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1911 hammer down is it safe?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by rhino57, Mar 5, 2009.

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  1. rhino57

    rhino57 Member

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    I was given an old modle 1911 colt that my Dad got from DCM many years ago for $8.50. It had been refinished prior to my Dad getting it, nice looking pistol. What I was wondering on an origanal GOVT.1911 45 is it safe to carry with a round in the chamber with hammer down. Does it have a rebounding firing pin?

    Lance
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  2. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    1911s are very safe firearms, unless there is some rediculous malfunction, it is impossible for one to fire while the hammer is down. I suppose if one was dropped directlyonto the hammer and there was something wrong with the gun prior to the drop. there are several safety features on the 1911 that allow it to be carried safely loaded and cocked comfortably. they grip safey must be depressed and the thumb safety disengaged prior to actually fireing the gun.
     
  3. MaterDei

    MaterDei Member

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    It would be MUCH safer to carry it with the hammer cocked than with the hammer down. I can see a lot of potential safety issues with trying to manually cock a 1911 with a round in the chamber, not the least of which is that the gun will be unusable in a defense situation until you manage to get it cocked.

    The gun was designed to be carried cocked and locked and is perfectly safe to be carried that way.
     
  4. krs

    krs Member

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    Yes, it has a firing pin spring. If you want to carry hammer down (not a recommended practice) it would be a good idea to make sure of that spring, and a great idea to change the spring for one of Wolff's extra power versions. The Wolff spring will not alter the shooting characteristics or cause any misfires or the like but it will add an extra measure of resistance to the forward movement of the firing pin should you drop the pistol square on the hammer with a round chambered.
     
  5. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    I was answering in regards to the original question of accidental discharge while uncocked, but I absolutely agree with Masterdei, the process of loading a 1911, then easing down the hammer, then cocking the hammer prior to having to use it would be extremely hazardous. especially if it was the daily pattern... continually doing this on a daily basis is asking for your finger to slip one day and an accident to occur... I would suggest carrying the gun the way it was meant to be carried..if you are uncomfortable with that, then carry it without one in the chamber and simply rack the slide if needed. this is a new argument, but safer than carrying loaded and uncocked.
     
  6. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    OMG! The one in the pipe vs unloaded carry argument migrating all the way to the gunsmith forum! WOW! :D

    I really have nothing useful or relevent to add to this thread excpet - maybe try to find the old military field manual covering the 1911 and see what it says?
     
  7. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    "OMG! The one in the pipe vs unloaded carry argument migrating all the way to the gunsmith forum! WOW!"

    just attempting to be thorough and hit all angles of the question... better to give too much information than not enough and get someone hurt...:neener:


    next time I will just say

    "no its not safe"

    lol:D
     
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Leaving out the "What if your thumb slips" argument:
    It is safe hammer down ALL the WAY, or Cocked & Locked.

    It is not safe when the hammer is on the "Safety notch", "half-cock notch", or more properly the Intercept Notch.
    It is there only to catch the hammer if your thumb slips while cocking or lowering the hammer, or in the event of a damaged sear causing a full-auto gun.

    But it is not a safe carry position because an impact to the hammer could break the sear or bend a sear pin, and the gun would then fire.

    When the gun is Cocked & Locked, the grip safety tang protects the hammer from impact.

    It cannot fire with the hammer down against the slide because the firing pin is of the inertia type, and is shorter then the hole in the slide.

    rc
     
  9. Spartacus451

    Spartacus451 Member

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    It depends who you ask. It is pretty safe especially on a well fitted gun. According to Bruce Gray (one of the designers of the series 80 firing pin safety) it is still possible for the gun to fire with the hammer down in real world scenarios. Don't shoot the messenger.
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It is possible to get hit by lightening too.

    And probably way more likely.

    If the FP spring is in good condition, I think you would have to drop a 1911 from a very high height directly on the muzzle to make it fire.

    It wasn't a known problem in U.S. service for 70 years, and they used to drop them off horses every once and awhile.

    We had to wait on the lawyers to get involved before we knew how dangerous it was!!!

    rc
     
  11. Claude Clay

    Claude Clay Member

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    if the gun contains no live rounds, hammer down is ok
     
  12. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Hammer down is safe

    Problem is getting the hammer down safely. Very easy to let the hammer slip off your thumb and blow a hole in your roof.
    Its best to leave it locked and cocked if its loaded.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It's way more a problem with the new-fangled beavertail grip safetys that cover the bobbed off commander hammers.

    You can cock and uncock a stock GI 1911 all day with just one hand and never have it slip or go off.

    rc
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Bingo.

    The sky-is-falling crowd will cringe at the mere thought of lowering the hammer on a 1911...but think nothing of doing it with a revolver or a lever-action rifle.

    Said it once, and I'll say it again. If the day comes that I don't have the manual dexterity to safely lower the hammer on any gun with an exposed hammer...I'll sell my guns and take up needlepoint.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    :D:D:D:D:D

    +1,000 to that!

    BTW: The round in the chamber got smacked a lot harder by the slide slamming shut then it would have if you dropped the gun on the muzzle from belt level on a concrete floor.

