small hands running a 1911


August 6, 2008, 07:24 AM

found this site:

He makes good sense regarding a two-handed approach to the 1911. That's basically how I run my PT145 and similar-sized pistols.

However, my 1911 and my Witness pistols are too large for me to be able to reach the mag release with my thumb. It physically just won't reach.

What are some speedy methods that folks have found to work around this?

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August 6, 2008, 07:36 AM
I've used my left hand for years, for the same reason. Works fine.

August 6, 2008, 07:36 AM
I should probably clarify:

Here's how I do a mag change in the Taurus:

shoot to slidelock (I know, I need to work on that), then
-slightly cock pistol aside in my shooting (right) hand, thumb the mag release as I'm reaching to the belt and grabbing the spare mag
-grab spare mag, index down the front, point the index at the magwell and guide and seat, not slam, it in.
-return to target, right thumb goes over the safety, as left thumb hits the slide release

even the Taurus (in this case a PT145, Millenium Pro .45ACP) is a stretch for me to reach the mag release with right thumb. It's partially due to hand size, partially due to some damage in the right thumb and limited RoM.

August 6, 2008, 07:39 AM
loplop- you can't reach the mag release with right thumb either?

August 6, 2008, 09:18 AM

Check out this Todd Jarrett video. You would be interested in the part at about 1:10 (Slow Motion at 1:20)

I've tried the method he demonstrates (which is similar to what is described in the link you posted) with good success. I think the key is that his left hand comes off of the pistol slightly as he goes to release the slide and moves back to his two handed grip. Since the hand is not anchored anywhere and is moving towards the slide stop anyway (as you regain your grip) reaching shouldn't be an issue.

August 6, 2008, 09:25 AM
don't they make a ton of aftermarket grips for a 1911? i've seen slim grips out there.

on my CZ i had to make my own flat grips too. i think i have short fingers. :(

August 6, 2008, 12:42 PM
Another short-fingered, left-hand slide stop releaser here. I only have to use my left hand with my 1911 and CZ. My Taurus and Glock are within reach of my right thumb.

August 6, 2008, 12:43 PM
funny... i can reach the one on the 40b and SP-01 but i can't reach a glock.

August 6, 2008, 12:59 PM
I should add that I have the "extended" slide stop for my Glock. Adds maybe a 1/4" to the lever, but it adds leverage too.

August 6, 2008, 01:48 PM
ah, that would explain it lol...

Gordon Fink
August 6, 2008, 02:20 PM
I was trained not to use the slide stop. Its a slide stop, not a slide release. I use the hand-over method for magazine changes in practice.

I also have trouble reaching such controls without changing my grip.

~G. Fink

August 6, 2008, 03:11 PM
What Gordon Fink said: it's a "slide stop".

You should practice using the slingshot technique to chamber your cartridges.

August 6, 2008, 03:30 PM
Hmmm. I'm a lefty, so the "slingshot" method is all I can do.

I've got an HK P2000 with an ambi slide stop, so when it was my only defensive pistol, I used that with my left (strong) thumb, no problem... but when I added new pistols to the mix, I decided to consolidate my manual of arms for all my defensive handguns and just slingshot that slide.

I'm not an IPSC competitor, so speed doesn't matter to me as much as not screwing up and trying to thumb a slide release that isn't there on 2/3rds of my defensive handguns :)

1911 guy
August 6, 2008, 05:20 PM
Most people are too afraid of loosening their firing grip at all to reach the mag release. I turn the gun *slightly* and use my right thumb. However, using your left thumb to depress the release and then stripping the mag out will work better for you if you need to turn the gun very much. You don't want to get too far out of firing grip.

Now about the slide stop/release thing. I use the slingshot method now that I have to carry a different handgun sometimes and it's not the same location as my CCW. Commonality is king. However, using it as a release is perfectly acceptable and has been so until the advent of plastic guns with merely vestigial controls that are so small as to be unuseable.

August 6, 2008, 11:59 PM
Question is mostly about the Mag Release. I need to spend some time at the range futzing around with randomly-loaded mags.


August 7, 2008, 01:42 PM
I can't reach it either.

For one-handed shooting I have to shift the pistol in my hand to reach the mag catch .. using thumb for right, middle for left.

If two-handed, I roll my hand down and release the mag with my left thumb. (If lefty, I reach across and get it with my right middle.)

Slide catch .. right, two-handed, I use my left thumb.
I prefer to only slingshot the slide if I'm going to fire right handed, one hand.
(For one or two-handed, left .. left index works if there's a good profile on the slide catch).


August 7, 2008, 02:13 PM
Question is mostly about the Mag Release.

Oops, based on the link I assumed it was about the slide stop...

In my limited experience with pistols I haven't yet picked one up that allowed me to easily reach the mag release with my thumb. You're not alone. I always have to shift my grip slightly. Maybe it's best that way so you don't accidentally hit it while shooting.

