View Full Version : Safety won't disengage on Chas Daly 1911

Capt. Charlie
January 3, 2006, 06:22 PM
Last night my Chas Daly 1911 could've cost me my life. Shots were reportedly fired from a vacant house. We swept the place and came to an upstairs closed door. My partner prepared to kick the door and I brought the Daly up to high ready and tried to click off the safety. Nothing. Wouldn't budge Good thing the room was clear. Later examination showed that the spring loaded detent was riding under the safety and barred it from being depressed.

The gun hasn't been dropped or abused, and this occured out of the blue. I had it on the range a few weeks ago with no problems. The slide is solidly on the frame, no wobble. Any ideas before I use it for target practice.... as the target :mad: ?

Harry Bonar
January 3, 2006, 08:07 PM
Captain Charlie:
Boy oh! boy!
I'd install a combat safety on that gun - if you were closer I'd give you one and put it on for nothing - that is unusual.
Charles Daly is a decent pistol. I usually check that very closely on a new safety - some reshaping with a 3M wheel will probably cure this safety but you are in law enforcement so I'd change it to an Wilson or Ed Brown!
The area where the detent rides may be under spec letting the plunger go all the way down! That was scary!
I fit a new safety so it takes all movement out of the sear - but so that the detents work. I do not recommend ambi-safeties for this same "sticking" reason.
You might check the magazine tube assembly and we silver solder them in for combat.
I truly wish you were near so I could really get your pistol ready for combat - for nothing.
Be very careful Harry B.

James K
January 3, 2006, 10:34 PM
I confess to not owning a CD, as I have never seen one that checked out 100% in the shop. After looking at a thread on another site complaining that a Les Baer pistol won't work, I have come to the conclusion that the modern 1911 clones, regardless of price, are produced by companies whose idea of Quality Control is the same as Ford's (on the gas tank explosions), "It's cheaper to settle lawsuits than to fix the problem." No mention of people dying, of course, that is irrelevant in the corporate mindset.

But the CD is made in the Philippines and is cheap, which is why they sell. And makers of those clones feel that they are making "big boys' toys", not serious pistols that may be needed in a life threatening situation. To them, the "toy" market is where the money is - Glock, H&K and the others can have the customers who need a gun that works.

Harry makes some good suggestions, but I think his evaluation of the CD is off the mark. IMHO, they are a miracle gun - it is a miracle if they work at all. And all his suggestions for a fix are fine for someone who is around to follow them.

My prime defense pistol is a 1943 Colt M1911A1. Second is a Norinco with 8500 rounds through it with NO problem of ANY kind. Third is an S&W 686. All are stock, except for grips on the 686.

I like to tinker with guns. Right now, I have a Schwarzlose blow-forward I am working on. But for serious purposes, I want guns that work, not guns I need to fiddle with and fix and worry about.


Capt. Charlie
January 4, 2006, 09:32 PM
I truly wish you were near so I could really get your pistol ready for combat - for nothing.
I know you're sincere, and want you to know that I greatly appreciate it. Your work is truly legendary.

I've given this a lot of thought, and have settled for the "you only live once" philosophy :D . Tonight my dealer is starting the search for my soon to be Les Baer Custom Carry 1911. It has a couple of features lacking on the Thunder Ranch models. Should have it by the end of next week :) :) .
I'm like a kid waiting on Santa :D .

As for the CD, I'll get it to a 'smith and have the basics done to get it serviceable, and then sell it for casual use.

Jim, no doubt there are lemons in even the top of the line models here & there, but they've (Baer) a proven reputation and are far less likely to crank out a lemon than the lower priced, mass market makes and models. I winced while pulling out my wallet, but I think it will be worth while.

January 5, 2006, 07:44 AM
..........of course it was at the range, so life wasn't on the line. Mine is the 1st 1911 style I bought, an Auto Ordnance WWII model. I never carried it again after that, I won't sell it though, I'll probably just follow some of the advice here, and I may get a mech-tech CCU conversion for it when I return stateside. Glad to hear it turned out for the good.

January 5, 2006, 07:48 AM
Capt ---

Your post is good in that you are OK and it raises the issue for all the nay sayers out there that 1911 safeties can develop issues, some claim that his never happens.

Any chance you could post a good close up pic of the safety on your gun --- thouse of us who are studetns of the 1911 in an amature sense would be really intrested in seeing it.

You might want to check out two things sold by David Lack of D+L sports --- one is a plunger tube that mounts with threaded screws, another solution to lose plunger tubes, as otehrs have mentioned you can also silver braze them on or have a slot milled in the frame to add support to the tube housing --- or get a para or caspian frame where the plunger housing is intergral to the frame.

The other thing lack sells is a fiering pin stop with a set screw to lock it in place and hence eliminate any chance of a fiering pin stop drop jam wich though I have never seen and sounds quite rare, it also sounds like it would be majorly unfun.

The CD is not a bad pistol so far as "value" preiced 1911's go, not my cup of tea but a respectable effort. Baer's guns are very nice and his product and Ed Brown's are to my mind some of the best values in limited production / custom 1911's --- all at an avarage price 500-1000 dollars better than a Wilson for the same quality from a company that does not make any MIM parts --- only forged or machined. If I ever get the desiere for an officer's size 1911 if will be a Baer stinger though I think that the Kobra carry should be small enough.

Harry Bonar
January 5, 2006, 08:48 AM
I agree with JIM KEENAN that once you've had this problem with a pistol you had better replace it and Les Bauer is a good pistol.

My late son and I worked for Novaks and thought, "we can fix anything." But I agree that the CD and the Rock Island Armory (?) are both made in the Phillipines. I did have some dimensional variations in the ROck Island in fitting a Kart bbl!
I accept Jims evaluation. I carry a Glock 20, and a Kel-Tec 32 and a Springfield armory, sometimes a Makarov and sometimes a Colt. (not all at the same time)
One night, very late I was threatened at my home and told the drug dealer (I later found out was very serious) to come on out! I got my Hi-Power - then my 40 S&W - still didn't feel right and finally got my Colt 45 and mag holders, put one up the spout and added one in the SEVEN roung mag and went out and waited! Coward didn't show! The gun you train with and are confident with is the one you want when the fit hits the shan!
Jim is correct - although I've had good luck with both the CD and the RIA; I accept his feelingds Good post Jim. Harry B.
Harry B.

January 5, 2006, 12:53 PM
Sounds like the plunger tube let go. Not uncommon with even high dollar 1911's. Easily rectified/prevented with a visit to a competent smith.
I gotta wonder though, about using a cheap Phillipino 1911 clone as a duty gun?:barf: ALL of the components of these guns are of suspect metallurgy and could fail at any time. I wonder what your partner would say about your pistol considering it might be HIS butt relying on your choice.
As a duty gun, the Les Baer would not be my first choice......nor my second or third. Baer guns are notorious for being extremely tight and ammo finicky.
I'd suggest running 500rds of your carry ammo through any gun before relying on it for serious social encounters. Malfunctions ARE NOT acceptable.

James K
January 6, 2006, 08:49 PM
Well, I don't want a duty gun that is "extremely tight" and "finicky", thank you very much, but I certainly agree that mafunctions are not acceptable. And range performance on a nice clear spring day is not necessarily an indication of how a gun will work if you have to hit the dirt and the gun ends up in a foot of mud or snow. "Extremely tight" might not sound so good then.

That aside, I detect that either some folks don't understand or I am missing something. The safety plunger does NOT retain the safety. It only provides the tension to keep it in whatever position it is set in by the user.

When the safety is either on or off, it is (or should be) retained by the cuts in the safety lug fitting into and under the cuts in the frame. The only place that is not true is the small arc where the safety can be intentionally removed, and it is necessary to take some care to find that spot. At that point, and only at that point, can the safety be removed and the plunger does not stop it. The chances of the safety coming out in use are, IMHO, nil IF the pistol is correctly made.

Anyone who doubts this may try removing the plunger and working the safety without it. If the safety comes out in either the top or bottom position, the gun is defective.


Harry Bonar
January 6, 2006, 09:09 PM
Dear Jim. RIGHT ON!
It would be rare, wouldn't it for the cut in the safety to let it out far enough to jam? It probably wouldn't contact the sear leg enough to block it?
Harry B.

James K
January 6, 2006, 09:43 PM
Harry, I have seen one clone (I forget which now) that had no cuts at all on the safety and no undercuts in the frame. The safety could be pulled out from any position, and even a good safety would not work right as the frame hole was too big. The only thing that kept the safety in was the plunger, and it didn't always work. Incredibly, when I showed the owner what was wrong and used another gun to show how it should work, he ranted at me that I was full of it, that the gun had to be perfect because it cost him (I forget how much) and that it was made by xxx, was the best, etc., etc,. etc. I just about told him where to put the expensive POS, but refrained in the interest of good will for the shop owner.


January 6, 2006, 10:09 PM
I'll try to explain.
I've seen this on numerous occasions.
The plunger tube moves away from the frame and allows the plunger itself to jam the thumb safety.

James K
January 9, 2006, 09:59 PM
Yes, I have seen that happen, too, but not on a GI gun or a gun of any quality. If the cheapo makers and so-called gunsmiths keep gluing the tubes in place instead of staking them, we are going to see more of it.


Harry Bonar
January 11, 2006, 09:44 AM
Dear Jim"
I didn't know the CD and RIA were sending out "glued on" plunger tubes! My word! That is an accident just waiting to happen!
When I worked at Novaks with my late son (we were the Colt Division) we produced mainly "combat duty" guns (1911 & clones). I did the sight cuts, beavertail milling, machine set-up and special projects. One of the things we always did on that plunger tube was to silver-solder them on (on the inside tits). We didn't want them to EVER come loose.
I cannot believe they're "gluing" them on!!!!! I believe you, certainly, but my goodness!
I had one frame I worked on 5 hrs and finally just put it down on the bench and told my customer beside me, "this isn't safe - don't let anyone cobble it together and you owe me nothing." I forget the frame mfgr' but it was an off brand thing.
At Novaks and in my shop we favor Springfield Armory, Colt, Paras' and the better clones.
The Norincos were sometimes so hard I would have to draw the front sight area to a grey before I could cut the 65 degree dovetail (we had .060 and .075 depth fronts.)
We did one SIG (the swiss version overpriced) and Joe and I got no mention in the magazine article but we did it. I made the new backstrap, the mag-well, the mag. bumpers, etc) Joe did the safety, I did the matte job and machined border. But, most all of our work was on the 1911 package - I think I like Springfield Armory better than Colt! Harry B.

Capt. Charlie
January 11, 2006, 01:18 PM
It took me awhile to get around to photos, but this is the problem.



(Sorry about the dust, it's been a paperweight for the last week :D )

It doesn't appear that the plunger tube has pulled away from the frame.

My Les Baer is currently under construction :D .

Capt. Charlie
January 13, 2006, 01:46 PM

July 13, 2006, 10:36 PM
I finally returned from the ROK and have had time to look at my 1911 (auto ordnance WW II version. Iwould have PM'ed yo with my question but right now I am having technical difficulties with my digital camera.

Basically the the spring detent pin only goes over the safetywhen the plunger tube moves from the frame. Pretty much like lubaloy described. If I apply pressure to the plunger tube I do not have the problem as described and the safety works as it should. Also the plunger tube does not look "glued on"

Can I just have the plunger tube restaked, and is this a hard job to do? (I am not looking at doing it myself as I know I do not have the proper tools) This is only a range weapon and not a carry weapon. Thank you for any help you can provide


PS Captain Charlie how is that Les Baer?

July 14, 2006, 10:16 AM
If it was me, and I've done it, if you are going to pay someone the labor of properly fitting the plunger tube, an extra $15 for a well made barstock tube is worth the expense...IMO.

It's the "little things" that get you! ;)

July 14, 2006, 10:46 AM

It's hard to tell much about the plunger tube from the photo. If you haven't already, yank the slide & left grip off that damn thing and try to wiggle the plunger tube- hard. It shouldn't move at all. If it does, you need a new one. I wouldn't re-stake the old one. Get a quality part, and get a couple spares of new springs, and both plungers. Have them installed by a pro.

While he's at it, have him yank that thumb safety off and set it aside. You can take a hammer to it later- that thing was a disaster waiting to happen anyway. It almost looks like it was designed to ride over the safety catch plunger.

Replace it with a standard Colt safety catch, and practice with it until disengaging it becomes second nature. A regular safety that works is a whole lot better than a snazzy one, that don't. The problem with a lot of extended parts is that they often are designed to meet 'fad standards' instead of GI standards for it, function material etc. The fact that they stick out further also means that they get bumped and stressed more in everyday use.

Glad you got through that call OK, Amigo. Wish I had been there....of course I'd have had to heckle you a little when we got back to the station:D

Capt. Charlie
July 14, 2006, 01:55 PM
PS Captain Charlie how is that Les Baer?
She's a real sweetheart! In spite of being incredibly tight, the action is as smooth as the doors opening & closing on a Rolls Royce. I've put roughly a thousand rounds through it so far, with everything from FMJ, Hydra Shoks, Winchester Ranger, Silvertips, even my own home grown SWC loads, and only had a couple of FTF early on. The FTF's were from a couple of after market mags I had lying around. Using Baer and Chip McCormick mags, it's been flawless.


Daly wanted $35. up front, just to look at it. That's not including repair costs. One of these days, I'll send it off, but now that I have the Baer, it's not a high priority. Besides, it still makes a great paperweight :D .

Wish I had been there....of course I'd have had to heckle you a little when we got back to the station
Oh, I heard about it, all right Sarge! Even now, the war stories abound, especially about the look on my face when the safety wouldn't go off! :D
Of course, the only one not laughing was the one that kicked the door ;) .

Harry Bonar
July 14, 2006, 08:32 PM
Dear Sir:
That plunger tube needs a good inspection (compare it to a Colt or SA) and the spring plunger. I'd silver solder that plunger tube on and inspect the safety contact with the plunger.
It MUST not fail - that was scary. And, I agree; after that experience I'd never trust it again!
Harry B.

July 17, 2006, 01:26 PM
Harry et al, thanks for the info, I am looking around my area now for a competent gunsmith.

Worst case scenario is Clark Custom Guns about 2 1/2 hours awaw:D

CPT Charlie, she sure is sweet looking and you still have your paperweight :cool: sounds like a real sweet shooter too. I have a SA Ultra Compact to hold me over until I take care of this one.....

Thanks again everyone