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Discussion Starter #1
I'm really leaning towards a Colt 1991 for my first 1911, due to a number of reasons. However, I have not been able to find a range in town that has a 1911 with the original style hammer and grip safety for rent. I don't have any nearby friends who own such a pistol either. All I've fired so far have been Kimbers with the beavertail GS. So I have never before experienced hammer bite, and I have no way of doing so before I buy a 1991.

For those who have 1911s with the old style hammer & GS, what factors contribute to or help prevent hammer bite? I've got pretty thin hands that seem to fit completely under the grip safety, but I couldn't say what might happen during recoil. Any tips or recommendations? Just how bad IS hammer bite?
 

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I have a mil-spec that has aggrieved many a shooter with the hammer bite of which you speak. I, too, have rather thin hands but still, when I first shot the weapon, I suffered from the annoying and mildly painful bite. I then purchased a set of the wooden Hogue grips with fingergrooves and, happily, the grooves situate my hand so that the hammer doesn't harm me. Although, I should mention, this only works for me. My brother, who has hands larger around than mine, still came home with a small red mark just behind the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger.
If you're willing to try fingergrooves, they may very well keep the hammer out of the way for you, too. But one never knows.

As for how bad hammer bite is, I don't think it's that bad. You notice it, after several rounds, and there is that red mark, but it wasn't enough to dissuade me from completing a 100 round session when I first shot the weapon. But pain thresholds differ from person to person. I finished over 25 rounds of .357 after the web of my hand split open and every shot sprayed a little more blood on the handgun. I wouldn't have noticed if it weren't for the grip getting a little slick. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, I should have opted for safety and hygiene over determination and focus.
 

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It depends on the gun and the individual firer's hand. My Colt 1911A1s with the short wide-spur hammer never bite me. Remington Rand pistols with the narrow hammer do. New Colts will nip me just slightly, but it doesn't bother me. Old WW1 1911s will eat my hand for lunch!

Fortunately with the new Colts, the problem is mild enough that you can remove a tiny bit of metal from the lower part of the hammer spur to reduce the chances of pinching.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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Is the hammer bite really hammer bite (where the hammer pinches the web of the hand between the GS) or is it just that the recoil is driving the thin GS into the web of the hand? I contend that if it was true hammer bite you would have a blood blister and not a red mark. Wide or beaver tail grip safeties spread the recoil impulse out over a larger area and prevent the edges of the GS from being smacked into the web of the hand. They also extend back further and prevent "beefy" hands from rolling over on top of the GS and then keep that part of the hand out of the way of the hammer.

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Ne Conjuge Nobiscum
MOLON LABE
Leonidas c 480 BC
FFF
 

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I have a Govt model built in 1966. It bites me all the time. After some sessions, I have a small red mark. Other times, I end up with blood blisters and on at at least two occasions, I bled all over the grip safety and hammer. Strangely enough, I do not feel anything at the time I am bit. I only notice the bite mark if I happen to glance at the back of my hand.

I guess some consider the red mark or even a scar as a badge of ...honor or manhood or what ever. I know I am getting tired of it though. As much as I have resisted modifying my 1911, I think I am ready to install a beavertail.

Don't let the thought of hammer bite dissuade you from buying a 1911. The bite is a no biggie.

Frog
 

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Hammer bite these days is an easy thing to remedy. Custom gunsmiths and aftermarket parts have made this a relatively easy fix.
 

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Most guys try to grip the pistol as high up as possible to get as close to the axis of the bore to help control the recoil. When you do this, the grip safety will press into the flesh of the web of the hand and tend to present the flesh to the dreaded pinch. Even if I didn't get bit, the small back of the standard grip safety used to dig into the web of the hand and really irritate me in a short period of time. If you don't grip the pistol high up you may not have a problem with hammer bite.

I have this problem with the 1911 and the Browning High Power as well. I like the "beavertail" grip safeties. I guess hammer bite is a big enough problem that almost all manufacturors have gone to them......or is that one of those fads?
 

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I have never had a hammer bite me once. I have shot a WWII 1911A1, 1966 Gov. Model, LW Commander, Combat Commander, Springfield Champion and others all with original grip safeties. Not a nibble (kinda like when I go fishing).

I have average size hands and they are just not a problem for me. Buy a 1991 if this is the gun you desire. If it does prove to be a problem, just purchase a drop in beavertail. It would be a very simple and cheap fix.
 

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I have the sort of hands that the originals love to bite. Why do you think almost all 45's being made now have a safety-hammer combination that negates this problem? A plus previously noted is less percived recoil and higher grip are both plusses with a beavertail grip safety. I bought a Llama .45 many years ago and it bit me terribly. Since parts don't interchange on a Llama, I cut about half the spur off the hammer. I still have plenty of hammer for cocking/uncocking, and it actually looks pretty good, and no more bite.

If God didn't want us to own guns, He wouldn't have sent us John Browning!

Rob
 

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You will know if you are bite prone by opening your hand up and have your thumb about 80 degress from your index finger. If you can take your left hand and use the thumb and index finger and see if you can pinch and move around some fatty skin on your right hand web. If yes ( like my hands ) then you may at some time get a nice hammer bite. When I first started shooting 1911's I had it several times, but after that you learn to grab the gun and move your hand up toward the top of the slide to capture a bit of that fleshy skin. It won't happen much after that.

[This message has been edited by quantico (edited 11-24-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for your help, everyone. I went ahead and got that 1991 today, but I haven't been able to shoot it yet. If it becomes a problem, y'all have given me a few good options - beavertail, remove some material from the hammer, change grip, etc.

I've got it here now, and I've been experimenting with different grip positions. If I force my hand as high as I can get it (like I do when I shoot a Kimber), I think I can see how I might get bit. But if I just leave my hand where it naturally is when I first grip it, the GS still seems to protect the web of my hand. We'll see tomorrow!

Have a nice weekend, everybody.
 

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I bought a cheap golf glove and snipped the fingers at the middle joint...Voila..No longer worry about hammer bite with my Sistema.....
 

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Not to stray too far off-topic, but does anyone on the forums have any hand-on experience with the bobbed hammer and bobbed grip safety setup like Gunsite does to the "Cooper 80" GSP?

I like the looks of it, and it seems like it would permit the highest possible grip on a 1911, but I'm a bit wary of how well this modification would pevent hammer bite.

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Roger Shambaugh
Ottawa, Kansas
 

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There is nothing like a gun that punishes you ever time you shoot it!

I have used white medical tape across the area that gets bitten, but a golf glove is probably a much better idea if you aren't going to modify the gun.
 

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Hammer bite is easily cured with the addition of a commander hammer and upswept beavertail. Key rule of good shooting - NEVER let the gun hurt you.

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, it's a moot point now. I just put 150 rounds through my Colt, and even with a high & firm grip there wasn't a hint of hammer bite. In fact, I now prefer the old style hammer & GS. Looks better, and I couldn't tell a difference in muzzle flip. I'll post a range report soon. Thanks for the input, everybody!
 
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