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Old 02-05-2013, 7:35 PM
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cpljbone cpljbone is offline
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Default Installing a 1911 ambidextrious safety

I have a Sig Sauer 1911, and as much as I love the weapon, I'm a lefty and the idea of not having a safety for dominant hand operation bothers me.

I would like to get an ambidextrous safety installed, and looking at the youtube videos, on how to install one, it doesn't seem like too difficult of a proposition. However, I've never done any time of gun work in my life besides field stripping. I have a few questions regarding this:

1. How hard would this be for someone who has basic knowledge of weapon dis assembly?

2. How much could I actually mess up should I try to do this myself?

3. I have basic household tools, would I need any special type of tools to do this?

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all open. Or if anyone knows of any high desert gunsmiths that would be able to do this type of work that works too!
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:59 AM
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dfletcher dfletcher is offline
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It's not hard but is exacting. It's all handwork and no power tools. If you confine yourself to working on the thumb safety the worst that will happen is you'll ruin the ambi safety and have to revert to the factory one.

The tools you need are a small file and a screwdriver. You may need a small exacto knife for the right side grip panel.

I've done about 50 of these over the years, that's not very many. I suppose I'd start out by saying that when I first read about "take off just a little bit of metal, go slow, go light" I didn't really understand just how little is "a little". All I can say is it's amazing what can be ruined with a single swipe of a file. I think that should be always remembered.

Having the safety function smoothly & positively should be the goal, not just proper function.

Some ambi safeties have their right side held in by a small tab riding under the right side grip panel - I'd say most do. Your choice is to either relieve the wood under your existing panel (if not already done) or buy grips that have the ambi cut. If doing the work on your own make sure the cut is wide enough and deep enough to provide full & free range of motion. I use an exacto knife.

To fit the left side of the safety my 1st step is to see if the thing will fit unchanged - chances are it won't.

With the safety mounted and in the up position you probably won't be able to thumb it down. That stud on the inside of the new safety is what needs to be fitted. Take a look atthe factory one and compare it to the new one. You'll see where the file work was done, and just how little metal is removed. I'd suggest checking YouTube - much easier seeing than describing. But from this point on it's "file, fit & file, fit and so on. My habit is to do it with the grip safety removed because I can look inside the gun while doing the work.

Once the left side is fitted you'll have to ensure the "tongue & groove" fit between left & right is tight, a little fitting of the "tongue" part may be needed. The two parts should press fit together tightly, so again you must be careful to not remove too much metal.

Just some odds & ends ...

The biggest problem I've had is that when removing the grip the damn busing comes with it. I don't address it right then & there, but when finished installing the safety will simply rescrew on the panel with a drop of loctite on the frame. Chanes are that extra grip will allow the screw to come out and leave the busing in place.

Remember the orientation of the thumb safey plunger - the detents are a different size.

It's been a problem only once only once, but to ensure the receiving holes in the frame & GS allow the safety to be seated easily (that the holes and stem are right sized) I pop on the safety pointed to the rear - as though they'd be sitting on the web of your hand. All you're doing is making certain the stem and hole are properly sized, that everything lines up. Then you can get to the fitting.

Make certain the finish of your new safety matches the frame.

Again, YouTube probably does a better job of describing the work. It's not too difficult, but it is careful work.

If I missed anything I'm sure others will jump in.
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Old 02-06-2013, 1:51 PM
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kmca kmca is offline
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I'd only add files are only for very rough fitting, switch to stones and you'll have less chance removing too much material. Also, since you're left handed, you'll ride the right side harder than a right hander, I'd consider getting a safety that uses the dovetail pin instead of the type that uses the extended tab under the grip, like King's ambidexterous safety.
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