You have GOT to be kidding me.
I've been shooting the 1911 or 1911A1 type firearm for a long time. Simple fact. I know how to use the pistol, and it's my preferred main duty gun.
Dad introduced me to it (as he had 40 years ago introduced it to a certain now-famous gun writer). I learned to shoot it the way Dad taught me, which was largely influenced by his personal instruction from Jeff Cooper in 1980, and in Dad's nationally-ranked participation in IPSC during that time.
When I went off to be a ranch hand for a summer at age 17, I took a Series 70 Mk IV 1911 of Dad's, and carried it and shot it enough to remove almost all of the parkerized finish from it. I got pretty familiar with its trappings.
As I grew into my manly size, I found that my orangutan-like hands wrapped all the way around a big pistol. While I can shoot a big double-stack pistol, I still prefer the single stack 1911. But that big hand comes with a large web between thumb and forefinger. When I grip a 1911 in its original configuration, I have to take care to roll my hand into the grip safety so that the tang will cover the top of the webbing of my gripping hand, lest the skin of the web of my hand overlap the tang and receive the dreaded Hammer Bite.
Hammer Bite is caused when the spur on the back of the hammer on an exposed hammer design firearm bites the bit of flesh between the tang --in this case the top of the grip safety-- and the back of the hammer. For many years it was a common modification to put shorter Commander hammers on Government Model 1911s and later to put custom "ski jump" extended-tang grip safeties onto them.
In the early to mid 1990's, Kimber revolutionized the handgun world by marketing quality 1911 firearms with custom features for reasonable prices. While this seems like old hat today, it is a simple fact that "custom guns" came at custom prices before Kimber created this market that others (especially Springfield Armory) hurried to get into.
I've been hearing some (admittedly anecdotal) unfavorable reviews of some of the newer Kimbers, these days. If quality has slipped, that's a sorrowful thing, but Tamara spoke correctly when she said that 1911 owners owe a debt to Kimber, for what it did to the industry of affordable "off the shelf custom" fighting handguns.
When I bought my Kimber Stainless Classic new in 2001, I specifically went looking for an older Series I (they were at that time in transition, and both Series I and Series II were in stock). I did not want a firing pin interlock device, though Kimber's grip safety technique is novel and reportedly reliable. I wanted a stainless version of the Series 70 I had been carrying on duty, that was easy to disassemble and reassemble.
The pistol came stock with a slightly extended safety, a loop hammer spur (not a true Commander style, because it's too long), and an oversize grip safety/tang. It came with a flat mainspring housing that I discarded for an arched knurled mainspring housing (with loop, of course), and a full-length recoil spring guide rod that I gave away in favor of a proper short guide rod. Other than that, I did nothing to it, besides attempting to wear it out.
This pistol immediately became my go-to pistol. I carried it on duty. I carried it a lot off-duty. I carried it hunting. I carried it to pistol matches. I shot it in turkey shoots (and won turkeys). I pretty much quit carrying my beautiful old Gold Cup except for weddings. My early Kimber Series I feeds everything I put in it, and is more accurate than I am. I actually had to add weight to the trigger, which broke the scales at 2.25 lbs from the factory. It's now a perfect 2.75 lbs or so, and loves semi-wadcutters.
Then I went to an agency that issued and mandated Glocks for duty. I focused on the Glock because, frankly, I needed to. I've gotten fairly decent with it, but still have some work to do to improve my skills with it. It's just not my preferred piece. So even my trigger time with my beloved Kimber 1911 was diminished.
I went by my Dad's today to chat and do a little reloading. We eventually (after coffee and tacos and gorditas) loaded a couple of hundred rounds of .45 acp. While in Dad's reloading room, he handed me a decent-looking 1911 and asked "What's wrong with this picture?" I looked at it. It had a nice black parkerized-style refinish, and fresh import marks. It was a Sistema, complete with knurled trigger, short tang, original style 1911 beaver-tail type hammer spur, tiny blade front sight and...
"It's missing its rear sight," I responded. Nope. Can't get one past me. Trained observer.
Dad said that he'd picked it up last month for a decent price, and hadn't even shot it, seeing no point until he had a rear sight on it.
"I wonder how the trigger is," I muttered as I racked the slide to check the chamber, feel the action, and cock the hammer.
Ow. OW! That hurt.
What the hell?!?
Oh, good Gawd.
Remember how I said that I had had to learn how to carefully roll a 1911 into my huge hands to keep them from getting hammer bite?
And remember how I related that I've been kinda spoiled by using my Kimber, with its extended grip safety?
And remember how I've been focusing more on my duty Glock, lately?
Well, I have managed to achieve an injury from Hammer Bite, from a single cycling of a pistol, without even firing it.
I put the pistol down, lest I get blood on it.
Gripping my Kimber (loosely). Note extended tang on the grip safety, protecting the web of the hand.
Top view of my hand holding my Kimber Stainless Classic. Even with the ski-jump grip safety, one can see how the webbing bunches behind the tang.
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Oblique view of my hand holding the Kimber, with good view of the extended grip safety guarding against Hammer Bite.
The injury. My hand is basically in a shooting grip here... but the lower fingers aren't curled in, so really, it's just a really mutant-looking picture.
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See? I'm not really a freak. This picure shows a normal hand. Not a great pic, though, because you can't see the dead piece of skin that was initially pinched by the the Sistema. Okay, maybe I'm just a baby.
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