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Old March 27, 2013, 12:19 PM   #1
Grump
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Colt Series 80 Hammer "Half-Cock"???

Put together a bag of parts from a guy's abandoned Colt and was horrified to find that the half-cock notch did not capture the sear.

Since the hammer hooks and sear were also badly boogered and the trigger pull on assembly into a firing unit was about 10 lbs, I chose to "rescue" the thing and salvage the trigger pull and restore the half-cock notch or so I thought.

Now I find out that the Series 80 Colts don't have a "captive" half-cock notch. WTFoo?!?!?!?!? IMO, adding one safety feature rarely if ever justifies exchanging another out/away.

So what's with this? Having had a firing pin block on another pistol get badly boogered when the trigger stop installation resulted in my "learning" that the disengage function was *not quite* coordinated with the sear trip (second-tier manufacturer, I was lured in by the steel frame...big mistake), I really DON'T want to rely on some dumb shelf on the hammer that in turn depends on the FP block to keep the FP off the primer.

Yeah, I didn't pay attention to Series 80 when they came out.

And I hear that the standard hammers will work in S-80s and the sear is the same between original and "modern". I'll probably just replace with an old style and have enough meat there to do a decent trigger job...

So, anyone know what Colt was thinking? Does anyone else using *that* firing pin block system also use a "shelf" half-cock notch (IIRC, S&W or SIG or both do...or someone other than Kimber with the Schwartz system that I think I prefer.).

Thanks!
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Old March 27, 2013, 12:44 PM   #2
RickB
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The firing pin block essentially eliminates the need for the captive half-cock. If you are not holding the trigger back when you release the hammer, it will (should be . . .) be caught by the half-cock on a pre-S80 pistol, and will be caught by the "quarter cock" shelf on a S80.
Even if the quarter-cock doesn't catch the hammer, S80 will prevent the firing pin from contacting the chambered round. That doesn't explain WHY they changed from a captive half-cock to the non-captive shelf, but there you go.
I have put non-S80 hammers in S80 pistols, and there are no issues with doing so.
Even though the quarter-cock should not allow a non-S80 pistol to fire if the hammer drops from the shelf, I would probably not put a S80 hammer in a non-S80 pistol.
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Old March 27, 2013, 01:41 PM   #3
Dfariswheel
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The Series 80 hammer with the interceptor cocking shelf is significantly easier and cheaper to make, and there's no chance of the thin older style notch breaking as sometimes happened.

Also, there are still people who insist on carrying the 1911 on "half cock": thinking it's a safe way of carrying it.
If dropped the old style notch could fail and the hammer could move far enough to fire.

The Series 80 won't let the hammer fall far enough even if the firing pin block is missing or defective.
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Old March 27, 2013, 06:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Also, there are still people who insist on carrying the 1911 on "half cock": thinking it's a safe way of carrying it.
Well...John Browning seemed to think so. He referred to it as the "Safety Position" in the 1910 patents before the manual safety was added. And no gun is as safe when it's dropped as it is if it's not dropped.

Browning goes on to describe the proper method for lowering the hammer to the half-cock with one hand...which was the reason for the redesign of the grip safety tang. It couldn't be done with the Model 1907 and 1909.

Quote:
That doesn't explain WHY they changed from a captive half-cock to the non-captive shelf, but there you go.
Probably more than one answer to that question, probably one of which is because with the trend toward cocked and locked carry, almost nobody under the age of 60 used the half-cock as a safety. The flat shelf is simpler, faster, and cheaper than machining a full captive half cock notch. If it's not going to be used anyway, there's no longer a reason for it.

As far as the captive half-cock not being a safety...

When the hammer is on half-cock, it's interlocked with the sear. Pulling the trigger can't move the sear, and the hammer can't fall. The whole trigger/fire control group is effectively locked up and disabled. Even the trigger's rearward movement is shorter, with all or most of the pretravel removed. If that doesn't meet the criteria for a safety, I'd like to know what does.

But, really...who loads a gun, places it on safe...and starts deliberately yanking on the trigger? Why would anyone do that?

Browning used a similar captive half-cock arrangement as a safety on all his exposed hammer guns. The Model '92 and '94 carbines and the Model '97 shotgun are three of the more well-known examples. On these and his earlier pistols, it was the only safety there was.

So, yes. It's a safety. Whether or not you choose to use it as a safety is a personal matter.
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Last edited by 1911Tuner; March 27, 2013 at 06:17 PM.
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Old March 27, 2013, 09:54 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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Colt used to call the SAA quarter cock a safety notch, too.
That tradition cost Ruger a ton of money in lawsuits until they put the Iver Johnson transfer bar in.
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Old March 27, 2013, 11:10 PM   #6
James K
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"But, really...who loads a gun, places it on safe...and starts deliberately yanking on the trigger? Why would anyone do that?"

Unfortunately, lots of people. It is all too common for people to put a safety "on", then pull the trigger to "check" it. (If it doesn't work, the loud noise and screaming lets you know.)

That was the reason Remington had a problem (and lawsuits) with its old type Model 700 trigger group. When the sear wore down, pulling the trigger with the safety on wouldn't allow trigger reset so when the safety was taken off, the gun fired.

Jim
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Old March 28, 2013, 03:01 AM   #7
1911Tuner
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Quote:
Unfortunately, lots of people.
I guess.

But the points were technical...not tactical. It is what it is. Idiots will always find a way, safety or no.

Quote:
Colt used to call the SAA quarter cock a safety notch, too.
Cimarron still does when describing loading 6 rounds before readying to fire.

They also go on to warn the owners that their revolvers should be carried with an empty hole under the hammer.
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Old March 28, 2013, 08:40 AM   #8
Grump
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"Colt used to call the SAA quarter cock a safety notch, too.
That tradition cost Ruger a ton of money in lawsuits until they put the Iver Johnson transfer bar in."

You sure about that? Patent protection just don't last from 1873 (or whatever earlier date, IF it was even patented) to 1950-whatever.

Ruger didn't have to license anything or get permission from Iver Johnson, either.

I have on reliable sources and sound background info that Ruger was getting sued for sticking with the 1800s design intentionally, when it was KNOWN to be deadly-dangerous loaded with 6, and quite foreseeable that genius gunowners would ignore all safety rules and warnings and load with 6. One sad instance I read a report on (might have been the court case, it's been years) involved an old coot who stuffed every chamber of his Ruger, holstered it in his "Old West" belt rig (actually most of these are a common style invented in Hollywood in the 1920s or 30s), and then put it up on a high shelf above his head.

You get one guess on what happened next and whether he survived.

I see how it can be called "quarter" cock shelf. It's noticeably not as far back as the regular half-cock. Guess Colt is confident in both the low energy of pulling the trigger from there (which of course DISABLES the FP block..???? I STILL don't like that), and in relying on the FP block in a dropped pistol setting even if the drop/rattle/clank dynamics of a pistol in ballistic gravity effects mode (dropped), whether starting from full-cock or an ill-advised quarter-cock position. I don't like the remote prospect of the sear slipping off of quarter-cock...I want that hammer OFF the FP whenever possible and until we WANT the thing to go boom.

It doesn't give me the same sense of comfort as the "rest" position and hammer shelf of the SIG series pistols when de-cocked.
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Old March 28, 2013, 11:05 AM   #9
polyphemus
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"So what's with this? Having had a firing pin block on another pistol get badly boogered when the trigger stop installation resulted in my "learning" that the disengage function was *not quite* coordinated with the sear trip (second-tier manufacturer, I was lured in by the steel frame...big mistake), I really DON'T want to rely on some dumb shelf on the hammer that in turn depends on the FP block to keep the FP off the primer."
Please clarify some of this above:what got badly boogered and how?and also
disengage function *not quite*coordinated with sear trip?Who is this second
tier manufacturer that dos these things?
M1911's are supposed to have steel frames and that was a mistake?
Also all my series 80 M1911's have original style half cock hooks which leads me to believe that they are not incompatible,other than reduced thickness to
accommodate the levers,hammer design is essentially identical it does not have
to have a modified half cock profile just because there is also a FPB.
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Old March 28, 2013, 12:05 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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Grump, I didn't mean that Ruger licensed the IJ transfer bar, just that they USE it.
Yes, they were sued multiple times by people who could not be bothered to follow instructions and got shot for it. One case I recall that made the NY Times was the bush pilot who put his 6 up Ruger on the wing of his plane. It slid off the smooth aluminum, landed on the hammer, and went off with him in the line of fire.
Cheaper to redesign the gun with a known effective system than to keep paying off the dummies.

I am not worried about the non captive quarter cock safety shelf on a Series 80 Colt. I sure don't carry it there and if the full cock crumbles and lets the hammer go against it, I figure it bouncing off and hitting the firing pin hard enough to shoot is a remote risk. But then a regular 1911 does not scare me, either.

Unlike polyphemus, MY S80 Colts do not have captive notches.

If you want to see something weird, look at a Springfield hammer. It may (not all do) have both a captive half cock and a low stop ledge.
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Old March 28, 2013, 12:16 PM   #11
Grump
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The earlier Situation

""So what's with this? Having had a firing pin block on another pistol get badly boogered when the trigger stop installation resulted in my "learning" that the disengage function was *not quite* coordinated with the sear trip (second-tier manufacturer, "

Polyphemus:

The mfgr is no longer in business and that model is discontinued.

