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Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls

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Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls Empty Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls

Post by mikemyers 1/27/2023, 7:55 am

First, before anyone sends me a warning to "DON'T TOUCH" the sear spring in my new 9mm Range Officer Target, this thread is only about understanding, not doing.  I will be sending my gun to Dave Salyer to adjust the trigger pull, and other improvements he suggests.  


I have always wondered what the "sear spring" on a 1911 does, and after reading a dozen websites, put together the following explanation, partially copied from the internet, but combining things that were missing:



1) - the left tine puts pressure on the sear to keep it engaged with the hammer until it’s “pushed off” by trigger pressure.  This also controls the “trigger pull”, how much force is needed to press on the trigger until the gun starts to fire.


2a)  - The center tine does two things, applies pressure on the bottom of the disconnector, keeping upward pressure on it. 


2b)  - It also forces the trigger bow forward, assuring the trigger returns after being pressed. 


3)  - The right tine is bent “backwards” (toward you) forcing the grip safety outward, dropping the arm of the grip safety, blocking rearward travel of the trigger until the grip safety is pushed in. 





Having no desire to turn my 1911 into a machine gun, and minimal understanding of these things, and having lots of people give me incorrect advice, I know enough to realize and accept what I don't know, but I want to learn and understand, even if I don't want to "do".


Dave Salyer is an expert at this, while I would be "guessing".  Dave wrote me about this spring, and that answered the things I was most puzzled about.  Several people in this forum have clarified things in a way that makes complete sense to me, after my being "lost".  I've also bought several Kuhnhausen books, which on a second or third reading eventually make sense to me.




To be specific, my 9mm Springfield Range Officer Target has a 6 pound trigger pull.  Since it will only be used for shooting targets, Dave feels a 3# trigger pull would be appropriate.




My minimal experience at this....
My Salyer/Springfield wad gun has a wonderful, light, trigger, and I shoot it the best.
My Le Baer Premiere II has a slightly stiffer trigger pull, but I'm used to it.
Both of my Model 52 guns have such a light trigger pull, that if an errant bee flew into it, I think that would set it off.  I think it is 2.5 pounds, but I haven't used either of them in at least two years.
When in doubt, don't touch.


For this topic I'll stick with 1911 guns and similar.
I have no idea how other guns control these things.




In yet another stroke of genius, John Browning designed one part that controls so many different functions.  I'm fully aware that I shouldn't adjust anything that I don't understand.  The only springs I change when necessary are the recoil spring, and once, the main spring, almost always based on feedback from this forum or Dave.  Dave (and the other gunsmiths I've come to respect in this forum) are thinking at "graduate degree level", while I'm perhaps in the second grade by now.  For me, the sear spring (and related parts) are off limits.
mikemyers
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Post by Tripscape 1/27/2023, 8:39 am

I say play with it to your hearts desire.  Nothing wrong with adjusting leaf spring.  It is exactly as you quoted.  For best results you need to find lightest setting where your gun functions safely and then adjust up from that setting. You can keep adjusting, reassembling gun, dropping slide and observe for hammer follow. Pistol in assembled mode, thumb and tail safety removed, drop the leaf in, put the msh on and partially pin in place.  Feel and weight the trigger, pull hammer back and observe distinct clicks.  Rack and drop the slide, observe for no hammer follow.  Trigger should be tight in place with no wobbling around. 

Disconnector leaf also pushes on the trigger bow forward, so it can be set up as a first stage weight.  I have my pistols set up for 2:1 ratio of disconnector / trigger pre-travel weight to sear weight.  This pre-stages the pull and then a light wall, simulating a 2-stage trigger. 

Sear weight is a function of leaf itself and how the sear interacts with hammer.  I have 3.5lb triggers that "feel" lighter than 2lb triggers. 

When adjusting leaf always bend them from the bottom unless your MSH pins the bottom too much.  In that case maybe 1/3 of the way up.  Also remember that the metal the spring is made out of "settles".  Give it like 30 seconds to a minute to rest before putting back into the pistol. 

You can use Brownells guide to 2.5lb trigger 
https://www.brownells.com/aspx/learn/learndetail.aspx?lid=10297

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Post by robert84010 1/27/2023, 8:44 am

Mike,
why get peoples opinions. just buy the bible from Kuhnhausen and make your own decisions. There are some used ones available much better priced than new.



https://www.amazon.com/U-S-M1911-M1911A1-Pistols-Commercial/dp/B000HEGCQ0/ref=d_pd_sbs_vft_none_sccl_3_2/131-0845031-5494559?pd_rd_w=RfxdJ&content-id=amzn1.sym.38bbd1de-73a5-4ef9-9954-df27c3112829&pf_rd_p=38bbd1de-73a5-4ef9-9954-df27c3112829&pf_rd_r=ZAMYT9Z73VR6B07XV084&pd_rd_wg=zWUHK&pd_rd_r=493848ab-1d0e-4a51-ad1b-7a96386982cb&pd_rd_i=B000HEGCQ0&psc=1

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Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls Empty Re: Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls

Post by mikemyers 1/27/2023, 4:03 pm

Tripscape wrote:I say play with it to your hearts desire.  Nothing wrong with adjusting leaf spring.  It is exactly as you quoted. 
....... observe for hammer follow. .......  Disconnector leaf also pushes on the trigger bow forward, so it can be set up as a first stage weight. 

.......Sear weight is a function of leaf itself and how the sear interacts with hammer.  I have 3.5lb triggers that "feel" lighter than 2lb triggers.

