Brownells 75th Anniversary - A Shooting Heritage

Building A 1911 - Part V

  1. By Mike Watkins

    If you have been following along it’s time for part five, fitting the trigger, sear and hammer components.

    The first thing I do is closely examine each part, deburr all holes in the hammer and sear with a small counter sink bit. Then deburr the sharp edges on all parts with a needle file, stone, or 600 grit emery cloth. You will also want to deburr the sear and hammer pin holes in the frame and stone out the trigger track in the frame with a Brownells trigger track stone.

    I then polish the trigger bow on a hard felt wheel to a mirror finish on the sides and rear of the bow where it contacts the disconnector. I like the triggers with the three holes in the finger piece and counter sink those holes also. It puts a nice shiny bevel on the holes and I think it adds to the look of the Pistol. Then you will want to fit the trigger to the frame, I paint the top and bottom of the finger piece with a black marker and then trial fit it in the frame. The rub marks will show you where to remove material from the finger piece. Do this with a small flat file and check your progress often. When the trigger will go into the frame without binding and moving freely you are done.

    I should note here that the instructions for the Brownells/Marvels sear and hammer jig, are included. It is an excellent fixture and the instructions and illustrations are first rate. If you will refer to them while reading this it will help you along.

    There are several good jigs out there to do the sear or hammer on a 1911 now, when I started in 1975 there was the Wilson Freight Co. fixtures. So the method I use does the same thing but in a different way. It’s the Old Dog theory, after 30 years I can’t change. Besides it works quite well for me.

    I use the Wilson sear jig (the Ed Brown sear jig is the same) to lightly polish the top of the sear, see figure # 4, you do not want to remove a lot of material here just polish the sear surface smooth with a hard Arkansas stone and then I lightly go over it with a white ceramic stone for a mirror finish.

    I have a hard Arkansas bench stone that is about two inches wide and set the sear on it nose down and the flat on the sear against the stone. Then lift the sear up at the back to cut the secondary angle on the nose of the sear. This is a feel or eyeball setting that comes thru experience. The Brownells jig sets this angle for you. See figures six and seven.

    You will want to set the secondary relief angle almost as wide as the top engaging surface, stop stoning when it looks right. The top surface should be about .020 of an inch wide, as in figure seven. I use the white ceramic stone and lightly roll it over the sharp edge to just slightly break the edge. Three or four passes of the stone is enough.

    Then go back to your hard felt wheel and polish the sides of the sear and the flat where it touches the disconnector. That finishes the sear.

    Next I set the hammer in my padded shop vise and with a .018 thousands feeler gauge on the flat in front of the hammer hooks and file down the hooks down until the file touches the feeler gauge. Then use the ceramic stone to polish the tops of the hooks. I use this stone to square the face of the hammer hooks also. See illustration three. Then it’s back to the hard felt wheel and polish the sides of the hammer.

    I also polish the disconnector now too; remember we deburred all the parts in the first step.

    I use a 19 lb mainspring and cut a half of a coil off of both ends and then assemble it into the mainspring housing. On the sear spring I flatten the curve on the bottom almost straight, this lessen the spring tension against the sear. Now hold the sear upright and look at the edge with the 90 degree bend at the top to your left, that leg rests against the sear and should ALWAYS be forward of the other two legs on the sear spring. You can bend the center leg, which rests against the disconnector, and the sear spring leg a little bit to get a lighter pull. But the sear leg should always be in front of the other two! There should also be enough tension on the disconnector to make sure it will always be pushed back up when the gun is cycling.

    Next time we will fit a beavertail grip safety to the frame, see you then.



Building A 1911 - Part VI