Know Your Weapons: Manual Safeties

John Farnam over at DTI Sends.

24 Mar 20

Manual Safeties:

Manually-operated “safety” levers and buttons were not found on military rifles of the 1800s and early 1900s.

Since military doctrine of the era dictated that rifles were not to be fired, absent direct command, they were typically carried with an empty chamber and loaded only just prior to being fired. That made some sense, because rifles were (and still are) carried for the purpose of effectively dealing with expected threats.

A manual “safety” lever on rifles of the era was considered unnecessary, a nonessential add-on.

This would change with the development of self-loading rifles, box magazines, and individual initiative on the part of soldiers!

Self-loading pistols came into American military service in the early 1900s (replacing a hodgepodge of revolvers) and into American domestic police service in the 1970s (also displacing various revolvers common to the era).

In the beginning, most autoloading pistols came with some kind of manual safety, but were still carried with the chamber empty, on the theory that the slide could be manipulated as the weapon was drawn, thus enabling the soldier to fire more or less immediately.

As with sights, most early autoloading pistols had manual safeties that were, for all practical purposes, unusable!

Since the pistol was (and still is) carried as a way of effectively dealing with unexpected threats, an ability to get it into action quickly always enjoyed a high priority (and still does).

As what would ultimately become the 1911 pistol was under development in America during the first decade of the Twentieth Century, it was the Cavalry who stepped forward and challenged what had been common thinking about military pistols up until that time.

At the Cavalry’s insistence, a “grip-safety” was added!

When mounted on a horse, one has to learn pretty quickly to do everything that needs to be done, one handed!

Thus, Cavalry officers explained that their troopers needed to carry the pistol with a round chambered, so that two hands were not necessary to get it running.

They were accustomed to using revolvers, which they could draw, fire, and subsequently reholster, all using only one hand, and they had no intention of giving-up that capability.

Cavalry troopers knew that, after firing several shots from their 1911 pistol from horseback (one-handed), and then having to reholster the pistol quickly (again, one-handed and with the hammer remaining in full-cock), a grip-safety would be a necessity for making this procedure reasonably safe.

Understanding their logic, Browning and his team added the grip-safety

On the final version of the 1911, a two-position, manual safety was also added, almost as an after-thought!

Many at the time considered it unnecessary.

Today, ascendants of the Colt/Browning 1911 “tilt-barrel” system include just about all modern defensive pistols, and some that still have grip-safeties.

But most don’t, employing a “trigger-tab-safety” instead.

Some pistols have both!

Grip-safeties and trigger-tab-safeties are both “passive.” That means the shooter physically operates them, but not consciously.

“Manual” safety levers and buttons are designed and intended to be operated as a result of a conscious decision, and physical action, on the part of the shooter.

Most modern pistols don’t have manual safeties.

Some manufacturers offer identical copies of their pistols, with or without a manual safety, at the purchaser’s choice.

Most modern Operators, including me, consider a manual safety on a modern pistol to be a gratuitous, and annoying, redundancy.

But, not all agree!

Passive safeties as currently available generally do not interfere with the correct operation of the pistol.

What we all need to keep in mind is that a pistol carried on the person (on horseback or not) is an item of emergency, safety equipment. We carry them as a way to effectively deal with unexpected threats, as has always been the case.

When your option for equipment, and/or methods, compromises that critical capability, you need to rethink your choices, while you still can!

“Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”



Firearms History: Thompson Submachine Gun, .30 Caliber Prototype

A Tale of Two Histories: Thompson Submachine Gun, .30-Caliber Prototype


It never ceases to amaze me at the different types of proto-types the U.S Military tried out.


Know Your Weapons: Hungarian 44M “Mace Thrower”

Hungarian Army: 44M “Mace Thrower”


I am always interested in Partisan warfare and weaponry and this one is amazing.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!


Schouboe Automatic Pistol

Know Your Weapons.

Fascinating piece of Danish engineering!


In 1903, Danish engineer Jens Schouboe began developing an automatic pistol for the Dansk Rekylriffel Syndikat in Copenhagen (later to become the Madsen company). He made the guns in both .32ACP and also in a proprietary Danish .45 caliber based (I believe) on the centerfire conversion of Denmark’s 1867 pinfire revolver. The .45 cartridge used […]

via Schouboe Automatic Pistol — VikingLifeBlog

Know Your Weapons History: Oliver Winchester

Oliver Winchester was born in Boston, on November 30, 1810. He started his career with a clothing company based out of New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. After successfully running this aspect of his business, Winchester began to look for new opportunities. Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (yes, that “Smith & Wesson” who later formed the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company) acquired and improved a rifle design with the help of shop foreman, Benjamin Tyler Henry. Talk about a genius cluster! In 1855, they began to manufacture what would be known as the “Volcanic” lever-action rifle. The company would become incorporated as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company; its largest stockholder was Oliver Winchester.

