Minnesota Adult Hunter Safety Course


Firearm Safeties

A mechanical device that, when engaged, should prevent a firearm from firing by stopping the firing pin from striking the primer.

While featured in various styles according to the manufacturer, below you will find examples of the most common types of safeties.

IMPORTANT! The safety is a mechanical device and consequently subject to failure. While it is important to know how a safety works and how to use it properly, a safety is no substitute for the most basic rule of firearm safety: ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.


Push-Button Safety

Located on the trigger guard, it blocks the trigger or the hammer when engaged. It may have a visible red band when the safety is in the OFF position.



Slide or Tang Safety

It features two positions of operation. In the ON position (i.e., a green colored dot or the letter "S" may be visible) it blocks the firing mechanism of a rifle or shotgun. In the OFF position (i.e., a red colored dot or the letter "F" may be visible) it enables firing of a cartridge or shot shell. A Tang safety, featured on some models of shotguns, is engaged when the letter "S" is visible on top and in the back of the receiver.


Lever or Pivot Safety

Located either on the bolt or just behind the bolt handle on the frame of the receiver, it blocks the firing pin when engaged. On some firearms, the lever safety located on the bolt will have three positions. The back position (i.e., toward the shooter), does not allow the bolt to be opened, and the firearm will not fire. In the middle position, the bolt can be cycled, but the firearm cannot be fired. In the forward position, the safety is OFF, and the firearm can be fired. Other safeties feature only two positions - ON and OFF. These types of safeties are marked either with green and red dots or with an "F" for fire or an "S" for safe.



Hammer or Half-Cock Safety

This type of safety is not as common as those listed above. It is typically found among lever action and break action firearms or antique and replica firearms. In the half-cock position, the hammer does not rest on the firing pin and the trigger is locked. When the hammer is pulled all the way back into the cocked position, the firearm can be fired. Be sure to check the owner's manual as some manufacturer's firearms are only safe when the hammer is in the "fully forward" position.

Step 1. Closed

Step 2. Half Cock

Step 3. Full Cock


IMPORTANT! Trigger must be pulled to move the hammer from FULL to HALF-COCK position. Make sure that you have full control of the hammer and that it does not slip from your grasp.