View Full Version : Good idea to store a cocked 'N locked 1911?

Full Metal Jacket
September 15, 2005, 09:42 PM
For home defense, would it be harmful to the gun/magazine to store a gov't model w/ a 5" barrel in a small safe, cocked and locked, with a full magazine +1?
Would regular range trips help so its not just sitting there for an extended period of time?


September 15, 2005, 09:59 PM
Shouldn't hurt anything, but if you have time to get it out of the safe, you would have time to rack a round into the chamber.

September 15, 2005, 10:04 PM
Clicking the saftey off is an easy and natural movement with the 1911...

racking the slide takes longer and is clumsier in a bad situation.

September 15, 2005, 10:16 PM
Won't hurt a thing. My Kimber goes to bed cocked and locked every night. Use good mags such as Wilson. I put a 10 round McCormick Power Mag in mine when I go to bed.

Double Naught Spy
September 15, 2005, 10:21 PM
Plus, the notion that if you have time to open the safe then you have time to rack the slide isn't necessarily true.

I can see not having a cocked and locked 1911 out in the open just in case it was to fall into the wrong hands. If it does, then the gun won't be able to be fired without charging it first. So you have quick access to the gun, but would have to lose time in racking the slide.

On the other end of the scale, a cocked and locked gun can be stored safety with no concerns of the gun falling into the wrong hands. Of course, time will be lost in taking the gun from the safe.

So, if you store an uncocked and locked 1911 in a safe, your speed of deployment will be hindered twice, once by unlocking the safe and once by charging the gun.

Another salient point here is that when going for a gun in such a situation, you probably don't actually know how much time you may or may not have to accomplish the required tasks of getting the gun out and ready before the threat is on you.

And finally, if you are attempting to get the gun from the safe and the threat is upon you, no doubt at least one hand will be engaged in trying to fend off the intruder with the gun hand going for the gun. Now, if the gun isn't cocked and locked, you are going to have to split your attention between fending off the threat and trying to rack a round into battery with just one hand. Racking with just one available hand can be done, but the act requires practice in order to be proficient. The problem of racking will be further troubled because you (and the rest of us) probably never practice one-hand 1911 slide racking while participating in a struggle. No doubt the struggle will make things even harder.

September 15, 2005, 10:30 PM
Clicking the saftey off is an easy and natural movement with the 1911...

racking the slide takes longer and is clumsier in a bad situation.

I am not so sure about that Jonathan, taking a thumb safety off is considered a fine muscle movement and racking a slide on a semi auto is a gross muscle movement. Gross muscle movements are always easier to train a memory for than hitting a small lever, especially in the event of a stressful situation. I think for this decision it depends on how proficient one is with a firearm. If very proficient, cocked and locked is great and is very safe. Not as proficient, maybe chamber empty and racking the slide is not such a bad idea.

September 15, 2005, 10:42 PM
Why? How long does it take to chamber a round?

As for the gun; wouldn’t it weaken the hammer spring?

I personally wouldn't....

September 15, 2005, 10:44 PM
I have mine on a shelf in the kitchen just out of sight, cocked, unlocked, full mag and empty chamber. The only motion necessary to bring the arm to bear is to rack the slide. Since the gun is cocked and unlocked to start wtih, charging is just one fluid motion as you don't have to fight the hammer spring to charge the weapon.

If someone unauthorized were to find the weapon the chance of an accident is much less than if it were charged, cocked and locked.

September 15, 2005, 10:52 PM
I agree with SGT in that if you're proficient it's fine; if not, leave the chamber empty. Besides, what they say about pump shotguns is just as true of 1911s -no sound is scarier than CLACK-CLACK in the dark. Helluva conundrum, there!
I know; get a mean cat and an 870. Toss the cat at Mr. Bad Guy and blow 'em both away while he's fighting off the cat! :rolleyes:

September 15, 2005, 10:55 PM
Well, my thoughts on it would be don't use a gun you are not profficient with then, unless its your only gun, in that case you better get profficient with it!

September 15, 2005, 11:13 PM
Toss the cat at Mr. Bad Guy and blow 'em both away while he's fighting off the cat!

Ya know a big p.o.d cat can be worse than a big p.o.d dog....the difference being that the cat will alwys hit and run.....


September 15, 2005, 11:25 PM
I have a badass feline that helps me keep the dogs in check. Yes, he will hit and run, over and over until the dogs retreat.

September 15, 2005, 11:30 PM
So, if you store an uncocked and locked 1911 in a safe

Doublenaught-I'm confused. In order to engage the thumb safety on my 45's, the hammer has to be cocked. Is this a terminology thing?

September 16, 2005, 01:31 AM
I think Full Metal Jacket is mostly concerned about how much metal fatigue springs kept compressed over long periods of time generate. This is a question which has caused much consternation and debate for many, many years without producing a clear resolution on the matter. Magazine and main springs are the ones to be concerned about and you will hear many different opinions but little in the way of empirical evidence in support of any one position. The question of what constitutes "long periods of time" is even a matter of contention.

So whatever you decide will be an act of faith so to speak and you will never receive absolute assurance that your decision is uncompromised. Oh, you'llget plenty of anecdotal stories; you know, the ones that recall their grandfather's WWII Remington Rand that's laid loaded and dormant for the last fifty years but fired with nary a hiccup when finally resurrected, but you'll get little in the way of documented metalurgical proof.

In my opinion, if metal fatigue and the accompaning weakened springs are real concerns to you, you should consider keeping a good revolver loaded and at the ready. A revolver can lay idle virtually indefinitely and, if the ammunition remains viable, it will fire when called on.

September 16, 2005, 02:14 AM
IM Lugger

The hammer spring fatigue could be a problem...

Should be changed out whether it's broken or not...

... at least once every fifty years. :D

September 16, 2005, 02:14 AM
As a first line defense, a gun locked in the safe is a pretty poor idea.
As a last line of defense, as in someone has you by the short hairs and is forcing you to open the safe,,,that's a different matter.
My loaded and ready to go locked in the safe gun is a revolver.

As for the gun; wouldn’t it weaken the hammer spring?
Not really - or so I'm told.
Springs weaken by being flexed, not by being stored in any particular static condition. I won't even pretend to understand the dynamics behind it, but I've been told by people that do understand it,, that springs are under the same tension whether they are fully compressed or fully relaxed.

r.w. schrack
September 16, 2005, 02:34 AM
Why would you keep a home defense weapon locked and in a safe?????????????????? Oh silly me, "Time out bad guy got to unlock my safe and get out my gun so I can shoot you" Come on.

September 16, 2005, 04:30 AM
The attack cat will buy you the time you need. Just don't trip over the retreating dogs. ;)

281 Quad Cam
September 16, 2005, 07:04 PM
+1 on the attack-cat.

Seriously, this question seemed aimed at metalurgical advise concerning the weakening of springs if stored under tension. There has been endless debate on this and I dont even know what to believe.

I have heard that a spring will retain its strength no matter what the duration - as long as it isn't over-compressed past a certain threshold. If you cross that threshold of over-compressing the spring, the duration doesn't matter, the damage has been done.

I've also heard that springs "dont know" how long they've been stored compressed. That it is actually repeated cycling that eventually weakens springs. That could have serious meaning to the people who cycle their ammo between magazines once a day, week, or month. It is the compression thousands of times over and over that slowly weakens them, not compression in relation to time stored that way.

If those theories are true... Than you stand a much better shot at leaving it loaded with the same mag, cocked and locked, night after night. You may actually do more wear to the springs by unloading the mags occasionally, or by releasing the hammer and recocking it thousands of times.

None of that takes into consideration the specifics of the 1911 design, which might play a role. Overall, its just a leap of faith untill a scientist comes on here with some actual proof.

September 16, 2005, 09:14 PM
Now, to clarify, I've only owned the Kimber for around a year so far so this may not count.

The only time that the hammer is up is when it's being cleaned (and thus, unloaded) and when I pull the mag, take out the one in the pipe, to take pictures.

Other than that, it's been cocked and locked for the entire time, with one in the pipe.

So, for a year report, it doesn't hurt it and I've found no weakness in the hammer spring.


September 16, 2005, 09:40 PM
Take this for what it might be worth on the compression of springs. While still a uniform police officer I would religiously empty all three of my magazines for my issued P-226 for four days once a month for a period of four years, while most of my partners did not. At our various qualifications shooting events and during personal training time, I never noticed a difference in the strength of others springs compared to mine. None of us had any malfunctions in our 226s regardless of the magazines used. So prior to my little semi controlled experiment, I thought it was a good idea to “unpack” your magazines once and a while, but in retrospect it made no difference what so ever.

My humble two cents….

September 16, 2005, 09:57 PM
If it weren't for a few hardtails out there, i'd say that every passenger vehicle on the road is riding on compressed springs. I've never changed springs because of wear...cracked leaf springs maybe but never 'worn out' ones.

There is probably some component of the spring that is malleable and does bend, but i think that would happen over the course of hours and not years. There is probably some surface oxidation that would 'crust' the spring into its position as well. So, sure, it does get 'weaker', but the question isn't if it gets weaker, it's more 'is it still strong enough'. To that I'd say yes for any amount of time you'll ever need it.

281 Quad Cam
September 16, 2005, 10:26 PM
So the general concensus appears to be that you can safely leave your mags loaded to full capacity for..... undefined periods of time up to and beyond years? Same could be said for hammer or striker springs?

jcims has a point about corrosion. A rusted spring - rusted in the compressed position will eventually give up on anything but holding its position. But given the oiled and lubricated nature of gun-springs versus the highly corrosion prone car suspensions... I dont think gun springs are in danger of excessive rust or corrosion in sensible conditions with maintenance.

September 17, 2005, 04:25 AM
So the general concensus appears to be that you can safely leave your mags loaded to full capacity for..... undefined periods of time up to and beyond years? Same could be said for hammer or striker springs?
The topic of springs comes up fairly often on knife forums ( www.bladeforums.com ) when the discussion of how to store a switchblade comes up.
Might want to mosey on over there, read the discussions and draw your own conclusions.

September 17, 2005, 09:39 AM
I have a Para P-14 and when the mags are packed full for the duration of a match the springs get twisted, compressed and generaly fail. I have replaced them yearly with Wolff's for the past several years.

Then I have a single stack 1911 with Wilson mags that I bought used (from an IPSC competitor) back in the mid 80's w/ no problems as yet except from a few 8 round conversion kits I bought for them that came with a spring and modified follower. These springs had to be replaced because they flattened out over time with just regular use.

So it would seem that some aftermarket springs do fail while quality springs seem to last forever.