Our Take On The Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote 1911 .45 ACP
Tom McHale 09.28.12
1911’s have a lot to live up to. Designed by John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) they have been known to take down both a Japanese Zero fighter and German Storch observation plane in World War II. In fact, some believe that a stray 1911 .45 ACP round inadvertently destroyed the city of Dresden.
The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote™ is modeled after the famous FBI contract Professional Model 1911. Given that the FBI contract model comes from the Springfield Armory Custom Shop, imitation is a tall order for a production gun to meet. If the Springfield Armory TRP was designed to capture the most important
features and benefits of the Professional Model at a much more affordable price point, the TRP succeeded in the mission. It’s the nicest 1911 platform we’ve shot to date.
The model we tested is the Armory Kote™ version with a black Teflon finish. The TRP is also available in a stainless steel finish and a second Armory Kote™ model with an integrated accessory rail.
Let’s take a closer look.
Just the specs ma’am
The Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote™ 1911 is loaded in terms of custom features.
- Full size 1911-A1 platform
- 5 inch match grade barrel and bushing
- 8.5 inch overall length. 5.7 inch overall height.
- Armory Kote™ Teflon finish (as tested)
- Weight: 42 ounces. Unloaded. Yes, it’s a full size, steel 1911.
- Aluminum match grade trigger
- Checked front strap and mainspring housing
- Wide mouth magazine well. 2 included magazines with slam pads.
- G10 grip panels
- Low profile Trijicon combat night sights
Something old, something new
While the Springfield Armory TRP is not so radical as to make John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) scream ‘UNCLE!’ from his grave, it does offer some improvements over the original design. Some obvious, and some controversial and sure to cause fists to fly among 1911 aficionados. We don’t really care whether a 1911 design is true to John Moses Browning’s (may he rest in peace) original design or not. We care if it works. All the time. And then some.
With all that said, we found that the Springfield Armory TRP 1911 offers an interesting combination of traditional 1911 features and new innovations.
Tight like a tiger
World War I and II era GI complaints about shaky actions and resulting accuracy challenges do not apply here. The TRP is fit like Ronnie from Jersey Shore. ‘Tight like a tiger’ to quote the famous Dutch philosopher Goldmember. When we took it out of the box, the slide was, ummm, slightly challenging to rack. The fit was tight, tight, tight. Like a tiger.
For the first 50 to 100 rounds, we noticed that the TRP had pretty aggressive slide rack resistance. Then it became smooth like butter, but without the excess cholesterol. You heard that right, it’s not a typo for ‘better’, the action became like butter. Smooth with no detectable movement whatsoever – vertical or horizontal. Even now, approximately 1,000 rounds later, the slide feels as if it’s welded to the frame rails until you apply a little muscle to rack it. Obviously the fit is excellent, but we suspect the Teflon finish has something to do with it also.
The Guiding Rod
We’re staying out of the full length guide rod versus original John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) design crusade. Our criteria for success is simple. Does it work? Every time? Are there any observable, not theoretical, advantages or disadvantages to a specific gun design? Some claim that full length guide rods, whether one or two piece, improve accuracy, but we’ve never seen any hard data on this. Others claim that the full length rod makes the recoil spring behave a bit better as it can’t kink. Whatever.
The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 features a two piece, full length guide rod. From a take-down point of view, this means two things:
- You can remove the slide assembly from the frame with no tools. You’ll end up with two assemblies – the frame and the slide with recoil spring and guide rod firmly attached to the slide until you disassemble the guide rod.
- You can unscrew and remove half of the guide rod using a hex tool (our Real Avid Gun Tool worked perfectly for this) and then you have a standard 1911 take down for field strip completion. Realistically, we found that the take down process worked out to about a 3 second difference between the Springfield Armory TRP with its two piece guide rod versus a standard 1911.
Bottom line? We don’t really care. The TRP functioned flawlessly with over 20 different types of ammo. We tried ultra-budget steel cased stuff to $2 per round premium self defense rounds to a dozen different handload recipes with various lead, plated, and jacketed projectiles.
The frame offers sharp checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing. In average Joe’s English, that means the front and back of the grip have really rough textures. We found the checkering on the TRP to be very sharp, and very grippy. Clearly one of the design goals was to be tactical glove friendly. And it is.
