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Locked and Cocked 1911 Discharge?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by nordaim, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. nordaim

    nordaim Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if anyone here has personally experienced or witnessed an unintentional discharge from a locked and cocked 1911.

    All the ones I have heard are of the "My father knew a guy" or "My friend's friend had it happen to him", but I have never heard or read anything credible about it occurring.

    Just trying to dig up some more info about carrying a 1911 in this fashion. Currently carrying a P99 has me a bit intimidated should I get a 1911, like it, and want to carry it in this fashion.
  2. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member


    I haven't even heard the anecdotal, "my father had a friend..."

    Have heard a lot of war stories about (generally peace-time duty) GIs doing stupid stuff with .45s, though, which is why so many of them were forced to carry hammer down on an empty chamber -- when they were issued ammo at all.
  3. 45Badger

    45Badger Well-Known Member

    Nope, never.

    PCRCCW Well-Known Member

    I can tell you this. Ive had two (2) AD's in my lifetime..both were with Trad. DA trigger guns...............and Ive owned my share of 1911's. :D

    Shoot well...............
  5. stevelyn

    stevelyn Well-Known Member

    I've never heard of any. Worked with GIs that did dumb stuff resulting in NDs like finger in the trigger or racking slide w/o dropping mag when clearing at clearing barrel.
    I've carried a 1911 for years and even had the safety work into the off position w/o incident.
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Put your mind at ease...

    Here is a cut and paste that I posted on another thread. Hope it answers some questions.

    I conducted a test of the 1911's relative safety during a cocked and locked carry. (I'm always doin' SOME kinda testin')

    Although I do like the extra security of a Series 80 type passive firing pin block for Con-1 in an open topped holster, the pre-Series 80/Series 1s are not prone to discharge from this mode.

    I used a Dremel to grind about an eighth of an inch from the nose of an, old sear, and installed it in a pistol, using two different hammers for the test. One was an old GI hammer with a broken hook, and the other was a Series 80 Colt hammer with the safety shelf instead of the true half-cock notch. Going further, the one good hook on the GI hammer was ground until it would jar off with a tap on the spur with a plastic mallet. This was necessary because the sear would still allow full cock and wouldn't fall without pulling the trigger. I ran this test to determine whether the pistol would fire if the sear nose failed.

    Jarring the hammer off the hooks wouldn't allow the hammer to fall past the half-cock notch with 50 attempts. The Series 80 hammer also had the hooks ground off to let the hammer bump off the sear. The shelf caught it 50 times, and never allowed the face of the hammer to reach the firing pin. I reached the conclusion that the sear would have to break in two or three separate pieces before it would let the hammer fall to the pin.

    Going a step further, I completely removed the hammer hooks so that I had to hold the hammer back and release it. I then engaged the thumb safety to see if it would slow the hammer's fall. It did slow it a little, but the half-cock notch stopped it cold...so I then removed the notch and ground an angle to allow the hammer to get past the sear, and repeated the test with a primed case in the chamber. It took 37 attempts before I got the primer to fire. Keep in mind that 1/8 inch of the sear nose was missing.

    Safe to carry in Condition One? I think so.
  7. Smoke

    Smoke Well-Known Member

    Nope. My personal experience with the 1911 is breif considering the lifespan of this design. But I train with some individuals that have quite a collection of years with this gun. Nobody has ever told me of a discharge that wasn't operator error. (safety off...finger on trigger)

  8. John Forsyth

    John Forsyth Well-Known Member

    Nope, never.
  9. nordaim

    nordaim Well-Known Member

    1911 Tuner...

    Thank you for copying your other post into this thread.

    37 attempts before you suffered a failure, after modifying the hammer and sear that much. Damn.
  10. Johnny Guest

    Johnny Guest Moderator Emeritus

    I know of none - -

    - - - which I consider credible. And only two in the other realm.

    Sometime in the early 1970s I read a magazine article which stated that then-Lieutenant George Patton, during his border service in Texas, had a service 1911 go off in his holster. It was mentioned that he'd had it "worked on" to attain a "hair trigger," and, once when he stamped his foot, the pistol discharged. No mention was made as to the true condition of readiness: "Half cock," cocked-but-unlocked, whatever. Dunno if this one fits, even if true.

    The other was when a police investigator had one go off in an appliance store while off duty. He had only recently acquired the pistol and had NO formal transition training on the type. He claimed he had bent over to examine a TV set, and the pistol "just went off" while holstered. FWIW, this officer had a reputation for messing with stuff, and no one believed the story. :D

  11. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member


    I did a little test of my own one time. A stock (pre series 70) Colt Combat Commander, primed case in the chamber, full cock, unlocked. Threw / tossed / rolled / tumbled it across the (carpeted) floor a dozen times or so to crash into the wall to see if I could get it to fire the primer. It never did.

