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Old November 18, 2012, 01:00 PM   #1
relaxing
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colt 1911 series 80 firing pin safety reliabillity?

I've been training and carrying a springfield 1911 A1 and love it, well it is a bit heavy at times. Was at the Gun Store friday and picked up a Colt 1911 series 80, little bit lighter weight and 4.25" barrel.

Today cleaning off the factory lube I saw what I remembered people talking about as the "firing pin safety." So are they reliable? As not to *prevent* an intententional fire. If I carry this pistol I don't want anything to hang when its intended to fire.

It looks like if I wanted to disable it I could just take the post and spring totally out. It is a nice feature when cleaning the firing pin though, holds it in place till the back plate is off... no flying parts!

Thanks, Scott
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Old November 18, 2012, 01:20 PM   #2
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25+ years ago, when Series 80 Colts were the only 1911s with any sort of firing pin block, a lot of people questioned the need, the engineering, etc. Today, when almost every gun on the market has a firing pin block, and Series 80 is about the oldest and most proven design, the overall outlook is different. If the gun is working properly now, it's very unlikely that you'll have a problem with it in the future.
Taking it out is easy, but I would recommend against merely removing the plunger and spring from the slide. I bought a used S80 that had been "converted" that way, and the tip of the frame-mounted lever was wearing a groove in the slide; I could imagine the tip of the lever catching on the edge of the plunger hole, causing a malfunction.
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Old November 18, 2012, 02:37 PM   #3
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My pair of series 80 mkIV's have never failed to go bang when I wanted them to. This long after the introduction of the series 80 firing system, if it was systematically or horribly flawed, we'd all have heard about it aplenty by now.
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Old November 18, 2012, 04:25 PM   #4
Fishbed77
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My series 80 Colt XSE has been 100 percent reliable. There's not really much to go wrong with the series 80 firing pin safety. It's an incredibly simple mechanism.
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Old November 18, 2012, 04:48 PM   #5
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Not as simple as a titanium firing pin with an extra power spring on it. Series 80 safeties work well IF they were properly fitted and adjusted at the factory. Want to bet your life on THAT possibility? If you install a trigger with and overtravel adjustment screw and it get "mis-adjusted" the gun may not fire when you need it to. Desperately need it to. I understand the problem Colt was looking at when they came up with the Ser. 80 system. The gun needs to be safe if dropped BUT the gun also must fire if you need it to fire, every time. I think their solution is absurd. Springfield Armory looked at the same problem and just lightened the firing pin and strengthened the spring. Works every time. Can't go out of adjustment. Requires no extra fitting. When was the last time you heard of a Springfield Armory discharging from an inertial drop? They have to pass the same tests that Colt does. Bottom line - if you have a Ser. 80 gun and plan on carrying it you need to make sure the firing pin safety is working 100%. Do not make ANY adjustments to the gun's trigger unless you are able to verify that the Ser. 80 parts are still working 100%. If you don't know how to do this then take it to a smith who does and have it checked out. I have seen quite a few Ser. 80 guns that were right on the ragged edge of "will not fire" and the owner had no idea. To diable a Ser. 80 system you MUST do more than remove the spring and plunger in the slide. You have to also remove the two levers in the frame and install a shim to fill the space the levers occupied. If this is not done serious damage can happen to the slide and frame. Unless you completely understand how every part in a gun works and how it affects all the other parts you're walking on thin ice. Just because some of you folks have never heard of a Ser. 80 system failure simply means you haven't worked on very many for a few years.

Last edited by drail; November 18, 2012 at 05:05 PM.
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Old November 18, 2012, 06:35 PM   #6
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Of the couple of hundred Series 80's to come through our shop I saw one...ONE that wouldn't fire. Why, you ask? Somebody installed an aftermarket trigger and didn't check if the firing pin plunger moved sufficiently to allow the gun to fire.

One out of hundreds. That one wasn't the fault of the Series 80 system.

We built comp guns out of the majority of those 1991's, and they went back to their customers with the Series 80 gear intact. Customers shot them for years in USPSA with no problems.
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Old November 18, 2012, 06:47 PM   #7
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Not as simple as a titanium firing pin with an extra power spring on it.
Titanium firing pins can break too.
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Old November 18, 2012, 07:02 PM   #8
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Get rid of it, that's what I do to all the series 80 I own. All you have to do is to remove all the plumbing and get the series 70 conversion spacer for less than 5 bucks at Brownells. If the tiny plumber or its spring get stuck, you have a useless gun; not cool if you actually need it for self-defense.

The 1911 is just perfect the way Browning designed it.
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Old November 18, 2012, 07:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drail
When was the last time you heard of a Springfield Armory discharging from an inertial drop?
For that matter, when was the last time you heard of a Colt non-Series 80 (or any other 1911 without a firing pin safety) discharging from an inertial drop?

I carry 1911s. All the pistols in my carry rotation have the Series 80 type firing pin safety. I have never had any of my pistols that are equipped with the firing pin safety fail to fire when I pulled the trigger.
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Old November 19, 2012, 01:26 AM   #10
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Exactly. I can't recall ever seeing a "documented" inertia discharge. I'm absolutely sure they've happened (Right? I mean, we wouldn't be concerned if they hadn't happened. To someone. At some time. Somewhere). I have three or four S80 Colts, only one with active S80, but it's mostly because I didn't feel like taking it apart again. No problems with it.
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Old November 19, 2012, 01:56 AM   #11
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Old November 19, 2012, 03:09 AM   #12
Nakanokalronin
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If I buy an 80 series or Swartz 1911, the block gets tossed, the firing pin spring get's replaced with a XP spring and if it's an 80 series it gets on of these: http://www.brownells.com/handgun-par...prod13121.aspx and if it it's a Swartz safety, the lever in the frame stays put.

Yes, many modern guns have FP safeties that were design with the gun. The 1911 FP safeties were later add-ons. IMO they're not needed and give more room for error, but if you're fine with it and have no problems, leave them be.
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Old November 19, 2012, 06:59 AM   #13
relaxing
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Thanks for all the comments, defiantly food for thought. So its about 90%+ don't worry about it from the comments. It does fire reliably now but I need to take it to the range, I only fired a few rounds yesterday as not to get the neighbors to aroused.

I'll probably leave it as is, since I do shoot at the range regularly, if I do decide to remove the pin safety I will take it to a reputable gunsmith for the modification.

Thanks again for the info.

-Scott
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Old November 19, 2012, 07:43 AM   #14
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Reasonable enough.Why purchase a firearm with a particular integral mechanism and then ruminate whether you should remove it?
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Old November 19, 2012, 01:11 PM   #15
Nakanokalronin
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Reasonable enough.Why purchase a firearm with a particular integral mechanism and then ruminate whether you should remove it?
Let's say you like Colt and you want one with a built in rail.....well the Colt Rail gun comes with an 80 series FP safety but you don't care for it so you just delete it after purchase.
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Old November 19, 2012, 01:18 PM   #16
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If it makes you feel any better, the Marine Corps just contracted for up to 12,000 M45s that are a variant of the Rail Gun, S80 and all.
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Old November 19, 2012, 01:36 PM   #17
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I agree with what good old crazy haired Al said:
"As simple as possible, but not simpler." (And that would be Einstein, not any other crazy haired Al.)

That said, I have a number of series 80 Colts, and have never had any hint of a problem from that "mod" over the years.

