1911 Half Cock Question

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by el Godfather, Feb 18, 2012.

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  1. Earlsbud

    Earlsbud Member

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    Bottom line, anytime you lower the hammer on a live round you are taking an unnecessary risk of AD, even if you're John Moses Browning. I guess John was used to the half cock since it was on his 1902, 1905, and 1907 models none of which had a thumb safety until Uncle Sam required it. There is no good reason for the sear to ever engage the half cock unless the gun malfunctions and follows. People who feel perfectly safe carrying a Ruger MKI with a thumb safety will for some reason feel unsafe carrying a 1911 in Condition one. (Hint: They can see the hammer!) If there is a single agency that requires anything other than Condition one I am unaware of it. Just my .02 cents.
     
  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    And every time you get into a car and hit the interstate...but you know the rest.

    If the day comes that I don't have the manual dexterity to manually lower a hammer without shooting myself in the foot...I'll sell all the guns and take up needlepoint.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I believe I'll leave it cocked, and one last round in it for myself!

    Course, we all say that, until that point comes!! :D

    rc
     
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    If you happen to look at a pre-World War Two Colt Government Model, and in particular the hammer spur, you may notice that it has wide flanks (now often called a "wide spur hammer). Besides the obvious it made it possible to squeeze the hammer between the weak-hand thumb and forefinger ahead of the flanks to get a better hold of it while lowering the hammer.

    Unfortunately, too few "Modern Technique" advocates ever study the pistol's history.
     
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Or why certain features were the way they were. The hammer spur is one. The original thumb safety is another one.

    Many people felt that it was "vastly improved" when Colt introduced the teardrop thumb pad...but they also sacrificed a function by doing it. The area behind the dinky original pad provided a flat striking surface directly over the pin, so that the slide...with bushing installed...could be used with the safety to drive out the mainspring housing pin without warping or breaking the safety crosspin.

    Is the ability to fully disassemble the pistol without tools something that's often needed? No...but I like having that option. All of my 1911s that are in the carry rotation have the original USGI thumb safeties for that reason. It's the key that opens the tool box.
     
  6. Earlsbud

    Earlsbud Member

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    I felt the same way until the hammer on a Win. 94 got away from me. If I could have left it cocked and locked it would have never happened. I missed my toe by the way, but killed a nice piece of furniture in the next apartment. That was over 30 years ago and I still don't know how to needle point, but I did learn something. Good luck with the dexterity.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  7. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    It is so refreshing to see that a least a few of you don't fall for the BS myths that so many do.

    The myth that condition two carry is somehow "dangerous" and that JMB "intended" that condition one carry was the ONLY way to carry his gun is total BS but one finds that here and on every gun fourm and gun shop in the world.
     
  8. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    I hope other people can learn from your experience. I absolutely trust myself to manually decock certain guns. But trying to keep a hammer from slipping is one thing I'll never trust myself with.

    Unless I can physically block the hammer AND the gun has a firing pin safety, I'd just as soon leave it alone. In fact, I will decock a revolver when necessary, but I think it's more dangerous than most of my semiautos. With the majority, it's quite easy to jam your thumb in the hole on the back of the slide while you let the hammer off the sear. Even if the hammer slips, your meat hook will still be in the way. Once you release the trigger, then you can unblock the back of the slide and lower the hammer relatively safely, since the FP safety is now on. With a revolver, you need to use both hands to do this cuz your thumb can't reach over the top of that huge hammer, and if it's an old school revolver with the firing pin on the hammer, it's even tricky using two hands.

    I sorely wish firearms instructors would teach people how to decock a gun safely. Cuz they're going to do it, regardless. And if the only place where someone learns how to decock a gun is from the movies, gosh, no wonder there are so many decocking NDs. I've never seen anyone safely decock a gun in the movies.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  9. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    I think the key words here are "I'll never trust myself..."

