1911 Half Cock Question

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

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  1. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    It was. The cavalry requested a "Slide locking manual safety" for reholstering in a hurry. Even in those unenlightened days, they realized that a man under stress might forget to get his finger clear of the trigger before jamming it into the leather.

    They went to a simpler, cheaper to machine shelf largely because nobody ever uses the half cock for a safety any more...but it came about with Colt's Series 80 modification.

    Studying the notch/sear interface, I don't see where the captive notch rides the critical part of the sear. I've also had sear springs weaken and allow followdown to half cock... after which I corrected it by tweaking the spring or replacing it...and simply carried on with the same sears for tens of thousands of rounds. This, even with MIM sears. The sears are a bit tougher than most people would have you believe.

    Finely honed sears for match-grade triggers are a little different critter. Any tiny change in the primary angle to hook interface changes the trigger action. If you've paid big bucks for a sweet trigger, you don't want it to change.

    But, just sitting there on the half-cock? Nah. There's no impact to do any damage. Impact is a concern, which is why the hammer doesn't fall directly to the sear after firing the gun. The slide catches it, and lowers it gently it as it rides to battery.
     
  2. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

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    Thanks Tuner..
     
  3. gym

    gym member

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    I have carried a 1911 in various sizes off an on for 30 of my 40 years carrying. I always carry half cocked, it works for me. I cock it on the way up, not after it's in the ready position. I know one way is military, and the other law enforcement, when carrying from a hammer down position. As of yet, it works for me. usually because of the concealment issue. If I can't see the gun, "like in a waist pak" I can't be sure the safety didn't slip off it's notch. This can happen with kids, dogs, grandkids jumping on you. So it's just safer for me. I can easily pull my gun, Holstered or from concealment, while automaticlly pulling back the hammer. I never had an issue with it.
    I have debated it here several times over the years. But each to their own.I believe whatever works for you and you feel more comfort with is the way you should approach things. On the other hand, I carry all my other guns, "mostly glocks, chambered and one in the pipe. I just make sure I can't hit the bang switch by using a secure holster, that you can't hit the trigger on. It must be hard leather or some sort of plastic. The same for my bug, the pocket holster is covering the trigger. I would never carry any gun un- chambered. I see a lot of new shooters who do this and cringe.
    In a perfect world, I would carry cocked and locked. But my world has too many distractions, and taking it on and off ten times a day, are twenty chances for something to slide off, like replacing my wallett or keys in that waist pak. Maybe the gun should be the only thing that should be in there, but I have a lot of stuff, and no place else to keep it, with a gun in my right pocket, and keys in the left. I still need my wallet and phone, so this is the way I roll, it may not be tactically correct, but it works for me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  4. bigfatdave

    bigfatdave Member

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    Perhaps, you should drop the attempt at arrogance and pay attention. Generally when 1911Tuner provides information, there's something to learn about the particular model he is discussing and guns in general.
     
  5. theQman23

    theQman23 Member

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    Good information gentlemen, nice thread well discussed.
    I wanted to further comment on the hardness of the sear though. If you buy a new "drop in" sear and install it, and it feels good, fine, but almost all of the $2,000+ plus guns and competitor built 1911 guns have had trigger jobs or sear work done, by shaping, or stoning the sear and them re-installing it back into the gun. A hardened sear has a surface hardness, but that only goes so deep. Once you stone the top off a little, the metal gets softer, just like when you put a glock slide in the mill. First, the tenifer fights the bit, but after the tenifer surface is gone, the steel underneath cuts like butter.
    So again, if you've had a trigger job done, and invested in shaping that sear perfectly to the hooks, you might reconsider how much time that sear spends touching anything other than those hooks.
    It was mentioned that sears are "hard" and " if it was a problem then you'd see a difference in the sear where the 2 hooks are, and where the space is empty between them, on the sear surface"
    This is entirely true, and every 1911 trigger job I do starts specifically with a new sear, for this reason. Because at least 50% of the 1911's I take apart do have a wear pattern that markedly shows the difference where the two hooks ride on the sear, and the wear there is different than in the middle. Any high round 1911 that hasn't had a trigger job will show that.
    If you are pulling 1911's apart that don't show that, then they either A) already had a trigger job,) B) are low count guns, or C) have had their parts replaced with "drop in parts" recently.
    Almost, and I say almost because nothing is constant, but almost all 1911's that have had six or more thousand rounds put through on that same hammer and sear are going to show hook wear, and you'l be able to see the difference clearly.
    When metal parts move on other metal parts, wear occurs. Unavoidable. So, if you want to keep a nice crisp edge on a metal part, don't jam it into another metal part that isn't cut or shaped to receive it.
    If what I'm saying wasn't true, we would never need to re-sharpen our knifes, or weld up and re-shape metal, and no one would ever need to pay for a trigger job in the first place.
    Be safe.
     
