Taffin Tests Springfield 1911s

By American Handgunner
Posted in #Guns
Save
Save Remove from saved articles
Like
Like Unlike
Share
Facebook Share Twitter Share Pinterest Share

Taffin Tests Springfield 1911s

January 12th, 2020

8 minute read

The modern version of Springfield Armory is known for offering reasonably priced, exceptional quality 1911s, and I’ve been a fan for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s, I spent several 115-degree days shooting with Springfield’s Robbie Leatham outside Phoenix, Arizona. Then in the following fall, I experienced the opposite with extreme cold weather and biting wind, while shooting again with Robbie at a Springfield Armory Seminar in Mississippi.

One of my favorite 1911 pistols is the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec chambered in .38 Super. This is a no-frills pistol with no extra doodads and fixed, military-style sights. It was purchased with the thought that if it shot well enough, to turn it into a .38 Super Field Pistol, as I read about as a teenager in one of Jeff Cooper’s early books. My plan was to switch out the sights, add an extended thumb safety and perform a trigger job, if it shot well enough.

Actually, it shot too well. It shoots good and to point of aim, the trigger is more than satisfactory, and the sights are big, black and square enough for me to see them easily, so I have just left it alone apart from for custom grip panels. It does everything I need, just the way it is. In fact, it’s so satisfactory I ordered a mate to it, another Mil-Spec in .45 ACP.

The easy-shooting 1911-A1 9mm, the compact EMP 9mm, and the extremely accurate Range Officer .45 ACP impressed John a great deal.

9mm 1911

Lately, I have been shooting and immensely enjoying a trio of Springfield Armory 1911s. Two of them are full-sized, target-sighted versions, while the third is a scaled down, part-by-part, miniature 1911. The first one came while I was recuperating from emergency surgery in fall of 2010, and after purchasing it I ordered the next two for more testing and evaluating.

It has long been my desire to have a full-sized 1911 chambered in 9mm. At one time I had a Colt Commander Nine, however I let that one get away and don’t believe I’ve ever seen a full-sized 1911 Government Model 9mm. I know originals are very pricey now. I can’t even come up with a good reason for wanting one, except I do and I think I’m at the age when I really don’t have to explain myself; at least not to myself. So, I wanted a full-sized 9mm, Springfield Armory offered me one, and that’s that. I now have a stainless steel 1911 9mm with fully adjustable target sights and in the 1911-A1 configuration.

This Springfield goes against the grain of current 9mms, in that it’s a single stack instead of being high capacity. On the other hand, if I were to design what I felt was the perfect 1911 9mm, I don’t see how I could come up with anything better than this version. This Target Model is stainless steel, sights are black the way they should be, consisting of a square-notch rear sight matched up with a sloping-post front sight. The front sight is set in a dovetail allowing for easy windage adjustment — or even replacement if desired. The rear sight is also in a dovetail, and set very low in the top of the slide, and is adjustable for both windage and elevation.

The stainless steel slide is polished bright on the sides with a glare-reducing matte finish on top. Slanted serrations on both sides behind the front sight and in front of the rear sight allow for easy operation of the slide, which is also aided by the fact it rides smoothly on the frame. The trigger is lightweight aluminum with three holes drilled in it and serrations on the front to prevent the trigger finger from slipping, and trips at a measured 5 1/2 pounds.

The hammer is also lightweight and skeletonized. The grip safety is a beavertail, cut out on top for the hammer, allowing it to ride as high as possible. The mainspring housing is an original 1911-straight-style and is checkered, while the frontstrap is smooth. With the relatively light recoil 9mm, the checkered backstrap combined with the checkered grips works just fine.

I tested the 9mm with 18 different types of ammunition from nine different manufacturers. The most accurate load, at 1″ for five shots fired at 20 yards proved to be an effective load for self-defense use, the Black Hills 115 JHP +P, which clocked out at over 1,300 fps from the 5″ barrel of the 1911-A1. Right behind this load was Buffalo Bore’s 115 JHP +P, also over 1,300 fps, with five shots going into 1 1/2″ at a distance of 20 yards. With its 41-ounce weight, Springfield Armory’s 1911-A1 9mm was exceptionally easy to handle and comfortable to shoot. This is certainly a pistol one could shoot all day in comfort, no matter which loads were selected.

