Loading the 1911 without magazine
Loading a 1911 with the slide open, dropping a round in the chamber and allowing the slide to slam shut? Extractor problems? There was a big debate so what is the answer.
The 1911 wasn’t designed to chamber rounds that way, and it’s hard on extractors. But, Browning wasn’t an idiot. Because the pistol was going to war sooner or later, and because he was aware that magazines get lost and damaged, he made the extractor function as its own spring and he specified that it not only be made from 1090 steel, hardened and drawn to a spring temper…and then he put an angle on the nose of the claw and on the back of the case rim that would serve as a cam to open the extractor to allow the gun to be single loaded in such an emergency.
Fast forward to modern 1911s with their harder, tougher extractors that may or may not have the correct angle on the nose…extractors that don’t yield quite as readily…and letting the slide slam into a cartridge can beat the tension out or cause them to break.
There’s a way to test a given pistol to see if the extractor will tolerate it, and if it will, I strongly advise the people who want to chamber the top round to do it this way. Drop the round into the chamber and let the slide forward slowly. When the extractor contacts the case rim, push the rear of the slide firmly with a thumb. If the extractor snaps over the rim and lets the slide go to battery with moderate force…the angles are correct, and the pistol can be loaded that way. If it won’t…load it from the magazine.