  6. gym

    gym member

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    Could someone post a picture of these parts, and where the "hooks" are? I would like to check mine for myself. Or a link to an expanded diagram that shows the sear, and where to look for wear. I would also ask, on an emp, as many other 1911 type guns, there is a trigger adjustment screw, that the manual says "don't play around with this unles you know what you are doing". I usually don't listen to warnings after working for the defense dept in the 60's. But can I adjust my trigger play from that screw, the take up, or reset?
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Neither.

    The screw adjusts only over-travel after the sear breaks.
    Assume it was set right, and don't mess with it.

    Hammer, sear, and disconnector photo:
    http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=27209/Product/1911-AUTO-3-PIECE-DROP-IN-TRIGGER-PULL-SET#

    Here is an excellent picture of a sear setting in the full cock notch of the hammer.
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=2814037&postcount=1
    The safety or intercept notch is further back on the hammer and can't be seen here.

    Good illustrations of 1911 internals:
    http://www.m1911.org/full_1911desc.htm

    rc
     
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    You're describing case hardening. A heat-treated hardened sear is the same from the surface all the way through to the other side.
     
  9. theQman23

    theQman23 Member

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    Hi Gym,
    Your question is a little off topic because this thread was covering the half cock notch and not trigger issues. Don't think me rude, I"m just trying to politely refer you to the correct place for this information before someone flames you.
    As for your question, I'll quickly answer it basically without trying to start another debate. To correctly adjust that screw, you should pull the main spring housing and sear spring out of the gun. Holding the gun facing away from you, look into the rear and you should keep tightening that travel limiting screw until it prevents the trigger from letting the sear work. Then, you should back it out an appropriate amount so that you are sure to get the proper amount of sear movement. Too little sear movement leads to sticky and unclean disengagement of the sear and hammer, and can lead to sear damage. Too much sear movement and your disconnector won't be able to do it's job correctly, and your sear will NOT RE-ENGAGE THE HAMMER, LEADING TO A DANGEROUS FULL AUTO condition and therefore, it is best to adjust the screw so that you get just enough to move the sear free, but no where near enough to allow the trigger to push the parts too far back. In other words, to keep safe, adjust the limiter so that the trigger stays closer to the front of the gun, and can't travel as far back, as long as it is still doing its job. You may need to read and re-read this instruction as you look in through the back of your gun to see the mechanics of why, but an hour spent studying this is going to be excellent time spent.
    Now, once this adjustment is done, put more locktite in there so it can't spin on you. The amount of slop, or "takeup" that your trigger will have between fully extended forward, and the point where it begins to put pressure on the sear, should be adjusted by bending tabs in the top of the trigger bow. Most of the trigger bows sold today don't have these tabs, you can make them with cutters, or if you're aren't a super gunsmith then follow these directions to safetly adjust the overtravel and then live with a little "takeup". For more on this subject go to this video and forward to about the 4 minute mark
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOfKdYNs1R4
     
  10. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    I'm no expert. I know less than many here but...

    I figure, if I need to carry a gun, it needs to be ready to go. Messing around trying to cock a gun in a crisis seems like a bad idea.

    In a 1911 this means ''condition one.'' If a person isn't comfortable with this. Then more training or a different (double action) weapon might be in order.

    If the gun is to be transported, put in storage or kept in such a way that instant use is not required. Then hammer down on empty chamber, ''condition three.''

    It's clear this way... The gun is ready to go or it's not. No need to do a TV style weapon check. If it's cocked and locked, it's ready to...well you get it.
    If the hammer's down, it's empty, period (yes, all guns are always loaded).

    So for me at least, on a 1911, half cock is a ''passive'' safety feature.

    Decocking is what a decocker is for.
    As far as decocking on TV? It makes me cringe every time some actor casually lowers the hammer. Usually while still pointing the gun at whoever they decided not to shoot.
    I do love it when they decock or engage/disengage the safety on a Glock.

    It's strange that anyone could be uncomfortable with a 1911, yet fine with a striker fired gun. Not to say that striker fired is unsafe. It must be a visual thing?

    But, I've gotten off subject, I shall retire.
     
  11. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Nobody said anything to the contrary. The discussion is technical...not tactical.

    The question wasn't should the pistol be carried on half cock. The question was: Will it hurt anything to keep the hammer at half cock, and...by natural progression...is the half cock notch a safety? The answers are NO and YES, respectively.
     
