Pat’s Product Reviews: Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP Pistol

There had been quiet rumors for a while. I even asked my contacts at Ruger if they were going to make a M1911 pistol – I was met with silence, it said a lot. With 2011 being the 100th anniversary of the M1911 pistol, I was happy to see Ruger jump on the bandwagon with their own version of this grand old pistol. Many gun companies are producing limited edition 1911 pistols this year, some are only producing their standard line-up of 1911s. You can say what you want about the 1911, but it has endured – I can’t think of many firearm designs that have been around for a hundred years – maybe a handful – at best.

My Ruger SR1911 was slow in coming. Many gun writers got their sample SR1911 in the middle of April – I didn’t get mine until the middle of May. Grrrr!!! I suspect Ruger sold out of their first production run in short order – there seems to be no end to the thirst for quality 1911s in just about any variation. With today’s manufacturing techniques, I think the 1911 pistol is made better than it has ever been made. With modern CNC milling machines, that hold tolerances much tighter, we are now seeing high-quality 1911s with custom touches, that would have easily cost thousands of dollars just a few short years ago.

I like Ruger firearms because they give you outstanding firearms at more-than-fair prices. I also believe that Ruger over-engineers a lot of their guns. This is a good thing. They are built stronger, to withstand a lot of use – the consumer benefits! If memory serves me correctly, I believe that Ruger is the largest producer of handguns in the USA. And, to be sure, all of Ruger’s firearms are proudly made in the USA.

My SR1911 sample is made out of stainless steel – at least the major components – the slide, frame and barrel. Some smaller parts, like the magazine release, mainspring housing, grip safety, thumb safety and slide stop are made out of carbon steel and finished in a nice subdued black finish. The sights on the SR1911 are Novak’s – with three-dots, two on the rear sight and one on the front sight. I have liked Novak’s sights since I first saw them on some S&W pistols.

I understand that, the stainless steel barrel and bushing are made at the same time, from the same piece of steel, and these two parts stay together during the assembly process – again, this is a good thing. My sample’s barrel and bushing have a “just right” tight fit together, which contributes to great accuracy. BTW, the SR1911 comes with a non-marring plastic bushing wrench, to help with disassembly – a nice touch! The barrel is throated to easily feed any and all types of JHP ammo, too. The feed ramp on the frame is nicely polished to an almost mirror finish, too. Again, this aids in feeding the rounds into the chamber.

The ejection port is lowered and flared, for sure and positive ejection. The slide has cocking serrations that are angled, on the back of the slide, where they belong. Many 1911 makers are putting serrations on the front end of the slide these days. While I can take or leave ’em, I believe it only adds to the overall cost of a 1911 by adding these serrations on the front of the slide. The front sight is dove-tailed into the slide, too. Novak’s sights give a very fast and sharp sight picture, and my ol’ eyes appreciate this.

The barrel and bushing were expertly fitted to the slide. There was just a hint of movement when I pressed down on the barrel’s hood. I knew this was gonna be a good shooter. There was also just a hint of play between the slide and the frame, again, I knew the tightness would contribute to better than average accuracy, and still allow the SR1911 to function under any circumstances. There simply wasn’t any “slop” between the frame and slide – the CNC process really keeps the tolerances close. Way to go, Ruger!

The hammer is a spurred design for faster lock-time. And, the slide is stamped “Ruger Made In USA” on one side, and the other side of the slide has the Ruger logo – that’s all that’s on the slide in the way of markings. As we move further onto the frame, we see that there is the beaver-tail grip safety, that is fitted nicely – just the right amount of play side-to-side. The grip safety also has a “bump” on the bottom of it, to help ensure that it is fully depressed when gripped properly. The grip safety was also expertly designed, too – just the right amount of movement to disengage it for firing. The mainspring housing is made out of steel – this is a nice touch, in a day when many 1911 makers are providing plastic mainspring housings. Nothing “wrong” with the plastic housings, and I’ve never heard of one breaking. However, given my druthers, I’ll take a steel mainspring housing.

The plunger tube is also integral with the frame. I’s not a separate piece, that is staked on, as it is on so many other 1911s – so no worries about the plunger tube coming loose. The magazine release is slightly extended for faster and easier mag changes, too. The mainspring housing is also checkered – I like that – for a very secure grip. The trigger is a match-grade affair made out of aluminum, and my trigger pull broke at 4.5 pounds, just about right for a gun carried for self-defense. There was a hint of backlash when the trigger was pulled, and a minute or two corrected that by adjusting the over-travel screw in the trigger – and I Loc-Tited it in place after I had the trigger adjusted to my liking.

The thumb safety is of the combat variety – extended – and it snicked on and off with authority – with no play. The slide release is standard and not extended. FWIW, I don’t care for some of the overly extended slide releases – they can lock the gun open during firing – not a good thing. Nice hardwood grips adorn the SR1911, they are of the double-diamond checkered pattern with the Ruger logo emblem in the center of the grips. The magazine well is also slightly beveled for faster magazine changes. the SR1911 comes with two magazines, one is a 7-rounder that fits flush and the other is an 8-round mag that extends below the frame. I found both mags had very stout springs, that will insure reliably feeding rounds into the barrel.

The SR1911 is a full-sized, Government Model 1911, with a 5″ match-grade barrel, and it weighs in at 40-oz empty. It has a good heft to it, and balances nicely. Then again, I don’t think there is a better handgun design than a 1911, in just about any configuration. The front strap on the frame was left smooth – I would like to see Ruger finely checker the front strap in 25-LPI for a more secure grip. What I usually do is add a piece of skate board tape to the front strap of 1911s that have a smooth front strap – it’s a cheap fix – and I only have to replace the friction tape about once a year. This takes only about 3 or 4 minutes to do.

