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Drop in trigger job for 1911?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by larryw, Apr 13, 2004.

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  1. larryw

    larryw Member

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    I've acquired a long slide SA 1911 that I want to use as a range/paper punching gun. Trigger is, to be polite, poor. I'll swap out the ILS junk for standard 1911 parts and an 18# hammer spring; that will help some, but won't fix the creepy, gritty break and spongy reset.

    Are there good 1911 "drop-in trigger job" kits that some can recommend? Any experience with the kit offered by Cylinder and Slide?

    I know drop in kits can be done right based on my experience with Wild West's outstanding Trigger Happy Kit for the Marlin 1894.

    Why not send it to a smith? Primarily because of the wait; the good smiths I know have a backlog going past summer.
     
  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    A Caveat

    Drop-in trigger job is a contradiction in terms...Sometimes you get lucky and
    they actually do pretty well...other times you wind up with a dangerous
    pistol. Most fall somewhere in between. IF the sear and hammer pin holes
    are straight and located within-spec...and IF the hammer hooks are square AND the sear primary angle sits in the hooks correctly as installed in
    your particular gun and IF the sear and disconnect are the correct length...ya get lucky. If anything mentioned above is a little out of spec on the location or the perpendicularity of the holes...you can get anything from no improvement to slight improvement to much improved to an uncontrolled, surprise 3-pound .45 caliber submachine gun. The results can range from embarassing to tragic.

    Stick with a 23 pound mainspring. The difference in trigger pull between
    18 and 23 pounds is negligible, and you'd have to have a sensitive finger to
    be able to tell. Don't go lower than 21 pounds in any event.

    Most triggers can be markedly improved with the existing parts with a
    little prep work and polishing in the right places. Since the hammer/sear/disconnect set is already in your gun, you'll be less likely
    to have a problem than installing parts unknown and trusting to luck,
    unless the parts are soft or sub-standard.

    Not tryin' to bust your chops or anything...I've just seen a folks get some
    nasty surprises with "Drop-In" trigger groups.

    Might be as good a time as any to do a thread on the Poor Man's Trigger Job.

    Luck!
    Tuner
     
  3. Crazy

    Crazy Member

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    First, and really really important, I am not a gun smith.

    But with that said, I used the C&S drop in kits twice with very good results. The first was truly a drop in, the second time I had to polish the sear a bit to get rid of some creep. Both were used in LesBaer bullseye wadcutter guns. I ended up with very nice 3 1/2 lb, crisp breaking triggers. The thing that really caught my attention was the obvious difference in disconnectors. The Baer (both new guns) disconnectors were very sloppy compared to the C&S parts. They were narrower and almost flopped around in the frame.

    1911, I'm looking forward to your "Poor Man's Trigger Job", then I'll have some idea just how scared I should be... :)

    Crazy
     
  4. larryw

    larryw Member

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    Tuner, what is your opinion of the current crop of SA (MIM) parts? Do they take to polishing or are they too soft to warrant the effort?

    thanks
     
  5. Quack

    Quack Member

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    following the info on the forum and from Brownell's, i was able to get down to 2.5# only replacing the ILS parts with a new spring (19#), spring cap and pin. i have about 800rds through my SA after i worked on the trigger.

    i went this route to see how well it would work, before spending $$ on a drop-in trigger group.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Hmmm

    Crazy said:

    I had to polish the sear a bit to get rid of some creep.

    Ummmm..Where exactly did ya polish that sear?
    ____________________

    Quack..2.5 pounds on a drop-in trigger group?!! Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Be sure that you have a firm grip on the gun when you pull the trigger.

    Personally, I won't let a carry pistol out of my sight if the trigger comes in under 5 pounds until I make it so. If the break is smooth and fairly clean, 5 will feel much lighter than it is.

    Luck to ya, fellas!

    Tuner
     
  7. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Larry ....... take heed of what Tuner mentions .... he gave me some very sound advice and assistance in this thread. I was very concerned that I didn't screw things up thru over zealous ''treatment'' to relevant parts. End result tho was excellent.

    I must say, with almost any gun ... I'd prefer to have some sensible trigger poundage, but a smooth operation .. as against an over light and twitchy trigger .... from which there can be considerable danger. As Tuner said .. a smooth but still 5lbs or plus trigger .. will feel good... and safe.

    A ''poor man's trigger job'' would be well useful I suspect ... providing people heed warnings.:)
     
  8. Quack

    Quack Member

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    1911tuner,
    it wasn't a drop in, it's one that i worked on.
    i just rechecked the weight and it's still at 2lb 8oz.
    BTW, this isn't a carry gun, range only.
     
