Condition One time limits?


July 2, 2004, 11:20 AM
Hey all,

I was just wondering if there is a maximum length of time that a pistol (in my case, a BHP) should be kept in condition one (cocked and locked). Will leaving it cocked too long affect the reliability of the pistol or overstress springs/parts?

On a related note, if one was to keep the gun in a quick-access safe, would condition one or condition three be more appropriate?

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July 2, 2004, 12:15 PM
IMO, forever.

If kept in a quick-access safe, you want to be able to fire it ASAP in an emergency. If it's a 1911 style, that for me would mean cocked and locked.

July 2, 2004, 12:19 PM
So it is similar to the question of leaving a mag loaded -- the spring doesn't care whether it is loaded or unloaded? I guess if there is no downside in terms of reliability, it will be condition one in the safe for me.

July 2, 2004, 12:56 PM

July 2, 2004, 01:27 PM
Springs don't wear out from staying static, what wears them out motion -- being compressed and released over and over.

I leave my BHPs cocked and locked unless in "long-term storage." Condition 1 won't hurt it.


July 2, 2004, 04:07 PM
I vote for "as long as it is firmly in your personal control." If you believe that includes inside a locked safe, I'd still take it out and shoot a mag once a year.

BTW, I believe that although high-quality springs DO last for years in the fully compressed state, they also do lose their rebound after a few years if kept that way. I had to replace a Ruger 10-22 hammer spring a few years ago. Most of its 30-year life (then) had been spent stored with the bolt locked back. It DID take a "set" and wouldn't fire half the time--weak FP impacts. Yeah, a coil spring.

July 2, 2004, 04:11 PM
BTW, I also would NOT recommend that any pistol without a firing pin block be left cocked and locked and unattended. All you have protecting yourself/your safe/the innocent person nearby from mechanical failure at that point is the half-cock notch.

And nobody's ever had a sear face shear or a half-cock notch break off now, have they?

The needs of operational readiness while you're actually carrying the thing outweigh these small concerns, IMO. And if the thing breaks and fires and hits someone, you are there to render aid.

Unattended loaded cocked'nlocked guns give me the willies.

July 3, 2004, 12:26 AM
What you're asking about is a mechanical phenomena known as creep. Basically creep is the tendency of a material to fail while statically loaded with an elastic load. Statically loaded means the material is constantly loaded at a steady value. A material that is elastically loaded means the material is not under enough force to permanentaly (or plastically) deform.

So basically our spring is stretched for a long time. Creep is mostly a function of time and temperature, and for metals it really isn't an issue until temperatures are above 40% of the melting point. Since steel melts at around 2000 F, unless your pistol is being stored in a 800 degree oven you shouldn't worry too much about it.

July 3, 2004, 06:14 AM
In 1991, I became personally involved with a commercial Colt
1911...pre-A1...that was stored in an attic in Condition One for over 60 years following the death of its owner. When I saw the pistol, it was untouched, and still as it had been found. After clearing the pistol for a
quick inspection, the round was returned to the chamber, and I fired the
pistol to slidelock. Functioning was flawless and even the extractor still
had ideal tension.

It prompted a friend to state that if something had broken, it would
have probably gone full-auto...which led me to demonstrate that it
wouldn't have likely even fired once. A wager was struck, and I began
an experiment that caused him to rethink his position.

I used a WW2 USGI Colt and some old, worn parts that I found in the
scrap drawer.

I removed 1/8th of an inch from the sear nose to simulate a sear failure.
Not only did the hammer remain cocked, it didn't even let the hammer follow
the slide for 3 fired rounds. It followed to half-cock on the 4th round.

I removed both hammer hooks, pulled the hammer to full cock position and released it. The half-cock notch stopped it. I removed the captive lip from
the half-cock notch. What remained of the half-cock stopped the hammer.

I removed the half-cock completely...held the hammer at full cock position and engaged the safety. When I released the hammer, it pushed the safety to the off position, but the hammer fall was impeded and it didn't fire
a primed, empty case in the chamber. I kept trying until I got the primer
to fire...on the 35th or 36th attempt...can't remember exactly. I used a
Fedral primer for the test...noted for being one of the most sensitive. A
Winchester primer probably would have withstood another dozen or so attempts, and a CCI primer probably would never have fired.

My bud walked around for a week with half of a mustache to pay the bet.

Any questions?:cool:

July 3, 2004, 09:22 AM
That's just wrong.
Tee-Hee. :p

July 3, 2004, 12:03 PM
Half a mustache... That is just plain brutal!:D

July 3, 2004, 03:03 PM
Oh, it's not that bad. My uncle (Mom's sister's husband) lost a bet with somebody at work and had to shave his head. She divorced him (apparently the final straw).

It's gratifying that so much can go wrong with these guns and they still won't go off (I wouldn't test it though). Thanks for the info.

Mal H
July 3, 2004, 03:44 PM
Man, 1911Tuner, you do play high stakes don't you?! :) What would you have done if you lost?

About the spring in a 1911 or any pistol or revolver going bad from being kept under tension for a long time - I like to use an analogy or 2 to show that this is unlikely. If springs failed from being under tension, then an automobile in good condition that has been garaged for years wouldn't run at all, a light switch that has sat in a store for years before being purchased wouldn't work, bedsprings wouldn't be springy, old telephones wouldn't work. The list is endless. In short, spings made of good meterial won't fail when being used (or not used) if their design specs are not stressed.

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