1911A1 Pistol Modifications -- The Beavertail Grip Safety by Dennis L. Schrieber, Pistolsmith
One of the first modifications most often sought after for the 1911A1 pistol is the beavertail grip safety. A beavertail does add to the lines of the pistol and helps to protect the web of the hand from being bit by the hammer or slide. However, these may not be the main reasons for considering this modification. The ability to make a fast consistent draw is a major consideration in a defensive or duty gun and in most of the action shooting sports. However, the reduction in muzzle flip is probably the most important consideration to most shooters. The beavertail accomplishes this by providing the shooter with a higher grip on the pistol. The closer the barrel comes to being inline with the arm the less will be the vertical component of force created.
Consulting a parts catalog will quickly show an array of choices. The products listed maybe divided into two types: those that do and those that do not require modification of the pistol. Those that do not require modification to the frame will also not provide much, if any, increase in grip height. Some will also require the use of a commander style hammer. Remember that hammers are never drop-ins. The same is true of the grip safety itself, fitting is always required. After all, it is first and foremost a safety.
The other type of beavertail grip safety requires that the frame of the pistol be cut away and the two parts blended together. This type of modification should only be done by a competent pistolsmith. With any beavertail of this type, a commander style hammer is required or the old hammer must be bobbed. If a new hammer is required, then this would be an excellent time to have any action work done.
Recently, a new style of beavertail has entered the market. Ed Brown calls it a memory groove. Others have different names. What this amounts to is a swell at the lower end of the grip safety that ensures that the safety is properly disengaged. They work extremely well. On wide body frames, such as the Para Ordnance, they are highly recommended. The same is true on any pistol with target grips and any duty guns.
The addition of a beavertail grip safety can add to your shooting pleasure as well as making your 1911A1 more controllable. Any comments or questions should be directed to Dennis L. Schrieber, Burnt Mill Smithing, www.burntmill.com, or e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org.