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Accidental discharge 1911.....Help...Killed the stuffed bear on the bed.

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by awfulkanawful, Oct 8, 2012.

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  1. awgrizzly

    awgrizzly Member

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    I agree with Sirgilligan.

    Come on, who decocks a hammer between his thumb and finger? You 'just happened' to hit the bear in the sweet spot... yeah, right. People all over the world have been decocking guns... and if that was such a dangerous thing the frontier men would all been killed from discharges of their Winchesters and Colt .45s. No sir... you shot the bear and now are using this shoddy story on us to convince the GF to let you back into bed. I feel sooo used.
     
  2. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    I looked up the manual for my Colt 1991A1 (which is a 1911 with the Series-80 firing pin block) and it's interesting that Colt describes the following -

    NOTE: This pistol may be carried in any one of the following three modes
    according to your needs:
    Mode 1: - MAGAZINE EMPTY, CHAMBER EMPTY.
    - Pistol cannot be discharged.
    - Use Mode 1 for storage, transporting, cleaning, repair,
    demonstrating and dry practice.
    Mode 2: - MAGAZINE LOADED, CHAMBER EMPTY, HAMMER DOWN.
    - Pistol cannot be fired until slide is cycled and trigger is squeezed.
    - Use Mode 2 when CARRYING THE PISTOL READY FOR USE.
    Mode 3: - MAGAZINE LOADED, CHAMBER LOADED, HAMMER
    COCKED, SAFETY ON.
    - Pistol can be fired when slide lock safety is off and trigger
    is squeezed.
    - Use Mode 3 when you MUST BE PREPARED to use the pistol
    IMMEDIATELY without warning.


    I believe that Colt's "Modes" translate to Cooper's "Conditions" as follows -

    Mode 1 = Condition 4 (aka "Embassy Carry")
    Mode 2 = Condition 3 (aka "Israeli Carry")
    Mode 3 = Condition 1 (aka "Cocked and Locked")

    In another part of the manual, Colt emphasizes the danger of trying to put the pistol in Condition 2 (which is conspicuously absent from their suggested modes of carry), because even in a pistol with a firing pin block, you defeat that particular safety when you pull the trigger.

    While this topic has been covered thoroughly many times, some points might be worth mentioning again ...

    The tendency toward extended thumb safety levers makes the safety easier to sweep off during deployment, which is a good thing. However, you need a proper holster to protect the safety from inadvertent operation. If the 1911 you have does not have an ambidextrous safety, you might consider the relative merits of having another lever on the side unprotected by the holster before installing one.

    "Commander" style hammers and extended grip safeties prevent hammer bite, but make it extremely difficult to cock a 1911 carried in Condition 2 one-handed. What used to work in the old days worked on the original 1911, not the "improved" ones sold today.

    As long as you don't try to "improve" the sear or hammer, the hammer isn't going to drop by itself. The thumb safety blocks the sear, which blocks the hammer. And even if the hammer hooks shear off, there is another wide shelf that will catch the hammer before it hits the firing pin.

    There are considerable risks associated with "administrative handling" as you change from Condition 1 to Condition 4 for cleaning or inspection. Many police ranges have bullet traps for this. Every once in a while some officer gets the adminstrative procedure backwards and racks the slide before dropping the magazine...then he points the muzzle into the bullet trap and proves the weapon is clear before entering the range. Bang. In addition to this lapse in attention, you can experience setback if the same round is repeatedly chambered, and this can cause a dangerous increase in pressure.

    As someone pointed out already, it's a good idea to practice with an unloaded gun, or perhaps with dummy rounds. Dummy rounds aren't that expensive. Or, perhaps you know someone who reloads .45 ACP. They could make you 7 or 14 dummy rounds in a couple of minutes.

    Dummy rounds should be conspicuous (!) You don't want a live round to look at all like what you are using for dummies! Some drill a hole through the case sideways. Others file a notch in the rim. I paint my bullets black and use fired primers, so I can see a difference if I look at either end.

    If I had to get "comfortable" with carrying a 1911 again I think I would try the method of carrying it around with a loaded magazine, hammer cocked, safety on. (This isn't to be found in the listed "Conditions" by the way.) If you do this for a month or so and notice that the safety never moves itself to "off" and the hammer never falls, it should help build the confidence needed to carry it the same way with a round chambered.

    I believe I read of someone who did this and found his safety was being bumped off. So he got a different holster.

    Good luck.
     
