31 Aug 99

During a Defensive Handgun Class we conducted on the West Coast last weekend, two students (out of eighteen) brought two-stage decocking pistols. One was a S&W 5916. The other was a Beretta 92F.

The student with the S&W pistol was a working police officer whose department is one of the very few who still requires the “sterile carry” mode of all its officers. That is, the department requires that all officers carry their S&W pistols with the decocking lever in the down position. This requires, of course, the lever be moved to the up position during the draw.

I’ve seen few students indeed who can perform that maneuver consistently. I’ve tried and am unable to. I can do it most of the time, but fumble it one time out of ten. In any event, this particular officer was extremely well practiced and was able to do it every time. I never observed him to fumble.

I asked him if all the officers on his department were as proficient as he was. He replied that, sadly, most weren’t and that their officers with small hands probably would never be able to do it no matter how much they practiced.

He personally disagrees with the sterile-carry policy, but has been unable to persuade the chief to consider other options.

The student with the Beretta also indicated that he carried it with the decocker in the down position. He, however, had obviously never practiced the draw, and fumbled or forgot time after time. Ultimately, he decided to abandon the sterile carry and elected to carry with the decocker in the up position.

For most people (including myself) I still don’t think the sterile-carry mode is a viable option. However, as I saw last weekend, it apparently can be done by some.