New 1911 hammer design


May 11, 2008, 12:44 AM
I've been pondering this the past couple of days.

Why, on almost every "tactical" 1911 you see these days, do they feature a skeletonized commander hammer? I know that the old spur hammers would bite the web of your hand, so I understand the shape issue, but why skeletonized?

Does it make the hammer strike the firing pin faster for quicker shot-to-shot times or less elay between trigger pull / ignition?

My thinking was I would rather have a heavier hammer, to more positively ignite cartridges that may happen to have a hard primer.

My idea of a perfect external hammer is that of a SIG P series. Short spur, solid construction, still has a serrated top to give your thumb better purchase, and a sligt indention so the flesh of your thumb pad kind of hooks into the hammer when pulling rearward.

What do you guys thnk of such a design? I know it's not really neccessary, and the ones now work fine, but even a little improvement is a good one, right?

There's a custom motorcycle shop down the road that has the qquipment to fabricate anything from just about any metal, regardless of size. I think it might be worth looking into.

1911 Tuner, and others, any thoughts? Feel free to correct any flaws in my logic behind the heavier hammer / more inertia to strike firing pin theory.

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May 11, 2008, 01:23 AM
You don't need alot of weight for the hammer to positively ignite the primer. In fact, if you're really worried about hitting those hard primers (pretty rare if you have decent ammo), you can get a heavier mainspring. THis will increase somewhat your trigger pull, but will have more probabilty of igniting the primer. I wouldn't worry too much about it though. You're idea is a novel one though. You are correct in making the connection for a skeletonized commander style hammer, it is to decrease lock time. In other words, the hammer falls quicker after you pull the trigger. This means less delay from "click" to "pow"! I have 4 handguns with really light hammers and I have never had a failure to fire. So I'm not sure if the extra weight would really be necessary. But if you are REALLY worried about of surge of hard primers, than your hammer idea may be a million dollar idea.:D

May 11, 2008, 07:16 AM
Well obviously it goes with the skeletonized trigger. :evil:

.. and yes, I have one with both..

May 11, 2008, 09:03 PM
How much faster is that skeletonized hammer anyways? Can you really tell a difference?

May 11, 2008, 09:44 PM
I think the skeletonized hammer is to reduce the lock time, the time between when the sear releases the hammer, and when the cartridge actually fires. A lighter hammer will get started moving sooner than a heavy hammer. But, you may have a point in that a poorly designed skeletonized hammer could bite you just as easily as a standard hammer. Why not shorten the spur to reduce weight, but still leave a nub for cocking?

May 11, 2008, 09:49 PM
they make it already.

Its called the commander style hammer.

I've also seen cutoff standard hammers before.

May 11, 2008, 11:59 PM
Yes, here's another on the PT1911. I like the look of the skeletonized one better though.

May 12, 2008, 12:09 AM
What's the vertical setscrew on top of that hammer?

May 12, 2008, 02:51 AM
I have a EGW Commander hammer that's been thinned to about 2/3 the regular width and the steel on the insides has also been removed for faster 'turn' when disconnected from the sear.

While this may help in a Competition race gun, there is no noticeable change in a SD/carry gun.

May 12, 2008, 04:39 AM
Improved lock time is the goal.

When I switch to a skeletonized hammer I also switch to a lighter firing pin and spring.

The combination improves lock time and the faster things happen between the sear and the primer the more likely you'll hit where you WERE pointing when the trigger broke.

Lock time in modern pistols is nothing like what it was in the days of flintlocks, but the principles are the same. The quicker it goes bang after the trigger breaks the more likely you'll hit where you aim.

Besides, they look good and are a good indicator of a better quality gun.

May 12, 2008, 05:58 AM
Watch Todd Jarrett shoot a basically stock 1911. None of us are going to shoot fast enough AND score any kind of hits that we'll notice the reduced hammer mass's effect on lock time. Old GI 1911s are REALLY fast guns from shot to shot, and the hammer on those looked like it could be used to replace a broken California Framer.
So, the reduced hammer mass isn't what I would call "useful" to do anything other than accomidate a beavertail type grip safety, or to defeat hammer bite. The Commander ring hammer accomplished this decades ago, and the later versions were skeletonized because, let's face it, they look cool. I cannot find fault with the "looks cool" aspect of things, as I have many guns, cars, motorcycles, guitars, furniture, clothes, etc that "look cool" and that was the deciding factor over some other thing of equal usefulness.

