Springfield Armory Range Officer Stainless 1911 .45 Review

A thorough review of the Springfield Armory Range Officer.

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In my previous post, I extolled the virtues of the .22 Magnum Smith and Wesson 351 PD revolver as a compact and simple to operate defensive handgun for the recoil sensitive. In the post, I alluded to the fact that some folks are solidly convinced that only .40's or .45's are adequate defensive rounds, and that these are the only calibers that constitute a proper defensive handgun round.

Lest anyone think that I do not feel that the .40 and .45 are fine defensive rounds in their own right (although I carry a .38 off-duty and a 9mm on-duty) , I decided to review a couple of .45's for the next two columns, starting with a 1911 from Springfield Armory.

It is hard to believe that a design that is now 105 years old is still alive and kicking, with no sign of waning popularity in sight. It has been in continuous production by Colt for all that time, not to mention the many clones out there that joined the party much later on, such as the object of this article. The only other defensive handgun that has survived longer in it's original format in uninterrupted production that comes to mind is the Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 Special Revolver, which appeared on the scene in 1899 as the .38 Hand Ejector.

The 1911 pistol is a single action semi-automatic handgun that is designed to be carried "cocked and locked". That is, the magazine is loaded and a round has been chambered. The hammer is cocked back and locked via the manual safety. In a single action pistol, the trigger only performs one "single act". It releases the hammer and plays no part in cocking the hammer. Thus trigger pulls tends to be very light in term of the pounds of pressure needed to cause the hammer to drop, which tends to make 1911's quite accurate and easy to shoot.

The Springfield Armory Range Officer version is a specialized, but reasonably priced, variant of the Springfield line that features certain refinements to help make it more accurate than the basic models. The "Range Officer" moniker implies that it would be a fine pistol for a shooting range officer or instructor to carry during training classes-one which would be excellent to use for times when shooting techniques needed to be demonstrated. Of course, the Range Officer is also fine for any use one could call upon a 1911 .45 to perform.

In order to test the Range Officer for myself, I went to the Vance Outdoors location on Alum Creek Drive in Obetz. If you have not visited this location yet, I urge you to do so. The range is absolutely state of the art and no expense has been spared in providing a safe and enjoyable shooting experience. One of the best parts of the range is the extensive amount of rental guns available for you to try before buying. Any arm that can stand up to rental usage is certainly one to consider purchasing. However, in this case, the Stainless Range Officer I tested was relatively new, but knowing the quality of Springfield Armory pistols, I am certain it too will pass the endurance test.

The range officer starts out with a forged frame and slide that is precision fit in the same manner as the Springfield Trophy Match 1911. When I first handled the Range Officer, the tight precision fit was quite apparent.

Topping off the slide is a set of target sights that are suitable for target or combat. The rear sight is fully adjustable and is plain black, with serrations at the rear to break up light. The front sight has an orange "Hi-Viz" type of light gathering pipe, which allows for quick acquisition, but still provides more than adequate precision.

The grips are attractive checkered cherry colored wood in the "double diamond" style that contrasts nicely with the polished stainless steel and frame. The words "Range Officer" are laser etched on them along with the Springfield Armory logo. The grip safety is of the "beavertail" configuration. The flat mainspring housing is checkered, but there is no checkering on the frontstrap of the frame. The manual safety lever is extended, but the slide release lever is not. I prefer extended slide releases on most 1911's.

I tested the Springfield Range Officer with a box of American Eagle 230 FMJ practice ammo provided by Vance's. The Range officer performed smoothly overall, however there were a couple of failures to lock the slide back when the last shot was fired. I attribute this to the newness of this particular Range Officer, or to the mild nature of the ammo that was used in the test. A bit more break-in time or some ammo with a bit more oomph would likely rectify the issue. I have no doubt that this pistol will run just as fine with any modern hollowpoint ammo. But always check your defensive load by test firing before carrying.

The trigger pull was crisp and precise, breaking around an estimated 4.5 lbs. At 25 feet my average five shot group averaged two inches. The best five shot group was 1 3/8 inches. Not bad at all.

The Vance Outdoor's range staff has been impressed with this pistol already. In fact, it was Range Director Ray Joseph who recommend that I test it, as it was now one of his favorites. Although the stainless steel model is not currently on sale at Vance's, the blued version is on sale and is priced at only $719.00! Online pricing of the stainless version is around $842-still an excellent deal. It is also available in 9mm caliber as well as Compact and Loaded (with light rail) styles.

Stop in and rent the Stainless Range Officer for a test run. You may find yourself heading to the sales counter afterwards to take one home.