The two most common pistols that we have in classes are Glocks, of course, and 1911’s. Now, in the old days to have a “combat” 1911 you had to buy a pistol, then get a gunsmith to perform the necessary modifications. (I’ll never forget my excitement when receiving my first custom 1911, built by Ted Yost.) These days you have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to 1911’s. But, even on factory “custom” 1911’s, you’ll probably need some modifications to make it fit your hands – especially small hands with short fingers.
Most 1911’s have triggers that are too long; proper trigger length is critical for correct placement of the finger on the trigger. The trigger should be positioned in the center of the trigger finger’s first pad. Too little finger on the trigger, using the fingertip, or positioning the trigger in the finger’s first joint will result in pushing or pulling the weapon while pressing the trigger. I have small hands with short fingers so I use a 2-inch trigger, like Brownells’ #377-000-004. Triggers come in an assortment of lengths. Find what works for you.
With my hands the thumb safety is another area to address. The only time your thumb comes off the 1911’s safety is to engage it. In the “ready” position the thumb is on top the safety, prepared to depress it immediately. While firing the thumb stays on the safety. If not there is a strong chance while shooting your thumb will bump the safety on. To keep my thumb on top of the safety, comfortably and without wearing a hole in my hand, I use a low-mount safety, Brownells’ #340-100-044. (This also comes in stainless.)
I also prefer a slightly longer mag release. Not oversize, just a little bit longer. Most shooters have to reposition the weapon in their hand to hit the mag release, and extending the length of the release makes this process easier. I use Brownells’ #654-263-003, which is 1/16 of an inch longer than standard mag releases. (Available in stainless as well.)
Other areas that may need addressing are the stocks, or “grips” as most people call them. Stocks come in a variety of materials, textures, and widths. You have to figure out what works for you. I use plain old Colt rubber stocks, which feel good in my hand and work well when wet. Sights are another part of the weapon to look at. You must have sights that work for your eyes. Right now I use a medium round dot front sight from XS sights, with a Novak rear that has been extensively modified. (The sight story is a complete column in itself.) The key is that for combative shooting you need to be able to see the front sight, no matter how big that means it is.
Jeff Cooper said a pistol must have a crisp trigger, a set of sights that work for your eyes, and it has to fit your hand so you can operate it properly. Get the 1911 you like, then make sure it satisfies all three of these categories.
(Editor’s note – To see the parts referred to in this piece, go to http://www.brownells.com/.)
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