In common terms, it means a safety that either the operator triggers (external) or one that's automatic (part of the mechanism).
A typical external safety would be something like the thumb safety on a 1911 or a trigger block like on many moder autos. An internal safety is something that happens as part of the action i.e. an internal firing pin block that's activated/deactivated by indirect action. Let's say that pulling the trigger on the weapon moves a firing pin block as part of the pin release. That's an example. Or something like engaging part of the firing mechanism when pulling the trigger. You don't consciously remove the safety. It's just part of things.
That's a commonly used definition.
What is an internal safety?
What safeties calssify as INTERNAL and EXTERNAL safeties, and how do they operate?
- Internal safeties are safeties like those you find on most modern guns. They work from within the action of the firearm like the button safeties on Mossberg 500s or my Savage model 10 which basically all either keep the hammer from being able to strike the firing pin or blocking the firing pin from any movement. External safeties are safeties that operate on the outside of the rifle such as the half-cock positions on flintlock or percussion muzzleloaders, revolvers and lever actions. The other style externals normally work by making the trigger incapable of being pulled such as the flip safety on an SKS rifle or they pull back the firing pin part of the bolt back to latch onto the receiver or something like that such as in Mosin-Nagants and such rifles. But, no matter what safety type it is its a mechanical safety and like all things mechanical it can fail to work properly. Always treat the firearm with respect because its original purpose was to kill. Always have it pointing in a safe direction away from yourself and others.00
- Firing Pin Block Safety00
- Basically internal safeties prevent the gun from firing if the gun is bumped or dropped, usually by blocking the firing pin and/or the hammer and/or some part of the trigger mechanism. They require no action by the user and are automatically disengaged when the trigger is pulled. Most modern handguns have some sort of internal safety.
External safeties are manually controlled with an external lever and either block or disengage the trigger mechanism and possibly the hammer and/or slide on a pistol. External safeties on pistols like the 1911 are normally designed to be used when a round is chambered and the hammer is c0cked (aka c0cked and locked).
Trigger safeties are generally classified separately from internal and external. They are usually consist of a small bar on the trigger that is automatically disengaged when the trigger is pulled normally and are supposed to reduce the chances the trigger can be pulled when snagged or pushed from an abnormal direction.
Glock is an example that has three safeties. Two internal and a trigger safety.
The Decocker level on a DA/SA pistols is also a form of safety. It moves the hammer from c0cked position to a decocked (or sometimes half-c0cked) position that cannot engage the firing pin without being fully c0cked. Additionally the trigger pull is longer and heavier than the normal single action (precocked) pull, making it harder to accidentally pull the trigger.30
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