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Big Thumbs

Wild Gene

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Question/Dilemma. Sometimes when shooting my right hand thumb (strong hand) will rub the slide of my gun (2011 type). I also am having some chambering issues. I have ruled out extractor, chamber and ammo problems and am wondering if my thumb is slowing down the slide just enough. I like to keep my thumb on the safety when shooting my Limited gun. The inside of my right thumb will come into contact with the slide. I do not even realize it, I don't feel anything, never any scars or blisters/cuts ect.. I could be in need of a heavier or new recoil spring (now a 12.5 with maybe a couple thousand rounds and ten times that in dry fire cycles). I am also wondering if something like the Swenson Shielded safety would be a good thing.

So, can your thumb touch the slide at all? Do you think dry fire cycles also wear the recoil spring enough and should be included in round count? Has anyone ever tried the Swenson shielded safety?

I will try a new recoil spring before I fit one of those safetys.

Opinions, please....

Thanks and have a great day.


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I feel your pain. I have very large and long thumbs, connected to big hands. And I am a lefty which means my right thumb, if not in the correct spot, will not only slow down the slide, but will also deflect brass, sometimes back in to the chamber. This has plagued me for years and caused countless malfunctions at matches... from local up to nationals.

The solution for me was a combination of using a Swenson safety and lots of practice. The Swenson will keep your shooting hand thumb away from the slide very effectively. The practice will keep your "weak" hand thumb off of the slide. My limited gun is a short dust cover SVI with a tactical rail. I use the edge of the tactical rail as an index point for my thumb. I have spent years dry and live firing to fix the problem and only in the last year (after 5 years of shooting) have I gotten to the point where I do not induce malfunctions in with my competition pistols. To this day, I still frequently jam 1911/2011 pistols with light springs unless they have a Swenson fit.

Also, a heavier recoil spring helped the issue. I have found that 16 lb + sprung guns do not malfunction in my hands. My carry 1911 has a 16 lb spring and standard safeties and does not malfunction. So, a heavier spring is an option. That said, I would rather have a Swenson and a light spring in a limited or open gun vs a heavier spring. YMMV

Good luck.. this was the single most frustrating issue I have had with shooting and I believe it held me back to some degree in skill improvement for years. Its not easy to get better when your gun is contantly crapping the bed, especially when it is a user induced problem.

*edited- You can also look in to a permanent thumb shield mounted on the frame. Brazos sells them. I know right handers who like them. I have not tried them. Swensons have worked for me. Until they break. And they do break.

Edited by baa
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I had the same problem with my gun and found that I could actually stop the slide if I really tried. Changed the recoil and it was better, then I went to a "wide" safety and that cured the problem by letting my thumb rest on the outer side away from the slide. Never tried "Swensons" but you may give this a try and see what you think. Good luck.

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I adjusted the aftec springs, cleaned and Mobile 1 and slide glide lubed, and that gun ate everything I fed it. I shot 180 rounds under match conditions (timer and a heckler) and not a single hiccup..... I did not knowingly do anything different with my thumbs..... Lets hope I can make it to and through a match one time.

After I got the Swenson I just couldn't put it on there. My gun is just too pretty....


Edited by Wild Gene
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