While casually fondling holding the TRP, we thought the aggressive texturing would wreak havoc on bare hands with any significant shooting session. Strangely, this was not the case. The grippy checkering offered a solid, no slip grip, even in 90/90 weather conditions. For those of you who don’t live in a swamp, 90/90 refers to 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Paradise found.
1,000 rounds later we have no new callouses and have not yet bled all over the TRP.
Back to the well
The Springfield Armory TRP offers a beveled magazine well to facilitate fast magazine changes. It’s also finished with the Teflon-based Armory Kote™ finish. While not a necessity for a solid 1911, we really liked it. You’ll notice from the close up photo that we did a fair number of mag changes throughout this evaluation.
With the magazine well extension, magazines with slam pads are required practically speaking. Springfield includes two of their 7 round magazines with the TRP – both equipped with slam pads. Both magazines operated flawlessly throughout our testing.
The TRP we tested came with Trijicon combat sights – we thought. We thought we knew this because they say ‘Trijicon’ right on them. Well, actually, the metal housings are manufactured by Springfield Armory with the inserts supplied by Trijicon. The rear sight is a dovetail design with two tritium inserts. While the rear sight is a ramped design, there is a small ledge at the front base which can be used to rack the slide with one hand and a nearby belt, table, or other unofficial slide-racking object. The front sight is also fitted via dovetail and has a single tritium dot.
The TRP features ambidextrous safeties, meaning they are on both sides of the gun. So you can shoot righty or lefty with equal aplomb. Unlike some other models, the safety levers are extended and of equal width on either side of the pistol.
The G10 grip panels are also aggressive in texture – like the front and backstrap checkering. The texture is a combination of raised diamond and reptile skin pattern. Please note, this is our description, not the official Springfield Armory version. And yes, they are awesome in both appearance and function. You will NOT lose your grip on this gun. Again, we have to think the grip panels were designed with gloved use in mind.
One very nice touch on the grip panels is the thumb cutout on the left panel. As you can see in the included photograph, this cutout makes it a tad easier to access the magazine release button. We found that it really makes a difference. Depending on your hand size, you may be able to drop a magazine without altering your strong hand grip.
The beavertail on the Springfield Armory TRP has a pronounced memory bump to aid with sure and repeatable disengagement of the grip safety. At risk of starting another 1911 aficionado fist fight, we prefer to shoot the 1911 with thumbs high – meaning the strong hand thumb rides on top of the safety lever. Others feel that this grip results in possibility of the grip safety not being properly activated as the thumbs high grip tends to pull the web of your hand away from the backstrap. So we elected to give it the thumb test to see just how positive it was. No worries here. Between the significant memory bump and limited amount of grip safety travel required to disengage the trigger, we had no problems with grip safety engagement.
Although an inexact science, we did some eyeball testing to see at what point of grip safety depression the trigger is released. Using highly scientific eyeballing, we found that the trigger would release when the grip safety was depressed somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of its full length of travel.
Like most modern 1911’s, the Springfield Armory TRP features an enlarged ejection port. Unlike many 1911’s however, the TRP offers front cocking serrations on the slide. These exactly match the primary rear cocking serrations in texture and angle. While the need for front serrations invites yet another bar fight, we grew to like having them – especially for checking the chamber loaded condition of the pistol. Although the physics are exactly the same, it somehow feels easier to partially retract the slide to check the chamber using the front serrations. There must be some type of leverage difference resulting from hand placement.
The trigger is match grade aluminum, factory set for a 4.5 to 5 pound pull. It includes an adjustable over travel screw. Out of the box, we needed to make no adjustments. Take-up was minimal and there was no detectable over travel after the break. Nice.
Freakin’ lawyers. We’re blaming My Cousin Vinny for the integral safety lock on the Springfield Armory TRP. Schlocky lawyers are absolutely responsible for adding needless parts to a perfectly functioning gun. We would prefer not to introduce any additional variables or things that could break or malfunction into this proven and reliable design. Fortunately we are still able to buy hammers and butter knives without integral safety locks. But those are probably next.
