Safe to carry a 1911 with hammer down?

Floyd299Floyd299 New MemberPosts: 2 New Member
A friend of mine had bought and is carrying a 1911 clone pistol. I noticed when he was holstering the weapon that he lowered the hammer on a loaded chamber. The thumb safety would not engage in that mode. I asked him not to carry that way because it wasn't safe. I'm not certain of that and wanted to check with more knowledgeable 1911 fans. So is it safe to carry it that way?
«1

Replies

  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    Technically, yes, that is a safe way to carry a 1911. Among the 1911's many safety mechanisms, one is what's known as an "inertia safety". This is a fancy way of saying the firing pin is shorter than the tube it lives in, and it is pressed rearward with a spring. In order to fire, the firing pin must be struck with enough force to overcome both the weight of the firing pin and the rearward pressure of the spring. If the hammer is lowered completely, this can't happen.

    Is it a good idea? Probably not for a couple of reasons. First is that LOTS of folks have screwed up the lowering of the hammer in the past. Second is that the modern 1911 isn't really designed for thumb-cocking. The WWI-era guns had short grip safety spurs and large beavertail hammers - coming from the 1873 Colt Peacemaker, some of the earliest operational concepts called for thumb cocking to deploy, and this parts layout worked OK for it, but in military practice, this was fairly quickly replaced with the empty chamber mode of carry. The modern 1911's Commander hammer and beavertail grip safety aren't really helpful if you're trying to thumb-cock the gun. Quicker and safer with most of those to just chamber a round Israeli-fashion when you need one - at least if you're paranoid about cocked and locked carry.

    Carrying the gun cocked and locked gives you the thumb safety (which physically forces the sear into the hammer, immobilizing it), the half-cock notch (or safety shelf depending on exact model, which prevents the hammer from falling completely if dislodged by anything other than a pull of the trigger), and the grip safety (which blocks rearward travel of the trigger until you have a hand around the gun). It's about as safe a way to carry a firearm as possible - provided that you still remember that you're carrying a firearm.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 9,556 Senior Member
    Since you have to pull the trigger to drop the hammer, that has the most potential be dangerous. Some people will tightly pack a box with newspaper and put on the floor of their closet to point the gun at while dropping the hammer on a loaded round.

    I point at a tote full of sheets and blankets when I release the slide to chamber a live round with my CCW pistol. Just extra insurance.
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • rbsivleyrbsivley Senior Member Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    Well put Bigslug.

    Floyd; Here's a website that explains the conditions of readiness for a 1911.

    http://www.sightm1911.com/Care/1911_conditions.htm
    Randy

    Rank does not concur privileges. It imposes responsibility. Author unknown
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Floyd299 wrote: »
    A friend of mine had bought and is carrying a 1911 clone pistol. I noticed when he was holstering the weapon that he lowered the hammer on a loaded chamber. The thumb safety would not engage in that mode. I asked him not to carry that way because it wasn't safe. I'm not certain of that and wanted to check with more knowledgeable 1911 fans. So is it safe to carry it that way?

    If your friend is that concerned about fielding a sidearm such as a C&L ( cocked & locked ) 1911, perhaps he should consider a firearm he might be more at ease with, there are any number of fine options out there, Glock, no external safeties, or any number of quality DA or DAO auto-loaders with external safeties....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,235 Senior Member
    Cocked and locked is the one instance where ALL safeties are working. I think dropping a 1911 with the hammer down is inviting it to hit on the hammer and fire a round. Not all 1911s have the hammer block on them.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • SirGeorgeKillianSirGeorgeKillian Senior Member Posts: 5,458 Senior Member
    Your concern is that you can engage the safety this way?
    Unless life also hands you water and sugar, your lemonade is gonna suck!
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I'm in love with a Glock
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    Cocked and locked is the one instance where ALL safeties are working. I think dropping a 1911 with the hammer down is inviting it to hit on the hammer and fire a round. Not all 1911s have the hammer block on them.

