I first saw one of the very first Springfield Armory MC Operator 1911s at a gun shop in Idaho some years ago. The MC Stands for Marine Corps, and this particular 1911 was designed with the specs laid out based on what the US Marine Corps wanted in a 1911 for their special ops guys. It wasn’t until just recently that the Corps was even allowed to refer to their special ops guys by the term Special Operators! Like many in the military SpecOps community, they prefer the proven stopping power of the .45 ACP FMJ round in the 1911 platform. In most cases, they are limited to using FMJ ammo, and it is a much better stopper than 9mm FMJ.
The Springfield Armory MC Operator has gone through several slight changes over the years, and I’ve owned them all, not that there’s been a lot of changes. The original had Pachmayr wrap-around rubber grips that I didn’t much care for, but they were functional. The first guns didn’t have an accessory rail either. However, there were the three dot tritium night sights, ambi safety, flat/checkered mainspring housing, and all the other goodies that the US Marines wanted. I had one MC Operator with a full-length recoil spring guide, and that wasn’t spec’d by the Marines. The current guns have the standard GI style recoil spring system, for much easier field stripping.
The gun that Springfield is now offering hasn’t changed that much from the first generation. We have the forged slide and frame, with the slide having a black Armory Kote on it. The frame has the OD green Armory Kote on it, which is tough stuff and really holds up to severe weather conditions. The barrel is 5 inchs in length and is stainless steel and match grade. The barrel is also throated and polished for sure feeding of all types of .45 ACP ammo, and the feed ramp is also polished, which is a nice touch! Grips are G10 with a nice green/black color to them and with a nice pattern CNC’d into them, for a sure and positive grip under any weather conditions. The front of the frame doesn’t have the traditional checkered pattern to it. Instead, it has what’s called Posi-Lock texturing, which is not too rough and not too subtle; it gives a great purchase on the gun, without being overly aggressive and rough on the hand. I love it.
As already mentioned, there is the accessory rail on the frame, for attaching lights and lasers. That’s something the first MC Operators didn’t have, and SpecOps folks take full advantage of this. Most install lights on the 1911s, and some install a combination light/laser on their 1911s. The gun weighs in at 43 oz, which is a bit heavier than some other 1911s without an accessory rail. It comes with two 7-rd mags, which are my only complaint; I prefer 8-rd mags. However, this is easily taken care of if you prefer 8-rd mags. There is also the nice carrying case the gun comes in, with a paddle holster, double mag pouch, cleaning brush, and a full instruction manual.
Most of the time, whenever I receive any 1911, regardless of what make or model it might be, I can always find something I feel I need to change or customize on the gun to make it more to my own liking. The only thing I did was use some 8-rd mags with the gun instead of the factory-issued 7-rd mags. Oh, I used them during some of my testing, but I much preferred the 8-rd mags, and I had a variety of them from different makers, too. I didn’t feel the need to tweak the trigger pull or make it lighter. It came from the box with a dead-on 5-lb, very crisp trigger pull, with no slop at all– outstanding. The ambi safety snicked on/off with authority, too. The Delta speed hammer works nicely and gives you a little bit more speed when you pull the trigger. There’s slightly faster lock-time, and that means more accuracy. Factory standard recoil spring weight is 16-bs on full-sized 1911s, and the MC Operator came this way. For some extended shooting with +P .45 ACP ammo, I installed an 18.5-lbs recoil spring, and the gun ran fine with it. However, when I returned to standard velocity loads, I went back to the 16-lbs recoil spring. I guess you can say that I did “change” something on the gun, but it would have run fine for an extended shooting session with +P ammo just the same. Why beatup the gun if you can avoid it?
I don’t believe in shooting guns to see if I can destroy them. The gun makers themselves have already done this. However, some gun writers take great joy in seeing if a gun will fail in a 5,000 or 10,000 round torture test, where they just shoot the guns as fast as they can with the help of others to see just when a gun will break. That’s stupid! It proves nothing. Any gun can and will break under the right circumstances. However, I believe in giving gun samples a more than fair ammo test, which brings us to a comment I got one time from someone who was doing PR/Marketing for a very large ammo maker. I was told that my ammo requests were a bit unreasonable when I asked for 500-rds of ammo to test. I was informed that the average gun writer runs 64 rounds of ammo through guns when testing them for articles. That’s crazy! I know quite a few fellow gun writers, and they all told me they put several hundred rounds through guns most of the time. I stopped begging for ammo from this major gun company when they started sending me two boxes of ammo for my testing.
