1911 Firing Pin Safety? An ongoing thorn in my side...

This is a discussion on 1911 Firing Pin Safety? An ongoing thorn in my side... within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I was showing a Kimber Ultra Covert II to a customer today and he asked if the gun was safe to carry cocked and locked. ...

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Thread: 1911 Firing Pin Safety? An ongoing thorn in my side...

  1. #1
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    1911 Firing Pin Safety? An ongoing thorn in my side...

    I was showing a Kimber Ultra Covert II to a customer today and he asked if the gun was safe to carry cocked and locked.

    I assured him that it was and went over the list of safeties on the gun including the firing pin safety.

    I told him I had accidentally dropped a couple of my 1911s a few times and never had an accidental discharge.

    A coworker of mine (who knows I own a Kimber) said, "Well, your Kimber should have a firing pin safety so of course it shouldn't fire."

    I said, "It's a series I, it doesn't... Neither does my Wilson or my husband's Baer, or our Springfield or half of the other 1911s we've ever owned."

    His response was one we have been through at least two dozen times. He began berating me (again) and telling me that I must love flirting with danger because no 1911 is safe unless it has a firing pin block and they should only be carried with an empty chamber if no firing pin safety is in place.

    Needless to say the poor customer was caught up in this unfortunate battle but my coworker could not be dissuaded to wait until the customer had left (after all, the debate had NO relevance to his purchase in the least as his gun was fitted with a firing pin safety!).

    So, after getting sick and tired of getting lectured about what a fool I am for owning and carrying a 1911 without a firing pin safety I started looking around the net today.

    I found an article that said there was a history (about 17 a year) of 1911s accidents, some of them from going off when dropped in the military before the Beretta M9 was adopted and that it's high rate of accidents was a reason they went away from the 1911. It went on to say that the military expressly asked for a firing pin safety on the new issue gun to thwart against the problems they'd had with dropped 1911s but the article provided no evidence or study to support that claim (in fact the author was quoting someone else (he said that someone told him that this happens....)). The article also goes on to state that Colt did a study in "drop-fired" 1911s and while they never published their findings (convenient for this article), shortly after they began installing the series 80 firing pin safeties (again, no references or sources listed).

    The article also went on to say that Bill Wilson started installing the titanium firing-pins and heavier firing-pin springs in his guns after doing his own study proving that dropping a 1911 from as little as 3 feet could, indeed, set it off. Again, no reference or actual data from said "study" was listed in the article.

    It seems that every article I read where they say firing-pin-safety-less 1911s are a problem has nothing to support the fact (or maybe I'm just not digging enough).

    Does anyone have any hard evidence of this? (I feel like putting in a call to mythbusters.)

    I've never had a moments doubt, hesitation, fear, worry or concern that any of my 1911s would fire without a deliberate act of a human being but I'm getting tediously tired of listening to my coworker rant about how unsafe and downright STUPID I am for continuing to even OWN a 1911 that doesn't have a firing pin safety even though he's never been able to provide me with any solid proof of its dangers either.

    I'll never say it's impossible because we all know everything is possible given the right circumstances but I don't think it's as common as my coworker would have me (and everyone else) believe.

    Any more educated people want to help me out on this?

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    Well, I've been shooting 1911s for a long time and none of my Pony Pistols have the FP Block.

    Here is a plain text page of LE drop testing of pistols...but, I don't have Adobe on my lappertop so you'll need to get the additional pages yourself. This text page explains the testing (and Kimber was tested) but, the test results are not on the page.

    NLECTC tests Autoloading Pistols for Law Enforcement Use (January 2000)

    If you install a heavier recoil spring then you should install the mated fp spring that is included with it. That is prudent.

    I believe that the purpose of the Titanium firing pin - as well as the (yuk) Titanium hammers - Titanium hammer strut - and the Titanium mainspring cap are to quicken up the lock time and not to prevent any drop detonation.

    It makes sense to add a Titanium hammer strut and mainspring cap but, I would never go with anything but a steel firing pin.
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    Lima...I guess what you have, and some of the authors are missing are the critical thinking and analysis skills.

    As with all respected studies, whenever the question of validity is discussed, the first thing asked for is: show me the data. Followed by, how was the data collected?

