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

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

First topic message reminder :

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 joy2shoot on 6/11/2019, 8:49 am

So, how do you dry fire?  I used to just pull the hammer back and was told that was a bad thing.  I was told I needed to rack the slide.  Do you ride the slide back into battery?

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Post by zanemoseley on 6/11/2019, 8:57 am

Riding the slide slowly is a good way to get jams or get it stuck out of battery if your pistol is tight. I pull the trigger then quickly use the scope to rack, I do this in a very fluid motion to avoid issues.

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Post by Wobbley on 6/11/2019, 8:58 am

If you do rack the slide it doesn’t need to travel all the way...

FWIW, in my aged condition, I find that racking the slide is more effort than I like to do. So I just recock the pistol with my left hand. I fully release the trigger, then recock the pistol. It works.
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Post by DA/SA on 6/11/2019, 9:01 am

When dry firing hold the trigger back, then pull the hammer back, then release the trigger while the hammer is held back, then let the hammer settle onto the sear gently.

This keeps the sear from dragging on the hammer and having the sear "snap" onto the hammer hooks.

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Post by Wobbley on 6/11/2019, 9:08 am

FWIW, I’m becoming convinced that one reason ADs occurs during slide closing is similar to “milking the trigger” doubles occur in M1 and M1A rifles in Highpower. The gun isn’t being held firmly enough during closure so it bounces in the fleshy part of the hand. The slide closes with the disconnector doing its job but the gun then bounces off the flesh in the hand, the trigger resets, gun bounces forward again and Gun goes boom. You have to hold it as hard as if firing but a lot of people don’t.
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Post by dronning on 6/11/2019, 9:42 am

kc.crawford.7 wrote: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.

As per KC, this is what I've always done but Wobbley makes a great point, the gun must be held just as firmly as when firing or you might get "frame bounce" and a resulting AD.
- Dave
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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/11/2019, 10:20 am

robert84010 wrote: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.

True about holding the hammer.
Not true about holding the trigger. With the trigger held, the hammer is free to move and the sear is free to move, and the sear engages the hammer.

Can be seen in the video:
https://youtu.be/EjQrhDKDWFk?t=278

That nose and crispness is going away with every shot taken.
The only time it's treated gently is if you hold the hammer and drop the hammer slowly or you only allow the slide forward slowly.

The disconnector reset is at 4:59:
https://youtu.be/EjQrhDKDWFk?t=299

Click of reset has nothing to do with the sear except for it riding on the underside of the sear unti lit pops free. It's just the disconnector moving.

So why hold the hammer back or pull the trigger when dropping the slide? Because you’ve made your trigger so light and your sear engagement so slight that the pistol might just go off unintentionally from the jolt of the slide coming to a stop full forward (trigger bounce). The pistol jolts forward and the inertia of the trigger keeps it in position which can disengage the sear.

Each time you hold the hammer back you do protect your sear surfaces the damage of one bullet shot.

I hold a university degree in mechanical engineering and have spent a 20+ year career explaining mechanical systems and how they operate and how they are maintained. So looking at videos and reading the descriptions and thinking of what I experienced the times I've fired a 1911 pistol I can't help but think I'm not that stupid and there's something not quite right in all the various explanations. If what I wrote above is incorrect, I happily await correction.
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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/11/2019, 10:27 am

DA/SA wrote:When dry firing hold the trigger back, then pull the hammer back, then release the trigger while the hammer is held back, then let the hammer settle onto the sear gently.

This keeps the sear from dragging on the hammer and having the sear "snap" onto the hammer hooks.

In dry fire this makes perfect sense.
In that manner the disconnector never disengages the sear and trigger as the slide is stationary ad the disconnector remains in the up position.
So you are indeed moving the hammer free from the sear and the sear only travels on the hammer from below the fully cocked position to being engaged with the hammer.
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Post by TexasShooter on 6/11/2019, 6:43 pm

I've seen this topic multiple times on multiple forums and it seems to always get a ton of attention. I gotta ask - what is the attraction to letting the slide drop on an empty chamber? This much conversation about it suggests hordes of 1911 shooters eagerly searching for ways to make it ok to let 'er slam home...and I don't understand why. What am I missing?

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Post by David R on 6/11/2019, 7:16 pm

I see folks being concerned with AD or ND.   That is not what I am thinking.   IF the hammer follows, the sear lands in the half cock notch which could cause damage.   I know some smiths will make the half cock notch si the sear only lands in the middle.  This preserves the part that mates with the hooks. 

Not a big deal.  I have read quite a few threads my self.    

