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  1. #1
    submoa is offline Member
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    Why I'm not a fan of these 1911s: Colt, Para, SIG, Kimber, S&W

    3 words: FIRING PIN BLOCK

    AKA a solution in search of a problem. This "lawyer friendly" mechanism is supposed to prevent "accidental discharges" caused by dropping the pistol or catastrophic mechanical failures that never happen.

    Series 80 FPB (Colt, Para, SIG, Taurus):

    This firing pin blocking mechanism on the Series 80 Colts differentiates the Series 80 Colts from the "true" M1911A1 pistols. The M1911 and M1911A1 pistols do not have this device. The purpose of the firing pin block is to prevent the firing pin from moving forward unless the trigger is depressed. The Colt Series 80 uses two little levers that are moved by motion of the trigger that lifts the block from the firing pin in the slide.



    Many 1911 fans rightly complain that this firing pin block adds some mush to the trigger pull. For us, there is no such thing as a match grade Series 80 trigger. Glock fans won't notice a thing.

    In addition to Colt Series 80, Para, SIG 1911 and Taurus are Series 80 based.


    Swartz FPB (Kimber Series II, S&W 1911):

    In 1937, William L. Swartz designed a 1911 firing pin safety with no connection to trigger components. It was operated by the action of the grip safety. Today, examples with the Swartz safety are scarce collector's items, for Colt didn't make many. This safety disappeared with the onset of WWII and a FPB was not seen on 1911s until the Series 80s.



    Enter the Kimber Series II. In response to the needs of law enforcement agencies — which frequently mandate a firing pin safety — Kimber brought back the Swartz design. When you depress the grip safety, a small pin pushes a plunger up in the slide which unblocks the firing pin. The good news is that the smooth 1911 trigger pull stays the same, the bad news...

    You have to be careful when you field strip and reassemble a Series II Kimber because if you hold it by the grip and activate the grip safety, a little pin comes up next to the disconnector and it will stop the slide from coming off or going on. This is a PITA since your instinct is to hold the gun by the grip. The natural reaction to unsticking a slide while field stripping is to use force. Use enough force on a Kimber Series II with grip safety depressed and you shear the pin, rendering the gun useless (ie. no pin, no bang).

    Also, the FPB mechanism can only be accessed by removing the rear sight should you need to do cleaning or maintenance on it. Yuck.

    All platforms utilizing the Swartz safety are a less than ideal choice across the board due to the inherent reliability problems of the design. The Swartz safety is extremely sensitive to the fit of the grip safety to the frame and the timing of the grip safety's trigger blocking arm. Tolerance issues can also lead to a Swartz safety that will time properly when the grip safety is depressed a certain way, and time differently when depressed a different way. This will typically be a product of loose fit of the grip safety to the frame tangs and/or loose fit of the thumb safety shaft through the grip safety. It is possible to have the grip safety timed such that the trigger will be able to release the sear well before the firing pin safety plunger has been moved far enough to clear the firing pin. Problems with improper timing of the Swartz safeties can lead to a situation where you get a "click" when you wanted a "bang." The US Army knew what it was doing when it dropped the Swartz for WWII.

    SW1911s use Swartz as well.
    Last edited by submoa; 06-20-2008 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Added Taurus to Series 80 List, Thx Capt Mike

  2. #2
    Mike Barham's Avatar
    Mike Barham is offline Senior Member
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    I agree. I once watched Chuck Taylor skip a loaded pre-Series 80 Commander across a pistol range to show that the original 1911 design is fine. All these extra widgets just complicate a design that, in comparison to modern pistols, already has too many parts.

    Alas, we live in a litigious society where everyone lives in abject fear of personal injury lawyers.
    Employed by Galco Gunleather - www.galcogunleather.com / Veteran OEF VIII

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  3. #3
    Capt. Mike is offline Junior Member
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    Taurus 1911s also have a series 80 type mech. The trigger pull on mine is good but not very crisp.

