Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911 – Gov’t Model, by Pat Cascio

We’re taking a close look at an updated classic 1911 with some enhancements, making it ready for the range, competition, or self-defense. It’s the Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911 in .45 ACP.

Thanks for Reminding Me

I think we have some of the smartest readers out there, and you all have a great memory.  I promised to review the Springfield Armory Range Officer, full-sized Government Model after reviewing a different model Range Officer. Somewhere along the line, this gun review was pushed back. My bad! I have more than 30 products on hand awaiting their turn on our editorial page, so I manage to keep extremely busy all of the time. Thanks for reminding me to review this handgun!

Far From Ordinary 1911

The Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911 comes in different flavors, from the smallest to the full-sized .45 ACP handguns. We’re checking out the full-sized gun this time around. At first glance, it might look like any ordinary mil-spec 1911 because of the parkerized gray finish, but it is far from ordinary in a number of ways.

Overview of This Range Officer 1911

As a bit of an overview, as already mentioned, this Range Officer is chambered in .45 ACP. It has a standard GI recoil plug, which makes it easy to take-down for cleaning without any special tools. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. (I’ll have more on this shortly.) The gun has a forged carbon steel slide and frame, none of this cast nonsense. The barrel is a stainless steel match-grade number and is five inches in length. The double diamond checkered Cocobolo grips have the Springfield Armory crossed cannons on it. Weight of the gun, unloaded, is 40 oz, and it comes with two 7-rd magazines.


Sights are one of the features that set this 1911 apart from the others.

Fully Adjustable Rear Sight

The fully adjustable rear sight is similar to the old Bomar, however, this is one heavy-duty rear sight. I’d have no worries about knocking it out of adjustment. It is one heck of a well-made rear sight. This isn’t my first Springfield Armory 1911 with an adjustable rear sight, either. If you are shooting in competition of any sort, and you need to change the weight of your ammo – the bullet, you will appreciate an adjustable rear sight. The only minor complaint I have with the adjustable rear sights on these guns is that none that I’ve owned came zeroed for my eye. The Springfield fixed rear sight guns have all been spot on. However, the adjustable rear sights have always needed to be adjusted for windage and/or elevation out of the box. Usually with just a few clicks, I could get the sights zeroed though.

I haven’t shot bullseye competition for close to 50 years now. When I was in the Illinois National Guard, on their rifle and pistol team, we were issued math-grade M-14s and 1911s with the itty-bitty fixed rear sight. Even back then, that little rear and even the front sight were hard for my eyes to pick up. Wish I had a 1911 with nice sights that were adjustable back in the day. I would have given anything for a Range Officer 1911 like the one under review today.

Rounded Sights So They Don’t Hand Up Under Covering Garment

As a rule, I’m not a big fan of adjustable rear sights on a 1911 that is carried for self-defense, under some kind of covering garment. In the past, those adjustable rear sights would eat through the covering garment in short order, or even draw blood from my side with the sharp edges on those guns. Not so with the adjust rear sight on this Range Officer. They are nicely rounded, ever so slightly, so they don’t hang-up on a covering garment and they don’t dig into my flesh. That’s nice, very nice!

Plain Sight

I don’t like the plain front sight, with no white dot, and no white dots or outlines on the rear sight. It’s just hard for my aged eyes to pick up a target with any kind of speed like I used to. I’m not digging Springfield for this. It’s just something that comes with getting older. We all knew we’d get old, but we didn’t know it would happen so fast!

Added Features That Can Be Felt

Anyone looking to get into any sort of competition, where you will be shooting a grand ol’ 1911, then look no farther than the Range Officer. It was designed to be an entry level 1911 for various 1911 shooting sports. The sights are only the beginning of what sets the Range Officer apart from a Plain Jane mil-spec 1911. We have some added features that can’t be seen; they have to be felt, when firing, to be appreciated.

Forged Slide, Match-Grade Frame, Barrel, and Trigger

The forged slide and match-grade frame are fit perfectly to the barrel. There is no “play” between these three pieces of the gun. The gun is tight but not overly tight. You will need to keep it lubed, that’s for sure. These are the very same parts that are provided on the Tropjhy Match and TRP 1911s from Springfield. The stainless steel barrel is fitted to a match-grade bushing, too. The match-grade trigger broke dead-on at 4.5-lbs, which is nice!


On the frame, we have an extended beaver-tail grip safety that is nicely fitted and timed, too. A flat and checkered main spring housing is there, for a sure grip on the gun as well as a single-sided thumb safety, which I liked. It snicks on/off with authority. Many shooting matches don’t require shooting with your off-hand, so an ambidextrous thumb safety isn’t needed. Plus, I couldn’t tell you how many times, while carrying a 1911 concealed with an ambi safety, that the right side safety got knocked off when the gun bumped up against something. That’s not a good thing.

Feed Ramp Polished, Barrel Throated, and Extractor Fitted Perfectly

The feed ramp was nicely polished, and the match-grade barrel was throated, so I didn’t expect any feeding problems during my testing. The extractor was fitted perfectly, which is no easy task. I’ve had brand-new 1911s fresh out of the box that had extractors with zero tension. Needless to say, they failed to feed and extract with any kind of reliability.

Testing on the Forested Range

With the cost of fuel going up and up lately, I’ve decided to cut down on the number of trips I make to the forested range I use for most of my shooting. For this article, I only went out two times and fired a little more than 450 rounds of various .45 ACP ammo.


