Lowering hammer on SA chambered 1911-A1 .45


December 6, 2006, 09:42 PM
Since I just got my first .45 toady http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=2912008#post2912008

I have a question: Can you safely lower the hammer on a chambered 1911? Is it recomended to have it chambered and cocked + savety on, or hammer lowered?

Please advise! It's my very first 1911, and I only shot one 5 months ago :what:

If you enjoyed reading about "Lowering hammer on SA chambered 1911-A1 .45" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 6, 2006, 09:46 PM
Cocked and locked is the safer way to go.

If you are uncomfortable with that, go hammer down on EMPTY chamber.

Jim Watson
December 6, 2006, 09:47 PM
I don't know. Can YOU safely lower the hammer? It requires pulling the trigger and easing the hammer all the way down, not just to the safety stop they use instead of a half cock.
The next question is can YOU safely cock the hammer when wanted?
Some people think they can.

Most are better off in cocked and locked unless the gun is not to be ready for use, then unload it.

December 6, 2006, 09:55 PM
Carry it cocked and locked. If not, carry it with a loaded magazine but an EMPTY chamber.

Hammer down on a live round ain't too healthy. :eek:


December 6, 2006, 09:57 PM
Depends on how much you like all your bits and pieces where they are to be honest. :)

I carry my 1911 chamber empty magazine loaded. The only time I want that hammer to drop is when I decide to fire it. (unless I am hunting then its cocked and locked)

Black Majik
December 6, 2006, 10:00 PM
In my opinion, the only way to carry a 1911 is condition 1.

If the gun does fire for some reason while lowering the hammer on a loaded chamber, think how many fingers you might have left after the slide has cycled. :D

December 6, 2006, 10:01 PM
No...if you have to lower the hammer for some reason, use two hands...:scrutiny:

December 6, 2006, 10:05 PM
This might sound like I'm being snarky but I'm not trying to be. Why would you ever need/want to lower the hammer on a live round in a 1911? The weapon is designed to be either safely ready for action (condition 1) or unloaded, nothing in between.

Lowering the hammer on a live round is asking for a ND, don't risk it. Keep it unloaded or keep it ready for action as it was designed to be ready for action.

December 6, 2006, 10:15 PM
No...if you have to lower the hammer for some reason, use two hands...

I realize you said no, but you also said use two hands. Can you name one reason you would have to lower the hammer on a chambered round?...one hand, two hands, its all the same.

You drop the magazine, rack the slide, visually inspect it to be clear, then lower the hammer. Otherwise it has a safety.


December 6, 2006, 10:25 PM
Safest way to lower hammer on loaded round in a 1911:

While following "The Four Rules", carefully line up the sights on your target, squeeze/press/pull trigger, repeat.

Other than that, cocked and locked, or empty. No in betweens.

December 6, 2006, 10:32 PM
I just got my first .45 todayCongrats! I'm a huge fan of the good old 1911. I'm sure many of us here on THR would agree.

I have a question: Can you safely lower the hammer on a chambered 1911?Safely? No.

Is it recomended to have it chambered and cocked + savety on, or hammer lowered?No.

Please advise! It's my very first 1911, and I only shot one 5 months agoIf you're going to carry a 1911, it really should be either Condition 1 ("cocked-and-locked") or Condition 3 (hammer down on an empty chamber). Condition 2 (hammer down on a live round) is a recipe for disaster.

I know Condition 1 seems scary at first. But it's very safe. You need to manually disengage two safeties (grip and thumb) and pull the trigger for anything to happen. Compare that to a Glock or DA revolver, for example.

If Condition 1 really scares you, then you might want to look into the Cylinder & Slide S.F.S. system (http://www.cylinder-slide.com/sfs.shtml). As far as I'm aware, this is the only way for a conventional SA 1911 to safely be carried in Condition 2.

December 6, 2006, 10:44 PM
There is a another issue besides the issue of lowering the hammer on a live round by pulling the trigger (which is unsafe)....

Even if you can do that safely, the SA 1911-A1 does not use a firing pin block (which most modern semi-autos use). So, while the SA 1911-A1 passes the CA drop test, you still have to worry about inertia of the firing pin setting off the round.

Guns with decockers generally employ a firing pin safety to prevent it the firing pin from being struck as well as preventing inertia from setting of around.

Some might say that a Kimber Series II or a Colt with an 80s firing system might be okay with their firing pin blocks.. but....

Will an ND happen to you? Depends: do you feel the Angels protect you were they fear to tread?

