1911 Half Cock Question

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. theQman23

    theQman23 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Messages:
    210
    I don't know what JMB original intent was, nor do I argue that the half cock is or isn't a safety, because that depends entirely on what your idea or intent is while defining the word "safety."
    What I do know is, that when the metal shape of the sear and the metal shape of the hammer wear together after hundreds or thousands of shots, you can still maintain the nice crisp edge of a .020 trigger and sear job for a very long time, even if you carry locked and cocked like I do. If however, you start wearing the hammer down into the half cocked safety valley on the hammer, you will take some of the edge off of the sear, and over many thousands of cycles if that gets rounded you will wind up being unsafe.
    My advice, carry the gun hammer down if you go unchambered. Or, if you carry as I do with a slug in the hole, then cock the thing all the way and put the manual safety on and let the sear ride on the appropriately matched and machined edge it is supposed to ride on.
    Besides, if you carry chambered, and then half cocked, don't you have to them cock the gun to use it if needs be? Why wouldn't you just swipe off the manual safety and go to town?
     
  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    *blink blink*

    Uh...

    Uhm...

    Nah.

    Honestly, it's a moot point. I doubt if anyone will actually use the half-cock as a safety because there's no real reason to use it. Nobody is arguing that it should be used. Only that it is a safety and that it can be used if one so desires.
     
  3. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    I will, and I won't even charge ya for it. I'll also demonstrate the safe way to pinch-check the chamber...long lambasted for being so perilous that nobody can do it without putting their finger in mortal danger. And, no...Steven Seagal doesn't do it correctly.
     
  4. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    360
    My problem with half cock is that if the gun is dropped hard enough on the hammer it can destroy the sear leaving the gun useless until it is repaired.

    Also if the hammer receives a very hard blow it could break the sear and the gun could fire.

    Hammer down about you would get is possibly a bent hammer spur.
     
  5. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,220
    This is also a BIG.. it depends on the hammer and shape of the half cock notch. Some of the original half cock notches I've seen so capture the sear that there will be little if any movement, thus no real wear. Other half cock notches I've seen have a high spot in the middle such that when the sear is sitting on the half cock (or more likely) lands on it, the sear face is ONLY contacted in the center NOT at the location of the hammer hook mating surfaces. This looks to be a very nice feature as if the hammer falls to half cock hard it does not impact your finely matched sear to hook face. Many hammers are different, so it's a DEPENDS / maybe.. etc
     
  6. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    5,961
    Location:
    Near Camp Perry
    question for theQman23:
    are you saying that the half-cock notch is a "square peg in a round hole" situation?
    I'm not doubting that some designs might be like that, but is it common? Could you dig up a reference or diagram showing more detail?
     
  7. tipoc

    tipoc Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,563
    I've never had reason to place a gun on the half cock as a mode of carry (though, as I mentioned, I know why others have done so.)
    It is useful should the hammer slip from the thumb or fingers either in cocking or decocking the gun where it can prevent a ud. Or in the case of the hammer following the slide down when the sear has been worn or damaged as the half cock then prevents the gun from going full auto. Seems to me these safety aspects of it's function can be overlooked but shouldn't be.

    In a pm a forum member sent me a note outlining a procedure for lowering the hammer to half cock using one hand that I hadn't heard described before. I tried it on an empty gun and it seemed an awkward and cumbersome thing to me and not reliably safe. The two handed methods for lowering either to the half cock or fully down are safer I believe.

    tipoc
     
  8. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,955
    Exactly my point. Charge money, and you will end up getting sued when a 10 thumbed idiot "follers yer course instrukshuns, exzactly" and you're found guilty of reckless endangerment by a jury of non-gun owners. In front of all those people, the prosecuting attorney will ask you "Was it necessary to manually decock this gun, to begin with?" The he'll show the jury several guns which have a decocking mechanism built in, and explain to those jurors how manufacturers include a decocker on guns that are meant to be decocked.

    Ask anyone who does firearms training for a living and a reputation, and the only answer you'll get is "I don't advise that." And there'll be one or two of 'em paid to say exactly that at your trial.

    The pinch technique is pretty stupid, if you ask me, because: 1. You're putting your finger in the trigger guard for no good reason. 2: You're putting the wrong finger of the wrong hand in the trigger guard, for no good reason. (Can you say accidental bump fire? lol) But as long as you do it right, the beavertail safety is not depressed. Course, compromising your grip to let off that safety isn't ideal, either. So it's dumb any way you cut it.

