View Full Version : 1911 Ambidextrous Safety Standardization

July 17, 2016, 03:02
Purchased a SIG Tacops TB and in process of break in cycle for a carry pistol, 500 rounds of assorted types of ammo, decided I really liked the safety especially once disassembled and discovered how it is designed. Have seen similar designs though new for me to work with but have seen Ed Brown, Caspian and others selling similar units with some very minor design differences in both wide and narrow versions.



Notice no long extension running under the right side grip to hold the weak side safety on. Has a design which replaces the hammer pin with a proprietary unit that is longer and has a reverse cone shape on end that captures the weak side lever.





Should be pretty obvious how it assembles from pictures. It is smooth as butter and just the right size for carry pistols. Already hhavefour installed on pistols that was able to source from a supplier that ships fast and very good prices. Got three in black and three in stainless (maybe plated didn't look that close) so extra laying around for parts and started looking for wider version for race guns.

Have seen Ed Brown, King's, Kimber and others offering similar designs. Have never used any of these, mainly due to cost as the Ed Brown and King's sell for up to $150 each. The Brown unit has a groove in weak side lever and post with cap design on hammer pin but all are attaching the two sides together in similar manner. Here is what's supposed to be an Ed Brown and are $149 each, possibly why never paid much attention to them.


Paying $39 for the SIG units in choice of color. Seen factory SIG 1911's at LGS with wide versions so looking to source as an over $100 price difference per unit is huge on a safety, especially since need a minimum of four wide units for race pistols. Also due to small differences in design, want to stay with same manufacturer so can mix and match if want. On one of my left hand 1911's could see wanting a wide lever on right side and narrow on left. Also could mix and match on right hand models according to each pistols main purpose using wide and narrow together to meet mission specific roles.

Below are two pistols of several working on rebuilding now that both have the SIG ambidextrous safeties.





The above two are part of a group of five pistols am rebuilding for carry work and different circumstances. Plan is a 5.5" compensated, 5.5" threaded barrel, 5" bull barrel no bushing version, a 3.5" bull barrel no bushing version, a Commander and an Officers Model with carry comp.

All are existing older builds and plan is to use same mainspring/mag well design, safety, slide release, magazine release and trigger. May use different triggers but plan to set pull at or very close to 3.75 pounds on all the carry pistols. Plan to put a tritium front sight on all without and fresh on the ones getting dim. Want training with any pistol to cross over to the others so control ergonomics are the same for every pistol. The race guns want same safety just a little wider on left side, lighter triggers in the 3.25 pound range and the Smith & Alexander mainspring/mag well that is almost exactly the same but more meat and bigger funnel to hit hole for faster reloads.

The Smith & Alexander thin profile using on carry guns is almost exact same just enough smaller makes concealment a tad easier. Now have four pistols trying different hammers, triggers, grip safeties, magazine releases and internals trying to standardize as many parts as possible. Another part all are getting are the EGW extended length titanium hammer struts and titanium mainspring caps. All are getting fresh Wilson five pound mainsprings also.

When get all the controls and internals worked out will refinish each to suit and have five carry and four race guns all ergonomically similar and totally gone through which should be last time have to fool significantly with my single stacks. Don't think will be able to hold them up long enough to wear out nine major power factor pistols. The occasional spring kits on more used units and no more 1911 work. All the collectible and better left factory pistols can be shot on occasion and move on to next project which for pistols will be going through the Hi Power collection.

July 17, 2016, 07:36
If you care about such things......


Ed Brown appears to be machined from solid

July 17, 2016, 08:35
Most small 1911 parts are MIM.
Ed Brown, Bill Wilson and others buy many of their parts, especially safeties, from vendors. Sometimes the same vendors.
Some are junk, some are good. That includes Ed Brown and Bill Wilson.
I have a custom shop and know this for a fact

There is no advantage for some parts to be milled. Some parts simply don't have any stress on them. MIM is more than adequate.

