At last, a M1911 with the safety of a
double-action, the speed and accuracy of a single-action.......thanks to Cylinder & Slide!
published in Combat
Handguns © August 2000
Click on images to see larger size.
it didn't make headline news, in 1979, Fabrique National
(FN) designed a radically new single-action firing
system for an equally new version of the classic
Browning P-35 High Power.
High Power fast Action never passed the pre-production
prototype stage, and only 11 samples were produced in
serial numbers H001 to H0011.
The F.N. High Power Fast Action was not adopted
by the Belgian Military, which chose a double-action
Today, those 11 Fast action pilot pistols are
among the most sought after by Browning collectors.
Fast Action system consists of a two-piece hammer.
An inner cradle-like hammer, called the hammer
ring, houses and outer, or exposed, hammer.
Inside the two hammer parts there's a small
Connected to the hammer ring is the Strut for the
mainspring, and the hammer ring also contains the sear
outer hammer cocks the hammer ring and is also used to
make the Fast Action SAFE.
When it is forward, the hammer causes a sear
locking plate to rotate to block the sear.
When the hammer is freed to snap to the rear, the
locking plate is rotated to allow the sear to move.
Fast Action hammer ring fires the pistol by carrying the
outer hammer forward.
If the slide is retracted, or the outer hammer is
cocked by hand, it remains in the cocked position along
with the hammer ring, held by the relatively light
internal torque spring.
However, this torque spring is not connected to
the mainspring or involved with firing the gun.
the pistol is not to be fired, the hammer is pushed
forward against the torque spring, leaving the inner
hammer ring cocked.
Then, a pivoting lever in the slide, called the
hammer hook, springs down over a protruding pin on the
side of the hammer to lock it forward.
the High Power Fast Action, when the trigger is pressed,
the trigger bar pivots down against the hammer hook,
which, in turn, contacts the sear.
First pressure on the trigger makes the hammer
hook disconnect the hammer, which instantly returns to
Continued pressure on the trigger causes the
hammer hook to disengage the sear to release the hammer
ring, allowing it to carry the hammer forward to fire
the Fast Action somewhat resembles double action, the
system is really single action.
When the hammer is pushed forward, the safety can
be put ON, the pistol can be carried in what appears to
be a condition "2" mode with the hammer down.
However, in actuality, the hammer ring is cocked,
and the pistol can be put into action as fast as a
standard condition "1" cocked-n-locked mode.
In fact, it is in condition "1:' but doesn't
appear that way, because of the two hammer parts.
the F.N. High Power Fast Action didn't get beyond
prototype stage, the concept of its two-piece hammer was
Variations of this inner and outer hammer system
are incorporated in the Daewoo Fastfire Tri-Action and
Para Ordnance Light Double Action pistols However,
neither of the above two are, true Fast Action design,
and none has ever been available until now.
Cylinder & Slide Safety Fast Shooting (SFS) kit is
available for not only the Browning High Power but the
1911 and its many clones as well. 19l1s with firing pin
safeties such as Colt and Para-Ordnance, the kit comes
with the necessary parts to convert them as well.
from the original Fast Action system, the SFS uses a
two-part hammer that goes together as two corresponding
halves instead of the cradle like hammer ring.
As in the original Fast Action, the inner part of
the hammer contains the sear notch and the hammer strut.
It also contains a pivoting hammer blocking lever
that serves as a drop safety. Inside both hammer halves,
there the torque spring that snaps the hammer to the
rear when it's unlocked.
a significant difference between the Fast Action and
With the SFS, the outer hammer is released when
the thumb safety is depressed.
When the SFS hammer is pushed forward, the thumb
safety springs up to lock it the while at the same time
blocking the sear.
During this operation, the blocking lever is
pivoted up between the hammer and the firing pin plate.
When the thumb safety is depressed, the hammer is
freed spring back to meet the inner hammer at its
When the trigger is pulled, the inner hammer is
released to rotate forward.