  3. fastest45ever

    fastest45ever Member

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    That would be me with a Detonics Mark VI.
    :eek:
     
  4. Doc3402

    Doc3402 Member

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    I'm sorry to point this out so bluntly, especially since your intent is to help prevent others from doing what you did, but the safety issue was with you, not the Ruger. You violated at least one safety rule with your finger on the trigger, you ignored the advice of several 1911 experts that strongly advocate carrying in Condition 1, and you attempted to learn how to use an unfamiliar weapon while it was loaded. Thankfully you didn't ignore the rule about pointing the weapon in a safe direction. Blaming the firearm for user error just doesn't fly.

    So you don't feel all alone, my brother once forgot about the chambered round while trying to show me how a 1911 grip safety worked. If he had been pointing the weapon at the wall instead of the floor he would have killed his wife. As it was he ended up with a convenient hole to run CATV cable through.
     
  5. wildehond

    wildehond Member

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    I carried Cocked and Locked for over 10 years. first with a CZ75 Pre-B then a Colt Series 70 1911 in stock trim. Never Once did I have an issue.

    I had the same concern as you in the beginning, but after a month it was very natural.

    I now carry a G22, but some days I really miss my old 1911.
     
  6. 45_auto

    45_auto Member

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    The OP really needs to take a quality training class.
     
  7. 340PD

    340PD Member

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    I compliment you for having the guts to post your ND. To make your self comfortable storing a gun in the mode you feel safe, you may need a different firearm. A great house gun that is very effective is a SIG, Beretta, and FN make a great reliable guns and have manual decockers on them.
     
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    I used to do it quite a bit when I had a pistol with a wide-spur hammer...which is what the wide spur was for. It provides a positive purchase with thumb and index finger, pretty much ma king a slip impossible as long as you're careful. Since I do have a few pistols with that wide spur, I still do it...even when lowering the hammer on an empty chamber.

    I rarely even carry a 1911 any more. When I did, I most often carried cocked and locked, but out in the boonies, I carried in C-2 because that protects the lockwork from dirt and debris. A cocked hammer leaves a fairly wide opening between hammer and frame...and my old friend Murphy is on my heels everywhere I go.

    Lowering the hammer carries more risk than cocking it. You don't pull the trigger and try to catch the hammer. You get full control of the hammer before you touch the trigger. While cocking it...if it moves far enough for the hammer to have the momentum to light the primer off...a slipped hammer will stop on the half-cock notch unless you pull the trigger while you cock it.

    The correct way to cock the hammer is to thumb it back as your hand finds it, but while it's still in the holster...not drawing and then cocking it.

    Lowering or cocking the hammer isn't nearly as dangerous as some would have you believe as long as it's done correctly and with the pistol pointed in such a direction as to neutralize any unintentional discharge. An old pilots' dictum states that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. As long as nobody gets shot, the only injury is to your pride.

    But it does carry some risk. Of course, so does driving a car, using a chain saw, and whittling on a stick with your Old Timer Stockman. The end result of doing something risky depends completely on you and how careful you are...and your attention to the task at hand. Like the other risky endeavors mentioned above, you don't want to get distracted and you don't want to get in a rush.
     
  9. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    Tuner,

    When you carried a 1911 in the boonies in C-2 was it on the half cock notch?
     
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Pilot...no. It was with the hammer all the way down, resting against the firing pin stop.

    It was also usually in a flap holster to afford the gun maximum protection from the crud and the knocks and bumps.
     
  11. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    Thanks. I think I'd do the same thing.
     
  12. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    I carry and keep my 1911s cocked and locked, and am comfortable doing so. I had a holster that, due to the ill fitting thumb strap, would disengage the safety. That made me pretty nervous and that holster was returned and very promptly fixed; I've not had that issue again.

    If for whatever reason I need to decock with a live round, I place the finger of my off hand between the hammer and the frame. If my thumb slips (and hasn't yet) I'll just get a thump on my finger.
     
  13. oldbear

    oldbear Member

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    The 1911 may be one of the best if not the best combat handgun ever, but they are not for everyone. They will not tolerate any mistakes, as the O/P and many others have found out.

    To me the simplicity of a quality revolver overrides any drawbacks it MAY have. At 64 I really like the ease of a wheel gun.

    To the O/P, I'm glad the only thing hurt was your pride. You learned a valuable lesson one I'm sure you will remember for a long time..
     
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    It makes a lot of people nervous, but there's really no reason to be. Ya still gotta depress the grip safety and pull the trigger to fire the gun.
     
  15. TonyT

    TonyT Member

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    I shoot sevearal 1911's in the ususal pistol games but for self defense I go for a pistol without external hammer or safeties.
     
  16. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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    A 1911 carried cocked and locked with a 4 lb trigger is safer (against ND's and AD's) than any striker fired design that has a 6 lb trigger and no manual safety.