The Springfield Armory 1911-A1 9mm ran fine and John was impressed with the accuracy for a bone-stock gun.
John shot the EMP 9mm at 7 yards since it’s essentially a defensive pistol.

Range Officer

Next comes one of Springfield Armory’s latest 1911s, the Range Officer. This is also full-sized, however it’s chambered in .45 ACP. This one is quite similar to the 9mm version; in fact both are marked on the left side with “MODEL 1911-A1.” Sights, hammer, trigger, slide lock, and beavertail grip safety are all identical. While the 9mm has an ambidexterous safety, the .45 ACP version has one extended thumb safety on the left side.

Grips are also alike, constructed of what appears to be cocobolo with a double-diamond pattern and the Springfield Armory logo in the center. While the 1911-A1 9mm has cocking serrations both on the front and rear of the slide, the Range Officer has only the slanted serrations on the back part of the slide. The major difference in the two pistols, other than chambering, is the fact the Range Officer is blued steel with a matte black finish. Trigger pull on the .45 is a smooth, creep-free 5 3/4 pounds.

An extra added bonus with all Springfield Armory 1911 pistols is a hard plastic abbreviated holster, complete with a Picatinny rail built in to the front-leading edge for carrying a flashlight or laser light, and also a double-magazine pouch with the same rail on both sides — all very handy. Both holster and magazine pouch are also screw-adjustable for tension.

Springfield Armory advertises their new Range Officer as being suitable for competition without any unneeded extras. It certainly makes a fine self-defense pistol as it has the most desired attributes in upgrading a 1911, with excellent sights, extended thumb safety, and beavertail grip safety. The magazine release also works very easily and positively.

Shooting the Range Officer was pure pleasure. Fifteen different loads from six different manufacturers were tried with some outstanding results, including the Black Hills 230 grainers. Their standard 230-grain JHP clocked out at 770 fps and put five shots in 7/8″, while the FMJ version duplicated the muzzle velocity and cut the group size to 5/8″. What really intrigued me is the fact the Black Hills 230-grain, round-nosed lead rounds grouped at just over 1″. Winchesters were very consistent, with the 185-grain SilverTip, 230 JHP and 230 FMJ all grouping in 1 1/4″. This pistol is definitely a keeper.

The Springfield Armory 1911-A1 9mm mates up well with El Paso Saddlery leather.
The easy-to-carry EMP comes with a very usable plastic holster and double-magazine pouch, directly from Springfield.

Enhanced Micro Pistol

Finally, we come to the EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol). Available in both 9mm and .40, I went with the easier shooting 9mm. Over the years, several gunsmiths and manufacturers have chopped the 1911, making pocket-sized .45s. I have two such versions, and I often see complaints as to the unreliability of these, as they call them — aberrations. The complaint is simply that the cutting of existing 1911 parts to make a smaller gun results in malfunctioning. I don’t think it’s entirely true, as using the proper ammo and a stout grip and stance is critical with any of the smaller guns. I have no problems with mine, but treat them accordingly.

With the EMP, Springfield Armory took a totally different approach and actually downsized the entire 1911 by making smaller parts, not by cutting existing examples. The result is a smallish 1911, which is one of the neatest, slickest, fastest-handling, easy-shooting 9mms in existence.

The EMP features a 3″ stainless steel, match-grade, heavy bull barrel with a fully supported feed ramp. Sights are low profile, 3-dot tritium with a combat rear sight, all matched up with a slanted-post front sight, both of which are set in dovetails. If you grab the slide above the rear sight for cocking, there is no chance of injury due to any sharp edges on the rear sight. The trigger is long, of aluminum, match-grade quality and is set at 5 3/4 pounds. Three 9-round stainless steel magazines with bumper pads are supplied.