    As for putting your finger in mortal danger, that's only true cuz your other finger is in the triggerguard. I have no issues with forward cocking serrations, for instance. I can't understand how other people make this a huge issue. If you don't trust a firearm to not go off when you're in control of it, and can't trust yourself to keep your fingers at least a half inch clear of the muzzle without sweeping yourself, then how can you feel comfortable carrying it in a holster in such a way that it routinely points at other people's feet or worse? (Or at your own genitals, if you care for Mexican carry! :))

    Not to mention that on a small pocket pistol, the overhand method will put your finger in just as much danger... 'cept it would be the pinky finger this time. :)

    But then again, if I had anything at stake, I'd stick with what everyone else is teaching.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  9. tipoc

    tipoc Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,563
    Gloob,

    If you prefer I'll charge ya!

    Send $10. to my PayPal account and ...

    but if you shoot your knee cap off it's on you. :)

    tipoc
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Which is not to be taken as proof that it can't be done.

    If you cock a revolver and the opportunity for the shot is lost, you can't clear the gun with the hammer cocked. What do you do? Fire the round, or lower the hammer?

    You're in a tree stand with a Model 94, and your buck disappears. Will you chamber a round and lower the hammer to half-cock...or will you wait until a Boone & Crockett buck shows up to lever the action? Then, if the buck fades into the treeline...are you gonna make noise clearing the rifle, or lower the hammer to half-cock and wait?

    Hammers are designed to be manipulated with the thumb. That's why they have checkering or serrations. Yes, you can light one off if you're careless and get in a hurry.

    Be careful. Take your time. It'll be ai'ght.
     
  11. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,220
    Here is a picture of the STI. I've seen similar in Wilson Combat and EGW
    [​IMG]

    With these hammers, if the hammer falls to half cock or is placed there, the sear is trapped, and hammer hook portions of the sear face are no contacted.
    Even if the half cock has full contact with the sear face, that's 50% more area for the sear to rest on. If I had a hammer FALL on half cock, I'd still inspect it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  12. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    During a range session, I had 2 followdowns to the quarter cock shelf in one of my 1991A1 beaters...with an MIM sear...about 50,000 rounds ago. Replaced the sear spring and kept on truckin'.
     
  13. pale horse

    pale horse Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Messages:
    216
    I have been shooting the 1911 for many years professionally and privately. As an Instructor I can spot an amateur shooter by how they carry their weapon. Their level of skill when I put them on the clock becomes evident very fast. Normally the guys who have combat focused training use condition one. Condition 3 is generally used by guys who have been trained by Israeli's or they dont feel comfortable with the hammer drawn back. Condition 3 is used "cuz thats the way my grandad taught me when he was in the war." I have seen guys try 1, 2, and 3 and shoot OK in static targets fairly well. Three weeks ago I was working with a guy who was in the army and was trying to shoot the course of fire on half cock and he jacked rounds all over trying to get the weapon into action, until I corrected the piss poor army training he received 20 years ago. I had my 1911 and showed him how fast it was carrying in 1 and 3 over 2. He changed his condition and shot so much better after struggling with "the grandad showed me how method." If you would like further illustration look at the following guys Larry Vickers, MagPul and ANY competitive 1911 shooter when they run 1911s for combat/competition purposes. The key is consistency in your carry method. If you would like to try a test and see if you are comfortable take a pic of your wife or kid (who you love), put it up in the target area and try to load using each method and see if you are willing to bet on not having sweaty fingers when loading for condition 2.

    The army has to train to the lowest level and over half of the weapons skills (until recently) have been 20-30 years behind the power curve. If you look at the Ranger Bats and CAG you will see how it is supposed to be carried. Granted, they are carrying Beretta's, Glock's, and some 1911's. The ones who are carrying the 1911 are carrying condition 1. If you look at the level of skill these shooters have over the general masses you will see how and why the Army went to loddie dottie everybody training. For the record using the army as an example of good tactics for the average joe is about as dumb as a screen door on a submarine.

    Regardless, of what was intended 100 years ago we have progressed as a culture, heck we even have microwaves for cooking. It was once thought that going 60 miles an hour would make you catch on fire. Even better yet using more that 3 controls at a time driving would cause you to burst brain cells. Lets not get wrapped around the axle on the intention of a dead man and 100 or even 50 year old tactics. Figure out for yourself what you need to use in a gunfight and train until you get it wrong and then train again.
     
  14. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Messages:
    46,725
    Location:
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    Re "dropsy": About forty years ago my 1912 vintage 1911 fell off the seat of my VW bus. I'd had some sort of fumbleitis attack. It was loaded and cocked, with the thumb safety on. It hit directly on the hammer. So I said Bad Words about my stupidity as I picked it up and went on about my business.
     
  15. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    360
    No one said condition two or halfcock was better or faster in any way over one.

    I only said it was a BS myth that condition two carry was "unsafe".
     
  16. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    I'm a little confused. It would seem to me that after he racked the slide once, the pistol would have been cocked. If he returned it to half-cock after every mag change, it would seem that he'd be aware of it, and thumb-cock the piece when he was ready to fire again.

