I typically don’t get too excited about new handguns these days. Maybe I’ve tested too many. Maybe I’m just getting a bit jaded. That being said, when I found out about the Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy, my attitude changed completely. In fact, the Prodigy had my attention as soon as I found out it was in development. Needless to say, I asked if I could get one for testing as soon as it was available. (Be sure to see the first look here.)
Let’s back up a little bit, first. Springfield Armory is renowned for its high-quality 1911 pistols, and I know a lot of people have been waiting for the company to offer something like this one. In case you are not familiar with it, the 1911 DS Prodigy is a double-stack 9mm 1911. In fact, the “DS” in the name stands for double-stack.
Having gotten my hands on one of the 5” models for review, I can say it is truly impressive. But while looking good is one thing, the real question is, does it run? In my mind, there was only one way to find out. The gun needed to be shot. A lot. A whole lot. So, in early June, I started the process of answering that question through a demanding 10,000-round torture test of the new pistol.
A True Prodigy
The 1911 DS Prodigy is first and foremost a 1911. If you know how to run the 1911, you’ll be right at home with the Prodigy. Offered in 5” and 4.25” versions, it’s a single-action pistol with a very crisp trigger, ambidextrous manual safety and an extended beavertail grip safety that cups a skeletonized rowel-style hammer. The slide is forged carbon steel with a rich and durable black Cerakote finish for protection. The slide features both rear and forward cocking serrations. The barrel is a hammer-forged, stainless steel bushingless bull barrel that looks great and shoots even better. The barrel is supported by a full-length, two-piece guide rod.
The sight system of the pistol consists of a u-shaped rear notch and a high-visibility fiber optic front. Springfield teamed up with Agency Arms to make this pistol optics-ready with the pistol’s AOS (Agency Optic System) plate system. With these, the rear sight is an integral part of the mounting plate. When you are ready to put a dot on the Prodigy, simply remove the included cover plate (which also features a rear sight) and mount the optic with the included mounting plate (which is designed to fit the HEX Dragonfly as well as several other popular red dot optics). There is no need for taller sights to sight through the optic. A selection of additional plates for a wide range of optics is available from the Springfield Armory Store here.
When it comes to the frame, this is where the Prodigy departs most obviously from its 1911 heritage. Attached to the forged carbon steel receiver (which features a matching black Cerakote finish with the slide) is a polymer grip module that accepts the pistol’s double-stack magazines. The pistols come with one flush-fit 17-round mag and one extended 20-rounder. Optional 26-round magazines are also available.
Despite the double-stack magazine design of the Prodigy, the grip fit my hand wonderfully and was easy to shoot. The polymer grip area, which features a wraparound treatment of the Adaptive Grip Texture we know from the Hellcat, was extremely comfortable and provided just the right grip texture for performance. At the forward portion of the steel receiver is an extended dustcover with a strip of Picatinny rail.
The 1911 DS Prodigy has all the features needed to be a solid performer as well as a contender as a duty pistol. And the price is right, starting at an MSRP of $1,499 (with models packaged with the HEX Dragonfly priced at $1,699). But the original question still stands: Does it run?
The Torture Test
As I set up the test for the 1911 DS Prodigy, I used the basic format I’ve used for other 10K round tests with Springfield Armory handguns (watch Paul’s torture test of the Hellcat here.) The ammunition for the test was generously supplied by True Shot Gun Club. All the ammo was PMC Bronze, 115-gr. 9mm.
Over the course of several weeks, I shot the test in 250-round segments. After each 250-round batch, I used an air compressor to force cool air from the chamber through the barrel for approximately 15 minutes to speed up cooling. I also checked to make sure the gun was adequately lubricated. In most instances, the gun was still well-lubed. Occasionally, I added a drop or two of oil to the barrel and the rails.
At every 500-round mark, the pistol was cleaned. To be honest, I wasn’t super consistent on the cleaning procedure. I was often filming late in the day to avoid the extreme heat, and as a result was pressed for time due to the setting sun. Most often, these cleanings consisted of a quick wipe down of the barrel and breechface while the gun was at slide lock, along with two passes of a lubricated bore snake through the barrel.
