Glocks Don’t Have Safeties, and It Makes Them Safer.

Gaston Glock introduced the Glock 17 in 1982 and it has since become one of the most popular pistols ever made. The Glock 17 lacks a manual safety which the shooter disengages with their thumb. This has greatly added to their acceptance in the shooting world and for good reason.

A loaded Glock pistol is designed to shoot every time the trigger is pulled. It has no mechanical safety device. An armed person in harm’s way is safest when they can deploy their weapon quickly and effectively. The lack of a manually disengaged safety doesn’t make a Glock less safe.

To be clear, Glocks do have safety features built into them. But, every single one of them is disengaged when the trigger is pulled. Glock pistols were smartly designed to be ready to shoot with only one action from the shooter.

What is a Traditional Safety?

First and foremost, the best safety is between the shooter’s ears. There are obvious reasons why individuals new to firearms are taught basic rules such as only putting their finger on the trigger when they intend to shoot, or keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction.

But, life is not perfect and mechanical aids that promote gun safety are a welcome addition.

Semi-automatic pistols have, over the years, employed a number of devices that assist the shooter in avoiding a negligent discharge. The most popular is a 1911-style safety which is traditionally mounted on the left side of the pistol’s frame and is operated with a right-handed shooter’s thumb.

When engaged, the slide cannot move and the hammer cannot be released.

Another less common feature is the 1911 grip safety. Found on the back of the grip, this safety prevents the hammer from being released unless it is depressed into the frame of the pistol.

Double-action / single-action pistols, such as the Beretta 92, employ the trigger weight added by cocking the hammer as a safety, but only on the first shot. This form of safety does not factor into any shot taken while the hammer is cocked.

A de-cocker, which is common on DA/SA handguns, will drop the hammer to the down position without firing the weapon, even if the chamber is loaded. Some de-cockers will remain in the down position and function as a safety, while others return to their original position and will not.

Glocks are Designed without these Safeties

For one reason or another, Glock handguns do not feature the above safeties, with one possible exception. The reason for some of these safeties not being present is clear, others being excluded is a design choice.

The most obvious exclusion, that of a de-cocker, is because it would render the pistol inoperable without at least partially racking the slide. This is because Glock handguns, and almost all striker-fired guns, do not have a second-strike capability.

If that makes you dislike them, I’ll remind you that virtually all rifles and shotguns lack this ability as well.

Grip safeties have almost always remained on 1911-style pistols, and only one product line of striker-fired handguns features them. The grip safety did exist when Glocks were first designed, but it the standard for non-1911 pistols to forego their use.

Glocks do, to an extent, use trigger pull weight as a safety. A Glock pistol can be modified to have a very light trigger with minimal take-up. They are sometimes modified in this manner by competitive shooters. But the modifications are not recommended for concealment or service pistols.

The biggest exclusion is that of the frame or slide-mounted safety. On a Glock, if the gun is loaded, the trigger is ready to be pulled.

Addition Through Subtraction

The advantage of having no devices which keep the shooter from pulling the trigger is that the pistol is ready to shoot with minimal manipulation. There is nothing for the shooter to forget to push down, or up. There is also nothing for the shooter to accidentally activate while handling the slide during a reload.

After the first shot is fired, there is no difference in trigger pull for subsequent shots, and every safety feature a Glock uses will automatically reset. In a stressful situation, having a pistol that manages many of the fine details itself is a blessing.

A life situation that almost all of us are familiar with is having a motor vehicle not respond to input. Be it sliding on ice, hydroplaning, or an uncontrolled skid, it’s a terrible feeling. The feeling of having a gun not fire when you expect it to fire is much the same.

By omitting some of the traditional safeties, and replacing them with others, Glock has significantly reduced the chance of this happening. This is especially important for people who do not regularly practice but still choose to arm themselves.

Glocks Don’t Have Mechanical Safeties, But The Trigger Acts As One

The most iconic safety that Glock pistols feature is the one on the trigger. The trigger has an insert that keeps the pistol from firing unless it is depressed by pulling the trigger directly backward and with pressure across the middle portion.

If the shooter pulls the trigger directly back, the insert slides into the trigger and the gun will fire. If pressure is applied to the side or edge of the trigger but does not depress the insert, the gun will not fire. The insert automatically resets when the finger is taken off the trigger.

This style of trigger safety has become so popular it is nearly universally featured on striker-fired pistols and is even used on some hammer-fire ones as well.

Glock pistols incorporate two internal safeties which also prevent the gun from firing unless the trigger is pulled. These are the firing pin safety and the drop safety. These internal safeties protect against a negligent discharge should the gun be dropped or if it receives some kind of physical shock.

When the trigger is pulled, these safeties will disengage, and when the trigger is released, they will automatically re-engage.

Are Glocks Safe?

Yes, they are absolutely safe. I have met shooters who view them as otherwise, for one reason or another, but I respectfully disagree with them. Generally, people who view Glock pistols as unsafe are either lacking confidence or familiarity with firearms.

Sometimes, they are just “lost in the weeds” and obsess over freak occurrences or circumstances. Thankfully for them, there are other styles of handguns to choose from. It doesn’t change my opinion though.