I also recommend having a safety installed by a gunsmith that knows his way around a 1911. You never want a safety to be somewhat OK or 'it seems to work just fine'.

Same with chambers and frames/receivers. Never cut into a chamber or frame unless you really know what you're doing

The same with trigger work

L Haney
July 17, 2016, 08:54
You never want a safety to be somewhat OK or 'it seems to work just fine'.

Yep! Seen some advertised as 'drop in' parts. They did indeed 'fit' into the frame but they were not properly fitted to safe the lockwork. Takes some training and experience to either verify or adjust what's going on in there.

July 17, 2016, 09:40
One of the reasons for standardizing safeties is way pistols fit leather. As been, had to dedicate a holster to each pistol as once pistol and holster have molded to fit each other then put a different setup in it and a holster that carried a single side factory safety can push a wide ambitious safety to off position. Having to check to be sure safety is engaged is real issue don't want to worry about.


Now as these three new rigs get broken in (yes new leather for new safeties & fire control parts) will be able to swap pistols around without worry if pistol in correct rig. As to fitting parts, took two separate week long builders courses from Jim Stroh at Alpha Precision back 25 years ago. Been working on 1911's for almost 40 years and my testing of safeties on all firearms is pretty aggressive.

Make sure it works 100% no matter how hard a hit pistol takes. Four of the nine pistols working on now had pinned grip safeties. Back in late 80's we were pinning the grip safety on race guns and some carry units in event didn't get a proper grip when drawing against the clock. Wanted it to go bang even if had hand position off a bit from fast draw.

Employee at LGS was really excited to see them when came in for parts. Had never seen that and wanted to know how to pin some of his. Explained that with modern grip safeties and the big humps have not had a failure to fire from poor grip in decade or more. Was un-pinning mine and he wanted to buy my altered units and associated parts. Let him take pictures but didn't want the liability of helping someone bypass a safety device on a pistol.

Agree 100%, if not totally competent, don't be fitting fire control parts. Unfortunately see so many home built guns with "drop in" parts go crazy at range about done with going to public ranges. Went to a few local competitions a while back and so many shooters were racking, tapping and beating to try and get their drop in parts guns to run left before ran all my lanes. Final straw was an A.D. from guy in group that used same pistol for carry and competition. Was unloading in parking lot and let a double tap go. Acted like the A.D. was no big deal and said the gun would double tap on occasion, low trigger pull weight competition pistols were prone to that. Went shooting with a group from church week before last. Will be last time. Seems like there are a lot of incompetent shooters and builders out there. Assume Utube video makes them a professional.

Guy came in LGS a while back with a Glock had rebuilt with $1,000 in aftermarket parts. Did at least put a good barrel in it but had a three pound trigger kit he polished and they measured at 2.75 pounds. Pistol with zero safety devices except trigger and it was under three pounds??? Nope, no me.

Have four different hammers testing now, two have been eliminated and ordered a second of the two like so can see which unit does best in two guns then will narrow to most reliable and standardize. Will throw enough money at parts in process of standardizing to buy a pair of nice top shelf 1911's. Have all the correct tools and reasonable skill set for 1911's. Will get all the fire control systems right then move to metal checkering, installing sights, melting sharp edges and such before refinishing. Going to be a big pile of pistols that are all 100% as humanly possible. Have 1911 smith nearby that builds daily for a living.

When all are finished but before going out for plating will take all to him and let him double check all my work. Can do tower work for his ham shack while he goes over the stack of 1911's. Two sets of eyes for final inspection and Q.C. will be due diligence. If gun goes crazy I am the one getting shot. A 200 grain 45 acp bullet will remove large pieces of your body, not interested in shooting myself.

July 17, 2016, 10:31
There's a few things you say that don't make much sense hueyvile

Make sure it works 100% no matter how hard a hit pistol takes

When you fit a 1911 safety, it's fitted. There is no 'hit test'
All the surfaces are fitted, there's nothing else that can be done or tested.
The fitting is the 'testing'

'Have four different hammers testing now' and 'which unit does best in two guns then will narrow to most reliable and standardize.

