3 Feb 12

“It’s not occasional ‘great shots’ that save you. It’s persistent ‘little mistakes’ that kill you”

Hubert “Hubey” Green

“Safety” and “Readiness”

With serious guns, “safety” and “readiness” are mutually antagonistic. The more ready the gun, the less safe. The more safe, the less ready. Genuine Operators thus have choices to make, none of which will ever be perfect. Guns that are acutely ready are acutely dangerous. Conversely, guns that are perfectly safe are perfectly useless!

Happily, our current generation of serious pistols is a product of centuries of user-experience, good and bad, and are thus designed and manufactured so that a reasonable compromise is readily attainable for most, under most circumstances. When there are accidents with guns, robot-like, the naive invariably blame the gun. However, I’ve been involved in many of these cases, and continue to be involved as I write this, and I can say with a high degree of confidence that a genuinely “defective” gun, that is: (1) a gun with a bona-fide manufacturing defect, or (2) one that, by virtue of its very design, in “inherently” defective, is rare indeed. Nearly unheard-of with modern, reputable firearms.

However, this integral safety/readiness conflict, with the assistance of persistent myths and fables, has often generated unwise habits among the naive: (1) those who endlessly talk about guns, but don’t actually carry one, and even (2) those who actively compete in shooting ‘sports,’ but (you guessed it!), don’t personally carry a gun in public. For aspiring Operators (who do!), such foolish habits are ill-advised, sometimes deadly!

For example, the “empty-chamber” carry mode.

At the SHOT Show last month, I heard a representative of a major gun-manufacturer say to an attendee, “Oh, I never carry my pistol with a round chambered. It’s too dangerous!” The naive attendee nodded his callow head in approval! I seriously doubt that this particular gun-company employee actually carries a gun at all, in any condition, nor ever has. He assuredly wasn’t at the time. It is disturbing indeed to hear such blatant ignorance coming from the mouth of someone who works for a gun company. Carried with an empty chamber, most modern autoloading pistols are not one bit “safer” than if a live round were in the chamber, but they are a good deal less useful.

The vast majority of modern, autoloading pistols are designed and manufactured to be mechanically “drop-safe.” That is, no external blow to the pistol, no matter the severity, will cause the pistol to discharge. Putting continuous pressure on the trigger is the sole method for persuading these weapons to fire. On most pistols currently manufactured, five to seven pounds of trigger resistance is considered about right for most users, under most serious circumstances. Heaver triggers make it difficult to shoot the pistol quickly, with sufficient accuracy. Lighter triggers make it too likely the pistol will discharge as a result of unintentional/inadvertent contact of a finger with the trigger. Again, most of us think five to seven pounds makes a reasonable compromise between safety and speed.

When the pistol is thus fully seated within a suitable holster, the entire trigger-guard will be enclosed, and the trigger thus inaccessible to fingers and other objects. So, when a loaded pistol is holstered, it is, by definition, inert. It cannot fire, and is thus safe to carry as one goes about his daily duties, regardless of what they entail. Even when you fall off a cliff, drop one thousand feet, and land on concrete, you’ll be dead of course, but your pistol will still be in the holster, unfired!

So, what is the advantage associated with carrying such a pistol, in a holster, with the chamber empty?


The “empty-chamber-carry” method provides the user with no “safety” advantage, but it makes the pistol a good deal less useful, as noted above.

So, why do certain people still insist on carrying that way?

They are willfully, arrogantly naive and impervious to logic, even when their very lives are in the balance. They probably shouldn’t own a gun, nor anything else dangerous!

Other bad habits include “prepping” the trigger, that is, starting pressure on the trigger at a point in your draw well before the pistol’s sights are anywhere near to being on target. This, of course, makes aborting a shot at the last instant nearly impossible.

Another is the persistent handling of “empty” guns in a careless, inattentive manner. When you have “safe” guns and “dangerous” guns in your life, sooner or later you’ll get them mixed in with each other!

Once again, when you carry and handle serious guns every day, for serious purposes, none of the foregoing bad habits have any place in your life.

As we all know, and even talk about (albeit in whispers), all of Western Civilization is in a downward spiral. The future will hold a place for only two kinds of people, the “quick” and the “dead.” The “stupid” will be conspicuous only by virtue of their absence!

As I’m sometimes compelled to remind my students:

Get serious, or get out!