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20 Comments

  1. Harry b dew says:

    This was a very clear explanation of the Glock safety system. Thank you.

  2. Another idiotic article about Glock safety. A gun that any toddler can use to kill a parent or a sibling. Glocks are only good for trained individuals who _must_ be ready to shoot at any time. Like police.

    1. I would venture to say if a toddler gets access to a loaded gun, there are bigger problems than the lack of a thumb safety.

    2. Chandler j. says:

      Seems as though the only idiotic thing here is your comment…

    3. generally all pistols should be only used by trained “individuals”. If you don’t have time to train, don’t buy a gun. buy yourself a pepper spray, this way you won’t have to deal with “glock-leg” and only with burning eyes because you were too dumb.

  3. john ross says:

    great article. my cousin and i talk about the safety of carrying the glock all the time. i agree with the statement that most people who think they are unsafe are usually not confident in modern gun mechanics or themselves frankly. shout from c-bad, new mexico. right next door to el paso. ill have to come visit and shoot a match one of these days.

  4. Larry Pemberton says:

    Just ask the police officers that shot themselves under stress with a light trigger handgun.

    1. Don Williams says:

      Most think a Glock is for an experienced gun handler. The biggest problem with a manual safety is that the inexperienced gun handler thinks his safety is engaged when in fact it is not. The best safety is to always know a shell is NOT in the chamber until the slide is engaged. That is a quick and simple operation.

      1. haha quick and simple, it’s not about time, it’s about opportunity to rack it and you won’t have it when shit hits the fan.

        if you don’t carry one in the chamber, you’re just giving the chance for the attacker to get your gun and kill you with it.

        Don’t be THAT stupid.

    2. Believe it or not. Police officers are some of the worst shooters and or many have very basic to very poor firearms handling training. Its why LE has the most ND’s. Remember your average police officer’s skills are NOT intensive firearms training like get in the military. LE are trained more for dealing with stressful situations, statutes, codes, mediation and basic laws. A SWAT officer yes a patrol officer not so much, unless the officer is a off duty shooter or gun enthusiast.

  5. Great explanation. Thanks, now I ve changed the way I see this Glock subject. Thanks! Shout from Veracruz, México.

  6. Not good enough. Glocks are a danger to kids who find a glock vs a different gun with a safety that they may not know how to use.

    1. Jim Harmer says:

      No gun is safe when a kid finds it. Period. Guns should be locked away without any possibility of kids finding it. Period.

  7. g17 too big for me to cc, use it for home & range, would like the option to engage a safety…

  8. I have 2 1911`s with manual safeties and do a lot of “holster work“. I like the idea that my pistol will not fire when it is in my holster – 2 safety mechanisms, manual and grip.
    Great trigger pulls with as safe as is possible.

    Never had to use my pistols for self defense or any stressful situation – barring competitive shooting.
    I get why police services would choose Glock as their firearm of choice – simplicity when it counts!
    Thank you for “your service“ and for an educational article. This reply is all the way from North Bay Ontario
    Canada.
    Stay safe

  9. Glocks are for professional that carry OWB at 3 o’clock where it is possible to see All the way around the holster While holstering the gun.
    The gun itself Cannot be rendered safe without the chamber being empty.
    Passive safeties Are Not A Replacement for an active safety. How can you Guarantee that the trigger won’t be pressed if you are wearing civilian cloths and carrying IWB at 5 o’clock? The answer is, you can’t.
    Therefore, glocks Require specific holsters To Protect The Trigger; effectively making the holsters the active safety for the gun.

    How many people buy Glocks because they were told it was the gun to get? How many people carry those Glocks on an empty chamber because they rightfully should not trust their setup unless they are an expert and properly reviewed their setup?

    Stop recommending Glocks. People who know already have an opinion. People who don’t know should also be pointed to videos where a gun discharges while holstering or when the gun is in the holster. Then let them decide. The M&P has options with and without a manual safety. And the manual safety can be removed, so the person can Grow with their gun.
    Defending Glock is arrogance.

    1. Been shooting for 40yrs and a gun collector for 25yrs and never heard of anything so ludicrous.

      What you are saying is pure ignorance! This a training issue NOT a type of gun issue. If you don’t train with a particular firearm it would always be a risk.
      Glock is NOT the only gun with trigger safety’s anymore. Heck an old school wheel gun (revolver to you younger shooters) has NO safety functions at all and the only way to make one safe is to unload the cylinder or the gun. Which by your knowledge is much more dangerous than the Glock is.

      The author is no more defending the Glock than you trying to deface it.

  10. Well written and very accurate. I’ve carried Glocks EDC for years. I also carried them while on security contracts in Iraq. The only time I have ever have one go off is when I pull the trigger. Just as with any EDC, carry them in a holster with the trigger covered and you won’t have a problem. The concept of no safety is becoming more common. My Sig P320 doesn’t have a safety at all, including no trigger safety. If someone is afraid of a Glock, they should be terrified of that Sig.

    But each to their own. There are lots of options for carry guns available, so everyone can carry what they’re comfortable with.