  4. #4
    45fan is offline Junior Member
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    "Alas, we live in a litigious society where everyone lives in abject fear of personal injury lawyers." I agree. I also believe it messes up the pull. Thats one reason I chose the springer loaded... No firing pin block. Just my 2C

  5. #5
    sniper350 is offline Junior Member
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    While there are strong opinions on both sides of this very well established fence ............. a great Gunsmith can perform a 3 lb trigger job on a 1911 series 80 type pistol ........... that the majority of 1911 lovers would die for. I believe most of the crankiness spewed forth by gunsmiths about the firing pin safety Block .........is because it requires "more" work to get the extra pieces working smoothly and in balance. To that end ........ companies are now making TI coated safety LEVERS and parts to reduce the amount of surface friction from these parts. The kit costs about $57

    IN my opinion, the design COLT now uses is simple and Eligant ........ and with some good Gunsmithing, allows for a beautiful CCW trigger pull. NO I would not use this device on my target competition guns .......... but for your street self-defense weapon, the added safety it provides [ whether you feel its warranted or not ] will not be noticed in the pistol's performance 'i.e.' trigger pull. Trust me , when the bullets start flying -- you could be using a weapon with a 12 lb trigger pull and not notice .......but maybe that's just me ?

    It does require some additional attention during routine maintenance [checking for proper timing ] but that should not be a problem for the true 1911 enthusiast ......... if you are unable to perform these simple checks, for your own safety maybe you should be taking a second look at whether or not you should be carrying the [1911] in any flavor?

    I have been told [first hand ] by owners of a malfunctioning 1911 that suffered an A.D. inside his bedroom ..........that could have been avoided if the weapon had contained this safety device. All he did is go to load his 1911 as he had done many times before [ after cleaning ] .......... and the Hammer followed !! Because the malfunction apparently was from a loose Sear...... the sear didn't catch on the safety notch [ or ledge ] on the Hammer ....and BANG .....one hole in the bedroom floor! Think about that the next time you load your 1911 ........ it can happen at any time. Thankfully, not all that often though .......... but we always follow safety guidlines and keep our weapons pointed in a safe direction - no matter what the circumstance.

    Yes, I am aware that High End 1911 builders don't use these safety decives [ Wilson, Nighthawk ] on their 1911's, but then with a custom hand made pistol ....you are not likely to have parts out of spec that could lead to a malfunction and A.D. Their "Safety Device" is built into their PRICE tag ......its called hand-made by an Expert Gunsmith ...... and not built by an Assembler ........a HUGE difference.

    A point of view from the other side of the Fence.........

    JF.

  6. #6
    submoa is offline Member
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    Titanium (Ti) is a metal that you make parts from. Perhaps you mean teflon, molybendium disulfide or some other lubricating coating for your modified Series 80 FPBs.

    Titanium is light, hard and strong and a preferred material for use as firing pins. The reduced weight minimizes pin inertia which is beneficial in transferring hammer strike energy from the hammer to the primer.

    As to the myth of 1911 Drop Fires:

    Ok, let's start working this myth over. It's apparently time for some more myth-busting.

    Reading through Hatcher's Notebooks, one finds that he established primer detonation force is in the range of 12 in./oz. for "no fire" to the upper scale of 60 in./oz. for "all fire." This was for 30 cal. centerfire rifle ammo. We'll assume, for the sake of argument that there's no substantial difference between primers of various brands and sizes. The midpoint between the "all fire" and the "no fire" is 36 in./oz. I've just weighed a half dozen firing pins from my parts box and come up with an average of 65 grains, or .148 oz. If we have a free floating firing pin with no spring to impede forward movement, dropping the gun perpendicular on the muzzle from a height of 10 feet will generate almost 18 in./oz.

    Again, assuming Hatcher's midpoint of 38 in./oz. would cause 50% of the rounds to fire we'd have to drop the gun, muzzle down, from a minimum of 20 feet. We're approaching Dean's figure of four stories here. Once we add the FP spring to the equation - and my (VERY) informal testing of spring weight indicates a rate of between 3 and 3.5 Lb. So we add 48 oz more to the 36 to overcome the spring and then set off 50% and we're getting into a drop range that's achieved only be mountain climbers and pilots. The same values hold true of falling on the hammer (if down).