  9. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    'Bout Quacked Up

    Quack said:

    it wasn't a drop in, it's one that i worked on.
    i just rechecked the weight and it's still at 2lb 8oz.
    BTW, this isn't a carry gun, range only.

    Ah! *whew*...I feel way better now...:cool: I was thinkin' it was a
    drop-in.

    Still...Get a good grip on that thing...:scrutiny:

    Cheers!

    Tuner
     
  10. Lochaber

    Lochaber Member

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    After Tuner was kind enough to help figure out that I want it to toss out the original bits in my SA milspec, I drop it in the C&S 4.5lb kit, and I am as happy as a clam. At the same time I replaced the ILS (new Ed Brown magwell/MSH combo and wilson guts)and the trigger with a CMC adjustable one. It took me a bit to get all the bits adjusted to eachother (including both new safeties) but I really like the results. I didn't have to do anything to the sear/trigger/disconnector. The trigger feels clean and smooth, and without a trigger pull guage I guess I believe it to be around the 4.5lb it is supposed to be.

    Maybe I got lucky, but I like the results, and no subgun effects so far :)

    Loch
     
  11. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

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    You could have done just as well with a CMC Hammer, sear, disconnector, trigger, Ed Brown Hammer strut and 19 lb mainspring, but that is just one man's opinion. This trigger group needs a lower end with the proper hole spacing, so I agree. You got lucky. Good luck!
     
  12. Crazy

    Crazy Member

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    1911Tuner,
    The primary and escape angles were not cut parallel to the width of the sear. Under a magnifying lens you could clearly see that the 40/60 ratio actually reversed by the time it got to the other side.
    Crazy
     
  13. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Angles

    Crazy said:


    The primary and escape angles were not cut parallel to the width of the sear.

    Howdy Crazy...

    From the sound of it, either somebody tried to compensate for the holes
    in the frame not being drilled/reamed straight, or they screwed the pooch on the set-up in the jig. Since both angles were catty-wampus, I'm gonna
    guess it was done on the set-up. Bad jig maybe? Who knows...
    _______________________

    Larryw asked:

    Tuner, what is your opinion of the current crop of SA (MIM) parts? Do they take to polishing or are they too soft to warrant the effort.

    Larry, I ain't got a clue. Dane Burns gets good results with MIM sears,
    but since I don't do real trigger jobs, I've never done anything with MIM
    sears except tend to some details and a little prep work to improve what
    the gun came with. I cut very small escape angles, mainly to set the sear deeper into the hooks and get rid of the wire edge on the top of the primary. If there's an obvious problem with the sear, I replace it
    straight up, and work with cleaning up the hammer hooks. Hence the
    term: "Poor Man's Trigger Job." P95 and duckfoot can report the results,
    since they've got first-hand knowledge of how it works.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  14. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Indeed I can!! Not tho so much ''poor man's trigger job'' ..... more a clever bit of skilled ''tweaking''!! :) Lost my annoying ''snick'' and now have a remarkably smooth release.

    Tuner rocks!:cool:
     
  15. Crazy

    Crazy Member

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    I think the jig that C&S used on the sear was having some heartburn that day. The angles were good relative to the axis, just not parallel to the surface.
    Crazy
     
  16. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

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    None of them make these parts. No one knows who makes them. They purchase them and re-package them. Maybe De Shadow Knows? C&S and Danes are identical.
     
  17. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Member

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    I just dropped in an SV hammer & sear. The break is interesting, it's not crisp but it's not creepy either, it's like a "rolling" break. Anyway, now my thumb safety doesn't work, gotta fit a new one. It's always something isn't it? :eek:
     
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Cut and Paste

    Here's a cut and paste of my reply on another thread that seems to be applicable here as well. Just my nickel's worth.
    _____________

    On a Final Note
    ...before I back outta this one.

    Study the parts in the 1911's trigger group, and their relationships for a
    minute and consider them carefully.

    "Smithed" hammers and sears generally fall somewhere in the neighborhood of .018 to .020 inch long hammer hooks. That's just a tick
    over a 64th of an inch. Sear primary angles run about .015 inch wide...
    which is just a fractional amount UNDER a 64th. That's not much, considering how violent and slam-bang the cycle of the .45 auto is.

    The hammer hooks are generally cut as close to dead square as can be managed, and the sear's primary angle...the engagement surface MUST
    agree with the hammer hooks AS INSTALLED IN THE GUN. If those
    angles don't agree, you may have a time-bomb on your hands. It only
    takes a half-degree mis-match in either one, and that "Drop-In" trigger
    group that feels Oh-So-Sweet today will be a completely different animal
    5 or 6 thousand rounds down the road. Sometimes the warning signs that
    something is wrong are so subtle that they're missed...or even ignored.

