View Full Version : de-activating the grip safety in a 1911

April 24, 2001, 11:18 PM
Ok, I was shooting with a friend who does some race gun shooting nothing realy that great just for fun, He had his 1911 grip safety deactivated in some maner where it would move like a regular but would not stop you from shooting if it was not held all the way in, My question is,

1) Is this an unsafe way to have your 1911, I personaly never cary my gun cocked or if Im not shooting it and its loaded I use the manual thumb safety.

2) is this bad for the gun? Or is is a change made to the grip safety itself,

3) how is it done? If I am satified with the above answers I may do the same to mine


April 25, 2001, 06:03 AM
The only thing a grip safety does is prevent rearward movement of the trigger when the gun is not in the hand. None of the other safeties depend on the grip safety and few (if any) other guns have this feature so overall safety, in my opinion, is not compromised.

De-activating the grip safety does not harm the gun. The alteration is made to the grip safety only (unless you choose to pin the safety in the depressed position). It does permanently alter the grip safety and to re-activate it would require purchasing and fitting a new one.

To de-activate the grip safety you must remove it from the pistol and cut or grind away the part that protrudes into the frame and blocks the trigger bow.

I don't de-activate mine. I adjust the engagement during fitting so that it disengages as soon as it moves. That way it still does it's intended job but even the slightest grip pressure will keep it disengaged. The only other consideration, besides safety, is liability. If this is your carry gun, and you use it to defend yourself, some grief could come in court from the fact that a safety feature was altered. It would be pot luck trying to convince the jury that it had no negative effect in the shooting.


George Stringer
April 25, 2001, 08:03 AM
Kitman, I don't see any advantage whatsoever in deactivating the safety. And if, God forbid, anyone ever got accidently shot by that gun no matter the reason I'm almost positive that you would be held at fault for doing it. I'd recommend against it. George

April 25, 2001, 08:34 AM

Apparently, there are some combinations of grip safeties and some peoples hands such that they can't reliably depress the grip safety. I've never had that problem with either my Kimbers or my Gunsite GSP2000. But for those people, I could see a reason to deactivate the grip safety. If you've never had this problem, then there's no reason to deactivate it.

I do agree with you, however, on the potential for added liability.


April 25, 2001, 02:05 PM
I disagree with the statement that some peoples hands can't deactivate the grip safety. There are all sorts of grip safeties out there and one or more will work FOR EVERY PERSON, regardless of hand size, hand strength, etc. And the grip safety should never be deactivated unless YOU ARE WILLING to accept the responsibility THAT WILL be laid upon you if anyone (even you) is ever shot by a firearm that you disable a safety feature on. OF that, I AM SURE.

So, if you don't like the grip safety on the 1911 style pistol, go find another style of pistol.

IF it's just a matter of personal preference, then find a grip safety you like and install it. Then tune the trigger to work properly with that grip safety and forget about it.

April 25, 2001, 05:23 PM
I for one, would NOT de-activate any type of safety device or feature in or on any firearm. If it was not needed for a reason, then the designer, inventor would not of put it on the weapon.

Art Eatman
April 25, 2001, 08:36 PM
Somewhere in the early 1970s, I discovered that little wad of tinfoil jammed between the mainspring housing and the grip safety would hold the grip safety "In".

After all these years and some 15,000 rounds or so with nothing bad happening, even in the heat of IPSC competition, it's generally a subject for which mine eyes glazeth over.

:), Art

August 19, 2010, 08:34 AM
JM Browning only added the grip safety to the 1911 because the US Army Ordinance office wanted him to.

Novak has been making one piece back straps that eliminates the grip safety for their custom 1911s since 2004.

I mean, anything that makes a gun safer is good in my opinion. However, I have a somewhat high grip style and the grip safety can hinder this.

August 19, 2010, 08:42 AM
You should note that John Browning didn't include a grip safety with the High Power.

August 19, 2010, 08:50 AM
"To de-activate the grip safety you must remove it from the pistol and cut or grind away the part that protrudes into the frame and blocks the trigger bow."

That sounds a lot simpler than suggested by S Skelton, drill a hole thru the frame and depressed safety and pin it in place.