  7. #7
    Mike Barham's Avatar
    Mike Barham is offline Senior Member
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    Since there has been no epidemic of Springfield 1911s (which are of average construction, versus a semi-custom pistol) firing when dropped, I think we can say that these various goofy widgets were designed more to satisfy liability lawyers than shooters. I understand why the companies added them, starting with Colt, but they serve no practical purpose and only clutter up a good design.
    Employed by Galco Gunleather - www.galcogunleather.com / Veteran OEF VIII

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  8. #8
    Teuthis is offline Member
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    On the other hand, it does not appear that the firing pin block actually affects the function of the firearms other than the mentioned difficulty in field stripping? I much prefer to have firearms without them, but are they necessarily detrimental to the weapons that use them? I am strongly thinking of selling off most of my guns and getting a Wilson made. But I doubt that I would sell my Kimber, despite the firing pin block.

  9. #9
    submoa is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teuthis View Post
    On the other hand, it does not appear that the firing pin block actually affects the function of the firearms other than the mentioned difficulty in field stripping?
    Hey, I did say this thread was about my preference... Kimbers are nice guns... except for that danged Swartz safety! If your Kimber is pre-Series II, you don't have a Swartz.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubMOA View Post
    The Swartz safety is extremely sensitive to the fit of the grip safety to the frame and the timing of the grip safety's trigger blocking arm.
    Over time as your gun loosens up, Swartz timing is one of the things you need to check as part of your detailed maintenance program. If the timing or alignment is slightly off you will get a "click" where you wanted "bang".

    While hamfisted Swartz pin shearing is common on Kimbers (happened on buddy's duty piece), timing malfunctions have occured too.

    The Kimber FPB is easily removed from the slide without affecting function (can't remember if Kimbers use titanium firing pins or upgraded pin springs, but these would be prudent to have if you do this mod). Just be prepared for some idiot attorney claiming you deliberately made your gun more "dangerous" with this change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Teuthis View Post
    But I doubt that I would sell my Kimber, despite the firing pin block.
    Strong, your Swartz is.

  10. #10
    sniper350 is offline Junior Member
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    Sobmoa -

    No I think TI coated parts was correct ...........

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...636&t=11082005

    Watch the wrap .........

    I bought some and they are very high quality parts !!!

    JF.

  11. #11
    submoa is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sniper350 View Post
    Sobmoa -

    No I think TI coated parts was correct ...........

    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...636&t=11082005
    Parts are on the website are coated in Titanium Nitride (TiN) not Titanium. TiN is a lubricating coating, Ti is a metal.

    Metal underneath coating is not identified. Beware MIM. TiN provides surface protection and lube but does not endow strength to underlying MIM parts.

    Bill Laughingridge at C&S does nice custom work. Didn't know they got into the parts biz.

  12. #12
    sniper350 is offline Junior Member
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    Those parts smooth up the basic trigger but do not affect the FPB so the FPB affect will be even more noticable.
    Er ....... I must be slow today <smile> But those parts include the FPB entire system............ you agreed the coating smooths the friction ??

    You get the FPB "PLUNGER" as well as the "LEVERS" [ upper and lower ] and the "PINS" that the levers ride on ..........all parts where friction might added to the total trigger pull - yes ?

    BUt your right, they are not pure Ti. metal ........... I should have been more clear in my post ..........they are like the hundreds of different tools coated or electroplated with TiN to make them harder or more resistent to wear. Drill Bits come to mind.

    Does it work ? I will let you know ............

    JF.

  13. #13
    atbarr is offline Junior Member
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    Ok, you guys are way over my head. I have a S&W 1911 PD, is there anything I need to worry about? It always go bang when I pull the trigger and never has when I didn't want it to. It's my EDC.

