1911 Hammer Drop Question....(safety)

1911 Hammer Drop Question....(safety)

This is a discussion on 1911 Hammer Drop Question....(safety) within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have a quick operational question for someone that may know more than I do.....(i.e. anyone else). I have a friend that carries a Colt ...

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Thread: 1911 Hammer Drop Question....(safety)

  1. #1
    Member Array MadDawg34's Avatar
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    1911 Hammer Drop Question....(safety)

    I have a quick operational question for someone that may know more than I do.....(i.e. anyone else). I have a friend that carries a Colt Officers model 1911. The other day I noticed he was carrying with the hammer down, so I asked him why he didn't carry it chambered and ready to go. His reply was that he does chamber a round, but then safely drops the hammer because he just feels safer than with the hammer cocked and the safety on. I do not carry a 1911 for this same reason, I am just not comfortable with the SA only trigger, even with a manual safety.

    Anyway, to my question....when a round is chambered, the hammer is cocked thus setting the firing pin in "ready to release" mode which is initiated by the trigger pull, thus dropping the hammer and BOOM! When he safely lowers the hammer on a loaded chamber, does the 1911 set up reset the firing pin (or engage a block of some kind) until the hammer is pulled back, or is the pin still tensioned ready for release?? My thought here is what if the hammer gets a good bump or jolt....could that release the pin ultimately causing the gun to discharge at an inopportune time??

    I hope that makes sense. thanks for your thoughts.


  2. #2
    Member Array carverelli's Avatar
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    tell yur friend if he isnt comfortable carrying a single action auto "cocked and locked", hed be beter off with a da/sa or dao variation.

    And no, the trigger wouldnt accidentally drop the hammer, because the hammer is already down. To fire, you'd have to draw the weapon , then pull the hammer back and THEN puill the trigger.

  3. #3
    JD
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    Every time your friend lowers the hammer on a live round he is more at risk of having a negligent discharge than carrying it hammer cocked and safety on.

    the process of pulling the tirgger to lower the hammer removes the firing pin block, if he ever slips he risks the gun going off.

    Once the hammer is down, there is a mechanical firing pin safety (in his gun provided it hasn't been tampered with) in place to keep it from traveling unless the trigger is pulled.

    The firing pin "floats" at all times, there is no tension on it as a result of the hammer being cocked. When the hammer strikes the firing pin with force, if causes the firing pin to travel forward making contact with the primer.

    http://www.m1911.org/1911desc.htm

    M-1911 Animation

    Is Cocked and Locked Dangerous?

    Conditions of Readiness for the 1911 - YouTube

    Lowering the Hammer: Video Response to theARMORYchannel - YouTube

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    The answer gets a little bit complicated since there are older and newer versions of the 1911 system.
    If you have a round chambered and "all goes well" you (ideally) get a very firm hold on the hammer & pull the trigger and then begin to manually lower the hammer as you take you finger off the trigger.
    Doing that lowers the hammer down to either the hammer half-cock notch or the hammer safety cock notch depending on which type of hammer is in your firearm. When the sear is in the Half Cock Notch the trigger cannot be pulled at all until the hammer is either manually put back into the full cock position OR the hammer can be slightly pulled back and then the trigger re-pulled & then the hammer can be manually fully lowered all the way down to fully rest on the firing pin stop.

    If the hammer sports a safety notch and the sear is resting on the safety cock notch - the trigger CAN be pulled and the hammer will drop from the safety cock ledge but, will not give the firing pin enough of a hit from the safety cock position to detonate a chambered cartridge and that is especially the case if the firing pin block is installed.

    In an old style 1911 with the hammer resting all the way on the firing pin stop - the firing pin is pushed very slightly forward and a hit on the hammer will not detonate a cartridge since the spring loaded inertia driven firing pin needs a solid wack from the hammer at its full cock position in order to drive it far enough forward for the pin face to fully make it through the FP hole in the breech face and smack the primer.

    The problem is that you need to do everything right in order to get the hammer down to that position and that it's just better and safer to carry it cocked and properly locked.

    It's just not such a keen idea to be holding hammers and especially pulling triggers on a chambered cartridge unless your muzzle is either pointed on a target or on a deadly threat and it's shootin' time.
    pistola likes this.