You don't 'test' hammers. There are a few designs, basically the commander and the original. There is no 'reliable' unless you get a light-weight EGW or other and use a reduced hammer spring

For any 1911 I would only recommend a commander hammer
I would also only recommend a barstock
Yes, I said MIM is more than adequate for most parts. Only use a barstock hammer and sear

Ed Brown makes an excellent barstock hammer and sear.
Bill Wilson barstock hammers are excelent but no better than Ed Brown's
Bill Wilson hammers are 'out of stock' too much to depend on them

July 17, 2016, 11:20
A slightly different iteration of the Colt accessory ambi safety from 30 + years ago.

Everything old is new again !


July 17, 2016, 15:03
Let's see if I can clarify what am doing a little better and why. First, don't build full time, took the two 1911 specific builders courses and do a lot of general gunsmith tinkering. Thus don't have the familiarity with parts from using current models every day. So to make sure am getting what I want, ordering a variety of what I think I want then trying them out and seeing how react with other parts in the chain.

"You don't 'test' hammers. There are a few designs, basically the commander and the original. There is no 'reliable' unless you get a light-weight EGW or other and use a reduced hammer spring."

For mainsprings am using new Wilson 23 pound standard weight springs. Do have a pack of 21 pound springs and a few 19 pound springs tried in the past and went back to full power. As move from carry guns to race guns may try running the 21 pound springs as won't be in a life or death situation with cardboard and paper enemies. Have not decided if testing some chrome silicon mainsprings are worth the effort.

On the hammers have narrowed down to Wilson "Bulletproof" 299 Deluxe Commander Style and 377 Skeletonized Ultralight. You said "unless you get a lightweight EGW" which was one of the four that didn't make the cut. So far both the Wilson hammers are doing what I want but going to run another pair side by side to decide if the 377 is too light or not. Don't want to base decision on one sample of either. May end up with the 377's on the race guns and the 299's on the carry guns. I have plenty of time put into this project and want to make sure all parts are exactly what I want.

"When you fit a 1911 safety, it's fitted. There is no 'hit test'
All the surfaces are fitted, there's nothing else that can be done or tested.
The fitting is the 'testing'."

Know my safeties are mechanically correct once fit. In the past with big ambidextrous safeties have seen weak plunger tube springs allow the inertia of a heavy safety to drop under a good bump. Usually only an issue with pistols that are old and been run hard thus spring is worn out. It's a weak spring vs heavy safety issue am actually testing. Don't like safety turning itself off during course of work day due to bouncing it around as do heavy manual labor. Since replacing all springs, bumping pistol with a rubber hammer is not a required test but what if get bag of improperly heat treated springs and entire lot is weak?

As to "out of stock" am not under customer imposed time constraints or a single vendor so can go hunting if want for the part I need. For my carry guns have settled on the Smith & Alexander Stainless Slim Line Flat Checkered GMFSSL as they are one piece design, fit nicely on carry pistols and very reasonably priced. Have one of the GMFS units that was a bit wide for my taste on carry pistols but will likely be what ends up on the race guns.

Did like the EGW extra length titanium hammer struts and have in several of the pistols currently. While the carry units will keep full power mainsprings the race guns may like a slightly lighter spring with the longer strut. Will play with it when get to race guns and see where it goes. Have a selection of other parts slowly piling up and need to get firing pin along with firing pin return spring decision made when move to top end. Have Cylinder & Slide sear springs in the pistols working on now but also have Wilson Bulletproof sear springs if a particular pistol is peculiar in its taste.

So you can see this is a big game of trial and error tuning up a pile of pistols built between 1985 and 1996. After 1996 got so involved in high altitude mountaineering that was not shooting enough to wear out pistols or have time to build as was going on four or more big climbing trips per year. Blew out my back in 2007 then had two additional injuries which took till 2012 to get treatment worked out and realization was not carrying 90 pound packs to high camps after a multi-day uphill walk.

