Sear engagement problem?

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by 1952Sniper, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    Didn't want to muck up anybody else's thread, so I'll start a new one.

    I have a bone stock GI spec 1911A1 (Rock Island, please don't make fun of me!) that is brand-new. I've only put about 75 rounds through it, and experienced an issue of the hammer falling to half-cock when the slide cycles. When I manually cycle the slide (or lock the slide open and release it with the slide release lever), the hammer falls to half-cock approximately 30 to 40 percent of the time.

    Best I can tell, this is a sear engagement problem. And I'm a 1911 dummy; this is my first one. In researching the problem on the WWW, I read that it could be a weak sear spring or sear engagement. Is there any way to determine which it is? And if it's sear engagement, what's the best option?

    It is under warranty, and I could send it back to the manufacturer (Armscor), but I'd rather avoid that if at all possible. I don't mind having to buy another hammer and sear if the cost is under $40-ish (and I wouldn't mind switching to a "Commander" style hammer anyway, since this is intended to be my new concealed carry piece, once I shake the bugs out).

    Is this the best option? Just buy another hammer and sear? Will it drop in and work safely, or will I have to custom fit it? I don't want to have to pony up for a jig to hand-fit these items. I'd like to just drop in the replacements and have it work as intended. But first things first.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Is there some kind of test that I can do to make sure the problem is hammer/sear engagement, that will rule out any other causes like a weak sear spring?

    2. If it is a hammer/sear engagement problem, can you recommend a replacement set that will function well without having to file on them, at a cost of less than $40?

    Thanks!
  2. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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    First of all, I would just bend the finger on the sear spring to tighten it up a bit.
    If it still occurs after that, then I would go for an Ed Brown hammer and sear and disconnector and replace it as a set. I don't think you will get that for $40.

    More like $90, but it will be a long time until you would need a replacemen

    http://www.edbrown.com/cgi-bin/htmlos.cgi/00854.1.471548509019593060?

    IPT
  3. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I guess the MAIN thing to ask (I don't know...) is whether Rock Island takes standard 1911 parts as drop in....SOME copies don't....

    But 52, I'd be REALLY surprised if you have following due to wear after only 75 rounds no matter WHAT people say about the RI....usually that is caused by WEAR, and unless they had an issue with soft steel in the hammer or sear, or got the sear notch or sear nose burred up somehow, I'd almost have to BET it's the sear spring....75 rounds SHOULDN'T be "wear" for ANY pistol....7500 or 75000 maybe, but NOT 75....:p


    Take your gun apart, put the sear pin and hammer pin through the sear and hammer, then insert the ends into the holes OUTSIDE the frame so they are in proper alignment and engagement, then get a magnifying glass and check out the sear nose and hammer notch engagement....they should be FLAT where the mate...you MIGHT see burrs or something you can lightly stone off, or you might see where they are buggerred up somehow....


    And yeah, the Ed Brown hardcore commander hammer /sear/disconnector set is just the berries, I just bought them for mine, they dropped in nicely, with no stoning and gave a great trigger pull as is, and they are hardened nicely too so should last a long time...but they ran me a little over $100 for all three (you MIGHT be able to get away with your disconnector and save $20 or so)...the cheapest would probably be the Chip McCormick matching sear/hammer, and use your disconnector....I've HEARD they were good too, but I haven't tried them.


    The ONLY problem you might have with a commander hammer is the grip safety...it might hit on the spur....and replacing the grip safety with a beavertail is going to cost you another $30 to $50, and they do NOT always "drop in...."

    I had a "Wide Spur" grip safety that I dropped in when I built it, and was "disconnected," and I actually "forgot" to buy the beavertail when I bought the rest of the parts, even though that was the MAIN thing I wanted!:p

    When I put the Ed Brown skeleton commander hammer in it though (it used to have a regular 1911 spur hammer) it BARELY cleared, and might have worked, but I took my dremel to the spur on the safety and hollowed it out a little so I was sure it cleared, and it works fine....
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2006
  4. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    OK, I'll give that a try. Not to sound stupid, though... but which "finger" am I supposed to bend? Referring to the picture at the link below, is it the top, middle, or bottom one?

    http://www.midwayusa.com/mediasvr.dll/highresimage?saleitemid=615723

    Yes, the RIA 1911 uses all standard GI spec parts. Any replacement part that's on the market that's labelled "GI" will work on the Rock Island 1911A1.

