Dropping the slide on an empty chamber - problem, or not?

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Post by mikemyers on 6/9/2019, 2:38 pm

This is going around on the "Bullseye L List", but I thought I would ask here.   Jon, KC, and others who build these guns for competition - can/will dropping the slide on an empty chamber damage the gun?  I watch this video, and then picture all that the gun goes through from normal shooting - maybe this video is correct?   I was told long ago to never do it, but I was never told why.

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Post by dronning on 6/9/2019, 5:32 pm

Not a 1911 but just about every Euro 22 and even the Marvel unit 1's do not lock back on last round.  That means the slide is dropping on an empty chamber.

I'll let the Smith's comment on the 1911 45's.
- Dave
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Post by zanemoseley on 6/9/2019, 6:11 pm

The thing is there's no good reason to drop the slide on an empty chamber. As noted above some 22's do it by design but a 1911/45 never needs to drop. Jon built my 45 from scratch so I try to keep in as good shape as I can, I shoot it all I want but avoid actions that needlessly wear it and keep it clean.

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Post by mikemyers on 6/9/2019, 6:30 pm

I wanted to understand the reason for this.
From Dave Salyer:
         "Slamming it closed fatigues the barrel lugs and tends to enlarge the slide stop pin holes."  

So contrary to the video, it CAN/DOES damage the gun.
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Post by Jon Eulette on 6/9/2019, 7:21 pm

Biggest reason for not letting it slam into battery on empty chamber is damage to the sear from hammer bounce. Hammer will dig into sear and eventually leave a groove. When pistol is being fired the trigger is to the rear and pistol does not get the same hammer bounce. Thats why old time BE shooters held trigger to rear when loading pistol. Eventually thumb was used to hold hammer down on spur type hammers. With commander hammer and beavertail grip safety you cannot hold hammer down when releasing the slide. I hold trigger to rear when loading. Always have and always will!
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Post by zanemoseley on 6/9/2019, 7:52 pm

Jon told me to keep the trigger back when dropping the slide as well as change mags after 4 rounds on slow fire to avoid dry reloads. Be careful. I had 1 accidental discharge but due to safe habits it was in a safe direction, I had a bad first 4 rounds of slow fire and got distracted, instead of just loading a new mag I pulled the trigger as if the pistol was dry, pretty scary but I learned a good lesson.

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Post by Jon Eulette on 6/9/2019, 11:31 pm

Zane no need to hold trigger back during a magazine change when round is chambered. Only when loading first round.
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Post by zanemoseley on 6/10/2019, 7:06 am

Lol yes I know that. Just got distracted by my bad shots and forgot the state of my pistol. Figured I'd let my mistake be a PSA for others.

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Post by DA/SA on 6/10/2019, 7:14 am

I'm not really following what the issue is, as the hammer is being held back by the sear whether the trigger is held back or not when releasing the slide. So the hammer and sear are still in contact, so what is actually happening that would cause hammer/sear interface damage?

I don't drop the slide on an empty chamber to begin with, but I am now curious.

Thanks!

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Post by mikemyers on 6/10/2019, 7:53 am

Jon Eulette wrote:Biggest reason for not letting it slam into battery on empty chamber is damage to the sear from hammer bounce. Hammer will dig into sear and eventually leave a groove. When pistol is being fired the trigger is to the rear and pistol does not get the same hammer bounce. Thats why old time BE shooters held trigger to rear when loading pistol. Eventually thumb was used to hold hammer down on spur type hammers. With commander hammer and beavertail grip safety you cannot hold hammer down when releasing the slide....

  • I have understood from the very beginning not to drop the slide on an empty chamber.
  • From the very beginning, I have also learned that from the moment my gun is removed from the case or box, and placed on my table, until it is being replaced, it needs to be pointed downrange, and the slide needs to be opened, or the cylinder opened, at any time other than shooting.
  • These new concerns that you guys. are talking about - how important is it to be doing all these things?  For 99% of the regular shooters coming to a range, should all of them be learning to do this?  (I'm still trying to understand why it's important - I don't know enough about the internal workings of my gun to fully understand what we're trying to achieve.  Jon wrote "Hammer will dig into sear and eventually leave a groove."    I don't yet know enough about how guns work to understand how this is happening.
  • If we told all shooters to hold the trigger or hammer back while loading the first round, that goes against what we are being taught, that the finger doesn't touch the trigger until one is ready to fire.  For you guys, who know and understand so much more, I can see that this can be helpful, but I wouldn't want to see everyone at a public range making it a habit.  (I need to disassemble a 1911 and see for myself and understand what all the internal parts are doing....)
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Post by BE Mike on 6/10/2019, 8:13 am

mikemyers wrote:
Jon Eulette wrote:Biggest reason for not letting it slam into battery on empty chamber is damage to the sear from hammer bounce. Hammer will dig into sear and eventually leave a groove. When pistol is being fired the trigger is to the rear and pistol does not get the same hammer bounce. Thats why old time BE shooters held trigger to rear when loading pistol. Eventually thumb was used to hold hammer down on spur type hammers. With commander hammer and beavertail grip safety you cannot hold hammer down when releasing the slide....