    I lot of it does have to do with what a person feels comfortable and confident with. To not trust yourself to safely lower the hammer on a semi, wheelgun or lever gun, etc. speaks a good deal about the lack of training or sense of competence with mechanical devices. But if a fella feels that they cannot reliably do it then by all means don't. No harm no foul.

    tipoc
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Well, ya do have to be careful. Stay focused on the task. Lowering a hammer isn't something that we normally have to do in a hurry. Take your time. Get control of the hammer before you touch the trigger. Don't point it toward your feet.
     
  11. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    "With the majority, it's quite easy to jam your thumb in the hole on the back of the slide while you let the hammer off the sear. Even if the hammer slips, your meat hook will still be in the way. Once you release the trigger, then you can unblock the back of the slide and lower the hammer relatively safely, since the FP safety is now on. "

    Right. That is the correct and SAFE way to decock the 1911. The instant the sear releases the hammer TAKE YOU FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER. Then if you let the hammer slip it will hit your thumb. If somehow your thumb fails to stop the hammer the half cock notch will.
     
  12. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    "I lot of it does have to do with what a person feels comfortable and confident with. To not trust yourself to safely lower the hammer on a semi, wheelgun or lever gun, etc. speaks a good deal about the lack of training or sense of competence with mechanical devices. But if a fella feels that they cannot reliably do it then by all means don't. No harm no foul"

    Another correct response. Just because someone feels they are not competent to preform a task does not mean others can not do it safely.

    I can't fly an airplane. If I tried I would surely get killed. That does not mean others can't safely fly.

    Back when I used to carry a 1911 I carried both condition one and two. There were times such as when riding my motorcycle that I felt condition two was better.

    I would rather crash a bike with a decocked pistol on my side than a cocked one.

    I know it is hard for some people to believe but even Cooper sometimes used condition two. Anyone who has read most of his stuff knows that.
     
  13. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    Tuner,

    I gotta tell you I really enjoy reading the history of the 1911 and JMB which you detail. I also realy like the wide spur hammer on my 01918 Repro. It is very functional, and I have no problem lowering the hammer on a live round with ANY of my semi autos. Again, they are always pointed in a safe direction when doing so, but have never had an ND in 40 years of shooting.
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    So do I, though not as much as I did when I was exploring the great outdoors.

    Sometimes Condition 2 makes more sense than Condition 1.

    Condition 2 provides the best protection from dirt and debris making its way into the lockwork, while still allowing the pistol to be readied with one hand...albeit a bit slower. Better to be a half-second slower on the draw and have the gun work, than to execute a quick-draw and discover that it won't fire.

    Incidentally, the lowered ejection port that's all the rage is another fairly large window for stuff that isn't exactly conducive to reliable function to enter therein.

    In the boondocks, my pistol was in C-2. It was most often a USGI Colt or Remington Rand with the standard ejection port...and I carried it in a full flap holster to offer maximum protection from hard knocks and grimy stuff. It also had the bad, old thumb safety so I could unlock the toolbox and completely disassemble the gun should I find myself up to my kiester in mud.
     
  15. Creature

    Creature Member

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    Interesting discussion and something that I had not really took much into consideration...
     
  16. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    My defensive handgun is a double action revolver. My 1911 is a range gun, mostly in the local modern and vintage military matches.* So my opinion is worth less than the opinion of those who do carry a 1911 for defense or duty purposes. But, obviously, that does not stop me from having opinions. :evil:

    As I have had it hammered into me, Condition Two (round in chamber, hammer down) is hammer down on the inertial firing pin, not in the half-cock notch.

    For my small hands going from Condition Zero (round in chamber, hammer cocked, thumb safety off) to Condition Two requires my off-hand thumb to control the hammer.

    One-handed with the 1911, I prefer to go from Condition Zero to Condition One (round in chamber, hammer cocked, thumb safety on). If my 1911 cannot be trusted in Condition One, it belongs at the gunsmith.



    *(My usual safe condition is slide open, CMP flag in firing chamber, no magazine or round in gun, gun on range bench pointed downrange.)
     
