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1911 hammer lowering ideas?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by el Godfather, Dec 1, 2012.

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  1. el Godfather

    el Godfather Well-Known Member

    Dear THR:
    Well I have been around guns since childhood. I have seen quite a few hammer slips when lowering a hammer on 1911. Luckily, it never happened to me at least when the gun was loaded.

    I just wish there was some 1911 (I am sure the hardcore 1911 boys will disagree) that would have a lever for lowering the hammer, which would make the damn thing easier. Is there any 1911 that does that?

    What has been your experience in this and how do practice?

  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    It's all in the technique. Do it the right way, and the hammer won't slip.

    It's late and it's been a long day since 0400. I'll come back later and do my best to describe it satisfactorily, along with instruction on doing a safe pinch check. (Steven Seagal does it all wrong.)
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I have been lowering the hammers on 1911's with stock GI safetys & hammers one-handed since 1950 something without a slip or ND.

    The harder you try not to slip, the worse and more likely it will get.

    1. Just put your thumb clear over the hammer spur.
    2. Pull it back until it depresses the grip safety.
    3. Pull the trigger and let the hammer go foreward while under total control of you thumb.
    4. Let go of the trigger once you get the hammer past the intercept (half-cock) notch.

    Even if it slips late in the game, it is slowed down enough it won't even dent the primer.

    It is no different at all then safely lowering the hammer on a cocked Colt SAA or S&W DA revolver.

    If you have a more modern and "stylish" 1911 with a beaver-tail grip safety and round Commander hammer?

    Best to just leave it Cocked & Locked!

    Trying to lower the hammer on one of them is bound to result in a Series of Unfortunate Events, sooner or later!

  4. BILLG

    BILLG Well-Known Member

    There is no need to lower the hammer on a 1911 carry it cocked and locked.If you are not comfortable with that you need another action type.Lowering the hammer on a loaded 1911 IS an accident waiting to happen.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Thats a popular & often repeted opinion on the Internet anymore.

    But it was the way the military did it for most of the service life of the 1911, if you wanted to carry it loaded.

    It is no more dangerous then lowering the hammer on a six-gun or hammer shotgun or rifle you cocked and didn't shoot if you do it right.

  6. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    I don't know of any 1911 with a decocker, but there are other single action pistols with them. For example the CZ52.

    I personally never lower a hammer on a loaded round. A long time ago I carried an early Beretta 84 that had a safety but no decocker. I would load the chamber then disassemble the gun drop the hammer and then reassemble it. Unfortunately that isn't really an option with a 1911.
  7. smalls

    smalls Well-Known Member

    I disagree with it being an accident waiting to happen. You just need to be careful.

    I will agree that it's pointless. A gun not ready to fire is useless.
  8. Urban_Redneck

    Urban_Redneck Well-Known Member

    If you follow the 4 rules of safe gun handling, you'll need a bullet trap.
  9. BlindJustice

    BlindJustice Well-Known Member

    Cocked and Locked -or- get a DA/SA Sig P220 with a decocker.

    I have a CZ 75B and it's easier to lower the hammer to the half cock
    using my left indix finger to block it from a slip.so it goes to DA first shot
    then SA after that.

    In the USN in the 70s, standard procedure was carry two mags in the belt holder and an empty 1911, so to load it, charge it with a loaded mag and rack the slide. and with as many bozos I found in terms of weapons faimiliararity I was fine with that .

    Wrap your head around cocked and locked as you carry it, the thumb safety block the slide from moving, and the grip safety disconects the trigger and hammer. -and- some 1911s have the firing pin safety. as well.

  10. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    I was told years ago US military used to rely on big oil drum filled with sand.
  11. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    And heeeeere we go! Predictable.

    The metal drum wasn't used for lowering the hammer on a hot chamber. Its purpose was for clearing the pistol and proving that the chamber was clear by pointing it into the drum and pulling the trigger.

    Now then...

    elGodfather asked a simple question. i.e. "How is it properly done?"

    We all know the risks associated with lowering a hammer. We've all heard that we should never, ever do it under any circumstances...because toes will be lost and kittens will die and the great rivers will reverse direction, et al ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    But...the pistol was designed to be cocked and de-cocked. If we are careful and give it our full attention and don't get in a rush...and keep it pointed in a safe direction...it can be done safely.


    I don't care why he wants to lower a hammer. All I can glean from his question is that he intends to do it at some point, and he's searching for the best way to accomplish that safely.


    Because the OP's question was on technique and not tactics, I'm going to keep it centered on that. When the howls and the arguments start...I'll clean up the thread and close it before I'll let it go in the direction that this topic always seems to go.

    Snarky comments such as: "If you're afraid to carry it cocked and locked, get a revolver!" will be deleted without fanfare.

    As have I, though not for that long. I was taught how. It works.

    The thumb safety blocks sear movement and locks the slide. The grip safety blocks the trigger. The disconnect connects the trigger and sear. Neither have anything at all to do with the hammer.

    The Israeli Defense Force would disagree...and so do I...and hammer down on a hot chamber still allows one hand operation. A little slower to be sure. Useless? Nah.