And I have had a few of them have some nice trigger work, and can't feel the difference between them and my Wilson's trigger.
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Old November 19, 2012, 03:42 PM   #18
polyphemus
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Quote:"Today cleaning off the factory lube I saw what I remembered people talking about as the "firing pin safety." So are they reliable? As not to *prevent* an intententional fire. If I carry this pistol I don't want anything to hang when its intended to fire."
I believe that finding the block came as a surprise to the owner,that's apples.
Buying a firearm with intent to modify it,that's oranges.
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Old November 19, 2012, 03:47 PM   #19
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The major problem is from owners attempting to "enhance" their guns with "match grade" triggers with that little allen screw on it. The trigger on a Ser. 80 must have full travel before the hammer falls or the plunger will not clear the firing pin. Lock out some of the trigger's travel and you have compromised the Ser. 80 system. I have a box of chewed up firing pins and plungers from Ser. 80 guns that owners played with to make it "better" and the hammer struck the firing pin before the plunger was fully retracted. Get enough burrs on the firing pin or the plunger and they can get stuck. When a trigger job is done on a Ser. 80 the timing of the firing pin system can be retarded and if it's not brought back in time the firing pin plunger will cause problems. This does not mean you can't get a very nice trigger pull on one but it takes little more work and testing.

Last edited by drail; November 19, 2012 at 03:59 PM.
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Old November 19, 2012, 04:06 PM   #20
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li'l allen screw

I think that's off topic nonetheless that allen screw,ambidextrous and extended things,skeletons and beavertails,shock absorbers,Evil Swartz,extended guide rods,night sights,front serrations,safety warnings,stippled front straps,rails,laser beams and shiny metal plating (leave something out?) could conceivably enhance a firearm that needs no enhancement at all.
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Old November 19, 2012, 05:18 PM   #21
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Quote:
I think that's off topic nonetheless that allen screw,ambidextrous and extended things,skeletons and beavertails,shock absorbers,Evil Swartz,extended guide rods,night sights,front serrations,safety warnings,stippled front straps,rails,laser beams and shiny metal plating (leave something out?) could conceivably enhance a firearm that needs no enhancement at all.
Nothing created by man is perfect. There is always room for improvement.

Now whether some of these items offer any real advantages is the real question here. Some most certainly don't in my mind (extended guide rods, safety warnings, front serrations), some will benefit some shooters (beavertails, ambi safeties), and some are definite improvements on the original design (better sights).
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Old November 19, 2012, 05:43 PM   #22
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Hello Scott, Within my humble experience, Series '80 Colts with properly installed, unmodified Series '80 components are reliable. I have been using these guns since 1983, none ever failed to fire. Went to a 1911 training class recently, with instructors very familiar with the platform. They brought up some of the legitimate concerns mentioned by drail. I have seen some of those issues myself and agree with his position that changes should not be made by unqualified persons. The trainers also indicated that a Series '80 Colt, with properly installed Series '80 components, is a reliable system. During my last several years in full time LE, I did carry a Series '80 Colt, and did not spend one moment being concerned whether or not the Series '80 system would function as designed. I never fired my duty Series '80 guns in anger, but they were reliable in all the qualifications/ training we did for years. That being said, I am also comfortable with my other 1911 type guns that do not have a fps system. I can appreciate others feeling that the addition of the extra parts, etc, might compromise reliability...

Ps, I did once run into a shooter a public range that had completely filed off the plunger lever on his Govt. Series '80 Colt and couldn't figure out why his gun would not actually discharge a round. He indicated he'd done it as a trigger job !???
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Old November 19, 2012, 06:14 PM   #23
polyphemus
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Quote:"nothing created by man is perfect"
The man John Moses Browning.
The creation M1911.
Perfect.Just the way he done it.
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Old November 19, 2012, 08:44 PM   #24
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I've been using my Series 80 since 1984 and it has never failed to go bang for me. I've changed out the plunger several times whenever it starts to get battered around the inside edge where it rides the FP.

It's not a bad trigger. 4.5 lbs and smooth. Early on I polished the back of the trigger and the disconnector. The very first time to the range with it I had mis-assembled it, with the trigger leg of the two piece actuator in front of the trigger, so it did not function.

It's a good idea to keep a couple extra plungers and springs around for it. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry about it and just shoot it. It's a good system.
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Old November 19, 2012, 10:57 PM   #25
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Quote:
Quote:"nothing created by man is perfect"
The man John Moses Browning.
The creation M1911.
Perfect.Just the way he done it.
Being a man of faith, John Browning would be the first to disagree with you. Anything else would be blasphemy.

That, and the fact that he continued to design pistols after the M1911.
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