1911 Experts: What can go wrong mechanically?


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777funk
September 23, 2013, 10:24 AM
I believe the Girsan M1911 G2 is a Series 70 gun (don't see any extras on the frame top and the firing pin can be pushed all the way in without any catches or notches). It shoots great and cycles very well and it's a beautiful looking gun. Besides all that it's a nice balance in the hand and feels good.

But the hammer back safety on is a little nerve wracking to me for some reason. I did a little reading and found that cocked and locked can under a few circumstances fail.

I'm not worried about 10 foot drops. If I drop a gun off of a roof, I deserve to have it go off. But I have wondered if there's a way for that hammer to drop if something fails in the trigger group. I haven't stripped it down far enough to know the internals. But I've read there's nothing to block the firing pin if something does go wrong on a series 70.

1. Curious what could go wrong?
2. Has anyone here (or a friend of someone here) actually had something fail and cause an accidental discharge (i.e. trigger was not pulled)?

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DJW
September 23, 2013, 11:23 AM
If you are that concerned get a selective SA/DA pistol. That way you can carry with a round in the chamber and the hammer down. The first shot will be a heavier pull double action and then the rest will be lighter single action pulls. No worries about gremlins!
Have not had or heard of the drops you worry about but if you are concerned there is a way around the possibility.

hardluk1
September 23, 2013, 11:36 AM
If your palm safety is functioning correctly that's another safety feature and it should not be able to drop a hammer and fire if cocked and locked unless you do this-


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-rGnMKszxg

1911Tuner
September 23, 2013, 12:10 PM
I did a little reading and found that cocked and locked can under a few circumstances fail.

Not unless the sear suddenly and completely disintegrates or some fool has removed the half cock notch from the hammer.

Or...if there's a problem with the sear resetting properly, which can happen when the same fool has dropped in an aftermarket sear without checking for free movement...or if he swapped out the sear spring without checking for proper function.

I did a little demo for a guy once using an old hammer and sear that were in the take-off/junk drawer.

Using a Dremel cutoff wheel, I removed about an 8th inch from the sear crown. Not only did the sear hold full cock for several firing cycles...when the hammer did eventually start to follow, the half-cock stopped it cold.

This depended on using a hammer with the original location of the captive half-cock. With a redesigned hammer using the quarter-cock shelf, the hammer gets closer to the firing pin, and with the amount that I removed, would probably have reached it with enough momentum to drive it into a primer.

If your palm safety is functioning correctly that's another safety feature and it should not be able to drop a hammer and fire if cocked and locked.

The grip safety only blocks the trigger unless and until the gun is held in a firing grip. Its original intent was as a drop safety for horse-mounted cavalry. A pistol dropped from that height is more likely to flip over and land muzzle up than muzzle down. The heavy steel triggers of the day made it a real concern.

2wheels
September 23, 2013, 12:15 PM
I was hoping Tuner would come along and give a detailed answer.

There's no reason to worry about your gun just failing and dropping the hammer on a live round, you'll be just fine.

777funk
September 23, 2013, 12:22 PM
Interesting. I got a little concerned about it after reading someone's posts about series 70's being a piece that you must be highly trained and always checking the internals or it will fail and take a leg with it... lol.

It almost sounded like a mechanical device with scheduled trigger group maintenance/inspection intervals of checking the oil on your car.

BullfrogKen
September 23, 2013, 12:39 PM
The series 70 design with quality parts fitted correctly is plenty safe enough to shoot and carry.

1911Tuner
September 23, 2013, 12:41 PM
I got a little concerned about it after reading someone's posts about series 70's being a piece that you must be highly trained and always checking the internals or it will fail and take a leg with it... lol.

Nah. In 1991, I was involved with a Colt Commercial Government Model that had been stored in an attic loaded, cocked and locked since the death of its owner...who died in 1929. The gun functioned perfectly with the ammunition that was in it.

And...just FYI:

Series 70 has become a way to easily say: "No lawyer parts" but it doesn't have anything to do with the trigger/fire control group. The Series 70 had the same system that had been in place since 6 of the original 8 1910 Colts were retrofitted with the manual safety and resubmitted to the US Army Ordnance Board. They're fully interchangeable...and will usually drop in and work...assuming that the pistol they're dropped into is built to spec.

Series 70 is a Colt trademark, and identifies the collet bushing and Accurizer™ barrel that made up the system.

All Series 70 pistols were 5-inch...either Government Models or Gold Cups. There was never a Series 70 Commander or Combat Commander.

Neither is there any such thing as a Series 70 Springfield, etc.

Billy Shears
September 23, 2013, 03:12 PM
Series 70 is a Colt trademark, and identifies the collet bushing and Accurizer™ barrel that made up the system.
And yet Colt itself seems to have taken up the habit of using "Series 70" to refer to guns without the Series 80 firing pin safety -- for example, I just picked up one of the Wiley Clapp government models (really, really nice pistol, BTW, I just wish they'd gone ahead and polished the frame flats to match the slide flats), and the roll mark on the left side of the slide says "COLT'S MK IV/SERIES '70 GOVERNMENT MODEL .45 AUTOMATIC CALIBER" despite not having the Collet barrel bushing (which I think Colt discontinued years ago).