December 6, 2006, 10:48 PM
I don't intend to carry the 1911. I carry H&K P2000 .40 S&W.

I got the gun, cuz I want to have as much firepower as I can when the zombies/commies/libs/hippies come. Or maybe because I just love guns and want to build a nice collection to pass onto my grand kids :D

Plus, we all know the mistique around .45 and 1911, I think it's a *great* pistol, and I certainly wan't stop on having just one... after all, I want many many grand kids, and at least one 1911 for each little bugger:evil:

I know the gun is usually carried cocked and locked, but I was wondering if there is a safe alternative.

See, I will probably leave the gun home as means of self defense for my fiance while I'm not there. We have 90-TWO .40S&W Beretta in the living room in a hidden location, and I want her to have another one ready to use in the bedroom, in case, God forbid, she ever has to defend herself at home. We have no kids, and hardly any guests, and we both shoot and respect guns, so we're not worried about having loaded firearms around the house. We also believe in being able to defend yourself, hence the need for second loaded gun in the second major room in the appartment. That's all.

Thanks for all your answers! I'll take my finace to the range this weekend and show her how the 1911 works when it comes to safety etc.


Old Fuff
December 6, 2006, 11:11 PM
A lot of this has been covered in this link:


To continue...


You need to do some research... Study up... Learn a little ...

In 1898 John Browning entered into an agreement with Colt. He would design some "magazine pistols," and they would manufacturer and market them within an assigned area, that included the United States, England and a large part of South America. Browning would receive a royalty on each pistol sold. He had a similar agreement with Fabrique Nationale (FN) in Belgium that covered most of Europe.

One of the first pistols marketed by Colt in 1900 was a short-recoil, locked breech, .38 caliber pistol that did not have either a safety lock (manual safety) nor grip safety. It did have a firig pin block of sorts in that the rear sight could be moved to block the pin. But the following year they not only discontinued the rear sight/firing pin block - but also took back previously made pistols and removed it!

I can safely say that Browning didn’t intend on users carrying the piece, with a round in the chamber, cocked but unlocked. We may not get along on anything else, but I hope we can agree on this point.

So how was one supposed to carry the pistol? Well they could:

1. Carry it with a loaded magazine but empty chamber, in which case a cocked or uncocked hammer was a moot point, but obviously with the hammer down was preferred.

2. Carry it with the magazine and chamber loaded, but with the hammer down. Now this idea drives some of today’s users of the 1911 pistol up the wall, but it didn’t bother Browning at all. But then, what did he know…

Well he knew a lot. He had designed and patented what was called an “Inertia Firing Pin.” The firing pin itself was shorter then the tunnel in the slide, and the pin was held backwards by a coil spring. When the hammer (falling from full cock) hit the firing pin it was driven forward and literally bounced off the primer, detonating it in the process. The firing pin spring pushed the pin back to its rearward position so that the nose did not rest on the next cartridge that was fed into the chamber. So long as the hammer was carried in a fully down position the firing pin could not be impacted with enough force to drive it forward to hit the primer.

However in theory, if the pistol was dropped on the muzzle, and the firing pin spring was weak, kinked, or otherwise damaged, and the sun/moon was under a cloud on the fifth Sunday of the month, the firing pin might, because of its own weight, go forward with enough velocity to set off a primer.

This makes an excellent theory, but in practice such an incident is so rare that one is hard pressed to find an actual, confirmed case of it happening. I only know of 2 such incidents (and I’ve been looking for them for over 50 years) and in both cases the firing pin spring had been degraded by extensive dry firing with nothing but air in the chamber. This practice can indeed ruin firing pin springs.

All of Browning’s pistols that had exposed hammers (the kind that you can cock) had inertia firing pins, and that included both the 1905 and 1911 .45 designs. However the 1911 prototypes did not have a manual safety lock until about 4 months before the Army adopted the pistol, and it was included over Browning’s recommendations.

I can say without question that prior to 1911 no one was carrying a Colt .38 or .45 pistol cocked and locked because none of them has a safety lock (manual safety).

In or about 1938, Colt introduced a positive firing pin block that would prevent any possibility of an unintentional discharge if the pistol was dropped on the muzzle. It was called the “Swartz Safety,” after William Swartz who invented it. Colt tried to sell the Army on it, but Uncle Sam (and Brazil for that matter) wouldn’t buy it. After World War Two Colt quietly dropped it.

