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Old February 19, 2010, 10:44 PM   #1
hot sauce
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De-cocking a 1911

So a guy told me that you should never let the hammer down on a 1911 with your thumb b/c it will mess up the sear. Is this true?
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Old February 19, 2010, 10:46 PM   #2
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No, but it is in no way, shape, or form, a safe pratice. If your thumb slips, a bullet is going somewhere. You should also not depend on the half cock to be safe.
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Old February 19, 2010, 10:48 PM   #3
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They best way to decock a 1911 is to pull the trigger.

I dont know if you are making a general statement about decocking a 1911 or decocking a loaded 1911.

I have always been taught to decock by pulling the trigger. Obviously you are either going to dry fire it or actually fire it when doing this so my advice is to keep it cocked and locked when loaded and dry fire it when unloaded to decock. I would advise not to decock in any way when loaded.
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Old February 19, 2010, 10:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
So a guy told me that you should never let the hammer down on a 1911 with your thumb b/c it will mess up the sear. Is this true?
No this is not true. The safest way to decock a 1911 is to remove the mag, clear the chamber, and then pull the trigger while slowly letting the hammer drop with your thumb.

For me, there is only two ways to have a 1911- hammer down, empty chamber, sitting in the gun safe, or cocked and locked in a good holster.
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Old February 19, 2010, 11:21 PM   #5
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OK, guys and gals. I understand your good intentions of providing a note of safety here....

Now, can someone please address the issue of the sear?
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Old February 19, 2010, 11:28 PM   #6
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The only issue that I know of with the sear is if the hammer is left in the half cocked position and the hammer is struck hard enough, it will break the sear, and the gun will fire. That is why it is not safe to carry a 1911 in the half cocked position.
The half cocked position is there in case you are cocking the hammer and your thumb slips off. The sear will catch the hammer and prevent it from completely falling and unintentionally discharging the firearm.
Decocking the pistol either by dry firing it or letting the hammer down with your thumb will not damage the sear.
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Old February 19, 2010, 11:46 PM   #7
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I have seen 1911,s carried like this and in half cock position by left handed members of the Military on several occasion. Now this is for a Series 70 type.
This is a very unsafe practice. The half cock position was never meant for anything other than to stop the hammer from falling fully forward if it slipped from the thumb while being cocked.
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Old February 19, 2010, 11:48 PM   #8
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With any handgun I've always road the hammer down to decock, SA or DA(at full cock). I'm sure many others do it the same way. With some of the newer autos I've used the 'de-cock' lever some. In any case it is of utmost importance to keep your head in the game & point in a safe direction. Like how would you decock a SA revolver?
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Old February 19, 2010, 11:51 PM   #9
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The Springfield's use a 9 mm titanium light weight firing pin and a very heavy firing pin spring to pass the CA drop test mandate and that works quite well.
This should be noted that titanium firing pins are used in select models of Springfield 1911s, not all. Whether the ones that are only legal to ship/own in California have them, I don't know...
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Old February 20, 2010, 12:03 AM   #10
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I believe that on a Mark IV Series 80 Colt with the internal safety plunger, there is no half-cock. It has a polished "flat." If the trigger is pulled from this flat, the hammer still falls.

For me the real abusive practice is using a traditional style 1911-pattern pistol with the orignally designed extractor. Lots of guys lock back the slide, insert a magazine and the slam the slide forward by pressing the slide lock.

On the newer designs with the extractor pinned externally to the rear of the ejection port, the extractor will easily "spring open" when the slide is dropped.
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Old February 20, 2010, 12:17 AM   #11
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On newer 1911s the sear rests on the flat.
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Old February 20, 2010, 12:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Safe or Unsafe is subjective.
In the Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery 5th edition by Massad Ayoob, he states on page 176-
Quote:
Do not carry the 1911 pistol with the hammer down, or at the half cock, with a live round in the chamber. No matter what generation or manufacture, there is likely to be an unintended discharge if the hammer is struck
That doesn't sound subjective to me. It is an unsafe practice and is not recommended.
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:05 AM   #13
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1. You aren't going to hurt the sear by letting down the hammer.

2. There is nothing wrong with lowering the hammer and carrying your 1911A1 in Condition 2. "Unless you aren't smarter than the gun"
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:38 AM   #14
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The thing is that if you want to lower the hammer on a 1911 by letting it down slowly, you will want to exercise some care. If you hold the trigger all the way to the rear and then lower the hammer, it should be fine. But I've seen some folks who will let the hammer drag on the sear as it's being lowered; and that could cause some wear on the nose of the sear, especially if the gun has a finely tuned trigger.

Of course, you will need to lower the hammer slowly and under control if there's a round in the chamber and you are going to carry in condition 2.
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:42 AM   #15
Bill DeShivs
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cristcorp is correct. Never carry on half-cock. Hammer down is OK-as long as you know what you are doing. Ayoob is wrong on this one.
Loering the hammer will not damage the sear. Even if the trigger is tuned-if you lift the hammer off the sear, press the trigger, and lower the hammer there will be no damage.
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:51 AM   #16
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I know some folks like condition 2, and that's fine for them. I just think it's faster and surer to disengage the safety on a condition 1 gun, if I need to put it to use quickly. Cocking the hammer of a 1911 with one hand has never been my idea of a good time. If it should slip while trying to do it under stress, at the very least the gun's not going to be of any use until you get things sorted out. In my Cowboy Action Shooting days, I saw enough folks short stroke their hoglegs while cocking them; and a single action revolver is easier to thumb cock than a 1911.

