A number of law enforcement agencies across the country are either standardizing or authorizing officer carry of M1911–type pistols for various roles. So when we had the opportunity to obtain a Big Hawg for evaluation, it was only natural that we take it and evaluate it not only from the usual standpoint of features and shooting qualities, but for day-to-day patrol use as a duty pistol.
Many special response teams, such as those of the LAPD, FBI and US Marshals’ Service are issued M1911–type pistols, not to mention many military special operations teams. Other agencies using or authorizing M1911 type pistols for duty carry include San Diego; Texas Rangers; Tacoma and my own Killen, Alabama Police Department. M1911-type pistols are not generally department issue to most patrol officers, but are authorized for duty carry after training and qualification.
Cocked and Locked
There are many misconceptions about the M1911, not the least of which is that the preferred carry mode of the pistol – Condition One, or “cocked and locked,” is inherently dangerous. In the case of many striker-fired pistols, the striker is pre-loaded and all that it necessary for the pistol to fire is to pull the trigger. Aside from the trigger block, there are no external safeties. Carrying a M1911-style pistol cocked and locked is arguably safer than a striker-fired pistol that has no traditional external safety. Striker-fired pistols with no external safeties are actually in what would be called “Condition 0” in a 1911, i.e. cocked and unlocked. There are many advantages and few disadvantages to the M1911 system. Getting an M1911-type pistol into action from Condition One is faster than any other autopistol, once one is trained in its use. The M1911, especially a modern version like the Big Hawg, is arguably as safe or safer to carry than a striker-fired pistol. Not only does the Big Hawg have external safeties, but the pistol has several internal safeties as well.