  17. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    You may have misinterpreted this statement. Unless you are suggesting that when decocking a 1911, the only thing between a successful decock and an ND is your thumb on the back of the hammer spur. If this is the case, then you have read me correctly, and I will forever maintain that no matter how coordinated and dextrous you are, this is not a safe practice. Read the ND thread. Every one of those "hammer slipped" NDs was by someone who had done it hundreds of times and felt completely confident. It's just not worth the consequences, even if you have it pointed in a safe place, unless you are already deaf. On the range, with hearing protection, pointed downrange where the rest of the bullets are going, yeah. In your home, no ears, after loading your gun, no. Especially if you are within city limits where such an ND could constitute an illegal discharge of a firearm. Or you have neighbors/family/friends/coworkers/employers that would find out and forever have a doubt in their minds about your competence and safety.

    It's the people who ARE (improperly) "trained" and confident enough to be comfortable decocking a gun in an unsafe manner who are the ones that have NDs. If you are competent enough to know how a modern gun fires and the safety mechanisms it has built in, you would NOT rely on holding the hammer back, alone. There is a much better and more fail-safe way to decock most modern handguns, period.

    Besides, like I said. What firearm instructor teaches decocking? Where does one get this "training?"

    A perfect example of a gun which I would avoid decocking if at all possible is a revolver with a hammer shroud. OTOH, I feel 100% confident in my ability to decock the average modern handgun, safely, using the right procedure. In case you have doubts:
    http://i688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/DSCF4993.jpg
    I absolutely don't trust myself to keep the hammer from slipping, and yet I decock this gun every time I load it and before each time I holster it while shooting.

    BTW, I verified that the decocking lever only lowers the hammer to the half cock notch on this gun. If it lowered the hammer all the way down, I wouldn't have removed the lever. I feel 100% confident in manually decocking this gun to the half cock notch, but I would never attempt to lower it all the way (since it's DA/SA you'd have to keep the trigger pulled the whole way down).
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  18. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    That seems like a contradiction of terms - 'well trained' people and doing things in an unsafe manner don't go together.
     
  19. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Edited. Anywhoo, like I said, there's no one alive, today, that will teach you how to decock a gun for money. Decocking a gun, manually, is a liability. So where are you going to get this training? Your training is going to teach you how to leave the gun unloaded or to leave it in the holster and/or put the safety on, or to use a decocking lever.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  20. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    "Trained" people can also be idiots. No amount of training can stop some people from doing stupid things.

    We posted the safe way to decock a 1911. If you do it EXACTLY as we said it is safe.
     
  21. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    Decocking with the thumb between the hammer and slide and dropping to the half cock notch works nicely with my Series 70 - not so much with my Series 80 which lacks a half cock notch. Of course, the Series 70 has no FP safety, while the Series 80 has one.
     
  22. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    With either one as long as you take your finger off the trigger it will work the same.
     
  23. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Member

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    Alas, if you don't the the dexterity needed to manually lower a hammer, you'll probably have a hard time with needlepoint, too. May just have to take up fishing, then -- with dynamite?
     
  24. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    Gloob,

    It has been mentioned by more than one person that it takes two hands to safely lower the hammer on a live round with a 1911, BHP or other similar guns. One hand which pulls the trigger while the other prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin. The thumb is not on the back of the hammer spur in any method that I have seen or know of. While the hammer on a single action or da revolver can be safely lowered with one hand in a pinch on the 1911 or BHP two hands are required. This is part of why the thumb safety was added in the first place. If there was an interruption in firing the gun could be made safe one handed by employing the safety till two hands were available for lowering the hammer.

    tipoc
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  25. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    Another BS myth about the 1911 is that it WILL fire if dropped on the muzzle in condition two because of firing pin inertia but it will not do so in condition one.

    Where does this BS come from? If it can do it in condition two it can and will do it condition one.

    In fact it is my opinion it is less likely to do so in two than one.
     
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