May 12, 2008, 06:19 AM
I would respectfully contend you won't notice the difference of the improved lock time, but I would also contend where your hits on the target end up will be different with a faster lock time. You won't notice that either because it would be very difficult to quantify.

It should be noted that no upgrade by itself is truly significant. It is the cumulative effect of a number of upgrades that add up to significant improvement in accuracy.

Also, I don't have numbers handy, but the lock time on a 1911 is relatively long (compared to my tuned guns a stock 1911 seems like it takes forever for the hammer to fall). It can be cut in about half with match trigger, sear, hammer, firing pin, springs, etc.

May 12, 2008, 08:58 AM
+1 with Loop.
I noticed a big change after I took my stock, bare bones GI 1911 and decked it out. THe trigger pull being lightened, skeleton hammer, match sear, match sear spring, lightwieght mainspring, titanium firing pin, all come together to accomplish decreased lock time and help achieve greater accuracy.

May 12, 2008, 10:13 AM
Ignoring the question of low hammer mass induced light primer strikes, the light hammers do decrease lock time, all else being equal.

Lighten the mainspring...and it's not as fast...and you're headed back toward square one.

As to how much a few thousandths of a second faster hammer fall actually means is debatable. If the pistol is a super-acccurate Bullseye level works to eliminate a little of the human factor. A little.
Serious Bullseye competitors are different Benchrest shooters. They'll spend hours and big bucks just to shave 2 thousandths of an inch off of a group size...or even the possibility of a couple thou. I saw a fistfight break out at a Benchrest match once over a protest...and the difference in group sizes was almost too tiny to measure with a dial caliper. If I hadn't gotten in the way and received a knot on my noggin...and a set of broken would have been funny. Even so, it was pretty amusing.

Every little bit helps in that venue.

For the average shooter or IDPA/USPSA competitor who isn't chasing bugholes at 50 isn't going to be worth the expense and the increased odds of having a problem related to the fire control group.

May 12, 2008, 11:56 AM
different Benchrest shooters:D

I've been beaten out by a few .0001 th's in an Agg before, so I know how it feels, but I did not want to fight about it. (.0011 if I remember right.) :)

May 12, 2008, 12:57 PM
What's the vertical setscrew on top of that hammer?

That would be the integral lock Taurus is putting in the PT1911's.

May 12, 2008, 02:00 PM
I think lighter hammers might actually work better ignition wise then a heavier hammer when combined with light competition springs and a lightweight firing pin. I know that principle applies in S&W revolvers that are being tuned for a 6 pound DA pull (I also know that is probably apples to oranges).

Competition 1911s (or even worse, competition striker fired autos) are not known for reliable ignition when hard or high primers show up.

May 12, 2008, 03:40 PM
I dis-liked the stock Main Spring Housing(MSH) on my S&W 1911 The stock MSH was arched & checkered, as well as polymer. I shopped
at Brownell's and got the Les Baer Custom stainless steel (to match the
rest of the gun ) serrated flat MSH. I gave it to my gun smith and he
advised for less than $20 I could also replace the stock Main Spring Cup
as well as the Hammer Strut with Titanium replacement parts Brownell's also
offers. I had him go ahead with it while fitting the new MSH - he polished
the interior tube the Main Spring resides in which is a Good Idea me thinks
he said the two TI parts are lighter for a quicker "ignition" time tween trigger
and the hammer falling - we would have also replaced the firing pin with a Ti replacement as he had one in stock but the .45 model Firing Pin he had didn't fit. So, whatever S&W uses with the firing pin block they use might be propritary? It's not that big a deal, he said Ti Firing pins should only be dry fired with a snap cap. I've got snap caps so I use them regardless. I can't tell the difference ignition time but all the stock parts are in small ziploc bags in the Blue Box just in case. I can't see any logical reason to go to a weaker main spring FWIW

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