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!
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.
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.
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.