1911 Ambi Thumb Safety Run Down

This is a discussion on 1911 Ambi Thumb Safety Run Down within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I've been trying all the ambi thumb safeties I can, trying to find the best one for left handed use (and I have some very ...

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Thread: 1911 Ambi Thumb Safety Run Down

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    1911 Ambi Thumb Safety Run Down

    I've been trying all the ambi thumb safeties I can, trying to find the best one for left handed use (and I have some very exacting, perhaps OCD standards). I've tried several now, and here are my experiences with each:

    Mueschke: I've had two of these. They are made by (I believe) the MIM process. They are retained by the Colt method, an extended sear pin. The joints in both examples were sloppy and eventually broke. The sear pin is supposed to be weak as well, and the reason Colt abandoned this method of retention. I'd give this one star out of five.

    Kimber: This is a quality thumb safety made via the MIM process. It is retained via a hammer pin. The joint is sloppy and needs to be tightened. The safety works as advertised. However, mine came from the factory a bit rough, and after I stoned it smooth, I noticed the plunger begin to dig into the safety, bringing everything to literal grinding halt. I did not know at the time that MIM can only be case hardened, and I had gone past the hardened part. A bonus is that it will usually drop into guns which are in spec. I'd give it three out of five stars.

    Auto Ordnance: Believe it or not, this thing was probably my favorite. It appeared cast. The joint had absolutely no play as the safety was retained on the frame by a #4-40 screw that goes through the shaft. Very clean install. However, this was also its undoing: The design is supposed to be weak (I didn't experience this) and will only fit thinner frames. As well, it was not well finished. It was too tight on my carry gun, and so it went on race gun I had built from spare parts and subsequently traded to a gun shop for a 9mm carbine. But at around $16.00 from Numrich (Welcome to Numrich Gun Parts Corp.) it may be worth a shot if you're looking for something cheap to try. Two out of five stars, due to fit on some guns, and its poor finish.

    King's Ambi: According to the factory, this safety is cast and looked it. Retention is via a hammer pin (King's method). The joint is sloppy, but can be tightened. I did run into a few problems though. First, the safety allowed overtravel of the sear. Without going into the workings of the 1911 too awful much, this allowed light strikes on the primer due to things rubbing the hammer and slowing it down. This would be an excellent safety if my gun were equipped with a trigger that has an overtravel stop. I will probably reinstall this one on my 1911 after I acquire an EGW trigger (fitted, but no screw to back out).

    STI/SVI: This is retained by the Swenson method; there is a tab which rides under the grip panel. This safety is machined out of stock, and I've had mine the longest of any of these other safeties, on two different pistols. I can't break it. The joint actually snaps together with an audible click, and though it will ride out a bit, this can be fixed by tightening the groove even further. I ran it for a bit with no support on the right side, then carried it with Pachmayr grips (mushy), and the shaft torqued and sprang back with no complaint - and I really ride safeties hard when shooting. The stud has plenty of material to work with, unlike any other safety I've fitted. In fact, to get it through the frame, I had to take material off the circumference of the stud. When disengaged, the stud serves as a positive stop for the sear/trigger, making it feel almost like a fitted or adjustable trigger. From the safeties I've tried, this one gets four out of five stars: I dislike the Swenson retention style.

    I have not yet tried an Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, or any other.

    If any other lefties wish to do some write ups and add to this thread, please feel free. I'm posting this in the hopes that my time and money will help others who are do not have my penchant for experimentation get a good product which fits them the first time, or at the very least, the second time.

    Additions, as I said, are welcome. I'll add more myself if I do any more "playing around."

    Josh <><

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    Senior Member Array jeephipwr's Avatar
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    I use Ed browns on both my 1911s and I have not had any trouble.

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    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    Muscheke

    I have the Muscheke on my 1911s because when I built them I preferred the extended pin to the tab behind the grips. I did have to fit them more than the other styles. I had a customer with an Armscor 1911 and Muscheke safety that broke the sear pin, however the gun still functioned and the safety still worked. He didn't notice anything was wrong until I saw him shooting the gun and noticed. I use Muscheke or the Wilson model for most of the 1911s I do, depending on customer preference. I have never had any problem with Wilson. I have never seen those Auto Ord safeties before. It seems like a good, cheap option. I bet with money being tight I can sell a couple of those. I'm going to order a couple and try them out. Thanks for that. Colt 1911 Extended Ambidextrous Safeties*|*e-GunParts.com

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua M. Smith View Post
    Kimber: I did not know at the time that MIM can only be case hardened, and I had gone past the hardened part. Josh <><
    You can harden MIM yourself, still not quite as good as a cast part, but a significant improvement over what you receive from the factory.

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    Member Array Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    The lack of a Good left-handed safety is about the only thing that prevents me from getting a 1911 again. :(

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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallschirmjäger View Post
    The lack of a Good left-handed safety is about the only thing that prevents me from getting a 1911 again. :(
    The STI is really quite good. It is tight enough at the joint that I doubt the tab is really even needed. It's just backup.

    The SVI safety is very interesting, and likely has the same properties as the STI, albeit via a bit more complicated method.

    From STI's website:

    Safety, Thumb, Ambi-Dexterous, (Blue Or Stainless)

    STI thumb safeties are designed for 1911 and 2011 pistols. Offered in both ambidextrous and single sided models. These safeties have contoured and serrated pads that allow for the thumb to contact the safety in a natural position, providing a comfortable thumb placement for shooters. Carbon steel is 4140, stainless steel is 17-4.


    From SVI's website:

    Confidence at your fingertips. Another Infinity first, these thumb safeties have been designed and fully precision machined from billet to provide you many times the strength and durability found in other safeties on the market. Available in 416 stainless steel or 4140 blued steel and manufactured to the tightest tolerances, these safeties are offered in multiple sizes and paddle widths in keeping with Infinity's commitment to providing you a full selection of premium quality handgun components.

    Visit our website, Infinity Firearms or contact your nearest Infinity Firearms® distributor and experience the confidence and peace of mind inherent in the knowledge that you're entering your next competition with the finest components at your fingertips.


    Infinity Store

    And then...



    Optifit Safety Installation

    It looks like the SVI uses an additional locking mechanism - a set screw.

    Otherwise, same metal, same design.

    Interesting. Might have to upgrade to the SVI should the STI ever fail.

    Josh <><

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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Wilson: This is a quality thumb safety. I cannot tell if it is machined or cast; it looks machined. It is retained via a press fit and Swenson method. There is plenty of "meat" to take off for a perfect fit. I did have to make the hole in my Ed Brown grip safety a bit larger as the press fit joint, when joined, rubbed the inside of the grip safety and did not allow it to move freely, even after I polished the thumb safety around the joint. The joint holds very securely, and has no slop. The paddles are the thinnest of the ones I've tested; they would to very well for carry. Engagement and disengagement are very positive. To remove this thumb safety from the pistol after installation, I had to tap lightly on the end of the right side safety lever, in toward the gun. While this didn't hurt the safety, it should be noted that this is how tightly it fits: I could not remove it by sliding a pick under the safety, and using the "floss method" just left me with a bunch of broken string. I'm rating this one 3.5 out of five stars. The only reason I am not giving it four is because of the extra work to the grip safety that had to be done.

    Josh <><

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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Hello,

    I ordered a Caspian ambi thumb safety to try out on my 1911, and it arrived today.

    Fitting was extensive on my particular pistol, a Rock Island Armory. I do not believe the same problems I ran into would be evident on a domestic frame as the Rock Island's frame seems to be a bit thicker than most (I've not quantified this; it's just an observation over the course of the build).

    The safety feels much like a King's safety, and is retained by a modified hammer pin.

    It is a very solid piece, with my only concern revolving around the joint. It came with a lot of slop, and the right side would not disengage the left side fully until I tightened it a bit.

    Still, it's reminiscent of a small, square head screwdriver.


    The left side of the fitted safety

    Forgive the mess; there's wear showing from the previous safety. However, this pistol is quickly becoming a test bed for my next build, and I doubt I'll do much more refinishing to it.


    The right side

    I appreciate the clean looks of this safety as opposed to the traditional "ear". Additionally, the levers are about 1/4" wide and positioned so that you can't miss them unless you're trying.


    This is my one misgiving...

    That joint seems like it could be fragile. (03-30-2012: Most definitely NOT fragile. One of the strongest I've seen!) I took it out of the pistol and torqued on it, and it seems solid. However, having a background in auto mechanics, I've seen way too many stripped bolt and screw heads. If I didn't have to take this thing apart now and again, I'd just hit it with a weld bead and clean it up.

    In short, if this thing holds up, I will be pleased. If not, I will try a Wilson Bullet Proof. I've tried a Kimber safety and it broke.

    The next build gun is to have clean lines and a good finish applied by someone better in finishes than myself. I'm also a left hander. I am therefore insisting on hidden retention for the right side paddle.

    Josh

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    Wilson Combat Bullet Proof™ Ambi Thumb Safety




    CNC machined from one block of steel
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    Senior Member Array Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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    Yup, I've not tried that yet.

    Was going to try it when it first came out but decided to wait for the wide paddle, which was supposed to be coming out in the next year or so according to the Wilson rep.

    Seems they started having trouble keeping up with the standard one, and I went to Caspian. It's not let me down.

    My interests in the firearms world shifted shortly thereafter, but I still really want to try one of these with a wide paddle when they do get them out!

    Josh

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