    Stay Safe,

    A.T.
    Last edited by atbarr; 06-23-2008 at 09:52 PM. Reason: spelling

  14. #14
    submoa is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbarr View Post
    Ok, you guys are way over my head. I have a S&W 1911 PD, is there anything I need to worry about? It always go bang when I pull the trigger and never has when I didn't want it to. It's my EDC.

    Stay Safe,

    A.T.
    Several of the SW 1911PD parts such as the hammer, sear and disconnector are made by the MIM (metal injection molding) process. In the MIM process, a mold is made from steel. Then powdered metal is mixed with a plastic binder. This mixture is then injected into the mold under heat and high pressure to form the part.

    MIM parts are shunned because they can "break" without warning. Not something you want to have happen in a weapon that you depend on in a "Life or Death" situation.

    And... there is the Swartz FPB. The S&W swartz system is an L shaped lever activated by the grip safety into a plunger that is in the slide. A little more sturdy than Kimber's pin, but sensitive to grip alignment changes none the less.

  15. #15
    atbarr is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by submoa View Post
    MIM parts are shunned because they can "break" without warning. Not something you want to have happen in a weapon that you depend on in a "Life or Death" situation.
    Thanks for the information. That sure doesn't make me feel too comfortable. I assume I can replace these with aftermarket parts?

    A.T.

  16. #16
    submoa is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbarr View Post
    Thanks for the information. That sure doesn't make me feel too comfortable. I assume I can replace these with aftermarket parts?
    Yes aftermarket parts are available. Many are also MIM. Forged is best. You might also want to get a gunsmith to fit it. But, in the end you will have added $100s to redo an $800 gun. Strictly speaking, aftermarket parts will void your S&W lifetime warranty.

    Most manufacturers use MIM parts since production is a single step process producing a finshed part without the additional steps of machining or forging. And part to part variances are small allowing for a tighter fit of the finished product. Guns that contain no MIM parts are considerably more expensive and one of the differences between a $500 1911 and one costing thousands.

    So from an economical standpoint, you might want to be selective and focus on critical part replacements like the Hammer, Disconnector, Mag catch and Slide stop.

    The MIM controversy is almost as big as .45 vs 9mm so I'll wait for the flames...

  17. #17
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    The Series 80 firing-pin block is easy to remove and discard, although you then have to install a washer or spacer of some kind, to fill-in the void it leaves.
    My 1911s all have disabled grip safeties (for which I have an excellent reason, so don't argue), so I wouldn't have a qualm removing the firing-pin block too.

    To obviate the in-the-bedroom AD referred to below, and most other 1911 NDs and ADs resulting from releasing the slide-stop and "letting the slide go," just pull the trigger before pressing down on the slide-stop, and keep it pulled until the slide is fully forward. Then release the trigger and apply the safety.
    If the sear is immobilized by the disconnector, and the mass of the trigger is likewise removed from the equation, the hammer won't release and won't follow the slide down. Thus, no ND or AD.

  18. #18
    PanaDP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    I agree. I once watched Chuck Taylor skip a loaded pre-Series 80 Commander across a pistol range to show that the original 1911 design is fine. All these extra widgets just complicate a design that, in comparison to modern pistols, already has too many parts.

    Alas, we live in a litigious society where everyone lives in abject fear of personal injury lawyers.
    It's all good and fine that the pistol didn't fire but I'm very surprised that he would do that in front of (I assume) some kind of audience. That's just incredibly poor gun safety practice. I wonder how many times the muzzle pointed at people watching it skip downrange...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by PanaDP View Post
    It's all good and fine that the pistol didn't fire but I'm very surprised that he would do that in front of (I assume) some kind of audience. That's just incredibly poor gun safety practice. I wonder how many times the muzzle pointed at people watching it skip downrange...
    Perhaps there were blanks in it...or maybe no bullets at all? You don't need one in to see if the hammer fell.

  20. #20
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    I'll stick to series 70's, Never had an AD with mine.

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