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View Full Version : Something I oughta know, but don't: Were the .45 1911s single or double action?


Tripler
09-24-2004, 07:05 PM
Well, an honest question that as a "gun nut" I ought to know, but first a little background: I have had a couple of handguns over the past few years. Most were .40SW, which I like, because a lot of the compact frames that fit my short and stocky hands are chambered for that round. I've had a 9mm or two, and I still have a .380 Sig Sauer. But at my Pop's urging last month, I just bought a Kimber .45, and am liking the feel of it. It's got a shorter frame that what I remember a standard .45 feeling like (it's been 5 years since I've shot a 1911).

But here's the question: The Kimber I just bought is a single action, where I have to pull the hammer back first. Were the typical, WWII-Vietnam issued M1911s single action as well, or were they double action?

Is this just a Kimber feature, as they're pretty hardnosed on the 'match grade' nature of their pistols out of the box? To be honest, I simply cannot remember whether my Pop's Kimber is SA or DA. . .

Tripler
I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's one of those things I just didn't realize I didn't know until now. :smack:

silenus
09-24-2004, 07:18 PM
1911 is single-action. What I mean is...with a round in the chamber and the hammer down (Condition Two) you have to cock the hammer to fire. Every shot cycles the action and cocks the weapon, so you only have to pull the trigger.

For those who don't know, a double-action semiauto would cock and fire the weapon with a pull of the trigger.

Dog80
09-24-2004, 08:47 PM
1911 is single-action. What I mean is...with a round in the chamber and the hammer down (Condition Two) you have to cock the hammer to fire. Every shot cycles the action and cocks the weapon, so you only have to pull the trigger.

For those who don't know, a double-action semiauto would cock and fire the weapon with a pull of the trigger.

No, I think it is called SA/DA, because it is both. A single action gun is one that the trigger only releases the hammer. A double action both cocks the hammer and releases it.

In all 1911-style pistols, the first shot (with the hammer down) is Double Action. All subsequent shots are Single Action, because the slide re-cocks the hammer.

silenus
09-24-2004, 08:52 PM
That's what it's called, but my 1911 has to be cocked if the hammer is down and there is a round in the chamber. SA/DA means just that...you have to cock it for the first shot, and the rest are DA.

Tripler
09-24-2004, 08:53 PM
Well, Dog80 is correct in that a single action releases a cocked hammer, while a double action cocks and releases a hammer.

My question still stands, but silenus has a good point and I must say, Semper Fi. But with the contradiction by Dog80, which is it? I'm still quite curious. . .

Tripler
IMNO, the current issue M9 isn't all I thought it would be.

silenus
09-24-2004, 08:59 PM
Semi-automatic pistols are manufactured in both single action and double action styles; however, this general classification of the action applies only to the first shot fired. On both single and double action pistols, the recoil of the slide automatically recocks the hammer for subsequent shots (Table I). Therefore, after the initial shot is fired, the trigger pull only releases the hammer. This is different from double action-only pistols, where the hammer is recocked each time the trigger is pulled, rather than by the recoil of the slide. Not all pistols have hammers. Hammerless pistols operate in a similar manner to those with hammers, except that the mainspring is connected directly to the firing pin.

To fire a single action semi-automatic pistol, one must first cock the hammer manually by pulling back the slide. Pulling the trigger then discharges the cartridge. This discharge generates kinetic energy, causing the slide to recoil backwards.

yoyodyne
09-24-2004, 09:01 PM
It's a single action. The trigger doesn't ever cock it, it is either cocked when first chambering a round or cocked by the slide for subsequent rounds. When the first round is chambered, you either put the safety on and leave it that way, or de-cock it. If you de-cock it, you have to manually cock it for the first shot.

silenus
09-24-2004, 09:03 PM
Three types, wherein lies the confusion:

Autoloading - DA
If the handgun is not already cocked, during the trigger pull the mechanism cocks the hammer before firing. Unlike a DA revolver, which remains hammer down after firing, in an autoloading DA the hammer will be re-cocked during the loading of the next round. Sometimes these are called DA/SA to distinguish them from DAO pistols.

Autoloading - SA
The hammer must initially be manually cocked. The hammer will be re-cocked automatically during the loading of the next round.

Autoloading - DAO
The hammer can not be manually cocked, nor is it cocked by the loading mechanism. The trigger pull cocks the hammer each and every round. These pistols may have internal or external hammers.

Tripler.....Ooh-Rah! :D

Dog80
09-24-2004, 09:12 PM
So which of these three types is a 1911 style weapon? :confused:

silenus
09-24-2004, 09:16 PM
Autoloading - SA

Airman Doors, USAF
09-24-2004, 09:25 PM
IMNO, the current issue M9 isn't all I thought it would be.

