RO Elite for the Backcountry
May 28th, 2019
3 minute read
As a homesteader in western Montana, the backcountry isn’t some wild place where I go to hike on the weekends or practice survival techniques—it’s where I live. Sustainability is the goal, but out here it can be an uphill battle against the predator load. The sound of a mountain lion screaming in the pitch black just inside your property line is not something you forget.
I carry as a daily rule, but there are things in the woods that are bigger, stronger, and hungrier than I am, including plenty of bears. My homestead, with its dairy goats and other animals, represents what the predators hope will be easy food. It’s my job to ensure they’re wrong about that.
Out here, I need something a bit more powerful than my daily carry; something that will stop a bear or mountain lion before it gets to my animals—or me. This month I had a chance to try out the Range Officer Elite Operator 1911 in 10mm, and so far, it’s delivering.
There are plenty of folks who will say that a semi-auto handgun of any type isn’t enough for protection against predators; some will say that only a rifle packs enough punch to stop a bear threat. A hiker who surprised a sow and her cubs in Kachemak State Park, Alaska in 2016, however, found out that a 10mm will work just fine. The charging mama bear went down with two gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one below the right eye.
The Elite Operator is pretty and all, but as a female with her first 10mm coming up from a compact .45 ACP daily carry, I wanted to know how the gun would handle. How much strength did I need to be accurate and control the recoil, and how would it feel in my hand? Most importantly, would I feel comfortable enough with it to train regularly?
To my pleasant surprise, it performed well in both recoil and accuracy. While it’s obviously heavier than what I’m used to carrying or shooting it’s not much larger, so I was able to handle it just fine. It also shoots just as smoothly as my other 1911s. The harder recoil took me a bit of time to get used to, but it didn’t take long. Have good ear protection, however—this gun is definitely on the loud side.
One thing I noticed is that the grips on the 10mm are very aggressive, a design feature made to give you more purchase with the caliber’s heavier recoil. If you’re new to the 10mm, however, they might not be the best solution. In fact, they tore my hands up a bit, which made the shooting day less than ideal. The good news is that any standard .45 1911 grips will fit the 10mm, so if you do want to swap out to something with less texture, you can do so easily.
Stepping up to the mighty 10mm will take some practice, just like any other firearm. While I won’t be using it for everyday carry or trips to town, it’s perfect for being out here in the wildland, adding a higher level of security against whatever comes my way on the mountain. Once you shoot it, however, you might decide it needs to be your go-to weapon.