.......You can use Brownells guide to 2.5lb trigger 
https://www.brownells.com/aspx/learn/learndetail.aspx?lid=10297
What I was thinking as I read your post - 
I don't feel capable of changing potentially dangerous things that I don't understand.
What is "hammer follow"?
Why would I want "stages" for my trigger?  I think I'd prefer it to move smoothly for most of the way, then it would take 3 pounds (or whatever) to fire
How can a 3.5 pound trigger feel lighter than a 2 pound trigger

You're right about the Kuhnhausen books; I already have two of them, one 1911, one revolver.
Reading is one thing.  Doing things I don't (yet) feel comfortable with is something else
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Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls Empty Re: Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls

Post by mikemyers 1/27/2023, 4:23 pm

robert84010 wrote:Mike,
why get peoples opinions. just buy the bible from Kuhnhausen and make your own decisions. There are some used ones available much better priced than new.
The Kuhnhausen book teaches exactly what to do.  The "people's opinions" here put a new face on things, as in "why" to do things, and what mistakes to avoid.

Between the Kuhnhausen book on revolvers, and GunBlue's wonderful video, I was able to not only do what was needed, but I understood the reason for doing so.

I don't want to be one of the people who just loosen up the "strain screw" on their revolver, and then say how good the trigger feels.  Years ago, someone who supposedly knew and understood revolvers, did this to my Model 28 Highway Patrolman.  It wasn't long before I was getting misfires, and what he did was instantly obvious when I opened it up.

In this forum, if someone writes something silly, I'm confident that within an hour, someone else will correct it.  Still, I always take anything I read in the internet with a grain of salt, until others have confirmed it.

Also, I highly doubt that if I made changes like the sear parts to my gun, it would be as good as if KC, Dave, John, or Roddy did them - just to name a few.  

(By the way, however good the Kuhnhausen book on S&W revolvers is, I found I LEARNED much more and more quickly from the GunBlue YouTube video.  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ujyLn3lHBc&t=45s    )
I have similar videos on the 1911, but GunBlue is a master!
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Post by Tripscape 1/27/2023, 5:10 pm

Haha, I learned on GunBlue video as well Smile) that gave me a first solid foundation.

Hammer follow is when you drop the slide and hammer does not stay cocked, but follows down with it. A recipe for auto fire. 

Some like smaller tension on the initial trigger travel, then a heavy 3lb wall and a break. I like higher tension on the initial travel and a much lighter wall. That's the idea of a 2 stage trigger. With properly executed rolling trigger that 2 stage setup.is beautiful. 

Look at it this way - a heavy wall with lite pre travel will give you feeling of a heavy overall trigger. A heavy pre travel with a lite wall will give you a feeling of overall lite trigger. Add crappy creepy factory ignition angles to that recipe and that heavier wall becomes a sh!t trigger. While lighter wall may feel like a longer 2nd stage. 

Properly cut angles and polished internals all add to the overall feel.

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Understanding the 1911 Sear Spring, and the various things it controls Empty My test at using OpenAI and ChatGTP for a question about the 1911 sear spring

Post by mikemyers 1/27/2023, 10:13 pm

I guess a lot of you have noticed discussions about "OpenAI" and "ChatGTP, where a computer program is configured to answer questions as if it was a real person that one was talking to.  I've been trying to create an account there for a week with no luck, but finally got through, and set up my account.  

To use the software, once you create an account, you go to the appropriate web page to access the program, and type in your question.  The software  checks places accessible via the internet to find an appropriate answer, and displays it on your screen.  If you want to try it yourself, go to https://openai.com.  Instructions can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adNwLaaJ5i0

Don't laugh too hard - if you read up on what this software can already do, it is both amazing and scary.

As a test, I just entered: 

what does the sear spring on a 1911 bullseye handgun do, and how to adjust the trigger pull for the best precision?


This was the first answer - I can accept it, or click on REGENERATE RESPONSE and the computer will try again.  Here's the first response I got:

The sear spring in a 1911 bullseye handgun is a small spring located in the grip area of the frame that controls the tension on the sear. The sear is the part of the trigger mechanism that holds the hammer in the cocked position. When the trigger is pulled, the sear releases the hammer, which strikes the firing pin and discharges the round.

The sear spring plays an important role in the trigger pull of the 1911 handgun, as it controls the amount of tension on the sear, which in turn affects the trigger pull weight. A heavier trigger pull weight means more tension on the sear, making it harder to pull the trigger, while a lighter trigger pull weight means less tension on the sear, making it easier to pull the trigger.

Adjusting the trigger pull on a 1911 bullseye handgun can be done by changing the tension on the sear spring. This can be done by compressing the spring and bending one of the legs of the spring to either increase or decrease the tension on the sear.

To adjust the trigger pull for the best precision, it's recommended to start with a trigger pull weight of around 4-4.5 pounds, and make small adjustments to the sear spring until the desired trigger pull weight is achieved. The trigger pull should be smooth and consistent, with no creep or roughness.

It is important to note that adjusting the sear spring can also affect the safety and reliability of the handgun, so it should only be done by a qualified gunsmith or someone with experience working on 1911 handguns. And also, it is important to test the gun after the adjustment in a safe environment and make sure it is still safe to use.
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Post by John B Fowler 1/28/2023, 11:10 am

The sear spring is also a disassembly tool.  The small lip at the bottom that engages the frame is a screwdriver to remove the grip screws and the forward facing edge of the left side of the spring that engages the sear is used to rotate the magazine catch retaining screw when the mag catch is depressed to allow removal.  Thus the entire pistol can be completely disassembled and reassembled without additional tools except for the 4 grip screw escutcheons that are typically staked, the front sight that was typically staked, the ejector and its tiny pin, the mainspring cap and its tiny pin, the rear sight that was friction fit in the dovetail and the spring tube for the slide stop and safety spring which is also staked in place.  John Browning did a great job on the design.

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