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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have seen a couple of simple descriptions on how to fit a quality 1911 trigger.
I thought I would describe how I do them in my shop.

This should work with any Vedecki, or its clones assuming you have a high quality frame (Colt, Springfield, Caspian, Kimber and the Kimber clones, i.e., CMC, Nowlin, Wilson Combat and quality replacement triggers such as the new #13 or #14 BCP triggers or an original Vedecki.

Typically the trigger will be too tall vertically on the trigger pad. If the trigger has been protected from damage and holds the original manufacturer’s specs the trigger bow should easily fit the frame raceway. If not you'll need a Brownell's trigger stirrup die to adjust the bow to correct spec. With an in spec trigger I insert the trigger shoe first as if reassembling the gun. You can reverse the trigger and try inserting the bow into the raceway, that will give you some knowledge to start with. Call it a go/no-go gauge. When the trigger is inserted correctly the pad generally will not enter the frame's trigger raceway. This is a good thing. You want to fit the trigger to the gun. Now the work begins. If the trigger won't go into the gun, or if it is sticky, I pull the trigger and cut the top and bottom of the trigger pad equally, a couple of strokes at a time, and then re-check the fit. A 6” or 8” mill bastard file will do the job. Better yet, and what I suggest is a #2 cut Swiss pillar file available from Brownells. A #4 Swiss pillar file will leave a perfect finish if all you have available is hand tools.

To make the cuts on the trigger I hold the trigger vertically and use the file as intended. I lay the file flat on the top of the trigger pad and cut only going away from me.

It is easy to cut the aluminum and keep the trigger and file square with a little patience and a steady hand. Good light and continual inspection will give you the finished results you are looking for. Often times just removing the shallow machine marks on the surface finish is enough to fit the trigger. (Les Baer frames seem to have a very tight raceway and take a concerted effort to get the typical Vedecki oversize trigger small enough.)

If I am having problems, using a bright light in the background and looking at the race way from behind and down the trigger race way, trigger in place, with the frame back lit, will show you what is binding on the pad. Most often I see the beginner cutting something else besides the top and bottom of the pad thinking the problem is elsewhere. If you are getting drag lines on the side of the trigger, I first use a smaller needle file or emery paper on a neddle file to clean up the frame race way and attempt the trigger fit again. Sometimes you need to cut down the sides of the trigger but that is seldom and usually not much is needed. The key here is patience and observation of what is dragging. Good lighting is a real help. A “marks a lot” black felt tip pen will help by first high-lighting the fit areas, and then looking to see what is getting the wear marks as you move the trigger in and out of the frame. You are looking for drag marks on the trigger pad or (less likely) the sides or end corners of the trigger bow.

Once the trigger is "hard" fitted (it will go in and out without too much difficulty but still drags) to the raceway, go very slowly for the final fit. You are looking for a no bind fit and ease of movement, but no slack up or down or to either side. So again, go slowly here and take off a little at a time until you get a friction-free fit.

That is about half the labor of actually fitting a match grade trigger correctly.

Next you need a bench vice with a padded set of jaws. Lock up the trigger in the vice by the bow and be VERY careful that you don’t deform the trigger. I prefer more clearence than the picture clearly shows on the trigger pad in the vice....be careful or you will destroy your trigger here by warping the pad to bow fit.

You want the bow facing up. Cut a 45 degree angle on the very bottom (the outside bottom edge) of the trigger bow. You are relieving the edge so the trigger/disconnector won’t lift the leaf spring at the end of the trigger travel in the raceway. This may cause the gun to double or go full auto. Always check your work by only loading 2 rounds in the gun when you first test fire after any work.



I then polish the back of the trigger bow and burnish the inside edge to remove any burs. You need to check by sight and feel with an good mag if the trigger bow now interfers/hangs inside the mag well. I lock the gun open and use an empty mag to see if the mag binds anywhere on the trigger bow. The mag should not touch the trigger bow. If it does I address those areas by gentle tweaking of the bow back into the frame raceway. Again, be gentle, a little bit of force goes a long ways here. As a last result a buffing wheel or fine emery paper will help. You can also use a # 4 Swiss pillar file which should clean up a problem area easily. When in doubt start over with Brownell's stirrup die.

I next roll the trigger over in the vise with the pad facing up. This is a subjective thing but I really like the feel of a trigger modified this way. My customers always comment on the feel of my triggers. This is one of the things they feel without being able to tell me what they are feeling. I take the 220 grit emery paper, torn into long thin strips, and radius the outside serration on either side of the trigger. If the serrations are sharp or cut at a low LPI count, as some of the triggers are, I'll run the emery paper lightly over the top of all the serrations for a smoother feel.

This is what a finished trigger should look like. Look closely at the lack of the outside serration and the rounded edge of the trigger.

Then I take the #4 Swiss file and cut the upper and lower edge of the pad on either side at a very small 45 degree angle.

Fine emery paper will give you a useable finish. I use a bead blaster with 800 grit glass beads to finish the cosmetics of the pad and keep the bow's factory finish polished. A very thin layer of clear acrylic paint keeps the aluminum pad like new after hard use.

Over travel set screws need to be adjusted in the gun and should not allow the hammer to drag internally as it is lowered or fired. You can feel this if you drop the hammer slowly between thumb and index finger. I am conservative and back mine off a full half turn from the point of very minor drag. Or better yet I prefer a trigger without an over travel screw for self defense guns for reliability reasons if your gun will allow it. Some current beavertails are relieved too much on the second step of the engagement lever of the grip safety and a over travel screw MUST be used to limit trigger rearward travel. I have found this to be true of at least one of the excellent new grip safeties. I use locktite 271 to glue the over travel screw in place and then remove the excess Locktite before reassembly with a Q-tip.

Remember that every part works in an relationship with the another part in a 1911. Changing any one thing can, and usually does, change the tolerences of something else. Simply changing the trigger can easily make your gun unsafe if not done correctly. The trigger can affect or negate the disconnector safety and/or the grip safety. Make sure that you pretest for proper operation of your handgun before you test fire with live ammo, using the proper precautions and common sense.

(Pictures were a little tough with one set of hands. Not every angle is perfect in the photos, understandably.)
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