I was talking yesterday in The Conspiracy with some of the guys about magazine safeties, and why they suck so much. In my opinion, the magazine disconnect safety is a “safety device” which actually makes the gun less safe for the user and for anyone else around them. Not to pick on Ruger, but I’ll use their SR9 as my example, because it features a magazine safety and were it not for the mag disconnect safety I’d recommend the gun without hesitation.
To illustrate why mag disconnects make your gun unsafe, allow me to draw and example from competition shooting. In USPSA/IDPA shooting, at the end of each course of fire, you (the shooter) are required to “unload and show clear” – meaning that you have to demonstrate to the RO that you have an empty (cold) gun before you can holster. The range commands go roughly as follows:
- “If you are finished, unload (drop the mag) and show clear (rack the slide to eject the round).
- If clear (the RO looks in the slide to verify an empty chamber) slide forward and hammer down. (lower the slide and dry fire the gun)
The problem with a magazine disconnect safety rears its ugly head when you have to dry fire the gun – because you can’t dry fire a gun with a mag disconnect safety unless you stick a magazine in it, the “slide forward/hammer down” step requires additional manipulation of the gun beyond what you’d see with a Glock or 1911. To complete this step, after lowering the slide, you have to insert an empty magazine into the gun to dry fire it – and as an RO/SO myself, nothing cranks up the pucker factor like someone putting a magazine into a gun that’s supposed to be cold.
Now, you’re probably thinking “Caleb, what could go wrong? It’s just an empty mag, surely someone wouldn’t put a loaded mag into the gun while the slide was back and then cook a round off.” You know, I’d like to think that, but the problem is that 1) I’ve seen exactly that happen at .22 matches with a Walther P22, and I firmly believe that the most effective way to ensure that your gun is safe is to make the manual of arms as simple and straightforward as possible.
I was at a .22 only steel match once, and I saw exactly what I describe above. At the command of “slide forward and hammer down”, the shooter put a loaded .22 magazine into his P22, dropped the slide (chambering a round) and proceeded to cook a round off into the berm, scaring the beejesus out of his RO. Now, the RO should have seen the loaded mag and stopped him, but the point remains – magazine disconnect safeties add an unnecessary and potentially dangerous step to the manual of arms for both competition shooters and defensive shooters.
For people who don’t shoot competition, the mag disconnect safety is just as dangerous – because it requires you to put an ammo feeding device (magazine) into the gun when you’re dry firing. That adds an additional element of danger, because it removes the first safety step of dry fire practice, which is remove the source of ammo from the gun.
I probably could have written a much shorter post about this – however the long and short of it is that I utterly despise mag disconnect safeties. I think they’re unnecessary legal masturbation, and add an actual element of danger to the safe handling and operation of your firearm.