I make no apologies when it comes to the 1911 – it’s my all-time favorite semi-auto pistol, bar none. So, I have some prejudices when it comes to 1911s – I like ’em – period! Also, when doing a Test and evaluation on any 1911 pistol, I’m a hard person to please – they’ve gotta be done right. I’ve built a number of 1911s over the years, and customized – well, more than I can remember, 1911s. It’s not that I’m hard to please, it’s just that I think I can improve on just about any 1911 that comes into my hands. With the SR1911 – there was only one “improvement” I made – I removed the nice hardwood checkered grips, and put on a pair of (my design) “Code Zero” 1911 grips – that are manufactured by Mil-Tac Knives & Tools. I just prefer my design over all others, and everyone I’ve talked to who has tried my design agrees.

I collected an assortment of .45ACP ammo for testing in the SR1911. I had 230-gr FMJ and JHP from Black Hills Ammunition as well as their 185-gr JHP. From Winchester Ammunition I had white box, USA brand, 230 grain FMJ ammo. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had 230-gr and 185-gr JHP which is +P rated, as well as their 230-gr FMJ, again, +P rated.

When breaking-in a new 1911, I like to run some FMJ through the gun first, it helps take some of the burrs off the action. I used the Winchester USA 230gr- FMJ ammo for this. On my second magazine, I had a malfunction – which surprised me. The 3-rd round from the magazine jumped in front of the extractor, instead of sliding up under it. After that, I didn’t have any further malfunctions with any of the ammo I tested. I’m sure it was just a fluke of some type.

The SR1911 fed all the JHP ammo from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore without any problems – never once did the gun hesitate when feeding JHP ammo.  In all, I’ve put just slightly over 350-rds of ammo through the SR1911 and I’ve only had the gun for a few short days. As to accuracy, the Winchester 230-gr FMJ was giving me groups in the 3″ range – and this is more than combat accurate at 25-yards. The Black Hills 230-gr JHP ammo was giving me groups in the 2″ range if I did my part. Same goes for the Black Hills 185-gr JHP ammo. The Buffalo Bore 230-gr JHP +P ammo was giving me groups in the 2.5″ range and their FMJ ammo was giving me groups slightly larger than that. I was shooting over a rolled-up sleeping bag, on the hood of my SUV – in the rain! I believe, the SR1911 can do better, when I get out there in better weather conditions.

I’m presently carrying the SR1911 is a Blackhawk Products leather cut-away belt holster, and it rides high on the belt and it easily conceals the big SR1911. I also adjusted my Blackhawk Serpa tactical thigh holster to fit the SR1911 – and this is a popular rig with our military and law enforcement personnel. It keeps the gun secure and on the thigh – away from your other gear. Personally, I think the Blackhawk Serpa tactical thigh holster is the absolute best of it’s breed on the market! I also have two spare magazine carriers on the Serpa tactical thigh rig – again, from Blackhawk products.

That lone malfunction, is the only malfunction I had with the Ruger SR1911, and I’m sure it was just a breaking-in period, and that’s why I recommend that people fire at least 100-rds or 200-rds of ammo through their pistols, before they carry ’em for self-defense. If anything is going to go wrong, it will usually happen within those first couple hundred rounds. I know, the price of ammo these days is sky high, and it’s not gonna get any cheaper. So, if all you can afford is to run a couple a 50 round boxes of ammo through your new gun – then that should give you an idea if there are any problems…of course, 200 rounds is better!

Changes to the SR1911? Well, I’d like to see Ruger offer the night sight option, and I’m betting good money, they will. Also, the front strap should be checkered – this is my personal preference, though. I already changed the grips, and as I said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the outstanding hardwood checkered grips that come on the Ruger SR1911 – they are much nicer looking than the cheap rubber grips that come on some other 1911s, like the Kimber Custom model. Some people like a rail on the frame of their 1911s for attaching lights – I can live without that rail, it upsets the balance of a 1911 if you ask me.

I’m hard on 1911s when I get ’em for test and evaluation, as I already mentioned. But I honestly couldn’t find anything to fault with the Ruger SR1911 – it’s good to go right out of the box – there’s really nothing you have to do with the gun, except clean it, oil it and take it out to the range and bang away with it. I like that Ruger supplies you with two magazines, too. (So many gun companies these days are only giving you one magazine.) And, I like that Ruger’s second magazine is a 7-rounder, if you want to more easily conceal the butt of the gun–because the 7 round mag fits flush in the frame.

I like to save the best for last, and that is suggested retail price. On the SR1911, the full-retail is $799 – and remember, you can usually find Ruger’s discounted in most gun shows, gun shops and sporting goods stores. However, right now, demand for the SR1911 exceeds supply – so expect to pay full retail on the SR1911 for a few more months. Ruger’s entry into the crowded 1911 field is a most welcome addition, and if you ask me, it’s a lot more gun, than you get from other 1911 makers, Furthermore, the price is less and it’s made in the USA. All gun makers like to claim that they make the best guns. I know that Kimber makes some outstanding 1911s. However, I’ll put my Ruger SR1911 side-by-side against the Kimber Custom model any day of the week. I think the Ruger is a better gun, and the price is lower.

How much did I like my SR1911 sample? Well, it won’t be going back to Ruger, and I went out and purchased a second SR911, out of my own pocket, and I hate parting with my hard-earned dollars – that says a lot. Ruger, you did the SR1911 up right. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio