View Full Version : Model 1911 thumb safety.

Gun Plumber
April 18, 1999, 01:30 AM
I read somewhere that when John Browning first submitted the model 1911 to the Army it had NO thumb safety at all, only the grip safety. And that engineers at Colt were responsible for designing the thumb safety, per the Army's request. Is this true?

Harley Nolden
April 18, 1999, 07:22 AM
It is always difficult to assertain the truth of another author, as his reference material may be different than mine or he may have been privilaged to material I am not.

However, MY records do indicate that there was a Colt, similar to the 1911 made in 1905. The pistol was designed by Browning and initially was in the .45 rimless ctg. (About 6,000 were made in the six year life span of the pistol.) This cartridge proved to be less powerful than was wanted, and eventually the .45 ACP was developed.

The M1905 was a large pistol, of a design similar to the 1911, weighing 32oz and having a seven round magazine. A few had their back straps slottd for a special leather and metal holster, conveting them into a rough carbine. The pistol did not have the ANY sort of safety device, which was not a desired feature by the Army. (Note: NO SAFETY DEVICE. The photo I have of the pistol does not have a grip safety) It was sent back, to Colt for redesign.
thus the 1911.

It would seem then that the article you read was true.

[This message has been edited by Harley Nolden (edited April 18, 1999).]

James K
April 18, 1999, 01:15 PM
The original Colt 1905 never had a grip safety, but those made for Government trials in 1907 did, for the reason I mentioned in another thread, to make sure shooter's hand was out of the way of the slide.

The 1909 trial model had a grip safety, but originally had no thumb safety. A crude thumb safety was added, then in the 1910 model both safeties became like those of the pistol finally adopted in 1911.

The thumb safety on the M1911/A1, when on safe, will not only block the sear, but will prevent the hammer from falling if the sear or hammer notches were to fail completely.


[This message has been edited by Jim Keenan (edited April 18, 1999).]

Daniel Watters
April 18, 1999, 05:34 PM
You can access photos of the Colt 1905, 1907, 1909, and 1910 .45 ACPs at Sam Lisker's Colt Automatic Pistols Homepage www.coltautos.com (http://www.coltautos.com) . Even the 1910 pistol shown on his page lacks a thumb safety. However, as mentioned above, all of the military trial pistols starting with the 1907 Contract type had a grip safety...so much for the often made assertion that J.M. Browning meant the design to be carried cocked-and-locked and that the grip safety was a last minute 'superfluous' addition.

If you wish to read more detailed information about early Colt semi-automatic pistol designs, find a copy of Donald B. Bady's Colt Automatic Pistols, preferably the enlarged revised edition of 1973. It is out of print, but used gun book dealers often have them in stock.

Gun Plumber
April 18, 1999, 07:56 PM
Thanks alot Guys.

James K
April 18, 1999, 09:41 PM
The Model 1910 began without the safety, but the later ones had it. Goddard shows one just like the 1911.

The Bady book is good. Another good book is The Government Models by William Goddard. Lots of detail and good pictures. Very valuable.

There is also a book, The Government Model (I forget the name of the author), which is about the civilian production of the Colt M1911 and M1911A1.

Now, Gun Plumber, isn't that disgusting? You ask a simple question and get drowned in answers. Should teach you a lesson.

Hope we helped.


Gun Plumber
April 19, 1999, 12:30 PM
I like it! I posted this on Shooters.com a while back and the "experts" their, jumped all over me and told me I was out to lunch! It's nice to get GOOD intelligent, rational info.
Thanks again Guys.

James K
April 19, 1999, 06:47 PM
You are very welcome. I hope Harley will always give good info and won't get too mad if I chime in with my two cents from time to time.