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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased my second AMT Hardballer (Irwindale manu.) and although my first (Covina manu.) has been an excellent piece, this one has a few quirks. I had it at the range Thursday and when I would release the slide with an empty mag the hammer would follow about 70% of the time. While firing there was never a problem. I also noticed that, "from the safety notch", the hammer will drop if the trigger is pulled. I inspected the hammer and find that it only has a ledge(?80 series) and no notch like my earlier AMT. There is no firing pin safety in either of these AMT Hardballers so why no notch in the Hammer? Should I replace the hammer? And what do I need to adjust or replace to stop the following problem? The gun has a Wilson Combat FL guide rod and 18.5lb spring, ambi thumb safety, and a 298 grip safety. Do the hammer and sear have to be replaced together? Thanks.
 

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I would suggest taking it to a gunsmith pronto. Just because it isn't a problem when firing doesn't mean it won't turn in to one - my bet is that it will.

Also, the notch in the hammer IS NOT A SAFETY in the typical sense of the word. The hammer WILL still drop if you pull the trigger. That notch is there to stop the hammer from hitting the firning pin, should your sear break, or disengage itself from the hammer accidently. This notch would catch the falling hammer.

It is most likely a worn/incorrect hammer/sear combo that is causing the problem.

I would always change hammer and sear together, and allow the new parts to "seat" in to each other. There are several "drop-in" hammer/sear kits, that usually require just a slight bit of fitting or polishing.

Again, my first advice would be to take it to a 'smith, before you risk having your gun go full-auto when you are least expecting it.
 

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Everything Shane said is spot on. I'll add a couple points of information. First you said that you dropped the slide with an empty magazine....not a good practice to continue.

Here's a probable reason why hammer follow happens...it's all about inertia. When the slide slams forward it takes the frame with it. Due to inertia, the trigger wants to stay where it is. Since the frame is moving forward and the trigger is "effectively NOT" the trigger presses against the sear (which IS moving forward) and the hammer drops. This is part of the reason for "low mass triggers" for those guns that have very light trigger jobs performed.

When people tell you that dropping the slide with an empty magazine will damage a trigger job the reason is because should the hammer actually drop, the half cock notch will then HOPEFULLY hit the sear and stop the hammer from following all the way down. Hitting the sear like this is what damages the face of the sear and destroys fine trigger jobs.

I say HOPEFULLY because there is no guarantee that the half cock notch will catch the trigger every time....I've seen it not happen and the hammer followed all the way....the result is an discharge.

Dropping the slide on an empty chamber is not what kills trigger jobs...having the hammer follow and slamming into the sear is what does it.

It is possible in your particular pistol that the sear spring is not adjusted correctly. The left finger is somewhat responsible for setting trigger pull tension (the mainsspring will also contribute) and the center leaf is responsible for setting the pressure on the disconnector BUT....this finger is also supplying constant pressure on the trigger under rest conditions...this pressure is what you feel when you initially take up the trigger. If the center leaf of the sear spring is set too light, the the "preload" on the trigger will be too light and can allow the trigger to "set back" when dropping the slide on an empty chamber.

When you drop the slide on a loaded magazine, the process of stripping the round from the magazine slows the slide significantly to the point that the forward impulse of the jolt is not as severe...hence no hammer drop.
 

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Originally posted by vapors750:
It is possible in your particular pistol that the sear spring is not adjusted correctly.
Good point vapors! I knew I was forgetting something.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Shane & Vapors,
Thanks for all the help. I did purchase this gun used & it may have had some work although all the parts appeared to be factory AMT before I made my additions. The trigger is at least 4-1/2 to 5lbs pull but crisp. I will try the standard spring as I wasn't having the follow problems until I changed it. I also switched from Breakfree to a synthetic oil on the moving parts. These probably sped up the slide cycle. Is there a problem with staying with the hammer with non captive safety ledge? If I do replace it should I get a captive notch type?

