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How Does a Thumb Safety on a Handgun Work?

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Thumb safeties, such as those found on 1911s, are but one type of manual safety commonly found on many handguns selected for concealed carry and/or personal protection.

The Problem
You just finished your first firearm-safety class and it’s clear to you that most guns have some sort of a safety on them, but it’s not clear how they make a gun safe. You heard terms like active safety, passive safety, internal safety and external safety, but you are not sure what the differences are and how they perform their designed duties. You were also told that no firearm of any type is 100-percent safe, which adds to the confusion. You need help in understanding more about semi-automatic pistol safeties before you buy your first handgun for personal defense.

The Solution
Please understand that guns are mechanical devices that do work in the hands of an operator. In untrained or less-than-careful hands they can be dangerous, much like a motor vehicle or gardening tool. Ultimately, it is the operator of the firearm who makes it safe or not.

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