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

  1. #11
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    @JCN on 1911ís (my only thumb safety pistols) when I establish my grip with the gun in the holster I have my thumb riding the safety so that I can off safe as soon as I need to. That might be when I hit pec index for retention shooting or when I confirm that the muzzle is inline with the target on farther shots.

    But I also do a lot of draws in dry fire that donít involve immediately taking off the safety. Like a ďstealthĒ draw to behind the leg or low ready or even a draw to target with my finger still in high register with safety on. At least half of my dry fire draw practice involves drawing the gun but not shooting so de facto off safety as Iím drawing doesnít make sense for me. The simple rule I have for myself is finger on the trigger safety off finger in register safety on.
    "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

  2. #12
    IS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Excellent discussion, and worthy of it's own thread. I think I split out all the relevant posts.

    It's been some 15 years since I carried a 1911, and never considered this as an option. I was always 'thumb on the shelf'.
    Important rule change regarding political discussion here: https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....58#post1151858

    Quote Originally Posted by UNM1136 View Post
    Maybe with talented students I would lube up with baby oil and then go at it.

  3. #13
    Site Supporter CSW'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

    Attachment 68207

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

    Attachment 68208

    Attachment 68209

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

    Attachment 68210

    -

    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:

    Attachment 68211

    -

    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.
    Thumb under is how I was taught in my youth.... Exactly as you described, and still do today with a 1911.
    Safety off when the target is identified...

  4. #14
    Site Supporter NPV's Avatar
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    @RevolverRob

    Thumb under doesnít jack up your support hand grip? Iíve messed around with it but itís a no go for me without compromising my grip.

    Iím more of a thumb wrapped on support hand knuckle (carryover from shooting Sigs) until it is time to disengage the safety. Reholstering thumb is on the rear sight which disengages the grip safety and would at very least slow the hammer considerable were it to fall. Pics for reference.

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  5. #15
    Wannabe Privateer RevolverRob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NPV View Post
    @RevolverRob

    Thumb under doesnít jack up your support hand grip? Iíve messed around with it but itís a no go for me without compromising my grip.

    Iím more of a thumb wrapped on support hand knuckle (carryover from shooting Sigs) until it is time to disengage the safety. Reholstering thumb is on the rear sight which disengages the grip safety and would at very least slow the hammer considerable were it to fall. Pics for reference.

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    No interference for me. My support hand sits a little lower than you. When I click the safety down and ride it, the tip of my shooting thumb touches the support hand thumb knuckle (wow what a mouthful of description).

    ETA: Rear sight works fine if your thumb is long enough. Mine isn't, I can't hit the top of the slide without applying downward pressure on the hammer. It's sort of whatever, I think whatever works as long as you've got something you're comfortable with. Three redundant 'safeties' of thumb safety, grip safety, thumb blocking/obscuring firing pin makes for a safe(r) re holster. But I have no concerns minus grip safety on a BHP or pinned GS on a 1911.

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    Last edited by RevolverRob; 03-02-2021 at 11:58 AM.
    Seriously guys, are we not doing 'phrasing' anymore?

  6. #16
    Site Supporter NPV's Avatar
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    Gotcha that makes sense. Iím used to getting the thumb meat on my support hand pinched when I disengage the safety. During movement though if I only have one hand on the gun I ride under the safety as well. Actually anytime I only have one hand on the gun I do that.

    On the draw Iím similar to you with the thumb on the rear of the slide, difference from reholstering being I want the grip safety engaged at that point.

  7. #17
    I can't go thumb under. there's just not enough room with my support hand. HOWEVER, if I'm SHO, I go hard under the safety.

    Funny story, I has doing some handgun training years ago with a couple of the SF guys here. Their unit still ran 1911 as an optional handgun. I was running my thumb under the safety, SHO, and one of them goes, "WTF, are you some kind of pacifist?!" Anyway, I told him to fuck off and we kept going. LOL. I knew where he was coming from, though. I'm using a pistol, cause my rifle isn't ready to fire (broken or empty), and I'm using a pistol single-handed (either cause I'm injured, or i need to run the light that's still on the rifle, or a handheld), and I'm presumably in a firefight. I can't wait the fraction of a second to move my thumb, or i might not deactivate the safety correctly. Context still means everything, always.

  8. #18
    Damnable 1911 Heretic Elwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theJanitor View Post
    I can't go thumb under. there's just not enough room with my support hand. HOWEVER, if I'm SHO, I go hard under the safety.
    I'm a noob so I'm mostly here to read (this and the original split off safety thread are very helpful), but this is me as well. I use thumb under more in the context of administrative handling - thumb is under while holstering until it moves to hold the hammer, and thumb is also under while I'm moving a loaded gun around from safe to holster and from holster to safe, when grabbing it from the safe to clear it, etc.

    Hand size seems to be a huge factor. Unlike apparently most 1911 shooters, I also don't ride the safety when shooting, except when shooting one handed. My support hand is placed much too high for that, so that my two-handed shooting presentation looks like: grip, draw, hands meet, safety comes off at an appropriate point during rotation up towards target, right thumb "bounces" up off the safety after disengaging it to return to its flagged shooting position to make space for the support hand thumb and palm (so the disengaged safety ends up between my support and strong hand thumbs), shooting grip is finalized, shooting happens, and right thumb only comes back down when coming back under the safety to reengage it.

    This may also be with the higher-set safeties on, for example, M&Ps and P30s don't bother me, based on limited experience so far.

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Elwin View Post
    I also don't ride the safety when shooting, except when shooting one handed. My support hand is placed much too high for that...
    If you don't have sufficient grip on the pistol, your support hand could drive the safety upward. It might be wise to try see if there are other significant disadvantages to shooting without riding the thumb safety down, even if it's just sandwiching the lever between your hands.

  10. #20
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    Excellent discussion, and worthy of it's own thread. I think I split out all the relevant posts.

    It's been some 15 years since I carried a 1911, and never considered this as an option. I was always 'thumb on the shelf'.
    I'm on the under-register thing now but in my 1911 hey day ('80's) I never considered it or heard of it. Just in my recent years return to God's gun; when I found myself handling a Condition 1 during some range stuff and around the house I started to do it, inspired by the AR teaching of the concept which I was exposed to first. One day I was like "btw" and asked Kevin B about that and he was like "of course, just like an M4".

    If I'm drawing and presenting to possibly shoot but not going straight to a shot my thumb is on the shelf, but if I switch to moving and have no plans to immediately fire, it's under. I dunno if that is best practice to alternate both or not. But it seems pretty intuitive and I get those reps daily in handling Condition 1 1911s and in dry fire which is pretty much daily.
    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

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