I fired and tested a number of Springfield Armory Mil
Spec pistols that are anything but Mil Spec like in performance.
In other words, they perform above and beyond what we
would have expected from a Military Specification pistol
manufactured during the Great War. The fit, finish and accuracy
are considerably above the standard once enjoyed by a great
legion of 1911s manufactured by Remington Rand, Colt,
Ithaca and others. Still,
we have to understand what Mil Spec meant.
This did not denote a cut down pistol by any means.
Rather, a specification had been set forth for manufacture and
each and every weapon produced had to feature interchangeable
inspectors visited the various plants, armed with gauges to
ensure that each handgun manufactured was in military
specifications. These handguns were well made and reliable.
They were not finished in bright blue and did not feature
walnut stocks but they performed well.
They saved the lives of many Americans.
After the war, quite a few found their way into service
with civilians and peace officers and continued to perform well.
After a time, the supply
of available inexpensive 1911 pistols disappeared. I think that the "1911 man" is partly to blame and
natural attrition another cause. The man who favors the SIG
or H and K may own a compact version to compliment his
service gun and perhaps a spare but that is as far as it goes.
But the true "1911 man" will own as many as
finances and marital harmony allow.
I am firmly in that camp.
Springfield Armory introduced a copy of the 1911A1 Colt
that came at exactly the right time. This handgun featured a matte finish that resembled the
original parkerized coating, and was all 1911A1 in appearance. There were variations, however. After, the gun is not a
replica but a look alike, an important distinction.
Most of the Springfield guns, even the early ones, have
better trigger actions than the average Colt and tend to feed
hollowpoints better. Just the same, many early Colts are well
fitted and will feed practically any JHP ammunition fed them
that is not badly out of specification.
The Springfield was a big hit and in due course other
companies, including Colt, offered 1911A1 type pistols to
compete with the Springfield. Whether anyone has done the job
better can be debated.
the years Springfield offered many variations on the original
1911A1. There have been pistols that are finished quite well,
versions with high visibility sights, and various changes in
grips. The Loaded
Model is quite a handgun, offering considerable
improvements in a factory pistol. But the mil spec guns allow
the user to purchase a base model and either leave it as issued
or fit the sights and grip safety he prefers, not what the
factory tells him he needs.
The Springfield Mil Spec continues to be a good seller
and a solid performer. I have noticed over the years that these pistols are
delivered with an increasingly better feed ramp and barrel
chamber polish. Some
years ago, the senior ballistician at a major ammunition company
told me the barrel to slide and ramp fit of the Springfield was
the best he had ever seen in a factory pistol.
The guns certainly have stood the test of the time.
The trigger action seems pretty well predictably dialed
in at five pounds smooth on the modern renditions, a good
standard for a production handgun. That brings us to the newest variation and among my favorite
it is among my favorite 1911s of all time!
stainless steel version of the Mil Spec may not ring true with
the idea of a replica of the WW II .45, but it is a good idea.
The pistol is well finished and fitted with overall
excellent attention to detail. The barrel, frame and slide are of high quality forged steel.
The smaller parts are of cast material or of MIM (Metal
Injection Molding). When
we run the slide across the frame, the barrel bushing, link and
locking lugs all demonstrate a good snug fit.
The gun shows excellent quality for a pistol that retails
for considerably less than six hundred dollars.
The gun is affordable as quality handguns go, but packs a
lot of features into the price. Features, in a mil spec gun?
Sure. Reliability, accuracy, power, and excellent handling are
among these. The
grips are startlingly attractive In fact; almost everyone who
sees and handles this pistol counts the grips as the single best
feature. The bold
wood cuts are appealing to both aesthetics and patriotism,
things gun people appreciate. The sights could bear improvement
but they are certainly better than the original GI sights.
beginning to test the handgun, I field stripped it to the basic
components and checked for high spots or burrs. There were none.
The pistol field stripped without the use of tools.
A bushing wrench is not needed to take down this .45.
Next, I lubricated the long bearing surfaces of the
Springfield with Birchwood Casey gun oil.
I selected a number of Metalform magazines,
including the ten round variants and the new eight round Elite,
a singularly well made and finished magazine.
I collected an eclectic supply of ammunition for a range
test. As a
preliminary, I dry fired the handgun several times and checked
the trigger pull weight on my RCBS registering scale. The
trigger broke cleanly at five and one quarter pounds.
I loaded my magazines and targets, as well as hearing and
eye protection, and gave the Springfield a workout.
the initial range session, I did not attempt to fire for record
but simply used the pistol as it was meant to be used.
I holstered the piece in a DOJ holster from Alessi
Holsters and faced a trio of silhouette targets placed at
seven yards. For
break in, the pistol was loaded with Fiocchi 230 grain
ball ammunition, a reliable and affordable practice load.
I had mounted my Competition Electronics Pocket
Pro timer, and drew and fired at the audible buzz from the
timer. I found the
Springfield as fast as any 1911, leaping into the hand and
producing good results. The safety is crisp and positive but not
too tight and the grip safety activates at the proper pressure,
a fine distribution between safety and speed.
With a minimum of practice, I was tearing away the X ring
of the man-sized targets. Moving back to ten yards the results were unchanged.
Firing a total of eleven magazine loads - including two
ten rounders - I fired eighty-three rounds as quickly as I could
pull the trigger and slam another magazine home.
There were no break in malfunctions, no failures to feed,
chamber, fire or cycle. The
pistol came out of the box running.
fired a few slow fire groups at ten yards with the Fiocchi ball
and found I could produce a four shot cloverleaf with careful
attention to the sight picture and sight alignment. For precision fire the small sights are a challenge. I
settled down to the bench for a test of the handguns practical
to stay in touch with reality, I fire from a solid braced rest
and do not use a machine rest.
