manual safety lends a lot of confidence to gun-owners carrying one in the chamber.

  • Manual safety acts as the first line of defense when possible mishandling occurs. 
  • Manual safety can prevent an accidental or negligent discharge when holstering or drawing a weapon.
  • If the gun is dropped by accident, manual safety can successfully prevent a discharge. 
  • Manual safety is also the last line of defense should you or somebody inadvertently grabs the trigger.

*Handy Tip – Even with the manual safety on, never reach for a gun should it fall. 

What Are The Advantages of Firearms With No Manual Safety?

Guns with no apparent manual safety mechanism are not a new phenomenon. The double-action snub nose or pocket guns used in the previous century did not have manual safeties either. All modern semi-automatic handguns are safe when handled properly and are holstered with the trigger guarded. 

  • They are straightforward to use
  • The gun discharges when you pull the trigger. 
  • You do not need to fumble to disengage a safety switch in a critical situation. 
  • The trigger pull weight is set higher. 


All handguns have a form of safety mechanism, and some are visible on the external body of the gun while mostly, the safety measures are internal. The most significant safety for any firearm is a well-trained, responsible gun owner.

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