    Notice the firing pin didn't fly foreward and make the gun go off by itself then, did it.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2009
  16. krs

    krs Member

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    If you've lost that much dexterity you'll do yourself some serious damage trying needlepoint. Better stick with guns, at least you know the terrain.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2009
  17. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    But at least I won't hurt anybody but me...
     
  18. polekitty

    polekitty Member

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    Hammer down?

    Now here is what I call the $64 question: With the gun loaded (round in the chamber) how do you get the hammer down? Getting it down the way they do it in the movies can become a disaster (doing it with just one hand.) RC is right about things that can go wrong.

    I must admit that when I sleep with the thing loaded I have the hammer down, on the "safety" notch. That's to give me something more to do if I wake up to a commotion, so I don't jump and start shooting before I really know what's going on! So, how do I lower the hammer? I hold the gun in my left hand (I'm right handed) with my left thumb down tight between the hammer and firing pin. Then, holding the gun in my right hand same way I would if I were going to shoot, I squeeze the trigger, allowing the hammer to come down on my left thumb--yes, some times it pinches! But there is no place for the hammer to go except on that left thumb. Now, again holding the gun with my right hand in a firing position, but with the trigger finger below the trigger guard, I raise the hammer enough to get my left thumb out from under the trigger, and then lower the hammer to that famous safety notch. At that point the trigger finger was off the trigger, allowing that "Colt's series 70" firing pin lock to function, and I gently lower the hammer to that safe notch. Lowerig the hammer on a "modern" 1911 in this manner it won't fire if something slips. But remember, the only way to lower the hammer is to pull the trigger to release it---so better block the hammer--the way I described is the only way I do it. But except when I'm in bed, sleeping, my 1911 is always loaded, cocked, and locked. If you don't want to carry it that way better get some other kind of gun.
     
  19. AKElroy

    AKElroy Member

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    John Browning designed the gun to be carried C&L; It's why he put a grip safety on it. Seeing that cocked hammer may look dangerous, but it is no different than an internal striker that happens to be exposed. Browning did NOT expect the hammer to be lowered on a live round in any way other than the trigger being pulled, and you WILL have a slip up if you do this on a regular basis. I KNOW. My Ceiling knows. My neighbors know.
     
  20. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    can you say.. skylight?
     
  21. AKElroy

    AKElroy Member

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    Stock up on spackle--

    I am sure you keep that muzzle in a safe direction when your lowering that hammer; that way you will only need to buy spackle. You are right--I have no issue lowering the hammer on a revolver, in part because that necessity is factored into the design. Revolvers typically have a longer hammer stroke, and a linier weigting to the drop. 1911's have a short stroke, and a very progressive weighting to the drop, meaning it gets much heavier towards the end of the stroke, pulling it off your thumb. Also, your revolver hammer is unobstructed, giving access for good leverage; the 1911 hammer is partially blocked by the grip safety. As for our lever guns, that is what the LEVER is for.
     
  22. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Another popular myth. Browning designed the gun...along with a team of Colt's top engineers and input along the way from the Army Ordnance Board...to allow the user the option of carrying it in any one of three states of readiness. Beyond that, he probably didn't give it much thought.

    Browning also didn't have a free hand in designing "what he wanted." He designed what the US Army asked for. No more and no less.

    To quote the Army's directive:

    When action is iminent...The pistol may be readied by chambering a cartridge and engaging the manual safety. When the emergency has passed, the pistol should be cleared and reholstered with the chamber empty.

    The notion of continuous cocked and locked carry is a fairly recent one, though some of the old hands did it as far back as the 30s...but most people who carried the big Colt carried it in either 2 or 3.

    As RC pointed out...in its original format, the gun can be cocked and decocked with one hand smoothly and safely. The original Commander version presents a little more of a problem...but not much. Two hands are recommended with the Commander's rowel hammer. Add a high, upswept grip safety and one of them new-fangled speedy hammers and all bets are off.

    You do have to maintain focus on what you're doing, though. Of course, the same can be said of many potentially dangerous activities. Driving...carving a turkey, etc. These things do require one's full attention.

    Always...and after 45 years spent handling the 1911...and manually decocking on a hot chamber more times than I could ever count...I havent needed any spackle so far.

    Up next:

    The horrors of the pinch-check, and how it can cause global warming.
     
  23. AKElroy

    AKElroy Member

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    That's great, It is clearly working for you & that's good. I only made it 15 years before my streak was broken. I don't drink, I was wide awake, performing a function I had completed thousands of times. No excuses--IT JUST FLAT ROLLED OFF MY THUMB. I'm 10 years into the new streak, thinking this one will hold as I now keep my 1911's Cocked and Locked. As for questioning the control Browning had over the process, you may as well be challenging the authenticity of the dead sea scrolls in this forum---
     
  24. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Yes. One must be careful. If also helps to perform the function correctly. If you'd done it correctly, it wouldn't have rolled off.

    Actually, it couldn't have...but that's another discussion.
     
  25. AKElroy

    AKElroy Member

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    Last post from me for this thread; One can be attentive and cautious and still have Murphy step in. I am cautious, focused and attentive; still had an AD. The best ticket for me is to avoid unwarranted risk, and I share that view when prompted. Stay safe--
     
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