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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A discussion occured last night concerning the use of the half-cock notch. It's always been MY understanding that placing the hammer at the half-cock position would eventualy ruin a finely set trigger pull, by altering the hammer/sear engagement surfaces.
Others swore that it was a "safe" way to carry their pistols, with a round chambered, only requiring them to draw the hammer back to the fully cocked position to fire.
That, to me, sounds SO wrong. Can anyone support either position?
JH
Livin' in The PRK
 

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Half cocked

Its not a safe way to carry one. It's a third safety that catches
the hammer in case the hooks or the sear breaks. It won't hurt the sear any more than carrying at full cock. Falling to half-cock
is whats bad for the sear. AD is no more likely from condition 1
than from half cocked or condition 2. So sayeth my buddy.

C-Buff
 

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C-buff nailed it.

There is no reason to ever cock or carry your pistol at half-cock.
 

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Sear Nose damage from half-cock

I have seen some hammers where the half-cock notch had a "lip" on the outer edge to catch the sear nose more securely. Pulling the trigger and forcing the sear to drag past this lip can tear up the sear nose.
 

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All hammers having the original type half-cock notch have a "lip" to prevent the sear from being pulled out of the notch. In spite of the horror expressed at the idea of the half-cock being used as a safety, the fact is that it was the only safety on most of the early Colt Browning pistols, and on the .45 trial guns up until 1910.

It was also, until recent times, the only safety on many other pistols and revolvers, as well as rifles like the Winchester and Marlin lever action rifles, and shotguns.

I agree that cocked and locked is the better way of carrying the 1911 pistol. But to say that the half-cock never was intended as a safety is to ignore the history of the gun.

Jim
 

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Jim Keenan said:
I agree that cocked and locked is the better way of carrying the 1911 pistol. But to say that the half-cock never was intended as a safety is to ignore the history of the gun.
Okay, how about this wording then: The half-cock notch was never meant to be a manually-applied safety.

Browning never meant for the gun to be carried at half-cock; it was put there to lessen the likelihood of a catastrophic sear failure leading to an accidental discharge. Is that a safety? Sure. But not in the same way as the grip safety or thumb safety. It's a safety in that it makes the gun safer.
 

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I have read that myth many times, but no one repeating it has ever produced any proof of exactly what Browning intended. What did he intend when he used a safety notch as the ONLY "manually applied" safety on his earlier pistols? I think it is reasonable that he intended the half cock to be used as a safety, since those guns have no other.

Sorry for the theorists, but in those days before modern "experts" (and lawyers) got into the act, a half cock was considered a perfectly adequate safety, and it was the only safety on millions of rifles and shotguns as well as pistols and revolvers.

The manual safety was not even used on the army test guns up to the 1910 tests, when it was added at the request of the cavalry who wanted a way to make a cocked pistol safe when they had to control an unruly horse. (Apparently, it was considered bad form in the cavalry to accidentally shoot one's horse or a fellow trooper.)

I will agree with you on what "Browning meant" if you can produce a document written by him to that effect, or conduct a seance at which he can explain his intentions. ;>)

Jim
 

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Maybe I'm missing something, Jim. If JMB meant for the half-cock notch to be the manual safety then that would require carrying with one in the pipe and manually lowering the hammer to half-cock. Given the elegance of his design I jusy don't buy it. I can't believe that he designed his gun to be "dumbed down" such that the gun needed to be manually cocked to be readied for combat.

I'd love to read something that definitively shows that's what he intended - condition 2. Yucko.
 

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Safety

Unless I heard wrong, the thumb safety wasn't even on the
first ones. The grip safety was it. That would make the
half cock a manual safety wouldnt it?

C-Buff
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Gosh, fellas! Thanx for all the info/history/conjecture on this subject. My concern revolved around the daily carry of a modern-day, other-than-Colt manufactured 1911 placed intentionally on the half-cock notch. I've derived from submissions that it's not a good idea with today's pistols, and I doubt there are many pre-1910 versions in daily carry use right now.
I'll take all of this advice, and slink off, grateful for your educational responses!
JHart
 

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Hi, Manevitch and ColtBuff,

As to the older pistols, some Model 1900's had a hammer block safety (sight safety), others did not. Colt later discontinued the safety and removed it on pistols still in stock. There was no grip safety. When there was no sight safety, the half cock was intended to be used as the only manual safety.

The Models 1902, 1903 hammer pocket model, and 1905 commercial pistols had neither a grip safety nor a manual safety, and thousands of those were sold that way with apparently no qualms by Colt or Browning. Again, the half cock notch was present and intended to be used as the safety.

A manual safety lock was used on the .32 and .380 pocket models and the .25 vest pocket model for the simple reason that there was no other way to make those guns safe, halfcock being impossible.

The Model 1907, 1909, and 1910 pistols developed for army tests had grip safeties but no manual safety. In the 1909 test report, the cavalry, to quote Clawson, "Gave John Browning the message that ... a mechanical safety lock would have to be designed." The reason is the one I gave, that a trooper would have to have a means of making the pistol safe while controlling his horse. Browning then developed a crude experimental manual safety for the Model 1909.

Again to quote Clawson, "All Model 1910 automatic pistols were originally manufactured without a mechanical safety lock, but it was later retrofitted on most of the pistols." None of the 1907-1910 models were sold commercially. The Model 1910 safeties varied, but the general outline and function of the Model 1911 safety was set in this period.

Now, John Browning was, at this time, very much alive and kicking. No one had to guess his "intent"; his intent was expressed in his work. Had he not intended a half cock to be a safety, I think he would certainly have put manual safeties on his earlier models and not waited until the horsy set "gave him a message."

As for the 1911 having to be cocked to be "ready for combat", the Army always ordered the pistol to be carried with a full magazine and the hammer down on an empty chamber, even for MP duty. Carrying a pistol in "condition one" was a court-martial offense. The idea that a combat pistol will be used in some sort of a "fast draw" contest is not realistic. It would be a rare situation (I have never heard of one) where a user did not have time to anticipate combat and work the slide before using his pistol.

All that being said, I agree that if a Model 1911 type pistol is to be carried with a reasonable degree of readiness, "cock and lock" is the best approach. But that is modern thinking, and should not be attributed to JMB or to anyone else at the time of the pistol's adoption by the U.S. armed forces.

BTW, Manevitch, as any user of the older Winchester lever rifles or the similar Marlins knows, one does not "lower the hammer to half cock." That can allow a false half-cock, which is dangerous. One lowers the hammer all the way down, carefully, then pulls it back to half cock, listening for the "click" that says the half-cock is engaged.

Jim
 

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"...IMMEDIATELY without warning..."

...(not my caps), is the use suggested by my 'Colt Safety and Instruction Manual' for carrying cocked and locked, (Mode 3).

Empty chamber (ie, Mode 2) is for, "CARRYING THE PISTOL READY FOR USE" - again, not my caps.

Thank you Mr Keenan for the elucidation. I shall continue to carry with an empty chamber but now with head unbowed...notwithstanding that real men carry cocked and locked ;)
 

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I get confused on the "modes" and various versions thereof.

One that I do know is the most dangerous:

Mode 17 - Gun in the hand of your wife who has just been comparing notes with your girl friend in the ladies' room.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Not to compete with "Mode 18", pistol in hand of wife, holding your notes on "actual" cost of firearms inventory, compared to "discussed" cost of firearms inventory!
Thanx for all the help, folks. This one can roll over and die, now, as I think we've seen all that needs to be said!
Thanx again!
 
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