Somebody recently told me she wanted to know more about guns but she was clumsy and has always worried about dropping a gun and this was a big reason why she never got one or learned how to use it properly.
My first thought was, if that is all keeping you from protecting yourself, then you’re close to getting a gun!
Enough about all of you, I want to talk about me!
Actually, I don’t. But let me say for those who know me, they know that my ability to handle a gun without dropping it bodes very well for most people!
In spite of the differences in my bodily hardware from normal people, I have never dropped a gun in my life. Not a handgun, not a shotgun, not a rifle.
Having said that, you know today I will probably drop one…
But What If I Did?
But what if I did drop a gun, would it go BANG? The answer, as most answers, is not completely Yes or No.
First, let me get something out of the way – If you are shooting a gun, perhaps target shooting or practicing your draw or whatever, if you do start to drop your gun let it fall! Whatever you do, never try to grab a falling gun or in any way keep it from falling.
This is where problems occur! People chase after their dropped gun and a finger finds itself in the trigger guard as the weapon falls, and nothing good can come of that.
So let it fall. That is safest.
Various Combinations of Possibilities: Drop with Safety On and Hammer Down
I will walk you through the possibilities of dropping a gun in various states of gun readiness. All of the following possibilities assume that a round is in the chamber for a semi-automatic gun or that a revolver has a round aligned with the barrel.
If you drop a gun whose safety is on and whose hammer is down (not cocked), the gun just will not go BANG.
Is this guaranteed 100%? Basically. I suppose if you drop one from high enough, and it bounces off a cliff and hits rocks on the way down, gets bumped over and over, I suppose it’s possible one of the bounces turns off the safety and another bounce cocks the gun and another bounce perfectly hits the trigger… but really, in reality that is not going to happen.
By the way, a gun whose safety is on and whose hammer is down is said to be in Condition 2.
What if You Drop a Gun whose Safety is On and the Hammer is Cocked?
Basically the result is the same as before. A gun’s safety is extremely disabling to the weapon. Again, a bounce could push off the safety lever and the next bounce could cause the hammer to fall but in reality, that won’t happen.
A semi-auto handgun whose safety is on and the hammer is cocked is technically said to be in Condition 1. This is the state most 1911s are carried in.
By the way, revolvers have no safeties or levers to worry about – or to protect you. Revolvers are not as trigger-light as semi-autos. In general if you have not cocked the hammer, you can carry a revolver in a purse, pocket, wherever without too much worry.
What if You Drop a Gun Whose Safety is Off and Whose Hammer is Cocked?
In reality, the condition of a gun whose safety is off and whose hammer is cocked is ready-to-fire! (This is known as Condition 0.)
Some popular guns have another safety in the grip. 1911 guns are like this. For such a gun to fire, even if you press the trigger if the grip safety is not pressed in – which it always is in when you hold it for firing but never otherwise as it is spring loaded to stay out – even if you press the trigger that gun will not fire. The grip safety must be pressed in to go BANG. So dropping a 1911-style weapon is extremely safe. To go off, even with the safety off and the hammer cocked, both the grip safety and the trigger must be pressed at the same time before the gun fires.
Some popular guns such as Glocks have no safety switches but they have little levers on the trigger. To fire the gun, whether cocked or not, you must first press the little trigger lever and then pull the trigger. Such a gun just won’t go BANG when you drop it. The drop would have to somehow push the little level in and then pull the trigger at the same time.
Revolvers have no safeties but they are much harder to pull the trigger (relative to a semi-auto). If the hammer is cocked and you drop a revolver, it could very well go BANG if the drop knocks the hammer closed. Revolvers are often recommended for people who want a gun but do not know much about guns.
I believe people who want to carry guns for protection and to shoot them for target practice should learn how to use them, even if only in an afternoon class or two. A semi-automatic is more reliable and safer once you learn how to use the gun than a revolver is. If a semi-auto misfires and has a malfunction, you can almost always clear the malfunction. When a revolver malfunctions, you almost always have to take it to a gunsmith.
Full disclosure: I have never studied weapons manufactures’ drop factors; I only know that they exist.
All makes and models of guns have “drop factors.” That means what height the gun can be safely dropped onto a hard surface before it goes BANG.
This information is not always readily available from all makers for all models of guns. Fortunately, though, manufacturers do not want lawsuits and they are very good about making the drop factor as high and reliable as possible for their own financial good and for their customers’ health.
I cannot tell you about specific gun drop factors other than the drop factor is higher than normal drop conditions. Dropping guns from the height we would typically drop them even with all safeties off and hammers cocked is not extremely dangerous. The only exception, again, which never dawned on me before writing this, would be a revolver with a cocked hammer. That could get tricky if it drops on the hammer no matter what their drop factor may be for that gun.
Until It Hits the Front Pages, Rest Easy
So – until you super-glue your gun to your hands, in general, your fears about dropping your gun is not a big issue. Think about it – If dropping guns caused major problems often, or even once in a while, we would hear about those issues more often in the news.
As much as the media hates guns and gun owners, stories of dropped guns shooting people would be on all the front pages if it was common. But this is something you just don’t hear much about. Fortunately!
For Absolute Beginners Only
If you don’t even know enough about guns to spell g-u-n, here’s a recording I once recorded for a family who were absolute beginners to guns. I think your family might learn a lot from it, especially if you’re brand new to guns. I may not be an excellent teacher but you’ll find that the material is quite good and it provides anyone a short intro to gun safety and what you can expect: http://rightnerve.com/if-you-cant-even-spell-g-u-n/ (“If You Can’t Even Spell G-U-N”)
If you’re new to guns, but you know your family needs to know how to use them, you need to start immediately. Are your freedoms getting more or less plentiful? We are fortunate that in the 47 or so fairly-free states that remain in the USA, we can still legally protect our family.