    You can smack the lowered hammer of a GI 1911 with a mallet and nothing will happen - see comments reference inertia safety Post#2. It's not a Peacemaker with a fixed firing pin that can rest directly against the primer. What the Series 80 and other hammer blocking systems do for you is prevent a discharge if the gun takes a sharp impact on the muzzle. Here's where we get to the collection of "ifs" - if you drop a stock weapon from high enough (or throw it hard enough), AND if it lands squarely on its nose, AND a combination of too much firing pin weight and/or too little rebound spring tension exists, the firing pin can travel forward on its own momentum and create a discharge. Some people lose a lot of sleep over this. Me? Not so much.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 6,660 Senior Member
    NOC 10 carried his 1911 that way. He had a bucket of sand he used when lowering the hammer and one day he needed that bucket. Cocked and locked bothers quite a few people but they like the 1911. It's not an unsafe way to carry it's just getting there that is the problem.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,101 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »
    You can smack the lowered hammer of a GI 1911 with a mallet and nothing will happen - see comments reference inertia safety Post#2. It's not a Peacemaker with a fixed firing pin that can rest directly against the primer. What the Series 80 and other hammer blocking systems do for you is prevent a discharge if the gun takes a sharp impact on the muzzle. Here's where we get to the collection of "ifs" - if you drop a stock weapon from high enough (or throw it hard enough), AND if it lands squarely on its nose, AND a combination of too much firing pin weight and/or too little rebound spring tension exists, the firing pin can travel forward on its own momentum and create a discharge. Some people lose a lot of sleep over this. Me? Not so much.
    I think it was Ned Christiansen and Patrick Sweeney who tested this. It took something like a drop from a second story directly onto a concrete deck, muzzle first, to cause a potential discharge.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • SirGeorgeKillianSirGeorgeKillian Senior Member Posts: 5,458 Senior Member
    Too bad we cant drop the lawyers that make these stupid safeties exists on guns in the first place two stories on their muzzles....
    Unless life also hands you water and sugar, your lemonade is gonna suck!
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I'm in love with a Glock
  • rbsivleyrbsivley Senior Member Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    Too bad we cant drop the lawyers that make these stupid safeties exists on guns in the first place two stories on their muzzles....

    The 1911 was designed with the safety mechanism by Browning. I don't think it had anything to do with lawyers. Cocked and locked is the only way to safely carry one in my opinion.
    Randy

    Rank does not concur privileges. It imposes responsibility. Author unknown
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,055 Senior Member
    rbsivley wrote: »
    The 1911 was designed with the safety mechanism by Browning. I don't think it had anything to do with lawyers.

    Yep! Keep in mind that the 1911 was designed to be used on horseback...hence the largely defunct lanyard loop...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,101 Senior Member
    I think SirGeorge is talking about the Series 80 and Schwartz firing pin safeties. Which were not designed by Browning.

    As for the lanyard ring: I will have a lanyard attachment on my 1911s. I just want a flush mount one on an arched mainspring housing...
    Overkill is underrated.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    Too bad we cant drop the lawyers that make these stupid safeties exists on guns in the first place two stories on their muzzles....

    As the (probably apocryphal) U.S. emigre former Soviet Spetsnaz firearm instructor said "IS GUN! Is SUPPOSED to be dangerous!"
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,041 Senior Member
    Jayhawker wrote: »
    Yep! Keep in mind that the 1911 was designed to be used on horseback...hence the largely defunct lanyard loop...

    I installed a 19th Century lanyard loop on my 21st Century light-rail 1911.

    One has to remember one's roots.:tooth:
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,104 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio wrote: »
    Since you have to pull the trigger to drop the hammer, that has the most potential be dangerous. Some people will tightly pack a box with newspaper and put on the floor of their closet to point the gun at while dropping the hammer on a loaded round.