1911Tuner
September 23, 2013, 03:26 PM
And yet Colt itself seems to have taken up the habit of using "Series 70" to refer to guns without the Series 80 firing pin safety.

Yep. It's become a catch-phrase. Easier to say that than go into an explanation.


Sorta like facial tissues are all called Kleenex and all feminine nakpkins are all called Kotex.

And since it's Colt's registered trademark, I guess they can use it pretty much any way they want to.


despite not having the Collet barrel bushing (which I think Colt discontinued years ago)

Yep. About 30 years ago, in fact...though they did release a few Series 80 Gold Cups with the Series 70 barrels and bushings...which means that they're technically Series 70/80 pistols. I've heard of a few Government models that were also Series 70/80, but I haven't actually seen one.

Jim Watson
September 23, 2013, 03:40 PM
And yet Colt itself seems to have taken up the habit of using "Series 70" to refer to guns without the Series 80 firing pin safety


No institutional memory.
Is anybody still working there who was there in the 1970s?

Greg528iT
September 23, 2013, 03:49 PM
No institutional memory.
Is anybody still working there who was there in the 1970s?

It doesn't matter, look at the new Chevy Impala. has nothing to do with the 63 Impalas of old.

SharpsDressedMan
September 23, 2013, 04:21 PM
If the plunger tube works loose, it can jam the safety in the "on" position, make the gun unable to be taken off safe, locking the slide in place, also. The firing pin can become jammed at the rear from being flattened from dry firing, wedging in the firing pin stop. The sear spring can get tired and not rebound the sear, or the flange at the top of the spring can break off and wedge in the mechanism. I have also had a firing pin spring break, and that can lead to a full auto if it wedges the firing pin forward. THAT is exciting!

rcmodel
September 23, 2013, 05:28 PM
and that can lead to a full auto if it wedges the firing pin forward. THAT is exciting! Not actually.

If the firing pin is stuck foreword out of the breech face, it will only fire one round and fail to feed the next round.

Because the protruding firing pin will keep the next round from sliding up the breech face as it comes out of the magazine.

rc

Jim Watson
September 23, 2013, 06:03 PM
It doesn't matter, look at the new Chevy Impala. has nothing to do with the 63 Impalas of old.

I think it worse. From the Colt site:

"This pistol features the legendary Series 70 firing system, making it a faithful reproduction to Government Models manufactured prior to World War II"

Sounds like it was written by a journalism major.

1911Tuner
September 23, 2013, 07:08 PM
"This pistol features the legendary Series 70 firing system, making it a faithful reproduction to Government Models manufactured prior to World War II"

And those manufactured during WW2 had the same firing system.

And those manufactured after WW2 right up until the Series 80s made their debut in 1983...had the same firing system.

So...do we call my 1919 Black Army Colt and my 1945 Remington Rand Series 70s?

Yes?

No?

Sounds like it was written by a journalism major.

Whoever it was doesn't seem to know much about 1911 pistols.

And apparently nobody presently at Colt does either.

SharpsDressedMan
September 23, 2013, 07:35 PM
^^^RC is right. I forgot about that. I had a full auto failure, but as I recall now it was some kind of a sear problem, not from the firing pin. It was a long time ago; getting fuzzy.

1911Tuner
September 23, 2013, 08:16 PM
Anyhoo...

777...if the prospect of cocked and locked makes you nervous, carry an empty 1911 around for a month cocked with the safety in the fire position. Unless you draw the gun and pull the trigger, it'll still be cocked when the test is over.

777funk
September 23, 2013, 08:20 PM
This isn't a mechanical issue but as a previously non-1911 shooter. I've noticed that I forget to flip the safety back on with a 1911. I don't have this problem with other guns of any sort. I think I've discovered the reason is that I have to turn the safety to fire to check the chamber or eject the last shell when unloading. That's not usually a time I would turn a safety to fire position with any other gun. So after I'm done with the process of chamber checking, I don't always remember to flip it back. I don't like this problem/habit very much. I worry that it could eventually be a problem. But the old don't touch the trigger until you're on target would prevent a problem here I suppose. I really like the 1911, it's got an old simple spring on metal sound and feel that reminds me of the A5 shotguns I grew up with. I NEVER forget to put the safety back on with an A5. Why did JMB have to build these things this way... oh well! I'm sure it's something I could eventually get used to. A 1911 is probably the most popular auto loader ever made so I'm sure I'm in the minority here and I'm sure Browning had some reason to do it the way he did. Maybe that is a mechanical issue (well a mechanical issue for me anyways).

BullfrogKen
September 23, 2013, 09:11 PM
Every single frame-mounted safety works that way, from the 1911, to the Browning Hi Power, to Ruger's inexpensive .22 rimfire pistols.