  12. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    I don't advise half cock carry because if you drop a half cocked 1911 on the hammer hard enough you might damage the sear or sear pin to the degree you pistol might not function.
    Drop it on the hammer condition two and no harm.
     
  13. gym

    gym member

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    Thanks for that great video link Qman, and those pics RC. It explains much that I did not know. But As for Mr Creeks coment, my Para P13, was recommended to be carried in the half cocked condition as an alternative method of carry. Many had argued about this at the time, and there were two schools of thought Off topic as they may be, the FBI method, and the military method at the time. 90's, which one was to pull back the hammer on the way out before aquiring the target, and the other was aquire and then pull back the hammer. I chose the first as my method and have used it ever since. Striker fired pistols are a whole different animal, some are cocked fully some are half cocked prior to trigger engagement. I adapt to whatever I am using just as I drive my wifes car differentlly than my sports cars. But That's just me. Having grandkids and dogs , I have large dogs, I must make adjustments in order to fit my lifestyle. When I lived alone I lived by a different rule, everything was live and ready to go at all times, now at 63, I have to adapt to my life as it now is. The best thing I found was to carry a bug, in my right pocket, and if I need something that fast it is a pull and shoot pistol. Having been in those instances I fully understand the second delay of aquiring my main gun from a Pak, or a deep concealed holster.It's always better to have your hand on the gun before you need it. I have much to study on the videos, All 4 in that series, and had no idea, how complicated the 1911 internals reallly were. Other than springs and polishing, I never really got into the delicasies of how many adjustments there realy are. Thaks for the help.
     
  14. qwert65

    qwert65 Member

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    A long time ago I was reading a book of true world war 2 stories and in one story one of the men was left-handed and used the half cock method as his safety while on alert. Does that make sense(note I am right handed so it's moot for me)
     
  15. Panzercat

    Panzercat Member

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    The biggest issue I'm seeing here is you have to defeat all of the inherent safety mechanisms in a 1911 just to get it to condition 2. In fact, the only rational argument I've seen for not carrying half-cocked as opposed to condition 2 is to reduce the introduction of debris into the gun itself (which I acknowledge as a perfectly valid one as the need arises). I guess I'm saying you're running the risk of random chance either way and that neither seems better than the other.

    Unless I'm in an environment where I really need to keep debris out of the gun, I'm not liking the consequences of dropping to condition 2 should I slip versus playing butterfingers with the entire gun and damage the sear somehow... All confidence in manual dexterity aside ;)

    Alright, time to deploy the ol' beaten horse, I guess.
    beatingA_DeadHorse.gif
     
  16. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    1911Tuner, I guess I was trying to say that for me, at least. The question of, ''to half-cock or not to half-cock?'' Is moot.
    If it's being used for protection, it's cocked and locked.
    If it's not being used for protection, it's hammer down on empty chamber.
    I never place on half-cock. I never manually decock. I never manually thumb the hammer back.
    So I see the half-cock/safety notch as a protection in the event the gun is dropped on the hammer. That is assuming of course, that somehow the disconnect fails.
    For me the tactical answer addresses the technical question.

    gym, you're right. I always think of striker fired guns as being fully ''cocked.''
    I agree, you do have to adapt to your circumstances.
    As much as I love, trust and am comfortable with my 1911. More often than not, I find my Detective Special being carried. For me, at this point in my life, snub revolvers are nice guns to ''live'' with.

    Once again I'm off topic, I'm sorry.
     
  17. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    panzercat, that's a good point. You know, about defeating all the other safeties. Well said.
    As far as the debris thing. Sounds like a gear/holster issue.

    Hey, I brought a stick. Can I hit your horse, too?
     
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    It always was...at least in this thread.

    Here's the first post.

    And nobody is trying to dispute or discourage that...but this thing seems to keep coming back to tactics. I understand the tactical part, but how the OP or anyone else chooses to carry a pistol is not for me or you or anyone else to dictate. If Joe wants to carry his pistol in Condition 1/2/3 or half-cocked or even empty...he can do that. It won't hurt the sear or the hammer or the disconnect or my feelings one little bit. I'll instruct him on how to manipulate the hammer in a safe manner and give him my blessings.
     
  19. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    Another BS myth that I have seen on this board and others is they use the "evidense" that his first design lacked the thumb safety to they claim this proved he intended at first that the gun be carried cocked and unlocked.
     
  20. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    1911Tuner, I see what you're saying, I didn't mean to...''go off half-cocked.''
    TeeHee...
    I'm so proud of myself right now.

    I read the whole thread. I guess by the time I got to the end, I lost track of the OP's question?
     