  • I have understood from the very beginning not to drop the slide on an empty chamber.
  • From the very beginning, I have also learned that from the moment my gun is removed from the case or box, and placed on my table, until it is being replaced, it needs to be pointed downrange, and the slide needs to be opened, or the cylinder opened, at any time other than shooting.
  • These new concerns that you guys. are talking about - how important is it to be doing all these things?  For 99% of the regular shooters coming to a range, should all of them be learning to do this?  (I'm still trying to understand why it's important - I don't know enough about the internal workings of my gun to fully understand what we're trying to achieve.  Jon wrote "Hammer will dig into sear and eventually leave a groove."    I don't yet know enough about how guns work to understand how this is happening.
  • If we told all shooters to hold the trigger or hammer back while loading the first round, that goes against what we are being taught, that the finger doesn't touch the trigger until one is ready to fire.  For you guys, who know and understand so much more, I can see that this can be helpful, but I wouldn't want to see everyone at a public range making it a habit.  (I need to disassemble a 1911 and see for myself and understand what all the internal parts are doing....)

I would only worry about this if the gun is an accurized pistol. When I first got my first accurized pistol from Clark (when Jim Sr. was running the show) I got instructions like Jon gives on holding the trigger back when loading the first round in a magazine. I immediately had an AD (safely downrange), but it rattled me enough to just hold the hammer back when loading the first round with my off hand. To preserve your investment in a good accurized pistol, follow the advice from the experts, as much as possible. To shoot a Rock Island, etc. just do what you want, but be safe.
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Post by dronning on 6/10/2019, 8:25 am

I have no problem dropping the slide on an empty chamber on a carry piece with a 5-6 lb trigger BUT when I pay $3K plus on a finely tooled bullseye gun I'm going to take every precaution to preserve the work the smith has done.
- Dave
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Post by David R on 6/10/2019, 9:06 am

The test for Hammer follow when doing a trigger job is drop the slide on an empty chamber.  This is the "roughest" treatment the sear/hammer will endure.    The gun may function fine with hammer follow, but the sear lands in the half cock notch.  It will get worse in time.

Pull the trigger and drop the slide, hammer does not follow because the disconnector.  Release the trigger after dropping the slide, and it resets.

If you get hammer follow with trigger pulled, red tag the gun and take it out of service!

Clear as mud?
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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/10/2019, 9:51 am

Okay, I'm inexperienced but I've seen these discussions before.
The idea of holding the HAMMER back when loading certainly has some merit. The hammer won't drop on the sear and is instead eased onto it when the hammer is released.
But how is holding the trigger back doing anything to stop hammer/sear wear/impact? Had to search out an animation and watch it three times by stepping through it to confirm my understanding of how every thing works.
Once the trigger is pulled all the way back the dis-connector makes it so the trigger has no effect whatsoever on the sear/hammer. And whether there's a round being chambered or not the hammer/sear contact is identical.
Pulling the trigger to load seems not only pointless but, as demonstrated by the NDs described, downright dangerous.
Skip to 4:40 in the video and explain to me how having the trigger depressed does anything to limit wear or impact.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjQrhDKDWFk
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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/10/2019, 10:00 am

David R wrote:Pull the trigger and drop the slide, hammer does not follow because the disconnector.  Release the trigger after dropping the slide, and it resets.
The trigger disconnector resets when you release the trigger, but the hammer should already be on the sear.
I'm going to have to watch videos on "hammer follow" later this evening and see what I misunderstand about that. But I thought that would be a more fundamental adjustment issue as the hammer should be on the sear and get caught by the half-cock if sear engagement fails.

Every time a round is fired, the hammer hits the sear and the slide hammers the breech and lugs. The only thing I can see mechanically that is different if no cartridge is present is the resistance of the cartridge being extracted.

So, maybe not dropping a slide on an empty magazine or without a magazine saves putting (a little?) more than a single rounds worth of wear on the barrel lugs and breech.
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Post by mikemyers on 6/10/2019, 10:26 am

David R wrote:The test for Hammer follow when doing a trigger job is drop the slide on an empty chamber.  This is the "roughest" treatment the sear/hammer will endure.    The gun may function fine with hammer follow, but the sear lands in the half cock notch.  It will get worse in time.

Pull the trigger and drop the slide, hammer does not follow because the disconnector.  Release the trigger after dropping the slide, and it resets.

If you get hammer follow with trigger pulled, red tag the gun and take it out of service!

Clear as mud?
David
David, let's say I take unloaded wad gun and drop the slide on an empty chamber.

What is there to look for?  As far as I know, the slide will simply slam closed.
Did you mean to try this with the hammer held back, or pressure on the trigger, or ????

