Springfield Armory Professional 1911
May 10th, 2020
6 minute read
Webster’s defines the term “Art” as “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with her remarkably seductive smile is universally acclaimed as powerful art. Michelangelo’s David makes a comparably primal artistic statement. Jackson Pollock’s work could be mistaken for his drop cloth yet he commands a reliably robust following nonetheless.
The common thread to all true art is you know it when you see it. Whether it’s Van Gogh’s Starry Night or George Lucas’ Star Wars, art moves you viscerally. So it was when I first hefted the Springfield Armory Custom Professional pistol.
Springfield Armory makes undeniably great guns. George Washington signed the charter in 1777 for the original, and the legacy of martial greatness still drives today’s company. With the basic Springfield Armory handgun chassis as a foundation, the artists at the Springfield Armory custom shop take it to the next level.
Their gunsmiths enjoy a collective 200 years of experience in that very shop. Every piece of the Custom Professional guns is hand-fitted. The National Match frame is custom-fitted to the slide. You can feel this as you rack the gun. It’s hard to quantify, but it’s just different. The interface no longer feels like steel on steel. It’s more like glass or Teflon.
Of course the ejection port is lowered and flared. The grip safety sports the obligatory memory bump, and the overall finish is something Springfield calls “Black T.” The cumulative effect is a satisfying Parkerized-looking color.
There’s a fully throated National Match barrel and bushing as well as a polished feed ramp. The fitted speed trigger breaks at precisely 4.5 lbs., every time. The extractor is tuned and polished, and the ambidextrous thumb and grip safeties are both custom fitted. The one-piece billet magazine well enjoys a generous magazine funnel and is perfectly matched to the bevel on the frame.
The low-mount Novak rear sight complements a dovetailed front counterpart. The sights come equipped with Trijicon tritium inserts and the front blade is also nicely serrated.
These guns come with checkered Cocobolo grips feeling nice and looking pretty too. Pretty works, even for a 1911. The front strap and mainspring housing are hand checkered at 20 lines per inch, rendering the gun nicely grippy while stopping just shy of painful. These pistols can be had in either 9mm or .45 ACP, either with or without a railed dustcover.
Everything about these guns is tuned for total reliability. We wrung out two of them for this assessment and suffered no stoppages under any circumstances, running bullets ranging from 65 up to 230 grains of all imaginable geometries. These Springfield Custom Professional guns are as mechanically perfect as humans can make them and required no break-in period.
How many magazines are appropriate for a truly high-end combat pistol? Springfield Armory thinks that would be six, and they’re the finest 1911 mags available. The bodies are stainless steel, and they include slam pad bumpers on the bottom. The .45 ACP versions pack seven rounds, while the 9mm sort carries 10.
At first glance the guns look vaguely blurry. Upon closer inspection you can tell every edge and crevice has been subtly melted to thoroughly excise any sharp geometry. The Springfield Custom Professional 1911 is crafted to carry — but born to fight.
The Professional is an ultimate combat machine. The gun drops into your paw like an old friend and the aggressive checkering keeps it there. The controls perfectly interface with the human hand. The safety offers just enough resistance to remain useful, while avoiding inadvertent manipulation. The magazine release is the right size, and the magwell funnel draws fresh magazines like politicians suck up other people’s money.
The majestic unfiltered smoothness of the slide/frame interface makes the violence of the firing cycle seem ameliorated over many lesser 1911’s. Particularly with the 9mm version, the slide cycles effortlessly. Everything is just tight enough to feel awesome without being so congested as to bind. And that 9mm version is great news for the disabled, weak-ish or anyone tired of wrestling with a .45 ACP slide.
The Streamlight TLR-8 is an unnaturally compact combination white light and red laser module. The TLR-8 is not much larger than my thumb and weighs a mere 2.6 oz. It burns a single CR123A Lithium battery producing 500 lumens of blinding white light for 1.5 hours of use. This remarkably capable compact illuminator fits onto the Light Rail version of this pistol like it was born there. The TLR-8 also costs less than half of what its high-end competition might.
Shooting these guns is a sublime experience. The .45 ACP Light Rail offers ephemeral muzzle rise and instantaneous follow-up shots. The trigger is the chemical formula for precision and the sights are among the finest the industry can produce. While everything about the .45 ACP gun is superb — the 9mm version is better.
The 9mm recoil is more a shove than a pop, and the grip manages 10+1 rounds without stressing your digits unduly. The gun shoots unnaturally straight, and the heaviest 9mm loads remain most thoroughly recreational. This tuned 9mm 1911 pistol represents the most refined handgun shooting of my not inconsiderable experience.
Accuracy? At our 15-meter range, the .45 outshot the 9mm, but barely. Consider “one ragged hole” groups about right with either, with the .45 having just a tad of an edge over the 9mm. But had we the time and place to shoot farther on the test day, roles might have very well reversed. Accuracy is not an issue for either model.
Thoughts On Practical Art
The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team started running Springfield Custom Professional 1911 pistols in 1998. While GLOCKs have purportedly encroached a bit in recent years, these top-tier 1911 pistols still command an enthusiastic following at the Bureau. There’s a weeklong course dedicated to the eccentricities of the 1911 that’s a requirement before FBI Special Agents authorized to carry these guns can do so operationally.
Any steel-framed 1911 pistol will be heavy, but this equates to comfortable recoil management and, in the right hands, improved accuracy. These guns allow you to enjoy extended range sessions without undue suffering. The same laudable attributes landing these pistols in the holsters of the nation’s premiere law enforcement counter-terrorist unit make it a superb choice for the well-heeled civilian shooter concerned about personal protection or home defense.
The Springfield Armory Custom Professional pistols are not for everyone. With a retail price running north of $3,000 and limited availability, these handcrafted handguns are the purview of only the most well resourced shooter. If you have the means, however, running one of these superlative combat tools is a genuine joy.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and art is a cumulative milieu of perception, experience and circumstance. However, regardless of its genesis, the astute eye recognizes art when it is encountered. When first you heft one of these Springfield Armory Custom Professional handguns you can tell this is something special. John Moses Browning birthed the thing more than a century ago, and Springfield Armory put it through school. The finest counterterrorist unit in the country runs these guns. All that practical cred conspires to make the Springfield Armory Custom Professional pistols the tools of truly discriminating gunmen.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Will Dabbs and shared with us by American Handgunner. The original article can be seen here. Also, be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!