Beavertail safety

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by polishshooter, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Next show I intend to rebuild my 1911. I will be getting a commander hammer and matching sear,. and changing out some springs, but the main thing I want to do is fit a beavertail, that works.

    When I built it, the rage was to pin or "deactivate" the grip safety, so mine is now just there for looks. IF I remember right I didn't have to do anything to the fram when I built it, (although that was in the early '80s, my "Partsheimers" may be kicking in!:cool: ) it pretty much dropped in, and I just ground the ear to deactivate it.

    How hard is it to fit a new one and what kind do you like? And how do you like yours if you have one of those "indexing" ones with the bulge? I kinda like the looks of them....


    My frame is an AMT Hardballer...
  2. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    Mike, I like the Ed Brown beavertail w/memory grove ( the raised pad) The frame must be cut to a 250 deg radius and Brownells sells the jig available from several manufacturers.

    Keep us posted on your progress.
  3. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Ok, I guess I'll have to dig out all my old .45 'smithing books, but I guess I don't understand the "250 degree radius." I never had to do that with my original oversize grip saffety, it more or less "dropped in" if I remember right. Is it the ears on the back that need cut?

    Do you do it with a dremel? And is it just for LOOKS or function?

    I liked the Ed Brown one when I checked at the last show too, but that threw me about the "modifying the frame."
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Most beaver tail safeties are larger than the original parts. Most have a milled cut on their top side for the hammer to "submerge into". Because they are much bigger the tail of the frame in the area of the safety must be modified to accept most of the beaver tail safeties. Brownells sell the safeties and I believe there are some replacement ones that have the hump, are a little longer, and drop in (no frame mods required). You need to review their catalog and read the description for each. The key phrase is "gunsmithing required".

    If you decide to modify the frame, Brownells sell a round hardened set of cylinders that is held to the frame during the modification time by a pin at that location. With a file you smooth the frame tail down to the level of the cylinders. The cylinders are harder than any file and protects the rest of the frame from removal or damage from the file. Since the grip safety covers the area you just filed, re-bluing should not be required, but a little bit of cold blue on the just filed area certainly would not hurt in the fight against rust.

    grip safeties:

    I hate them as my hands are not meaty enough to engage them without thinking about it. The original Colt one is better in this respect than some others I have used in other guns. In the Colt 1911 the safety does not effect the trigger pull at all. It just stops the trigger from being pulled unless it is depressed. Once depressed it moves completely out of the way of the trigger and its path of travel.

    The probelm in disabling it is if you ever have to use the gun in self defense you may have trouble in court explaning to a jury why you turned you 1911 into a killing machine. Any disabled safety of any kind makes self defense a much harder case to make and to win, even though disabling this safety means absolutely nothing in this kind of case. Juries, for some reason, do not like modified guns.

    I shoot most all of my guns for pleasure but my defense gun is un-modified. I would disable any grip safety that is too hard for me to easily activate and I have (but not the Colt).

    LDBennett
  5. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Yeah, that is pretty much why I want to make it work now, plus I have shot quite a few with stock grip safeties and it hasn't bothered me, I have "meaty" hands:D ...so much so that I find the arched mainspring housing much better to control than the flat ones that look better and most people use....

    I pretty much built mine from scratch, so it never HAD a functioning grip safety, but I think if I ever didit again with a stock Colt or clone, I would "pin" the existing safety closed so just driving out the pin put it back to stock....and nobody would notice unless they noticed and questioned the little pin holes....

    I guess my aversion is I was always taught to modify the PART to fit the FRAME instead of vice-versa, so if you screw up it's cheaper and easier to get a new PART than a frame.....and God knows I have "screwed up" enough parts in my life fitting them...:cool: :p :D
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2006
  6. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    Wilson Combat sells a drop-in beavertail grip safety. No frame alteration. You won't be able to grip your 1911 as high as with a fitted one but if it doesn't matter , go for it.

    The drop-in beavertail grip safety on this SA 1911 is from Kings Gun Shop.

    Attached Files:

  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Shooter, is that a stock arched mainspring housing? I am still using an ex military arched from a 1911 I found years ago cheap, that even has the lanyard ring...I replaced the Pachmayr flat I used first just to try, and never switched back it helped so much! With bumer pads the lanyard ring never affected my reloads, and I've always liked the idea of a lanyard if I was ever carrying it in rough service or maybe in a boat!;)

    It seems that flat aftermarket ones are available all over, but it's tough to find arched....

    I remember cutting a few coils off my mainspring to get the pull lighter, and now it's REALLY a light fall, although it still fires even hard military primers, I think it's taken a little "set," and gotten lighter than it was 20 years ago, so I will probably replace the main spring again too, along with a new recoil spring.

