Monday, February 08, 2010

My Hi Power's Hammer Nips My Hand. Am I Gripping it Incorrectly?

I get frequent emails and PM's concerning Hi Powers and hammer bite, but of late more and more mention the problem and seem to immediately assume that they are holding the pistol too high or in some incorrect manner...which is just not necessarily true. I asked two of the people posing this very question how they held the pistol (one sent pictures of his hold, both one and two-hand) and in each case, neither was holding the pistol too high so that the web of the hand was atop the Hi Power's relatively short tang or so low that the tang wasn't touching their shooting hand. I learned that they'd been informed via the Internet that people who are bitten by the Hi Power "must be holding the pistol wrong".

I cannot say that an improperly high grasp of the Hi Power won't result in hammer bite for it certainly will and if enough hand is above the short tang, maybe more damage from the slide, but somehow I just don't see this as a chronic issue; I believe that one such incident would result in a lasting impression not to repeat that again...ever. I do readily concede that if grasping the pistol at speed, it is possible for some folks to inadvertently get the web of skin between the thumb and trigger-finger over the tang and probably get hammer bite or pinch because of it, but I do not believe that any and all incidents of hammer bite are due to an improper grasp of the pistol.

It has been my observation as a user of this design for approximately 4 decades now that Hi Power hammer bite is more dependent upon the size of the individual shooter's hand and/or how "fleshy" it is.

The particular type of Hi Power hammer can play a major role in this as well. I am chewed up severely with the FN factory ring hammer. The spur hammer nips me as well but not as severely and is easily correctable. The Cylinder & Slide abbreviated ring hammer (Type I) also alleviates the problem for me.

A friend of mine has rather "skinny" hands and the unaltered factory spur hammer works fine for him and he barely gets bitten by the FN/Browning ring hammer that so chews my hand up! I happen to have fairly large "meaty" hands. For 11 years I was a police firearm instructor and was fortunate to work for an agency allowing single-action automatics for duty. The 1911-pattern pistol and the Browning Hi Power were the main contenders. I estimate that the officers who were nipped by the Hi Power vs. those who were not would be about evenly divided. (Sometimes merely going to a thinner pair of stocks (grips) did the trick for those barely suffering from Hi Power hammer bite.)

For those interested in some further observations and suggestions on eliminating this problem, here's a link that might be of service:

Hi Power hammer bite is not unusual and people suffering it should not automatically be assumed to be using an improper hold in my opinion and observation.


PS: Don't necessarily just "believe" what I've written. Look it over and see if it sounds reasonable and make up your own mind. I think you will find that when answers are given as "absolutes", they frequently are just (incorrect) opinions stated as facts or overlook the proverbial exceptions to the rule.