To Properly safety check a
1911 pistol, you must check the thumb safety, the grip safety,
the disconnector and, on series 80 style pistols, the firing
pin lock out feature.
Before beginning the safety
checks- BE ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT YOUR PISTOL IS UNLOADED!
The thumb safety should be
checked first. To check the thumb safety, cock the
hammer and engage the thumb safety - then firmly pull and
release the trigger. The hammer must not drop.
Disengage the thumb safety - the hammer should not drop.
Do not touch the trigger again.
The next check is to
determine if the thumb safety is holding the sear from
partially disengaging from the hammer. ( I call this the
click test - and remember - DO NOT TOUCH THE TRIGGER after
disengaging the thumb safety.) After disengaging the
thumb safety, place the hammer area of the pistol close to
your so that you can hear the slightest click when you run
this test. With the hammer area of the pistol held close
to your ear, pull the hammer to the rear very slightly.
Do not touch the hammer at all until you have placed the
pistol near your ear. If you hear a very slight click
when you touch the hammer this is the sound of the sear
jumping back into full engagement with the hammer full cock
hooks. Remember, you must engage the thumb safety, pull
and release the trigger, disengage the thumb safety, holt the
pistol near your ear, and then just touch the hammer slightly
to the rear. If you hear a click the safety is allowing
the sear to move slightly out of engagement with the hammer.
The hammer hooks that the sear engages with are only
.022" thick as made at the factory and if the pistol has
had a trigger job done the hooks could have been shortened to
.019". Any movement of the sear could leave the
sear engaging the hammer with only a few thousandths.
NOT SAFE! If you hear a click you must have the
safety replaced or welded up and re-cut to stop any sear
movement with the thumb safety engaged.
Next you will check the
grip safety. to test the grip safety, first cock the
pistol. Then with the pistol cocked, thumb safety off,
and the grip safety not depressed, pull the trigger firmly and
release. The hammer should not fall. If the hammer
falls when the trigger is firmly pulled without the grip
safety depressed the grip safety is defective. The grip
safety must be repaired before you load or fire the pistol.
The next step is checking
the grip safety is to determine that the grip safety is not
allowing any sear movement jus as you did in the thumb safety
test. This is a repeat of the click test. To test
for this you run the grip safety test as just described and
then place the pistol next to your ear. Touch the hammer
slightly to the rear and listen for a click. If you hear
a click the grip safety is not blocking the movement of the
trigger enough to prevent slight movement of the sear away
from the hammer. Again this test is just a repeat of the
click test that you did to check the hammer. Remember,
do not depress the grip safety during the test and do not
touch the hammer until you have placed the hammer next
to your ear to hear the click.
Next you will check the
disconnector. The disconnector is the part that makes
your pistol a semi-auto and allows the hammer to re-cock after
each shot while the trigger is still fully depressed. To
test the disconnector, first cock the pistol. Hold the
pistol as you would if your were going to fire the pistol with
one hand. Do not place your finger on the trigger yet.
Place the palm of the other hand squarely on the muzzle and
press the barrel and slide straight tot he rear as far as they
will go. The slide and barrel will move to the rear
approximately 1/4" before stopping. While you hold
the slide and barrel in this position you then place your
finger on the trigger and pull the trigger. Hold
the trigger fully pulled to the rear. The hammer should
not fail against the slide when you pull the forward.
The hammer should still not fail. Now release the
trigger, the hammer still should not fail. You should
hear a firm click when you release the trigger. The
click that you hear is the disconnector reconnecting with the
sear to allow that pistol to be fired again. Now that
you have released the trigger and the disconnector has
reconnected, pull the trigger again. The hammer should
The last safety check to be
performed is for Colt series 80 Pistols and all Para Ordnance
pistols. This safety check will cover the firing pin
lock our feature. This feature prevents the firing pin
from moving far enough forward to fire the cartridge unless
the trigger is pulled. This feature makes the pistol on
of the safest pistols manufactured.
The firing pin lock out
feature consists fo a spring loaded plunger located in the
slide that prevents the firing pin from moving far enough
forward to fire the cartridge unless the trigger is pulled far
enough to depress the plunger. The trigger movement is
transferred to the plunger by the movement of two levers.
First, you should know the
correct names for the parts involved. The plunger that
prevents the firing pin from moving is called the firing pin
block plunger. The spring that returns the firing pin to
the locked position is called the firing pin block plunger
spring. There are two lever that transfer that transfer
the trigger motion to unlock the firing pin. The lever
that the trigger pushes on is the trigger lever and the lever
that the trigger lever moves that contacts the firing pin
block plunger is called the block plunger lever. Please
look at the diagram in the manual that came with your gun to
see the arrangement of the levers and their action.
There are two reasons to
check the firing pin lock our system. The firs reason to
check the system is to be sure that the firing pin is locked
when the trigger is no pulled and the second is to be sure
that the firing pin unlocks quickly enough to let the pistol
To check The firing pin to
see if it is locked is very simple. First, cock the
pistol. Then take a punch that is slightly smaller than
the rear of the firing pin that protrudes through the firing
pin stop and push firmly on the firing pin being sure that the
punch is only touching the firing pin and not the edge of the
hole. Press on the punch as hard as you can with hand
pressure. The firing pin will move slightly forward,
about 1/8" but will not move far enough forward to allow
you to remove the firing pin stop. This slight movement
of the firing pin will not let the front of the firing pin
protrude through the breech face.
Now you need to check to
see that the firing pin is being unlocked when the trigger is
pulled. To do this , hold the hammer fully to the rear,
depress the grip safety, and pull and hold the trigger fully
rearward. Continue to hold the hammer fully to the rear.
The grip safety can now be released as you are holding the
hammer back and the trigger fully to the rear. You can
now take your punch and see if the firing pin is unlocked.
Press on the firing pin with your punch. The firing pin
should move completely forward with no binding. If you
feel the firing pin click off of a hard spot as you push it
forward or it fails to move fully forward, you need to have
the pistol examined by a gunsmith that fully understands the
series 80 firing pin lock out system. The firing pin
should move far enough forward that the end of the firing pin
that your are pressing on will move below the firing pin stop.
Now release the firing pin, release the trigger and drop
the hammer. Cock the hammer once more and check that the
firing pin has returned to the rearward position and press on
it once more to check that it is locked again.
If you have installed a
trigger with an overtravel stop or adjust the overtravel stop
on an existing trigger you may limit the rearward trigger
travel to a point that the firing pin will not unlock to fire
the pistol. You can also create a potential problem if
the firing pin block is unlocking just far enough to allow the
firing pin to strike the firing pin block plunger every time
you fire the pistol. This is indicated by the firing pin
clicking off of a hard spot when you are pushing the firing
pin forward to check that the firing pin is being unlocked
when you pull the trigger. If you do have a trigger
overtravel stop and the firing pin will not unlock or you feel
the click when you press the firing pin forward during the
unlock check you must back off the overtravel stop until you
correct the problem. If the firing pin continues to
strike the firing pin block plunger each time you fire the
pistol, the firing pin or the firing pin block plunger will be
damaged and will eventually cause the firing pin to stick
forward or to not unlock. Should the firing pin stick
forward, the pistol can go full or auto or jam the round that
is being fed. There is a special plunger lever that is
available for use in pistols that have a trigger overtravel
Should your pistol fail any
of these tests, do not load or fire you pistol until you have
had the problem corrected. If you find that your pistol
has a safety problem and you do not have a local pistolsmith
that can fix your pistol. Cylinder & Slide, Inc.
will be happy to repair your pistol. Please call and set
up an appointment to have your pistol repaired.