Simple(r) Interface Design

Firearms instructor John Farnam writes about training experiences with particular pistols (with a follow-up article here). There are certain pistols that have external hammers but those pistols must be carried with the hammer decocked, such as the SIG 226, Beretta’s, H&K’s, etc.; to carry with them cocked is dangerous. What happened was experienced shooters were reholstering their cocked guns and didn’t realize it until an instructor pointed it out.

If well-trained people can forget….

IMHO, decockers add complexity. If I think about it from an engineering design standpoint, and more specifically thinking about the “user interface” to a pistol, decockers are a design feature that is more complex than it needs to be. Granted that’s part of the point, when you consider the evolution of where these guns came from, but it no longer has to be the case. When you have guns like Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield XD, and so on, they provide a much simpler user interface. You’ll also see that other manufacturers are moving towards similar designs. Evolution.

Read my write-up on choosing a gun for more details.

8 thoughts on “Simple(r) Interface Design

  1. I view manual decocking as nothing more complicated than applying the safety on a 1911. Both require practice, some training, and more practice, lots of practice, tons of practice. But this practice is not something that has to be focused on separately within the training regime, it is just something that has to be worked with on the draw and re-holster segments of training. I do it every time I draw my gun from the holster and return it.

    With enough trigger time manual decocking or safety setting is just not a complicated thing. I’ve been using manual decocking traditional double action guns for more than 10 years now. I’m very used to this method and have had enough practice and training that it is a natural and automatic movement for me. It all depends on what you want to deal with or don’t. For me, I started on a TDA gun, because it is what was handy, I grew comfortable and now I use TDA, because I’m so used to it.

  2. Just because a couple of commando wannabees couldn’t handle it doesn’t mean the design is bad.

    The SEALS seem to be able to handle it.

    • Ultimately they exist in the marketplace because people buy them, but to answer your question some complexity has purpose or added benefit.

      I’ll never purchase a car with an automatic transmission. (SUV/truck, sure, but not a car). I like being in control, I want that added complexity, and I like the extra performance. YMMV.

      • People buy pet rocks and Chia Pets (Chia Obama’s too) and all sorts of crap… that doesn’t mean it’s a good product or has good design.

  3. I think complexity is a matter of opinion. I don’t view TDA as more complex, but that is because I have thousands of rounds down range, using it. If I was just picking one up? Absolutely more complex than a Glock or XD. But then they are more complex than a double action revolver.

    To this regard, I think maybe you’re looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. Have there been accidents were people forgot to decock and holstered a cocked weapon? You bet. Have there been accidents where an office jammed a Glock back into a holster and it went off? Single action safety equipped gun? Ding, ding, we have winners on all accounts.

    Nothing replaces training, be it a safety, a decocker, or nothing at all. The point is, pick what you’re most comfortable with and shoot it, shoot it, shoot some more, shoot lots more, and train, practice, train, practice, oh an shoot some more…


    • Well, you are admitting the mechanism is more complex — it makes the machine more complex. You have learned to cope with that complexity so it no longer seems complex to you. I bet if you were shooting a Glock that every so often you might find your thumb moving to decock the non-existent decocker. Same as when I drive my wife’s car (automatic) that sometimes I put my left foot down as if I’m depressing the clutch (my car is manual). Just because we’ve learned to cope with the complexity doesn’t mean it’s not inherently complex.

      I agree that training is very key. But I’m talking about interface design… given that’s part of what I do for a living as a software developer. Working to strip away, to simplify, really does yield better results in the end. It’s not easy to accomplish tho.

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