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1911 .45 ACP double-action conversion.

* It is almost 20 years since Louis See-camp came out with his double-action conversion unit for the Colt 1911 auto. With such a unit installed, the big Government Model gained the advantage of a first-shot trigger cocking capability without affecting its single-action operation.

Although the conversion proved to be quite popular for a while, interest had started to lag by the the mid-1970s, probably because of the appearance of several commercially made .45 ACP double-action autos. Now, some two decades later, it looks as though the Seecamp Conversion maywell be making a comeback as several firearm companies are manufacturing it under license.

One such organization is TSW Conversions Inc., which operates out of Paramus, New Jersey. This company offers many of the custom modifications that are presently in vogue for the 1911 in addition to Seecamp's double-action conversion. The conversion itself can be done on most 1911 and Commander style pistols made by Colt, Detonics, Essex, A.M.T., Vega, etc.

The pistol I received for evaulation was, in fact, an early Randall .45 Service Model, which, apart from the fact that it is constructed entirely from stainless steel, is virtually identical to the 1911A1 in all other respects.

The conversion unit is really very simple and is hardly noticeable when installed. The features that identify it as a Seecamp conversion are the pivoted double-action trigger and the addition of a cover plate under the right hand grip. Other than this, the pistol looks just the same as a standard Government Model. This was certainly evident when I placed the test pistol along-side my own Randall. The only other significant feature was the reshaping of the front of the triggerguard of the test pistol, to better facilitate placement of the index finger of the supporting hand when using a two-handed hold.

One thing that really impressed me was the appearance of the altered pistol; the newly shaped triggerguard looked as if it had always been part of the frame. Like Topsy, it just seemed to have "growed there"; not a trace of welding, machining or filing could be detected. The same could be said of the plate covering the trigger mechanism, it was so unobtrusive that, at first glance, it was not even noticeable. If this work is indicative of all TSW work, and there is no reason to doubt it, then they do fine work, indeed.

The unit itself is made up of only seven components. There is the pivoting trigger with its pin that secures it to the pistol frame, a trigger return spring and plug, a bar that links the trigger and the hammer together for double-action shooting and a wire spring to keep this trigger/hammer link bar in position. Finally, there is a strut in the hammer that connects the link bar with the trigger and a sheet stainless steel plate under the right grip that covers the double-action mechanism.

The pistol had undergone very little modification to accept the unit. Some machining had been done to the frame to accept the pivoting trigger and its return spring and plug. The right side of the frame behind the trigger had received some milling work to provide a channel for the trigger/hammer link bar, while the hammer had been drilled to accept the strut.

The actual single-action trigger mechanism had been left relatively intact, except for the face of the trigger which had been shortened in length. This was necessary to provide room for the double-action trigger.

In the double-action mode, the hammer is at rest and the trigger in the forward position. Pulling the trigger causes the link bar to move forward and up, cocking the hammer in the process. When the hammer is at the point where it will have enough force to discharge the pistol, its strut is released out of the top of the slot in the link bar. After the first shot has been discharged, the pistol reverts to its normal single action operation with the hammer staying at full cock.

The action of cocking the hammer, either manually or through the cycling of the slide during firing, causes the hammer strut to push against the back of the link bar, pushing it forward which, in turn, causes the double-action trigger to move back to press against the front of the pistol's shortened single action trigger. Applying pressure to the double-action trigger when it is in this position simply releases the hammer through the gun's normal single action lock work. In fact, if the Seecamp Conversion Unit is completely removed and the shortened trigger replaced with an unmodified one, the gun will operate as a normal single-action auto.

The manual safety is not in any way affected by the conversion. It can only be applied when the hammer is fully cocked and has noting to do with the double-action operation. The fact that it does not drop the hammer every time it is applied as is usually the case with most double-action auto designs, means that it can be carried cocked with the safety applied. Those who favor this "cocked and locked" mode of carry will no doubt like this feature.

Just as in an unconverted Government Model, particular care must be taken in lowering the hammer on a loaded chamber, the only way you can take advantage of the Seecamp double action first-shot capability. This is because, once the slide has been cycled to put a round in the chamber, there is no way of lowering the cocked hammer to the rest position except by pulling the trigger. Obviously this must be done by easing the hammer down very carefully under control but there is always the danger of it accidently slipping from the grasp of the fingers or thumb and discharging the pistol.

I always lower the hammer by grasping it firmly, placing the pad of my index finger over its face to help cushion its fall in case it slips from my fingers. The point is, regardless of the which method one uses to lower the hammer, it is absolutely vital to ensure that the pistol is always pointing in a safe direction.

As this was the first Seecamp conversion I have handled, I was interested to try it out on the range. Previous reports on the unit had lead me to believe that the double-action tended to be very stiff and hard. However, this was not the case with the test pistol. The double-action pull was long, smooth and reasonably light. Better still, the tension required to operate it remained constant up to just before the hammer released, at which point it started to stack just slightly. The single-action pull was good, not too heavy and relatively crisp. The pivoting double-action trigger, of course, increased the distance between its face and the back of the grip. However, I did not find this detrimental but rather like shotting a standard 1911 that had been fitted with a long trigger.

On the range, I found the pistol easy to shoot and I did a lot of shooting, firing the first shot double action and following it up with a quick second single-action one. To be honest, the long double-action pull took me some time to master but, once I got used to it, I was able to keep my shots grouped reasonably close together at the closer distances.

Single-action fire was really no different to shooting an unconverted Government Model. I engaged some round falling plates at 15 yards and had no difficulty in consistently knocking them over. I also did some shooting from a Davis IPSC competition holster with the pistol cocked and locked and found it much the same as shooting my own unmodified Randall.

Taking everything into consideration, TSW's Seecamp Conversion does everything it claims to do. the unit itself is a rugged simple design that should prove to be very reliable, while workmanship involved in its installation was of a high standard. The lack of a firing pin block or a hammer lowering device means extra care needs to be exercised in loading, but the gun performed very well on the range in both the double and single action mode. The conversion unit should find favor with shooters who like the 1911 but want a double-action capability for practical defense. The cost of the conversion is around $200 and further information on it and the other services TSW Conversion provides can be obtained by writing to them at Dept, GA, East 115 Crain Road, Paramus, NJ 07652, phone (201) 265-1618.
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Title Annotation:pistol conversion
Author:Arnold, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Dec 1, 1984
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