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Dehorning a fad?

3561 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  oldcolt
As many of you here are aware,1911's, like many other things, have fads that come and go. I've noticed that lately dehorning or melting seems to be the popular way to go with a carry gun. Now it does seem to have a practical purpose, but so did checkering and making a square trigger guard on the 1911 a few years back. Are square trigger guards still being made? What I'm getting at is should I do a dehorn job on a Colt Officers model I'm about to get. I'm not planning on keeping it all original, but just don't want to do something I will regret later because it was a "fad".
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What aspect of the dehorning are you getting it done for? If it's so the pistol does not snag on your clothing or rip your hands up when you try to clear a stovepipe jam, then I say go for it, as that's what it's main purpose is.

Everyone has different tastes and if you like it and it doesn't have any adverse affects on the pistols accuracy or reliability and if you can afford to have it done, then go for it.
The only complaint I had about my Defender was that it came with sharp edges, so sharp in fact tht it would literally start cutting the holster I first had for it. Aggravating for me since it would seem that for the money, Colt should`ve done that as part of the finishing process. At any rate, I took it to a gunsmith in Chapin and had it dehorned. So for me anyway, this was a neccesary thing. Melting, on the other hand, is a much more radical dehorn job and may be a little better to keep the gun from snagging but seemingly is for a more cosmetic appearance. Looks good I admit.
Chapin? Must have been Wessengers. I understand he is really good at everything he does.
"Melting" or a heavy dehorning is not a real recent development. It goes back, at least, to San Francisco pistolsmith Bob Chow. The really heavy "melting" doesn't do anything functional that a more moderately done dehorning wouldn't. The acceptance of the appearance of a "melted" pistol, is a fashion thing...perhaps even a fad. A tasteful dehorning, by contrast, will always be in style.

I think dehorning had become more in demand because, due to IPSC and IDPA, more people than ever are engaged in using holstered pistols in competition that requires the pistol to be presented and manipulated in a very rapid fashion. This is a very good way to find all of the sharp edges on a pistol.

If one carries their pistol to the range in a box, carefully seats it in their hand before firing, and can call an "alibi" if a malfunction occurs, then that pistol probably doesn't need to be dehorned. If one carries the pistol or uses it in practical shooting contests, then a dehorning is probably one of the best things one can do to the pistol. After all, one won't do well with a hand tool that hurts one's hand.


[This message has been edited by Rosco Benson (edited 11-02-2001).]
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It has always irritated me that pistols are universally bigger than they need to be, with much of the excess metal in the form of sharp edges that catch on stuff and tear up hands.

If pistol designers were required to carry every day and shoot regularly, there would be some changes made.

It is even more irritating that it can cost around $250 to get the excess metal removed after already having paid to have it put on.

Rant off.

Your hands will tell you where you need to smooth the edges -- usually around the rear of the safety on the 1911 at least. More dramatic "dehorning" is nice, but not necessary for most of us. It depends a lot on your use of the pistol. Mine got through three day classes OK, but needed further attention for a 5.5 day class, for instance.
You can always file away yourself and touch it up with some cold blueing. I have a stainless pistol myself and have no problem taking the file to it. Of course if it were still new and all pretty I might think differently, but as is I have no problem with it.
A guy who used to work for Colt said the most often-cited reason for pistols being returned was that the corners weren't sharp enough. It used to be, rounded corners were the sign of a bad finish, and now people pay to have the corners rounded off!
You`re right, ScottsGT, it was Wessengers. Good work too. Took about 7-10 days to get it back.
Kimber has got the dehorning process down pat and my Kimber Custom Combat Carry Model will not draw blood or snag on anything, unlike some of my other 1911s.


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I may be wrong on this, but I believe the first dehorned, almost melted automatic pocket pistol was the Colt 1903 in .32 caliber.

Square trigger guards did not last because they required different holsters, at least that is part of the reason. Checkering is still popular with more manufacturers offering it either as an option or standard - pretty cool. Checkering does not require a special holster. Also, checkering has now gone from checkering and stipling to various other forms such as scalloping.

You won't regret dehorning your gun because it was a fad. Whether or not it is a stylish thing to do should be absolutely immaterial. In fact, I have never heard anyone talk about how dehorning or melting improves the looks of a gun at all. They do help prevent snags and keep the sharp muzzle edges from shaving out the inside of your nice leather holsters (I had two Colts that did that).
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I wouldn't call it a fad. The Novak rear sight on my Series 70 Combat Commander got sharpened to a needle point by the constant rubbing of my sport jacket liner. So that was rounded and refinished. Then the edges of my flat checkered mainspring housing were tearing up the jacket lining. So those were rounded off. I've never seen a slide so sharp that it was a denger, but I have read that others have. Same with some factory standard rear sights. So now parts of the back of my Colt are nice and rounded, and I don't worry about it getting hung up on my jacket and printing or getting snagged on the draw.
As stated above, don't confuse a standard dehorning with a "meltdown" treatment. All that's really needed is to just break the angle on any sharp corners using a file. The gun would need to be refinished afterwards, so be sure to figure that into the cost. A "meltdown" is an extreme dehorning that is mostly aesthetic, and possibly a fad, as you suggest.

Back before the days of "factory custom" 1911s, the general rule was that you needed three things on a stock 1911 to make it ready for fighting: high visibility sights, a crisp trigger that you could easily manage, and a dehorning-- the idea being that the gun shouldn't cut you when operating it vigorously, such as during a malfunction clearance. A commonly heard expression was that the gun should feel like "a well used bar of soap" in your hand. Handguns are hand tools and shouldn't injur the operator under normal use. I remember at Thunder Ranch DH1 there were two students that had brand new, just out of the box stainless Colt 1991A1s. By the third day they each had band aids and tape covering all the cuts and sore spots on their hands. My 1911 had been dehorned and I didn't get so much as scratch.

Dehorning = good.
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If there's one thing I do not like on pistols it is sharp edges. I feel that some companies take the idea a little too far (ala Kimber). I prefer a slight breaking of the edges where the lines of the gun remain intact. I have had pistols in both configurations and I won't own a sharp edged one in the future. It is akin to the differences between 20 LPI and 30 LPI checkering. The 30 is that much more comfortable to hold as the round count starts to climb.

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