1911 help!

1911 help!

This is a discussion on 1911 help! within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; 1911's are great guns and fun to shoot, however, when I first pick one up it seems I do something wrong and always miss engaging ...

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Thread: 1911 help!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array MichSteve's Avatar
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    May 2010

    1911 help!

    1911's are great guns and fun to shoot, however, when I first pick one up it seems I do something wrong and always miss engaging the safety on the rear of the grip. I know it is me and not the gun. I have almost purchased a 1911 several times, but every time I am confused by all the comments of which one is best, I hear good and bad of all the guns under $1000. Failure to feed or stovepipes seem to be common, or just plain finicky with ammo.

    So, can some of you help me with what to buy under $1000 that will last for my grandchildren and run reliable with most ammo?

    And what is the problem with my grip?

  2. #2
    Member Array Black Oak's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Saginaw Michigan
    You might try the Rock Island Armory .45acp

    I have one. They are shooters. $450.00, New In Box.


  3. #3
    Ex Member Array Glocksin's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
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    For about 6-8 hundred you can get a Remington 1911R1.I heard they are pretty nice for the price if you cant swing a grand or more.

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  5. #4
    VIP Member Array OldVet's Avatar
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    I'm not a 1911 expert, and without seeing one in your hand it's hard to say what's wrong. You're talking about the "grip safety," right? There are models without the grip safety, and/or it could be removed and go external safety only if that's the issue. I'm sure one of the resident 1911 experts will chime in quickly with some advice on what might be happening, some corrective actions, and recommendations on makes that will serve you well.
    Retired USAF E-8. Curmudgeon at large.
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  6. #5
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    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    Hi MichSteve;

    Here's another vote for the basic Rock Island pistol. A good pistol for someone who wants to dabble a toe in "1911-dom," the Rock Island could continue to serve well after he decided to embrace the design. My son picked one up a few years ago and it is a winner. From the factory it came with a really decent trigger and the pistol gives good accuracy. In fact it'll group about as well as my Colt Gold Cup and that ain't bad at all.

    Another friend has had a Rock Island a little longer and it also has a livable trigger and is accurate. His pistol initially had some problems feeding ammunition with large hollow points but it cleared up. My son's pistol has fed anything we've stuck in it. The few additional Rock Islands I've examined all had acceptable triggers. Interior working surfaces are very smooth. My son's pistol has far fewer tool marks than my original 1918 vintage Colt has.

    Can't say what long-term durability is yet because my son's pistol fell into disuse after August of 2009 with his enlistment into the Marine Corps, but it saw a number of rounds poured through it prior to that time. The Rock Island really appears to be a fine value. I like 1911s that remain close to the old U.S. service models in specs and function and the Rock Island seems to do that.

    Here's a computer-tweaked "retro" photo, taken when he was home on leave.

    Here he is clowning around for the photo with a batch of .45 ACP "fresh out of the oven."

    A father and son .45 ACP ammo burning session back when he first got the Rock Island. It is shown here with my Gold Cup.

    I'm a bit at a loss as to how to assist with gripping the pistol to insure proper grip safety function. Have you ever had to shake hands with an individual known for a firm grip? For self-protection you employ a firm grip when shaking hands with such a person. Same way with the 1911. Grasp it firmly with the hand positioned high on the grip frame. Grasping the pistol too low on the grip frame may cause trouble with a stiff grip safety and won't be an aid to good shooting anyway. Grasping the gun too lightly could cause both grip safety issues or the failures to function though I'd take a dim view of a 1911 that won't function with full power ammo even though it is "limp-wristed."

    Otherwise, a check of grip safety function might be in order. It could require adjustment. For some reason I just never have happened to have encountered that particular problem with 1911s I've shot. Hopefully more suggestions will show up here soon.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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  7. #6
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    It may be a training issue, I tend to pick up a 1911 and swipe my thumb down on the safety. This has become natural as I even have my thumb up top of the safety when I shoot it.

    As far as suggestions in that price range, I tend to like 1911's that are a step up from GI models. If you spend a little more money you will get some of the nicer features. There is nothing wrong with a GI Springer or a RIA by any means, but just pick up a 1911 in the next level and you will see what I am talking about. The post right above is great advice, but if you end up liking 1911's the RIA will go by the way side as you will want a better model.
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  8. #7
    Member Array Rebmik's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    There are a couple of things that may help you with the grip safety.