Now I don’t really care how people decide to carry their 1911 style pistols, but it is a solid fact that generations of users – both civilian and military – occasionally carried the pistol with the hammer down on a loaded chamber. If this practice had led to an inordinate number of unintentional shootings two things would have happened. First, it would have been widely reported in firearms literature of the day, and second, Colt would have done something about it long before the Series 80 pistols came out. The fact that neither of these things happened should tell you something.

Does this mean I advocate carrying the pistol with the hammer down on a loaded chamber? No, not particularly - although I have done it, and in my younger days following World War Two the practice was not uncommon. In fact it was more common then cocked & locked. It remains a viable option that Browning included in his designs. Those that prefer it can certanily use it if they want to. If cocked & locked, or hammer-down/chamber empty is more your cup of tea then take your pick.

cracked butt
December 6, 2006, 11:29 PM
Good write-up Old Fuff.

I'd be more worried about the lowering one of the reduced-sized, dehorned, shrouded by a beavertail hammers than it going off due to jarring. Not as accessable or as much gripping surface as the old spur hammers in my opinion.

Prince Yamato
December 6, 2006, 11:37 PM
Are you just asking if you can do a "hollywood de-cock"?

Push cocked hammer down like you were going to 'over-cock', placing weight on the hammer.

Lightly engage trigger

Let hammer ride your thumb down to rest, while easing trigger forward

Am I missing something here? Works on Revolvers and DA/SAs as well.

Old Fuff
December 6, 2006, 11:43 PM
The better elongated/commander style hammer spurs that are checkered aren't too bad, although I think they look like.... never mind. :uhoh:

In the unlikely event that I was setting up a pistol with lowering the hammer on a loaded chamber in mind I would use one of the World War Two era Colt wide-spur hammers combined with either a USGI grip safety, or a wide, but flat beavertail, such as one made by the King Gunsight Co. in California.

Forget the duck-butts... :neener:

I prefer to hold the pistol in my strong hand, and use the other to lower the hammer, as I can get a better hold on the hammer that way.

December 6, 2006, 11:49 PM
If you are asking these types of questions, you should seriously consider the type of firearm you plan on CCW'ing. Maybe a 1911 style .45 is just not in your tea leaves. There isn't anything wrong with that... some people just have problems with a .45 cocked and locked.

Can you safely lower the hammer on a 1911 with a round chambered?


Is it recomended to have it chambered and cocked + savety on, or hammer lowered?

Chambered,cocked and safety on. Only way to carry. That is my own personal opinion... not a flat out NO like the above question. I'm sure someone carries hammer down on a loaded round, but I think it's dangerous. I'm not scientific enough to back it up... I just think that the effort used to cock a .45 in a stressful situation is easily enough to engage the grip safety and pull the trigger in that moment of haste.

It's not like .45s are some kind of elite carry firearm, but they do kind of have their own niche. You can't be scared around them. You have to know and respect the 4 rules. You are almost held to a higher regard when it comes to cleaning and lubing. You lose that big initial trigger pull... BUT you gain an accurate shot first and every round thereafter... and none of us are going to pull our piece to prove a point or whatnot... if I ever, in the one in a thousand chance, ever pull my firearm... I want to hit what I aim at, easily... and create the biggest hole.

If you are that worried about safety, check out the 642 club... 5 shot DA revolvers in .38 spl... hard to F that up. :D

First post... woot!

December 6, 2006, 11:55 PM
I have done this with my revolver at the range, pointed downrange, just to make sure I *could*. Theoretically, it is possible with a revolver to need to do that (unlikely, but possible, if you shoot SA) and yes, I can do it. And I have crummy hands and arthritis...

But with a 1911? No reason to...although there's no reason you *couldn't* as far as I know. I carry cocked and locked, though.


Jim March
December 7, 2006, 12:01 AM
Old Fuff speaks truth.

Today, one of the ways to make the original 1911 design (what is now called "series 70" or prior) safer is to run a titanium firing pin. Being lighter, it has less possible momentum if the gun is dropped nose-first fully loaded. In this sort of "inertia accident" (which is VERY rare even with a steel firing pin!), the position of the hammer up or down just doesn't matter.

Now: if I had a fully cocked and safety off 1911 in hand and it turned out I didn't need to shoot, the safest thing I could do prior to re-holstering would be to sweep the safety back on, with careful muzzle direction control. Failing that, if the safety broke or something and I only had one hand available, I'd do the sort of de-cock drill used on revolvers all the time: throw the pad of your thumb completely in front of the hammer, pull the trigger and quickly release it, and then slowly slide the thumb up and out.