Spend some time training with it. They're head and shoulders easier that the slide-mounted safeties to work when actually running the gun.

JTQ
September 23, 2013, 09:15 PM
I've noticed that I forget to flip the safety back on with a 1911.
I remember asking one of the shooting instructors on the forum what is more common, the 1911 guys forgetting to disengage (or engage) their safety or, the SIG (or other DA/SA hammer fired guns with a decocker) guys forgetting to decock after a string of fire. Decocking a DA/SA auto is forgotten more often than the 1911 safety.

This has always made sense to me. My auto loading experience is with the 1911 and S&W TDA's. If you are a 1911 guy, the safety, either on or off, really becomes automatic because you use it at speed all the time. The S&W safety/decocker is not as automatic. At the range, you may end up not even using the safety/decocker. Load a round, shoot till empty. Even just shooting around at the range, the 1911 shooter is going to use the safety.

Fremmer
September 23, 2013, 09:44 PM
Yup, I've never had a problem with a 1911 safety, but have managed to reholster without first decocking a 3rd gen S&W pistol (slide mounted safety/decocker).

BullfrogKen
September 23, 2013, 10:02 PM
Shooters who commit to the 1911 don't. It's an ingenious design.

Run a 1911 shooter through a long IDPA stage or a shoothouse, and every time he engages and disengages targets that he's got to move through the stage to get to, you'll hear him "snick" it off as he comes onto target and back on as he goes to move to the next one. Well, you will if you have electronic muffs on.

As guys with slide-mounted safeties or pure decockers move through the stage, they really won't touch it at all once the stage begins.

In my experience it's not the guys with 1911s and Hi Powers who run through a shoothouse with a hammer cocked and no safety on. It's those DA/SA and decock-only shooters.

Rock185
September 24, 2013, 12:08 AM
777, I have used 1911 type pistols since the mid '60s. I have never had a 1911 type pistol,military or commercial, have a part fail and cause the gun to fire without the trigger being pulled. I can recall a magazine or two that suffered a cracked feed lip and a couple that cracked at a weld down the rear of the magazine. But as far as anything breaking or failing in the pistols themselves, I honestly can't recall anything breaking. A friend still has an old '70 Series Colt that has been fired Mega thousands of rounds, even he has no idea how many. He did have a Clark barrel bushing, the original slide stop break, and after more mega thousands of rounds of use, the slide cracked and was replaced. None of these issues caused even one unintended discharge of the weapon....ymmv

BTW, after leaving the military and learning a lot more than the Army ever taught me about the 1911 type pistols, I carried the 1911 type pistols cocked and locked, off duty and for several years on duty, trained with 1911s, competed, qualified, etc, etc. Never a problem, ND/AD, or any issue at all.. I agree with BullfrogKen, when I and others carried, trained, competed and qualified with DA/SA type pistols, we hated to decock and go back to DA once the stage began. Lots of cocked and unlocked pistols....

1911Tuner
September 24, 2013, 05:43 AM
. I've noticed that I forget to flip the safety back on with a 1911.

That's not a mechanical problem or a design flaw. That's a training and familiarization problem. If you can teach yourself to take your finger off the trigger when you bring the gun down from point to to low ready, you can teach yourself to thumb the safety on at the same time. After a while, the safety operation becomes automatic.

777funk
September 24, 2013, 11:06 AM
I guess that's part of my problem, I learned on slide mount safeties, so everything is backwards comparing between the two. It's also not second nature for me as I mentioned to flip the safety off to clear or check the chamber (or clean the gun). So I'll have to get used to that about a 1911.

EDIT: But I'm getting off topic with that... sorry to derail my own thread! That's not a mechanical failure obviously.

Ramone
September 24, 2013, 07:45 PM
I carry a 1911 daily (either a full size or a Officers Model, depending on mood and mode of dress) and I *like* having that hammer back.

When I clear for the evening, I lower the hammer- when I holster it in the morning, I load it, and the safety goes on.

Hammer back = Round in the Chamber, Hammer Down= unloaded. Much easier to see, and harder to miss than any 'Loaded Chamber Indicator' I've ever seen.

I carry in a Forbus paddle holster most days, and when I get out of the car or some similar movement, I reach back to make sure it's still seated. I can put my forefinger under the hammer, and my thumb on the beaver tail (pinching the two towards each other), and be confident that even if a shirttail or the like has found it's way into my trigger guard, it cannot go off, even if the the thumb safety has worked itself off (never has happened to me, but it *could*). I then, keeping my forefinger under the hammer, can reach to the thumb safety to make sure it's still on SAFE.

I grew up on the 1911, and have never found myself with the safety on when it should have been off and vice versa.

powder
September 24, 2013, 08:14 PM
Until you are more familiar...

http://thinkinggunfighter.blogspot.com/2010/09/myths-of-israeli-method-of-carry-or-why.html

Rock185
September 25, 2013, 05:45 AM
Ramone, I have used the same system for MANY years. Hammer back= fully loaded with a round in the chamber. Hammer down= completely unloaded.....

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