Friday, May 20, 2011

Magazine Disconnect Getting You Down?

I know what you're thinking: "What the heck is a magazine disconnect?!"  Well, today is your lucky day.  The answer to the burning question of the days (as of a few seconds ago to you) is about to be answered by yours truly.

A magazine disconnect is a "safety device" that renders a gun inoperable if the weapon's magazine (also known in the Hollywood movie community as a "clip") is removed from the gun.  It is a lawyer's wet dream of a device, developed so gun manufacturers don't get sued when some moron removes a magazine and suddenly decides his gun is unloaded prior to checking the chamber, and then pulls the trigger.  This little device will either make it so the trigger won't pull or so that the hammer or striker will not drop on a live round still left in the chamber by said gun toting moron.

In order to utilize this "safety feature" to its full potential, you must first do 4 very stupid things: 1, ASSume the gun is unloaded, and not check the chamber.  2, level the firearm at something you wish not to destroy (or just point the gun at anything - it really doesn't matter).  3, Put your finger on the trigger when you are not intending to fire.  Lastly, 4, pull said trigger! 

Ah, but if the gun is equipped with a magazine disconnect, Joe Blow Moronhead won't inadvertently blow his wife or daughter away.  The gun will seize up and will not operate.  The lawyer dreamt, mechanically engineered weapon interrupting device has just saved the day, and common sense may still be left on the floor, along with the gun owner's brain and safe gun handling habits.

I was cleaning my brand new Ruger LC9 the other day, and decided that I don't like the idea of a magazine disconnect in a self defense gun.  With all the unknowns about self defense situations, having something in your gun that makes it not work just doesn't jive with me, especially when it disrupts the act of firing the weapon at the bad guy. 

Now, we aren't talking about some mechanical safety device, externally mounted on the gun that you can switch on and off at will (as an aside, all my safeties are always off).  We are talking about something that will turn your gun into an expensive rock if the magazine is either damaged or finds itself falling out at the worst possible moment.

You see, most semi-automatic handguns are fed from a magazine that is inserted into the bottom of the grip.  Normally, a small button on the side of the grip where you thumb can easily activate it.  By pressing this button, the magazine is released, allowing you to put another one in if you want.  While, this mechanism is great for higher capacity, faster reloads, and gives the ability to quickly top off your gun, it also comes with its own major drawback; you can inadvertently press this button by mistake, or your holster can press it, or your clothing, or whatever.  This inadvertent action pops the magazine out.  It may not pop it out all the way, or it may pop it out completely.  Either way, the magazine is no longer making positive contact with the weapon, which means it will not feed a fresh round in the gun after it is fired... that's assuming the gun will fire at all.

I demonstrated to my wife how this could happen.  I drew my LC9 from a holster and intentionally pressed the magazine release mid-draw.  The magazine flung out and hit the ground.  With no magazine in the weapon, the trigger would not pull back, and theoretically speaking, the gun would not fire.  Of course, the weapon was unloaded during this demonstration, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the gun was rendered useless at that point.  My only choice in this scenario is to either attempt to retrieve the magazine that fell out or fish for a spare carried somewhere on my person.  In a critical situation, where mere milliseconds count, trying to reload before getting at least one round off can take an eternity and may end your life.

If I was ever face to face with a bad guy, and had to draw my weapon, you know I'd be firing.  Why?  Because the only time the gun is coming out is when I have determined that my life is in imminent danger and I'm about to die or become a victim of some serious violence.  Only then will the gun come out, and it is coming out for one reason - shoot to survive.

Losing a magazine during the draw is a long shot, but it is a shot.  There's a chance of this happening, even if it is almost impossible to fathom.  Should that happen to me (and I'm counting on Murphy's Law to work against me), I want the ability to still fire the round that is in the chamber before I take cover and reload. 

"But James!!!  It is a safety device!!!"

I've been shooting guns all my life.  I've owned all kinds of guns with all kinds of safeties, and some with no safeties.  How often do you see a safety on a revolver?  Mine doesn't have one.  The only safety it has is the matter between my ears.  I don't go around pulling triggers on my guns, and have developed a habit of resting my trigger finger on the frame until I actually shoot the gun; you should too.

These so-called safety devices (magazine disconnect, loaded chamber indicator, manual safety, trigger safety, striker blocker, firing pin blocker, etc) have their place.  In fact, I don't care that some of my guns have loaded chamber indicators or striker blockers, etc.  I don't even care that they have externally mounted manual safeties.  Even though I don't use them for myself, I use them when training others.  Even magazine disconnects have their places in training guns or range guns, but not in self defense guns.  When the shit hits the fan, you need every advantage you can count on, and a magazine disconnect is not an advantage.  It is a hindrance. 

The Ruger LC9 comes equipped with the magazine disconnect.  Dissatisfied with this, I disassembled the gun, and removed it.  Now, the LC9 will fire without a magazine.  I get the benefit of knowing that I can get that one shot off if I need to, and I get the satisfaction of knowing that my gun is no longer dummied down so that even the people from the island of Stupid can handle it. 

Remember.  Safety is an attitude.  It is not some device installed on your weapon to make your gun safe.  Your gun is safe without all this crap hung from it.  What makes guns unsafe is unsafe handling and bad habits.  Don't develop bad habits.  Stay safe.  Remember, gun safety doesn't just keep you safe.  It keeps everyone safe.


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