Or drop the mag and rack it, which is also possible one-handed with some care - hold the slide with your hand, rack the back of the grip against your thigh.

This is all assuming I'm doing something VERY important with my other hand, like...I dunno, keeping my grip on a ladder? Or driving?

Old Fuff
December 7, 2006, 12:07 AM

Unfortunately I know about arthritis...:banghead:

As you lower the hammer on your double-action revolver let the trigger come forward too. That way if you slip the hammer block (S&W) or transfer bar safety (Ruger, Taurus and most others) will prevent an unintentional discharge. Practice with an unloaded gun and you'll quickly see what I mean.

If you hold the trigger back the safeties will be kept in the "fire" position and won't work.

Jim Watson
December 7, 2006, 12:19 AM
I was well grounded in Condition 2 carry... by a southpaw who learned the techniques in a day before ambidextrous safeties.

But that was then and this is now, and there are more lawyers roaming the earth. The makers are mucking with the design and studied competence and acceptance of responsibility among users is running short. I don't say there is no place for C2 and there is certainly the history for it, but it is not the FIRST thing you need to be doing with your FIRST 1911.
Condition 1 or Condition 3 til you are experienced is the smart way to go.

P.S. I have seen DA revolvers lock up when the hammer was eased; something in the machinery got out of whack.

December 7, 2006, 12:22 AM
I will probably leave the gun home as means of self defense for my fiance while I'm not there. We have 90-TWO .40S&W Beretta in the living room in a hidden location, and I want her to have another one ready to use in the bedroom, in case, God forbid, she ever has to defend herself at home.If that is what you want, then it would be far better to let her chose her own weapon for home defense. She may find the 1911 to be her choice, she might want a shotgun, she might want a revolver. If she is going to take self defense seriously enough to use a gun, she should invest herself enough in the idea to buy her own gun and train to use it. Here (http://www.corneredcat.com/) is an informative website regarding firearms and women.

My opinion on your question though........Is there a safe way to lower the hammer on a loaded chamber? Certainly. Aim it at a safe target and pull the trigger. Repeat until the magazine is empty, or engage the thumb safety.

Old Fuff
December 7, 2006, 12:31 AM
I have seen DA revolvers lock up when the hammer was eased; something in the machinery got out of whack.

That can happen if the trigger gets ahead of the hammer. Normally the hammer is all of the way down before the trigger is released. It will take a little practice, and to a degree it depends on the make of revolver. But once you realize what's going on you can avoid the hitch or lock-up.

The alternative is to lower the hammer without the safeties working.

Also, as with the pistol, you can hold the revolver in the strong hand, and lower the hammer with the other one.

Jim Watson
December 7, 2006, 12:50 AM
Well, ok. But that is not a situation that arises for me. I seldom shoot a revolver SA - except a SAA - and when I do it is nearly always for group or chrono test and when the gun is cocked, it is shot. I can't recall the last time I had occasion to lower the hammer on a revolver without firing. Not allowed in SASS, you pull your smokewagon and may not holster it until empty.

I know of two instances of DA revolvers AD-ing when uncocking was attempted. One by a very experienced shooter who for some reason cocked a revolver in his gun store. Tried to ease the hammer, dropped it, and Bang.

The other by a lady who brings to mind and exemplifies a common shooter's cliche:
Get the little woman a revolver. She is too weak to rack the slide on an auto, and too dumb to operate all the levers and buttons anyhow. So she can't haul through the DA of her sixshooter on every shot, either; not and hit anything, so she drifts into SA revolver shooting.
Case 1. Lady does a room-to-room search upon finding her front door open; COCKED M28 in hand. After all, that is how she was accustomed to shooting it. When no intruder was found, she attempted to lower the hammer and slipped, dumping a round in the floor.

And another, though she never made it to the decocking stage.
Case 2. Lady does a room-to-room search after hearing something go Bump In The Night; COCKED GP 100 in hand, etc. She rounds a corner, is startled by something - no intruder ever actually seen - flinches, clinches, and launches a round through the water bed. Fortunately, she misses the matress and just rips the bolster over the siderail. Phew.

December 7, 2006, 07:02 AM
Are you sure will this work?? Or Can it be done? I don't mean to be picky as I don't know.

