Why 1911 Grip Safety?

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Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by beeser on Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:46 am

I buried this question in another post but thought it might deserve a separate thread.  Sorry in advance if this is too trivial or asked before but why does the 1911 have a grip safety.  Why is it necessary?  All of my other semi-autos, e.g. Pardini SP, S&W 52, etc. don't have them or anything equivalent to it.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:13 pm

The rumor I heard was back when the 1911 was in trials with the army that there were concerns that the hammer could fall on the live round in the chamber if the gun was dropped.  John Moses Browning added the grip safety as an extra layer of safety to address those concerns back then.

I also remember historical reports of soldiers--even famous ones--shooting themselves in the lower extremities because they didn't want to use the thumb safety and just crammed the pistols into their waistband--no holster. 
That doesn't have anything to do with the grip safety per se, but perhaps it indicates the way soldiers carried their pistols back then.  They were used to carrying single action revolvers with the hammers down on an empty chamber.  The 1911 is carried cocked and locked-(and ready to rock).  That difference made some army officials uncomfortable therefore the safety devices were added to negate the safety argument during those 1911 trials. 

Imagine if a revolver won the 1911 pistol trials?  UGH!

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by beeser on Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:57 pm

Thanks Rob for the interesting reply.  It still fascinates me how ubiquitous the 1911 is to .45 ACP.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:37 pm

It all goes back to the same history of the "new" smokeless powders of the late 1800s and the leaps in technology at that time.
there is a lot already written on the subject--too much for me to tell!

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by CR10X on Sun Aug 24, 2014 3:27 pm

Since the 1911 was developed from the previous colt auto pistols using the 45 acp, all of which were designed by the same person; it should be no surprise at all they go together pretty well!

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by aloreman on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:12 pm

The grip safety was added as an extra safety for horseback soldiers.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by LongSlide on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:22 pm

The grip safety was added at the request of the Army in the solicitation since the army still had horse mounted soldiers in 1911. It was intended to prevent the horse rider from accidentally firing without having a firm grip on the pistol.  The grip safety is not a drop safety and was not intended to be a drop safety.

Other contenders -- notably Luger -- had a grip safety too.

I have a pdf of the patent somewhere on my hard drive and it is an interesting read.  A claim in the patent states the tang of the grip safety could be used to decock the 1911 one handed.  I have tried it (unloaded) and it does work if you have the GI style grip safety and spur hammer; although, it would scare the begeezums out of me to do it with live ammo. This was a feature also meant for the horse soldier -- one handed decocking while mounted. [ Found the pdf and have attached-- see page7 for the description of the 1911's "decocker" Smile ]

One other fun fact, the patent also makes a claim for a magazine disconnect safety which, thankfully, never made it into the adopted pistol. The patent waxes philosophical about the lives lost each year from assuming the gun was unloaded with the magazine removed, but a round remained in the chamber.
Attachments
Browning's 1911 Patent of 1911-02-14.pdf You don't have permission to download attachments.(547 Kb) Downloaded 6 times


Last edited by LongSlide on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:39 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Attaching pdf of patent.)

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by LongSlide on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:28 pm

BTW, the field manual for the 1911 had the gun carried in CONDITION 3 (no round in the chamber and hammer down).  The thumb safety was intended to be used while the soldier moved about in an active engagement.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by beeser on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:42 pm

Interesting that the supposed successor or improvement to the 1911 (Browning Hi Power) does not have a grip safety but has the magazine disconnect the same as my S&W 39 and 52.  Liability issues aside does it make any sense to eliminate the grip safety for strictly target use?  Is it even possible?  I'm not suggesting doing it, just thinking out load.  It seems to me that it doesn't do anything to enhance the accuracy of the 1911.  I also find it interesting that S&W doesn't have a grip safety on their 952 but does on their 945.  What's the logic in that?

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by LongSlide on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:49 pm

For bullseye shooting, it doesn't make sense to disable it. And you CAN'T do it for CMP/EIC matches and be legal.  But yes, it is technically possible to deactivate the grip safety by pinning it in the depressed position or by fitting the grip safety to not block the trigger, regardless of position.

Personally, I think that if the grip safety makes you want to disable it, you are better off getting a different gun.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by beeser on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:01 pm

LongSlide - As stated before I have no intention to disable the grip safety.  It just seemed to me that it has no practical value in making the 1911 more accurate.  I don't know if it makes it any less accurate either.

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:11 pm

In series 70 or earlier all it does is stop the trigger from moving, so no harm or help.
In some of the lawyerized 1911s the grip safety is what actuates the firing pin block (colt & para use trigger movement to do this job), in those cases I THINK it makes it easier to get a good trigger.  In the guns that use the trigger movement there is that much more mechanism to deal with.

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your mileage may vary
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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

Post by Rob Kovach on Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:39 am

If I remember correctly the bids for the large production runs for the S&W family of guns as well as the Browning HP were for law enforcement contracts.  As I recall the law enforcement community was interested in a way to instantly disable the firearm in a struggle, and that was the impetus for the magazine disconnect.

NRA rules require that all safety functions must work--even the magazine disconnect.

Grip safety has no advantage or detriment to accuracy.  Magazine disconnects almost all create a negative impact on trigger pull....but you still can't disable the magazine disconnect and have a match legal gun.

If the gun will never be used in competition it's easy to remove the magazine disconnect from a Browning HP, and it makes the trigger MUCH better. YMMV

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Re: Why 1911 Grip Safety?

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