Sometimes opinions are worth even less than what you paid for them.

August 19, 2010, 09:25 AM
or do what the Texas Rangers did.

Tie rawhide laces around the grip safety so it's "permanently" depressed.

August 19, 2010, 11:34 AM
For my hand,if I have a hi ride grip safety and use a hi-thumb hold,a standard shaped no-speed bump grip safety can be a problem.I simply choose the grip safeties with a hump.They work for me.
While many other handguns do not have a grip safety,for me,that is another good reason to choose a 1911.

August 19, 2010, 12:15 PM
I carried my 1911a1 for a while in LE before (for other reasons) I went back to my Model 28.

I disabled my grip safety in fear of I might have to use it in a hurry with a not so perfect grip. I carried in Locked and Cocked and never had a problem. That was about 20 years ago and never got around to enabled it.

It doesn't take much, just bend the lip a tad so it doesn't catch. I still have the grip safety enabled in my Gold Cup but I use it mostly in Bullseye so you have all the time in the world to get a good grip.

I guess it depends on how you feel about it, if you think it will bother you, disable it, if not leave it a lone. Never really heard of anyone not getting the shot off in an emergency situation because of the grip safety, then I never heard of any problems disabling it either.

August 19, 2010, 01:07 PM
With 35 years of carry, hunting , and competition my 1911 has it's grip safety locked with no problems !! :p
Unlike Art's garage mechanics solution , mine has a carefully fitted piece of titanium to lock the safety ! No permanent changes to the gun. :D

August 19, 2010, 08:34 PM
You do realize, post number 8 took us from April 2001 to the present in one shot.
Why do first-time posters insist on dredging up a nine-year-old thread? :rolleyes:

Happens so often it is almost cliche.

August 19, 2010, 08:48 PM
Why do first-time posters insist on dredging up a nine-year-old thread?

Happens so often it is almost cliche.

Well, we crap on them for reviving old threads, and if they start a new thread, we crap on them for not using the search feature - seems like they can't win. :D

The thread seemed to get past the nine-year gap pretty seamlessly, so perhaps it wasn't a bad candidate for resurrection.

August 19, 2010, 09:03 PM
JM Browning only added the grip safety to the 1911 because the US Army Ordinance office wanted him to.

Novak has been making one piece back straps that eliminates the grip safety for their custom 1911s since 2004.

I mean, anything that makes a gun safer is good in my opinion. However, I have a somewhat high grip style and the grip safety can hinder this.

One minor correction. JMB added the thumb safety per US Army request. The grip safety was always in the design. Otherwise I agree, I don't alter any safety feature.

You should note that John Browning didn't include a grip safety with the High Power.

Also of note JMB died several years before the High-power design was finalized, who knows if a grip safety was or wasn't intended in the final design since he wasn't around when it was completed.

James K
August 19, 2010, 11:02 PM
Actually, both the grip safety and the manual safety were added at the request of the Army, just that the grip safety was added to earlier models in earlier tests. JMB considered the half cock enough safety and that is all that was used on his previous hammer guns, including his rifles and shotguns.

The normal way of deactivating the grip safety is by drilling and pinning and has the advantage of being easily reversible without replacing the part. While it might be OK for a pure range gun, in today's society I would not deactivate any safety on a defense or carry gun. Doing so would almost certainly be considered as reckless and showing disregard for the safety of others, telling points in a civil suit.


August 20, 2010, 12:23 AM
I realize that this is an old thread, but I'm going to respond to the initial poster because it's an important point.He had his 1911 grip safety deactivated in some maner where it would move like a regular but would not stop you from shooting...Deactivating a safety is one thing. There are reasons for and against doing such a thing.

But, deactivating a safety and leaving it in such a condition that it is not immediately obvious that it is deactivated is absolutely a horrible idea.

There is never a good reason to have a safety that LOOKS like it works and seems to operate normally but doesn't provide the proper function.

If you decide to deactivate a safety then make it obvious that it no longer works.

August 20, 2010, 10:50 AM
i dont see the problem here! while PERSONALLY i wouldnt deactivate a safety on a pistol.