    I don't think it's wear. I think it's just perhaps poor fitting from the factory. If bending the sear spring will fix it, then I would assume that perhaps their factory sear spring just wasn't manufactured to the proper spec. If I end up having to replace the sear/hammer, then it's probably a result of them not manufacturing these items to the right spec, or just fitting it improperly. But I don't think it's wear.

    If I end up needing a replacement hammer/sear, and go with the Commander style hammer, I'll keep in mind the clearance issue. I don't particularly want the beavertail grip safety, but I guess we'll see how it works out. I'll probably give the Chip McCormick brand parts a try. A quick price check at Midway USA (using my C&R FFL discount), I can get the hammer, sear, and sear spring for about $30-ish before shipping.

    Thanks for your help, guys! If you can just guide me a bit on where to bend the sear spring, I can get going on figuring this thing out.
  5. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    Slightly bend the left and middle leg on the spring forward.

    This will put a little more pressure on the sear and disconnect.

    One more thing, does the trigger bind ?
  6. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    Thanks. I did some more research online and found some instructions. The left part is for the sear and the middle part is for the disconnector. I figured the left one is the one that needs to be bent inward (forward) a bit.

    Since the hammer is falling only to half-cock, would that mean that the middle "finger" of the spring is OK as is? I would assume that since the disconnector is still working (the hammer is not striking the firing pin when it follows), that part of the sear spring needs no adjustment. Please correct me if I'm not understanding it properly.

    No, the trigger is not binding at all. In fact, the trigger seems to be very light and crisp, which is one of the things I love about it. Of course, if the sear spring is only exerting "light" pressure on the sear, then that would partially explain why the trigger is so nice. Stiffening up the pressure on the sear will increase my trigger pull, I assume.
  7. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    You are assuming correct. The difference will be noticable, but still not too bad.
  8. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Hey Shooter, maybe you struck on something for mine?

    Since I replaced my hammer/sear./disconnector with the Ed Brown stuff, I have a SWEET trigger now, BUT I get a LITTLE "hitch" like almost a stop, that wasn't there before, in the takeup, almost like a burr or something, nothing too major or that I couldn't get used to, but I can't find a burr or figure it out...the trigger is a Videcki three hole that I've had in it since i built it, and it's smooth with no burrs either....it ALMOST feels like a TWO STAGE when I take up the slack to the "stop," then just a LITTLE more and fall....in fact, it MAY be a GOOD thing once I get used to it if it stayed consistent, and so far it is...

    The sear spring is also a new Ed Brown replaced with all the rest, as is the new stock mainspring I replaced at the same time...however the mainspring STRUT is still the original, I wonder if that may be it? Maybe the spring leaf on the stirrup is TOO tight?

    I'm thinking it MAY go away with wear, but it annoys me that I can't figure it out....
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2006
  9. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    I disassembled it last night and bent in the sear "finger" on the spring, as well as the disconnector spring (although not as much).

    I'd like to say it fixed the problem, but I don't know because I can't get the darn thing back together!!!

    When I reinstall the main spring housing, with the grip safety in place, and then I try to reinstall the hammer, I can't get it to go back together properly. Is there some secret I'm missing?

    When I took the hammer pin out, I had the hammer at full cock as my instructions said to do. And of course, it shot the hammer assembly across the room. I can tell that the lower strut on the hammer has to compress the main spring in order to go back in, but how do I do it? It's impossible for me to simply push the strut down into the grip and compress the main spring while holding the hammer spur to the rear and trying to line up the holes and insert the hammer pin all at the same time. I tried installing the hammer first, and then the main spring housing, but that's almost impossible to do as well.

    How do I get the hammer pinned back into the frame? I'm assuming it has to be at full cock when it goes back in, because I tried it with the hammer in the "fired" position, and it didn't work properly.
  10. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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    Take off the main spring housing. That should be the last part of the assembly and the first part of the disassembly!
  11. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Hhmmm...

    I always install the disconnector, sear, hammer, grip safety, and safety, to hold the grip safety in place, but leave the safety off, FIRST. That is a good way to check them to make sure you have everything in alignment with nothing out of whack, with just finger pressure instead of spring pressure....by pushing on the hammer, you can pull the trigger and the sear should release the hammer.

    Then if I remember right (to be honest, I have done it so many times I don't pay attention anymore!:p ) I leave the hammer DOWN, (uncocked) so the hammer mainspring strut puts less pressure on the mainspring when you install it.

    Make sure the sear spring is in the right position (my AMT frame has two cuts for the sear spring, about 1/16" or maybe LESS apart, and I ALWAYS end up with it in the WRONG one the first time, and have to take it apart and move it:p ) then I kind of hold the frame in my hand while sliding the mainspring housing into the channel, and when the housing contacts the sear spring, to hold it in place, I kind of jiggle and move the frame around (if you don't use a vise, this is one operation where a third hand would be handy!) (I USUALLY end up with the frame verticle, so the strut is kind of "hanging" like a pendulum,) until the strut is centered on the cup at the end of the mainspring inside the housing, and the grip safety is in the proper position, put a LITTLE more pressure up on the housing to hold the strut in place on the cup, then still holding it firmly in place, I push the frame DOWN with the mainspring housing on a block of wood until it is in place and I can stick the pin in with my free hand.

    My mainspring housing has a lanyard ring which makes this easier. as I press the ring on the block and it's easy to line up the pin, but I've done it with a flat bottom one too, you just use the edge of the housing to press on.

    You can also do it with the frame in a vise, and use a small screwdriver or punch to position the hammer strut centered on the cup, and press against the mainspring housing with a brass punch or wood dowel, but I think it's easier my way, ESPECIALLY since when I get it together it DOESN'T WORK since I put the sear spring in the WRONG SLOT:mad: so I have to take it apart and do it AGAIN!:mad: :p :D


    And after swearing at myself, I do it RIGHT, it WORKS, I'm HAPPY, until I think AGAIN "WHY DIDN'T YOU MARK THE RIGHT SLOT, IDIOT!:mad: " (Believe it or not this conversation with myself on reassembly has happened for OVER twenty years!:p )


    And yeah, I remember now, because the FIRST test I do then is COCK it, so yes, you install it with the hammer DOWN, at least I do....

    Just make sure you dop not actually drop the hammer by pulling the trigger and letting it fall unsupported when it's apart, it can bugger up the hammer/sear....always "catch" the hammer with your thumb on it to check whether the trigger works....
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2006
  12. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    And, yeah, I guess I misunderstood what problem you were having...Intx is right, you HAVE to remove the mainspring housing and reinstall it LAST, after everything else is in place....I assumed you were having problems somehow reinstalling the housing....sorry.
  13. 1952Sniper

    1952Sniper New Member

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    Hmm. OK. That may be part of my problem. I was going by the instructions here, which shows removing the hammer before the main spring housing (and reverse order for reassembly would, of course, have the main spring housing going back in before the hammer). That could be part of my problem!

    I'll try reinstalling the main spring housing last, after the sear/disconnector, hammer, thumb safety, sear spring, and grip safety are back on.

    Getting the main spring housing pin back in is a pain as well. I can't just push it in, since it's fighting that little locking spring in the middle of the main spring housing which "notches" into the middle of the pin. I have to whack on it to get it through. I'm still not sure how best to do that while having to hold the frame and main spring housing against the spring pressure. I need at least 3 hands, possibly 4. I guess I should just stick a small rod or screwdriver into the channel to temporarily hold the main spring housing against the spring pressure to free up my hands to install the pin.

    Thanks for the advice, guys. Once I get it back together, then I can find out whether the "fix" worked for my hammer follow problem.
  14. inplanotx

    inplanotx New Member

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    Of course, assuming an empty weapon, when you get the MSH started, grab the pistol by the slide and push down on a hard suface that will not mar the finish on the gun. I just push against the edge of my work bench, which is wood. Push hard and push the pin. Only two hands needed.

    IPT
  15. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Yeah, that's how I do it too, InTx, the pin will start, then I drive it home with a little plastic faced hammer.

    You can also use a pin punch from the OTHER side to hold it, and drive the punch out with the pin as you drive the pin in....
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