    I point at a tote full of sheets and blankets when I release the slide to chamber a live round with my CCW pistol. Just extra insurance.

    Next time you go to the range, shoot that tote full of clothing...I bet the bullet goes right through. :tooth:
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • JasonMPDJasonMPD Senior Member Posts: 6,104 Senior Member
    Gene L wrote: »
    Cocked and locked is the one instance where ALL safeties are working. I think dropping a 1911 with the hammer down is inviting it to hit on the hammer and fire a round. Not all 1911s have the hammer block on them.


    A technical impossibility.

    If the hammer is lowered all the way against the back of the slide, then there is no possibility of forward hammer movement and no possibility of lunging the firing pin forward if struck. With the hammer fully seated forward in the uncocked position and the gun dropped, upside down, directly on its hammer, the firing pin would actually be forced against the hammer surface; not forward towards the primer.
    “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers
  • SirGeorgeKillianSirGeorgeKillian Senior Member Posts: 5,458 Senior Member
    I think SirGeorge is talking about the Series 80 and Schwartz firing pin safeties. Which were not designed by Browning.

    Yup. I am showing how sleep deprived I am right now, but one of the safeties (grip or external) was originally not on the prototype, the army told John to go back and add it. Thinking it was the external. Can't wait to get sleep....
    Unless life also hands you water and sugar, your lemonade is gonna suck!
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I'm in love with a Glock
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio wrote: »
    Since you have to pull the trigger to drop the hammer, that has the most potential be dangerous. Some people will tightly pack a box with newspaper and put on the floor of their closet to point the gun at while dropping the hammer on a loaded round.

    I point at a tote full of sheets and blankets when I release the slide to chamber a live round with my CCW pistol. Just extra insurance.
    I have a bullet proof panel on a steel stand for dropping a hammer in the house.

    But if one would be concerned about that issue they should put on rabbit ears before dropping the hammer
    since ringing ears is not the best music to listen to 24/7.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,101 Senior Member
    NN wrote: »
    I have a bullet proof panel on a steel stand for dropping a hammer in the house.
    For the .327, is that a doubled-up piece of aluminum foil, or a piece of corrugated cardboard?
    Overkill is underrated.
  • LMLarsenLMLarsen Senior Member Posts: 8,337 Senior Member
    Oh, snap!
    “A gun is a tool, no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.”

    NRA Endowment Member
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,101 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Neither!!! Both of those would make the bullet bounce back at you and leave a nasty bruise on your chest...

    You can just point it into your half drunk cup of coffee and be safe...
    What did the coffee ever do to you to deserve being befowled by a .327?
    Overkill is underrated.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    They make a 1911 in .327, I want one.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Cobble up a 1911 in .32 acp and call it good !!!! :jester:
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • rbsivleyrbsivley Senior Member Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    NN wrote: »
    They make a 1911 in .327, I want one.

    This is the 1911 I want:
    http://coonaninc.com/
    Randy

    Rank does not concur privileges. It imposes responsibility. Author unknown
  • SlanteyedshootistSlanteyedshootist Senior Member Posts: 3,947 Senior Member
    Randy, why did you provide that link?:drool2: Now I want one too.:love:
    The answer to 1984 is 1776
  • 30-30shooter30-30shooter Member Posts: 224 Member
    rbsivley wrote: »
    This is the 1911 I want:
    http://coonaninc.com/

    enabler
    A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.-Larry Elder I have a very strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it.-Clint Eastwood
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I got to shoot some of the early model Coonan 1911 in .357
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Hammer down on a live round is the way JMB designed the 1911 to be carried , as evidenced by the original 1910 submitted to the Army trials. It didn't even have a thumb safety! Remember , it was originally intended to be a cavalry pistol , and them troopers liked to thumbcock their .45 SAAs. The thumb safety was added at the insistance of Army officers by Colt.

    1910colt.jpg
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    I got to shoot some of the early model Coonan 1911 in .357
    :cool2:
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.