Reference the controversy about the Longmire television show. It is common on television and in movies to see 1911s carried with the hammer down and the act of cocking prior to shooting. Most folks versed in firearms recognize this as Hollywood adding some drama. The act of cocking being the lead up to a shootout. Hollywood is after all all about drama and not reality or safety.
E B writing about the danger of carrying the hammer down on a round in the chamber is correct about the safety concerns of doing so.
However the older government models had a half cock safety that could be employed with a loaded chamber. I am not proud to say that I used this feature during my stint in the Army when I felt that I might need to get off a quick one handed shot and carrying Cocked and Locked was prohibited by unit SOP. Of course I could still have been court-martialed for a live round in the chamber but the hammer mostly down was not a visual giveaway that Cocked and Locked would have been. I only used this sparingly in difficult circumstances when I felt the need, and I will just leave it at that. I do not recommend half cock as a normal way to carry.
It takes a steady hand to lower the hammer on a live round and of course muzzle discipline is of paramount importance. Use both hands and the weak hand is used to lower the hammer. Again, safety! Please don't shoot the family dog. Better yet, carry it Cocked and Locked. It was designed that way for a reason by John Moses Browning.
Modern production 1911s DO NOT HAVE A HALF COCK SAFETY NOTCH so please do not try this at home. Of the four 1911s in my possession only the older Gold Cup series 70 has the half cock. The series 80 guns do not and trying this with a live round in the chamber will quite possibly cause a Negligent Discharge. I have no experience with makes other than Colt and the US Army issued guns.
I certainly hope folks do not try this and shoot their big toe off. - G.R., former CPT, USAR