If this is a test, what is supposed to happen  and what is not supposed to happen?
How does one know if the gun "failed" the test?
Should the tester be pulling on the trigger, and looking for movement of the hammer?  I think that's what you are saying....?
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Post by David R on 6/10/2019, 11:41 am

I am at work.  Please look up trigger bounce.  

Just dropping the slide jars the hammer sear relationship.  It could jump off the hammer hooks when the slide/barrel hits the slide stop.   This jerks the frame in a forward motion. The trigger holds still and the frame moves tripping the sear. Because it’s quick and barely enough, the sear catches the hammer on half cock so the pistol does not go full auto.  It’s designed that way.  

With the trigger back, the disconnecter is pushed down.  The trigger can not trip the sear.   Hammer will not follow.  

This hammer follow  is usually the result of a crappy trigger job.   Not enough spring tension on the sear or poor angles on the sear/ hammer.  

If this was not true, we would have one pound triggers with no problem.
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Post by David R on 6/10/2019, 11:46 am

Tried to edit.  No joy on my phone.  

Aluminum triggers are a result  , or a way to decrease hammer follow.  

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Post by DA/SA on 6/10/2019, 12:15 pm

Thanks!

OK, so the way I read and understood Jon's post was that the hammer inertia from the sudden stop of battery would damage the hammer/sear interface. That's where I am confused, as that interface is the same whether the trigger is held back or not. Or am I missing something there?

After reading about numerous 1911 issues that people seem to have, I must just be lucky. I put my 1911 together years ago and it's done nothing but run since day one so I haven't been able to learn anything from solving problems. Other than the usual .22 issues, I've never had a malfunction with any center fire pistol I own.


Last edited by DA/SA on 6/10/2019, 12:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/10/2019, 12:17 pm

David R wrote:With the trigger back, the disconnecter is pushed down.  The trigger can not trip the sear.   Hammer will not follow.  
So the danger of holding the trigger during loading is to cover the danger of a light trigger and light sear and avoiding a ND from trigger bounce. Not wear/damage...
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Post by Wobbley on 6/10/2019, 2:43 pm

Pulling the trigger when the slide is released allows the disconnector to do its job. The disconnector is up with the slide back. Pulling the trigger and dropping the slide means that the disconnector releases the sear and the sear catches the hammer. Basic 1911 mechanics.

The question is “is it safe”. Certainly NOT as safe as holding the hammer back. And the dynamics aren’t the same as a regular recoil-counterrecoil cycle. Does it add wear to or peen the sear-hammer surfaces? Maybe. It IS the way Browning designed it and it works well. But those are with service weight triggers. With a lightened and tweaked set of springs with narrow engagements? I’m not so sure.
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Post by David R on 6/10/2019, 8:01 pm

Homework. Get out your 45. Make sure its unloaded. Drop the hammer. Now Cock the hammer with your thumb. Feel the sear click on the half cock nothch then the hammer hooks for full cock. Now HOLD the hammer in the same place. Pull the trigger with your finger slowly. First you can feel the disconecter spring (cener spring) . This should be about 1 pound. Keep pulling, you should feel the sear spring (left leaf) adding another pound of pull. Now we have 2 lbs plus what ever it takes to trip the sear. maybe another 1/2 to 1 lb. This would be a 3 lb trigger. Adjust the sear spring to less than one pound, like one half and you will get hammer follow. We are talking match triggers here. Fine honed and polished surfaces to mate up perfectly for a good light release that will not disturb your sight picture. Poloshed up to 1,000 grit to make for the perfect trigger pull and release.

If you hold the trigger back when dropping the slide, it cannot reset until you release the trigger.

Each may do as they wish. I am trying to answer the OP question as to why.

Hope I cleared it up for a few.
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Post by robert84010 on 6/10/2019, 9:10 pm

What a couple of you guys are failing to realize is that the hammer is not contacting the sear when the slide is fully to the rear. The hammer is actually rotated farther back and that is why it will slam into the sear without the trigger fully depressed. This is what it does when firing so it is no less safe than firing.  
Take a fully to the rear slide and allow it to slowly ride forward you will see the hammer rotate, this creates the inertia for the hammer hooks to crash into the sear. There is nothing to hurt on the hammer, it's the two angles on the nose of the sear that you are paying good money for the gunsmith to make perfect. without holding the hammer or trigger while dropping the slide on a 1911, with or without a round in the chamber, will cause that nose to go away and the crispness or roll will change.

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Post by mikemyers on 6/10/2019, 11:07 pm

This OP is still a little confused, but not nearly as much as when this thread started.  Thank you.  

I think I will try what you suggested, and see what it feels like.

As to what I'll do at the range, if the slide is locked back, I will release the slide safety with one hand, while holding the slide (or sight) with the other, so it closes at a normal speed, no slamming.
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Post by kc.crawford.7 on 6/11/2019, 7:42 am

Purely from a gunsmith perspective.  Hold the trigger to the rear when you drop the slide.  End of conversation.  That allows the disconnector to do as John Moses designed it to do.  That is a safety feature of the pistol.  No damage can occur because the sear and hammer do not make contact.
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