Faster Or Fumbly?

I’m not a fan of extended mag releases or slide-stops since both make it more likely you’ll activate them accidentally. Controls that can shut the gun down, with the sole exception of the safety, should be standard size. Controls you use intermittently shouldn’t be positioned (too big) where they hamper ordinary function.

Larger thumb safeties, especially on 1911-pattern pistols — which used to come equipped with safeties the size of a zipper tab — increase your ability to hit them in a hurry. This theoretically makes the pistol’s operation more certain. The tradeoff is the larger the thumb safety, the greater the chance your hand, inertia, or some combination of the two will knock it back into the “on” position, shutting down the gun.

This problem is why many schools train you to shoot “high thumb” with your thumb riding the safety. It keeps your hand from knocking the safety up during recoil. That helps, but on a 1911 it creates a problem when paired with a beavertail grip safety. Beavertails keep the hammer from biting you, spread recoil across a larger part of the hand, and allow the pistol to ride lower, reducing felt recoil. The high-thumb grip also changes the part of your hand contacting the grip safety. The top of the hand pushes against the curved underside of the safety, effectively trying to put it on. This interaction of thumb and grip safeties explains the design of many beavertail safeties, including “speed bumps,” high undercuts and the existence of the Wayne Novak-designed “Answer” — a one-piece backstrap eliminating the grip safety entirely.

If you can’t train your hand to work both reliably, options include a smaller thumb safety tab you won’t knock on, or modifying the engagement of the grip safety.