    These days, whenever I carry a 1911, it's most often in C-1. In times gone by, I've carried it in C-2 for the reasons that I outlined earlier. i.e. Keeps crud out of the lockwork when the environment is doin' its level best to foul it. I'm perfectly comfortable with cocked and locked, and I'm perfectly comfortable lowering the hammer on a hot chamber if the situation dictates that it would be a good idea.

    'Course, I ain't one of those high-speed/low-drag operators whose life is in constant danger, and if it was...I'd probably stay home and keep a loaded shotgun across my lap.
     
  17. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Messages:
    360
    "'Course, I ain't one of those high-speed/low-drag operators whose life is in constant danger, and if it was...I'd probably stay home and keep a loaded shotgun across my lap"

    So many of these guys doing the "teaching" have never even come close to being in a gun fight.
     
  18. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2004
    Messages:
    2,401
    Location:
    Bora Bora
    Alright. You can officially call me Condition-2 [Beginner]HK!

    I'm gonna carry my 1911's on half cock just to spite all the arguers in this thread. If I'm still alive or without holes after a year I'll post back that it is utterly safe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  19. john wall

    john wall Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Messages:
    276
    I have a word for one who carries a 1911 in C2. "Beginner".

    C3 is considered "Ceremonial Carry".

    The Average Bear WILL NOT TRAIN. Consider this when you recommend carry guns.:banghead:

    I suggest revolvers in my classes, for the above reason. I consider a 1911 shooter a Problem Shooter until he proves me wrong. Watching a shooter who has mastered his 1911 is a beautiful, if rare, sight.
     
  20. Mr. Doughnut

    Mr. Doughnut Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    This is a very interesting exchange.

    john wall:

    What is your criteria for 1911 mastery? What do you look for? How do you judge?
     
  21. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2007
    Messages:
    5,955
    I've never seen a true beginner group much better than the side of a barn with a DA revolver. Also, beginners are more prone to being CAREFUL with a 1911, due to the light trigger and multiple doodads on it - and careful equals slow. I've never seen a beginner shoot to save his life, but I assume most of 'em would do it much faster if need be. :)

    I'm not so sure about myself, though. For me, less is more, ala Glock, LEM trigger, etc.
     
  22. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    18,549
    Location:
    Lexington,North Carolina...or thereabouts
    Really? Pretty wide brush there. I used to use C2 quite a bit, and I'm anything but a "beginner."

    The 1911 and the High Power offer a choice of carry modes, depending on the situation. There is no "only one" correct way.

    With that reasoning, it might be better if nobody offered any instruction on safe/proper gun handling at all, because...well...sooner or later somebody is going to have a negligent discharge despite the best efforts of the instructor. It's a safe bet that somebody will attempt to lower a hammer despite the instructor advising against it.

    So, which is more reasonable...Hope that the students will follow your instructions as if they were the word of God, or assume that at least a percentage of them will seek their own paths? IMO, failing to address the question is more negligent than instructing the student in proper technique. I'd be derelict in my responsibility if I didn't teach it.
     
  23. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,907
    Location:
    Arizona
    Yup, that's me.

    My experience is limited to only about 65 years of shooting, handling, collecting, 'smithing, and building. Don't hardly know noth'n. Haven't shot no bears either. :uhoh:

    Probably need to go back to school and learn how it's done all over again. :D
     
  24. Ken41

    Ken41 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Messages:
    27
    Location:
    SW PA
    Since I have been a member since 2006, I thought that I should make my first post!

    I have been home sick with sciatica in my Lt leg, getting ready for cervical surgery a week from Monday, and turning 71.

    Anyway, I purchased my first M1911 in 1963 and at the present time have three. The method that I have used for de-cocking is using one hand. Pistol in right hand, use my thumb to pull hammer back, which depresses the grip safety, pull the trigger and lower the hammer with my thumb. When I put my thumb on the hammer to de-cock, the spur of the hammer is almost against the first thumb joint, with the rest of the thumb, along the hammer serrations, overhanging the face of the hammer. As the hammer goes forward, my thumb rolls up enough to keep it from getting pinched between the hammer and frame. I use this method for a two hand hold, and if a one hand hold, switch to two hands.
     
  25. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,074
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    OH! You're gonna shoot your eye out doing that for sure!!

    Seriously, I have been doing the same thing since 1962, so I got you beat by one year.

    The only thing is, it don't work so hot with todays beaver-tail grip safety's.

    Thats another thing Browning probably figured out.
    So you could safely uncock your 1911 with one hand, while at full gallop with the reins in the other hand!

    Now, lets see where these two posts go?
    Should add another three or four days of arguing about what John Browning was really thinking!

    rc
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice