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how many shoot thumbs on the safety?

2796 Views 28 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Bronco
Sorry for the stupid question but I am in the process of refurbishing a Springfield for duty use. I was brought up on a Hi-Power and Colt .45. I dont recall having this problem but I had my thumbs low on the frame and I am pretty sure I kept bumping the safety upwhen I was shooting this weekend. I have been carrying/shooting Glock for the last 3 years full time and a Sig and S&W before that. Anyone else ride the safety when they shoot? Thanks for the read.

The only thing neccessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
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The 1911 is a pretty good platform to use a "high thumb" hold with. That is, your shooting hand thumb rides ON TOP of the thumb safety. This will prevent you from accidently pushing the safety up.

This also allows a higher grip on the gun, and the lower bore axis means better recoil control and shot recovery.
I shoot with my thumb on top of the safety.

Jeff Cooper's been preaching "thumb on top of safety" for years, and for the same reason. Over his years of teaching pistolcraft, He's seen many students bump their safeties 'on' during recoil.

I recall hearing somewhere that even pistol master Ray Chapman, who shoots with his thumb curled down, once lost a major match because his thumb bumped his safety on.

Losing any sort of pistol contest because you held your thumb under the safety, and bumped he safety 'on' during recoil, can be embarrasing. When first prize is staying alive, your embarrasment may be short lived.

Shane, excellent point about the high thumb hold lowering the boreline further into the shooter's hand, it really does help reduce muzzle flip. Also, with the tumb held high, it's easier to isolate the trigger finger for a good compressed surprise break on the trigger, without sympathetic tightening of the other fingers (a/k/a 'milking the grip') A high thumb makes it easier to PRESS the trigger, while a shooter tends to PULL the trigger with the thumb curled down.

Finally, a high thumb makes it easier to lock the wrist behind the gun, especially for those who use a classic Weaver stance.

Anyone can come up with a reason for doing something wrong, but ain't it funny how there's usually more than one good reason to do something right?

Roger Shambaugh
Ottawa, Kansas

[This message has been edited by KSLawman (edited 07-10-2001).]
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Here comes my possible dumb question for the week.

Couldn't you create another potential stoppage by bumping the slide with your thumb during cycling??? Couldn't that slow the slide just enough to cause a stoppage???

I know if I put my thumb on the safety of my Kimber, it is practically right up against the slide. On my Springfield Ultra Compact, I could possibly get away with it since the thumb safety is so wide.

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Originally posted by h4444:
Couldn't you create another potential stoppage by bumping the slide with your thumb during cycling??? Couldn't that slow the slide just enough to cause a stoppage???

In a word, NO. As long as your thumb is positioned securely on top of the safety, your thumb's natural action is to gently push down on the safety, not in towards the slide. You do want to put slight downward pressure on the safety - this is what helps recoil control and is big benefit to this style of high-thumb hold.
I can't remember ever engageing the safety during firing but after reading the opinion of many vaunted pistolero's decided to try the thumb on safety routine and found exactly what you are asking to be the case.Not only did the serrations on my Springfield shave neat little slices of skin off but several FTF/FTE's occurred which went away when I returned to my earlier form. Pachmayr and maybe others make a shield to protect from this but looks to me like it would nullify the rear slide serrations for the most part. I'm also sure the type of thumb safety(and thumb) you use would greatly increase or decrease the liklihood of this event. Both of mine are long(thumb and safety) so this doesn't work for me.YMMV
I am giving up riding the safety. My problem is that I have very long fingers. Riding the safety means my thumb is almost touching the slide stop. I believe that during recoil my thumb actually slides forward a little on the safety and has engaged the slide stop.

I've had several premature slide locks with my Compact CDP and they go away when I lock my thumbs down.
If you'll try a standard safety, you may find several benefits...One of which is the profile is easier to "ride"...There are several others that are helpful as well, they all seem to emulate the original design...You have to decide...if it's better for you a different way, then that's up to you...Just get the right safety before you give up on the "Thumb On Safety" hold and give it a try...FWIW...my hands are small and it's difficult for me as well on SOME pistols...On the one I use the most,(with a smaller safety) it works fine...One case where one size does NOT fit all...At least you can change safeties...I can't figure out how to trade thumbs yet


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Definitely not an expert here as I have been shooting a 1911 for only 4 months.

