Top Categories

Exposed Hammer Malfunction

You don’t see this every day.

This past weekend at a Fortress Defense Level II Pistol course, an interesting stoppage was observed. It happened with a 1911, and appeared to be caused by the exposed hammer of the 1911 catching a student’s garment on the draw stroke.

A student’s 1911 grabbed hold of her cover garment during slide-cycle. The shirt was caught under the hammer when the slide cycled. As the slide cycled to the rear and cocked the hammer, the shirt wedged under the hammer and seized the works up. The hammer couldn’t travel down far enough and it all locked up mid cycle.

She drew her back-up and continued with her primary pistol dangling from her shirt. We almost had to beat the slide forward with a hammer to free it – the gun was out of action, completely seized up. You do this stuff long enough and you’ll see everything.

Check out the photos below, click for a larger version.


Kinda reinforces the idea of carrying a backup gun, doesn’t it?

, ,

43 Responses to Exposed Hammer Malfunction

  1. Hillbilly Bob August 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Hmmm maybe she should send all of her 1911 magazines to me, I know the mag doesn’t have a damn thing to do with this lockup but I just need more mags : )

  2. TK August 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Yet another example of why 1911’s are NOT good choices for personal defense.

    • Kyle August 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      That is only if you do not know how to use it.

    • Zach August 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

      Yes, because only the 1911 has an exposed hammer that could possibly get snagged on something.

      • William August 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        Not true I have a smith and Wesson 9 with an exposed hammer. Someone’s a hater obviously.

        • Will August 26, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

          Zach’s comment was full of sarcasm, but yes you are right.

    • Kevin Dirk Boaz August 26, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

      yeah we all know your clothing is always flowing 3 feet in front of your body for this to happen….

      • Frank Sharpe August 27, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

        It sure was Saturday.

        And if you honestly think you’ll never find yourself in a gunfight where you might have to go prone, or shoot around a barrier in an odd position, or carry a gun in bad weather, all of which could create clothing issues, then perhaps you shouldn’t bother carrying a gun and just spend your money on lottery tickets.

        It doesn’t even have to be YOUR clothes. It may be those of the loved one you’re dragging to safety, or the body you’re using for cover.

        Holy shit. Is everyone just bound and determined to prove that they are smarter than their gun…or fate? None of us are.

        The whole point of posting these pictures was simply to reinforce the reality that all guns break, all guns suffer stoppages, and crazy shit can (and does) happen. And those who refuse to accept that reality do so at their own peril.

  3. Alex Blascyk August 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    this is why the only condition you should carry a 1911 in is condition 1.
    it also appears that she hadn’t made sure to clear the gun away from her shirt before she charged the weapon.
    honestly, i’d like more info on how this occurred.

    • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      It’s real simple: she drew the gun, brought it up to eye level, and her shirt was laying up on her arm. She fired the first shot, and the shirt got under the hammer during recoil.

      No magic. No “forgot to do something”. Her shirt just got in the way. The gun was carried in condition 1, and the first shot was fired. The stoppage occurred during the cycle of the first shot.

      Our students move on the draw, and they run their guns hard under “simulated” fight conditions. Such training produces odd occurrences on a regular basis. Something breaks, disintegrates, gets in the way, snags, hangs up, or generally fails with every group.

      • Alex Blascyk August 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

        thanks for the clarification. but how is it that her shirt is long enough to cling to her arm with them fully extended? do you think it has more to do with her short arms or the shirt she was wearing? or did she fire before she had extended her arms in some sort of incomplete stance drill?

        • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

          Her stance was fine. Pictures only work in two dimensions, so perhaps it’s hard to tell the arm length, shirt length, etc…

          But for whatever reason, that part of her shirt managed to get under the hammer during her first shot of the drill. Her arms were extended with a two-hand grip. It was not fired from retention.

          • afuddyduddy August 26, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

            Lesson: Always button up your over shirt if carrying an exposed ahmmer firearm.

            Odd lesson, but a good lesson.

          • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

            To the below poster:

            If the shirt is buttoned up, then how do you access the gun?

    • Kevin Dirk Boaz August 26, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      it happened by way overly loose clothing and/or obviously holding weapon too close to herself this event is one in a million chance of happening. By the way glock fanboys your shirt can also get caught in a slide without a hammer.

  4. Kenneth August 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    That’s a Kimber for ya. Get a great an original Colt, a Remington, if you can find them, a Charles Daly

    • TK August 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      It’s not a Kimber, it’s an Iver Johnson Arms.

    • Ryan August 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      That’s not a Kimber…just sayin’

  5. Ben August 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Respectfully, I’d use this as an opportunity to discuss loose clothing getting in the way of the proper operation of a firearm and might think of this as a “clothing malfunction” instead of a firearm malfunction. You’re right… do this long enough and we will see just about everything. God knows I’ve seen some goofy crap over the years as an RO, competitor, and instructor.

    • Brandon August 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Most people have to wear loose clothing as cover garments though Ben, and I know for a fact that Fortress Defense covers this (cover garments getting in the way of firearms manipulation and ways to mitigate) in their courses.

    • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Most certainly this was a clothing induced stoppage.

      …the sand created plenty of other stoppages for this pistol throughout the weekend, lol.

  6. Josh Duke August 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I have many reasons as to why I personally don’t carry a 1911, but this isn’t a 1911 issue. Operator error WRT weapon condition and draw stroke are most likely to blame here.

  7. Moon August 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Just proves that nothing runs 100% when you throw in any variable. I love when a gun fails for any reason. Just shows you that you can never be complacent

    • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      Exactly. Thank you!

  8. kevin August 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Her BUG is bigger than her primary!

    • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      At that time during the course, yes. The XD was suffering from magazine failures throughout the day. XD magazines do not agree with the sand and dirt of Rochester, IN. …or any sand or dirt, truth be told. I’m completely unimpressed with XD magazines, and my personal opinion is that the follower needs to be completely redesigned.

      • thorkyl August 27, 2013 at 7:52 am #

        I found that removing the follower and sanding them down a smidgen on all edges that make contact with the body help with the feed issue.

        And when I say a smidgen I am talking taking the sheen off of them

  9. Mike August 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    I think 1911’s have more than proven themselves over their 100+ history, so the haters should just stop hating (but haters hate so don’t really expect that to ever change). The only guns that NEVER fail or malfunction are those used in the movies. Real life ain’t make believe…stuff happens.

    • mike August 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      oh yea, those Iver Johnson Thrasher pistols are really really nice. Super smooth, tight machining coming out of the S.A.M. factory in the Philippines. They use the same recoil spring assembly design as the Colt Lightweight Defender (in fact, they are interchangeable). Great guns and surprisingly soft shooting!

      • Frank Sharpe August 27, 2013 at 12:08 am #

        And it suffered issues all weekend.

  10. Jacob August 26, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Oddly enough I have seen this before. The student drew from a range of 3 feet and fired from retention, the cover garment snagged between the hammer face and the slide on a Sig P220…shit happens, good thing she recognized the issue and transitioned to a back up.

  11. Greg Toal August 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    I guess it’s true in everything, “Don’t Wear Baggy Clothes When Operating Machinery”. I’ve been hearing this, ( along with ” File yer burrs”) since I was 9 or 10. I always thought it was about getting all caught up in a lathe or miller, possibly a lawn mower or tractor. I guess it goes for ANY machine- after all, weapons are machines are they not?

    • Frank Sharpe August 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      They are most certainly simple machines.

  12. Roger Dane August 27, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Clothes get in the way… shoot naked? Naw, just kiddin’ but who hasn’t heard of, for instance, a piece of shirt/jacket fouling the ‘inside’ of a Glock trigger guard with disastrous results? The idea is to shoot enough that, over time, you figure out what ‘to’ do and ‘not to’ do for your set up…. walk around carry for me is clothing that does not confine but also is not dangling loose, my holster is such that the trigger guard / trigger is protected from clothing incursion and my weak hand coming to strong hand is free, not snagged on jewelry or a tie or anything in the front of my chest… but then again, moving yesterday I ‘did’ step on a shoelace that had come untied so one never knows. Be safe and practice… we all learn stuff from others!

  13. Ryan August 27, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Not a good reason to carry a backup gun, it’s a good reason not to carry a 1911.

    • Hillbilly Bob August 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      Are your eyes brown?

  14. dgdimick August 27, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Very interesting stoppage. I guess it points out the reason to always carry a backup gun that you can trust. I doubt this shooter will ever see another stoppage like this again, or for that matter, anyone reading this.

    One question – Did her first shot hit the target?

  15. Simple Fix August 28, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    No magic. No “forgot to do something”. Her shirt just got in the way.”
    Sure looks like she and the instructors let her continue with a fully loaded firearm “mag still seeded” dangling from her shirt sweeping herself and God know whomever else!

    Massive mistake.

    • Hillbilly Bob August 28, 2013 at 1:49 am #

      Out of battery

    • Frank Sharpe (Ret) August 28, 2013 at 6:50 am #

      Yep – I’m a complete failure.

      You, sir, are a god among men, whose vision and brilliance transcend everything we mere mortals can even imagine.

      I bow to your omnipotence, and pledge my eternal soul to your service.

      • Hillbilly Bob August 28, 2013 at 8:57 am #

        Haaa you’re nicer than I may have been Frank Sharpe
        I have learned that if I am attacked I will strip down to nothing, will hold my extra mag in my teeth “Pirate style” and then defend myself and all of this after calling a time out : )

        • Frank Sharpe August 28, 2013 at 11:10 am #

          Eh. Jokes on him, really. Obviously, any Instructor who would allow a student to carry on under such lethal conditions has already gifted his soul to the Devil.


  16. Mark laderwarg September 7, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I guess that if this million-to-one malfunction had to happen, I’m glad it didn’t happen to me. This is why I carry two guns.