1911Forum banner

1 - 20 of 39 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
what was the reason for changing the spring housing from the "flat" type to the "arched" type? Both of my 1911's (Kimber and S & W) have the "flat" type and I think it is easier to shoot than an "arched" type would be. just curious
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,358 Posts
From Clawson's big book:

A subsequent report by the First Cavalry in Arizona, dated November 24, 1921, further recommended a "hump" be added to the mainspring housing, as designed by First Lieutenant William H. Wenstrom:

"...which gave a more desirable angle to the rear of the grip, forced the soldier to take the correct grip with the hand well up on the stock, and corrected the tendency of the untrained pistol shots to aim low,"

The feature was adopted along with other recommendations on the pistol that became the Model 1911A1.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,484 Posts
Another change was the short trigger. I've no idea why folks would want a long trigger, but the new ones all seem to come with one.

I swore for years I needed the arched mainspring housing to shoot well. Found out it didn't make any difference for me.

-- Chuck
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,969 Posts
I've no idea why folks would want a long trigger, but the new ones all seem to come with one.
For the average male hand, it gets the trigger centered better beneath the pad of the first finger and encourages a linear trigger pull without pulling. I have to work harder and consciously bend my trigger finger more to get a proper placement on a short/arched set up. That most modern guns are set-up with the original design (flat/long) speaks quite a bit about its preference to most shooters. Again, that's "most" as anatomic variations will mean the short trigger fits others better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,358 Posts
You have to remember that almost 100 years ago the average male was not as large as today, and a common complaint was that the trigger was too long (they called it too wide). Probably the most significant thing they did was to extend the length of the spur on the grip safety. From the change in 1914 to the longer hammer, there were complaints about the longer hammer pinching the skin between the thumb and forefinger. They finally corrected it 10 years later.
There were several other minor changes as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,228 Posts
The milled recesses or dished out areas behind the trigger on the frame are to prevent the finger from rubbing up the frame (on a rifle we called it dragging wood) and possibly pulling the frame a bit to the left or right as you squeeze the trigger. The arched mainspring housing would appear more ergonomic when looking down on the palm of your hand. However, many shooters preferred the straight msh (including myself) and Colt uses it on the Gold Cups.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,969 Posts
almost 100 years ago the average male was not as large as today
This is one of those things that I heard for years to explain the trigger change. But then in some medical literature I found this was not very significant. The difference in overall height of the average US male in 1920 vs. 2000 was 1.1 inches. What this translates into in hand size is very small. The proportional difference in the trigger change is MUCH more than average hand size. Also, most guns as produced today are proportionally as designed in 1911, and seem to fit a wide degree of people, just as they did then.

I have to conclude the Army was trying to make a change to compensate for technique/training rather than "fit." I think folks wanted to shoot with the trigger in their joint and not the pad, and that was what the change was designed to accommodate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,228 Posts
Well now, I bet you think you're pretty smart. Maybe it was to open up the area so that a gloved finger could fit in there. Try it for yourself if you don't believe me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,969 Posts
Well now, I bet you think you're pretty smart. Maybe it was to open up the area so that a gloved finger could fit in there. Try it for yourself if you don't believe me.
There's no need to be snide - it's just a discussion and speculation. Perhaps it was to allow a gloved finger. I can't say definitively, nor can anyone because none of us were there during the QM discussions. No source has reproduced them to allow us to say "Ah, that's why."

But what we CAN say is that the "different sized hands" idea doesn't hold up to scrutiny. And we can say that without being rude.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
How can you say the smaller hand idea doesn't hold up to scrutiny?

The average hand was indeed smaller then and just because the proportional trigger difference is more significant than that of the hand size, who is to say they didn't overcompensate with the trigger change? Perhaps they didn't want the length of the trigger to be an issue for even someone with the smallest hand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
what was the reason for changing the spring housing from the "flat" type to the "arched" type? Both of my 1911's (Kimber and S & W) have the "flat" type and I think it is easier to shoot than an "arched" type would be. just curious
Sounds like you haven't shot much (or any) with an arched MSH. Maybe you ought to give it a try. You might be surprised with the results you get.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
451 Posts
I think it could be some of both hand size and shooting with a glove. A person with a large hand would have less trouble shooting with a short trigger than a person with a small hand shooting with a long trigger. As for shooting with a gloved hand, remember we just fought a war in a COLD Europe and it was then realized that troops wearing gloves had trouble inserting a gloved finger in front of the long trigger. They would have to stop and remove a glove before shooting which could be deadly/costly time wise. So with feedback from the troops experiences I believe they may have "killed" 2 birds with 1 stone with the change by using common logic. I "love'em" either way and have no trouble with them.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,969 Posts
How can you say the smaller hand idea doesn't hold up to scrutiny?
Because longitudinal studies show that the average American man's hand size was NOT significantly smaller then than it is now. This is the "scrutiny" of applying logic and a scientific process to the guess/hypothesis and seeing if it holds up. This "guess" doesn't hold up very well when analyzed. And that's all it is, a "guess."

If we try to backward-guess why it was changed, our "guesses" need to fit known facts. A known fact is that the height difference 1920 to 2000 is 1.1" (68" vs. 69.1"). Another known fact is there is a linear relationship between hand span and height. The proportional difference in handspan 1920 vs. 2000 is thus 1.6%.

