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Is a Manual Safety Good or Bad?

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Lee Paige is one of the most notorious DEA Agents to ever serve. He is also infamously known as America’s favorite gun-handling expert.

Lee is a former NFL player who worked for the DEA out of their Orlando office in the early 2000’s.

In 2004, Lee was giving a speech at a local school about handgun safety when things went terribly wrong.

As Lee was speaking to the classroom full of children he said, “I’m the only one in the room professional enough… to carry a Glock .40.”

The next thing you hear on the video of his speech is a gun shot. The DEA Agent accidentally shot himself in the leg in front of the entire classroom.

Lee recovered from the incident, but he didn’t simply go back to work and stay quiet as you might expect after this sort of accident.

The former undercover agent sued his employer, the Drug Enforcement Administration, after video of the 2004 accident appeared in the news and went viral on the Internet.

Lee claimed in his lawsuit that the DEA’s release of the video, taken by a parent attending the demonstration, invaded his privacy and ended his ability to work undercover or give motivational speeches.

In addition, he said the release resulted in humiliating comments toward him and his family not only on television, but at grocery stores and restaurants.

The federal court sided with the DEA in December 2010, after a judge ruled that Lee had provided no evidence of who made the video public.

In addition, the judge noted the shooting occurred in a public forum while Paige was on duty.

The fact is, Lee shot himself with a Glock handgun, which doesn’t have a manual safety.

Now, at the end of this article, I’ll tell you what I favor, but here are some pros and cons of a manual safety.


Added control. A manual safety gives the shooter an additional step of complete control over the gun’s firing function.

In other words, an engaged manual safety will completely prevent any discharge from occurring no matter if it is a finger or a foreign object on the trigger.

Gun takeaway. There are stories of incidents where cops had their guns taken from them by criminals who proceeded to try and use the gun on them.

Since a manual safety was on, the criminal was not able to fire the gun.


Added step. A manual safety is always an additional step in the motions of firing a gun.

Ideally, a shooter will train so that the manual safety would be deactivated naturally as the gun comes up to fire.

Improper training. Some folks, especially those that are new to firearms, will go to the shooting range, switch off the safety, shoot all their rounds, and then put the safety back on.

As you can see, this type of training will not prepare you for a deadly encounter.

What I mean is, every time you draw the weapon to shoot, you should be switching the safety on and off.

More training. Anyone who carries a handgun should regularly go to the shooting range to practice and maintain their skillset.

A pistol equipped with a manual safety must be practiced with often to ensure that in a high-stress situation, the shooter will remember to disengage the safety.

The bottom line is, I do not think a manual safety is necessary. In fact, I only recommend them for shooters who train often.

I do not recommend them for new shooters who just leave their gun in a safe on their nightstand.

Your finger is your most important safety and someone who never practices might forget to take off the safety in a life or death situation.

I realize many people will disagree with me, but I’ve been teaching firearms long enough to see what works.

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