    I used to have the same problem, I fixed the trouble with these two things. The first is that many gun manufacturers make the grip safety with a raised section so you are more able to press it in when gripping. Also, 1911's are made with an arched main spring housing, (That piece on the back of the grip below the grip safety.) and they also make a flat main spring housing, (MSH). To me, I feel that a flat MSH allows you to be able to press the grip safety easier. Just my opinion.

    Also, you should know that many companies make replacement parts for these pistols including grip safeties and MSH's. These are all inter-changeable on all 1911's.

    I have a Kimber Gold Match and love it.


  9. #8
    Senior Member Array JohnLeVick's Avatar
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    It is fairly easy to adjust a grip safety such that very slight movement will disengage it. I've done it many times. One will fairly frequently encounter 1911-types which the factory has set up wrong, so that the grip safety must be depressed all the way down before it disengages. I've run into a few that hung up on the trigger bow even when fully depressed. I recently fixed a Sig TTT that was so afflicted. Just takes a few judicious file strokes. Smokestacking (often incorrectly called "stovepiping") is usually a shooter or ammo problem, due to limp-wristing or underpowered ammo, but not always.

    I have a bunch of 1911-types, of all sizes, 3" to 5", as well as some comp guns that are a bit longer. All of them work reliably. I usually carry a 1911-type of some kind, and have for years. Wearing a Nighthawk 9x23 today. There are ones out there that work and cost less than $1000, but in the 1911 world, in general, you get what you pay for. Buy a reliable one for $500-$600, and you'll still likely need to spend some money for a beavertail, better sights, and a trigger job.

  10. #9
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    The vast majority of 1911 pattern pistols function just fine right out of the box.

  11. #10
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    Array buckeye .45's Avatar
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    For under $1000, try and find a Springfield Loaded model, in my humble opinion, one of the best production 1911's out there. Haven't had a problem with either of mine.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

  12. #11
    OD* is offline
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    Great pictures, bmcgilvray!
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    The mainspring housing on some guns can affect my releasing the grip safety,I prefer a flat main spring housing which allows my palm to fully depress the grip safety,the rounded main spring housings tend to hit my palm right under my thumb and can keep me from pushing in the grip safety unless i really focus on it.All my carry guns have a flat MSH
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  14. #13
    Senior Member Array Sarge45's Avatar
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    You can attack this from two angles. The first and cheapest is, practice over and over aquiring a proper grip. This instills "muscle memory". It's a learned response so until it comes natural, it must be aquired through repeated motion. The second is get a gun that overcomes this shortcoming. Many are made with a "memory bump" on the grip safety. Go to Buds Gun Shop online to handguns, then to Springfield Armory and to page #4 and look at several models with the memory bump. Other than these options, I'm out of suggestions because I won't recommend a pinned safety. Good luck.
    Last edited by Sarge45; November 16th, 2010 at 11:05 AM.

  15. #14
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckeyeLCPL View Post
    For under $1000, try and find a Springfield Loaded model, in my humble opinion, one of the best production 1911's out there. Haven't had a problem with either of mine.
    Either the Loaded or a Colt.

    The Rail Gun can be had for under $1,000. Also, the Combat Commander and a few other models. Actually there are quite a few models by various manufacturers that can be had for less than $1,000. The trick is finding the one you want, with the features you want. I have a Loaded, Parkerized version, and I recommend it highly. With that said, I'm currently breaking in a Colt Rail Gun, and all indications lead me to believe that it will be a recommended gun too.

    As to swiping off the Thumb Safety, I used to have the problem where I wouldn't take the Thumb Safety off. It is now, after much training, an ingrained thing that once I've made the decision to fire the gun and I'm ON TARGET, the safety is off. I use a "high thumb" position on the 1911, as I find that most comfortable, and I shoot better that way. On my High Power, which doesn't have a Grip Safety, but does have a Thumb Safety, I find I shoot best using a "thumbs down" position. On the 1911 I "ride" the safety and the only time my thumb goes beneath the Thumb Safety is when I desire to activate the thumb Safety, or I'm shooting one handed.


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