Should You Drop The Slide Of A 1911 On An Empty Chamber?

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 2 weeks ago

I confess I had never thought of the problem they’re discussing, and frankly I’m not sure I fully understand the problem they’re discussing.  I know there are gunsmiths who read this blog.  Enlighten us, please.

FWIW, the comments state that Ken Hackathorn and Bill Wilson say not to do this.  I don’t, but regardless, it would be nice to know why they recommend against it.


Comments

  1. On August 11, 2020 at 11:11 pm, ambiguousfrog said:

    My recently purchased Kimber says don’t do it either. Funny, came across this exact video today.

  2. On August 12, 2020 at 4:13 am, Robert Evans said:

    I don’t know about dropping the slide on an *empty* chamber, but I was always taught not to lock the slide back, chamber a round by feeding it in manually (with the fingers), then let the slide slam forward – – this causes the extractor to jump over the chambered cartridge’s case rim with great force, and can break it.

  3. On August 12, 2020 at 6:32 am, George said:

    The 1911 gunsmith that I use told me it damages the sear.

  4. On August 12, 2020 at 7:27 am, Thomas said:

    Really??? Someone forgot to tell IPSC, I must have dropped the slide 100k times on my 1911’s,all different brands, they want full slide drop no limp wristing to prove your pistole is empty and they will not let you guide in to battery.

  5. On August 12, 2020 at 7:38 am, blake said:

    This is one of those, “not recommended” type of deals.

    Allowing the slide to drop onto an empty chamber isn’t a good practice, but, doing so inadvertently on occasion shouldn’t be a problem.

    In other words, don’t make a habit of it and you should be fine.

    For what it’s worth, I ran across this same thing, so, I am always very careful not to drop the slide on empty chamber.

    It just seems prudent.

  6. On August 12, 2020 at 9:39 am, s said:

    Robert Evans,

    Jerry Miculek touched on that at about the 8:00 mark in this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4O6Fff8Jz8&feature=youtu.be

    He discusses what not to do with certain common/classic guns.

  7. On August 12, 2020 at 12:59 pm, Hank said:

    Seems to be many ways to break the unbreakable 1911. I’ve heard that you should hold the trigger back when chambering a round because that’s how the 1911 was made to function. Failure to do that risks damaging the sear or was it the disconnector? Anyway, if dropping the slide on an empty (or loaded) chamber is a bad thing then maybe the gun is too fragile to shoot.

  8. On August 12, 2020 at 9:13 pm, Danny said:

    @Thomas, please let’s do some math. Let’s say you are as old I, late 50s. You started shooting ISPC at 30, let’s be generous. So, in 25 years you have dropped a slide on empty mag 100,000 times. You shoot IPSC let’s say two nights a week for the entire 25 years. That means you dropped a slide on an empty mag 38 times every IPSC shoot, or less, do the math.

    @Thomas, you are a liar. A semi-automatical pistol is an engineering marvel you could not imagine in the wettest of your fantasies. They were engineered, for a reason, to cycle a round from battery. Full stop, you are moron and should be driven to the wilderness in shame for your ignorance alone.

  9. On August 13, 2020 at 8:04 am, scott s. said:

    In bullseye was always considered bad for the sear to drop the slide. Though many things in bullseye tend to be “this is how we always do it”. The real arguments which got quite heated were about holding back the trigger while dropping the slide. Hitting the x-ring at 50 yds one handed is a bit different from IPSC I suppose, as is using minimum load SWCs.

  10. On August 13, 2020 at 10:15 am, TRX said:

    Tthe “blueprint spec” for the 1911 shows a gap between the barrel hood and the breechface; they are held slightly apart by the cartridge case. Even on military-spec 1911s this didn’t always happen. Somewhere in the 1950s gunsmiths started welding the barrel hood to extend it, so the slide and barrel locked up directly and the cartridge case floated slightly between them. This was thought to provide a more consistent lockup for competition guns, with variations in case length taken out of the picture.

    The barrel feet and slide release pin stop the forward motion of the slide/barrel assembly, and they don’t care whether the hood touches the breechface, or if the slide picked up a round and chambered it on its way forward. The mass of a loaded cartridge would slide the forward speed by some tiny amount, much less than the difference between, say, a full size and Commander size slide speed.

    I’m calling BS.

  11. On August 14, 2020 at 10:42 pm, Sisu said:

    @Robert Evans; @s – As with the conclusion of the Smyth Busters video on “Dropping the Slide” it appears that “manually chambering a round” is possibly “damaging” but it depends on the design of the extractor.

    Because I manually chamber (when not at range or field) your question caught my eye. … Primarily I do so because of the risk of “bullet set back” and “rim scarring” from repeatedly loading the same round (or two) from the magazine; of the three risks “set back” is my greatest concern. … Yes, that should not be a concern if you are able to get to a range more frequently.

    Miculek says in the referenced video “1911 internal extractor – fragile … external extractor – good”.

    An old HighRoad Forum discussion had just the opposite general sentiment from Miculek and ended with the following comment: “The 1911 was intended to feed from the magazine, but it should be able to accept chambering a round and letting the slide drop WITHOUT damaging the extractor. The Army required that for the simple reason that if the magazine(s) got lost or damaged, they didn’t want the gun to become a club.”

    My limited search of “manually chambering a round”, “internal versus external extractor” and variations thereof resulted in some YouTube videos clarifying how (no exceptions found / mentioned) a cartridge stripped from a magazine causes the rim to rise behind the extractor claw by design, yet comments include “strong opinions” both it will break the extractor and damage the rim (though unclear whether worse than scarring from stripping) and “it was meant to move over the rim as a fallback” / “just don’t do it more than ten, fifty, hundred times or much more”.

    1911s and Glocks were the subjects discussed. It strikes me that part of the answer likely lies in the specific pistol design – i.e., tolerances between inside wall of the slide and extractor, and is there a “loaded chamber window” and if so is it in front of the extractor – which perhaps would provide additional room for the extractor to push out past the rim.

    As a practical matter when cleaning I will now more closely examine the extractor with a magnifying glass for evidence of “rounding” (but steel is harder than brass; another consideration I expect – are you using steel cased ammo ?), other wear and hairline stress cracks. …

    Final comment, while I am not an armorer I do have spares of all internal parts for my pistols and in a “pinch” could change out any part of the workings. Given the current political environment you might want to consider a similar investment for your firearms of choice.

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You are currently reading "Should You Drop The Slide Of A 1911 On An Empty Chamber?", entry #25143 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published August 11th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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