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Glock pistols lack manual or external safeties that you engage and disengage with your firing thumb. This has led some gun owners to question whether Glock pistols have safeties or question their safety altogether. Glock pistols do have safety systems in place to ensure the weapon remains safe to carry, provided that you do your part. Find out what these are and how they work.
Do Glocks Have Safeties?
When the Glock series of semi-automatic pistols debuted in the early 1980s, it entered a saturated market of hammer-fired double-action/single-action and single-action-only handguns. In several DA/SA pistol designs, you engage a manual safety or decocking lever to render the weapon safe to carry.
The Glock was relatively unique at the time—no external safety levers to mess with. This design decision led some shooters to brand Glock pistols as less safe to carry or fire.
Glock Safe Action System
In 1982, when the Austrian Army adopted the Glock P80, its primary competitors used one of the following systems:
1. Manual safety/decocking lever — DA/SA
In some pistols, such as the Beretta 92 series, engaging the safety lever simultaneously decocks the hammer. This means that the first shot will be double action — i.e., a relatively long and heavy trigger stroke — while subsequent shots will be single action — i.e., short and light. In the SIG P220 series, this is simply a decocking lever — you’re able to squeeze the trigger and fire the pistol at any time.
2. Manual safety — SAO
In the Browning-designed M1911 and Hi-Power (P35) handguns, you engage a manual safety when the hammer is cocked. In this condition of readiness, called cocked and locked or Condition One, you must disengage the manual safety lever to fire the pistol. Some DA/SA handguns, such as the CZ 75 and Heckler & Koch USP, also allow this function.
The Glock series of semi-automatic pistols features Glock’s Safe Action System and a loaded chamber indicator. The Safe Action System comprises three passive safeties. These are:
1. Trigger Safety
The first Glock safety that you will interact with is the trigger safety, which takes the form of a spring-loaded lever located in the center of the trigger. When the trigger safety is engaged, it prevents the trigger from moving. When you squeeze the trigger, you depress this lever. When the lever rotates flush with the face of the trigger, it allows you to complete the trigger stroke, firing the pistol.
2. Firing Pin Safety
The firing pin safety consists of a spring-loaded plunger that prevents the firing pin from moving forward unless you squeeze the trigger deliberately. When you squeeze the trigger, a lobe on the trigger bar raises the firing pin safety, allowing the firing pin to move forward, striking the primer in the cartridge.
3. Drop Safety
Dropping a handgun isn’t strictly a sign of negligence. However, in some handgun designs, the sudden impact of the gun hitting a hard surface can cause the cocked hammer or striker to release, firing the chambered cartridge unintentionally.
In this Glock safety, the trigger bar sits on the safety ramp. When you squeeze the trigger, the trigger bar interfaces with the rear part of the firing pin, lowering the safety ramp and allowing the firing pin to move forward.
The firing pin and drop safeties work together to ensure that the gun won’t fire if you drop it on a hard, flat surface, whether on its muzzle or side. You must deliberately squeeze the trigger to disengage both internal safeties.
When the trigger is released, these three passive safety will reset and re-engage.
Loaded Chamber Indicator
The extractor doubles as a loaded chamber indicator. When there’s a round in the chamber, it causes the extractor to protrude from the slide, providing visual and tactile confirmation of the chamber’s loaded status.
Some shooters regard loaded chamber indicators as superfluous. It’s true that a loaded chamber indicator is no substitute for treating all guns as loaded and clearing your firearm when you handle it, but for those who are more experienced, it may be a welcome addition.
It’s worth emphasizing that firearms safety is about cultivating a vigilant mindset and adhering to rules regarding the handling of firearms. The passive safety systems that exist in Glock firearms are useful, but they’re no substitute for repeatedly checking the loaded status of your weapon and practicing consistent muzzle awareness and trigger discipline.
In the hands of an experienced shooter, Glock handguns are no less safe than any other type of weapon. In the hands of the reckless and irresponsible, firearms are a dangerous nuisance in general. Glock pistols are not unique in this regard.
As the Glock’s primary safety is the trigger safety, holstering a Glock pistol can pose a risk if loose fabric or cloth enters the trigger guard on the downward stroke. If you’re concerned about the risk of an unintentional discharge during the holstering process, pay careful attention to how you holster your firearm.
You should always return your Glock to its holster smoothly and consciously — this can be a dangerous act with any gun if you’re not mindful of your actions.
Consider choosing a holster that remains open when empty and retains its shape. Stiff leather or Kydex should serve this purpose.
A Word on Manual Safeties
Glock pistols don’t typically have manual safety levers — Glock’s MHS entry notwithstanding.
While the passive safeties that Glock handguns feature are perfectly adequate for rendering them safe to handle and carry, some shooters find that they would prefer to disengage a manual safety lever as they draw their pistol.
This may be due to having experience with the M1911 pattern, which can be carried cocked and locked, or a DA/SA pistol. Ultimately, what matters is your peace of mind; therefore, you should choose the type of handgun you’re most comfortable carrying or keeping in your home. You should, however, consider Glock handguns and experiment with them if you have the opportunity.
Glock handguns are perfectly safe to handle, carry, and fire if you diligently observe firearms-safety rules. If you’re unsafe with firearms, you won’t be any safer or more dangerous with a Glock.