In doing so, it carries the hammer block along
with the outer hammer to fire the pistol.
1911 conversion kit contains 13 parts in all.
In addition to the two firing pin safety parts,
these include the inner and outer hammers, the hammer
torque spring, the hammer block, mainspring, strut,
plunger spring, thumb safety, ambidextrous thumb piece
and retaining pin.
These are just the parts needed for the basic
include an extended slide release and an ambidextrous
That's right, a magazine release for the 191 1
that's truly ambidextrous and requires no fitting.
With a rounded keyway on the right side, this
release accepts a grooved lever with a matching key-like
When assembled, the lever works like a toggle.
Pushing down on the lever causes an integral foot
to bear against the frame, thereby pulling the magazine
Operation from the left side is as normal.
Unlike conventional extended slide releases, this
is sleek, subtle and out of the way.
receiving a sample of the 1911 SFS kit, I examined the
parts closely to better understand how the system works.
Although it comes pre-assembled, the two-piece
hammer comes apart very easily @after its parts are
worked when out of the pistol.
A caution here: Careful study of the assembled
hammer group is necessary before allowing it to come
apart, and pay attention that the torque spring is not
Reassembly is accomplished with the use of a
small pick to reposition the spring.
decided to install the SFS kit in my Kimber Custom 1911.
I field stripped and partially disassembled the gun,
removing the mainspring housing and mainspring, thumb
safety, grip safety, plunger and spring and hammer.
I then prepared to reassemble the gun with the
In attempting to insert the SFS hammer group into the
frame, I met slight resistance.
Upon close examination, I found that the arm of
the safety bar was dragging.
With a Swiss file, I removed about 0.001 of an
inch from this tiny part, which cured the problem.
All remaining SFS parts were assembled into the
Kimber without a problem, although the slide stop
required more than the usual pressure to bypass the new
stiffer plunger spring.
I replaced the standard magazine release with the
ambidextrous unit furnished with the sample SFS kit.
It was also easily assembled in the Kimber and
worked as advertised after a short learning curve.
The SFS standard slid release and ambidextrous
magazine release will not work in the wider Par,
Another caution: Thos not mechanically inclined
should ha% the SFS kit installed by a competent
assembled Safety Fast Shooting kit worked as smoothly as
those B Laughridge had shown me at the 20C SHOT Show.
Except for the fact that the hammer is released
by depressing the thumb safety, my Kimber was now
performing much like an original F.N. Fast Action, maybe
Kimber's trigger pull with the SF kit was the one
Although Bill Laughridge had told me to expect a
pull of up to five pounds, it didn't happen in my gun.
The trigger pull of my stock Kimber had been very
good, breaking about four and one half pound.
However, with the SFS kit, the trigger actually
Letoff with the SFS I began at about three
pounds, with only tiny bit of creep, and with use, this
h, smoothed out some.
with the Safety Fast Shooting system requires only a
short learning curve.
When the slide is retracted and released, the
hammer stays the rear as normal, but the safety cannot
Manually pushing the hammer forward causes the
thumb safety spring up and lock it, while also blocking
the sear, and there's no way to retract the hammer
except by using the thumb safety, which also locks the
Since the safety bar is attached to the inn
hammer (which remains cocked) when pushing the hammer
forward, the safety bar protrudes to block the hammer
from contact with the firing pin in case the pistol is
Although the hammer has a rebounding action, it
is the safety bar that blocks it.
takes almost no effort to push the hammer forward, and
with the hammer locked there and double safe, the pistol
can be holstered.
If the holster has conventional retaining strap,
it can I locked behind the hammer spur.
Safariland has designed a version of its
excellent 6400 series security holster for the
Para-Ordnance LDA and SFS, both of which ride with the
put the SFS-equipped pistol in use, simply present it as
normal, and when on target, push down on the thumb
This not only takes the safety off but it feels
like the action of a standard 1911 thumb safety.