I'll stick with condition 1 myself.
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs
...Even if the trigger is tuned-if you lift the hammer off the sear, press the trigger, and lower the hammer there will be no damage. ...
Yes, and that's my point. If you do it carefully as you've described, you won't damage the sear. But if you let the sear drag out of the hammer hooks and drag on the hammer as it's being lowered, you can damage the sear.

Last edited by Frank Ettin; February 20, 2010 at 10:39 AM.
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Old February 20, 2010, 09:27 AM   #18
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To address the de-cocking question, yes you can decock it. triple check the chamber ,point in a safe direction, ride the hammer with your thumb to the first stop, than ride it home.

The problems arise when you let the hammer fall on the empty chamber that houses a live round. Aside from the ND, the slide cycling would give your thumb a boo boo.

The 1911 is ment to be carried cocked and locked, hence the slide and thumb safteys.
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Old February 20, 2010, 10:19 AM   #19
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Quote:
So a guy told me that you should never let the hammer down on a 1911 with your thumb b/c it will mess up the sear. Is this true?
If done properly, NO you will not harm the sear. Enjoy. -Goodspeed
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Old February 20, 2010, 11:39 AM   #20
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It will not damage the sear if done properly, but is an unsafe practice. Putting a loaded mag in a 1911 is unsafe, it is a gun. Only us advanced users who are 10% smarter than the gun should even pick one up.
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Old February 20, 2010, 11:54 AM   #21
mete
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Put your left thumb over the firing pin then pull trigger and lower the hammer with the right thumb. That way if your right thumb slips the only problem is you get a pinched thumb !
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Old February 20, 2010, 12:13 PM   #22
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Quote:
The 1911 is ment to be carried cocked and locked, hence the slide and thumb safteys.
Actually, the 1911 was MEANT to be carried EITHER:
1. Condition 1
2. Condition 2
3. Condition 3

Which way YOU choose to carry it is up to you. Remember, the original 1911 DID NOT have a thumb safety. Therefor, there's no way it COULD be carried condition 1. It was condition 0. There are plenty of times, and descriptions in military manuals (Which the gun was DESIGNED for), where condition 2 and 3 were used. So again, it wasn't that the gun was meant to be carried in condition 1. That is simply 1 of 3 possibilities, and the one you happen to choose. Which is totally fine. But so is condition 2 or 3, if that is what the person carrying it chooses.
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Old February 20, 2010, 01:51 PM   #23
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Same zip-code topic-wise, maybe? Well, not really I suppose but...

The safest way I found to lower the hammers on my 1911s. Mind you, I have only used this practice with larger, skeletonized hammers.

Finger is off the trigger. If possible or necessary - magazine is removed, firearm cleared and made safe. Firearm muzzle pointed away from your person and anyone else in area, and in the safest direction available.

I hold the firearm with a normal strong-side grip, finger off the trigger. I practice placing my trigger finger under the trigger guard and around the grip when making my handguns safe. I then place my left hand over the top rear portion of the slide. With a firm strong-hand grip, finger off the trigger, and the palm of my left-hand resting on the top rear of the slide, I use my left-hand forefinger and thumb to pinch and secure the hammer. With my left forefinger and thumb, I will then apply a slight amount of downward force to the hammer to ensure that I have control over the hammer. After making sure to have the hammer secured, I will then place my trigger finger on the trigger and squeeze as normal. With the hammer secured by my left-hand forefinger and thumb, I will slowly and gently, guide the hammer into it's forward position until it seats.

This may seem extreme and overly clinical but a person may find the need to lower the hammer on a live weapon at one time or another within their lifetime, and this just seemed the safest way to do so for me.
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Old February 20, 2010, 03:53 PM   #24
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Lowering a hammer (safely) will not damage the sear. Just don't ever do it if you've been eating potato chips or french fries. Regardless, always point it at something that you don't care if it gets shot and don't be surpised if your thumb slips....other than that.....ear plugs might not be a bad idea...
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Old February 20, 2010, 04:17 PM   #25
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I personally have no problem with any of the possible methods of carrying a loaded Colt Government Model and I even find thumb cocking one to be quite easy, though I have long fingers and presumably a long thumb. However, I find it difficult going on impossible to do so with a Commander type hammer. I find using the thumb safety to be slightly more difficult actually because of the distinctly different motions necessary that naturally have to performed in the correct order. I assume that's because I'm all fingers. At any rate, one of the reasons I like the Government Model is because it can be carried any way you care to and safely.

Not all single actions can be safely carried any old way, though. But one single action that I can think of actually has a hammer drop!

To return, if we must, to the original question, are not all of the relevant parts case hardened and unlikely to be damaged by any of these actions? There should be no greater stress than when the gun is actually fired, after all, unless you are prone to dropping your pistol. I assure you the jelly side down law will immediately come into play and likely as not, it will land on the hammer. While extractors may actually give more trouble than anything else, for the life of me I do not see how allowing the slide to go forward by pressing the slide stop is abusive, even though instructions generally say to pull the slide back slightly and release it. It even says that in my army manual that gives instructions on how to lower the hammer on a loaded chamber.
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