    Then come more questions:

    How do I know [this] is true? [this = lack of a firing pin safety could increase the chances of an AD/ND]

    What are the conditions that make this true?

    If it is true, what should I expect to see? [i.e. if there are no firing pin safeties, what should we see?]
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    JD
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    Here's a link to the PDF that QK is referring to.

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    While that study posted by QK is a great study and informative, unfortunately it doesn't really help my case as all of the 1911s in the study already had firing pin safeties in place.


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    Whoops!

    Sorry for the false trail Lima.

    Honestly I can't see how a slightly heavier than normal firing pin spring wouldn't solve any possible drop on concrete problems with any 1911 pistol dropped on the muzzle.

    Slamming the pistol down on the butt even with a heavy steel trigger - that trigger is still going to be blocked from moving rearward by the grip safety tang.

    Slamming a Colt down hard enough on the hammer could possibly shatter the sear and might cause a detonation with the thumb safety off. Not real likely with the super tough tool steel aftermarket sears and the high end stock sears.
    Plus...with an extended grip safety beavertail - that beavertail metal pretty much guards and shields the hammer from a blow to the rear.

    I would switch out a Kimber hammer & sear because they are MIM parts but, that probably is a personal quirk of mine. I just don't trust critical parts that are MIM.

    Busting the hammer/sear engagement would still catch the hammer on the half-cock notch.
    But, with the thumb safety still on...that TS physically blocks the cocked and locked hammer from moving forward.

    I feel very safe without the FP Block parts but, that doesn't help you win your argument much.
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    Agreed QK...The Ti ignition pieces, aside from the firing pin, are/were purposed to reduce lock timing.
    As I too understood things.

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    I think the lighter Ti FPin also because the reduced weight of the Ti = faster forward travel AKA less mass to overcome. I could be wrong about that though.

    OK I knew I just remembered seeing it recently.
    a freakin' Brownell's Item description.

    Steel - Precision machined from long-wearing stainless steel; hardened and relieved for increased shock-resistance.

    Titanium - Dramatically lowers lock time.
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    Just FYI Regarding Passing The CA. Drop test.

    Here is the test.

    "Effective January 1, 2001, no handgun may be manufactured within California, imported into California for sale, lent, given, kept for sale, or offered/exposed for sale unless that handgun model has passed firing, safety, and drop tests and is certified for sale in California by the Department of Justice.
    Private party transfers, curio/relic handguns, certain single-action revolvers, and pawn/consignment returns are exempt from this requirement."

    From additional CA DOJ documentation concerning handgun testing procedures: "The drop height of 1m + 1cm - 0cm (39.4 in. + 0.4 in. - 0 in.) shall be measured from the lowermost portion of the handgun as situated in the drop fixture to the top surface of the required concrete slab.
    The required concrete slab shall rest upon a firm surface and the face of the slab shall be perpendicular to the direction of the drop.
    If a handgun has an exposed hammer, the hammer shall be fully cocked during each drop test.
    When dropped the handgun shall initially strike the face of the required concrete slab and then come to rest without interference."
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  11. #10
    OD*
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    You could try and find the H.P. White Laboratory, Inc. drop tests done in the late '70s early '80s, they COULD NOT get a cocked & locked 1911 to discharge until the height reached nearly 12 feet and that required a special jig be made to guarantee the pistol landed on it's muzzle (or hammer) consistently.

    Your best course of action is to stop engaging idiots, they'll beat you with experience..
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    If OD said it and there is a "1911" anywhere in the sentence then you can take it to the bank and cash it in. It's good as Gold.
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    I've only seen someone getting so worked up over a pin safety when they were *against* the safety. I forget where but I saw a guy saying they "were invented for lawyers, by lawyers" and you absolutely shouldn't have one.

    And I've only seen titanium talked about in regard to it's weight reducing lock time, like several others have.

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    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    There was a post awhile back that told about someone putting an old beat up, cocked 1911 with a primed case (no bullet or powder) in a paint shaker for 24 hours. The hammer did not drop during the test. I did a search but couldn't find it.
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    Senior Member Array Mtbiker's Avatar
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    I have a series 1 Kimber and a Springfield. Neither with a FP safety. It is unnecessary and makes the gun more complicated.


    As far as I'm concerned, Schwartz was a fool.
    -Biker

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    The mans name was William L. Swartz.
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