XD has grip sleeves that are designed for the sole purpose of deactivating the grip safety!http://img5.imageshack.us/my.php?image=xd45t02sm.jpg

here is one way for the 1911.. very old school. i believe that it was texas ranger somebody who did this



August 20, 2010, 11:58 PM
Just because the thread is 9 years old doesn't mean there isn't a whole new generation of people that might conceivably have the same question.

Damned if you do, damned if you start a new thread.

August 21, 2010, 03:21 AM
Just because the thread is 9 years old doesn't mean there isn't a whole new generation of people that might conceivably have the same question.

I agree. Reactivating an old thread is, in affect, starting a new one and doesn't preclude it from being interesting. Makes better sense than the same subject coming up repeatedly, time after time.

With the way grip safties are designed these days, I don't think it's necessary. Even the smaller hands seem to deactivate them reliably.

August 21, 2010, 07:59 AM
Why do first-time posters insist on dredging up a nine-year-old thread?
Because otherwise the second post would be "use the search function"?

August 21, 2010, 09:00 AM
We need a hall of fame for repeating topics.

The grip safety issue probably deserves a little discussion. My dad is a person who's palm forms a pocket in his grip over the bottom of the grip safety. When we took our first Gunsite class he had repeated occasions in learning the presentation when it wouldn't let him press the trigger. He'd never had that problem shooting the Goldcup in bullseye matches, so apparently this was something that only happened when he was shooting fast, or else the Springfield 1911 grip safety needed to be depressed further than the Goldcup safety did to deactivate. Maybe he still had the arched mainspring housing on the Springfield and that was an issue? I don't recall? The smithy installed a metal clip that retained the grip safety for him during the class.

The military may have added the grip safety, but I do see a purpose for it, which is to prevent discharge when the thumb safety is off and the gun is dropped, muzzle up, onto the grip frame. It's a pretty specific accident, but if you try to train enough recruits with a weapon for a long enough period of time, it will eventually happen. I expect that's what the military considered.

Unlike the 1911, the High Power has a pivoting trigger. It is dramatically more difficult to get inertia from dropping it to fire that mechanism than it is with the 1911 design, where inertia can drive the trigger straight back. I am always astonished by how many target shooters and 1911 owners with custom trigger jobs have guns which allow the hammer to follow when the slide goes forward if they don't remember to depress the trigger first. The half-cock is not adequate for these. Indeed, the rollover angle most trigger jobs put on the back edge of the sear nose to prevent bounce on engagement can defeat the half-cock if it's hook is rounded, as it often is. Such a gun is precisely the kind that will go off when dropped as I described, and should have a working grip safety.

You can, as HiBC said, get a grip safety with a hump that extends it back to meet your palm. On any grip safety you can remove excess engagement by filing the underside of the step in the extension until the safety releases earlier in its travel, but still works in full rearward position. The pivot radius ratio is close to 2:1, comparing the nose of the step to the bottom edge of the grip safety. So, filing 0.010" off the step releases the safety about 0.020" earlier in its movement at the bottom. And that may be all it takes. This is one of those take-just-a-little-off-at-a-time-and-try-it jobs.

Don't chamfer the bottom edge of the extension nose to do more than remove burrs if you the above, or the trigger may slip under it. Be aware you are marrying the grip safety to your particular trigger bow, and that it may not work with a different trigger afterward. Install the trigger your heart desires first.

If, for some reason, you just can't find a way to live with a functioning grip safety, at least invest in a flyweight trigger and don't have the trigger adjusted extra light. The lighter weight the trigger, the less inertia it has to slam against the disconnector, and through it, the sear. The heavier the trigger pull, the less likely it is that slam will knock the sear off the hammer hooks.

August 21, 2010, 09:56 AM
i'd say that if you don't like the design then buy another type of gun.

September 17, 2010, 10:38 PM
It is your pistol, build it the way you like it,

Just take responsibility for it.

I love my Remington Rand Essex Frankenstein 45. If it should ever be fire in defense of myself or others, all the custom gunsmithing work done to it will not help me in a court of law. That is a risk I accept. For the record all the safeties work fine on mine.

