View Full Version : Hammer drops to half cock in a Para P14-45

Ruben Nasser
March 8, 2001, 09:56 PM
Hi guys, this question probably have been asked thousands of times, but I was dumb enough not to find this topic in the archives.
My Para P14-45 (with a passive firing pin safety) has been functioning just about perfect for more than 2500 rounds. Now the slide drops about 50% of the time when I hit the slide stop (with a loaded mag), and sometimes even when I slingshot the slide to load. It never fires when this happens, and functioning is just fine besides this problem.
It has 100% original parts (it shoots so well i left it as it came). I'm sure the sear and hammer have never been tinkered with, all internals look perfect, I always keep the pistol clean, I have never (...well, almost never) dropped the slide on an empty chamber, and the trigger pull is about 4.5-5.0 lbs.
Could this be a problem with the sear spring? I have never modified it, but maybe it has lost some tension. Can I just bend it and see what happens or should I change it for a new one? How much engagement is necessary for a proper fit of the leg on the sear? Please help me out!!!

[Edited by Ruben Nasser on 03-08-2001 at 10:36 PM]

March 9, 2001, 02:12 AM
It is most likely either not enough tension on the sear spring or a sear - hammer problem. If bending the sear spring slightly doesn't help the problem you should take your firearm to a good smith. John K

March 9, 2001, 09:02 AM
Same thing happened to my P14. I took it to a gunsmith who changed the hammer and sear, IIRC. I've read that ParaOrdnance have relatively poor internal parts. But I'm not a gunsmith so I can't tell you whether it's true or not. But I can say that nothing like that has ever happened with my Kimbers...


Mike Irwin
March 9, 2001, 12:22 PM
Get thee to a gunsmith, and don't fire the gun.

Right now the only thing that's keeping your gun from going auto on you is the half-cock (actually the safety notch).

If, for some reason, the half-cock notch were to shear off, you'd potentially have a gun that will double, triple, or even dump the whole magazine with one trigger pull.

Ruben Nasser
March 9, 2001, 12:51 PM
Thanks for your answers!!! I've increased the tension on the sear spring, and corrected the problem. I still have not fired the gun, but have tested it empty extensively. I don't know if the spring tension will hold with time, we'll see.
Mike: this pistol has the passive firing pin safety, and this is what has been keeping it from firing accidentally. The safety notch is this pistol is like the Colt 80 series, it does not keep the hammer very well in the half cock.
The other thing that puzzles me is why does this problem only appears when dropping the slide (slingshot or with the slide stop) and not during the normal firing cycle?
Is there any advantage in using a four leg sear spring? If this fix works and I decide to change the sear spring, which make would be best?
P.D.: I live in a country where most gunsmiths are even more amateurish than me!!

George Stringer
March 10, 2001, 09:45 AM
Ruben, the main cause for your problem is the sear engagement angle is incorrect. You can observe this yourself by mounting the sear and hammer on the right side of the frame using their respective pins to hold them in the correct spot. When the hammer is in the cocked position, the engagement surfaces of the sear and hammer should be flat against one another. About the only real fix for this is to replace the sear with one pre ground to the correct angle unless you or your smith are capable of correcting the angle. It would be less expensive to just replace the sear with one like a Wilson A-6. Increasing the tension on the sear leg will cure the symptom for a while, maybe forever but I don't really think so. I don't see any advantage in the four leg spring. I've tried them but don't see a real difference. Anytime you have hammer follow the culprit is going to be the engagement. If you pull the trigger and the hammer falls to half cock then the sear spring is most likely the problem but not with the malfunction you describe. A lot of times folks will have a perfectly safe 4# trigger but then add an 18# recoil spring and sooner or later they will have hammer follow. George

Ruben Nasser
March 10, 2001, 10:03 AM
Thanks George!! I'm shooting mostly major factor reloads (230gr at 750fps), and I have the factory recoil spring (don't know its rating). If I correct the sear angle (I can do that) will I have a wear problem because I'm chewing the hardened surface, or is the all the sear made of a hard material? In case I decide to change the parts, should I only change the sear, or also the hammer?
Which parts would you recomend? (I like the shape of the factory hammer)
What is the problem with using a 18 lbs. recoil spring?

eger precision
March 10, 2001, 10:49 AM

Do you think perhaps the problem could a trigger surge?

Assuming the sear and hammer hooks have not been altered at all.

Just thinking out loud,as I have seen some Colts with that problem.


Mike Irwin
March 10, 2001, 11:40 AM

By passive firing pin safety, you mean the one where you have to have the trigger pulled for the gun to fire?

If you fire a shot, and this happens, it will happen so quickly that you likely won't have a chance to even think about removing your finger from the trigger.

A 1911-style pistol going full auto has a cyclic rate of something like 1100 rounds per minute according to an article I read once. That's 18 rounds a second, or the average magazine in LESS than half a second! :eek:

If it does it while you're hand racking the slide, that's where the firing pin safety saves you.

Ruben Nasser
March 10, 2001, 10:25 PM
I've been checking the sear/hammer engagement with the method George suggested, and the fit, angle and contact surfaces appear perfect. On the other hand, I noticed when I cleaned the gun that the disconector was a bit rusted in its middle area, maybe it was dragging and affecting somehow the sear. I'm shooting the pistol tomorrow, we'll see what happens.

George Stringer
March 11, 2001, 08:11 AM
Ruben, the problem is that the pistol is designed to use a 16# spring. With that a good trigger will usually hold up. A trigger job involves reducing the height of the hammer hooks and the amount of engagement surface on the sear as well as usually changing to a lighter mainspring. All this combines to put less "holding pressure" on the hammer/sear. Added weight of a heavier recoil spring will eventually, if not from the get, cause the hammer to bounce. If you decide to change sear or hammer or both I'd recommend the Wilson A-6 sear. As long as the hammer hooks when squared and even have .020" height it wouldn't need to be replaced. But if you find it does need replacement any good brand, Wilson, Brown etc. would do.

Eger, I'm not familiar with the term Trigger Surge. But then I'm woefully behind on my reading. Please explain. George

eger precision
March 11, 2001, 10:23 AM
Hi George,

Sometimes after a trigger job, the hammer goes to the half cock when the slide is dropped. Sometimes this is caused by the trigger moving back and bumping the disconnector when the slide is dropped. It seems to happen with more frequency when a stronger recoil spring is used, or if a lightweight trigger is not installed when the trigger job is done. Sometimes replacing the disconector will fix it,sometimes going back to the 16lb mainspring will do it, and sometimes taking a little off the bottom flat of the disconector that the trigger hits will clear enough space to keep the trigger from bumping it.

As Ruben said the parts havent been messed with,it seems like this may be unlikely. But since it is happening,I was just curious if any of the above could be the cause.