Thus, we have to really scratch our heads and realize the average hand size our our grandfathers or great-grandfathers (which is who we are talking about) is pretty much the same as ours. And we shouldn't really be too surprised by this. It's also just common sense. Plus, we have to reconcile the gun was designed to fit the average hand of 1900/1910-ish as it was under-development, and from people who had been designing guns for decades. to believe they totally goofed, we have to also believe they had no idea what they were doing, which is pretty presumptuous of us.

So, to "buy" the hands are smaller reasoning:

1) We have to ignore the scientific data that shows they were not.
2) We have to believe that John Browning and the Colt engineers were indifferent to the anatomy of the users and screwed up.

It would be better and more logical to set this reason/guess aside temporarily and go look for another answer. For gloves? For a different hold/technique than we use? To compensate for user error that was easier to "design away" than to "teach away"? Something else?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
451 Posts
Not trying to start anything here, I was in the military and even out here in the free world I've never had anyone measure my hand before or even try to ! Has anyone on here had their hands measured ? I have had a few women, oh well better stop now before I dig a hole for myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
We don't have to believe anything about your guess.

John Browning and the Colt engineers didn't order the changes. There were multiple changes ordered over the years of production. Not all of them made sense as we look backward.

I doubt if anyone was reviewing medical books to make their decisions, so referring to them now doesn't have much bearing on the decisions made then.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
74,040 Posts
Regarding changing the housing to an arched type, its main function was to try to raise the axis of the bore in the shooter's hand. Don't forget that during that time virtually everyone was conditioned to the grip angle of revolvers. No scientific hypothesis needed there. Regarding the trigger, I doubt it was an issue of fitting the "average" hand. According to an old American Rifleman article I read long ago, the simple fact was there were short-statured soldiers in the Army who were complaining that the trigger reach using the long-style trigger was a bit too much for them. It was easier to hear the long-fingered users bitch about the short stubby trigger than to hear from small users who couldn't even use the pistol properly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,228 Posts
The changes to the M1911 pistol made after WWI were actually suggested by an independent ordnance engineer by the name of M. Rambo. According to Bady (yeah, I know) it is not known why these changes were made and why they were submitted to the cavalry and not the Ordnance Dept. Cavalry:

159. A cavalry soldier should not exceed in weight one hundred and sixty pounds,

That's a relatively small man which makes sense. The cavalry had a lot to do with the adoption of the pistol and although their horses were going to be replaced, it hadn't happened as of the early 1920's when the changes were being tested. Smaller men by design (with smaller hands most likely) who also wear gloves a lot. Try shooting your pistol with gloves on. The extra room inside the trigger guard helps.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,969 Posts
Scott Gahimer said:
We don't have to believe anything about your guess.

John Browning and the Colt engineers didn't order the changes. There were multiple changes ordered over the years of production. Not all of them made sense as we look backward.

I doubt if anyone was reviewing medical books to make their decisions, so referring to them now doesn't have much bearing on the decisions made then.
So very many things wrong here.

1st) I'm not guessing. I'm putting out facts about someone else's guess/hypothesis.

2nd) No one said JMB or Colt ordered the changes - you've brought that into the discussion. They are the ones who designed it orginally and the frame size what it is, and made it straight(msh)/long(trigger) to begin with. You have to assume they built the gun incorrectly in 1910/1911 to argue it needed later adapting in 1924 to fit the "average" US soldier/American male. How could it need changing to fit the population if it was designed correctly in the first place?

3rd) No one said they read medical books back then. They probably sampled people to get the average. But consulting sources now, we can see people aren't different in size by very much . Now they WERE in the 17th and 18th centuries, but started to "get back" to normal in the 19th - medieval man was closer to us in size on average than people in colonial America. This is a complicated subject, and people don't understand the "people were smaller" arguement is more valid in the 1700s, but nor for the early 1900s. However, tossing out facts because it doesn't fit your opinion (e.g. - don't look at evidence now) is just a bad way to try to figure things out. Looking at sources like population data is indeed helpful as it dispels ignorance and bad assumptions.

Sgt. Art said:
That's a relatively small man which makes sense.
Now that makes A LOT of sense. If the idea was to accommodate a smaller population (weight-restricted cavalry troopers) than the average, then it has some validity.

One thing I do now about the cavalry was they were obsessed about the weight ratio of the load carried and they developed a very time-tested and well-respected method of determining a horse's long-term weight carrying capability. it involved the load carried in pounds, the inch measurement of the diameter of the horse's cannon bone, and then that was thrown into a formula. Since the "kit" carried was fixed, and the horses purchased could be done so reliably with a minimum cannon bone measurement done, then the last factor to control was the rider's weight. I/we still use the cavalry formula for determining a horse's weight capability. It is much more reliable than the weight, height, or other measurements often used.

It would be quite funny in my book if the 1911 vs. 1911a1 changes indeed came back to be directly determined by the rider limits imposed by the cavalry's mount stock.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think the only 1911 I have shot with an arched spring housing was a light weight commander a long time ago and I don't remember that much about it other than I would much rather shoot a steel frame pistol. with hardball it was kind of snappy in the recoil department. it wasn't my pistol and I only put a magazine through it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,344 Posts
Alloy and polymer frames do require some getting-used-to. I remember the first Glock I shot. I had the same impression you describe. To me, it felt like I wasn't shooting a pistol, but more like a firecracker going off in my hand. I was used to shooting old steel framed .45s.
 
1 - 20 of 39 Posts
Top