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This demonstrates the components and cycle of function of the M1911, the iconic pistol designed by John M. Browning for Colt to submit for Army trials in the early 20th century. It remained in main line service for 74 years, is still in use by some branches of the special forces and continues to be extremely popular for competitive, recreational and defensive uses.

Feeding, Chambering, Locking, Firing, Unlocking, Extracting, Ejecting, Cocking.

I was taught to remember it through the ditty “Fat Chicks Like Fucking Unless Eating Easter Candy.”


FEEDING, CHAMBERING, LOCKING

The recoil spring pushes the action (slide) forward, stripping a round from the magazine, pushing it up the feed ramp and into the chamber, where lugs in the barrel lock into the slide, creating a stable platform for… 


FIRING, UNLOCKING

The trigger is pressed, disengaging the sear which releases the hammer to strike the firing pin. The disconnector allows the mechanism to reset without having to release the trigger during the cycle. The slide and barrel travel backward together until the barrel linkage tips the barrel down allowing the locking lugs to clear the slide while…


EXTRACTING, EJECTING, COCKING

The rim of the cartridge is held by a notch in the extractor. As the slide travels rearward, the case is carried until it strikes the ejector which propels it up and out of the pistol action. Cocking (demonstrated in the above graphic) occurs as the slide pushes the hammer back, allowing the leaf spring to reset the sear as the hammer is moved to its cocked position.


SAFETY MECHANISMS

The grip safety blocks the trigger from moving unless it is compressed while the thumb safety prevents the hammer and sear from moving while engaged. 


AMMUNITION & MAGAZINES

Cartridges are basically comprised of a case, bullet, propellant & primer. Cases are typically composed of brass, though steel, aluminum & some advanced polymers are also available.

The firing pin impacts the primer and detonates its pressure sensitive explosive. This ignites the slower burning, but highly expansive propellant. This expansion drives the projectile (bullet) down the barrel & out the muzzle. The case is surrounded and supported by the chamber which contains the pressure of the explosion, preventing the case from deforming.

Cartridges are stacked on top of one another in the magazine and are fed into the pistol action through spring pressure. This particular model is referred to as a single stack. Magazines take on many configurations but detachable single and double stack (staggered) variants are most commonly found in pistols.

Note: Magazines are not clips and clips are not magazines. Clips are small strips of metal that hold cartridges by the rim in order to more easily feed them into a magazine.