Springfield Armory Garrison 4.25″ 1911 Review
February 8th, 2024
8 minute read
The 4.25” Garrison is the latest iteration of Springfield Armory’s rarefied line of 1911 pistols. Offering old school design and superlative workmanship along with a world-class feature set and reasonable price, the Garrison occupies a unique niche among the wares at your favorite gun emporium.
The latest 4.25” version offers all that classic Garrison sweetness in a handier, more-concealable package.
Mankind came from the factory with an irresistible drive to create. It’s buried someplace deep in our DNA. One person’s brilliant idea becomes the foundation for the next great advance in science or engineering. In so doing, technology invariably builds on itself. This is the reason you are likely reading this hallowed tome in climate-controlled comfort. Otherwise you might still be squatting in a cave someplace pondering the best way to use a jagged rock to flay an opossum for dinner.
A cursory historical review of the Information Age demonstrates countless examples wherein some gifted inventor devised a machine that serendipitously changed the world. This is the human way. Driven by the unstoppable engine that is capitalism, this profoundly powerful drive oftentimes charges forward without a great deal of restraint. Think hydrogen bombs or pressurized cheese in a can. With others, however, one simply cannot help but revel in what we have accomplished — and 1911 was a particularly good year for such stuff.
Setting the Stage
On January 26,1911, Glenn Curtiss flew the first amphibian float plane. His idea to meld a boat with an airplane was simply inspired. This is the sole reason we humans have physically explored some of the least accessible portions of this big blue playground we call Earth.
That same year, James Dole hired Henry Ginaca to craft a device that would automate the processing of pineapples. Prior to that time, pineapples were laboriously cut by hand. In addition to being time-consuming, there was a also great deal of wastage. Afterwards, thanks to the Ginaca Pineapple Processing Machine, the Dole Packaged Foods Company could sell Hawaiian pineapples to the entire planet.
Charles Franklin Kettering was one of the most prolific inventors in human history, going to his grave with 186 patents. Kettering developed the use of Freon as an industrial refrigerant, perfected colored paints for automobiles and invented the first air-to-air missile. The philanthropic foundation that bears his name has played an active part in crafting public policy since 1927.
On February 17, 1911, Charles Kettering installed the first electric starter motor on an automobile engine. Prior to that day if you wanted to crank a car you had to walk around to the front and spin a lever. Nowadays, you can start the nicer sort from inside your office via a button on your remote. Kettering once opined, “The world hates change, but it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
So, why all this arcane prattling about such antiquated contrivances? Because, unlike the previous examples, there was one invention introduced in 1911 that has soldiered on minimally unchanged ever since. While the rest of the world evolved through spaceflight to cell phones, John Moses Browning’s inimitable 1911 pistol has reliably retained its relevance despite the passage of time.
John Browning introduced his 1911 pistol three years before the outset of World War I. A lot has happened since then. Cutting-edge handguns like the Springfield Armory Echelon now pack double columns of ammunition in a rugged, reliable, accurate package handy enough to carry all day. The polymer frame weighs just about nothing, and the gun is infinitely customizable. However, there is just something primal about the way a 1911 pistol interfaces with the human form. The single-stack magazine supports a trim architecture that fits my hand like it was built to be there. Despite more than a century of mechanical evolution, the basic 1911 design remains competitive even today.
Part of that is indeed nostalgia. Ours is a wealthy society, the richest in all of human history. As a result, we enjoy the luxury of investing our resources in the finer things. Whether that is a bespoke timepiece, a classic automobile meticulously restored, or a $12,000 William Fioravanti power suit, the toys do indeed make the man.
In the timeless 1911 pistol we find a curious melding of form, refinement, style and function. This unique little machine entertains you on the range, makes a powerful fashion statement, and helps keep you alive when out where the wild things roam. Nothing else in the vast pantheon of human contrivances really does all that. The ultimate iteration of that apparently perfect machine is the Springfield Armory Garrison.
Just like suits, cars, and watches, there is a definite spectrum. The Springfield Armory Garrison is the refined 1911 pistol for the common man. It has style, class, and function that remains within financial reach of the average joe with a mortgage and an actual life. I have shot a lot of 1911 pistols, and I do love this one.