    I'm going to fit another solid bushing too, even though I've put at LEAST 50-60000 rounds through it since I switched to a stock Colt collet bushing with no problems...which EVERYBODY said I was going to have when I did it! I WISH I had a dollar for every time I heard "You'll be SORRY when that collet breaks in the middle of a match!" over the past 20 years or so...:cool:


    And what about tightening the slide to frame fit? Is it WORTH maybe messing up the reliability? It's shooting about 6" groups at 25, although it (I?) never shot all THAT much tighter, but I DO remember 3-4 inches....and it DOES rattle like a '73 Plymouth without a loaded mag in it...
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2006
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Polishshooter:

    "I remember cutting a few coils off my mainspring to get the pull lighter, and now it's REALLY a light fall, although it still fires even hard military primers, I think it's taken a little "set," and gotten lighter than it was 20 years ago, so I will probably replace the main spring again too, along with a new recoil spring. "

    Wolf makes a whole set of springs of various powers for 1911 for both the hammer and main springs. No need to cut orignials. Wolf has done all the experimenting for you. Just look at Brownells catalog for anything you need for a 1911 including bushings, flat or arched main spring housing and much more including drop in trigger systems.

    As for tightening the frame, read the Jerry Kuhnhausen book "The Colt .45 Automatic...A shop Manual...Book 1 and 2". The companion book "The U.S M1911/M1911A1 Pistol & Commercial M1911 type Pistols...A Shop Manual" is not as complete as the first Kuhnhausen book. The first book shows the tools and methods needed to tighten the frame "right" and has the most details on supporting the maintenance and modification of any book I have ever seen. Every 1911 owner NEEDS this book!

    My commercial series 80 Colt frame is not GI loose so I have not had to tighten the slide to frame fit but I have used a hand fitted solid bush, a new trigger system and a group gripper. The latter is a device from Brownells that replaces the guide rod (available short or long) that pushes the barrel up into the slide with a small flat spring on a unique barrel link and forces the slide to the top of the rails positioning the slide the same with every shot. Of all the things I did to my Colt the Group gripper made the biggest difference in accuracy. It reduced group size by an honest 30%! Before tightening the frame, the inexpensive group gripper should at least be tried.

    LDBennett
  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I already HAVE an original Dwyer Group Gripper in mine, that was probably the first new part I bought when I first built it, over 20 years ago. Of course, it could probably use a new one, or at LEAST a new tighter link. In fact, that is probably what I will try, I see Brownells lists just a link, and I will get a new tighter slide stop while I'm at it, mine is probably very warn..

    ACTUALLY I think my biggest issue is that old Ithaca Military slide...it really SHOULD be replaced...God knows how many rounds it has seen, I got it off my FIRST used .45 I ever bought, that had an alloy frame, but Bomar sights, which is why I saved it when I went to the "new" rebuild...

    I can't bring myself to change it out though, you don't know HOW many comments I've gotten when people read 'Ithaca" on the side...and you can REALLY tell the guy is a .45 neophyte when you get the famous "I didn't know Ithaca made Combat 1911s....";)

    I just might have that book, I know I have several old ones on .45 'smithing...I just wonder if there is any other option than buying a $100+ squeezer rig for my vise for a one time use...and I've ALWAYS been leery of "peening" the frame rails....

    Does anybody know how that Knowlin "drop in " trigger job that Brownells has works? Tha seems to be a pretty good price for a Commander hammer, matching sear, disconnector, sear spring, and mainspring for supposedly a crisp 4# pull...if I change out the hammer and sear, I'd have to buy all the other stuff separately anyway....I'd like to try their next step up for a 3.5# pull, but it says "out of stock."

    While i have done MANY trigger jobs without a jig, using the pins outside the frame to check, I ALSO remember buggering up at least one hammer, and so I think I'll get lazy and go for "drop in," the old "stoning" eyes are 20 years older too...:cool:
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    I too messed up a set of hammer/sear without knowing what I was doing. I inadvertently removed the case hardening and the trigger job went away and got mushy. I went with the drop-in set after that (at least 15 years ago). I since have gotten the AGI video course on "Trigger Jobs" and realized I did not know how to do trigger jobs correctly. I do now!

    When you see the depth of the book I recommended you'll wonder why it is not a whole lot more popular. It is an engineering analysis of the gun, its specifications, with engineered modifications for 1911's. It is not some Joe Blo gunsmith in East Timbucktoo showing you how he does it.

    LDBennett
  11. kravi

    kravi New Member

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    I love my grip safety. I have a Kimber Custom II, and I modded the safety a little bit. It still works as intended (and I have fairly small hands), but I don't even notice it. It is set up so that when I naturally grip the pistol, the safety is de-activated. I've never had to think about depressing it.

    If I were you, I'd make sure that you built the right safety for your hands. Go to a gun show, and hold a bunch of 1911s. Find which ones feel the best for your hands, and which ones will depress when you grip it (without having to think about it). Then study that safety and buy one just like it for your piece.

    Then you can use the gun for self defence, and there won't be any drawbacks to using it. It will shoot the same as a gun without a safety (as long as you are holding it), and it will be more juror friendly.

    --Me
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