    You really were asking for a whole lot more trouble trying to lower the hammer on a loaded chamber than just carrying condition 1. I personally get the heebie jeebies just thinking of doing that, because as you found out, it is just an AD/ND waiting to happen...
     
  17. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    You're right I know, but it's still unnerving to pull the gun out at the end of the day and find the safety off. Partly because it's off and partly because it makes one wonder if it was ever put on.

    I was racking my brain all day trying to remember why I would ever need to lower the hammer on my 1911s, as mentioned in my previous post. Then suddenly it occurred to me... I don't! The time when my finger is between the hammer and the frame is when I'm unloading the gun; when I release the safety I have this weird apprehension that the hammer will suddenly fall and discharge the chambered round.

    So, yes; I'm a bit of a wuss. Leaning a bit toward the over-safe side isn't bad though because I've never even had a close call, much less an ND. (One AD when a 1911 discharged with the safety ON, but the gun was pointed downrange at the time)

    All that aside, I would never make the act of lowering the hammer over a live round to be a standard or regular practice.
     
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    You got some 'splainin' to do!” there Lucy!

    I just ain't buying that!

    rc
     
  19. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

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    It went down thusly:

    I was in Flight School at Altus AFB down in Oklahoma. At the time I had an AMT Longslide Hardballer (wait, do you need more than that?) that I used to polish with AF Nevr-Dul- it was beautiful. One day one of the other students mentioned that he had never fired a handgun, and was nervous he would wash out back at his home base when he couldn't qualify. I offered to take him out and let him shoot my AMT.

    Once there and with the gun unloaded I went over the basics. Then I loaded it up and flipped the safety up, then realized that he would try to fire it and it wouldn't go off- I'd forgotten to explain the thumb safety. So since the gun was already loaded (and safely pointed downrange) I pointed to the safety and said, "This is the thumb safety, the gun won't fire with the safety in the up position."

    So I knew that, and he now knew that, but the gun apparently wasn't listening. So to show him how the gun wouldn't fire with the safety in the up position, I extended my arm and pulled the trigger. BANG!

    The thumb safety sheared off and flew off to parts unknown and our day was done. There was a gunsmith in Lawton that just so happened to be an AMT repair station, and he performed the autopsy. He told me that all the internals were in spec, but they were all at their lowest allowable tolerance, and that combination allowed the gun to fire with the safety on. This was 1986 so work with me here, my memory ain't so great.

    The epilog to that story is he called AMT and they overnighted all new internals, and it got fixed for free. As an aside, I bought my first Glock there- 1986 so it was a Gen 1 Model G17.
     
  20. allaroundhunter

    allaroundhunter Member

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    Nope. That was all I needed before I could rest easy and stop reading :neener:

    All kidding aside, glad you and your friend weren't hurt....and that is a very interesting event.
     
  21. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Easy.

    As part of my 1911 workshops, in order to dispel with the belief that the thumb safety locks or blocks the hammer, I install an old safety that's had the sear blocking point of the lug cut to allow the sear to escape the hammer hooks when the trigger is pulled.

    I get some interesting reactions and facial expressions when they see the hammer fall and wipe the safety off faster than they can do it with their thumbs.

    But then, the question looms:

    I can understand testing the safety for proper function with the pistol empty. Pretty much SOP as part of a routine function test.

    But...

    Who would chamber a round...engage the safety...and then start yanking on the trigger? Why would anybody do that?

    You'll have to excuse me for being skeptical. If the gun fired with the safety engaged, the parts weren't in-spec, and if the hammer had dropped with the safety in the ON-SAFE position, the hammer would have pushed the safety into the OFF position as it fell as per my workshop demo described above. It'll do it every time.
     
  22. Halal Pork

    Halal Pork Member

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    For anyone uncomfortable with using a 1911 the way it is intended (cocked and locked) they might do themselves the service of moving on to a different style handgun.
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    There was never any intent by Browning or anybody else to continuously maintain the 1911 pistol in Condition One. It can be carried that way, but it wasn't designed, nor was it intended specifically to be carried that way.

    If Browning had any intent at all, it was to use the half-cock as a safety since that's how he designed all his other hammer guns.
     
  24. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    What do you do with a cocked hammer on a revolver and lose the opportunity for the shot? Or a lever-action rifle for that matter?

    I'm not advocating lowering the hammer on a 1911 pistol. Just saying that it can be done safely as long as we're careful and do it correctly. I've often said that when the day comes that I no longer have the manual dexterity or the presence of mind to manipulate a hammer without shooting myself in the foot...I'll sell the guns and take up golf.
     
  25. Halal Pork

    Halal Pork Member

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    I'm curious as to the purpose of the thumb safety then.
     
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