Cocked and Locked?

This is a discussion on Cocked and Locked? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I know that a lot of people who CCW with SA weapons such as 1911's carry cocked and locked, that is with the hammer drawn ...

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Thread: Cocked and Locked?

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    Member Array cls12vg30's Avatar
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    Cocked and Locked?

    I know that a lot of people who CCW with SA weapons such as 1911's carry cocked and locked, that is with the hammer drawn and the safety on. While I do not believe this practice to be inherently unsafe, I know a lot of people who are not comfortable with it. I don't really mind it, but when I really think about it from my point of view, I start to think, "What's the point?"

    The obvious answer is that it is a simpler matter to click the safety down and be ready to fire than to draw the hammer back. True, it is a smaller motion. But we are of course still talking about two distinct motions being require to fire. So you either have to release the safety and pull the trigger or pull back the hammer and pull the trigger.

    When I analyze the way I carry and draw, I find that the backwards motion of the thumb on the hammer as the weapon is leaving the holster and coming up to ready position, is a much more natural motion, sort of working with the rotation of my wrist as I draw from the 4 o'clock position, rather than against it. Whereas if the hammer is back and the safety is on, my thumb must move against the prevailing motion of my wrist and hand. I know this sounds confusing, but if you try it for yourself, or even mimic the action of drawing from the hip, I think you'll get what I'm talking about. It just feels more "natural" to me to be drawing back the hammer in combination with the draw motion, than it does to be thumbing down the safety in combination with the draw motion. This motion is of course even smoother if the gun is carried at half-cock.

    I'm not trying to influence the way anyone carries. I just wanted to get my thoughts down in black and white and share them. It just seems to work better for me to carry hammer-down and not have to fiddle with the safety rather than cocked-and-locked.

    It seems to me, at least with my gun, that the half-cock position is not very far off from the hammer-down postion. The end of the hammer just barely clears the back of the slide. Of course, the hammer must still be drawn the rest of the way back for the trigger to have any effect. This gun also features a good strong firing pin block. Does anyone have any thoughts on the safety of carrying it at half-cock, safety off? This seems to me to provide the quickest, most natural draw motion.
    Last edited by cls12vg30; March 4th, 2005 at 07:09 PM.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
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    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Well you're not the only one who thinks so. I freely admit I just flat out do not think it is responsible or safe to have a hammer ready to strike a loaded chamber unless you are about to shoot something.

    Now with the 1911, it's not the end of the world because at least the gun is designed to do that. But it just doesn't strike me as intuitive either.

    Grab, point, fire. That's all I want to mess with under the stress of a real altercation. The only safety anyone really needs is keeping their hand off the trigger. Cocked and locked adds a level of manipulation that doesn't need to be there.

    But to play the devil's advocate, I sure can get off a single action shot a lot faster and easier than a double action shot in a "cold" firing. Only hits count...

    Then again I have never failed to engage the lock on my folder whenever I've drawn it either. It is for that reason many carry a fixed blade.

    To each his own. All tools are inherently flawed.

    I have decided I simply will never know the answer to this for sure unless I go out and buy a 1911 so I can compare and I don't have that kind of money to toss around.

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    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Carrying a 1911 at half cock isnt the smartest thing to do ... most 1911's now do not have a true half cock safety and can still go off.

    As to cocking the hammer to each there own but i carry cocked locked and ready to rock in my moment of need if hopefully it never arises but if and when it does clicking th safety off will be a lot easyer to do ...


    The gun was made to be carried that way and thats how i carry it ... Same with all my guns .. no leaveing a chamber empty and trying to rack the slide or any of that... As i tell everyone if you not comfortable carry say a 1911 cocked and locked look for a different gun ... Dont like no external safety on a glock look for a differnt gun ...

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    Member Array cls12vg30's Avatar
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    Bud, what exactly do you mean by a half-cock safety? My gun is technically not a 1911, it's a Llama .380, a Spanish copy of the Colt Govt. .380. It's about six months old, from the new Vitoria factory. It has a firing pin block that is always engaged unless the grip safety is pressed and the trigger is pulled, regardless of the position of the hammer. I have tested the block by pressing on the firing pin with a screwdriver, then working the trigger and grip safety to determine exactly how it worked.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
    - Bill Whittle

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    on most 1911's there is a half cock from fully dropped hammer. I personally would carry cocked and locked if I had a 1911. I think it would be too easy to slip off the hammer while cocking during high stress. My HK is similar safety and seems easy enough to sweep off as I draw the pistol. Also my thumb continues on to its natural place along the frame/grip. As said though , to each their own.

