Stainless Colt Government XSE Ambi-Thumb Safety Broke - Pistolsmith

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Old 08-26-2013, 04:25 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: California
Posts: 10
Stainless Colt Government XSE Ambi-Thumb Safety Broke

Any ideas on this?
I am an LEO and normally carry my Colt's Stainless Government XSE.
The other day at the range, the factory ambi safety broke!
The recovered pieces look like they are MIM.
I purchased a new factory Colt's part and have to have it fitted.
I am currently carrying my Glock 21SF in lieu of my beloved Colt's.
Who would you suggest in Southern California, to fit the part?
I like it to be very firm and "snick" on and off solidly.

Last edited by John Carp; 08-26-2013 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:00 PM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wabash IN
Posts: 77

I would suggest either Wilson Bulletproof or Caspian. I will warn you that the Caspian has slop in it. I've not had a chance to try the Wilson yet but it looks promising.

In trying to remove the slop from the Caspian, I used a ballpeen hammer. It didn't remove the slop, but neither did it break the safety. I've had the Caspian in place for years now, and I'm not light on my pistols.

Here are a couple articles that might help:


1911 Ambi Thumb Safety Run Down
Oct 14, 2008

I've been trying all the ambi thumb safeties I can, trying to find the best one for left handed use (and I have some very exacting, perhaps OCD standards). I've tried several now, and here are my experiences with each:

Mueschke: I've had two of these. They are made by (I believe) the MIM process. They are retained by the Colt method, an extended sear pin. The joints in both examples were sloppy and eventually broke. The sear pin is supposed to be weak as well, and the reason Colt abandoned this method of retention. I'd give this one star out of five.

Kimber: This is a quality thumb safety made via the MIM process. It is retained via a hammer pin. The joint is sloppy and needs to be tightened. The safety works as advertised. However, mine came from the factory a bit rough, and after I stoned it smooth, I noticed the plunger begin to dig into the safety, bringing everything to literal grinding halt. I did not know at the time that MIM can only be case hardened, and I had gone past the hardened part. A bonus is that it will usually drop into guns which are in spec. I'd give it three out of five stars.

Auto Ordnance: Believe it or not, this thing was probably my favorite. It appeared cast. The joint had absolutely no play as the safety was retained on the frame by a #4-40 screw that goes through the shaft. Very clean install. However, this was also its undoing: The design is supposed to be weak (I didn't experience this) and will only fit thinner frames. As well, it was not well finished. It was too tight on my carry gun, and so it went on race gun I had built from spare parts and subsequently traded to a gun shop for a 9mm carbine. But at around $16.00 from Numrich (Welcome to Numrich Gun Parts Corp.) it may be worth a shot if you're looking for something cheap to try. Two out of five stars, due to fit on some guns, and its poor finish.

King's Ambi: According to the factory, this safety is cast and looked it. Retention is via a hammer pin (King's method). The joint is sloppy, but can be tightened. I did run into a few problems though. First, the safety allowed overtravel of the sear. Without going into the workings of the 1911 too awful much, this allowed light strikes on the primer due to things rubbing the hammer and slowing it down. This would be an excellent safety if my gun were equipped with a trigger that has an overtravel stop. I will probably reinstall this one on my 1911 after I acquire an EGW trigger (fitted, but no screw to back out).

STI/SVI: This is retained by the Swenson method; there is a tab which rides under the grip panel. This safety is machined out of stock, and I've had mine the longest of any of these other safeties, on two different pistols. I can't break it. The joint actually snaps together with an audible click, and though it will ride out a bit, this can be fixed by tightening the groove even further. I ran it for a bit with no support on the right side, then carried it with Pachmayr grips (mushy), and the shaft torqued and sprang back with no complaint - and I really ride safeties hard when shooting. The stud has plenty of material to work with, unlike any other safety I've fitted. In fact, to get it through the frame, I had to take material off the circumference of the stud. When disengaged, the stud serves as a positive stop for the sear/trigger, making it feel almost like a fitted or adjustable trigger. From the safeties I've tried, this one gets four out of five stars: I dislike the Swenson retention style.

I have not yet tried an Ed Brown, Wilson Combat, or any other.

If any other lefties wish to do some write ups and add to this thread, please feel free. I'm posting this in the hopes that my time and money will help others who are do not have my penchant for experimentation get a good product which fits them the first time, or at the very least, the second time.

Additions, as I said, are welcome. I'll add more myself if I do any more "playing around."


Caspian Ambi Safety Review
Jun 5, 2010


I ordered a Caspian ambi thumb safety to try out on my 1911, and it arrived today.

Fitting was extensive on my particular pistol, a Rock Island Armory. I do not believe the same problems I ran into would be evident on a domestic frame as the Rock Island's frame seems to be a bit thicker than most (I've not quantified this; it's just an observation over the course of the build).

The safety feels much like a King's safety, and is retained by a modified hammer pin.

It is a very solid piece, with my only concern revolving around the joint. It came with a lot of slop, and the right side would not disengage the left side fully until I tightened it a bit.

Still, it's reminiscent of a small, square head screwdriver.

The left side of the fitted safety

Forgive the mess; there's wear showing from the previous safety. However, this pistol is quickly becoming a test bed for my next build, and I doubt I'll do much more refinishing to it.

The right side

I appreciate the clean looks of this safety as opposed to the traditional "ear". Additionally, the levers are about 1/4" wide and positioned so that you can't miss them unless you're trying.

This is my one misgiving...

That joint seems like it could be fragile. I took it out of the pistol and torqued on it, and it seems solid. However, having a background in auto mechanics, I've seen way too many stripped bolt and screw heads. If I didn't have to take this thing apart now and again, I'd just hit it with a weld bead and clean it up.

In short, if this thing holds up, I will be pleased. If not, I will try a Wilson Bullet Proof. I've tried a Kimber safety and it broke.

The next build gun is to have clean lines and a good finish applied by someone better in finishes than myself. I'm also a left hander. I am therefore insisting on hidden retention for the right side paddle.

Old 10-07-2013, 01:24 PM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: California
Posts: 10
Smile Stainless Colt Goverment XSE Ambi-Thumb Safety Broke

Thank you so much Mr. Smith!
I actually had a Colt's factory part on Looooong back order!
(I was told the same part goes in the Marine Corps CQB-M-45 and the production parts were diverted to that assembly line)
When I received the part, I didn't know quite what to do with it for a while.
I didn't want just "anyone" to work on my pistol.
I was given the name of Mr. Alan Tanaka (American Pistol Smith Guild) by a collegue. I contacted Mr. Tanaka and he agreed to see me immediately.
In fact he fitted the part while I waited. I found him a warm and kind genius!
He is a very, very nice fellow. So, long story short....My Colt's is up and running and I have thus far experiance no issues. I have printed your suggestions to use as a "manual" should this problem arise again. In fact should it occur again, I may go to a single side thumb safety, as some day this pistol may wear Crimson Trace Laser Grips.

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