Sharp edges and a poor trigger are not reflected in
machine rest shooting.
added a number of different loads to the mix and fired a number
of five shot groups at fifteen yards.
I was careful with the trigger, but found I did clutch
the trigger a couple of times.
I own a number of 1911s with custom tuned triggers in the
three and one half to four pound range, and they can spoil you.
Still, when you are ready for one of these you will know.
For general carry and personal defense, the five pound
trigger action is usable by one with training and those not
familiar with the 1911 action need not apply for a lighter
found that a mix of four loads,
factory and handloads,
produced groups of two to three inches at fifteen yards, an acceptable standard for a pistol of this type and, truth be told,
more than we need for combat purposes.
I like an
accurate handgun, however, and I would test the pistol at length
in another situation. The
first blush of satisfaction clearly showed a capable and
Range Results - 5-shot groups at 15 yards
230 grain ball
230 grain JHP
Arms 185 grain JHP
185 grain JHP/ 7.5 Unique
author's personal combination works up 1100 fps, feeds perfectly
and is very accurate. Never
underestimate GOOD handloaded ammunition!
forward a few weeks...
performing a home-brewed trigger job and using the Springfield
for a number of weeks, I
found the trigger has settled into just under five pounds and
very smooth. The
pistol fed an
eclectic supply of mixed up range loads, including round nose
lead, lead SWC,
and wide mouth hollowpoints without compliant.
For reliability I have added a WC Wolff
18.5 pound recoil spring, but the gun never hiccupped.
I simply feel better with this spring under my barrel.
The sights had to go. I
have replaced these with a set from Maryland Gunworks.
This set of sights fitted into the existing dovetail and gives
excellent results. A
warning is that the Springfield features a .088 tenon for the
front sight, as most Colts feature either a .058 or .125 inch
tenon. With these sights installed, we enjoyed much better practical
accuracy. The pistol is definitely more accurate than I can
hold, but with a
proper set of high visibility sights the equation would be much
pistol has proven reliable and accurate, so I have carried it
about my business as a matter of course.
I ordered an
inside the waistband holster from Dane Burns,
a fan of Lou Alessi and a major distributor of
Alessi products. This holster features a reinforced welt for
reholstering - it will not collapse after the handgun is drawn. You may simply drape a sport shirt over the gun and it is
simply, this is a first class concealment holster that offers
real speed once broken in. I find the pistol comfortable but
quick into action from this holster.
Naturally, considerable practice must go into becoming
comfortable and smooth into action with any holster and handgun
several weeks of acclimation, I
found myself confident with the new .45 at known and unknown
ranges, connecting more often than not when the target was dirt
clods, rocks and
assorted riff raff and
foliage of the target berm.
I donned my Hansen shooting glasses and elected to do
another sit-down accuracy test.
Whether it means anything to combat shooting or not,
we like to know how the gun shoots.
Confirming sight regulation is never a bad idea.
While I own several very accurate and reliable handguns,
let me repeat - a gun that functions every time and will group
its gun load into four inches or less at 25 yards is combat
accurate. A pistol
that will group into one inch but that occasionally ties up is
completely unacceptable as a defensive weapon. As it turns out,
those attractive grips found on the Springfield work quite well
in allowing the shooter the proper shooting angle and grip when
firing quickly in combat or in target shooting.
I found them a good aid in all shooting chores.
Hansen glasses feature a bifocal component that allows those
like me, who have suffered degradation in visual acuity,
to have a bright, sharp sight picture.
The component is perfectly placed for the shooting sport
of your choice, with the
bifocal located in a different spot on the lens if you are a
shotgunner or handgunner. Overall,
these Eagle Eyes are excellent additions to anyone’s shooting
box. I settled down into the bench and squeezed off several groups
from a solid rest with loads of proven accuracy. These results were roughly comparable with earlier fifteen-yard
results, and probably more accurately reflect the pistol’s
accuracy potential. I tested my personal defense ammunition; the
Black Hills 230 grain JHP. This load is a tad hotter than
most 230 grain JHPs and gives good accuracy in every 1911 I own.
The Black Hills loading shows a good combination of penetration
and expansion. The +P load is suitable for medium game, jolting
a 230 grain JHP to a full 950 fps. This is a load to be used
sparingly, one that makes the most of the .45 ACP cartridge.
have found the Springfield suited to my idea of a general
purpose .45 auto. There
are many who will pay twice what the Mil Spec pistol costs for
improved sights and other amenities,
and I cannot blame them - I own several of these high end
pistols myself. But
the pistol is reliable, accurate
enough for any reasonable task, functions
well, and features a
corrosion-resistant finish. Best of all, it is attractive, with more than a little flash.
All in all, an outstanding addition to the 1911 tribe and
a personal favorite.
yard bench rest, results of five
shot groups at 25 yards
Hills 230 grain RNL
Hills 230 grain JHP
Hills 230 grain JHP +P
Hills 200 grain SWC
240 grain JHC / HP 38 powder,
230 grain ball
230 grain ball
Trail 230 gr. RNL / HP 38 powder, 790 fps
is an excellent all around load with fine accuracy and good
Note on Safety...
Springfield features the ILS or Integrated Locking
System. Simply put, a
special key locks the action when desired.
This is quite an accomplishment, and perhaps a harbinger
of things to come. Remember, if you wish to change to a flat
mainspring or install a magazine well guide,
you will also have to install a different hammer strut.
Evidently, Springfield uses a shorter strut on the hammer
to accommodate the ILS system.
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