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    Apples To Oranges Folks

    Revolvers & semi~autos are two totally different mechanical firearm systems.
    Both are extremely safe when properly handled. Both are dangerous in inept hands.
    If you do not feel comfortable with one firearm system (for whatever reason) then choose the other & practice often with that chosen firearm.
    It's not that difficult.


    Interesting bit of history...some soldiers in W.W.II before going into battle and ASSUMING that they would soon meet the enemy...carried the Colt .45 semi~auto holstered ~ fully cocked & UNLOCKED with a round in the chamber & they relied only on the grip safety to block the trigger.
    I am not suggesting that anyone do that...only offering it up as a tidbit of historical fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euclidean
    Well you're not the only one who thinks so. I freely admit I just flat out do not think it is responsible or safe to have a hammer ready to strike a loaded chamber unless you are about to shoot something.

    Now with the 1911, it's not the end of the world because at least the gun is designed to do that. But it just doesn't strike me as intuitive either.

    Grab, point, fire. That's all I want to mess with under the stress of a real altercation. The only safety anyone really needs is keeping their hand off the trigger. Cocked and locked adds a level of manipulation that doesn't need to be there.

    But to play the devil's advocate, I sure can get off a single action shot a lot faster and easier than a double action shot in a "cold" firing. Only hits count...
    I'm 47 years old. I have been carrying a 1911 in "Condition One" (cocked and locked) since I was 21 and got my first CCW permit. I trained for many years to draw, keep the trigger finger out of the triggerguard and yet ALSO "wipe the safety" as the barrel cleared leather and I brought the weapon up to flash sight. Only when I put the sights on a target, to I put my finer on the trigger. I have never had an AD, but I know a lot of pros that have. As long as the three safety rules of gun handling are followed it's a moot point.

    My point it that in all the time I carried a cocked and locked 1911, I was quietly worried that I might have to actually shoot somebody and the argument that an anti-gun prosecutor would make is that the gun went off by accident...that I really didn't mean to put three neat holes in the forehead of that nice man about to set off the bomb strapped to his body....He'll say it like this:

    "Here Ladies and Gentlemen of the JURY....put your finger on the trigger of the defendant's gun and pull.....SEE! SEE HOW EASY THAT WAS????"

    See I don't care if your 1911 has a pull of over five or even SIX pounds! To your average "gun ignorant" juror even that is going to seem insignificant. For that reason I have changed my 1911's to pure IDPA pieces and now carry a Sig Sauer P245 for it's 10 Lb DA and 6.5 lb SA pull. That DA pull in a court room is going to make things appear as they are: UNMISTAKABLE. I ALSO like the pointability and reliability of the Sig AND I like the lack of an external safety. That makes it just like a revolver. Thus, I think I can shave some time off my draw as I grow older and have to compensate in this manner. My next gun is going to be a Sig P220ST, with accessories like CT LAsergrips and a SureFire X200 to hang under the bore on the rail.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

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    "If you do not feel comfortable with one firearm system (for whatever reason) then choose the other & practice often with that chosen firearm."

    So you are of the opinion that cocked & locked is the only proper way to carry a single action firearm?

    I'm not sure I see it that way. It's not that I'm uncomfortable with cocked & locked, it is as I said, it's a matter of choosing between two actions required to be ready to fire, releasing the safety or drawing back the hammer. As I practice drawing, it makes little difference to my thumb which action is required, except for the aforementioned contrast, the safety is a smaller motion, while the hammer draw motion flows more naturally with the motion of the draw. Which is why I say I just don't see the great advantage, for me personally, to carrying cocked and locked. I have also carried DA/SA (I think the difference in trigger pull between the first and second shot throws me off more in a draw-fire drill than either method of single action carry), and my usual BUG is a DAO Kel-Tec. I consider DAO ideal for the close range point-shooting SHTF go-for-slide-lock desperate scenario for which that weapon was designed.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
    - Bill Whittle

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    So you lower the safety on a live round in a 1911??? I would think that is more dangerous. God forbid you lose you grip of the safety and it has enough inertia to set off the primer and well you know the rest.

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    I assume you mean lower the hammer on a live round, and yes, that's required in order to carry hammer down on a loaded chamber. A decocker would be nice, but of course that's not part of the 1911 package, and even on single-action weapons with a decocker, it makes sense to manually lower the hammer and not trust the decocker completely. It takes unloaded practice, but once the technique is down, and strict muzzle discipline is observed, it can be done with minimal risk. The method I use is to use the left thumb to depress the grip safety, right thumb securely on the hammer, and right finger to depress the trigger. With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, get a firm seat on the hammer with the right thumb, depress the grip safety with the left thumb, and depress the trigger with the trigger finger. Then slowly lower the hammer until you've passed the half-cock position. Then release the trigger and grip safety to engage the firing pin block, and gently lower the hammer to rest.

    This is a very common practice not only with 1911-style weapons but with other single-action pistols. Even if you carry cocked & locked, odds are you will at some time have the occasion to lower the hammer on a loaded chamber, be it a malfunction or what have you, so it is of benefit to all owners of single-action pistols to practice this.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
    - Bill Whittle

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    Euclidean

    Here is what I don't like about this statement of yours. This one...as follows:

    Quote:
    "I freely admit I just flat out do not think it is responsible or safe to have a hammer ready to strike a loaded chamber unless you are about to shoot something."

    You see you can "sugar coat" that statement and "pretty it up" all you want to but what you are really saying is this:

    I think that every shooter who carries a semi~auto firearm "cocked and locked" is irresponsible and stupid.

    That is what you are really saying ~ First of all you come right out and state that it's irresponsible (not responsible means the same thing as irresponsible) and then you carry it further to imply that because we intentionally carry a firearm in an "Unsafe" manner...then I guess we MUST be stupid. Because if we were smart & didn't want to be "irresponsible" then we would all carry the same type of firearm that YOU personally think is "safe."
    Which would be a revolver?!?
    Did I about get that right???

    Really I think you need to study firearms mechanics a bit more and then you'll be better able to make an educated judgment about just exactly what is safe and what is not safe.
    The modern Colt semi~autos have a firing pin block and a grip safety & & a thumb safety in addition to a secondary notch on the hammer to catch that hammer before it contacts the firing pin.

    Just Curious...What do you think about the SIG DA/SA & Walther type firearms where you pop a round into the chamber & then hit the hammer drop lever to drop the hammer down to the ready position. I bet that really shakes you up.
    Last edited by QKShooter; March 5th, 2005 at 12:41 AM.
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    Wow, didn't mean to start a war here.

    What you said about the Sig and DA/SA weapons is what I spoke of in my previous post about not completely trusting a decocker. As an example, the first pistol I ever bought was a CZ-52 in 7.62x25, a single-action firearm, but that has a decocker. It's also 52 years old. From the very beginning, I made it a practice to keep my thumb on the hammer and lower it gently, even when using the decocker. The same goes for my DA/SA Makarov with decocker. Sure the safeties and blocks are dependable and proven, but it doesn't take much extra effort to lower that hammer gently. Why not take that extra precaution, right?

    Personally, I don't think it irresponsible to carry a 1911-style pistol cocked & locked. As you said, the hammer is not ready to strike if the safety is on. It still requires two distinct actions to fire the weapon, three if you count depressing the grip safety. To me it is simply a matter of preference. It may or may not be marginally safer to carry hammer down, depending on the laws of physics to make sure that hammer doesn't strike that firing pin until you want it to, as opposed to depending on a mechanical safety to do the same. But the safety of a 1911 is so time-proven that it's really a toss-up. As I said in my first post, I do not mean to attempt to influence anyone's carry preference, merely to put my thoughts on the subject out there and get some feedback, which all you wonderful people have provided.

    For myself, I still prefer hammer-down carry, not only for the aforementioned reason of having physics on your side, but to prevent the (very slim) possibility of having that cocked hammer snag on clothing during a draw. Drawing with your thumb on the hammer (or where the hammer would be, depending on the weapon), seems to be a smart method, whether it's a pocket-carry BUG or a primary on your belt. (Drawing like this is actually quite important in pocket carry to keep your thumb from wrapping around the grip. Try and pull a clenched fist out of your pocket.) Because of this, I have developed the habit of always having my thumb in this position when I draw a weapon. So drawing back an SA hammer with the same motion works quite well.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
    - Bill Whittle

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    cls12vg30 ~ No War ~ differing opinions

    You sure didn't start a war.
    I see where you're coming from.

    Euclidean started the war.

    Really though...Euclidean is a good guy. I think he just really needs to study some exploded semi~auto firearms diagrams & brush up on some semi~auto "inner workings" a little bit.
    He is a "revolver kinda guy" & they are usually pretty set in their ways.
    The "Revolver VS Semi" debate has been going on for one heckova lot of years now. Some folks are steadfast on wheel guns & some love their preferred semi~autos. We live in a country full of hungry lawyers.
    If semi~auto pistols were inherently unsafe then every firearm maker that produced them would be out of business by now.

    By the way I forgot another safety IF you carry your "cocked & locked" firearm in a holster with a retention strap that secures your firearm with a leather strap BETWEEN the cocked hammer & the firing pin.
    Last edited by QKShooter; March 5th, 2005 at 01:37 AM.
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    Wow, fast replies. Nice to see I'm not the only guy home on a Friday night with the computer on. Of course I'm a tech geek, so at least one computer is always online.
    I prefer IWB holsters with no thumb break. I'd rather not add another required motion to get the weapon up, out and ready. That is a good point for guys who prefer thumb break holster, though. For me the DA vs. SA issue is less important than the other factors that go into selecting a weapon. I chose this particular .380 because of its very thin profile, thinner than a Bersa or any of the other Walther clones. The Kahr and Glock compact 9's are nice and light and short, but significantly thicker. My perpetually skinny frame (6'0", 155-160 lbs.), means that a weapon's thickness is important for comfort and concealability. Length is less important. (I can actually carry and conceal a CZ-52 IWB pretty effectively until I have to sit down.)

    So what combines a very thin profile with a decent-length barrel for decent accuracy? A Govt. .380 of course. On my current budget those are hard to acquire, but once the Llama copy proved its reliability and accuracy to me on the range, I was good to go. Once you find a weapon that fits, I think it's best to train yourself to deal with the action that it uses. But we are all constantly learning and honing ourselves, hence this thread.
    "Terrorists don't seem to be too afraid of stern language. But I do notice, that while the fear of death does not seem to deter these people, the fact of BEING dead does significantly decrease their operational effectiveness. "
    - Bill Whittle

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    Well, I am entering into alll this sorta late in the game but I have, of late, divested myself of most all non-1911 firearms in my inventory and am going to stick with it for a number of reasons. The most important of reasons is that I believe that a 1911 in the hands of someone experienced with a 1911 is one of the safest handguns you can carry. And despite the age of the design the safety lends itself to a completely natural movement to take it off safety. It's been so long ago, I can't remember if it was completely natural the first time I first handled a 1911, but I can tell you that now when I make the subtle move that removes my 1911 from safe, you may hear it (the sound is as distinct as racking a shotgun) but you probably won't see it. It is as natural as a 3 year old sticking his finger in his nose; it just happens. And I would bet that most here that have carried a 1911 for any length of time feel the same way.

    People get nervous when they see a 1911 cocked and locked. That's a fact. They are nervous because of their own inexperience and cannot (usually) be swayed until they become experienced. Those that carry a 1911 on an empty chamber or in any other state other than "cocked and locked" should simply consider carrying something else. Carry what you are comfortable with and 1911 toters will do the same.

    And, for the record, I don't believe firing pin safeties (blocks) on 1911s would ever have come into being if it were not for either anti gun or "nervous" people wanting yet another safety. I'm getting rid of mine for my carry guns, they're fine on a range gun. That's my opinion and may only be worth what you paid for it....
    Bumper
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