TFB Review: Rack easier with the Cammer Hammer

    Improper technique and trigger discipline aside, I couldn't resist...

    The advantages of semiautomatic pistols are many, however there is one particular shortfall that may force potential users to select revolvers instead: The fact that for some individuals, racking the slide can be difficult.  I’ve worked behind the counter and instructed enough new shooters to know that there’s two main reasons:

    1.  Using bad techniques which put them at a mechanical disadvantage
    2. Being physically unable to do so even with proper technique, usually due to arthritis or ligament damage

    Race-gun style slide racking tabs/wings can help ameliorate this issue, but are not practical for EDC or most other uses.  Reducing the mainspring or recoil spring tension can reduce force, but introduce reliability issues.  Determined to provide a solution without shortcomings, Cammer Technologies have come up with a hammer for the 1911 platform that reduces the force to rack the slide by up to 31%.  Reccently, Cammer Technologies sent me their new hammer and sear combo kit to try out.  The Hammer is CNC machined from 4140 or 17-4 Stainless (mine was 4140) by Mantis Precision Manufacturing and the “properly mated” sear is machined by Evolution Gun Works.  Both parts are 100% US-made.  With apologies to 1911 fans around the world, the Cammer Hammer is not for export.

    How it works:

    According to Cammer Technologies:

    At long last a solution to difficult racking of the slide is available to every 1911 shooter who may have hand strength issues or may face tactical conditions in which reliable racking can be compromised. Unlike hammers with a conventional flat face, the CAMMER provides the longest possible moment arm and thus the greatest mechanical advantage available. The lowering of initial force required to rack the slide is remarkable and must be experienced to appreciate.

    Regular 1911 hammer on the left, Cammer Hammer on the right

    Regular 1911 hammer on the left, Cammer Hammer on the right

    P8172621

    As one can see above, the regular 1911 hammer on the left has a flat face, requiring all the force to be applied over a very short distance.  The Cammer Hammer reduces the force required by spreading it out over a further distance as well as on a slightly different angle.  The hammer is also designed to resolve reliability issues in 9mm, .38 super, or .22 conversions.

    Installation/Initial testing:

    Disclaimer:  Cammer Hammer recommends gunsmith installation of the Cammer Hammer.  This author has experience in installing and adjusting sears and triggers in the 1911 platform.

    I decided to test the hammer in a compact 1911, as racking the slide in one can be more difficult than in a full-size pistol.  The Cammer Hammer and provided sear fit perfectly with all pins and pin holes in my beater “project gun”, an old Kimber CDP II. When I went to perform safety checks after reassembly, however, I hit a snag.  I pulled the trigger and depressed the grip safety with the manual safety on, and felt and heard the sear move slightly. When I took my finger off the trigger and deactivated the manual safety immediately thereafter, the hammer fell to the half-cock notch.  This was not normal, and I would not feel comfortable carrying the firearm with such an issue.  I then replaced the provided sear with my old, hand-stoned sear, and encountered no further issues.  I had to conclude that the sear may have worked fine in Cammer Hammer’s test rig, but did not fit the dimensions of the Kimber properly.  This came as no surprise, as I have found that certain other aftermarket parts do not fit properly in Kimbers.

    Cammer Hammer at half-cock

    Cammer Hammer at half-cock

    Moving past that one issue, I encountered no further malfunctions, and the hammer passed all the safety checks.  Speaking to the main goal of the Cammer Hammer, the slide was noticeably easier to rack right away.  So far, everything pertaining to the hammer seemed to be working as advertised.  It was time to take it to the range.

    Range testing:

    I tested the hammer in a 200-round course of fire during a combat handgun course at Hughston Shooting School.  Using Black Hills remanufactured 230gr FMJ, I encountered zero malfunctions.  The slide remained very easy to rack.  One-handed reload drills were accomplished by using the smoothly sloped sights on the Kimber to rack off of my belt.  Normally, I would not be successful with such a maneuver with the Kimber.  The Cammer Hammer rendered it a possibility.  I had a few other shooters, males and females of all ages, try racking the slide.  They all noticed it was easier than normal.P8172618

    Conclusions:

    While the Cammer Hammer was 100% reliable and performed as advertised, the pre-fit sear did not work out well in my test platform.  Be aware that your original sear may work better with the hammer, depending on the dimensions of your pistol.  I can wholeheartedly recommend the Cammer Hammer for all shooters, not just those who need a little more mechanical advantage to rack their slide.  At $98.00 (plus gunsmithing charges if one doesn’t have experience in replacing 1911 internals), it provides a significant improvement in function for a good value.  At this time, I cannot recommend the “Hammer-Sear Combo” at $128.00 unless you speak with Cammer Technologies first and find out if the dimensions of their test rig match your pistol.  In short, the hammer itself performed exactly as advertised and didn’t have any trade-offs.  If you’re looking for a new hammer for your 1911, the Cammer Hammer would be a good candidate.P8172620

    Pros:

    • Reasonable price
    • Well-made
    • Reduces force required to rack the slide as advertised, can make a 1911 a viable option for those who previously could not succeed in racking the slide.
    • Quick installation

    Cons:

    • Pre-fit sear did not work well in my test platform

    For more information, please visit Cammer Technologies.

    Thanks to Hughston Shooting School for class time and technical assistance

    Rusty S.

    Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


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