    An expensive answer to a non-problem, and one that also gives our old friend Murphy another opportunity to spoil the show.
  13. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    The trick to safely lowering a hammer on any (exposed) hammer gun is to first get control of the hammer before you let your finger get close to the trigger. First. Trying to catch the hammer after pulling the trigger is a surefire recipe for an unintentional discharge.

    Although it can be done with one hand, I recommend two. The one-handed de-cocking feature was intended for mounted cavalrymen who were using one hand to control the reins. So...use two hands.

    By the numbers:

    1. Finger off trigger, place the thumb safety in the off-safe position.

    2. Raise the thumb and hook the pad over the top of the hammer and pull it slightly past full cock. This accomplishes two things. First, it allows the grip safety to swing out and block the trigger, and it places all the resistance on the hammer needed to control it. No surprises and no trying to catch it.

    3. Place the off-hand over the slide and use the off-hand thumb to depress the grip safety.

    4. Pull the trigger and slowly lower the hammer by allowing the strong hand to shift its position slightly so that the tip of the thumb stays between the hammer and slide. A little practice will let you learn to ease the hammer fully forward without interference from the half-cock. Or...If you want to use the half-cock...you can release the trigger early and stop it there.

    Practice it with an empty pistol a few dozen times to learn the ropes. Never get in a rush. If you have to reholster in a hurry, just apply the thumb safety and come back to lowering the hammer when you can take your time and give it your full attention.

    Never get complacent. Haste, inattention, and complacency kill. That cocked pistol is a rattlesnake. Respect it.
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Finally...Upswept ducktail grip safeties do present a problem, but lowering the hammer can still be done with a slightly different technique.

    The overhand finger and thumb pinch method works well, as it did with wide-spur hammers that provided a positive, non-slip grip on the sides of the hammer. Just let the meaty part of the thumb and finger press into the hammer slot to allow it to get a better grip.

    The ducktail/rowel hammer combination will require a bit more finger/thumb dexterity, so unload the pistol and practice, practice, practice.
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    On to:

    The safe "Pinch Check,"

    Steven Segal and others may look cool in the movies doing the pinch check...but it's wrong.

    1. Grip the pistol in the strong hand and place the manual safety in the go-bang position.

    2. Stick the strong-hand thumb straight up and hook it over the top of the hammer. As with the technique on lowering the hammer, this releases the grip safety and the trigger is blocked.

    3. Hook the off-hand thumb in the front of the trigger guard, and the index finger over the recoil spring plug.

    4. "Pinch" to move the slide far enough rearward to check the chamber's status. You may have to shift your thumb on the hammer a little, but by this point, the disconnect has disconnected the trigger and sear...and even if it doesn't...the hammer can't hit the firing pin anyway.

    5. Release the slide to let it go back into battery. Remove the thumb from the trigger guard and the finger from the spring plug.

    6. Release the hammer to the sear.

    7. Apply manual safety. Or...follow the procedure for lowering the hammer as per your choice.

    Here, the hammer is under control at all times...the grip safety prevents the trigger from moving in the event that it gets bumped...and once the slide has moved 1/10th of an inch, the hammer face can't reach the firing pin anyway.
  16. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Well-Known Member

    My response was based on this question. I do realize the nature of seeking such an answer indicates a more fundamental deficiency in training. I don't find the C&S kit as objectionable as some after having talked with long term users and, while its main goal is also to keep Murphy at bay, it does by nature invite him to dinner.
  17. 2wheels

    2wheels Well-Known Member

    The OP isn't so interested in how to lower the hammer on a 1911 manually, he seems more interested in the idea of a decocker.

    That's something I've never seen on a 1911, and I bet I never will. I'm not sure what you'd have to do to the internals of the gun, or where you'd put the decocker.

    I certainly wouldn't want it incorporated into the thumb safety, then you run the risk of decocking your 1911 while shooting and since it's not a DA/SA gun... You'd really be in trouble if you were in a firefight!

    We're talking about complicating the design for a pretty small market. Most modern 1911 guys are very much in the "cocked and locked" school of thought.

    Much better I think to either learn to decock the 1911 by hand properly, or give up and buy a DA/SA gun.
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    And there isn't one. The closest thing available is the C&S Safety Fast system, and it's overly complex and questionable on reliability and durability...which is why it's better to just learn the drill.
  19. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    some random observations

    The 1911s I've owned all had the little "nub" hammers and either long-spurred or beavertail grip safeties. There isn't much hammer to hold onto. If I decocked those it was only on a chamber I'd verified to be empty, and never one-handed.

    The "pinch" chamber check only works on guns that have not had a full length guide rod installed. Coincidentally (?) many of these guns also have front slide serrations. :barf: I wonder if FLGRs originated the idea of them.

    It wasn't a 1911, but the 1930s Polish pistol commonly known as the "Radom" was a single-action with a decocker. Later ones made under German occupation deleted this feature, presumably as unnecessary. ;)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  20. Colt and Para have both made DA/SA or DAO 1911s. I'm not sure if they have decockers. Otherwise a CZ75 BD may be a good choice. Similar feel to a 1911 and designed to be carried Con 2

    Not to be a smart ass or anything but if you want to carry a gun con 2 then a single action gun is the wrong tool for the job. There are better choices.

    Good luck.
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