Factors:
1. Unlike SIG and the Colt system this gun's firing pin block lift function was a projection on the sear itself. The other two have separate parts which the trigger lifts, independently of and before the sear starts to move.

2. Think that one through--the reality here is that SEAR movement had to be far enough to fully lift the FP block into the slide to clear the engagement surface of the FP.

3. Those design constraints meant that the FP block did not travel very far at all from "blocked" to "clear". Maybe 2mm.

4. Putting in a trigger stop to eliminate over-travel was nice (I grew up spoilt on S&W revolvers) but it resulted in the FP block still being just a tiny bit in the way of the FP, but with only about 2-3 thickness of paper left to go to reach full clearance, the corner of the block was being struck by the corner of the firing pin's engagement surface, and on impact the two just got peened into a nice 45-degree angle that let the FP continue forward and fire quite nicely.

5. The repeated impacts on steel not at hard as 1911 parts smoothed it out so much that eventually the FP block presented ONLY a sloped surface to a matching sloped surface on the FP itself. I pressed the FP forward one day and after some resistance it pushed the plunger down and proceeded forward to the firing position. Its compromised function was undoubtedly still enough to protect from a 6-foot drop on the muzzle, but probably not for a 20-foot drop (Didn't that WWII story of a Navy guy getting a fatal wound from a dropped 1911 involve a steel ship deck, a 20-foot ladder, and the unluckiest ricochet you can imagine???).

I learned that the steel was not so very hard when I stoned the FP back to present a square surface. I had some parts and replaced the block to restore proper function, took out the trigger stop, and let trigger overtravel move the sear enough to fully lift the FP block.

As far as shootability and all that, I could hit with that gun. .45 parts fit on it too, and I kinda liked those 10-round magazines that didn't stick out of the compact (thing Glock 19) form factor.
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Old March 28, 2013, 01:05 PM   #12
polyphemus
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" Unlike SIG and the Colt system this gun's firing pin block lift function was a projection on the sear itself. The other two have separate parts which the trigger lifts, independently of and before the sear starts to move."
Thank you very much.
Rube Goldberg would have approved and you added an overtravel stop to that
ingenious contraption?Probably a good thing the manufacturer is no longer
putting those guns in the market.
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Old March 28, 2013, 02:34 PM   #13
Jim Watson
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Is the make and model a secret?
".45 parts fit on it, too", 10 round magazine, and a firing pin obstruction working directly off the sear are a strange combination.
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Old March 30, 2013, 01:26 AM   #14
Grump
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Jim:

For some dumb reason I read patent infringement into your earlier post on the Ruger single-action stuff.

Now, all that started before my time and perhaps my safety-conscious father was an unusual influence, but even as a kid reading those "free upgrade" ads from Ruger...I put two and two together with a firm 11-year-old's knowledge of predictable human stupidity and concluded that Ruger's decision to ape the original Colt lockwork *without* some addition to remove the hazard was, well, dumb.

As far as my sad experience with another semi-auto, it was the second gun I ever bought brand-new, an Astra A-80. I thought it was the poor man's compact SIG (bought it just before the P228 came out), with a more durable steel frame.

Should have waited for the A-100 with the American-style mag release. But for the way I shoot even now, I don't mind an easy-to-open heel catch. Should have waited...maybe.

Don't remember what broke first, but I had what Consumer Reports calls a "specimen defect" with the surface hardening (case hardening actually, not the M1 Garand style which with proper base steel is almost nitro-carburizing hard and still quite tough) that was too deep, making a lot of the small parts brittle.

Generated a bit of correspondence with InterArms on that one.

The part of the slide stop that your thumb hits snapped off. Made it work a bit like a PPK...
The part of the takedown lever that your thumb or finger rotates snapped off.
The lower front of the slide (that recoils into the dust cover) was silver-soldered in and just sorta eased out of place. Hits on 10-yard bowling pins were getting a good four inches high before it finally locked back and NOT from the slide stop...
Bought a new slide and then THAT one just cracked on the same part, instead of coming loose from the rest of the slide.
Along the way, I got a bag of parts from a .45 model and that worked great. Bought a third mag and drove out of town for an IPSC match (Think I've shot only three of them...) and came in dead last (the ONLY time that has happened) largely because of mysterious failures of the trigger to reset. After that day ended, I discovered it was only the new mag, too fat on the top right and it was rubbing the trigger bar.
After the ejector BENT, I sold it as a .45 with a bunch of 9mm parts. I think. Maybe I got a warranty replacement on that second slide.

And to think I passed up a Tanfoglio CZ-75-ish clone for almost exactly the same price because they did NOT have a firing pin block! They are heavy but I've never heard of them chewing themselves to pieces....

So that's the long sad story behind that.
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