From Black Hills Ammunition I had the following ammo: their 200-gr Match Semi Wadcutter, 230-gr FMJ, 230-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all copper hollow point +P, and their 135-gr Honey Badger all copper solid defense round that you have to experience to believe. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 160-gr standard pressure low recoil FMJ FN round, 185-gr low recoil standard pressure FMJ FN round, 255-gr grain Outdoorsman, Hard Cast +P load (an outstanding load for the trail), 230-gr FMJ NH +P, 200-gr JHP +P, and 230-gr JHP +P. So, I had a great selection of ammo for testing.

No Surprises

There were no surprises at all. The Range Officer had zero problems. The only change I made to the gun was installing an 18-lb heavy duty recoil spring. During my first shooting session, I only had the two 7-rd magazines that came with the gun. My second shooting session, I brought along a mixed bag of 1911 .45 ACP mags, which makes the shooting and reloading go a bit faster. Once again, the gun never failed to function with any of the magazines.

Accuracy Shooting

It is always fun testing any 1911, especially when it, like this Range Officer, is set up for handgun competition. My accuracy shooting was done at 25 yards over the hood of my Dodge Ram pickup. A rolled up sleeping bag served for a rest. I was positive the Black Hills 200-gr Match Semi-Wadcutter would best everything else when it came to accuracy. It has never let me down. And, while it didn’t let me down, the winner in the accuracy department was the Buffalo Bore 185-gr low recoil standard pressure FMJ FN round.

It came in at two inches. I believe the Range Officer can do even better with more practice on my part. The Black Hills 200-gr Match load came in with groups just ever so slightly bigger. No groups exceeded three inches, and once again with more practice, I’m sure those three inch groups can come in even smaller.

I carry most of the handguns I test in my articles, but for whatever reason I simply neglected to pack the Range Officer on my side. However, I expect it will ride nicely on my side in a concealed carry holster, or even a nice tactical or duty holster for those in law enforcement.

Full retail on this Range Officer model is $945, but if you check around, you can find them for a little less money. They are an outstanding entry-level 1911 for anyone looking to get into the competition shooting game. It will also serve nicely as a duty handgun or one for SWAT use. The gun is “that” nicely put together and plenty accurate enough. Check one out at your local FFL dealer.


  1. I’ve had four SA Government Mil Spec pistols. They were decent performers, and more practical than my Gold Cup, which I sold because it had fragile sights and a match trigger. John Browning sized the frame for the hands of teenage boys…and my hands are small, so I shot them just fine for 30 years. I despise extended triggers because one cannot use any species of gloves, and still get a finger in the trigger guard.

    Once I learned how to properly shoot the Glock, the 1911s have gathered dust in the vault.

  2. My lovely wife bought me the 1911 Range Officer for my 50th B day. I love my 45 1911! Except the rear adjustable sights. I carry mine everyday. I’ve drawn blood a few times from that rear sight, and it does tear through your shirts. I do want to get a solid rear sight with tritium and up front. I had my trigger eased to @ 3-3.5 lbs. perfect for me. I would buy it again if needed. 4.5 stars May our great GOD bless you all. Continue your preparedness and faith.

  3. My wife bought me my Range Officer for my 50th B-day. Great gun! Except for the rear sights! I have drawn blood a few times and scratched the door on my truck, and have torn a couple of my shirts. The rear sights are a bit squared and sharp. I do want to replace them with tritium, and I told my little brother(christian friend and fellow prepper) to get the Springfield Armory Loaded Operator. It meets all Marine Corp specs and has a rail under neath. I wish I had one on mine. Having a light for night is crucial! May our great GOD bless you all. Keep up your faith and preparedness.

  4. Have a Springfield Armory Operator .45 ACP and it’s one of my favorites. Very accurate, fit and finish are among the best I’ve seen and that’s the usual with their 1911s. 2″ groups at 25 yards are the norm with most SA match barrels with some sort of support. You can get almost any of the SA models with factory installed night sights which are much more pleasant overall than the standard issue sights. No problems with snagging on fabric or chewing up skin. My only disappointment is the factory magazines. They work just fine but I would love to see SA design a better version, similar to what Wilson Combat offers with & round capacity.

    While I carry a much lighter Polymer lower pistol for my EDC and I have owned many others the 1911 is my favorite. If I could find a high quality leather holster that fits a railed 1911 and keeps the pistol high and close to my body while also handling the weight I’d buy it now.

    Anyway the Range Officer is on my list for a future purchase although I am probably going for a slightly smaller and lighter commander size.

    As always thanks for bringing us the info in your reviews!

  5. It’s not a horrible gun, just not a great gun. The R/O is intended to be a builders gun, meaning your going to exchange Christmas cards with your gunsmith.
    The trigger needs to be honed, you need to swap out the extractor and drop in a Wilson bullet proof.
    Magazines: Only the us.g.i, can be trusted.
    If you’re a great shooter, change out the firing pin and recoil spring to a 16.5 pound over the factory 16 pound. You will out run the slide.

    Do not go back to using a Glock, afterwards.the extended safety. people develop a finger in the trigger guard, pivot point reaching for the safety. If you go back to the Glock, you have a great chance of bringing those bad habits and shoot yourself in the leg.

    I ran about 3000 rounds through my R/O and said enough is enough.

  6. Purchased my S.A. Compact R.O. a couple years ago, boy, I was ecstatic! Had carried a Star PD in .45 ACP for many years, and loved the upgrade to a 21st century firearm. I shoot mostly 185 grain through my RO, and it eats HP rounds without a hiccup. Carry it in a shoulder rig, would like to have a nice Galco rig. Cannot say enough about my RO’s performance, great pistol!

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