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Why did the 1911 move away from the arched MSH?

2730 Views 26 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  shooter1911
I'm just wondering, my LTC has a flat MSH, and I'm going to be adding an arched. Did it have to do with the additition of long triggers?
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Popular demand. Remember the original 1911 pistols had a flat MSH and a long trigger. The short trigger and arched MSH was added in 1924 at the insistence of the Army, after soldiers in the field complained the trigger reach was too long and the pistol pointed too low in the hand.

Following WW2, as the M1911A1 became the predominant handgun at pistol matches many competitive shooters began to prefer the original long hammer/short MSH setup. Jeff Cooper tended to agree and advocated the old setup as well. By the 1970's when the "custom combat 1911" craze took off in earnest, one of the most requested features was to remove the short trigger and arched MSH on Colt pistols and replace them with the long trigger and flat MSH.

Today most 1911 manufacturers continue this trend. Colt is one of the few holdouts still making 1911 pistols in the true M1911A1 configuration (short trigger, flat MSH, spur hammer and GI grip safety). Springfield also makes a few, and of course there's Auto Ordinance, RIA, and Norinco. However the general consensus is that most 1911 buyers want the long trigger/flat MSH configuration, so that's what we typically get.
 

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dsk said:
Popular demand. Remember the original 1911 pistols had a flat MSH and a long trigger. The short trigger and arched MSH was added in 1924 at the insistence of the Army, after soldiers in the field complained the trigger reach was too long and the pistol pointed too low in the hand.

I love these guys who buy a new Springfield GI or Milspec model, install a flat MSH and then complain that the gun shoots low. Duh. The arched MSH was designed to correct for that particular problem but it sure can't do much laying in a parts box some where.
 

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If the shooter uses the sights, how can the shape of the grip make the gun shoot low? The grip would only come into play when point shooting, and since bullseye shooters don't point, I find it hard to believe that they are the culprits. I think it's possible to adapt to either the flat or arched (but why should we adapt to the gun, when the gun can be adapted to us?), but in my hands the flat housing points extremely low. I shot an IDPA match with my gun, after a friend had installed a flat housing to suit it to him when I'd loaned it, and I was shooting 6" low at ranges of no more than 10 feet. It makes a difference, but not if you use the sights.
 

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RickB said:
If the shooter uses the sights, how can the shape of the grip make the gun shoot low?
Most soldiers at the time were accustomed to revolvers. If they made a hasty "snap" shot without using the sights the 1911 usually shot too low thanks to the different bore/grip angle.

Remember that the techniques we apply today (Weaver stance, watching the front sight, yadayada) were not practiced during World War One. In fact, everybody was being taught to shoot a pistol with one hand, not two.
 

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Rick B, I would agree with you. But, I just bought a Series 70 with an arched main spring housing, and it shot about 8 inches high for me at 25 yards. I was telling this to a friend who immediately said "wonder if it's 'cause of the arched main spring housing". Well, my other two 1911's have flat housings, but I said I didn't see how it would make a difference; you still gotta line up the sights etc. He is, however, a much experienced instructor and IDPA competitor, so it's got me wondering.

I suppose I could swap housings and see if it makes a difference.

For what it's worth, the arched housing seems to point better for me.
 

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tinfinger said:
For what it's worth, the arched housing seems to point better for me.
And it should, for most people; that's why the army changed it. I truly believe the preference for the flat housing is supply-driven. Most guns today have the flat housing (just as most guns today have full-length guide rods, forward cocking serrations, etc.), so most people think the flat housing is the "correct" one. Robbie Leatham and Doug Koenig, two of the most successful 1911 users in the world, and not the least bit similar in size or build, both seem to prefer the arched housing.
 

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I personally don't dig that arched MSH...its a bit too Glunkfeeling to me...
 

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However the general consensus is that most 1911 buyers want the long trigger/flat MSH configuration, so that's what we typically get.
I disagree--there may be a consensus among manufacturers that this is what the market wants, but I'm not sure the majority of buyers would go along.

I think the flat MSH was a fad that caught on a little too well...since some competitors and a few of the more vocal instructors (e.g. Cooper) preferred the flat MSH, they started to be seen as "cool". Any pistol that had pretensions to being "custom" had to have a flat MSH.

They've become so common now that a lot of 1911 shooters have never used a gun with an arched MSH, and would have to make an adjustment to one that did. However, I believe for most shooters' hands the arched MSH would be a better fit--it fills in the hollow of the hand better than a flat MSH. I am much more comfortable with an arched MSH than with a flat one.

I believe if most shooters spent a little time with one, they'd like it better. But the manufacturers keep marching in lockstep and turning out flat-backed guns.

Granted, I can change it out, but it's a hassle and an extra 30 bucks. It would be nice if the things would just be built right as they come from the factory.
 

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Standard grip safety and any trigger = arched mainspring housing.
Beavertail grip safety and any trigger = flat mainspring housing.

Your results may vary
 

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When I bought my Kimber Custom, the only change I felt compelled to make was to swap the standard falt MSH for an arched MSH. I have always shot 1911's with arched MSH, and feel that it suits my short fat fingers better. I do have a flat MSH on my Kimber compact, and shoot it just fine.
 

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falable762 said:
What once was a reasoned choice for some bull's eye shooters, has become a fad.
Ooooh....I beg to differ!
 
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