1911 DS Prodigy for Home Defense
July 27th, 2023
5 minute read
This article is about Springfield Armory’s Prodigy pistol and its capabilities in the home defense role. For those of you not familiar with the pistol, it’s a single-action 9mm with double-stack magazines and an optics-ready design as well as a rail for light/laser attachments.
Home Defense Pistol Needs
The home defense handgun should be operable by every member of the household deemed competent (and authorized by the owner) to use it. It should be drop-safe. Ideally, it will mount a light and perhaps a laser, and will contain enough ammunition to finish a gunfight with one or more home invaders.
Also ideally, it will have some degree of “proprietary nature to the user” in case the Bad Guy gains control of it. Still ideally, it will be able to fire at press contact. It should not have a hair trigger.
The Prodigy checks all those boxes.
Checking Those Boxes
Why no “hair trigger,” generally defined in court as lighter than factory spec for a duty weapon, or lighter than common practice by professionals with that particular type of weapon? Because in the extreme stress of fending off a home invasion, it is possible for too-light a trigger to be unintentionally activated.
Prosecutors know there is no such thing as a justifiable accident. Plaintiff’s lawyers know that the deep pockets of your homeowner liability policy will be closed if they claim you deliberately shot their client: self-defense is always intentional, and intentional acts which harm others are known as “willful torts,” which almost certainly won’t be covered. (See Terry Graham v. Texas Farm Bureau for a good example.)
But if they claim negligent discharge, that’s exactly what liability insurance is for. These are the reasons that an unscrupulous lawyer might claim that your intentional defense was instead an unjustifiable negligent shooting.
The Prodigy is a polymer-framed 1911 with double-stack magazine. Our test sample, serial number NMH44326, has a crisp, short trigger pull weighing an average of 4.76 lbs. on our Lyman digital trigger pull gauge. With 1911s, four lbs. seems to be the red-line minimum pull weight. It is what the National Rifle Association deems minimum for one at the Presidents’ Hundred and Distinguished matches where they are used. So, the Prodigy is good to go on that count.
Why white light- and laser-compatible? The light provides positive last-instant verification of a deadly target that must be shot, and the laser beam is helpful when firing from awkward positions behind cover, not to mention the fact that few people have time to don eyeglasses or put in contacts when grabbing a gun after the burglar alarm goes off at 2 AM. Our test Prodigy worked fine with Streamlight and Surefire attachments. Carry optics ability is icing on the cake for those with imperfect vision.
Sufficient ammunition reservoir can be critical. Home defense guns are generally grabbed by the Good Guys and Gals from a static location, often with a phone in the other hand, and little to no practical option of grabbing spare ammo. The Prodigy magazines are available in 17-, 20- and 26-round capacities plus the chambered round. The late gun expert Col. Jeff Cooper wrote of one of his South American students whose home was invaded by multiple assassins, and who needed every one of the 14 rounds in his 9mm to prevail. Only a fool would doubt that 26 rounds would be more comforting yet.
The proprietary nature to authorized users is found with all 1911s and anything else with a manual safety. Repeated tests have shown it takes an average of 17 to 18 seconds for someone unfamiliar with a cocked and locked pistol to figure out how to off-safe it and make it fire. I have always felt that this is ample time to do something very unpleasant to the violent felon who snatched your gun…or to run a considerable distance.
Usability by all authorized personnel? The fat grip extends trigger reach for small hands, but the relatively short trigger of the 1911-style Prodigy helps to ameliorate that. I need to use the pad of the trigger finger of my average adult-size male hand, but five-foot-tall Gail Pepin — former Florida State and Florida/Georgia Regional IDPA Champion, and twice high woman at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference — had no problem running our test Prodigy.
Press-contact capable? I’ve lost count of the gunfight survivors I’ve debriefed who survived by pressing the gun against their would-be murderer’s body and pressing the trigger, because they were grappling so closely. Most semi-auto pistols will go out of battery and fail to fire at press contact. Note in the photos that the Streamlight unit was mounted to extend forward of the barrel, creating “stand-off effect” to keep that from happening.
Drop-safe is important because almost no one practices grabbing a home defense handgun out of a safe or drawer as much as they practice drawing their concealed carry sidearm. That plus the stress of a real-world encounter makes fumbling likely and dropping a real risk. Springfield Armory designs its pistols of this type to prevent “inertia discharge” if the gun is dropped.
So there you have it — a detailed consideration of the 1911 DS Prodigy in the home defense role. Being a well-made and capable pistol, it should perform quite well in that role. But, you must do your part as well and prepare and train.
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