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Practically Shooting

Rumor: S&W Dropping Thumb Safety M&P Models


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According people "in the know" who visited S&W recently, there is talk of them dropping the M&P models equipped with thumb safeties after the first of the year.

Just relaying this in case anyone is planning such a purchase "one day". Maybe "one day" they won't be made.

I know the safety appears to be an unpopular choice. I have one M&P (.45) that I got with the thumb safety and I seem to be in the vast minority there. I went in the shop to look at them, and when I held the safety-less model, my 1911/HiPower thumb wandered all around looking for a shelf to plant itself on.

So I guess I got it for familiarity when shooting rather than thinking it needed one, even though the safety's location is a bit off for a 1911 shooter IMO. I am more bothered that it doesn't lock the slide, a feature I like to keep the slide in battery when holstering (or jabbing it into a bad guy, I suppose).

Given the choice, I would get the thumb safety if I got another M&P. Maybe that's why I took little notice of this rumor at first, but am still thinking about it two days later.

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I have not seen that article, but I can guess his point, and I see it to a degree. I'm guessing he was saying that people tend to depend on the safety.

But I think that's a user problem rather than a gun being any more or less safe with or without a manual safety. The same people who say or think "It's OK, it's not loaded" are usually the same type who say "It's OK, the safety is on". Either way, the gun is not to blame when "it" happens.

American volunteer in the Spanish Civil War asking the firearms instructor about the low quality rifles they were reduced to using:

"Is that gun safe?"

"Eeez gun. Eeez no safe."

To me, the debate on manual safeties is sort of the same principle behind hot vs cold ranges (allowing carry of loaded guns vs not allowed). Gunsite and some other facilities run hot ranges, and will tell you it's for safety reasons. People are careful when they KNOW the gun is loaded. The rule that "All guns are always loaded" is reinforced when they actually are loaded. In the training situation, going from lecture to shooting to practicing clearances to a shoot house to whatever...can lead to being unsure of a gun's status, unless it's a hot range, where you will always know.


A lot of people don't know this, but IDPA started out encouraging hot ranges. The idea, in addition to realism, was that there was less fiddling around unloading/loading/unloading/loading/etc throughout a match as you passed from scenario to scenario.

You left the gun loaded and didn't mess with it except to shoot.

At your turn, you went to the starting point, were asked if you understood the course, and got a "go" signal. If you somehow ended up with an empty after the last stage and got a "click" instead of a bang after your Wyatt Earp draw, you just had yourself an instructional point.

Personally, I liked that from a safety aspect because it reduced unnecessary gunhandling. When I started helping give the NSSS (New Shooter Safety Spiel) at an area IDPA club recently, some of us were talking about the negligent discharges and DQs we had seen over the years. I came up with 12 I had seen between IDPA and IPSC going back to 1997. Of those 12, eight happened at the starting or ending point when the shooter was loading or unloading. Every one of those eight would have been avoided on a hot range. Whenever you have a lot of administrative gun handling, you increase the odds of something happening.

Sprinkle in the idea that sometimes the guns are "safe" and it's even worse.

IDPA stopped promoting hot ranges (they still allow them, but don't seem to push it) because of two things-

1) Many ranges are cold ranges, and

2) The lowest common denominator.

The first is what it is.

The second I see...and I don't. But if I start on that, it will take all night.

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