Jeff Cooper Inspires the Invention of Elden's Magazine Bump Pad
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
The golden anniversary for the 1911 was 1961, the same year I developed what I believe was the first full on combat/quick draw 1911. By the end of the year I had completed the pistol and Alfonso Pineda had built the first metal lined speed holster for me.
My Leatherslap win in August 1961 proved that the 1911 was not only a great two-handed combat pistol but could hold its own in big league draw, point and shoot competition. But then something unusual happened in one of the first matches of the 1962 competition year.
Jeff Cooper was having a really good day when a stage requiring a reload came up. I was standing directly behind Jeff when he was given the “go” signal. I watched him draw and put two solid hits in each of three targets followed by the ejection of the empty magazine. Jeff quickly installed a new loaded magazine, came up on his first target and squeezed the trigger. As the pistol discharged, I saw the magazine fall from the magazine well to the round. Despite looking shocked LtCol Cooper instantly diagnosed the problem, checked his pistol, reholstered and stepped from the line.
Despite lots of reloading practice over the bed with two magazines, I always feared that someday my technique of always slamming the magazine home with some extra pressure on the protruding front of the magazine base might someday fail me, resulting in a “lost string” and possibly a pistol match.
Despite winning the match that day, I spent considerable time during my 230 mile drive back to San Diego thinking about how to fix the 1911 magazine “failure to latch” problem. I can't honestly identify the exact moment the solution to the problem came to me, but studying the bottom of the pistol with a magazine properly in place was what turned the light bulb on in my brain. All I needed to do was build up the bottom of the magazine so that it protruded a few millimeters when latched in place.
I went to Charlie Frazier who machined an aluminum piece the shape of the magazine base plate which he had tapped for two screw holes so that two countersunk screws could be installed through the drilled holes in the bump pad to hold everything together.
After the testing phase I asked Charlie to make two extended magazines for Jeff Cooper. This time he made the extension pieces out of steel and soldered them to the magazine base plates. My master plater Jack Neeson chromed and heat treated the magazines and I presented them to Jeff at the next shoot.
I have to admit that I sometimes wondered if the outcome of that long ago 1962 match might have had a different ending had I invented the magazine bump pad at an earlier date. As they say in Spanish, “Quien sabe?” (who knows?)
All I know is Jeff Cooper was having a heck of a good day before that reload magazine failed to stay in place.