" Failing that, if the safety broke or something and I only had one hand available, I'd do the sort of de-cock drill used on revolvers all the time: throw the pad of your thumb completely in front of the hammer, pull the trigger and quickly release it, and then slowly slide the thumb up and out."

I don't think I could depress the grip saftey on my Remington-Rand .45 with my thumb anywhere near the hammer and at the same time pull the trigger. I could be wrong, I have really big hands and fat fingers. I'll have to do some experimenting as I learn somethiing new all the time.

For the record I have never attempted to decock a 1911 on a loaded chamber.


Jim March
December 7, 2006, 12:03 PM
Oh dear. Whoops. I forgot about the grip safety! Yeah, that WOULD put a major crimp in the "thumb in front of the hammer" plan, unless you had NBA-sized hands that could wrap halfway round a basketball.


So that's a two-handed drill no matter what.

Leaving either the "sweep the safety back on" or "funky one-hand rack" as the only one-handed yet safe drills available to reholster a cocked 1911.

Sweeping the safety on and going back to cocked'n'locked looks best by far. And THAT is why so many people are calling C'n'L the safest gameplan...if that's what you're used to, you can revert back to it under stress such as a post-firing reholster situation.


December 7, 2006, 01:23 PM
I don't do it, but this is how i would: gun pointed in a safe direction, left thumb over the firing pin and up against the hammer, release the safety, pull the trigger so that thehammer falls against your thumb, release the trigger and grip safety with the right hand, grab the hammer with the right hand thumb and index finger and slide the left thumb out of the way and lower the hammer the rest of the way. I know it will be resting on the halfcock notch, but it cannot ignite the primer from that height and if it is a series 80 that's not an issue. I really wouldn't ever lower the hammer on a series 70, if anything slips someone is going to get hurt.

I used to have a cz75 without a deckocker, but it has the firing pin block, so the above method is what I used.

December 7, 2006, 01:34 PM
I just looked at your picture, looks like a 70 series mil spec, there is no 100% safe way to lower the hammer on that. Just like others have said earlier.

Old Fuff
December 7, 2006, 02:12 PM
Would ya' settle for 98.97%...? :neener: ;)

December 7, 2006, 03:10 PM
Lots of people talking past each other here.

First: Let your wife pick the weapon she is comfortable with. You're not sure how to operate it safely, so you ask around on some internet forum instead of taking a safety course or doing some research yourself? Sheesh, man, who's going to teach her?

Second: Obviously, lowering the hammer on a loaded chamber can be done, has been done, and is still done. Indeed it was taught as the right way for quite a long time, back in the days when people expected to be held responsible for their own actions.

That said, would I do it? Absolutely not. There are simply too many things to go wrong. If I ever have to operate a pistol under stress, all fine motor skills will have gone out the window. Hell, I had blood drawn at the hospital last night, and it made me feel so ill that I couldn't even wipe the sweat off my own forehead. Knowing that about myself, I don't train myself to do anything at the range that I wouldn't trust myself to do under intense emotional and physiological stress.

But if you think you can safely lower the hammer on a live round when your body is full of adrenaline and there are people shouting "gun! gun! gun!" around you, go ahead and teach yourself that habit on the square range.

Just don't expect my tax dollars to pay for your hospital bill when you slip and the slide breaks your thumb off, or for your lawyer when you're on trial for "shooting at" a bad guy who had already surrendered. Pick your own doomsday scenario. Just remember that you are intentionally violating Rule 3 when you do this. Enjoy.

December 7, 2006, 05:14 PM
Would ya' settle for 98.97%...?

Yeah, if you lower the hammer 99 times and skip the 100th you will be alright.:)

Old Fuff
December 7, 2006, 05:17 PM
Still safe... given the kind of .45's they make today that 100th round will have failed to chamber... :neener:

December 7, 2006, 10:27 PM
Earlier in the day I had cut my thumb. Later that night I decocked my 1911 using the cut thumb. I did a early release of the hammer due to my cut thumb. I did have the pistol pointed away from others. The .45 ACP 230 grain FMJ did make a hole in my roof.
I would not do it again. Drop the magazine, rack the slide and eject the round. Cocked and locked or empty chamber.
As I got lazy and old I deal with a DA revolver.

Old Fuff
December 7, 2006, 11:09 PM
Yup, I agree... anyone who would try to lower the hammer with a cut thumb should stick to cocked & locked or an empty chamber.

Probably the latter... :uhoh:

If you enjoyed reading about "Lowering hammer on SA chambered 1911-A1 .45" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!