My safety is "easy on/ easy off". So, far ~ 600 rounds of vigorous and stressful shooting and have not had a problem w/ the saftey getting put back on during recoil. Though , I recognise this could be a problem.
I would be reluctant to change, because I shoot other guns too.

Dave Lauck in "The Tactical 1911" advocates riding the thumb safety, but he also recommends a frame mounted slide shield. A flimsy one might get bent into the slide during a stuggle. Too, he adds that the slide shield is an additional gun grab protector, as a person who grabs your gun would likely be perplexed by the inability to rack the slide from the rear grasping grooves.

Something to think about.

Originally posted by gyp_c:
I can't figure out how to trade thumbs yet

You kill me!

You are absolutely right though. I have always prefered the high-thumb hold, but I tried 5 different aftermarket safeties with different pad configurations....I ended up settling on the original GI style safety with the smaller pad. This safety, plus a bit of the "Dremel voodoo" to knock down the hard edges where it contacts the web of my hand, has given me the most comfortable feel for this type of hold.
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Got my first Colt GM in 1946. Never in 55 years of shooting a 1911 style guns, with a standard Colt safey, have I applied the safety unintentially. When I aquire a gun with one of those out sized so called combat safties, I cut it down, or replace it with a factory Colt safety.

If you grasp the gun so loosely that you put the safety on, you have lots of problems.
Holding the thumb on the safety will sooner or later cause most shooters to miss the grip safety. Thats why so many shooters using the thumb to hold down the thumb safety, ending up either pinning or disabling the grip safety.

That is the only issue I have. I have developed a high grip and my biggest problem is not adequately depressing the grip safety, making the trigger pull inconsistent. Found that to be the case with my new Pro CDP. And to think I initially cursed the Kimber name...infidel!
say 7 hail Brownings and dry fire till you got it right...e
Clint Smith teaches:

Highest grip possible w/thumb atop safety.

That's enough for reason for me!

Thunder25, Out...
Originally posted by Thunder25:
Clint Smith teaches:

Highest grip possible w/thumb atop safety.

That's enough for reason for me!

Thunder25, Out...
...and have a look at the "safety" on his piece...


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If memory serves, Clint uses a standard Colt safety, or equiv. GLV
I have long fingers/thumb as well. I had the same thumb shaving experience mentioned earlier too, ouch- not much can be done except for the slide shield for us big handed folks. In my case, my thumb is below the safety and pinned by the opposite hand. Works quite nicely. My fingers are long enough to place my opposing index finger up the trigger guard for additional stability. It works well for me and took much experimentation to get it right.
I tried the safety ride a few years ago, after reading about via Mr. Jeff Cooper. Personally, I found it to be uncomfortable. It sounds like a good idea, but I would say it should be up to the person. So far, I have never accidently put the safety on.
Each to his own, of course, but my take is that the "high thumb" causes lots more problems than it solves. My only really difference with Col. Cooper. I have used both techniques, and have never had a problem with accidentally putting the safety "on" with my thumb under it, even with larger "tactical" safeties.

A properly fitted safety snicks on and off quite positively. If yours doesn't, get it fixed! I personally like the original Colt 1911 safety best, followed by the current Colt design. Ambi is fine, but paddles are unnecessary, in my view.

My reasons are:

First, for me the safety does not exist once it is snicked off - until just before I reholster the gun. Safety is between your ears, anyway. Smaller is better - out of the way.

Second, during my police training we worked on disarming each other. If you have your thumb high in a "close encounter" I can easily rotate the gun out of your hand and take it. Try it, (unloaded, right?) and turn the gun toward the thumb. Easy, isn't it. "Well, I'll never have to struggle for my own gun, no worries." Hope you're right.

Let's see, if I go to a large safety I get to add (1.) a speed bump grip safety and (2.) a shield to keep my thumb off the slide that makes it impossible to rack the gun normally. Or I could just grip the gun naturally. Seems the best to me.

If anyone has any actual studies of an increase in speed or precison using the high grip, let's hear of it.

Warmly, Col. Colt

"Beware of Counterfeits and Patent Infringements"
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I started shooting with a low thumb grip, but tried the thumb on safety grip and found that I shot better (accuracy) with the thumb on the safety.

But...yesterday I was at the indoor range and I hadn't been shooting in three weeks ( boy did that three weeks suck). My thumb high hold caused the web of my hand to ride the bottom of the beavertail upsweep with some tension creating tenderness. Thinking about going back to low thumb and maybe getting rid of that funky caspian beavertail on my XS.
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