Ruger’s newest 1911 handgun is under review here. Ruger sure did it up right. Check out our findings.
The 1911 Handgun
The 1911 handgun has been around since, well 1911, in one guise or another. I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I suspect it is the best-selling model of handgun of all time, based on how many different companies have produced a version of it over the years. And, just when you think we have saturated the 1911 market, a new maker comes along or an established maker comes out with more models. There seems to be no end to what can be done with a 1911 platform.
Ruger and the 1911
Ruger was slow to jump on the 1911 bandwagon, for a number of reasons. First off, they have kept extremely focused on producing guns of their own design that have been great sellers. When Ruger does something, they don’t want to be satisfied with just copying an old design. If they can’t improve upon it, they won’t do it. Several years ago, Ruger jumped into the 1911 market with a full-sized 1911 with some features other makers didn’t offer. It was a hit! Of course, then everyone was asking Ruger, myself included, “When will you come out with ‘this’ model of 1911…” Ever so slowly, and with caution, Ruger has been answering the call for us, 1911 lovers.
1911 Handgun Calibers
I’ve always believed that the 1911 handgun was only supposed to be chambered in .45 ACP caliber,– and I’m not alone in this belief. As I get older, much older, I think I’m actually starting to get a little bit smarter though. There are a good many 1911 makers producing 1911s in many different calibers, and one caliber is 9mm. Now, say what you will about the 9mm, but it has proven itself as a great self-defense round, with scientifically designed and more effective projectiles– bullets! No handgun is a great stopper with FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) ammo. It works okay but not nearly as well as modern JHP or all-copper hollow points and even newer designs, like the Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com HoneyBadger all-copper solid bullets that are fluted. So, there’s quite a selection of modern bullet designs to pick from that will improve the performance of the 9mm round. In the end, it still comes down to proper shot placement. Remember this!
9mm Round in Daily Carry
I hate to admit it, but I’ve joined in with many other old timers and have gone with the 9mm round in a daily carry, self-defense handgun. And I haven’t looked back. In particular, over the past few years, I’ve really been drawn to some 1911 designed handguns that are chambered in 9mm. I’ve never thought that the .45 ACP round was punishing to shoot and I still don’t. However, when I can get similar performance out of a 9mm with even less recoil, I’m all for it. As a gun writer, I do a lot of shooting quite often by myself. When firing a lot of ammo over several days, I feel a little fatigued. Towards the end of my testing, I find that I’m starting to flinch at times, throwing my accuracy testing off. So, shooting a lower-recoiling 9mm is a pleasure for me.
Newest Ruger SR1911
The newest Ruger SR1911, and there are quite a few models in their lineup right now, is a compact 9mm version that has a brushed stainless steel slide that is tapered at the muzzle end for easier reholstering. The rear sides have nicely angled serrations for ease of chambering a round. It has a black anodized aluminum frame that comes in at 27.2 oz, so it is in the light-weight category. The barrel is 3.60 inches long. Some other compacts or sub-compact models have shorter barrels and some are longer. I think Ruger found a good compromise on barrel length of the most velocity out of a compact 1911, without giving up much in the way of concealment. The G10 grips on the SR1911 compact are gray/black with the Ruger logo lasered into them. It’s quite eye appealing.
Sights, Frame, Trigger
We have genuine Novak combat sights– the best there are, in my humble opinion for combat work. There are two white dots on the rear sight, and one white dot on the front sight. It’s very fast to pick up the sights under all lighting conditions. The rear sight is adjustable for windage, but it came dead-on for my eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever had to adjust the rear sight on any Ruger SR1911 I’ve tested. The slide-to-frame fit is outstanding. There’s just the smallest, almost didn’t notice it, movement between these two parts. There is also a ramped bull barrel that aids in accuracy, too. The fit was outstanding. The single-sided thumb safety snicked on/off with authority. I found this very nice! The tapered beaver tail grip safety was timed perfectly, too. The checkered main spring housing is rounded ever so slightly, which is another custom touch. Also, the magazine release is slightly extended. Then we have the trigger– a three-hole match-grade aluminum trigger that broke at 3.5 lbs cleanly. It’s one of the best factory 1911 triggers I’ve ever experienced. Great job, Ruger. There is also a full-length recoil spring set-up. You don’t need any special tools to field-strip the gun, which is yet another outstanding touch.