All griping aside, here’s how it works. The lock is intended to be used with the hammer down. Period. In this condition, using one of the two supplied keys, you can rotate the lock 90 degrees clockwise. This jams up the entire system. The slide won’t rack, the hammer won’t cock, and the gun won’t go bang. The lock will not function if the hammer is already cocked, so it appears this feature is really intended for cold storage rather than securing a loaded and ready gun. The only gripe we have with the TRP is this lock. Arrghhh!
Here on My Gun Culture, accuracy testing is a bait and switch tactic. You see, we’re not really going to talk about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other. Within reason, most quality guns on the market today can shoot far more accurately than their handlers.
We’ve got a pet peeve about gun writers who talk about the accuracy of a given gun by holding it, setting it on sandbags, and so on. We don’t buy it, Unless a gun is in a mechanical rest, we don’t want to hear about mechanical accuracy. As long as human eyes, human trigger fingers, and human brains are involved, we’re not learning a darned thing about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other.
With that said, we would like to talk about ease of shooting accurately. Yes, this is a subjective measure, but an important one.
In short, the Springfield Armory TRP is easy to shoot. Accurately. Part of that is the weight of the pistol. It’s heavy (we like that) and doesn’t flop around as much as a pocket rocket. The trigger is crisp. And the tolerances are tight. Shoot this gun in a half decent two-hand hold and you’ll be hitting baseball size targets at 25 yards with no problem. Yes, it’s designed as a tactical defense pistol, but it sure is a fun plinker!
We tried 2.4 boatloads of ammunition in the Springfield Armory TRP. If you’re not up on your redneck conversion rates, that’s about 25 different varieties. We shot budget steel cased ammo. We shot moderately priced, brass cased practice ammo. We shot numerous premium defense brands. We cobbled up handload after handload and shot them all. Lead bullets, plated bullets, jacketed bullets. Weights ranging from 165 grains to 230 grains. Semi-wadcutters, hollowpoints, and round nose profiles. It handled them all. Over 1,000 rounds into testing, we’re still waiting on the first malfunction. No failures to feed, no failures to eject, no failures to fire. There was no detectable break in period with the TRP.
Here’s a look at some of the factory rounds we tested:
|Black Hills JHP +P 230 grain||927 fps|
|CCI Blazer FMJ 230 grain||853 fps|
|Federal FMJ 230 grain||866 fps|
|Federal FMJ white box 230 grain||803 fps|
|Federal Guard Dog EFMJ 165 grain||1,053 fps|
|Federal Hydra-Shock 230 grain||883 fps|
|Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain||1,002 fps|
|Magtech First Defense +P SCHP 165 grain||1,076 fps|
|Remington Golden Saber +P 185 grain||1,165 fps|
|Remington UMC 230 grain||844 fps|
|Sellier & Bellot 230 grain FMJ||804 fps|
|Winchester PDX1 230 grain||911 fps|
We tried over a dozen different handloads with the TRP, but by far the most fun was a true plinker load. We loaded 185 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullets from Missouri Bullet Company over 4.6 grains of Trail Boss powder for a fun load that clocked in at just over 814 feet per second. This load was enough to cycle the TRP reliably, but gentle enough to expose a couple of pre-teen shooters to the joys of shooting a nice 1911.
The other surprise load in the TRP was the Federal Guard Dog Expanding Full Metal Jacket load. At 165 grains and standard pressure, it clocked in with plenty of velocity but was surprisingly gentle to shoot. Expansion results were quite dramatic.
While not one of the evaluation criteria, we happened to have a Crimson Trace Lightguard on hand and decided to try it out on the TRP. Crimson Trace only guarantees the 1911 Lightguard to fit Kimber, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson 1911 frames, but we had no problem using it with the TRP.
A variety of standard holsters were tested including the Blackhawk Serpa, Blackhawk Sportster Standard Concealment, Galco Miami Classic II, Blackhawk Leather Pancake, and Galco King Tuk to name a few. We didn’t expect or experience any fit issues.
The TRP is one fine pistol – the best we’ve evaluated to date. And it’s a production gun. The model we tested can be acquired new for about $1,500 street price and it’s worth every penny. Can you buy a 1911 for half that sum? Yes. Will it work? Most likely. Will it give you that special joy that a finely made handgun does? Probably not.
We highly recommend this one.