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    I would suggest to your friend that he seek professional training from a person or an organization that is aware of how 1911s work. He needs to build confidence in both the weapon and his own skills.
    QKShooter and archer51 like this.
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    I don't recommend manually lowering the hammer on a gun. It's an accident looking to happen. In the rare instance that I do have to do it. I keep a finger between the hammer and the firing pin. While even that isn't fool proof, it's just one more thing the hammer has to get through to strike the firing pin.
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    The above posts include everything you and your friend need to know.
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    Member Array Taylor's Avatar
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    If the mere sight of a cocked hammer bothers anyone they probably should not play with guns at all. The 1911 is as safe or safer than any other pistol.

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    Your friend needs professional training.

    He certainly doesn't understand the design of the firearm he is carrying. If he isn't confident a gun with two manual safeties won't just magically go off, and thinks that lowering the hammer manually on a chambered round is a good idea, then he should move away from the 1911 platform.

    When the hammer drops on a 1911, it is meant to strike the firing pin, and fire a round, if he flubs it while lowering the hammer, the gun will fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by buckeye .45 View Post
    When the hammer drops on a 1911, it is meant to strike the firing pin, and fire a round, if he flubs it while lowering the hammer, the gun will fire.
    Pretty much true for any firearm, but therein lies the beauty and significance of keeping it simple: the hammer falls, the gun will fire. Would that all people behind the trigger keep that simple concept in mind.
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    JD, thanks for the links, I found them really useful as well.
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    Lightbulb "Inertial"or "Inertia Type" firing pin

    Many do not understand the simple mechanics of the M1911 firing mechanism,especially those of the firing pin;
    Firearms that use long firing pins, such as pistols, will often use a firing pin that is too short to project when depressed flush by the hammer. This type of firing pin, called an inertial firing pin, must be struck by a full fall of the hammer to provide the momentum to move forward and strike the primer. If the hammer is down, resting on the firing pin, it is very unlikely that a blow to the rear will provide enough energy to the firing pin to detonate the primer. Most variants of the M1911 pistol use this type of firing pin.
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  13. #13
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    Good catch. Thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by pistola View Post
    Many do not understand the simple mechanics of the M1911 firing mechanism,especially those of the firing pin;
    Firearms that use long firing pins, such as pistols, will often use a firing pin that is too short to project when depressed flush by the hammer. This type of firing pin, called an inertial firing pin, must be struck by a full fall of the hammer to provide the momentum to move forward and strike the primer. If the hammer is down, resting on the firing pin, it is very unlikely that a blow to the rear will provide enough energy to the firing pin to detonate the primer. Most variants of the M1911 pistol use this type of firing pin.
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    About ten years ago, a former student disregarded my advice and tried to lower the 1911 hammer on a live round. We and his leg are thankful it wasn't a hollow point. With a round in the chamber, the 1911 is safest cocked and locked.

    The firing pin free floats in its raceway, with a small spring holding it away from the bolt face. If you depress the back of the firing pin to flush with the firing pin stop, the front of the pin still won't protrude from the bolt face into the chamber. It takes a good whack to impart enough inertia to the firing pin to set off a primer. Springfield Armory uses an especially light firing pin to lessen the possibility of discharge when the gun is dropped. To prevent this possibility, there are two types of firing pin blocks in use today. Colt and Kimber install a plunger in the slide that blocks the firing pin. Colt's trigger moves the plunger out of the way as it's pressed all the way back, and some complain about the extra weight on the trigger. Kimber's Schwartz system grip safety moves the plunger when the gun is held properly.

    The sear is mated to the full cock notch on the hammer, and I try to avoid letting the sear rest in the half cock safety notch, whenever possible. With the proper knowledge and training, I consider the newer 1911's to be some of the safest of all handguns.
    DRM likes this.
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    To lower hammer with relative safety, be certain of the direction the gun is pointed to---some folks keep a pail filled with soil handy--- place thumb between hammer and slide, place other thumb on the hammer.

    That way if the hammer slips off you thumb the worst that will happen is your other thumb will get a minor bung. And if the absolute worst happens and the thing goes BOOM, the bullet will enter the soil filled pail. The only harm will be to your ego and your underwear.
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