My history with Springfield Armory goes back a long time. I earned my Distinguished Rifleman’s badge with a gun I built myself on a Springfield Armory M1A receiver. In those days, the company was probably selling more receivers than whole guns, though they currently build a wonderful match rifle right out of the box. Other than occasionally shooting a Springfield Armory product, my next involvement came in 2012 when I opted to shoot a 9x19mm XDm 5.25 in the Midway Bianchi Cup.
I was so impressed with the XDm that several of my friends wound up buying them after hearing me rave and shooting mine. I was taken with the accuracy, the way the gun handles, and the reliability. My XDm has operated flawlessly with thousands of rounds through it.
One Springfield gun I had no experience with was the Range Officer 1911-pattern pistol. Several people told me how good it was, but the occasion to shoot one simply never presented itself. When I got an offer to shoot the Springfield Armory Range Officer chambered in 9x19mm for a range session, I jumped on it.
The 9x19mm Range Officer has an extended beavertail grip safety with a larger-than-average surface at the bottom to make it easier to engage. I have problems with the 1911’s grip safety because my hands are thin in the palm area, but this one is big enough to ensure engagement. The mainspring housing is the flat pre-A1 style and is well-stippled. Stippling on the front of the grip frame would have been a nice feature. Its grips are cocobolo wood with checkering and the Springfield Armory logo. The hammer is skeletonized and large, and it’s easy to disengage. There’s an excellent Bo-Mar-style rear sight and a Patridge-style front. The trigger breaks at 4.5 to five pounds and features Allen-wrench over-travel adjustment, and there’s an extended safety lever. The 9mm Range Officer has a five-inch barrel that yields an overall length of 8.5 inches. It’s 5.5 inches tall and weighs 41 ounces with an empty magazine. The mags are made of stainless steel with witness holes, something I think all magazines should have. Capacity is 9 + 1. Inside, it’s basic 1911 with well-finished parts that fit properly and produce an accurate and dependable pistol.
The single-stack 1911 is one of the most comfortable handguns for me, a close second behind the old S&W Target-gripped K-Frames. I suppose this dates me a bit, but I think we find the feel of guns we’ve used a long time to be the most comfortable.
Shooting the 9mm Range Officer was like spending range time with a kinder and gentler old friend. I cut my teeth on a 1968 Colt Gold Cup, a gun that was the epitome of commercial 1911s at the time. The Range Officer has all the features of the Gold Cup with better sights and a better grip safety. My old Colt has a slight edge in the trigger pull, but it won’t take much to rectify that.
Accuracy off the bench was excellent, with Remington 115-grain ammunition grouping just over two inches at 10 yards. Shooting the plate machine was more fun than with a .45, because the pleasant recoil of the 9mm makes it a joy to shoot. It was easy to stay under six seconds for six plates and I have no doubt a good shooter could easily clean a falling plate match.
Springfield has already had great success with the .45 Range Officer and I’m sure the 9mm version will find a big following. There’s no doubt that a higher-capacity striker-fired gun, like their XD line, is a better service pistol, but there’s a lot to be said for a pleasant-shooting and accurate 1911 in 9mm.
Image by Dick Jones