Now, as already mentioned, I don’t do testing to destruction in my articles. However, now that the ammo drought is over, or mostly over, I do like to run no less than 500 rounds through a gun that I’m testing and writing about. However, in the case of the MC Operator, I did some long-term testing over the course of a year. Much of the time, I’ll conclude my testing after a week or two and sometimes over a weekend. The MC Operator was used for over a year. At 3,000 rounds of shooting, I started to lose count, but I’m sure I ran more than 4,000-rds of ammo through the gun in a year. I only did routine cleaning and maintenance every 500 rds or so, and I didn’t keep an exact count. But I would clean and lube the gun with my favorite products by Italian Gun Grease. For my money, you can’t beat their Tactical Lube.
I am forever in the debt of two ammo makers for always keeping me supplied in their fine ammo– Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition. They always come through for me, no matter how much ammo I request, even during the great ammo drought. If they had it, they sent it to me with no questions asked, ever! Thanks, guys!
From Black Hills, I had their 200-gr Match SWC ammo that is always accurate, very accurate, and their 230-gr FMJ, 185-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP, 230-gr JHP +P, and their 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P load. From Buffalo Bore, I had their 160-gr Barnes Low-Recoil, standard pressure all-copper hollow point load, 255-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P load, which is great for out in the boonies, where dangerous game are. Their 230-gr FMJ FN +P, 185-gr JHP +P, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, and their 200-gr JHP +P load. Whew! Quite a selection to run through the MC Operator.
Okay, there are no mysteries here. The MC Operator ran without a hitch of any kind. No ammo was beyond what the gun could feed. It fed everything, and I mean everything, right out of the box. There were no hang-ups of any kind, PERIOD!
For my accuracy testing, I was shooting at 25 yards over the hood of my pickup truck, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. I was sure that the Black Hills 200-gr match SWC was going to take home best honors, but it didn’t. The Buffalo Bore 200-gr JHP +P load was given that honor, with groups down to two inches if I did my part. All other groups were three inches and under, and I mean all the ammo was plenty accurate. I couldn’t consistently get groups in the 2-inch range, but if I was on my game, I did it! None of the ammo tested was “bad” in the accuracy department, none of it. For the most part, the MC Operator was pretty consistent in accuracy, which is a testament to how well the gun was fitted. To be sure, the gun was very tight, and it stayed tight during all my shooting over the course of about a year.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t trying to destroy the gun or shoot it until it had malfunctions. Instead, I would grab it most of the time, when I went out shooting for fun or shooting other guns for articles. I didn’t want to let the gun get super-dirty, and it was cleaned and lubed around every 500-rds or so, and that is just prudent if you ask me. I don’t see myself getting into an extended fight, armed only with a handgun and a thousand rounds of ammo on my back. That just isn’t real-life! However, you can find yourself in a survival situation or perhaps in military combat where you might be out for an extended period of time and regular maintenance can’t be done. I keep a cleaning kit in my ALICE gear at all times, though.
If you shop around, you can find the MC Operator from Springfield Armory for around $1,200.00 – $1,300.00, and it is a good deal, if you ask me. I do have a bone to pick with those who selected the Colt over the Springfield Armory Operator as the gun for the US Marines though. The Colt is twice the money, literally, and it is not twice the gun. As a matter of fact, in my humble opinion, it’s not quite the gun that the Springfield is, if you ask me. Yeah, for sure, the Colt is coated in a desert tan color and has different colored grips. Well, Springfield could have supplied their MC Operator that same way, if that was a request. It never ceases to amaze me how our FedGov will spend our tax dollars foolishly. I’m not saying the Colt isn’t a good gun; it is. But why waste our tax dollars and spend double the money when the Springfield would have served the needs of the US Marines SpecOps guys?
I have no vested interest in Springfield Armory or Colt products. However, if you laid out similar makes and models from Springfield and Colt in front of me and told me I could have my choice, more often than not I’d pick the Springfield over the Colt. It’s just my preferences. So, don’t think I’m a Colt hater; I’m not. I know what I want and what I like in a 1911, and I like what Springfield Armory is producing these days– some of the best 1911s money can buy at prices that won’t break the bank, either.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio