1911 hammer down is it safe?


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rhino57
March 5, 2009, 01:37 PM
I was given an old modle 1911 colt that my Dad got from DCM many years ago for $8.50. It had been refinished prior to my Dad getting it, nice looking pistol. What I was wondering on an origanal GOVT.1911 45 is it safe to carry with a round in the chamber with hammer down. Does it have a rebounding firing pin?

Lance

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PT1911
March 5, 2009, 01:49 PM
1911s are very safe firearms, unless there is some rediculous malfunction, it is impossible for one to fire while the hammer is down. I suppose if one was dropped directlyonto the hammer and there was something wrong with the gun prior to the drop. there are several safety features on the 1911 that allow it to be carried safely loaded and cocked comfortably. they grip safey must be depressed and the thumb safety disengaged prior to actually fireing the gun.

MaterDei
March 5, 2009, 01:54 PM
It would be MUCH safer to carry it with the hammer cocked than with the hammer down. I can see a lot of potential safety issues with trying to manually cock a 1911 with a round in the chamber, not the least of which is that the gun will be unusable in a defense situation until you manage to get it cocked.

The gun was designed to be carried cocked and locked and is perfectly safe to be carried that way.

krs
March 5, 2009, 01:57 PM
Yes, it has a firing pin spring. If you want to carry hammer down (not a recommended practice) it would be a good idea to make sure of that spring, and a great idea to change the spring for one of Wolff's extra power versions. The Wolff spring will not alter the shooting characteristics or cause any misfires or the like but it will add an extra measure of resistance to the forward movement of the firing pin should you drop the pistol square on the hammer with a round chambered.

PT1911
March 5, 2009, 02:01 PM
I was answering in regards to the original question of accidental discharge while uncocked, but I absolutely agree with Masterdei, the process of loading a 1911, then easing down the hammer, then cocking the hammer prior to having to use it would be extremely hazardous. especially if it was the daily pattern... continually doing this on a daily basis is asking for your finger to slip one day and an accident to occur... I would suggest carrying the gun the way it was meant to be carried..if you are uncomfortable with that, then carry it without one in the chamber and simply rack the slide if needed. this is a new argument, but safer than carrying loaded and uncocked.

NavyLCDR
March 5, 2009, 02:16 PM
carry it without one in the chamber and simply rack the slide if needed. this is a new argument

OMG! The one in the pipe vs unloaded carry argument migrating all the way to the gunsmith forum! WOW! :D

I really have nothing useful or relevent to add to this thread excpet - maybe try to find the old military field manual covering the 1911 and see what it says?

PT1911
March 5, 2009, 02:21 PM
"OMG! The one in the pipe vs unloaded carry argument migrating all the way to the gunsmith forum! WOW!"

just attempting to be thorough and hit all angles of the question... better to give too much information than not enough and get someone hurt...:neener:


next time I will just say

"no its not safe"

lol:D

rcmodel
March 5, 2009, 03:17 PM
Leaving out the "What if your thumb slips" argument:
It is safe hammer down ALL the WAY, or Cocked & Locked.

It is not safe when the hammer is on the "Safety notch", "half-cock notch", or more properly the Intercept Notch.
It is there only to catch the hammer if your thumb slips while cocking or lowering the hammer, or in the event of a damaged sear causing a full-auto gun.

But it is not a safe carry position because an impact to the hammer could break the sear or bend a sear pin, and the gun would then fire.

When the gun is Cocked & Locked, the grip safety tang protects the hammer from impact.

It cannot fire with the hammer down against the slide because the firing pin is of the inertia type, and is shorter then the hole in the slide.

rc

Spartacus451
March 6, 2009, 06:48 PM
It depends who you ask. It is pretty safe especially on a well fitted gun. According to Bruce Gray (one of the designers of the series 80 firing pin safety) it is still possible for the gun to fire with the hammer down in real world scenarios. Don't shoot the messenger.

rcmodel
March 6, 2009, 07:04 PM
It is possible to get hit by lightening too.

And probably way more likely.

If the FP spring is in good condition, I think you would have to drop a 1911 from a very high height directly on the muzzle to make it fire.

It wasn't a known problem in U.S. service for 70 years, and they used to drop them off horses every once and awhile.

We had to wait on the lawyers to get involved before we knew how dangerous it was!!!

rc

Claude Clay
March 6, 2009, 07:10 PM
if the gun contains no live rounds, hammer down is ok

earplug
March 6, 2009, 07:11 PM
Problem is getting the hammer down safely. Very easy to let the hammer slip off your thumb and blow a hole in your roof.
Its best to leave it locked and cocked if its loaded.

rcmodel
March 6, 2009, 07:16 PM
It's way more a problem with the new-fangled beavertail grip safetys that cover the bobbed off commander hammers.

You can cock and uncock a stock GI 1911 all day with just one hand and never have it slip or go off.

rc

1911Tuner
March 6, 2009, 07:21 PM
You can cock and uncock a stock GI 1911 all day with just one hand and never have it slip or go off.


Bingo.

The sky-is-falling crowd will cringe at the mere thought of lowering the hammer on a 1911...but think nothing of doing it with a revolver or a lever-action rifle.

Said it once, and I'll say it again. If the day comes that I don't have the manual dexterity to safely lower the hammer on any gun with an exposed hammer...I'll sell my guns and take up needlepoint.

rcmodel
March 6, 2009, 07:24 PM
:D:D:D:D:D

+1,000 to that!

BTW: The round in the chamber got smacked a lot harder by the slide slamming shut then it would have if you dropped the gun on the muzzle from belt level on a concrete floor.

Notice the firing pin didn't fly foreward and make the gun go off by itself then, did it.

rc

krs
March 6, 2009, 08:15 PM
I'll sell my guns and take up needlepoint

If you've lost that much dexterity you'll do yourself some serious damage trying needlepoint. Better stick with guns, at least you know the terrain.

1911Tuner
March 6, 2009, 08:41 PM
If you've lost that much dexterity you'll do yourself some serious damage trying needlepoint. Better stick with guns, at least you know the terrain.

But at least I won't hurt anybody but me...

polekitty
March 6, 2009, 09:14 PM
Now here is what I call the $64 question: With the gun loaded (round in the chamber) how do you get the hammer down? Getting it down the way they do it in the movies can become a disaster (doing it with just one hand.) RC is right about things that can go wrong.

I must admit that when I sleep with the thing loaded I have the hammer down, on the "safety" notch. That's to give me something more to do if I wake up to a commotion, so I don't jump and start shooting before I really know what's going on! So, how do I lower the hammer? I hold the gun in my left hand (I'm right handed) with my left thumb down tight between the hammer and firing pin. Then, holding the gun in my right hand same way I would if I were going to shoot, I squeeze the trigger, allowing the hammer to come down on my left thumb--yes, some times it pinches! But there is no place for the hammer to go except on that left thumb. Now, again holding the gun with my right hand in a firing position, but with the trigger finger below the trigger guard, I raise the hammer enough to get my left thumb out from under the trigger, and then lower the hammer to that famous safety notch. At that point the trigger finger was off the trigger, allowing that "Colt's series 70" firing pin lock to function, and I gently lower the hammer to that safe notch. Lowerig the hammer on a "modern" 1911 in this manner it won't fire if something slips. But remember, the only way to lower the hammer is to pull the trigger to release it---so better block the hammer--the way I described is the only way I do it. But except when I'm in bed, sleeping, my 1911 is always loaded, cocked, and locked. If you don't want to carry it that way better get some other kind of gun.

AKElroy
March 6, 2009, 09:37 PM
is it safe to carry with a round in the chamber with hammer down.

John Browning designed the gun to be carried C&L; It's why he put a grip safety on it. Seeing that cocked hammer may look dangerous, but it is no different than an internal striker that happens to be exposed. Browning did NOT expect the hammer to be lowered on a live round in any way other than the trigger being pulled, and you WILL have a slip up if you do this on a regular basis. I KNOW. My Ceiling knows. My neighbors know.

PT1911
March 6, 2009, 09:41 PM
can you say.. skylight?

AKElroy
March 6, 2009, 09:56 PM
If the day comes that I don't have the manual dexterity to safely lower the hammer on any gun with an exposed hammer...I'll sell my guns and take up needlepoint.

I am sure you keep that muzzle in a safe direction when your lowering that hammer; that way you will only need to buy spackle. You are right--I have no issue lowering the hammer on a revolver, in part because that necessity is factored into the design. Revolvers typically have a longer hammer stroke, and a linier weigting to the drop. 1911's have a short stroke, and a very progressive weighting to the drop, meaning it gets much heavier towards the end of the stroke, pulling it off your thumb. Also, your revolver hammer is unobstructed, giving access for good leverage; the 1911 hammer is partially blocked by the grip safety. As for our lever guns, that is what the LEVER is for.

1911Tuner
March 6, 2009, 10:36 PM
John Browning designed the gun to be carried C&L;

Another popular myth. Browning designed the gun...along with a team of Colt's top engineers and input along the way from the Army Ordnance Board...to allow the user the option of carrying it in any one of three states of readiness. Beyond that, he probably didn't give it much thought.

Browning also didn't have a free hand in designing "what he wanted." He designed what the US Army asked for. No more and no less.

To quote the Army's directive:

When action is iminent...The pistol may be readied by chambering a cartridge and engaging the manual safety. When the emergency has passed, the pistol should be cleared and reholstered with the chamber empty.

The notion of continuous cocked and locked carry is a fairly recent one, though some of the old hands did it as far back as the 30s...but most people who carried the big Colt carried it in either 2 or 3.

Now here is what I call the $64 question: With the gun loaded (round in the chamber) how do you get the hammer down? Getting it down the way they do it in the movies can become a disaster (doing it with just one hand.) RC is right about things that can go wrong.

As RC pointed out...in its original format, the gun can be cocked and decocked with one hand smoothly and safely. The original Commander version presents a little more of a problem...but not much. Two hands are recommended with the Commander's rowel hammer. Add a high, upswept grip safety and one of them new-fangled speedy hammers and all bets are off.

You do have to maintain focus on what you're doing, though. Of course, the same can be said of many potentially dangerous activities. Driving...carving a turkey, etc. These things do require one's full attention.

I am sure you keep that muzzle in a safe direction when your lowering that hammer; that way you will only need to buy spackle.

Always...and after 45 years spent handling the 1911...and manually decocking on a hot chamber more times than I could ever count...I havent needed any spackle so far.

Up next:

The horrors of the pinch-check, and how it can cause global warming.

AKElroy
March 6, 2009, 10:52 PM
Always...and after 45 years spent handling the 1911...and manually decocking on a hot chamber more times than I could ever count...I havent needed any spackle so far.

That's great, It is clearly working for you & that's good. I only made it 15 years before my streak was broken. I don't drink, I was wide awake, performing a function I had completed thousands of times. No excuses--IT JUST FLAT ROLLED OFF MY THUMB. I'm 10 years into the new streak, thinking this one will hold as I now keep my 1911's Cocked and Locked. As for questioning the control Browning had over the process, you may as well be challenging the authenticity of the dead sea scrolls in this forum---

1911Tuner
March 6, 2009, 10:58 PM
No excuses--IT JUST FLAT ROLLED OFF MY THUMB.

Yes. One must be careful. If also helps to perform the function correctly. If you'd done it correctly, it wouldn't have rolled off.

Actually, it couldn't have...but that's another discussion.

AKElroy
March 6, 2009, 11:11 PM
Yes. One must be careful. If also helps to perform the function correctly. If you'd done it correctly, it wouldn't have rolled off.

Actually, it couldn't have...but that's another discussion.

Last post from me for this thread; One can be attentive and cautious and still have Murphy step in. I am cautious, focused and attentive; still had an AD. The best ticket for me is to avoid unwarranted risk, and I share that view when prompted. Stay safe--

1911Tuner
March 7, 2009, 08:31 AM
Since the thread has veered slightly off-topic...let's take a look at the design to see if we can figure out
just what Browning's true intent was so that all may have the opportunity to learn something. I've spent a lifetime studying this and other designs...and not just firearms...in an effort to figure out what was in the designer/inventor's head. i.e. "Why did he do that?"

First, accept that on the 1911, there is no form without function. Nothing on it is incidental, and nothing was done on whim. Everything had a purpose...or at least that was how it was on the original. After nearly a century, things have been altered...often at whim...and very often, something was lost in the translation.

The gun was designed to be carried cocked and locked. The evidence is there with
the redundant safeties. Redundancy was Browning's earmark. Nearly everything has
a backup, and sometimes it's not evident to the casual observer. There lies the
true measure of his genius. The grip safety blocks the trigger. The slidelock safety...
aka "Thumb Safety" blocks the sear. The half-cock backs it up in the unlikely event of
a primary system failure.

The gun was designed to be carried with the hammer down on a chambered round.
The evidence is in the rebounding, inertial firing pin. This also serves to
make the gun more drop safe...and it is, as long as the spring is in good shape
and the firing pin is made to spec.

The gun was designed to be thumb-cocked. The hammer is textured...early on with checkering,
and later with serrations. That's there for a reason.

The gun was designed to be manually decocked...and here's where we find the first evidence of
tinkering with the original concept without thought to the function. The original wide-spur hammer
wasn't included because it looked good, and it wasn't there to insure enough hammer mass for reliable ignition. Take a close look at it...if you can even find one any more. Notice that on the face of the spur, there are sharp corners. It would have been just as easy, and probably easier to cut a wide spur without those corners. They're there to facilitate proper manual decocking.

The correct way is with two hands, in the weak/overhand "pinch" method. Those corners virtually insure that the thumb can't slip off, unless the user gets really careless. With that hammer, and even passive attention to the task at hand...it won't slip and cause the pistol to fire. When the redesign removed that spur and those corners...an important part of the function was compromised. It can still be done. It's just not quite as fool-proof.

Look at the original Commander hammer. It has a hole through the rowel to give the thumb and index finger a better purchase for overhand pinch decocking...and it works well. Not as well as the corners on the original hammer, but much better than the narrow spur.

The gun was designed to be carried in Condition Three. Hammer down on an empty chamber. In short...the true intent was to allow the user to operate it...in any way that he wanted to operate it.

I've studied the 1911 pistol intently for nearly a half century...often just laying it on a table and looking at it. Every so often, something "new" would literally jump off the gun and slap me in the face. It was always there, but I just hadn't noticed it...or considered WHY it was there.

Everything is presumably made for a purpose. i.e. "What is it FOR?" On the 1911 pistol...
in its original guise...every single feature had a purpose. There was no wasted effort.

If the textured surface of the hammer wasn't necessary for the intended function, it wouldn't have been there to start with. Checkering and serrating are machining operations. That takes time. It requires tooling and machinery, and a man to do the operation...and thus it costs money and slows delivery of the contract. If it could have been eliminated without compromising the proper function...it would have been. The wide spur was eliminated in order to speed up production. The role of the pistol had changed between the first and second world wars...so it wasn't deemed to be necessary. But...the men who carried it into the killing fields still violated policy, and carried it in condition two because there further you get from Division HQ, the less the rules mean.

Like the idea fostered by the tactical pistoleros that the slide should always be released via slingshot or overhand and never with the slidestop...the gun was designed to do it either way.
If it misfeeds with the slidestop release...it's a malfunction, and it should be corrected...even if you
never, ever use it. The day may come when you'll need very badly for it to work as intended. As you noted:

Murphy can step in

There endeth the lesson. Cheers!

rcmodel
March 7, 2009, 11:55 AM
when I sleep with the thing loaded I have the hammer down, on the "safety" notch. For the thousandth time, It is NOT a Safety Notch, and a loaded gun is not drop safe when the hammer is partially cocked with the sear resting in the Intercept notch!

Hammer down on a loaded chamber is safe.

Cocked & Locked is safe.

Half-cocked is NOT SAFE.

allowing that "Colt's series 70" firing pin lock to function,Trouble with that is, the Series-70 Colt does not have a firing pin lock.

It only came later on the Series-80 guns.

rc

1911Tuner
March 7, 2009, 01:40 PM
For the thousandth time...

RC...Yer old codgerosity is showin'. :D

I'm aflicted, too...

1911Tuner
March 7, 2009, 03:22 PM
Well, RC...Our lively little discussion seems to have come to the end of its life.

I do enjoy these things as long as they remain civil. :cool:

For all who have been following it, let me state for the record that I'm not advocating decocking the hammer on a hot chamber, and I'm not trying to talk anyone into taking up the habit. It does carry an element of risk. No denying that...but the same can be said of lowering the hammer with a round under it in any gun. Murphy is alive and well, and he stands ready to rain on our parades. That pistol isn't a toy and it's not your friend. It's as dangerous as a rattlesnake, and should be regarded as hostile whenever you pick it up.

My issue with it is and always has been the flat statement made by many that it can't be done safely, and should never be done. It can be done, and it has been done for many decades by countless thousands. If the practice were that dangerous, we would have heard about a much larger percentage of tragic accidents caused by it.

Also for the record...I never have call to carry one in Condition 2 any more, and rarely had it even when I did it. I carry cocked and locked 99.9% of the time, and in C-3 only occasionally.

Lately, I've been carrying an 1873 SAA clone. It's a true clone, right down to the necessity of lowering the hammer on an empty chamber...but once in a while...depending on the circumstances...I'll load the 6th round.

Horrors! That revolver should never, EVER be carried like that! ...or so they tell me...but I do it, and I do it without using the first notch on the hammer, which is pretty fragile and if the hammer gets bumped briskly...will shear and let the firing pin hit the primer.

Another "Cant be done" caveat from the ones who don't know the gun, but a cinch for those who do. (Like "Garand Thumb." People with the Garand Thumb Syndrome just don't know how to load a Garand properly.) My grandpappy showed me the ropes on the SAA many moons ago, when I was just a wee tuner.

Hint:

It works best with a .45 or a .44-40 because...

:)

krs
March 8, 2009, 01:41 PM
Is it not true that JMB's original design had no thumb safety?

Jim Watson
March 8, 2009, 01:59 PM
What do you mean by "original design?"

Not considering patent models and prototypes, early Browning/Colt/FN production pistols generally had a manual safety if hammerless or enclosed hammer, but none on the exposed hammer guns. (Except for model of 1900 .38s with the odd rear sight safety; which Colt usually removed on guns sent in for work.) Military requirements led to grip and thumb safeties on the 1911 and thumb safety and magazine disconnect on BHP.

1911Tuner
March 8, 2009, 02:24 PM
Is it not true that JMB's original design had no thumb safety?


If you mean the 1910 prototypes...a total of 8 pistols...that were submitted for evaluation...there was a grip safety but no thumb safety.

The cavalry requested a manual, slide-locking safety, and 6 of the 1910s were refitted and again sent back for evaluation. It was accepted, and the design finalized.

So...The cocked and locked intent is a myth. The thumb safety wasn't Browning's idea. That came from the US Cavalry. How could he have "intended" for it to be carried cocked and locked if his early submission wouldn't lock?

Here's a picture of one of the remaining pair of 1910s. Courtesy of Charles Clawson.

http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e243/1911Tuner/1910.gif

krs
March 8, 2009, 03:15 PM
Tuner, that's the way I'd understood it and I asked the question to give you the opportunity that you quite adroitly...took. :)

BTW, where is that boy named "Cash" ?

Bad Hammer
March 8, 2009, 06:55 PM
This has to be the most insightful and informative thread I've ran across.
I have kept my 1911 (Sistema 1927) in "Condition 2" (hammer down on loaded chamber) for years, and although
I have always been comfortable performing this task, I just discovered I have been doing it wrong.
My pistol has the wide spur hammer with the sharp corners as mentioned by 1911Tuner, and now that I've practiced his
"overhand "pinch" method", I truly see the error in my ways.
And it's now obvious what those sharp corners are for!
This method is far superior to my old method, and safer to a huge degree.
I don't know how I've overlooked this for all these years.
Now I have to re-train myself (old habits die hard).

And thanks a bunch to all who shared in this thread.
There really is a lot to learn here.

1911Tuner
March 8, 2009, 07:54 PM
And it's now obvious what those sharp corners are for

Funny...those little things that we see every day and somehow miss.

Be careful not to train so well that you forget that the narrow spur hammer requires a little different grasp...and the rowel-type hammer, a different one still.

Now that we understand the proper method...thank you, sir...I'll add:

Cocked and locked is safe and simple. In order for a pre-Series 80 pistol to fire from that condition, it would have to shear the sear nose...both hammer hooks...and the half-cock notch all at the same instant, and the chances of it firing even then would only be about 50/50.

rondog
March 8, 2009, 08:17 PM
If you really want to convince yourself whether it's safe or not, put an empty case with just a live primer in the gun, lower the hammer, then start whacking the pistol's hammer with a little ballpeen hammer, and see how many whacks it takes to fire that primer, and how hard you have to whack it.

Ear and eye protection, of course.

I'd like to know the results, but I'm not going to do it with any of MY 1911's!

1911Tuner
March 8, 2009, 08:27 PM
I'd suggest a plastic mallet instead of a steel hammer...and use an empty, primed case.

Magnumite
March 9, 2009, 03:00 AM
It shouldn't fire at all like that. The firing pin is too short to reach the primer and the fp spring is partially depressed, increasing its force. There is the elastic "poolball" type transfer of energy to the firing pin, but not much in the form of inertia. Only real way of imparting any appreciable momentum would be if you had a very loose firing pin stop. And the cartridge case will slow its acceleration through the extractor. You'd have to smack it hard enough to at least "divot" the fp stop with the hammer face.

I have an old slide, frame and hammer. And an empty primed case...might be time for an experiment...

rcmodel
March 9, 2009, 02:26 PM
Experiment away.

But you are going to wear out a lot of plastic hammers before you get one to fire.

rc

Yositomo Wiskisito
March 9, 2009, 02:32 PM
I was taught by my grandfather to only lower the hammer on an empty chamber in a SA handgun. Guess thats why they invented the decocker lever.

Loggerlee
March 9, 2009, 04:54 PM
If I were going to carry a 1911 with the hammer down then I'd have it on an empty chamber,just rack the slide if you have to use it.
Or as others have said,carry it cocked and locked,most holsters have a strap on them to go between the hammer and slide anyway.

Jim K
March 9, 2009, 10:37 PM
The evidence of both his earlier hammer pistols and his rifles and shotguns indicates that Browning intended his guns to be carried chamber loaded and on half-cock.

That is not PC today, but it was the way the old timers carried Winchester rifles and shotguns as well as the old hammer type Colt autos. Only when the hammer was concealed did Browning provide a manual safety.

The grip safety was installed on the 1911 at the behest of the cavalry who were afraid a dropped gun would go off.

The original reason, though, was so that people unfamiliar with auto pistols would have to have their hand out of the way of the slide before the gun would fire.

Jim

SleazyRider
March 9, 2009, 11:35 PM
Though my question is directed to 1911 Tuner, I'd certainly appreciate the input from anybody willing to contribute:

You stated that the 1911 has a "rebounding, inertial firing pin." I've heard that before, but never understood quite what it meant nor how it works. Could you explain this mechanism, or direct me toward a publication that might explain this to a novice?

This has been a very informative (and civil) thread for me, and I am grateful to those of you who contributed!

oldFred
March 10, 2009, 12:02 AM
You can prove this to yourself, take your slide off and push the firing pin with your finger. You cannot push the firing pin out enough to fire a round.

The firing pin has to be hit like a homerun!

Im no expert, just my 2 cents. ;)

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 12:09 AM
Could you explain this mechanism, or direct me toward a publication that might explain this to a novice?

Surely. It's pretty simple.

Basically, the firing pin is shorter than its channel, which means that the hammer car rest against the butt end without pushing it into contact with the primer. So...the warning that the gun is "unsafe" to carry with the hammer down on a loaded chamber is a myth.

It's spring loaded, which serves two purposes. It provides the rebound part, which returns it into position for the hammer to strike it...and it positively gets it back into the port instead of leaving the tip through the breechface and possibly becoming trapped by the cartridge as the slide cycles.

The hammer's energy overcomes both the pin's inertial mass and the rebound spring, driving it into the primer.

Because the pin is shorter than the channel with a good amount of distance to spare, it requires a fairly hard blow on the muzzle to allow the gun to fire if dropped. If all is within spec...channel length, pin length, primer cup material thickness and hardness, and spring tension...the gun has to be dropped straight down onto a hard surface from a height of around 10 feet in order to have the pin strike the primer hard enough to light it.

RogersPrecision
March 10, 2009, 02:33 AM
Here is my take on this:
Carry your gat HOWEVER you see fit.
Keep your hands off of it and keep it in your holster and you'll receive no flack from me.
Remove it from your holster, and I will give you EXACT instructions on how to handle it and where to keep the muzzle pointed.
:)

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 08:26 AM
Remove it from your holster, and I will give you EXACT instructions on how to handle it and where to keep the muzzle pointed.

Related story, but in line with that statement:

A local gunshop owner has a sign posted advising all who enter to enter with weapons unloaded and preferably open/clear, and he's very good at keeping track of the traffic and asking for visible proof that the gun is indeed empty. He's had a few surprises in the 20 years or so that he's been in business. One guy shot himself through the hand as he was clearing his Glock at the door.

Yet...he doesn't chide anyone who enters with a holstered gun. When taken to task by the odd customer who wants to make an issue of his "unfair" practices...he explains patiently that he doesn't have a problem with loaded guns carried in holsters...concealed or not...as long as they remain holstered.

He's also a no-nonsense sort of guy who doesn't suffer fools for long. (Retired cop) If the offended party still wants to argue the point, his response is a curt but civil:

"Well...That's the way it is. Ain't nobody holdin' a gun to your head, makin' you come in the door."

Oro
March 10, 2009, 09:12 AM
You can cock and uncock a stock GI 1911 all day with just one hand and never have it slip or go off.


I've followed this thread with great interest the last few days, but I do want to get back to this point Rc made - And PoleKitty asked about it, too, but it was left unanswered.

I have always de-cocked with two hands, using my off hand to pinch the hammer. What is the correct way to do it with the single hand? I have never attempted that or known about it. I found this description by googling:

I originally thought that this was not possible but I have seen it demonstrated.
The trick is to take your thumb, not your weak hand thumb, and pull the hammer
all the way back until it contacts the grip safety. Keep pulling back until
the grip safety is deactivated, just af if the web of your hand was wrapped
around the grip. With the hammer ALL the way back pull the trigger and lower
the hammer with your thumb. Once the grip safety has been deactivated and
the trigger pulled the grip safety no longer needs to be held down. The hammer
will lower all the way down to the frame.

I guess I will give it some practice with my Series 70. It is easy to see how a beavertail tail would interfere with that.

It also might answer something that was bugging me. By coincidence I was studying the S. 70 a few days ago and what puzzled me was why the tang on the grip safety was so long. It seemed to me that flaring it along with the underside of the grip frame and leaving it the same length or so as the frame flare would remove the bite some people complain about, yet not at all compromise the intended action of the grip. But now I see that would eliminate the ability to easily de-cock it with one hand, employing the tang as a lever to actuate the safety.

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 10:16 AM
Oro...The one-hand decock isn't really the correct way, but it can be done if your hand is large enough...which isn't a requirement, but makes it go much more smoothly and safely.

A visual would be best, but I'll try it this way. Several people have doubted the method until I demonstrated it. Once they actually saw it done, the light came on.

Grasp the gun with a firing grip. Stick your thumb straight up and use the pad of your thumb to press downward against the corner of the hammer just above the face.

That movement will disengage the grip safety and allow the trigger to be pulled. Because the hammer is captive by your thumb, it shouldn't slip.

Now, let the hammer roll slowly forward so that the rear of the spur is in the joint and the meaty part just behind the pad is pressed firmly into the checkering or serrations...and just ride the hammer forward as you let the tip of your thumb roll upward out of the space between the hammer face and the slide. This phase is the most risky. You have to maintain downward presure on the spur while raising the tip at the same time...but with a little practice, it becomes easy.

It goes without saying that you should keep your finger well away from the trigger until you have firm control of the hammer. Also, dry practice is a must until you have the move perfected.

Next up:

Why the pinch check isn't nearly as dangerous as some would have you believe.

SleazyRider
March 10, 2009, 10:42 AM
Thank you, 1911Tuner, for your patient and knowledgeable reply. So, in essence, it's comparable to two billiard balls lined up with space in between; the pool que (hammer) strikes the first ball (rebound pin), which strikes the second ball (primer). The pool que cannot reach the second ball but by the inertia of the first ball. What an ingenious safety feature! Do most modern pistols employ such a device?

Again, I thank you for your patience. This has been nothing short of illuminating for me!

rcmodel
March 10, 2009, 01:28 PM
what puzzled me was why the tang on the grip safety was so long. But now I see that would eliminate the ability to easily de-cock it with one hand, employing the tang as a lever to actuate the safety.It also protects the hammer spur from direct impact when the gun is cock & locked, or just cocked and you drop it off your bucking calvary horse, or smack it with a tank hatch.

That is one of the points I tried to make earlier about the danger of a loaded gun with the hammer on half-cock (Intercept notch).

The hammer is not protected from impact at all in that position.

All the way down against the slide, and the inertia firing pin makes it totally safe from impact.

Cocked, the grip safety tang shields the hammer spur from impact.

In between on the intercept notch, it's subject to getting the snot knocked out of it if you drop or whack the gun for whatever reason.

rc

HammerBite
March 10, 2009, 04:21 PM
A long time ago I read about Browning's efforts to facilitate one-handed decocking in one of his patents. I tried it and found it difficult to control the speed with which I lowered the hammer. Of course this was with a modern hammer. I can see where a hammer of the type described by 1911 Tuner would make this easier.

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 05:03 PM
I tried it and found it difficult to control the speed with which I lowered the hammer.

The trick is to get control of the hammer before pulling the trigger. The mistake that I most often see is trying to "catch" it...or gain control during or even after pulling the trigger.

When decocking the hammer...be it one-handed or with both...overcock the hammer to get it off the sear. That's actually a have-to when executing the one-hand decock, because the hamer depresses the grip safety. Then pull the trigger and start the descent, and remember to hook the tip of your thumb over the hammer's face. If your thumb isn't long enough to do that, it's best to use two hands and the pinch method.

HammerBite
March 10, 2009, 05:24 PM
and remember to hook the tip of your thumb over the hammer's face.
I just now dug a 1911 out of the safe and tried what you suggested. It works much better. Before, I was trying to control the hammer via the spur.

Thanks.

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 05:33 PM
I just now dug a 1911 out of the safe and tried what you suggested. It works much better. Before, I was trying to control the hammer via the spur.


You do use the spur...just not with the tip of your thumb. The pad of your thumb rides in the contour of the hammer and bears against the serrated portion of the spur, with the back nestled into the corner formed by the pad and the joint.

Now, the meaty part of your thumb is pressed solidly into the serrations, making for a practically non-slip bite.
At that point...assuming that you've got it right...you'd have to actually try to let the hammer get away from you.

Jim K
March 10, 2009, 11:05 PM
The reason for the long tang on the grip safety is not, as some think, to prevent pinching the web of the thumb between the hammer and the tang. That does not happen, even with a short tang.

What does happen is that when the gun is fired, the fast moving slide drives the hammer back and down so fast it loses contact with the slide (no matter what those neat diagrams show), flying down like a ball hit by a bat. The hammer spur, moving at high speed like a whip, will raise a nasty welt on any part of the shooter's tender flesh that happens to get in the way.

Also, it is that situation where the hammer loses contact with the slide that can allow a loose firing pin stop to drop down and tie up the gun. The situation is that the firing pin is still forward, the hammer is not in contact with the stop, and the gun is recoiling. With nothing to prevent it from doing so, the firing pin stop, trying to remain in place from its own inertia, drops down.

Jim

1911Tuner
March 10, 2009, 11:20 PM
An accurate description provided by Mr. Keenan...and one that many don't understand. The hammer is slammed back and bounces off the grip safety tang...or the shooter's hand depending on the length of the tang...and rebounds back to the slide.

The evidence in the form of peening can be seen on early, unhardened slides...usually at or just forward of the junction of the rear of the slide and the firing pin stop. With modern hard slides, it doesn't show up as early or appear as pronounced...but it eventually does if the gun is fired enough.

AKElroy
March 10, 2009, 11:28 PM
OK, I just thought I was done with this thread. First, it is great to be in a forum where people really know their stuff. From a design standpoint, what I know for certain is this: If I do not pull the trigger with a round in the chamber, this gun will not fire. Unlike a revolver, the design of the 1911 NEVER requires me to do so, so I don't. In addition, my over protective, judgemental nature requires that I share that view. Be careful, friends---

Oro
March 11, 2009, 12:35 AM
Thanks, guys. I practiced this today and it's a breeze. In 30 years of 1911 shooting and reading, I'd never run across this handling method. Trapping the hammer with the thumb and then lowering it is a snap.

I will actually use this (on horseback actually, rcmodel - "Oro" - "gold" in Spanish - is actually my horse's name, fyi) and am glad I tracked this thread and appreciate the expertise.

Jim Watson
March 11, 2009, 12:46 AM
Yup.
It's not the deathtrap commonly posited by Internet Experts.
I have a Commander with wide spur hammer and G.M. grip safety installed for the purpose of Condition 2 carry. Worked fine for a good while. Then I realized I had been taught the technique by a southpaw who came up before ambidextrous safeties. Competition led me to "discover" the thumb safety and the advantages of using the gun from Condition 1. But that does not mean that Condition 2 is worthless or dangerous if done right.

Oh, yeah; it works well from a high cavalry draw, too. That is how my lefthanded mentor carried.

1911Tuner
March 11, 2009, 12:50 AM
OK, I just thought I was done with this thread.

Hey hey! Welcome back!

I know it seemed like I was bustin' your, uhhhh...chops...but I really wasn't. The plain truth is that I don't advise anyone to decock one...just that it can be done, along with instruction on the correct way...should they decide that they want to. The only times that I ever did was when I wanted to retain the ability to ready the weapon with one hand, and yet provide maximum protection of the gun's internals under some pretty nasty conditions.

Namely, 4-wheelin' and trampin' around in the boonies with the gun in a military flap holster. Aside from those special conditions...now that I'm too old and beat up to go play on those infernal deathtraps and shiver all night in front of a dyin' fire in December...I carry in 1. If I'm not actively carrying it...it's in 3.

Thanks, guys. I practiced this today and it's a breeze. In 30 years of 1911 shooting and reading, I'd never run across this handling method. Trapping the hammer with the thumb and then lowering it is a snap.

It's actually a very old method that dates all the way back to WW1. My grandfather was a "Great War" veteran, and he first showed it to me around 1959 or 1960. He said that the cavalrymen did it on a regular basis in direct violation of the regs to keep the hammer down on an empty chamber until the call sounded. Since the gun looked like it was being carried according to protocol...and because it wasn't like the officers really had time to run around checking all the pistols' conditions...most of'em topped the pistols off with an 8th round and lowered the hammer.

As a personal sidearm, grandpap preferred an old 1873 Single-Action Army...which he was deadly with, even at an advanced age. If he had his pants on, he had that Peacemaker with him.


Now, just wait'll ya try the pinch with an original wide spur hammer. ;)

Dan Crocker
March 11, 2009, 01:56 AM
:neener:I will actually use this (on horseback actually, rcmodel - "Oro" - "gold" in Spanish - is actually my horse's name, fyi) and am glad I tracked this thread and appreciate the expertise.

Hey Oro, I'm guessing that you mean that you'll haveyour hammer down while riding, not actually lower it while riding. As someone who has been around horses my whole life and trained professionally, please, seriously, lowering the hammer on you 1911 while horseback is plain dumb. It's like doing it while driving or anything else. It should require your FULL attention, and you can't give it that while riding. No matter how bombproof and steady your horse is, stuff happens. And Mr. Murphy likes to make it happen at bad times...such as when you pull the trigger and lower the hammer on a live round, and you horse stumbles on a loose rock, spooks at a grocery bag, or sees one of those creepy elves that we humans can't. There's no reason to drop the hammer while you aren't 100% focused on what you are doing. Actually, I don't see why anyone would do it, but a lot of guys here seem to like that method of carry. 1911 nuts!:D Bunch of COMPLETE crazies! My dad's samity has slipped since I gave him mine!:neener:

Oro
March 11, 2009, 07:53 AM
Hey Oro, I'm guessing that you mean that you'll haveyour hammer down while riding, not actually lower it while riding.

Don't worry about us. We do know how to train and ride here, and my horses are gun broke before they go on a ride with anyone armed. In the mountains here, it's flat necessary for full safety.

Actually, I don't see why anyone would do it, but a lot of guys here seem to like that method of carry. 1911 nuts!

Now I'm confused, either I am misunderstanding you, or I take it you didn't read the whole thread? It does have it's applications.

Dan Crocker
March 11, 2009, 11:21 PM
No, I've read the posts, but I don't see it being mechanically safer or faster than cocked and locked. The only reason that I would do it was to keep the internals cleaner, but I would think that racking is as fast as cocking and safer too.
I'm not worried about your horse spooking at a gunshot, but rather an AD into your horse or self. I'm sure you are super proficient and didn't mean to suggest otherwise, just that things can happen. I hope no offense was taken, because none was meant!

AKElroy
March 11, 2009, 11:50 PM
I know it seemed like I was bustin' your, uhhhh...chops...but I really wasn't.

No offense taken whatsoever--I enjoyed the back and forth. I joined this forum for exactly the type of expertise shown in this thread. Stay safe----

earplug
March 12, 2009, 01:00 AM
Earlier in the day I had a accident with my right thumb, put a pretty big hole in it with a sharp tool.
At home I did my normal routine of lowering the hammer on my Colt 1911A1.
When the hammer and my thumb slid across each other, my thumb released the hammer and It fired a round that penetrated my roof.
Now I may be a clumsy accident prone gun owner. Others may be perfect.
After this incident, I decided that decocking the hammer on a live round is not worth the risk.

1911Tuner
March 12, 2009, 06:58 AM
...but I don't see it being mechanically safer or faster than cocked and locked.

It's not. Like Condition One, it's an option. It does protect the internals better than cocked and locked while still providing the ability to bring the gun into play with one hand at a reasonable speed. A compromise that isn't perfect, then again...no compromise is.

The gun was designed to provide a choice, depending on the situation at hand. No more and no less.

So, to answer the OP's original question: "Is C-2 safe?"

Yes. The option is there, so it must be safe.

And to address the other, unasked question:

"Is lowering the hammer on a hot chamber risky?"

Yes. It's more risky than not lowering it. You're pulling the trigger, and bypassing all the built-in safety features of the gun...essentially telling it that you want it to fire.

And the final question that's been raised:

"Is it possible to decock the piece safely?"

Absolutely. Again...Condition Two is a designed-in option...therefore it follows that it must be possible to do it. The hammer was designed in such a way as to facilitate that action. One must be careful, and observe all safe-handling practices in order to prevent property damage or injury in case something goes wrong...but we do that whenever we handle a gun anyway...whether loaded or empty. Right?

1911Tuner
March 12, 2009, 07:31 AM
On a side note...

The Star PD/BM/BKM series of pistols that are based on the 1911 design are NOT safe in Condition 2.
When the hammer is resting on the firing pin, the firing pin is resting on the primer. Thought I'd pass that along.

Jim Watson
March 12, 2009, 10:30 AM
Yup.
Many years ago I had a college classmate describe his Dad shooting himself in the foot with a hammer-down Star auto.

I think SOME Stars have inertial firing pins but you should certainly check before you start lowering the hammer.

redintex
March 13, 2009, 11:37 PM
+1 to both rcmodel and 1911Tuner - they are dead on!!!

redintex

rondog
March 14, 2009, 03:15 AM
I have five 1911's, but I'm still a relative newbie to them. However, I can't even imagine trying to lower the hammer WITHOUT using two hands and the "trap" method. That's the only way I'll even try, and I'm very confident in it.

I use my thumb, first and second fingers to do it, I put my second finger under the hammer to protect the firing pin as much as possible. I'm NOT going to let that hammer get away from me! Even though I dry-fire my 1911's, if I don't intend to dry-fire one I'll still use the two-handed trap method to lower the hammer, even on an empty gun.

Oro
March 14, 2009, 03:56 AM
I can't even imagine trying to lower the hammer WITHOUT using two hands and the "trap" method.

Have you tried it? Try! I have practiced it and it is super-easy to do it with a spur hammer and traditional grip safety as described. To quote John Lennon, "Imagine..."

evert
March 15, 2009, 04:03 PM
my first post- here goes!

A fried of mine had an old 1914(here in norway the 1911 was adopted in 1914 with some alterations) that had been vandalized sometimes durig the the 80s, into a competitiongun.

upon cleaning i noticed that the firingpin had been changed, and that made me check then length of the pin compared to the slide. this one was way too long, and would have contacted the primer if it was carried with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.

so, if youre not 100% sure your firingpin is original, from a trustworthy manufacturer, or fitted to the slide by a competent person, check its length before putting the hammer down on a loaded chamber.

rondog
March 15, 2009, 04:38 PM
Have you tried it? Try! I have practiced it and it is super-easy to do it with a spur hammer and traditional grip safety as described. To quote John Lennon, "Imagine..."

Why would I even want to try? Why take the risk of the hammer slipping? That's just ignorant, IMO. I still have two hands and all my fingers. And I'm not a cowboy, I prefer to handle them as safely as possible. One-handed decocking of a 1911 ain't safe.

Floppy_D
March 15, 2009, 05:01 PM
A big thank you to all of the experienced guys who share your knowledge here. I'm new to 1911s, and reading technical breakdowns from those who have been doing it for years helps. Much appreciated. :cool:

rbernie
March 15, 2009, 05:08 PM
One-handed decocking of a 1911 ain't safe.Last night, I put a wide-spur hammer on three of my 1911s. The wide spur hammer makes the pinch-decock method absolutely foolproof. Unless you literally relax your fingers and cease to try to grasp the hammer at all, the wide spur hammer can easily and safely be decocked.

If you don't have a wide spur hammer, then YMMV. But I don't recommend calling it unsafe, because (if you have a wide spur hammer) it seems QUITE safe.

drtee
March 17, 2009, 09:21 PM
A most enjoyable thread. I have had at least one 1911 for 40 or more years. I have always carried it C&L, condition one. I have let the hammer down on a live round without mishap but do not use the 1911 in that manner. It was mostly just to see if it could be done safely. It can be, however, if I need to use same I don't want the requirement of racking the slide or pulling the hammer. I also carry a Star PD cocked and locked although it doesn't have the grip safety. My holster has a strap between the hammer and frame. Thanx to you all for your input.

1911Tuner
March 17, 2009, 10:06 PM
Why take the risk of the hammer slipping? That's just ignorant, IMO. I still have two hands and all my fingers. And I'm not a cowboy, I prefer to handle them as safely as possible. One-handed decocking of a 1911 ain't safe.

It is if you do it correctly, though I much prefer the thumb and finger pinch method, regardless of the width of the hammer spur. Exectued properly, your thumb can't slip unless you work at making it slip. Oro figured it out.

Again...I'm NOT advocating the practice of decocking a 1911 or carrying in Condition Two. Just makin' the point that it can be done safely if one wants to take the time to learn it and practice a bit.

Bottom line...It's a gun. It's NOT safe!

drtee
March 18, 2009, 01:18 AM
The only safe way, for me, is with a thumb between the hammer and frame. Fully focused and very careful. I'm not sure if this is the pinched method. I end up holding the hammer with finger and thumb just as the hammer is about to touch the slide when I must remove my thumb.

It will also fire easier/quicker if dropped on the muzzle rather than the hammer as seen on demonstrations testing safety of firearms.

BTW 1911Tuner I have relatives in Lexington...or thereabouts.

1911Tuner
March 18, 2009, 09:02 AM
drtee...the pinch method involves reaching over the top of the slide and grabbing the hammer with the weak hand thumb and index finger. Never pull the trigger and try to "catch" the hammer. Push the hammer a little past full cock before touching the trigger so you have full control of it. Lower away. The wide spur hammer expedites it. You have to deliberately let go of the hammer in order to lose control of it.

Using the one-hand method, the tip of your thumb is between the face of the hammer and the slide until the hammer is at the point that...if it slips...either the half-cock will catch it or it's too close to the slide to light a primer if it falls.

If I were a betting man, I'd offer steep odds that Browning and his assistants were all too aware that American soldiers would ignore regs and top off the 7-round capacity with an 8th round...and decock the piece to feign compliance...so they incorporated features that...while not insuring against an AD...at least made it much less likely.

Actually, I'm out in the sticks about halfway between Lexington and Southmont. It's known as the Cotton Grove community. Next time you're in town for a visit...look me up.

drtee
March 18, 2009, 02:07 PM
1911Tuner thanks for the info. I had read that method and I'm ok with that. My thumb holds the hammer so there is no pressure before the trigger is pulled. I'll work on your method.

Actually my relatives (in-law) live on Highrock Lake just out of Southmont.

Sandshooter
January 3, 2012, 12:58 PM
Rule #1: All guns are to be considered loaded and dangerous until disassembled and melted down.
Rule #2: If still in doubt, refer to Rule #1.

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