    Those 1911's are as safe as the person holding it.
  12. Mossyrock

    Mossyrock Well-Known Member


    I guess I am the exception to the rule on this one. I HAVE had an AD with a cocked and locked 1911....One of two ADs in my life. In this case, it was a 1911 "Frankenstein Gun" made up of an Essex frame, Colt slide and GI (supposedly) parts. I had fired a few rounds through this gun and had just reloaded. It had a fully loaded magazine with a loaded chamber, cocked and locked. I picked the pistol up, assumed a two-handed firing position (finger OFF the trigger) and dropped the thumb safety. BOOOM!!! The pistol fired, sending a round of 230 grain hardball into the ground 18 inches in front of my left foot. Needless to say, that particular pistol and I parted company soon thereafter. Bottom line is that it was a mechanical failure of the hammer-safety-sear. Needless to say, it could have turned out MUCH worse.
  13. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

    That kinda tells the story right there.:p
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    For What it's Worth

    All I can figure is that there was something way out of spec in the trigger
    group on Mossyrock's Frankengun. Either the half-cock notch had been removed, or the sear was a quarter-inch too short. Another possibility is that the left leg of the sear spring had been bent backward in a ill-advised
    attempt at reducing the trigger pull weight, and didn't have the sear set into the hammer hooks. Even at that, the half cock should have stopped it, or at least slowed it down enough to prevent a discharge. Yet another
    reason not to go monkeying around with the trigger group without a
    full understanding of the mechanics. Wish he still had the pistol for a
    teardown to check the half-cock notch. I'm betting that it was ground off
    by the assembler in an effort to speed up the lock time.

    If everything is in-spec, and nothing has been over- tweaked by an amateur, the pistol is as safe cocked and locked as it is with the hammer down on a hot chamber.

    Hope you warned the next buyer of the pistol's dangerous condition.

  15. cornbread2

    cornbread2 member

    Most all good SA carry guns have some sort of automatic safety system to prevent an AD if the sear somehow failed and allowed the hammer or striker to fall.

    The 1911 has the half cock notch and the manaul safety also partly blocks the fall of the hammer. Some later 1911 also have a firing pin lock. It is almost impossible for the later 1911s to have an AD and highly unlikely for the earlier ones to do so unless there is something very wrong with the internal parts.

    The Springfield XD is also a SA. The grip safety blocks the sear and the firing pin lock blocks the striker and prevents an AD if somehow the sear broke or failed.

    The Steyr and cheap junk such as the Davis, Jennings, Bryco are the only modern SA pistols that lack this kind of automatic drop safety system so they should NEVER be carried with a loaded chamber.
  16. tpelle

    tpelle Well-Known Member

    In reference to Mossyrock's post, there is a procedure for checking a 1911's safety, but I don't recall exactly what it is. Something about pulling the trigger as hard as you can with the safety on, then holding the pistol up to yor ear while you pull back on the hammer to listen for a click, or something like that. Maybe one of the old 1911 hands here can post it. It would be good info. I know when I read it, I tried it with my 1911 and it passed.

    I once was carrying my 1911 Series 80 cocked-and-locked in a Galco Small-Of-Back (SOB) holster. I was walking down the street and the pistol slipped out of the holster, slid down the back of my leg, and when I reflexively spun around to try to catch it I kicked the thing all the way across a two-lane blacktop road. The thing hit hard enough that it took a chip out of the original nylon flat mainspring housing, but the pistol didn't fire.

    Last time I carried with the Galco SOB.
  17. Mossyrock

    Mossyrock Well-Known Member

    Disposition of "Frankengun"

    Tuner and all,

    The Frankengun mentioned in an earlier post was NOT sold as a whole pistol. I parted it out, selling everything but the hammer and sear. I had the satisfaction of taking those parts and beating them into submission on an anvil with a ten pound hammer. Fitting end.....

    Felt good, too....
  18. cornbread2

    cornbread2 member

    There is a good and simple to check the safety on a 1911 if you know how to detail strip the frame.

    Remove everything from the frame and only put the hammer and safety back in the frame.

    Place the slide back on the frame and with the hammer back put the safety on.

    Push the hammer forward. If the safety is fitted correctly and the internal surfaces are shaped properly the safety will stop the fall of the hammer about half way down. Sometimes the hammer will force the safety off and the hammer will still fall. If this happens I try other safetys untill one completly blocks the hammer.

    With a good safety that blocks the hammer and a good working sear and half cock notch you have a very safe pistol.
  19. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Hammer, Hammer and Sear

    Mossyrock said:

    I had the satisfaction of taking those parts and beating them into submission on an anvil with a ten pound hammer. Fitting end.....

    LMAO...Good show. lad...Good SHOW!:D


  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Safety Check

    tpelle said:

    In reference to Mossyrock's post, there is a procedure for checking a 1911's safety, but I don't recall exactly what it is. Something about pulling the trigger as hard as you can with the safety on, then holding the pistol up to yor ear while you pull back on the hammer to listen for a click,

    That's the standard test to see if the thumb safety is completely blocking
    sear movement. Pulling the trigger as hard as you can, however will probably bend the trigger stirrup, and possibly the bow. About 10-12
    pounds will do. If a click is heard, it's the sear resweeing to the bottom of the hammer hooks, and it means that the sear moved. Not good.

    Even if his thumb safety didn't block all sear movement, the half-cock still would have stopped the hammer unless the trigger was pulled. If the
    trigger isn't pulled, the sear doesn't move out of the way of the half-cock
    notch. When it hits the sear, the hammer stops.

    Somethin' bad wrong in that pistol, methinks...



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