Safety features are an ambidextrous extended thumb safety matched up with a beavertail grip safety. The mainspring housing is of the straight variety, and checkered. Grips are the standard cocobolo diamond pattern. The entire pistol is quite attractive, with a satin finished stainless steel slide matched up with a black-anodized aluminum alloy frame. Although this is a very small pistol, the grip frame allows a full, secure grip with no fingers dangling on the bottom. Weight with an empty magazine is only 26 ounces, and this little pistol tucks easily into the waistband or the Springfield Armory supplied plastic holster.

I shot the Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol with a full dozen different 9mm loads from five different manufacturers. Since this is such a small pistol, all testing was done at 7 yards, with excellent results, including several loads coming in at 1″ or less for five shots. Felt recoil was relatively mild, even with +P loads. The EMP, along with the Range Officer and the 1911-A1 9mm, all performed flawlessly with no failures to feed, fire, or extract.

For a day’s pleasant shooting with several hundred 9mm rounds, I will reach for the 1911-A1. For concealed carry use, I won’t hesitate to go with the EMP. With all the great 9mm ammunition we have available today, the argument of the viability of the 9mm as a self-defense cartridge is long over.

The Range Officer .45 ACP delivered stunning accuracy for a gun in the price range of $900!

Editor’s Note: This article was written by John Taffin and shared with us by American Handgunner.

NEW! Join the Discussion

Go to forum thread

Did you enjoy this article?

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

American Handgunner

American Handgunner

American Handgunner was introduced in 1976 as the first magazine devoted entirely to handguns. Just like a classic, it improves with age. Today it’s still the first place handgunners everywhere turn for the latest and most reliable handgun news and information. From custom handguns, new factory models, competition, pistolsmithing, handloading and more, each issue continues to deliver the goods while staying on top of the rapidly changing world of handgunning. Looking for the benchmark of handgun news and enjoyment? You’ve found it in American Handgunner. The print version of American Handgunner is published six times per year by FMG Publications.

© 2020 Springfield Armory. All rights reserved.

Springfield Armory

Giveaways

  • November 15, 2019 – December 6, 2019

    Custom RO Elite Champion Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive:
    (1) Springfield Armory RO Elite Champion 9mm – Custom by MCM Firearms
    (1) DeSantis Speed Scabbard Holster
    (1) DeSantis Double Mag Pouch

    Total Value: $2,135

    The winner will be posted soon.

  • September 25, 2019 – October 31, 2019

    Hellcat Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive:
    (1) Springfield Armory Hellcat OSP 9mm Pistol
    (1) Shield RMSc Micro Red Dot
    (1) Vaultek LifePod Safe
    (1) Crossbreed Reckoning Holster

    Total Value: $1,167

    Winner: Christine C. from Florida

  • September 1, 2019 – September 15, 2019

    SAINT & XD Package Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive (1) SAINT Victor 5.56 Rifle and (1) XD-M 4.5″ 10mm w/ PRP Drop-In Trigger. Enter for free today!

    Total Value: $1,850

    Winner: James F. from Utah

  • August 16, 2019 – August 28, 2019

    Springer Precision XD-M Custom Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive a Springfield Armory Custom XD-M 4.5″ 9mm Pistol by Springer Precision worth $623.

    Total Value: $623

    Winner: Fred D. from Arkansas

  • July 22, 2019 – August 5, 2019

    Custom Professional Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive a Springfield Armory Custom Professional 1911 Pistol. Enter for free today!

    Total Value: $3,363

    Winner: Joseph R. from Texas

  • July 1, 2019 – July 15, 2019

    Instant Gear Up Giveaway

    One lucky winner will receive a Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 pistol in 9mm. The package also includes 5 Mags, Hard Case, Holster, Range Bag and a Mag Pouch.

    Total Value: $574

    Winner: Jesse E. from North Carolina

  • June 6, 2019 – June 21, 2019

    Father’s Day Giveaway

    Win a SAINT™ Victor .308!

    Total Value: $1,399

    Winner: Chris U. from Texas

© 2020 Springfield Armory. All rights reserved.

Springfield Armory
Login

No account? Create One

Create Account

Have an account?