First, thank you so much for such a worthwhile resource for prepping and other useful information.
Regarding the recent article on M1911 series pistols, I could not help but cringe when I repeatedly read to release the slide and let it slam on an empty chamber. It is my understanding that there is no better way to mess up a trigger job than repeated slamming the slide forward on an empty chamber. The action of releasing the slide without a round being stripped off of a magazine to buffer the force will cause damage to the surfaces of both the hammer and the sear. Since a nice and crisp trigger pull heavily depends on these surfaces being precise, it is in the 1911 owners best interest to not allow the slide to fall on an empty chamber repeatedly.
With that being said, it is required to release the slide on an empty chamber while performing a function check of the 1911. The checks should be performed before purchasing any used 1911, and probably any new 1911. No factory or gunsmith will produce 100% perfect firearms 100% of the time! Please make sure that you have asked the firearm’s owner for permission to perform these checks before running through the list.
The procedure to function check the 1911 is as follows:
1) Ensure that the firearm is unloaded. Remove the magazine. Lock the slide back and visually inspect the chamber. Put your pinky finger into the chamber. Make absolutely, positively sure that the firearm is unloaded!
2) Still treat the firearm as if it is loaded, being aware of muzzle position at all times. Safety, safety, safety!
3) Basic firing test: Slide forward and hammer cocked. Hold firearm as if you were going to fire. Pull trigger. Hammer should drop. If you repeat the test with a pencil inserted into the barrel eraser side first, the pencil should be propelled out of the barrel when you pull the trigger.
4) Half-cock notch test: with slide forward, and hammer in released position, pull hammer back until you hear the first click. This is the half-cock notch. With safety disengaged and firearm gripped as if to fire, pull the trigger. The hammer should not drop, unless it is a series 80, in which case the hammer will drop, but not with enough force to fire.
5) Sear reset and engagement test: Perform the basic firing test above, but continue to pull back on the trigger. Fully pull back on slide and release. Hammer should be fully cocked, and should not follow the slide forward. Release trigger and pull again- the hammer should fall. To test the sear’s engagement, lock the slide back and grip the pistol normally. Release the slide with the slide stop, allowing it to slam on the empty chamber. The hammer should not follow.
6) Thumb safety test: Hold pistol in normal firing grip with slide forward, hammer cocked, and thumb safety engaged. Pull the trigger. The trigger should not move much, if at all, the hammer should not fall and there should not be any movement of internal parts. The trigger should come to a hard stop. If it is mushy, there may be sear movement. Release the trigger and disengage the thumb safety. The hammer should not fall.
7) Grip Safety Test: With the hammer cocked, slide forward, and thumb safety off, hold the pistol so that you are not depressing the grip safety. Pull the trigger. Trigger should not move much, if at all, and the hammer should not fall.
8) Disconnector Test: Grip gun in normal firing grip with slide forward, hammer cocked, and thumb safety disengaged. Pull slide back ¼” with other hand. Pull trigger – the hammer should not fall. Repeat the test, but pull the slide fully to the rear. Allow the slide to move forward slowly, pulling the trigger every ½” of slide movement. The hammer should not fall until slide is fully forward.
9) Barrel Lockup: With the slide fully forward, attempt to push in on the barrel hood. There should be very little movement, if any at all. Try to push the muzzle to the rear. There should be no discernible movement.
10) Slide Lockback on Empty Magazine: Start with slide fully forward. Insert a magazine that you have verified is empty through look and feel. Pull slide fully to the rear and release. The follower on the magazine should trip the slide stop, and the slide should stay locked open. Repeat the test with each magazine you will be using with this pistol. Note: some magazines will not function correctly with one pistol, but work perfectly fine with another. Find out which ones your pistol likes!
11) Magazine drop test: Load a verified empty magazine into your pistol. Depress the magazine catch button. The magazine should drop freely from the pistol with no drag and no harsh scraping sound. Repeat with each magazine you will be using with your pistol.
If your pistol fails any of the preceding tests, there is probably something wrong with the internals and it should be checked by a gunsmith ,ASAP.
Now everyone should celebrate the 100th anniversary of this wonderful pistol and go purchase one as soon as you can! – Don in Virginia