  21. theQman23

    theQman23 Member

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    gym, it's always exciting to me (and others) when folks want to understand better how their guns work, and are interested in learning. Yes, there are things that you shouldn't do to expensive guns for safety and/or value reasons, if you are not experienced. But that being said, I highly recommend that you buy a rattly old 1911 of any make, any kind, for like 200 bucks. Hopefully you'll get one for a hundred because it is actually broken. Then, learn how to fix it. Yes, you can do it, yes you can. Just research, read, buy a file, make friends with a welder who has a bead blast cabinet, and get it done. When you are finished, you will have spent maybe a few hundred, maybe a thousand, depending on how fancy you get with parts and grips, etc etc, but whether you spend a lot, or a little, you will have to go through the whole gun, make sure everything is working as it should, check clearances according to the instructions available for free, all over the internet.
    I'm not saying you'll be a gunsmith when you're done. I am saying that you will know YOUR GUN inside and out, and you will have more knowledge, and you will be proud of your work.
    Enjoy safely.
     
  22. gc70

    gc70 Member

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    For those who might be interested, below are transcriptions from scans of the original patents.

    Half-cock - US Patent 984519 filed 2/17/1910 and issued 2/14/1911, starting on page 7 at line 8:

    Thumb safety - US Patent 1070582 filed 4/23/1913 and issued 8/19/1913, starting on page 2 at line 98:

     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Thanks for taking the time to post that, gc.

    Please note that the "Safety Position" isn't with the hammer fully down, as outlined in the first sentence.

    If the hammer is all the way down, it's resting on the firing pin. That only leaves half cock.

    It's sometimes amusing to see/hear the statement: "Cocked and locked, the way (The genius) JMB intended!" turn into: "Well...Browning just didn't understand. He was from a different time, etc, etc." when the truth comes out that Browning's original intent was to use the half-cock as a safety, and that the thumb safety wasn't even his idea.

    Even the US Army considered Condition One to be a short-term condition, used when action was either close or in full swing...and to return the pistol to Condition Three once the emergency had passed. This, in a war zone. It can be maintained in Condition One indefinitely, but it wasn't meant specifically to be kept in that condition by Browning or anyone else.

    The conversation probably went something like this:

    "Here ya go, General. You can cock it and use the manual safety, or you can place the hammer on half cock or you can lower it all the way down. You figger out what you want to do."

    And beyond that, he likely didn't give a rotund rodent's rump. He was done with it and ready to move on to the next project.
     
  24. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Some folks (not meaning Tuner) fail to understand that knowledge requires study.

    There is in this thread an implication that Browning had no use for manual safety locks. The truth is that he did, and from the very beginning. The first commercially produced Browning was made starting in 1899 by Frabrique Nationale (FN) in Belgian. It had a unique enclosed hammer/striker that did not have a half-cock notch, and a manual safety. It was followed shortly thereafter by a .38 Colt that had an exposed hammer that could be thumb-cocked, with a half-cock notch, and no manual safety after an early feature was quickly abandoned.

    Then starting in 1903 at both FN and Colt, new pistols were introduced that had enclosed hammers or were striker fired, that featured both a grip and manual safety, and the hammers or striker/firing pin did not have any half-cock position.

    Thereafter his designs, and both FN and Colt products were consistent in that those models that had "thumb-cockable" hammers had half-cock notches, while those that didn’t had grip and manual safeties. This continued until the development of the 1911 .45 pistol for the U.S. Army, during which over time both a grip and manual safety lock were added after the Army requested these features, while the half-cock notch on the hammer along with a inertia firing pin system that made it safe to carry the hammer fully down without the pin resting on the primer of a chambered cartridge were retained.

    It should be noted that Browning and Colt did experiment with a firing pin lock on the slide which was a sort of manual safety on Colt’s model 1900 .38 pistol, but efforts in this direction were soon abandoned, and subsequently never reappeared.

    The obvious conclusion from this should be that Browning considered the half-cock notch on thumb-cocked hammers, combined with the inertia firing pin to be all that was needed in the way of safeties, and that half-cock notch was intended to be a safe carry position. On pistol designs that had enclosed hammers or striker/firing pins he approached safety issues from a different direction. When pressed by a customer (in this case the U.S. Army in the development of what became the 1911 .45) his past experience and knowledge provided easy solutions.
     
  25. MythBuster

    MythBuster member

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    I intend to keep the link to this thread saved so every time I see some nut on the net come off with the BS that it was JMB's original intent that his pistol be carried cocked and locked I can post it.

    But it will not do much good. The many myths about the 1911 are so popular that they can never die.
     
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