Fitting an Ambidextrous Thumb Safty

Discussion in 'The 1911 Forum' started by ysacres, Mar 7, 2003.

  1. ysacres

    ysacres Moderator Moderator Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    Wawawai WA
    Registered User
    Posts: 1
    (6/3/01 3:33:49 pm)
    Reply Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    How difficult is it to fit an ambidextrous thumb safety? I'm thinking of ordering an Ed Brown Tactical unit and was of a mind to install it myself. Does it just need to be honed a little or are a machine shop and special tools required?
    Thanks in advance for the help.

    Posts: 1101
    (6/3/01 3:43:37 pm)
    Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety

    Welcome aboard, one of our 1911 people will be here to
    answer your question shortly so do stick around and or
    check back.

    I think all it will require is some minor fitting however, one
    of our 1911 experts will have a more proper detailed
    answer for you soon.

    Again, welcome aboard and I hope you become a regular

    Regards, Tac401
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 602
    (6/3/01 5:47:31 pm)
    Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Welcome M1911A1user,
    Tac gives good advice, I would certainly leave a proper fit to a professional. And we do have them here... just don't see him right now.
    Feel free to stop back any time or as often as you like.
    You are more than welcome!!!


    The Firearms Forum [email protected]

    shooter45 us
    *Senior Chief Moderator*
    Posts: 435
    (6/3/01 6:36:46 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Welcome 1911A1user. The Ed Brown ambi- safety will only need minor fitting. If your handy with a file,you shouldn't have much of a problem. On the nose of the safety there is a detent to engage the safety plunger. This detent is usually not quite deep enough as it comes from the manufactuer. Make the detent deeper with a #42 drill bit and then tear drop the hole with a Dremel tool fitted with a small shaper stone. Just remember to go slow and check your work often. Any other problems, just ask.

    Bob In St Louis
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 441
    (6/3/01 7:20:35 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Who else but Shooter45 to answer your question! Welcome to the board - I don't know much about the Model 1911s - but I sure do know the Spanish look-a-likes Stars & Llamas. Hang around and chew the cud with us.
    Support the Dead Party, vote Harry S. Truman for Missouri Senate in 2002!

    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 753
    (6/3/01 7:38:11 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    ...WELCOME M1911A1user, hey! a drill, hammer or vise grip will solve any 1911 problem, if not....throw it away and get a Glock......just kidin.............about the Glock. Welcome!! LTS

    Posts: 2
    (6/3/01 7:45:15 pm)
    Reply Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Thanks to all for the quick responses! Sounds like something that the average person with a little patience and common tools (and sense) can accomplish at home. I've pushed the standard thumb safety out for cleaning a number of times but having never seen how the ambidextrous item comes from the manufacturer, it's hard to know what "fitting" is required. It could be a roughed out machine part for all I know requiring complete final finishing!
    I'll let you know it turns out.
    Thanks again.

    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 289
    (6/3/01 7:57:55 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Welcome to the board M1911A1user, man that's a long name. From here on out I shall call you M19.

    Shooter45 is the person to go to with this.

    "Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyranize their teachers."--Socrates (470-399 B.C.)

    Posts: 172
    (6/3/01 8:01:07 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    A little more input from A 1911 style Fanatic, (well, I guess I am A 2001 type fanatic too,) You will have to shorten the hammer and sear pivot pins to get the right side safty to fit flush, and, most of the ones I have installed also needed material removed from the area that engages the left leg of the sear, to allow full engagement,if the grips present on the pistol are not already cut for Ambi, You will have to inlet space for the tab that rides under the grip to clear, if not the safty will be extremly hard to engage and dis-engage, there are Videos available to aid in installation from Brown and other suppliers, it is far better to have it done right than to have A unsafe weapon or have to pay for two, one to install and one to learn "how to" on.
    If Heaven ain't got A loading bench.....I'm going to Hell,

    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 712
    (6/3/01 9:42:18 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    And remember, the number one rule is: "It's a helluva lot easier to remove just a little more metal, than it is to put it back on when you removed too much!!!"

    I learned this the hard way!!!

    Many times you will use the file when you should be using a stone, and using a stone when you should be just "polishing."

    The difference between "Experts" and "Wannabes" is that the "experts" know the difference...BUT remember, they learned HOW the same way you will, by screwing up once in awhile and needing TWO safeties or Hammers, or whatever, because they screwed one up!

    The 1911 is pretty easy to work on for anyone with common sense, good tools, and patience. It is pretty straight forward once you understand EXACTLY how it was intended to work, and don't mess with the design.

    The number one way it gets screwed up is "trigger jobs" and fitting the safeties. You HAVE to understand the relationships, and while you can check them with the pins on the outside of the frame, invest in a sear jig, it's worth it's weight in platinum. Make sure ALL bearing and contact surfaces mate as designed, many times the file(r) leaves an "edge" when a square bearing surface is called for, like on a sear to hammer fit. It may work, but will wear or break quickly, and may make the weapon unsafe. Be prepared to file/assemble/check/dissassemble/file/assemble/check/diss/polish/assemble/check,etc,etc. MANY times before it's right. AND when it's right STOP! Going just a little further is when you will get in trouble!

    The second way it is screwed up is when the "controlled feed" is messed up, you won't REALLY know this until you break a few extractors after trying to figure out why it ISN'T as reliable as everyone says it is.

    Buy the videos, books, etc, and READ them before you touch the first file.

    But I built mine from almost scratch 20 years ago when I was young and stupid, and it's still cranking away after more than 100,000 rounds...

    Good luck and have fun.

    PS. IMHO, no ambi safeties, extended slide stops, or extended mag release buttons for me, EVER!!!! More trouble than they are worth, more to snag, makes the pistol wider (hard enough to conceal) and just not worth the extra cash for what you gain.

    Spend it on reloading equipment or components...

    Posts: 356
    (6/3/01 10:25:37 pm)
    Reply Re: Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Welcome M19.......lots of good advice above....and since we have a seperate category for the 1911, you can see a lot of us here are fans of "ol' slabsides".

    Posts: 5
    (6/4/01 11:17:10 am)
    Reply Fitting An Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
    Thanks again to all for the excellent food for thought. Seem extra care and due diligence (DD) will be the order of the day. Regarding some of the suggestions to read up before attempting this installation - has anyone tried the 1911 bench reference CD-ROM from Ed Brown? Sounds like it might be of value.