Had my steel fabricator build me an indoor range at work and started shooting almost daily again. All pistols have been shooting well up till this past winter and started having to replace lots of magazine springs and other springs. Realized entire world had changed and all my late 80's and early 90's vintage pistols had a bit of age and high round counts. Rather than wait for problems decided to take a break from AR 15's, AR 10's and FAL's to work through the stack. At my age and health have at least one more good run with major power factor pistols and want to spend it shooting the things, not problem solving.

Have to look at things like chrome silicone flat wire springs and other parts as refurbish the fleet of shooters. My Randall's, original incarnation of Detonics and other odd but nice pistols don't need to get wrung out. Can't be replaced. Have a couple of Colt Gold Cups that fall in same category with others.

Plan is to be sending parts out for plating by fall and guns running for the winter of short days and can spend plenty of time in the range and on to next gun project. If want to give advice, am more than willing to take it. Too many to send the entire pile out for a full time smith but have the proper tools and enough retained knowledge with some study am sure have not gotten in over my head. I am having to waste a little money getting parts in hand to determine not what I really want but junk box always needs spare parts and more than once have built a gun out of the spare parts box when realized had it overstocked.

July 17, 2016, 17:17
I can save you a lot of time, money and testing

1) Buy Ed Brown's barstock hammer


896 is the blued one and 897 is stainless steel. The 896 is the best one but there's nothing wrong with the stainless

2) From the same page, order the match grade sear and Ed Brown Trigger

3) Order the Ed Brown 1911 rebuild kit and guide rod

4) order all springs from Wolff, not some of them, all of them.

5) Order a Smith & Alexander Main Spring Housing and .220 Beavertail grip safety. No nutty slimline, just order the standard housing

6) Order a Caspian barrel bushing, plunger tube, extractor, slide stop, mag catch and firing pin

7) Order a Kart barrel

Now take all the parts and bring them to you local 1911 gunsmith and ask him to build you a gun. I didn't list some parts as the gunsmith will already have them

You may decide on what sights, grips and thumb safety you want but do exactly as I've listed above

You can thank me later

July 17, 2016, 20:06
Can't say you don't have a preferred recipe. Biggest issue is my rifle smith and pistol smith both retired in 2015. Most of the current local 1911 guys seem to be parts swappers, not builders. Two bring stuff to me to do as have some tools that they are too cheap to buy.

Will order up a set of recommended parts. Most of my pistols still have crisp barrels plus a couple of N.I.B. Wilson's from the mid 90's never used. Only shoot lead and my loads are just over major power factor and brass is always trimmed so chambers are in decent shape and rifling is sharp. Can swap in the exact same Wilson barrels if need. A couple do need replaced.

Have a bushingless Centaur Quadralock barrel in one with correct "hard fit" slide stop and the correct full length guide rod plus a N.I.B. replacement but original not worn enough to replace yet. Even have kept up with all the roller pin spacers plus spares to tune if move to another pistol or have wear issues. The Centaur barrel will keep its top end intact except firing pin, spring, sights and refinish.

Main goal is fire control systems, make sure all frames and slides are snug, will need a couple of barrels, especially the race guns. Should I keep, bushings on the comp guns or switch to reverse cone? Know most are more into high pressure rounds for comp guns but a 45 guy at heart so will keep lobbing flying ashtrays. If sent you a pistol, what is turn around?

July 18, 2016, 07:13
Looking at Kart barrels. Pistols I know need barrels for are a Commander which they have at same price as 6" barrels. Also want a 6" barrel with setback for a 5" slide. Looks like need to order both in the Xact Fit Barrel Kit with N.M. fitted bushing plus their installation kit so have the proper tools they recommend for installation. With barrels already in stock should be good to go till dig into the rest of the pile. They don't seem to have a website just a Facebook page which sucks as all can really get is some information from resellers sites like Brownells. Would like to know if barrels threaded for compensators and such can be had or just get the 6" then cut, thread and crown to suit?