The standard Garrison has been out for a while. Available in either 9mm or .45 ACP in both blued and stainless finishes, the Garrison offers a superlative feature set at a reasonable price. Forged steel construction makes for a gun that your children’s grandchildren will still be shooting, while low-profile no-snag three-dot combat sights keep this delightfully straight-shooting gun shooting straight. Also, it features a traditional barrel bushing system for simple and easy takedown — as well as classic good looks at the muzzle.
Many of today’s bargain 1911 pistols are made from cast components. By contrast, the forged steel used in the Garrison is as tough as it gets. Thin line wood grips offer an attractive double-diamond look with the cool Crossed Cannon logo and skin-grabbing texturing. The mainspring housing on the Garrison has just enough checkering to provide a solid interface with flesh without becoming cruel after a long afternoon at the range.
An extended beavertail grip safety with a memory bump keeps you from getting nipped by the lightweight skeletonized hammer. The extended left-sided thumb safety is easily accessible. The G.I.-standard magazine release has been proven effective through well over a century of active service. If it ain’t broke…
The raw stainless components could theoretically be cleaned in a dishwasher were you so inclined, while the hot salt blued version is simply gorgeous in any light. The synergistic result is a comfortable and powerful defensive handgun that is both fun to shoot and cool to use. In the past, Springfield Armory has offered the Garrison line with a standard G.I. five-inch barrel. Now you can get all that Garrison awesome in something a bit more packable.
Long on Performance
The newest Garrison has all that cool-guy stuff of the original Garrison along with a stubbier 4.25” barrel and correspondingly short slide. The standard frame maintains the inimitably-reliable classic single-stack magazine. That’s seven rounds in .45 ACP or nine in 9mm. Chopping three quarters of an inch off of the barrel and slide makes the gun more comfortable to carry and easier to clear clothing.
The new abbreviated Garrison occupies an interesting niche. This is a steel-framed handgun that weighs just north of two pounds. There are lighter concealed carry options in the Springfield Armory line-up. However, the extra weight mitigates felt recoil and muzzle flip. No matter the whiz-bang technology built into a defensive handgun, mass times velocity in one direction will always equal mass times velocity in the other direction. That’s not just a good idea, that’s the law.
As a result, the steel-framed Garrison is actually pleasant to shoot. If it is uncomfortable to run a handgun, that becomes a disincentive to train. Tactical shooting is a perishable skill. Your primary defensive pistol demands a little regular attention for safe and effective employment.
I have carried a steel-framed 1911 comfortably underneath my surgical scrubs at work countless times. My daily uniform as a physician is the tactical equivalent of pajamas. I am living proof that, with the right carry gear, you can successfully pack a full-sized, steel-framed 1911 underneath scrubs throughout a long day at work. Our armed forebears wielded such iron as a matter of course, but they were demonstrably tougher than are we. The chopped architecture of the Garrison makes all that even better. When properly secured, the Garrison is also a superb nightstand or truck gun. As a home defense tool, the Garrison is precise, reliable, and powerful.
As regards Garrison 1911 pistols, the first decision is caliber. 9mm and .45 ACP are the menu. Each has its merits, and the respective acolytes espouse their ballistic dogma with near-religious zeal.
When stoked with modern high-tech expanding ammo, the 9mm is a reliable stopper that is comfortable to run. By contrast, the .45 ACP is all that only more so. Physics is physics. Jeff Cooper didn’t refer to the .45 ACP as a flying ashtray for nothing. The .45 version offers more vigorous recoil, but also projects more downrange authority.
The slide/frame interface on the Garrison is the place where dreams are made. Right out of the box, the gun’s manual cycling is unbelievably smooth. John Browning’s single-action trigger set a standard more than a century ago that has yet to be bested. You can tell from the moment you heft this gun that it is a seriously well-made piece of iron.
Of course, the Garrison was completely reliable and shot straight. Take your time and expect single jagged holes at typical engagement ranges. Now this was hilarious — an adolescent horsefly had the bad grace to land on my target while I was doing the shooting for this project. At seven yards I literally vaporized him with a single Remington 124-gr. hollow point.
Springfield Armory Garrison 4.25” 1911
|Blued or stainless
|9+1/7+1 (one magazine included)
Issues of magazine capacity, weight, and mission particulars are all pertinent data points. Personal tastes and available resources flavor that equation. At the end of the day, however, the new 4.25” Garrison is a classic defensive handgun that offers unimpeachable quality at a decent price. For the gunman of distinction, it is class at a reasonable cost.
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