Thank you KC
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Post by robert84010 on 6/11/2019, 8:29 pm

slartybartfast,
I was not speaking to you directly but fair enough. I used to hold the hammer before hard ball guns were allowed bearvertail safeties. Many of us have beavertail safeties or hammer's without a spur and we can only hold the trigger. 

Thanks for posting your credentials they were not conveyed with your picture of a woman's vibrator on your powder measure.

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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/12/2019, 8:49 am

robert84010 wrote:slartybartfast,
I was not speaking to you directly but fair enough. I used to hold the hammer before hard ball guns were allowed bearvertail safeties. Many of us have beavertail safeties or hammer's without a spur and we can only hold the trigger. 

Thanks for posting your credentials they were not conveyed with your picture of a woman's vibrator on your powder measure.

That's how it works in forums and open conversations. People get to respond to what you say. So nice of you to be so respectful and bother addressing technical issues and questions.

Till now I can't say I've had anyone go for denigration on this forum, congratulations on bringing the forum down.

Perhaps you can redeem the needless childishness and prove your knowledge by answering some of my questions or addressing where my understanding of operation is wrong.

If I'm wrong about a technical aspect, you're free to correct me. But if you're holding the trigger only because you can and not because there's a reason to, well it seems ridiculous to me for one.

From comments on here and what I've read and watched in the meantime, the only technical reason to hold the hammer or trigger is to prevent NDs from trigger bounce. A serious concern for highly tuned guns with sensitive sears and light trigger pulls.

But to think it does anything to protect the sear or hammer sear hook seems to be unsupported by studying the basic operation of the 1911 pistol.
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Post by mikemyers on 6/12/2019, 10:40 am

One sentence from a PM I received earlier today, which matches my thoughts, but in a manner much more clear than what I would have said:


......I've always wondered why a piece of machinery that operates in such a violent and rapid manner needs to be babied so much when being readied for use.....


By following the advice of never dropping the slide on an empty chamber, and keeping my finger off the trigger until when/if I expect the gun to fire, dry or otherwise, I've never had an unintended discharge, excluding shots when I'm trying to get used to the trigger pull.  People have already posted in this forum about having an unintended discharge.  To me, the top of the list for what's important is SAFETY.  Given the choice of perhaps extending the time until my gun needs a touch-up from the gunsmith who built it, or something that could lead to an intentional shooting, I would prefer to get the gun worked on a little more often.

To me, it is a terrible idea to put pressure on the trigger, for almost any reason, unless the gun is pointed downrange at the shooting range, AND I expect the gun to fire.  Dry-firing an empty gun for training and  firing the gun as I'm cleaning parts and checking the action are exceptions.

(And when I'm doing either of the above, there is no live ammunition in sight, and none goes into the gun at all until I'm at the range, at my table, with the gun pointing downrange.)


Back on topic, I will continue to never drop the slide on an empty changer - I don't see any need to do so, and I have 45 Snap Caps if I do need to do so for some reason.  I'm not going to start holding the hammer back or pressing on the trigger - those  sound like bad habits for me to get into............
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Post by inthebeech on 6/12/2019, 11:06 am




I hold a university degree in mechanical engineering and have spent a 20+ year career explaining mechanical systems and how they operate and how they are maintained. So looking at videos and reading the descriptions and thinking of what I experienced the times I've fired a 1911 pistol I can't help but think I'm not that stupid and there's something not quite right in all the various explanations. If what I wrote above is incorrect, I happily await correction.


Wow!
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Post by mikemyers on 6/12/2019, 11:16 am

If you come right down to it, a 1911 (or any gun) is just a machine.  There should be a logical explanation for any/all of the parts.  Just like a car or an airplane.  Do something wrong, and there can be nasty consequences.  

Gunsmiths know this, and polish parts where necessary to reduce friction, and other things to improve reliability.  The animated video posted up above has done wonders to allow me to better understand what is going on, and how the 1911 works.  

It's also obvious to me that the match guns we use are based on a 1911, but are not really the original design, which was something much more durable and able to withstand rough handling.  To improve one aspect of the gun (accuracy) we are decreasing other aspects of the gun.  Everything is a compromise.



(By the way, I have never yet fully disassembled a 1911, and while I understand much of it, the firing mechanism is only partly clear to me.  I read what you guys write about the sear and so on, but I don't know enough to really understand what is being said.)
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Post by Wobbley on 6/12/2019, 11:30 am

Are you impressed with his credential and experience?  Because his summation is substantively correct.

When you pull the trigger and drop the slide, the disconnector is making the gun safe by disconnecting the sear from the trigger.  The hammer IS riding down onto the sear surfaces and being held.  Dropping the slide WITHOUT pulling the hammer does NOT Allow the disconnector to remove the trigger out of the mechanism so when the gun bounces, the trigger might just bounce separately and gun goes boom.   As for holding the hammer, it is probably a bit safer.  During recoil-counter-recoil as in shooting the accelerations on the gun are different.  Without instrumentation I don’t know what the differences are.  

