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Trouble with ambi safety

1175 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Dave Sample
I am a left handed shooter and have more than my share of problems with ambi safeties. I've had some 1911s from local gunsmiths and big name guys, and it seems most have trouble getting the safety to operate correctly. I had a Les Baer with a Brown safety that just fell out, I had a C&S Para P14 that had to go back to get fixed because it wouldn't disengage, a local guy put one on that had too much play in it, I just had another put a Brown on a Springfield and it won't disengage, etc, etc. They eventually seem to get it right, but can I trust it to work 100 percent? I had a Kimber Ultra CDP that worked perfectly but I tried a different Kimber model and it bound up when I tried to flick it off. Is it just not a good design, am I doing something wrong when trying to disengage it with my left thumb, or does it just take special treatment to get it right? I love the 1911 but this is a problem for me. Any suggestions?

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I am not a big fan of ambi's for my own personal carry reasons, but your concern is valid as well.

I have had two ambi's break on my own guns, and seen a couple of my co-workers fail, as well.

The problems I have seen relate to the male-female coupling. I have had one of the tangs on the female forked end break twice on two different guns.
I'm a lefty, and have installed a half-dozen ambi's on my own guns. The Cylinder & Slide is the roughest looking, but easiest to fit, of those that I have tried. On the three C&S ambi's I've done, I haven't had to touch anything but the safety/sear engagement, and still get a nice, distinct "click" in both directions. On the other hand, I have spent eight hours or more with needle files and emery cloth, trying to make them look like something that belongs on a gun . . . I've been using one for three years, and it is still tight-fitting and smooth. I shoot a lot of IPSC, where you see ambis on the guns of both lefties and righties, and I've witnessed only one breakage. I have complete confidence in mine.
After reading your post, I have to conclude that you have a gunsmith problem rather than an Ambi safety problem.

The Ed Brown and C&S ambi safeties as with most makes are damn near a drop-in part. The only thing you really need to do is make the cut on the right grip to accomodate the safety, and check safety/sear engagement.

I have an Ed Brown on my 1991 and it works great.

P.S.- if you take your grips off the pistol the off side of the ambi safety will fall out, the grip holds it in.

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I tend to agree with proper fitting.The harder the safety is to work on and off,the more pressure it transfers to the joint of both halves,which is the weak link in the system.An overlooked area I see on safety installs is the surface the plunger rides on.Why I don't know,but I've done from a simple reblend to a complete recut of the 'off' dimple,even on a factory piece(I've done a few factory Para's for the off dimple-way off the mark).Another thing often overlooked is to polish and smooth the joint of the two halves on the pin.
Also, if you ride the safety with your thumb, be sure to leave enough wood on the grip to support the safety lever - if you cut the grip down so the lever doesn't touch, you're transferring all of the torque to the joint in the pin.
Originally posted by RickB:
Also, if you ride the safety with your thumb, be sure to leave enough wood on the grip to support the safety lever - if you cut the grip down so the lever doesn't touch, you're transferring all of the torque to the joint in the pin.
This is a VERY good point, and one I had forgotten...

As has been mentioned, the Detent is probably most critical in getting a smooth operation. The more bind, or force required to overcome the plunger detent, the more stress on the joint.
check out the king's ambi safety, I've had similer problems with wilson ambi's, the king's are a different design and are rock solid.

[This message has been edited by supercomp (edited 09-01-2001).]
Several of the comments are right on the money. I would only use an Ed Brown ambi and have one demo gun with one on it. You have a fitting problem, not a part problem. There are several areas that have to be fit.The first is against the sear. The second area is where the safety rubs against the plunger tube pin. The third is the spring tension on the plunger, and the fourth is the fit on the right grip. I like to take Ed's big one and cut it down to a size that I like. Southpaws require less tension on the thumb safety because they really don't work well from that side for some reason unknown to me. Toolwrench can do a great job for you as can Don at the Action Works. These 1911's don't lend them self to mediocre skilled people, contrary to what most of you seem to think. They are subject to a lot of variables and only the best can wring out the full 9 yards from them
Eagles Law: All of the good qualities in children are inheirited from the fathers side of the family!
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