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How a safety catch works

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There's been a few topics on manual or automatic safety catches, after reading this


I thought when a safety catch was in safe mode the gun wouldn't fire. I might be wrong

I thought it best to show how some of the safety catches work, with a little luck over the next few days I'll add some more gun and safety types.


Box lock side by side, non auto safe




Here is where the movement of the thumb catch is transmitted down the trigger lock, safety on



Safety off



And it's relation at the trigger

Safety on, with the pin blocking the trigger movement upwards



Safety off, pin has moved forward unblocking the trigger leaving it free to move up and in turn moving the sear



Pulling the trigger, safety on, no lift in the trigger



Pulling the trigger safety off, you can see how little the amount of lift / movement that is needed, look at the blocking pin in relation to the trigger. The upward movement of the trigger is transmitted to the sear which in turn releases the tumbler.




Here I'm holding out the sear, where the sear disappears out of view you can see a 'cut' in the sear, this holds a similar point on the tumbler, with the tumbler being spring loaded and on release hits the firing pin / primer depending on design (the spring you see in this photo is the sear spring, the tumbler spring is a flat v type hidden away)




And looking up into the locked sear / tumbler




And here's why you should never rely on a safety catch, most only block trigger movement, this shows that the sear is free to move with the safety ON, as you can see a weak or broke return sear spring would allow a jar of the gun to cause a discharge, I've used some orange paint to highlight the pin which blocks the trigger and where the trigger meets the sear



Sear moving freely with only the spring to give resistance, tumbler released!




And the trigger plate apart showing sears and how they are separate from the trigger and safety catch workings



Hope this helps folk understand why not to rely on a safety catch


More to come soon

Edited by Paul223
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Superb topic, well illustrated. I haven't used a safety catch since I got my 682 7 years ago- I don't touch the trigger til I want it to Fire, and I don't have the Gun closed, loaded or not, pointed at people. Was told when I was a kid that safeties were fallible, whereas good gun handling and muzzle discipline were not.

Would be interested to see other Gun types with their innards exposed, to see just how much safety a safety catch provides.

Good call, will watch with interest.

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Semi automatic shotgun safety catch (as it was mentioned in the other topic that they are more unsafe than an auto 'on' safety as fitted to o/u and side by sides ..... Let's see)


Here's the trigger group, borrowed from a beretta



Safety on



Safety off



Hammer in fired position



This is where the sear engages on the hammer



And this is the sear



The other end of the sear has a nipple which protrudes towards the safety button, safety on



Safety off



A closer look at the trigger / sear and the nipple highlighted with the screwdriver



And the button, safe



Ready to fire



The button physically blocks the sear from moving and whilst not totally fool proof a much better way to provide a safety catch.

Edited by Paul223
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  • 1 month later...

Not as good as Paul's description but here are some pics of my 3800 action stock off with safety on and off. This is a manual safety rather than auto.


Top pic safety is engaged which prevents the trigger releasing the hammers but does not prevent the hammer striking the pin. If the sear is dislodged (I think thats the right term).


Bottom pic shows with safety off the trigger able to lift the sear and release the hammer onto the pin



Edited by HDAV
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There are numerous "safety " catches ,some work solely on the trigger as a physical block ,others detach the trigger from the sear and yet others act on the hammers or a combination. All depends on the gun O/U , SxS , sidelock or boxlock . Some work extremely well others hardly a all , dependent on the design ,quality of build and how well maintained. It is not uncommon to see older guns with half the safety features removed due to the trouble caused by the complexity of the design ,Bonehill intercepting box being a good example .One rule that all shooters should stand by is that a loaded gun on safe is still a loaded gun and should be treated as so .

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hi guys,while on the topic of safety catches i was out the other day with my lanber o/u 12g.after taking a shot i noticed the back of the safety catch had fallen off and the catch was in three pieces one being the selector switch,i managed to find the back of the switch which had fallen to the ground so had all three sections....can anyone suguest a good repairer close to mexborough s.yorkshire,im stuffed now till i can get it fixed...cheers for any help..

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