Today we are going to have a little lesson in manipulating the safety on an AR15. “Well that’s pretty simple” you might say and normally you’d be right. Today though, we are going to talk about manipulating the safety when using the index finger on your hand that’s holding the pistol grip of the carbine/rifle. This is an everyday occurrence for left hand shooters unless they are using a firearm with ambidextrous controls or they have placed the firearm on their right shoulder and have switched hand placement. For right handed shooters; they will typically be doing this when switching shoulders or if they have installed ambi controls and don’t want to use their thumb to manipulate the safety.
When we are manipulating the safety with our index fingers, we should use the base of the finger (where the digit meets the hand) to move the selector from “Safe” to “Fire”. This is a fairly natural motion that doesn’t take much time to learn. The issue that we see; is when it comes to putting the gun back on “Safe”. When placing the gun back on “Safe” you need to make sure you are still using the base of your finger to manipulate the selector. Do Not Use the Tip of Your Finger to manipulate the selector. Yes; it can seem fast, but doing so sets yourself up for a potential Negligent Discharge.
Why do I think there is a ND risk? Because I watched a shooter have a ND during a class and be totally oblivious to what had happened. The shooter, in a group setting, was engaging a target with a series of shots. As soon as he fired his last shot he instantly curled his index finger and re-engaged the selector on his carbine like he had done hundreds of times during the day. However, unlike the other times he had engaged the safety, the tip of his glove made contact with the trigger and the gun discharged before it had been placed on “Safe”. Luckily the gun was pointed in a safe direction and no one was injured. If this had been off the range in a real world use of the carbine; the wrong person could have easily caught that last round.
So the moral of the story is simple; try to use your thumb to manipulate the safety when possible and if you have to use your index finger; use the base of the finger, not just the tip.