Hammer and Magazines
I really like the skeletonized hammer, which makes for faster lock-time, and the firing pin is titanium. Again, this speeds up lock-time, helping contribute to better accuracy. The ejection port is lowered and flared, for sure ejection of empty brass, as well as loaded rounds. The gun is a 70s series, meaning there is no firing pin block. It’s an outstanding feature. And, we also have a plunger tube that is actually milled into the frame, not pinned, so it will never come loose. Ruger states on their website that the gun comes with two 7-rd stainless steel magazines. Well, the mags hold 8-rds with ease, so I’m guessing that Ruger had Checkmate Magazines improve on the follower in the mags so they will hold 8-rds without any problems. The mags were easy to load, too.
With all the custom features on this little 9mm 1911, I was expecting a lot out of it during my testing. The gun just felt great in my hand. The only change I made, and this is one I do on many 1911s, is that I added some skate board friction tape to the front strap for a better grip. I will note that this little gun had a fairly stout recoil spring for a 9mm. I never heard back from Ruger on this question, but I’m thinking this recoil spring is about 15-16 lbs so it can handle all the +P ammo you care to shoot through it.
As always, I had a great selection of 9mm on-hand for my testing. My lone helper this time around was my lovely wife. She liked the way this 1911 fit her hand. If a gun doesn’t fit her hand just “so”, she has no interest in it.
From Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com, I had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 115-gr Barnes all-copper TAC-XP +P hollow point, and their newest 100-gr HoneyBadger. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition www.buffalbore.com, I had their 147-gr JHP sub-sonic standard pressure load, 147-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P, 115-gr Barnes all-copper TAC-XP +P+, 124-gr FMJ FN Penetrator +P+, and their 124-gr JHP +P ammo. So, this was an outstanding array of bullet weights and different bullet designs to run through the SR1911 Compact 9mm.
In all, between myself and my wife, we ran 500 rounds through the little Ruger, and it never missed a beat. It fed and functioned with all the above ammo without a glitch. Targets of opportunity were easy to hit from all distances of 25-yards out to 50-yards without much effort. For our accuracy testing, I placed a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my Dodge Ram 1500 pickup and placed my target stand out to 25 yards. My accuracy results were that I had no groups larger than three inches, and many were well below that. The overall winner was the Black Hills 124-gr JHP +P load. This was a little surprising because most of the hotter or +P or +P+ loads don’t always give the best accuracy. If I was on my game, and it was easy with this little 1911, I was getting groups right at two inches. This is outstanding accuracy, no matter how you look at it, for a factory 1911. I claim no special talents or skills when it comes to shooting. I just shoot a lot, and I mean that I do a lot of shooting. The super-sweet trigger pull on this gun contributed a lot to my accuracy, along with great ammo. The Buffalo Bore 147-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P load gave me groups right at 2.5-inches. It’s an outstanding load for back country threats.
I’m often asked about my groups and why don’t I give the exact size like all the other gun writers do. Well, I don’t have the time to get my calipers out and measure groups down to ten thousandths of an inch. In the real world of self defense, this isn’t called for. So, I always just round off my groups. Believe me, this is plenty accurate enough for self-defense work, under any conditions.
I only packed this little 1911 around for a week before settling down and doing this article. It was carried in a variety of holsters, but the one I liked the best was a little Safariland model 527-53, which is a minimalist belt-slide holster that kept the gun high and tight on my side. It was a perfect match-up to this little Ruger SR1911 Compact.
This Will Be Riding On My Hip
Usually, I can be “caught” carrying my Glock 26 with a spare mag. Both mags have a +2 extension, so I have plenty of ammo on tap. These days, the world is a dangerous place, so more ammo is better. However, if I can convince the wife to let me buy this sample, it will be riding on my hip, with two spare 8-rd mags. And I don’t think I have much of a chore convincing the wife to let me purchase this sample. She fell in love with it, too.
Full retail on this little gun is $979. However, you can probably find it for a little less if you shop around. It is worth every penny of the asking price. It is custom in all ways, if you ask me. Nothing I plan on changing on this little 9mm 1911. Check one out!