1911 Trigger Job

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by thomas44, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    The skeletonized hammer on my Dan Wesson 1911 broke after about 1,000 rounds ! Anyway, I have been looking at a replacement hammer and stumbled across various hammer and sear kits that promise a light, crisp trigger pull. So, this is something I'm thinking about installing in this pistol and was wondering if anybody had any recommendations in this regard. Budget would probably be in the $150-$200 range. The current trigger pull isn't bad, but it could be better.
  2. Helix_FR

    Helix_FR Active Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Imperial, MO
    The best trigger pulls are done by fitting by hand. I've gotten better results with non matched sear/hammers. get the hammer you want. Get a EGW sear. They have the secondary cut already. I bought a cylinder and slide matched set by request of a customer. At the same time I had a Kimber that just needed a new sear. I put the egw in the kimber and the CS in the other. Kimbers trigger pull was better out of the bag.

  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    There is a whole lot to a 1911 trigger job. The pull can be excessive if the sear spring part of the trigger spring is too heavy or the sear engagement angles are wrong or the trigger return spring part of the trigger spring is too heavy. The creep is a function of the sear engagement and the over travel is an adjustment in the trigger itself.

    You can modify the stock stuff but stone too much and the trigger job will go away in short order as the stoning reveals the soft under metal of the stock hammer. If the sear/hammer engagement angles give too much cam back to the hammer (there has to be some or the gun is not safe) then the trigger pull will have to work against the hammer main spring tension. If you get the hammer and trigger and sear all working for a light pull then the trigger itself has to be changed to a lighter one. As the trigger bounces when firing the gun, it will knock the sear off the hammer as the slide returns from recoil.

    The bottom line is you can use any combination you want but for a drop in systematic approach with little fitting required, you have to get all the parts (hammer, sear, trigger/sear/safety spring, trigger) from the same manufacturer and MAYBE the trigger will be better(??). Or you can go to a known good 1911 gunsmith and let him do the experimenting and fitting to get to a better trigger.

    A look at a Brownells catalog or their website will show that there are many match level trigger parts manufacturers for 1911's out there. Most meet the specs advertised in Brownells catalog.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
  4. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Obviously I need more info on 1911 gunsmithing, but it's something I am very interested in. Is there a good book or other info I should look into ? I'll pursue this to the gates of hell ! LOL
  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    There is indeed a 1911 bible. It is the two book series on the 1911 and the Colt 45 Automatic by Jerry Kuhnhausen. They are readily available:



    There is no better books written with extreme technical details on the 1911 and gunsmithing it.

    There is also the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) DVD's on gunsmithing the 1911 and one in particular on just a trigger job for the 1911. I have neither because I have the AGI Profession Trigger job video and have amassed lots of excellent info from the Kuhnhausen books. I have many of the AGI videos and all are really excellent. All the AGI instructor on my AGI video's are excellent. Even with the Kuhnhausen books I only found out how to do a real trigger job after reviewing the AGI DVD's. AGI Videos tend to be hands on how to do it backed up with why the precess is just so.

    For 1911's these books and the AGI DVD's are the path to success, in my opinion.

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  6. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Helix and LD pretty much summed it up.
    A hand-fitted trigger job will net you the best end result. That Kuhnhausen set is an excellent shop manual for working on a 1911...a definite must-have if you're interested in the internals of the 1911s.

    As for the drop-in or semi drop-in kits available...
    I have had good luck with the Nowlin drop-in kits. I recently put a Nowlin Commander action kit in my clunker PT1911 project gun...the factory parts were so butchered by the PO that they weren't useable and this was my first 1911 job in quite a few years.
    I haven't done any work on it yet beyond the fitting needed to get the parts installed but so far I'm impressed with how the trigger turned out without any extra tuning. About 3.6lb and pretty clean for un-tuned parts.
    I've got a few more parts to swap out on this rig, then I'll start with a full tune-up on the entire pistol.

    I know a couple guys locally here that tried to "cheap out" and use the Cylinder&Slide drop-in kits. They needed quite a bit of work to even get the parts in-frame, much less tuned to give a decent trigger.
    One of those guys is a pretty good 1911 "basement hack" like myself and he fitted the C&S kits for both of these pistols (one Springfield and one Rock Island). I know he's done good with other rigs so I'm suspecting the C&S kits aren't the best matched sets of parts out there.
  7. gunplumber

    gunplumber New Member

    Apr 14, 2010
    The two best books I have ever seen about the 1911 is Wilson Combat and Ken Halleck (Halleck may be misspelled and I think Brownells carris both). Be sure you have a competent smith do the work as liability issues abound around this type of thing. Drop-in parts might be ok depending on the exact location of the sear and hammer pin holes. If you think not, try fiting quality aftermarket parts from Wilson or Ed Brown to a Rock Island 45 or some of the other clones out there. It will make you talk to the Lord on a regular basis. I doubt that you would have that prob wih a Dan Wesson. I think they are owned by CZ now and I have always been happy with their products. One thing as important as the secondary sear cut is to be sure that the sear is bearing on both hammer hooks equally. As a last resort to a "final touch" in the trigger job, as many as 3 coils may be cut from the mainspring if it is untouched to start with. Most times you will not have to cut the mainspring if the other work is done properly. I refuse to bring the trigger below 4lbs on a 1911 due to the liability involved.
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I would caution anyone doing a trigger job on a 1911 that thorough testing is required. Start with one in the magazine to be sure the gun will not turn into a machine gun. Then add one more with each magazine refill until the gun PROVES its trigger job is truly safe.

    And one other thing: Don't allow anyone else to shoot the gun if you go below gunplumber's 4 lb minimum. If your "friend" is shooting the gun when it accidentally goes off then you will be held responsible since you did the work on the trigger and the gun is yours. 1911's in 45ACP (and other calibers too) create a lot of recoil and the trigger bounces around in the frame. The sear can bounce off its engagement shelf if the spring forces are too low or the angle of sear/hammer engagement is wrong or the amount of engagement is too little. The gun may double or more. Trigger work has high liability risks and not just working gunsmiths have to worry about a trigger accident.

    The worst case I have heard of was featured on TV. The shooting facility had an outdoor pistol range that backed up to an indoor range. They had high berms to catch bullets. There was a run around and shooting tactical game going on at the outdoor pistol range and the contest was being held mid range. A shooter's modified gun went off with a single trigger pull and again in recoil in the too lightly triggered gun. The bullet trajectory went up and then down into the roof of the indoor range where there was an NRA rifle shoot going on for Juniors. The bullet continued through the roof, hitting and killing a young man sitting waiting his turn to shoot. This was not here say but was featured on an actual TV show I watched. Trigger jobs CAN be lethal. If you don't know how to do it right and safely then have a real 1911 gunsmith do it and keep the pull level in the safe region of 4 lbs as gunplumber suggests. I am sure that the AGI video tells you how to do it correctly.

  9. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Well, here is what I ended up doing... I was looking at hammers and ended up going the cheap route and got a S&W hammer and hammer strut and pin from Midway. I kept the original sear since the gun didn't have hardly any rounds through it. I don't know if I just got lucky or what, but the trigger pull is very good now. I'm only guessing, but it feels like a 4.5-5 # pull, which is a bit heavy, but it's clean. Took it to the range, and shot several rounds 2 at a time for safety testing, and then put a couple hundred rounds through it for additional testing and I'm quite pleased. Got some extra goodies for the money I was going to spend on more expensive components, and I really like the looks of the S&W hammer, so bonus ! I got to looking at the original DW hammer, and wow, that thing is thin. Probably didn't help that I was shooting some pretty hot rounds either.
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