Now for those so inclined, some more in-depth info.
I’m working on a new website that will deal only with my AR15 and 1911 tools and accessories, but it’s going to take a little doing and a little time. In 2016 I did just a little less custom work and a little more R&D. This is one of several new products I’ll be focusing on in 2017. It is Patent Pending and I have released the first batch for sale. Professional installation for these is highly recommended.
It is the Fallarrest™ hammer and safety set. Before I get to the most unique thing about it, let me point out a few other features that, for a high-end custom 1911, have significant meaning.
First— What stops the downward stroke of a 1911 thumb safety is part of the safety lug. In traditional configuration, the contact point on the frame is somewhere on the bottom rear of the frame’s widow where the lug passes through as the safety is assembled into the pistol. The contact point on the safety, is, well, a point. After a certain amount of use this point will create a small deformation on the frame where contact is made; metal will be moved outward, proud of the frame side surface, and start to wipe the inside of the safety. It’s usually only a visual problem but—who wants it. However as the hard downward stop point migrates further down, it may cause a little irritating bounce-back when the safety is taken off. No biggie but on expensive guns, it’s not asking too much to not have it.
So the Fallarrest™ safety has a nice roundy contact surface. It’s not the first to have it, and it wasn’t my idea. I think I first saw it on EGW safeties. With all the safeties I’ve rounded off in this area for this reason, had I designed a safety twenty years ago, it would have had this feature, illustrated here by the Prussian blue showing the large contact area:
Second-- The Fallarrest™ safety has serrations on the bottom as well as on the top, connected at the back by a wrap-around such as I have been doing on all my custom guns for, I don’t know, maybe two decades. I would call it one of my signature touches that also happens to be very functional. I’m kinda glad I won’t have to do it the hard way any more:
This one shows the hammer face—it is cut lower, with a generous radius at the bottom, to take a little weight out of the hammer—another mod you will notice on each and every custom 1911 I have done. Each hammer face is hand-polished by me, starting with an ultrasonic stoning of the surface. Also in the pic you can see the safety’s wrap-around serrations and how the paddle is on the long side. This is so the ‘smith can size it down to whatever side is called for. Where the paddle “grows” from the safety’s body, the shape is more swooped back as opposed to abruptly jutting out like many do. Ergonomically this is worth it. The body and the paddle are good and beefy.
A closer view of the hammer’s slot. I’ve seen a few slotted hammers, very few admittedly, crack from the last cocking serration into the slot. Didn’t want that happening. Upper profile is my design but is within probably .010 all over of Colt Commander shape. The steps in the slot are a critical component of, um, that is, they are important for the function of…. of…. ah, tactically speaking they are a serious and necessary feature because, well, I’ll have to get back on that one. Some may also notice, they look different.
Now the biggie, and the patent-pending, serious part. I have seen 1911’s with the safety very poorly fitted, so poorly, in fact, that pulling the trigger with the safety on would drop the hammer. I have seldom seen it discussed but most people would tell you, not to worry, the safety being up will save the day.
Nope. The gun will fire. And in this case no passive firing pin safety will help. This could as well be the result of a perfectly fitted safety but for some reason the sear has been replaced and now the previous perfect sear-blocking safety-to-sear is no longer in effect. The guy replacing the sear perhaps did not realize it should be checked.
Now, what if, instead of a poorly-fitted safety, it’s a sear tip that chips off? Maybe on a high-mileage gun; I’ve had a few of those apart, and found a few sears cracked. What if, under 25-plus pounds’ load from the mainspring, the tip finally, spontaneously, just broke the rest of the way? Or—what if the sear pin broke (seen it) and migrated out to the right, allowing the sear to come out of location and engagement with the hammer? I have actually seen a 1911 in a guy’s holster that’d had the hammer and sear pins reassembled from the right side of the gun, and both had migrated out to the right about 1/4”. I think that was the first time that cop had been the recipient, and not the giver of, “Freeze! Do not move!”
Another 1/8” of outward movement of the sear pin, and….. well, I was glad I saw it. The hammer would have droped, and the gun would have fired.
I’ll grant you -, sear breakages are not necessarily common. The 1911 sear at first glance appears delicate as hell, but they actually hold up pretty well. Just not every one, under all conditions.
Bottom line: if the hammer falls for any reason other than a pull of the trigger, with the safety on, the gun will fire, absent a passive firing pin safety in good working order. The hammer will begin falling, contact the safety lug, bump it out of the way, and continue on to the firing pin. I have seen it and recreated it. I have filmed it. It happens.
A really stiff detent on the safety might retard the hammer fall enough to soften the blow to the firing pin. I have not been able to recreate this. With stiffer-than-most detent efforts and a reduced power mainspring, “we had ignition”.
How about a safety and hammer with features that hook into each other and arrest the fall of the hammer? Here’s what the relationship looks like without the Fallarrest™ set:
Added layer of safety, Fallarrest™-style:
I’m not going to pretend I’m making these—I could, but it’s much better on something like this to contract with an outfit with the perfect equipment for, and years of experience at, doing hammers and safeties. A place run by a guy I have long respected as a quality-conscious innovator, George Smith, of EGW.
The Fallarrest™ set is $154. Safeties are available in 4130 or stainless; hammers in tool steel only.