I have been doing all my own gunsmith work for about eight years, building & shooting 1/2MOA Target/Varmint rifles. I just recently got a renewed interest (bug) for the Handguns and while I understand the workings of the 1911, I can't say I have all the answers. I feel it is always best to get opinions from those that KNOW (That's all you guys) before jumping in the deep end. My other AMT has the trigger set to 3-1/2lbs and hasn,t had a bit of a problem. It does have a lighter trigger though. I may have to lighten up this one or install a new one. What trigger do you guys prefer? If you have any other suggestions for me shout right out. I have Khunhausens first shop manual for the 1911's. Is the second a necessary addition? Thanks again.
 

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Euroman, I prefer hammers with the half-cock notch as an extra measure of safety (since the only safe way to carry a loaded 1911 is cocked and locked). Trigger pull weight is a personal preference, but I feel that anything between 4 - 5 lbs. is adequate for general purpose carry, and target work. If your gun is target only, you may want to go a bit lighter.

Vapors is correct about the sear spring needing to be tuned correctly - it is a very important piece that gets little said about it sometimes.

I prefer Videki or King aluminum 3-hole triggers, but there is a lot of choice, all available at Brownell's ( www.brownells.com ).

Khunhausen's second manual is a worthy addition if you really want to get to know your 1911, or build one from the ground up.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Shane,

I will get a chance to take it down and inspect everything through the week ( I work weekends/nights ) then I'll know what I will need. Brownell's is only a bit over an hours drive from here. I have done quite a bit of business with them over the past ten years and their tech guys have always steered me true on rifle info & parts. Do you know who their 1911 whiz(expert)is? Also looks like another tech manual is to be added to my library. Thanks.
 

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Sorry EuroMan, but I don't know who the 1911 tech expert(s) is at Brownell's, but I'm sure they can steer you in the right direction!
 

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Sorry I'm a little late getting back on this one. EuroMan...sounds like you know your way around 1911's fairly well (which is a good thing). I don't know anything about Khunhausens 2nd manual...like yourself, I just have the first.

Regarding triggers, I've got a Chip McCormick ultra light trigger in my Springfield (trigger set at 2.25lbs) that I picked up from CDNN Investments pretty cheap (like $13??).

One thing you also mentioned that I forgot....changing from the standard 16lb recoil spring to a 18.5lb recoil spring can sometimes bring on hammer follow because more force is being exerted on the slide (and you get a greater resulting forward momentum).

You may want to take a real close look at the sear/hammer engagement and make sure that the sear is fully engaging the hammer hooks. The original sear in my Springfield was not cut square and I experienced hammer follow (all the way down to the firing pin....fortunately the gun was pointed in a safe direction when it went off). The trigger broke at about 4.5lbs initially so it's possible to get hammer follow with what would be considered a heavy trigger. Springfield replaced the sear and hammer in my gun.

I believe that the hammers with the captive half cock notches claim that they protect the sears should the hammer drop. I don't know off hand if this claim is true but if they designed the notch to catch the front/back sides of the sear rather then landing on the nose/edge of it, then YES, it would be a true statement....so from that standpoint, I would suggest getting one of the captive half cock notch hammers.
 

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Euroman,
...ask for Mike Watkins at Brownells, he was a professional 1911 'smith and APG member before he went to work for Brownells.
...very knowledgable...
Barry
 

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I have only shot one AMT before. It had a hammer follow problem similar to yours, but it would double and all kinds of crap! The problem with that one was the overtravel screw in the trigger would move. Check that out. As for sear spring adjustment, I would get it to a smith and one that lnows 1911 sear springs. My understanding is that to get it to take a proper adjustment and then keep that is difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I would like to thank all of you for your suggestions. I cleaned & oiled the gun then replaced the recoil spring with the factory spring and have had NO (Zero) reoccurance with the hammer follow problem. I will at some time install a lightweight trigger just for some added safety. It is great to have a board such as this to share info, experience and a common interest. Being a newbie to working on the 1911 You have all been a great help to me.
 
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