In any event, whether dropping the slide with the trigger pulled or otherwise keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.  

Myself, I don’t pull the trigger and I use a modified slingshot.  I ride the slide down until it hits the cartridge in the magazine then let it go.  That little extra control removes some energy but just seems to make the difference.  In my hands it seems to reduce the amount of bounce felt.  My grip is just as hard as when firing.  Then I adjust my grip to the exact position I want the pistol.

As always, YMMV.
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Post by robert84010 on 6/12/2019, 12:37 pm

A simple misunderstanding on my part:

Twenty years ago my gunsmith said hold the hammer back when releasing the slide. Safer and saves the trigger job. When the rules from cmp changed I had a new rule conforming pistol made. He said hold trigger so I figured for the same reasons.
I'm just a guy working on his third badge. I could care less about the mechanics of a 1911 . You were right, I was wrong. Never looked at in depth though either. Yeah a fifteen second watch of the video makes it clear. YOU WERE RIGHT, I WAS WRONG. Happy?
The difference here is that some of us are only interested in becoming better shooters while some live to argue about the minutia of the last half percent.
Our sport is dying while so many here ponder the meaningless instead of practicing or shooting matches. Being a better shooter is the main purpose of this webpage, In my opinion. I suppose we will move onto wd-40 or the merits of a dryer sheet in the tumbler next. The real score builders.

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Post by DanQ on 6/12/2019, 1:17 pm

kc.crawford.7 wrote: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.

That's what I was taught years ago and I've continued to do since returning to the sport.  Good to understand why.  Thanks!

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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/12/2019, 2:02 pm

DanQ wrote:
kc.crawford.7 wrote: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.

That's what I was taught years ago and I've continued to do since returning to the sport.  Good to understand why.  Thanks!
Except you're thanking the wrong information...
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Post by Slartybartfast on 6/12/2019, 2:06 pm

Wobbley wrote:Are you impressed with his credential and experience?  Because his summation is substantively correct.
Thanks for the response that followed that.
I put my credentials to stave off the inevitable "WTH do you know? How many 1911s have YOU stripped and given trigger jobs to?".
In challenging the misconceptions it seems some took it as a challenge to their egos and manhood FFS.
I might have more to learn than many on the subject of firearms, but everyone has something to learn from time to time and should be open enough to figure out when.
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Post by jmdavis on 6/12/2019, 2:30 pm

I just do what Mike Curtis (who built my gun 20 years ago), Jon Eulette (who built the best loaner long slide I've ever fired), KC (who I sourced my 22 trigger parts from), David Sams (who did my 22 conversion action job and made me a "soft" trigger), the Gathrights (mentors who shot 50,000 rounds of 1911 per year for decades, and the USMC Armorers who have worked on my guns tell me to do. It works really well that way.

I can get some hammer follow even with new springs if I don't hold the trigger back when dropping the slide. When I dry fire I only move the slide enough to reset the hammer and trigger no more and no lock back.

Then again, I load on closed slide and an empty chamber to have a chance to dryfire once, and confirm my grip before chambering a round.
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Post by dronning on 6/12/2019, 4:41 pm

jmdavis wrote:I just do what Mike Curtis (who built my gun 20 years ago), Jon Eulette (who built the best loaner long slide I've ever fired), KC (who I sourced my 22 trigger parts from), David Sams (who did my 22 conversion action job and made me a "soft" trigger), the Gathrights (mentors who shot 50,000 rounds of 1911 per year for decades, and the USMC Armorers who have worked on my guns tell me to do. It works really well that way.

I can get some hammer follow even with new springs if I don't hold the trigger back when dropping the slide. When I dry fire I only move the slide enough to reset the hammer and trigger no more and no lock back.

Then again, I load on closed slide and an empty chamber to have a chance to dryfire once, and confirm my grip before chambering a round.
+1
Someone mentioned snap caps, NEVER drop the slide on a chambered snap cap - great way to break an extractor.
- Dave
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Post by DanQ on 6/12/2019, 5:34 pm

Slartybartfast wrote:
DanQ wrote:
kc.crawford.7 wrote: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.

That's what I was taught years ago and I've continued to do since returning to the sport.  Good to understand why.  Thanks!
Except you're thanking the wrong information...

No, I was thanking the fellow Marine who builds and works on my guns.

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Post by WesG on 6/12/2019, 5:51 pm

Re 'Old Wive's Tails' ...

'Another one bites the dust ...'

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Post by inthebeech on 6/12/2019, 6:06 pm

I had to look up substantively.
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