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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2010 - Page 40

Clint Smith REALITYCHECK TM FIRST-PERSON THOUGHTS ON SURVIVING IN THE REAL WORLD Safety Stuff s the 100-year mark approaches for the 1911, the bugs from both sides of the aisle will crawl out to praise or punish the old warhorse. On a personal note, I’ve shot 1911s for over 40 years. One of the single biggest flaws about the pistol is not the pistol itself — but the way the pistol is handled. An especially egregious error is running the gun with your thumb under the safety. Some competition experts will admit they shoot the pistol with a thumb under the safety, and I can think of a people I have had in classes — including world-class competitors — who have accidentally snicked the safety on doing that very thing. So there’s no misunderstanding, the correct way to use the 1911 is with the thumb on top of the safety for all actions, except the brief moment you’re engaging the safety. I advocate if you are not going to leave your thumb on top of the safety, then simply get another gun like the XD, M&P or Glock — A which can all be good choices — but are sans-thumb safety. The single-side safety works best, and with modest practice can be operated with either hand. This practice is no big deal, as I would practice the same skill-gathering tasks if I were using a Glock or whatever — only with the 1911 you need to remember the safety too. Ambi-safeties are really good for left-handed people and probably appropriate for the other-sided people on the planet. The enlarged, ambi-safety was driven by competition in the mid- to late-1970s. I tried them for a bit for competition, but not able to afford a match gun and a street gun I had to use my duty 1911. Carrying a 1911 on the street I quickly learned to “check” the status of the safety while carried exposed in a Sam Browne rig. It was not unusual to find the ambi-safety “knocked” off in the holster after physical activity. I tossed the ambi-safety and went to single-side format simply practiced with it. Random ThoughTs have used a standard sized 1911 safety with great success for decades. The problem with bigger levers is the bigger they are, the easier they get knocked off, in more ways than one. An adaptation for small hands is the lowered safety lever I first saw at Gunsite, although I don’t know if they are the actual inventors. They are clearly promoters of the part and the concept, which does work for people with smaller hands. Mine is a simple world, with regards to firearms and safeties. I don’t use a firearm to intimidate or threaten people. If I go on a target the safety is off, and my finger is on the trigger and I plan to shoot. Whether or not I shoot is based on what the threat does. My actions are already in place and from this point forward the only variable is the threat and their actions. They will determine what happens next. The standard single-side small safety often works well. Don’t fix stuff that ain’t broken? I A modern fighting pistol if there ever was one, this Guncrafter 1911 American Model wears an oversized ambi-safety. The “lowered” safety is good for small hands and to assure the grip safety is unlocked while firing. The Other Safety he safety between your ears, attached to your trigger finger is the ultimate safety. Yet, there are constant “accidents” with firearms. I consider firearm handling to be a constant on-going test, with the person handling the firearm always trying to get a score of 100 percent or zero percent, depending on how you count. For instance, I just taught at a SWAT conference and one of the SWAT officers shot himself in the leg with his pistol, while staying at the Holiday Inn. so let’s try this again: 1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded. 2. Do not point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and willing to shoot. 4. Be sure of your target and backstop. So the cop gets +75 percent or -75 percent on the test because he could not have shot himself without getting at least three out of four safety rules wrong. The excuse most often heard is: “The gun just went off by itself, my finger wasn’t on the trigger.” Okay, so if we believe that miracle, then the gun was loaded, the muzzle pointed at something he didn’t want to shoot, oh, and the target and backstop was his leg. Looks like at least three outta’ four violations there. Possession does not equate to competency. Most people probably don’t need an extended-anything on a pistol control. And, most of us could use a dose of reality check in regards to gun handling skills. Most of us need to remember we can be accidentally killed by family, friends or working partners. Firearms and their possession require a change of lifestyle and an epic consideration of how a mishandled firearm can cause a change to our lives, which we can never do over or recover from. T * Handle safely. Shoot safely. Think safely. Live safely. 40 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2010

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