Tell me about it. Did your weapons instructor field strip your weapon while it was in your hand? I asked my weapons instructor about the rumor that you could do that, and he told me to point the weapon at him. At first I refused, but he insisted, so after checking that it was unloaded with no round in the chamber I turned it towards him.

Before it got to where it was pointed at him it was in pieces. See, what he did was he hit the slide release on the side of the weapon while simultaneously pulling forward on it. The slide came right off the frame. :eek:

As far as I am concerned the government took a bath on those weapons. They're not nearly as good as the .45 or as powerful. The only advantage is that you get twice as many shots.

Give me a .45 anyday.

Dog80
09-24-2004, 11:45 PM
Before it got to where it was pointed at him it was in pieces. See, what he did was he hit the slide release on the side of the weapon while simultaneously pulling forward on it. The slide came right off the frame. :eek:

I don't understand :confused: That's how you are supposed to field strip most semi-auto pistols out there. Pull the slide about halfway backwards and remove the slide release pin. What did the instructor do different?

Tripler
09-24-2004, 11:52 PM
I don't understand :confused: That's how you are supposed to field strip most semi-auto pistols out there. Pull the slide about halfway backwards and remove the slide release pin. What did the instructor do different?

It wasn't exactly halfway to pull the slide to a disassembly point. If you could grab the slide, push it back so far, and rotate the dissasembly pin with your thumb (or pinky), you could pull the slide, barrel, and spring assembly off with absolute ease.

I've only seen this done by a certified Jedi Knight, though. Even my CATM instructors admitted it could be done in theory but none of 'em ever could do it in practice.

But at least both of my questions are answered. Here I thought it was just a Kimber thing to make my .45 a single action.

Tripler
For the record, I just picked up a BP Ten II.

Tripler
09-25-2004, 12:02 AM
And I forgot to add my comments to thisL

As far as I am concerned the government took a bath on those weapons. They're not nearly as good as the .45 or as powerful. The only advantage is that you get twice as many shots.

Give me a .45 anyday.

My brother, you have another voice in your choir. Even though it was before my time, I never understood why we went to a foreign government for our weapons. AFAIK, that was the first time, and it just opened the floodgates. True, the M-249 SAW, M9, and others are/were produced and are now licensed to US manufacturers, but it just struck me as really, really odd. . .

And the lethality and 'knockdown' issue is also a big thing for me. USAF folk aren't taught 'double-tap' shooting (although I personally have). So please, give my troops a good solid hand cannon to knock 'em down with on the first try. Nowadays, they're double-stacking rounds in some frames that you can get 15 in a single .45 magazine.

But, I digress. . . Thanks for the OP's answer!

Tripler
Tomorrow, I take my new .45 plinking!!

GusNSpot
09-25-2004, 12:58 AM
Had an HK 9 double action *only* ( 400 lb. trigger pull- it felt like) and it was usless except for scaring people. Never could hit anything with that DA stuff if it was smaller than a man and over 10 feet away unless I had lots of time. Not a real acurate gun especially in my hand.

Got a S&W 9 that does right nice though.

Sam Stone
09-25-2004, 01:04 AM
We have a Colt Combat Commander chambered for 9mm. I don't like it as much as the .45, but it was a promotional deal from Colt at the time and dirt cheap. It's a very nice gun. I've always preferred the M1911 variants to any other automatic, although my brother owned a Sig-Sauer P220S for a while that was very nice.

Padeye
09-25-2004, 01:15 AM
Another 1911 crumudgeon checking in :D FTR and to further confuse the issue there are double action 1911 clones by Para Ordinance and some others but these are exceptions to the rule of 1911s being single action.

Oh, there is a fourth action type which is kind of hard to name but Glock's "safe action" as well as the S&W Sigma and Springfield XD fall in that fish nor foul category. They behave mostly like a double action only auto in that the trigger squeeze is consistent shot to shot and requires more pull than a single action though a little less than double action. The difference is that most lack double strike capacility. For example if I can try to fire a shot with my Sig and if the round does not fire I can pull the trigger again for a second strike of the hammer, possibly firing the round. With a Glock a misfire can only be cleared by racking the slide to cock the internal striker. You cannot pull the trigger a second time on a dud round. This is a somewhat common movie flub where someone runs out of ammunition with a auto loading rifle or Glock and continues to pull the trigger only to hear "click click click." This doesn't happen, you only get the first click then nothing. With something like a Sig or Beretta, or any other DA or DAO pistol you can go "click click click" when you run dry... but only will if you are a complete dumbass.

Padeye
09-25-2004, 01:17 AM
Autoloading - SA
The hammer must initially be manually cocked. The hammer will be re-cocked automatically during the loading of the next round.

The hammer is cocked when you rack the slide to load a round in the chamber and I am not aware of any SA auto where the hammer is ever supposed to be lowered on a live round. You should never have to manually cock the hammer.

dropzone
09-25-2004, 01:25 AM
USAF folk aren't taught 'double-tap' shooting (although I personally have).So THAT'S what it's called. Thought that was just something you did when you weren't holding enough horsepower to get the job done with one. Two .45s in roughly the same hole would definately get the job done but can one do that with something with a kick? Wouldn't it be more like one where you were pointing and one three feet above it?

Tripler
09-25-2004, 01:50 AM
So THAT'S what it's called. Thought that was just something you did when you weren't holding enough horsepower to get the job done with one. Two .45s in roughly the same hole would definately get the job done but can one do that with something with a kick? Wouldn't it be more like one where you were pointing and one three feet above it?


Kind Sir, if you are challenging me to a duel on the range, I'll school you six ways from Sunday. :D

Tripler
And I'll put beer on this friendly little wager, too.

Airman Doors, USAF
09-25-2004, 03:03 AM
I don't understand :confused: That's how you are supposed to field strip most semi-auto pistols out there. Pull the slide about halfway backwards and remove the slide release pin. What did the instructor do different?

You can do it in one motion while it is loaded, thus rendering it useless.

I can't think of any other weapon that can be negated so easily.

Tripler
09-25-2004, 09:23 AM
I can't think of any other weapon that can be negated so easily.

I can. Your scary lookin' switchblade or butterfly knife when I pull out my .40SW. :D

Tripler
"Don't bring a knife to a gunfight, son. . ."

aerodave
09-25-2004, 09:46 AM
Here is info from FAS to help clear up the OP's confusion. It's the first cite I've seen in this thread yet. (M1911A1 info (http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m1911a1.htm))


It is a magazine-fed semiautomatic weapon, which fires one round each time the trigger is squeezed once the hammer is cocked by prior action of the slide or thumb. This design is referred to as "single action only."


Also, in response to this quote....

The hammer is cocked when you rack the slide to load a round in the chamber and I am not aware of any SA auto where the hammer is ever supposed to be lowered on a live round. You should never have to manually cock the hammer.

That's a good point...but it still doesn't mean that the 1911 isn't a single-action pistol. It's true that pulling the slide to chamber the first round will cock the hammer. But that may not be the only way you ever cock it.

If you were lower the hammer to carry (which I've known some people to do because they didn't like the fact that the safety required a cocked hammer), you would have to manually cock it before firing. Thus, it's still important to know that it is single-action, because it works differently from a lot of more modern pistol designs that people may be used to.

Padeye
09-25-2004, 10:13 AM
I can. Your scary lookin' switchblade or butterfly knife when I pull out my .40SW. :D

Tripler
"Don't bring a knife to a gunfight, son. . ."

Don't count on that quite so easily. Have you ever done a Tueller drill? You may consider investing in a blue training gun and training knife. It can be a real eye opener.

Padeye
09-25-2004, 10:27 AM
audiolover, my point was that the 1911 is single action but it is not a normal mode of operation to have the hammer down on a live round and to cock it manually. I'm not saying it can't be done. The rebounding firing pin and certainly the series 80 firing pin lock make it possible but it isn't normal operation. Manually cocking the hammer on a 1911 is something I usually see as a movie gaffe. There was one in Stand By Me, where the protagonist fires then manually cocks the hammer for a second shot. I know it was done for dramatic effect but to me it just indicated a faulty gun.

Most but not all semi-autos which are intended to be carried with the hammer down on a live round, condition 2 I think, have some kind of decocking lever. I've got an Tanfoglio Witness - a CZ-75 clone - which must be carried in decocked mode for certain competition. It must be done manually which always carries a greater risk of an accidental discharge if my thumb slips while my finger is still holding the trigger back.

Tripler
09-25-2004, 11:23 AM
Don't count on that quite so easily. Have you ever done a Tueller drill? You may consider investing in a blue training gun and training knife. It can be a real eye opener.

Based on this post and the one that follows it, I have to ask:

[side subject]
You shoot with the IPSC. Do you have a link to their course of fire? I'd love to get into competitive shooting again. . . [/side subject]

Tripler
Man, I've missed the old Prescott, AZ days. . .

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