April 25, 2012, 05:09 PM
Old or not this is new to me and thanksfor the thread. During CPL practice on occasion my gun didn't go bang. This is due to riding the safety high and having the web of my hand push up on the beavertail. So far I've resolved the problem with a good thick rubber band. If someone asks I say I'm having problems with my grips falling off due to stripped screws. Now my gun goes bang every time when I draw and pull the trigger. I'll worry about the legal ramafications if I ever need to use my gun in a defensive situation or I'll take the rubber band off after. I want my gun to go bang if I need it to.

April 25, 2012, 05:28 PM
So, you're afraid you'll accidentally shoot someone while NOT holding the gun? That's the only time the grip safety comes into play.

I want my gun to go bang if I need it to.


April 30, 2012, 12:59 PM

Merci pour ce tour d'horizon très complet

A bientôt


James K
April 30, 2012, 07:10 PM
Judging by his other designs, JMB never believed in any safety on a hammer gun except the half-cock. As for "who knows if a grip safety was or wasn't intended in the final design", we do know, since the final design was produced. But Browning's original patent, and the first FN model shop models for what became the BHP show NO safety devices of any kind.


May 3, 2012, 04:38 AM
I have since discovered I was only getting a semi-iffy grip safety release even with a bump on the grip safety.Careful study told me ,between the high grip beavertail and my big,meaty hand an arched mainspring housing just held the heel of my hand too far back,and the hollow in the center of my palm was not making positive contact.It may be a Wilson,I found a great flat mainspring housing that is a slightly round butt style,nicely checkered.I really like it,and the grip safet problem is positively cured.

Jammer Six
May 3, 2012, 07:52 AM
In my book, only fools deactivate safeties on 1911s.

May 3, 2012, 09:15 PM
So all of the posters who believe that deactivating a grip safety is such a terrible thing to do, do any of you even understand exactly how the grip safety works and what it does and doesn't do? I have to keep from laughing whenever I hear people freak out when they hear a that grip safety has been deactivated but don't see any problem with the design of a Glock.

May 3, 2012, 09:22 PM
Only a fool would disable 1911 safeties?

Based on comments on his website, I guess Larry Vickers must be a fool, then, as he mentions the possible benefits of a pinned or taped grip safety.

(Actually, more than one reputable writer has mentioned the possibility of a hand injury combining with a 1911 grip safety to effectively disable the weapon in a defensive scenario.)

May 3, 2012, 10:43 PM
Yeah, I am a fool. I have three 1911s and all of them have the GS pinned down. I learned shooting USPSA comp for quite a few years that sometimes you don't get a perfect grip but you still need to to be able to fire the gun. I never really understood what the GS what supposed to prevent anyway. If you don't touch the trigger until you WANT the gun to fire what exactly is the GS preventing? If your finger is on the trigger when you DON"T want the gun to fire then all the safeties in the world aren't going to save you.:rolleyes:

May 4, 2012, 11:27 AM

The 1911 grip safety prevents firing if you drop the cocked and unlocked gun and it lands on the back corner of its grip frame. In that scenario, the inertia of the trigger and bow can be great enough to carry them into the sear and depress it. Pivoting triggers don't so typically cause this issue as a portion of their mass is on either side of the pivot pin, so the trigger mass on the side opposite of the pin from the stirrup tends to neutralize at least some of the stirrup's inertia.

The Glock doesn't need the grip safety because the safety in the trigger serves the same purpose in the drop scenario: like the grip safety, it isn't depressed when the gun is dropped. Besides, the Glock trigger is light (not much inertia) and pivots, so it does have of the neutralizing effect, where 100% of the 1911's inertia tends to help depress the sear and trigger return spring leaf in that drop scenario.

Note that anything that reduces the 1911 trigger mass helps fight the problem. The original 1911 trigger is steel, and is heavy for its size. The original Colt Goldcup trigger is also steel and is wider and heavier, plus it is often combined with lightened sear engagement, so the problem is even worse with it (which is one reason the little spring buffering sear depressor was added to Goldcup sears). For the average 1911 owner, therefore, the threat of inertial firing on drop may be mitigated by going to a trigger with a skeletonized aluminum stirrup and lightened bow. That takes a lot of the inertia out for both the accidental drop scenario and for when you depress the slide stop to chamber a round without depressing the trigger first (as all bullseye match shooters learned to do with the Goldcup).

May 28, 2012, 11:20 AM
If I search for information and it is five years old but USEFUL. It's new to me!
BTW: It was useful.

Thanks for the information!

Harry Bonar
May 28, 2012, 05:23 PM
Leave it alone!
Harry B.

Willie Sutton
May 29, 2012, 07:31 AM
The 1911A1 that I carried thru Gunsite and afterwards had the the most simple "deactivation" possible: Remove the grips, use good quality black electrical tape to tape down the safety (three complete wraps around the entire frame and safety) and then re-installation of the grips. You never know it's there (and on my old 1911A1 with the parkerizing, you can't see it either).

Simple = Good.



May 29, 2012, 07:41 AM
If you must do it, use Duct Tape.

May 29, 2012, 09:49 PM
Camouflage or Tactical Black Duct Tape.:D

October 27, 2013, 09:37 AM
I know this thread is pretty old, but it comes up high on the Google Search, so I thought I'd share my experience.

There's a great deal of discussion about the merits or demerits of pinning (or otherwise disabling) the grip safety on 1911 pistols. I'm a long time shooter, and I have found that I grip high and sometimes do not fully depress the grip safety. I know that there are some who will suggest that it is due to a poor grip, but in fact, this is quite common among 1911 shooters, even professionals. I figure it's a personal choice about disabling the safety. My other pistols only have one (or zero) safeties, and I've never had an accidental discharge.

So, I started by looking at the options. I discovered several:

1. Install a low-profile safety, which is supposed to help with this problem by better aligning the thumb so that the palm presses the grip safety. I tried this, and it DID help, but still not 100%.

2. Drill the main spring housing and grip safety and install a metal pin. I did not want to permanently modify my weapon, so I chose not to do this.

3. Use a rubber band, inner tube, or other compressive band to hold the grip safety down. I considered this, but it's a bit of an eye sore.

4. Use a piece of compressive material (and friction) to keep the grip safety compressed. I went this route. I cut a small section of automotive O-ring and inserted it between the grip safety and mainspring housing (see photos). Next, I compressed the grip safety with a stiff rubber band, and reassembled the pistol. Getting the mainspring housing back on with the O-ring in place took a little hand strength, but nothing terrible. In the end, it worked GREAT. The grip safety is now completely compressed, and I can shoot without worrying about how I grip the pistol. The automotive O-ring is quite durable, and I don't expect it to degrade or otherwise give me trouble, but if it does, I'll update this post.

A couple of photos show the idea. Sorry that they're not clearer. I hope that this post helps others who are looking for a method to disable their grip safety.

October 27, 2013, 11:43 AM
One does not want to disable safeties or lighten trigger pulls.

Either can give a civil plaintiff an argument against you in the event of a shooting, deliberate or unintended, and either could harm one's defense in the event of criminal proceedings.

October 27, 2013, 04:48 PM
Ideally, you're correct. But you also don't want a defensive weapon that doesn't work reliably, either. My dad had this problem at Gunsite. Couldn't always press the 1911 trigger successfully. It seems to be the shape of the hollow of your palm when you grip the gun that does it. The 1911 preceded modern ergonomics models of human form variance.

October 27, 2013, 06:14 PM
I must be one of the lucky ones.
Never a problem.
If it weren't for discussions like this, I'd never know there was one.
With one exception, all my centerfire autoloaders have been 1911s, too.
Thank you Mr. Browning for thinking of me.

October 28, 2013, 02:38 AM
UncleNick,that is my situation,meaty heel of my hand and a hollow palm.

I can use a military type setup if it has a flat mainspring housing.An arched MH pushes the heel of my hand back.

With a hi-ride beavertail,I need a speed bump grip safety and a flat mainspring housing.

This may be useful to those having problems.