If you have been following me for some time then you are not surprised that I teach a “safety on” approach to running guns. Before we go down that road on when the safety comes off this piece has more to do with the safety going on.
So, when does the safety go on when running an M4? I know that is a pretty broad question so let’s simplify the question by saying you have engaged and neutralized a lethal threat. We try to keep it simple and place the safety back on when these conditions exist.
- You are moving and not pursuing or engaging a threat
- You want to go hands free and sling your rifle
- You want to perform an administrative function
That pretty much sums it up, it is not that difficult and when you get into more dynamic situations you will see what I am talking about, however let’s talk about what we need to do when we are perform a task such as a combat reload.
A combat reload is a reload perform where you have depleted the ammunition source in the weapon or you run “dry”. Whatever you encountered was bad enough that you went through all of your ammunition to deal with it and now the need exists to reload and get back into the fight. I’d like to think you are going to be doing something other than standing there to reload, maybe seeking cover or moving to a better position. If you were to think about it from that perspective then following rule one is pretty simple. The moment you decide to move, the safety goes on and then you perform the reload as prescribed.
However, since most of the time we are performing reloads is from the firing line most folks avoid it and the best argument I get from them is because it is faster to keep it off safe. The biggest problem I have with this argument has already been discussed in a previous blog and that is the difference between a planned event and an unplanned event, Unplanned Events and Reality. You are on the firing line, you know it is a drill, there is no immediate threat to your life. Kind of makes the idea of it being “faster” a little subjective and not objective.
What is at stake? The two biggest issues we see are already big problems. The shooter’s ability to maintain muzzle discipline and a straight trigger finger. The safety rules we all follow are layered so that if one were to fail, the others would prevent an accident. We see poor muzzle discipline often and believe me I’d like to think you clean that up and all will be right, but we still see folks who fail to vacate the trigger. A lot don’t know they are doing it, but I’ve gotten as a response I’m faster. I’m not kidding, that was the response.
So, what’s the deal with this perceived idea of being faster. What kind of scenario would really justify keeping your finger on the trigger. Maybe you are actively exchanging fire with your opponent and you just run out first and he’s still firing. Well, that sounds like a pretty bad deal. When you paint it that way, even keeping the safety off is probably not going to have a major positive affect on the outcome.
What will have a positive effect on that scenario, well probably moving. I mean your dry, you can stand there like you do on the range or you can get moving. Any kind of movement is probably better than just standing there and then refer to rule 1.
Are there good reasons to stay off safe while reloading? Probably, but being faster isn’t one of them.