    Even with a precisely fitted trigger group, things wear and things change with use. Springs fatigue. Contact surfaces polish themselves and the
    angles change.

    The original specs called for a light captive angle on the hammer hooks, and a matching primary angle on the sear. The hammer hooks themselves were set at about .030 long...Nearly twice as much as the hooks on the hammer of a "tuned" trigger group, so that when the hammer bounced off the sear, it had enough length that the sear would catch it, and the captive angle would force the sear back to the bottom of the hooks.

    All this made for a heavier trigger pull...some heavier than others, depending on how sharp the captive angle was...but it made for a pistol
    that was much less apt to go full auto, even with thousands of rounds worth of wear on the parts.

    Match-tuned triggers have been around almost as long as the gun itself...
    but those pistols were meticulously maintained, and the trigger groups were re-done or replaced often.

    'Nuff said. Ya'll be careful with the project.

    Tuner
     
  19. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

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    Good Post, Tuner. My trigger work used to take between two hours and two days.
     
  20. Lochaber

    Lochaber Member

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    I am not doubting the experience of those who certainly know more then I do, but I am wondering if there really is a problem with the drop in kits any more then production guns. I rather doubt that Springfield (for example) fits their hammers and sears to the gun. In fact, based on my personal gun and the oddly shaped hammer hooks I got, I am fairly certain that they don't. That being the case, how could one of the drop in kits be any worse? I would be concerned about some of the ultra light ones, but actually feel a bit safer with my 4.5lb from C&S that with the lump of metal they gave me as the orginal hammer.

    Loch
     
  21. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    No Better/No Worse

    Lochaber asked:

    know more then I do, but I am wondering if there really is a problem with the drop in kits any more then production guns. I rather doubt that Springfield (for example) fits their hammers and sears to the gun.

    Howdy Lochaber. Quick rundown on a few the whys.

    Hammer hook length:
    Factory... .028 plus/minus .003
    Drop-in Kit... .020 plus/minus .002

    Hammer hook angle:
    Factory... captive App. 90 degrees 45 minutes avg.
    Drop-in Kit... 90 degree non-captive

    Not counting the lighter than standard mainsprings that often go along with these kits...which makes hammer bounce more likely. And the
    sear spring tweaking that is often done...According to some as low as a
    half-pound on the left and center legs...which makes sear reset less reliable
    and more likely to allow the trigger to nudge the sear out of engagement with the hooks.

    Long hammer hooks and captive angles provide a buffer for inertial hammer bounce and allow for long-term wear and spring fatigue in a
    less than precisely-fitted trigger group such as what we get in factory
    assembled pistols. Those hooks and angles allow a little more margin for error that you don't get with a tuned pistol. When you have square, short hammer hooks and a reduced sear primary angle width, it's either right or it's not. It may work, and work very well for a time, even if it's not right,
    but you will soon find yourself in possession of a dangerous piece of equipment...probably within 5,000 rounds or less. Sometimes far less.

    Luck!

    Tuner
     
  22. Dave Sample

    Dave Sample member

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    The holes in the lower end are all different on every gun I measured in the good old days. They have to be almost perfect for a Trigger Group to "Drop In" and they rarely are. This why I didn't use factory guns for platforms. I didn't waste my time trying to get the factory parts to work and my trigger work involved using all new parts that I selected. I learned years ago to have a machinist cut the hammer hooks square with a carbide cutter and lower the hooks to about .019 so all I had to do was balance the sear to the hooks and eliminate the four way engagement problem. Chuck Rogers taught me that trick and it saved me many hours of intensive work. Now I have Don Williams cut them for me when I have to use parts other than CMC.
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    re:

    Bingo! Dave just identified the fly in the ointment on drop-in trigger groups
    again.

    IF...the holes in the frame are located correctly, and IF...they are drilled straight, the drop-in group has a pretty good chance of performing as advertised. If anything is out of spec, all bets are off.

    Rule of thumb: Just because a part or group of parts drops in and works, don't assume that it's working correctly. This goes double-triple for
    fire control sets. Best to err on the side of caution there.

    Read up on the subject, and read it over and over until you understand it.
    Get a set of pins that lets you see exactly what the engagements are,
    and look at it under a strong light with a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe. You may be surprised at what you see. I have been about 4
    out of 5 times.

    Luck to ya, neighbors!

    Tuner
     
  24. Robert Hairless

    Robert Hairless Member

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    Dave Sample (mostly),

    Are the Chip McCormick hammer, sear, disconnector, and trigger that you've mentioned above the same parts used in Kimber pistols? Or do they belong to some other CMC product line? What's the difference and how would I specify the parts you recommend?
     
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