Your CCW 1911? Ronin Operator 4.25″
July 14th, 2020
5 minute read
The Ronin Operator is Springfield Armory’s latest feature-rich, forged frame and slide 1911 pistol. The 5″ steel .45 and 9mm pistols were one of the big stories out of this year’s SHOT Show and have been making their way into shooters’ hands over the last few months (you can see a review of the 9mm here, and the .45 ACP here).
Now, Springfield has extended the line, adding lightweight alloy frames and a shorter barrel and slide in the Ronin Operator 4.25″ — also available in either 9mm or .45 ACP. And they both feature the Ronin Operator’s amazing MSRP of just $849.
A Light Touch
For many shooters, an alloy frame and mid-length barrel is the fan-favorite among 1911 variants. I find them an attractive carry compromise in .45 ACP, but that combo in 9mm may be the best overall choice. The lightweight frame is at the “just right” loaded weight of 31 oz., being lively yet steady in hand while still dampening the recoil of the 9mm cartridge. I’ve fired the full-size steel Ronin 9mm next to the 4.25” lightweight, and there’s very little difference in the perceived recoil between them unless the shooter is firing the very hottest +P loads.
As one looks over the Ronin, there are a variety of appealing features to note. The pistol’s two-tone look incorporates a nicely polished and blued forged steel slide. The dovetailed sights consist of a fiber optic front paired with a serrated rear with white dots, which provide a nice sight picture suitable for both speed and precision.
The pistol wears a set of thin laminated wood grips which worked well for a variety of hand sizes. The 9mm Ronin uses a ramped, forged stainless steel match barrel. There is an extended single-side thumb safety, and a beavertail grip safety is fitted to the Cerakoted forged alloy frame. The Ronin employs a traditional barrel rather than a bull barrel system.
Where It Counts
While its blend of features makes for an attractive pistol, the feel in hand has two takeaways. The first is that “sweet spot” of balance with the lightweight frame and 4.25″ barrel. The next is that the pistol cycles and handles smoothly and appears to be well fitted with tight tolerances.
The Ronin sports what Springfield is calling a Gen 2 speed trigger and the break is everything that makes the 1911 timeless. You line up the sights, apply 4.5 lbs. of pressure and the hammer falls. No drama, no movement, no creep, no over-travel. This is the kind of trigger to make an enthusiast smile broadly, and a cynic nod begrudgingly in approval.
Perhaps because of the 1911’s long association with hand-built bullseye guns and super high-end match pistols, there is almost an expectation that a quality 1911 will display better than average accuracy. In the case of this particular Ronin, this was absolutely the case. To be blunt, a factory pistol simply shouldn’t be expected to shoot like this one did. I fired five-shot groups each of Hornady, S&B, and Black Hills ammunition at 25 yards. Across the fifteen groups, thirteen were under 2″ center to center. The top five groups averaged a tight 1.19″, and the best was Black Hills’ 124-gr. JHP tearing a ¾” hole.This Ronin shot on par with semi-custom 1911s which would be twice its price point.
When a shooter wraps his or her hands around an accurate, well-balanced 1911 with excellent sights and trigger, it seems like ordinary shooting is no longer enough. The potential for great things beckons and there is a feeling that achievement levels are about to be unlocked. With the Ronin Operator 4.25″, I quickly moved beyond routine drills like my 5 Yard Roundup and started pushing myself.
After doing some rapid-fire strings at 25 yards, I remembered seeing a drill by Rob Leatham that Larry Vickers had shared online. The “Total Control” drill calls for five shots from the holster in a time limit of five seconds at 25 yards. The levels progress through five hits on a competition silhouette target to five in the “A” zone and to five into the head of the target, as the shooter demonstrates greater levels of control within those distressingly short five seconds.
I set up a target and moved back to 25 yards. When there is a tight time limit involved, 25 yards starts to somehow seem a little farther away. On the buzzer, the pistol slid from the holster and suddenly that red fiber optic was bobbing in recoil, landing right on the aiming point as the trigger released the hammer to launch another Hornady into the cardboard headbox.
On two consecutive runs the Ronin was able to put all five shots into the head of the target in 4.8 seconds, each. I can assure you that the pistol had a lot to do with it. There are many pistols that I wouldn’t even care to attempt such a difficult drill with.
The Ronin handles really well up close, with the fiber optic front sight grabbing attention and the soft-shooting quality of the 1911 in 9mm combining with the great trigger to allow the shooter to rip through steel plates or multiple targets. The Ronin is absolutely a shooter’s pistol and will serve well for a variety of intended uses.
I really enjoy the 9mm 1911 and see tremendous potential in the Ronin series. It will be interesting to see which models gain the most traction in the market. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Ronin Operator 4.25″ becomes a best seller.
Editor’s Note: 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 discuss this article and much more!