After limited success with this new rifle, Winchester seized the opportunity to take control over the failing company and renamed it the New Haven Arms Company. Although initial returns were slow, Benjamin Henry, the company’s leading engineer, improved the Volcanic repeating rifle’s design by enlarging the frame and magazine to accommodate the all-new brass cased .44 caliber cartridge. This ingenuity put the company on the map, and in 1860, the patent for the infamous Henry rifle was issued. The next  six years of production produced over 12,000 Henry, many of which were used in the Civil War. In the following months, Benjamin Henry, angered over what he believed was inadequate compensation, filed a lawsuit for ownership of the company. Oliver Winchester hastenly reorganized the company as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to circumvent this issue. 

The Model 1866 soon rolled out as the first Winchester rifle. Based on the Henry rifle, it came with an improved magazine and a wooden forend. In the following years, larger caliber rifles such as the infamous Model 1873, “The Gun That Won The West”, brought more notoriety and foundation to the company. Although Mr. Winchester would miss the opportunity to see his company’s greatest achievements; he passed away in December of 1880. 

Winchester Repeating Arms Company’s collaboration with John Browning brought about much success with a host of shotguns, including the still produced Model 1885. The turn of the 20th century hosted a series of new arms developments, many from the top engineer at the time, T.C. Johnson. But it was the start of the First World War that set development and production requirements into full force. The company became a major producer of the .30-06 M1917 Enfield rifle for the United States military, and worked once more with Browning to develop the .50 caliber BMG.


During the war, the company borrowed heavily to finance the expansion. In an attempt to pay down its debt following the war’s end, they used their surplus production capacity to manufacture consumer goods such as kitchen knives, roller skates, and refrigerators. The strategy was a failure, and the Great Depression sent the company into bankruptcy. John M. Olin’s Western Cartridge Company purchased the Winchester Repeating Arms Company at auction in 1931, with plans to restore the brand to its former glory. The Second World War helped this cause tremendously as Winchester produced the U.S. M1 Carbine and the M1 Garand rifle during this time period. 

Over the following decades, the Olin Winchester-Western division struggled with rising labor costs and other companies’ cast-and-stamped production methods. By 1980, Olin decided to sell the company back to its employees, which re-incorporated as the U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Olin retained the Winchester ammunition business. U.S. Repeating Arms went bankrupt in 1989, and after a number of sellouts to forgien holdings companies, the New Haven plant closed its doors on January 16, 2006, after 140 years of producing rifles and shotguns. 

In August of 2006, Olin Corporation, owner of Winchester trademarks, entered a new license deal with Browning to make Winchester brand rifles and shotguns once again. The Model 1885, Model 1892, and Model 1886 are all produced by Miroku Corporation of Japan, then imported to the U.S. by Browning. Currently, Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (FN) makes the remainder of Winchester’s rifle and shotgun lineup in various locations around Europe.

Winchester-branded ammunition continues to be produced by the Olin Corporation. Some of the most successful cartridges ever invented have been under the Winchester name: the .44-40 WCF, the .30-30 WCF, the .32 Winchester Special, the .50 BMG, the .270 Winchester, the .308 Winchester (the commercial version of the 7.62x51mm NATO), the .243 Winchester, the .22 WMR (aka the .22 Magnum), and the .300 Winchester Magnum. In North America, the .30-30 and .308 Winchester are some of the best selling cartridges in firearm history. 

Through its history, the Winchester name has experienced great successes and significant failures; but it’s truly an important story to know in the realm of firearms. Here’s to the man that started it all, happy birthday to Mr. Oliver Winchester.

I want to give a shout out to my friends over at for this awesome write-up!

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Know Your Weapons: History of the Mosin-Nagant Rifle

History of the Mosin Nagant Rifle


One of the first model of C/R Rifles I bought was the Mosin Nagant (Primarily because back then they were cheap!)

I bought a M91/30 and a M44 Fire Breathing Dragon Beast.

I Fell in love instantly.