Every 1,500 rounds, the gun was fieldstripped and received a more thorough cleaning. I made sure to clean the feed ramp, breechface, and the rails of both the slide and the frame. After each cleaning, the gun was lubed, making sure all important parts had appropriate lubrication. I paid particular attention to the barrel locking lugs and the rails.
At 5,000 rounds, the gun received another solid fieldstrip cleaning and lubrication, and I also replaced the recoil spring. At no time was the gun detail-stripped for cleaning or inspection.
Although I did make an effort to provide the pistol reasonable care, in no way did I want to try and nurse it through the rounds. Reliability is paramount in a pistol like this, and I was much more interested in how the gun performed with a realistic maintenance schedule as opposed to a strict adherence to an unrealistic level of care. I like to shoot guns much more than I like maintaining them!
The only other maintenance that was performed was a replacement of the fiber optic rod in the front sight at 5,000 rounds. The high rate of fire I maintained during the test created a significant amount of heat. I was typically firing each 250-round segment in four to six minutes. The result was a gun that was literally too hot to handle at points. Over time, the heat melted a portion of the fiber optic tube. I replaced the green tube with a red fiber optic tube and, although I began to melt the tube again in the second 5,000 rounds, both tubes remained secure in the front sight post until I had removed them for replacement.
How’d It Do?
This is the real question regarding this pistol as far as I’m concerned. Reliability is the foundation for any serious handgun.
The fact of the matter is the gun just ran. It was easy to shoot, had pleasant recoil, was fast back on target, and was very accurate. Although this test was made up of very long shooting sessions, it was always a pleasure to run. Although putting 10,000 rounds through any pistol is a demanding exercise, I never once tired of shooting this gun. It was an absolute pleasure to shoot from start to finish. And no matter the mag type used, be they 17- 20- or 26-rounders, the Prodigy just ate up the ammunition I fed it. I would be confident in using this gun after the test without any concern.
In addition to its impressive reliability, the Prodigy performed extremely well as a shooter. The gun weighs in at 33 oz. unloaded. This made for an extremely pleasant recoil impulse. More importantly, this gun tracked extremely well and returned to the point of aim quickly after recoil. Also, the bright fiber optic front sight made it easy to track the front sight during recoil. Rapid follow-up shots were a breeze again and again with this gun.
Out of the entire 10,000 rounds fired (actually a few more than that, as I started out with some rounds for accuracy and firing over a chronograph,) I experienced only one single malfunction during the test. While shooting strong-hand-only, I had one round fail to chamber at roughly the 2,750 round mark. I can’t blame the gun for this malfunction. Instead, I expect that I failed to fully support the gun and, as a result, induced the issue.
I am very confident that shooter-error induced this malfunction. In fact, I “tap/racked” it to clear it and the gun immediately ran again. Even if this malfunction were the gun’s fault (and I don’t believe it was), 9,999 out of 10,000 rounds fired with no issues is far beyond the threshold of expectations for reliability with a duty gun in my opinion. This is especially true when you consider the fact my daily shooting sessions were typically 1,500 rapid-fire rounds.
When it comes to selecting a handgun, there are a number of factors that truly matter. The gun needs to fit your hand well, shoot accurately, be easily maintained and ideally have a reasonable recoil impulse. But all of this is secondary to the gun’s reliability.
After spending several weeks testing the Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy, I can enthusiastically say this pistol easily checks all the boxes. This gun was comfortable in my hand while shooting with both hands, strong-hand-only, or off-hand. The Prodigy is much more accurate than I am, and rapid follow-up shots were easy. Like any pistol, proper lubrication and cleaning are a good idea, but the Prodigy handled my casual maintenance approach without a hitch.
The recoil of this double-stack is a breeze to handle. I never tired of firing 9mm in this full-size pistol — all 10,000 rounds. I cannot recommend the Prodigy enough for anyone looking for a 1911 that adds the benefit of cutting-edge performance features and increased magazine capacity. This one is a proven performer!
Editor’s Note: Please 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 and discuss this article and much more!