What also happens in a millisecond is that the
outer hammer is released to jump back to the cocking
position under pressure from its torque spring.
Now, with the two hammers together in the cocked
mode, the trigger can be pressed to disengage the sear.
When this occurs, the inner hammer rotates
forward, carrying along the safety bar and the outer
hammer to strike the firing pin.
If the pistol is loaded, it will fire.
While all this may sound complicated, it's
actually quite simple, and takes place in an instant.
minor alteration is advisable using the Safety Fast
Shooting in 1911-type pistols with beavertail grip
To make them more efficient, most of these grip
safeties have a recess that partially houses the hammer
Since the hammer must be pushed forward, the
beavertail grip safety may offer some interference.
Carefully grinding or filing away part of the top
of the recurve to, expose more of the hammer will
provide, more access to the hammer spur.
This, condition does not exist with the SFS-converted
Browning High Power.
Fast Shots Fired
my .45 ACP Kimber Custom brought no surprises.
Like all Kimbers own and have tested, this one
not only shoots very well but has also proven totally
reliable with good quality ammunition.
Although my interest in accuracy was academic, my
interest in the operation of the Safety Fast Shooting
system was what the test was all about.
loading the Kimber Custom, pushed the hammer forward
where it locked.
Pointing the pistol downrange, I
pulled the trigger, but there was no movement.
The safety's engagement with the sear was
After lowering the pistol again, I looked at my
target, brought the gun up and depressed thumb safety.
Instantly, the hammer sprang back to meet its
inner counter part at full cock.
With my sights on target I pressed the trigger
and the Kimber fired.
Quickly verifying my sights, I fired again and
The gun operated like it always had.
my finger out of the trigger guard, I pushed the hammer
again with my left hand and re drill.
With many grip safeties, do not fully depress
them, shooting "high thumb," I merely wipe the
thumb safety off and shoot with my thumb below it.
This was easily accomplished with the SFS thumb
safety, but there's enough paddle there to grind off to
this part if preferred.
Incidentally the right (ambidextrous) portion of
safety is made of tough polymer.
several boxes of .45 ACP ammunition, I felt right at
home with the SFS.
There were no malfunctions, mechanic or
otherwise, and the ambidextrous magazine release worked
satisfactorily with either hand.
Oh, yes, as far as accuracy is concerned, most of
my shots went into nice tidy groups at 25 yards
The only problem I encountered was that the
normal position of my support thumb caused it to hit the
extended slide release during recoil, locking back the
Adjusting my thumb position cured the problem.
the SFS-converted Kimber in a Milt Sparks IWB holster, I
found no problem whatsoever with either the safety or
the magazine release.
In all holsters, the SFS should operate as
the SFS extended slide release is superior to others
I've seen, it got in my way and I would prefer a
The only drawback I could find with the 1911
version of the Safety Fast Shooting system is that the
hammer must be pushed forward manually to make the
pistol safe, and that this is normally done with the
By modifying the beavertail grip safety, the
hammer can be pushed forward by swiping it with the palm
of the hand or against a holster or fabric.
on the size of one's hand, pushing the hammer forward
can even be accomplished with the thumb of the shooting
My hands are size 9 1/2, and I can push the
hammer forward with my shooting thumb even with an
unmodified beavertail grip safety.
It would be easier yet doing it with either a
modified or standard grip safety.
As there's no grip safety on the Browning High
Power, it should be no problem using the strong hand to
reposition the hammer.
in all, the Safety Fast Shooting conversion is of high
quality and should last as long as any standard system.
It is also quite reliable and simple to use. Where
a single-action 1911 is preferred, but carrying it with
the hammer down is also appealing, the Safety Fast
Shooting system is the logical answer.
The SFS kit for the 1911 and High Power can be
purchased online in our store.
information on this and all its custom parts and
services, contact Cylinder
& Slide, Dept.CH, 245 East 4th St., Fremont, NE
68025, (402) 721-4277.