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Thread: Nuances of running the 1911 thumb safety (thread split)

  1. #1
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Nuances of running the 1911 thumb safety (thread split)

    **Topic split out into it's own thread - moderator**

    Glenn bring up a good point on presentation of the gun. One of the things I work constantly with the 1911 is thumb safety stays on, until the gun is pointed at the target. I practice this in many ways. Low ready, drawing and firing from the two, left handed, etc.

    The other thing I drill HARD is to ride the thumb safety from underneath when it's on (I'll post some pics here in a few).

    The reason I do not automatically disengage the safety on the draw is precisely because that's not the muscle memory I want in my brain. I want, "Gun pointed at target, safety off, trigger on."
    Last edited by BehindBlueI's; 03-02-2021 at 09:53 AM.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  2. #2
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Okay, so I took my airsoft 1911 that I use for manipulation practice and used a red paint pen and applied a layer of fresh paint on the side and top of the thumb safety (not the underside). After a minute or too where it was tacky dry, I took these pics.

    First just the Gun

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    Next the standard way most people ride the thumb safety regardless of where the gun is pointed.

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    Now what I do - when the gun is not on target

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    -

    When I rotate the muzzle onto the target whether coming up from ready going to the two, whatever, then I roll my thumb over the top of the thumb safety and snap it down.

    The end result you can see how much pressure I apply underneath the safety (enough that paint from the side of the safety ends up on my thumb)- here I've relaxed my grip to show you:

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    -

    This is something I've thought a lot about. The thumb safety on a 1911 is ergonomically placed that no detectable speed difference is found from using a hard index safety on and rolling on top of the safety to go off. If I've made the decision to draw and fire, I get on the safety early, but don't disengage until the muzzle comes up and get to work.

    The hard index for safety ON comes into place when the gun is drawn but muzzle isn't on target or the decision to fire hasn't been made.

    The reason I bring this up, is the hard index safety on has your brain registering that the safety is on: to shoot I need to go safety off. Regardless of which position you're shooting from a hard index on the safety adds an additional brain layer to safety on/safety off.

    I also holster like this break the muzzle from the target, safety on, hard index against thumb safety back to the holster. Once the gun is in far enough that I have to break the index, I roll the thumb up between hammer and back of slide and finish inserting the gun.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  3. #3
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevolverRob View Post
    Okay, so I took my airsoft 1911 that I use for manipulation practice and used a red paint pen and applied a layer of fresh paint on the side and top of the thumb safety (not the underside). After a minute or too where it was tacky dry, I took these pics.

    First just the Gun

    Name:  9070370D-0C2D-4B97-BD98-85126F442B4A.jpg
Views: 829
Size:  43.5 KB

    Next the standard way most people ride the thumb safety regardless of where the gun is pointed.

    Name:  C80AE85B-763D-4B0C-B536-E8D4605C841E.jpg
Views: 829
Size:  35.6 KB

    Name:  554ADD66-000F-4F4D-B11C-45B13AD5E6AD.jpg
Views: 816
Size:  43.1 KB

    Now what I do - when the gun is not on target

    Name:  55BDB2B3-794E-4AAB-B438-28A36ECF2717.jpg
Views: 827
Size:  36.0 KB

    -

    When I rotate the muzzle onto the target whether coming up from ready going to the two, whatever, then I roll my thumb over the top of the thumb safety and snap it down.

    The end result you can see how much pressure I apply underneath the safety (enough that paint from the side of the safety ends up on my thumb)- here I've relaxed my grip to show you:

    Name:  3FA951D1-B2C2-40E5-B907-6FA88181DC3A.jpg
Views: 819
Size:  32.4 KB

    -

    This is something I've thought a lot about. The thumb safety on a 1911 is ergonomically placed that no detectable speed difference is found from using a hard index safety on and rolling on top of the safety to go off. If I've made the decision to draw and fire, I get on the safety early, but don't disengage until the muzzle comes up and get to work.

    The hard index for safety ON comes into place when the gun is drawn but muzzle isn't on target or the decision to fire hasn't been made.

    The reason I bring this up, is the hard index safety on has your brain registering that the safety is on: to shoot I need to go safety off. Regardless of which position you're shooting from a hard index on the safety adds an additional brain layer to safety on/safety off.

    I also holster like this break the muzzle from the target, safety on, hard index against thumb safety back to the holster. Once the gun is in far enough that I have to break the index, I roll the thumb up between hammer and back of slide and finish inserting the gun.
    IMO that hard "under register" when say parked or moving with the drawn Condition 1 1911 is very smart. FWIW this is consistent with how my Soldiers have been trained to move with their M4s.
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  4. #4
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    IMO that hard "under register" when say parked or moving with the drawn Condition 1 1911 is very smart. FWIW this is consistent with how my Soldiers have been trained to move with their M4s.
    Indeed I find it very natural to park my thumb under the safety on an AR just like I do the 1911.

    The one thing I do not like about standard AR safeties is the 90-degree throw. I find it difficult to on-safe the weapon without breaking my grip considerably. At least with the shooting hand thumb. I tend to just break the grip and activate the safety with the trigger finger and thumb (ambi safety) and tug the lever up. Then regrip and park the thumb underneath.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  5. #5
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevolverRob View Post
    Indeed I find it very natural to park my thumb under the safety on an AR just like I do the 1911.

    The one thing I do not like about standard AR safeties is the 90-degree throw. I find it difficult to on-safe the weapon without breaking my grip considerably. At least with the shooting hand thumb. I tend to just break the grip and activate the safety with the trigger finger and thumb (ambi safety) and tug the lever up. Then regrip and park the thumb underneath.
    I've compared notes on this with Kevin B and with 1911 & M4 we three agree on that hard under-register keeping the safety on.
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  6. #6
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clusterfrack View Post
    For those of you who donít go off safety during the draw: is your grip fully formed with safety off, or do you have to adjust grip tension after safety off?
    I have an answer for you now. My grip is fully formed when I put my thumb on the safety, whether off or on. I was messing around and realized I don't really adjust tension. Because I firmly squeeze the front and rear backstraps, the thumb doesn't end up applying much lateral pressure. I probably wouldn't mind a bit more, but the 1911 is narrow enough in the grip frame that I can death grip with all three (Non-firing) fingers. In fact, I've never tried it really, but I'd but I could fire the gun with my thumb flagged up and off the gun without any real difference (probably more felt recoil and a bit slower overall).

    But this made me think about establishing a grip on the 1911 in the holster. Because I have holsters with sweatguards and without sweatguards (that block the thumb safety or do not). I have actually adapted my primary grip.

    This is my grip at the beginning of the drawstroke or end of reholstering. I shift my thumb away from the thumb safety and up onto the back of the slide, partly obscuring the firing pin and hammer. At this point, there is enough of my thumb in there the hammer cannot fall or if it does it can't fall with enough force to set off a primer.

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    Some folks do this:

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    On the one hand this positively absolutely blocks the hammer. On the other, I find if you're not careful you'll apply 'downward' pressure to the hammer, which on about 90% of 1911s is sufficient to push the grip safety down enough to disengage it. In this realm, you've created a situation where you're reliant on the thumb safety and your thumb to prevent the weapon from firing should something happen. Above, with your thumb registered on the back of the slide, you've likely let enough pressure off your grip that the grip safety is engaged. Giving you three redundant safety mechanisms (four counting a good holster).

    One thing I've seen a lot of folks do is get on the thumb safety before the gun is out of the holster. "Master firing grip" is a double edged sword with a light trigger gun that you're using a thumb safety on. Right here it is stupid easy to disengage the thumb safety, your full firing grip has disengaged the grip safety. You're now just Rule 3 away from an ND here, but probably okay with a good holster.

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    Once the gun is out and the muzzle is clear of my body that's what I roll the thumb off the back of the slide and onto the thumb safety or into hard register underneath the thumb safety.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I've compared notes on this with Kevin B and with 1911 & M4 we three agree on that hard under-register keeping the safety on.
    Interesting. One thing Iíve noticed with the ambi safety on my 1911 is that with my trigger finger in a high register the big knuckle on my trigger finger rides under the right side thumb safety and keeps me from off safeing without moving my finger towards the trigger.

    Iíll play with indexing under, but with my high grip Iíll be curious to see how that feels as far as maintaining a shooting grip.
    "I don't know if it is a placebo effect or not, but I have a growing feeling of well being that comes directly from my instinctual survival drive deep in my belly centerĒ

  8. #8
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caballoflaco View Post
    Interesting. One thing Iíve noticed with the ambi safety on my 1911 is that with my trigger finger in a high register the big knuckle on my trigger finger rides under the right side thumb safety and keeps me from off safeing without moving my finger towards the trigger.

    Iíll play with indexing under, but with my high grip Iíll be curious to see how that feels as far as maintaining a shooting grip.
    Interesting on the ambi-safety. I don't have any guns with ambis, but I can see it. I assume 'high register' here you're basically putting your index finger on the barrel hood.

    Are you high gripping or are you undercut for a high grip?

    None of my guns are undercut, so I'll be curious as to your results. As you can see if the pics above, a full-size 1911 grip is sufficiently large that I could hang a whole second pinky on down there (alas, I was born with five fingers, not six...). So, for me an undercut grip has never had a great use, except to generally drive my thumb up so high I end up dragging the slide a bit and causing malfunctions.

    But anyways, I'll be interested to see what you find.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevolverRob View Post
    Interesting on the ambi-safety. I don't have any guns with ambis, but I can see it. I assume 'high register' here you're basically putting your index finger on the barrel hood.

    Are you high gripping or are you undercut for a high grip?

    None of my guns are undercut, so I'll be curious as to your results. As you can see if the pics above, a full-size 1911 grip is sufficiently large that I could hang a whole second pinky on down there (alas, I was born with five fingers, not six...). So, for me an undercut grip has never had a great use, except to generally drive my thumb up so high I end up dragging the slide a bit and causing malfunctions.

    But anyways, I'll be interested to see what you find.
    Yeah, index finger on the barrel hood and the web of my hand jammed as far up into the grip safety as I can. No undercut and itís a Springfield with a Springfield radius grip safety. Iíve got a nice big callus on my bird finger middle knuckle from dryfiring due to trying to cram my hand as high up on pistol grips as possible.
    "I don't know if it is a placebo effect or not, but I have a growing feeling of well being that comes directly from my instinctual survival drive deep in my belly centerĒ

  10. #10
    Accused M&P Cultist Joe in PNG's Avatar
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    The biggest reason I upgraded my safeties on my 1911 and Hipower is that the factory safeties were so-so to disengage, but a pain to engage. The extended safties are a whole lot easier to engage.
    "You win 100% of the fights you avoid. If you're not there when it happens, you don't lose." - William Aprill
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