1911 Drop Testing

Although this is the sort of thing that I do occasionally, and have in fact conducted in the past, it is important to note that I had nothing to do with the testing shown below, and am simply reposting it from another location (with permission from the owner of the data). Drake is a law enforcement officer and 1911 gunsmith, and has done some excellent testing here.

1911 Drop Testing
The original testing used a 9mm steel firing pin and a 9mm titanium firing pin. The firing pin hole was then reamed for a .45 sized pin and the tests were repeated with .45 sized steel and titanium firing pins. All of the firing pins were weighed prior to testing. A Wolff XP firing pin return spring was used for all of the testing. All of the cases used for testing used Winchester large pistol primers. The frame and slide were donated by Gary Smith at Caspian. The pistol was built using techniques learned from Larry Vickers and Bruce Gray. The pistol was tied to a section of 550 cord, looped over a pulley, and dropped onto common floor materials. The magazine was loaded with 8 dummy rounds to bring the pistol up to proper weight. Four floor types were selected. Concrete, Pergo, 5/8 plywood, and shag type carpeting. The thumb safety was left OFF as preliminary testing with the safety ON indicated that damage to the thumb safety, slide, and plunger tube would occur with only a few drops. The hammer frequently dropped to the half cock notch during testing.
Firing Pin Weights:
9mm STI titanium pin— 2.17 grams
9mm Caspian steel pin — 4.45 grams
.45 STI titanium pin — 2.36 grams
.45 Colt steel pin — 4.30 grams
I was amazed at how easily a Series 70 1911 could be drop fired. Steel firing pins and concrete are a bad combination. 9mm sized pins and titanium construction will add several feet to your safe drop distance. I will be running Wolff XP springs and a Ti pin in all of my Series 70 type 1911’s.
I have attached an Excel spread sheet with the results. You will notice a lot of “Did Not Drop” entries. I saw no reason to drop test a particular combination of firing pin and flooring if it was not firing at higher distances or on harder flooring. I did several drops at various distances to get an idea of safe drop distances. This was to account for hard or sensitive primers. Each primed case was dropped only once. Just in case you were wondering, the pistol sustained significant damage. The muzzle is distorted from being dropped. I had to turn down the outside diameter of the barrel three times just to keep the slide from locking up. The muzzle, magwell, and grip safety have some serious blending in their future. Nothing sounds worse than a 1911 hitting the concrete from 10 feet!

The Excel file is attached here.

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1 Comment

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One response to “1911 Drop Testing

  1. MrSatyre

    “Nothing sounds worse than a 1911 hitting the concrete from 10 feet!”

    I always get the shivers whenever I see/hear someone on TV or in a movie throw their gun down on concrete. That’s some nasty abuse!

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