August 7, 2008, 10:32 PM
Brownell's stocks an extended mag release produced by Nighthawk Custom ( They have another one by Wilson Combat (, and one by Nowlin ( too. It might help you some. I like this style of extended mag release because it is essentially the same as the original one, just a bit longer. If you want a mag release with a larger diameter, they have those ( too.

If your thumb is too short and you want to drop the magazine with your right thumb, then they might help. An alternative technique would be to drop the mag with your left thumb before you reach for your spare.

Regarding slingshooting the slide, I do that too, but it's nice to have more than one tool in the box. I've found that using the slide stop to chamber a round after a reload gets the next shot on target faster. I've seen no ill effects on my slide stop or my slide over the years.

August 7, 2008, 10:39 PM
Thanks Xavier. BTW, love your blog- quite interesting stuff there!

My problem is partially small hands, partially ergonomics-- my hands have been through a lot and I've got limited range of motion in the thumb of the right one.

Any pics of these installed?

August 7, 2008, 10:52 PM

Each of these pistols has a normal diameter extended mag release. The Commander has one by Ed Brown (I think) and the others are by Nowlin.

I'm not sure if one of these will help or not actually. The reach needed to get a thumb on the mag release would essentially remain the same.

One thing that might help you though is an Ed Brown grip safety. Each of these pistols has that too. The Ed Brown grip safety differs from other beavertail grip safeties in that it decreases the amount of space between the web of the hand and the trigger/mag release, as well as placing the web of the hand higher up behind the bore axis of the gun.

If you install an Ed Brown grip safety, be aware that a significant amount of metal is removed from the back of the gun, and fitting is involved. This will require refinishing if the gun is not stainless.

With limited range of motion in your right thumb, I think I would try releasing the magazine with the left thumb prior to reaching for your spare magazine. I would be willing to bet with practice you can be almost as quick.

FWIW, what type of 1911 are you shooting?

August 7, 2008, 10:56 PM
I'm shooting a Rock Island Armory GI model. Been looking at a beavertail as well.

Don't laugh at the RIA 1911. Thing is a tack driver. :)

I'm getting some pretty serious hammerbite though, so now it's time to decide if I want to dive into doing a bit of gunsmithing myself. I only paid $280 for this weapon, can't see paying a smith half that as well for a beavertail install.

August 7, 2008, 11:18 PM
I think in your case, using the left thumb might be the way to go. Trying it on an empty 1911 at my desk, it seems to work pretty well if you press with your left thumb before you unwrap your left fingers from the firing grip.

The jig for the EB beavertail ( would be $24. The Ed Brown beavertail itself would be $37.15 (man how prices have gone up!) That is $65 spent just to do the job yourself. Toss in a parkerizing job, even a DIY kitchen stove job (, and you are looking at $80-$100 to do it yourself.

Worth it perhaps if it solved your problem and you kept the gun forever, but I would advise you to try a 1911 with an Ed Brown beavertail first to see if it actually does what you hope it will.

I don't laugh at other people's guns. I laugh at my targets sometimes, but laughing at other people's guns isn't what I'm about.

To solve the hammerbite (, you might want to bob the hammer a bit. A touch of cold blue will cover the small amount of bare metal there.

August 8, 2008, 12:19 AM
Hmm- didn't realize it could be done so cheaply. I'm a very DIY sort, but admit I was concerned about ruining the gun by taking too much off.

May have to order those parts. I was already considering a refinish job using Duracoat on this weapon, depending on how well it turns out on my CZ82. That weapons shoots great, but the painted finish took lots of wear with the Czech Army.

I'm already looking at another 1911- likely a Taurus PT1911, which already has the beavertail. Likely will put it on layaway tomorrow.

August 8, 2008, 06:40 AM
If you want to do it yourself, (I do) the trick is to go slow and constantly test fit. Compared to a forgede frame, the RIA frame will allow fast metal removal. Clamp the frame in a Vise, the inside suporeted by a block of wood, attach the jig and use a flat file. Use rouge, oil and the beavertail itself for the final fitting.

Remember you can take metal off a lot faster and easier than you can put it back.

Here is an article ( that might guide you. Here is another (

I still advise you to try to find a gun so equipped that you can shoot. Even though I like this mod, it may not solve your issue, and you may not like the way it feels.

August 8, 2008, 09:45 AM
JeepGeek, I thought you meant the slide stop, as well. I do shift my grip to push the mag release with my right thumb, drop the mag, insert new, shift back to firing grip, tap, release slide stop with my left thumb, and go back to shooting.

Maybe I'll try using my left thumb from now on.

BTW--I dry-fired a Colt Series 70 reproduction the other day and it was GREAT for my normal-sized hands; the short trigger really felt great. Won't help with the controls, but it is an idea to change out if you start DIYing some stuff.

The other thing you can do, no filing needed, is to install slim grips.

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