While I’ve always loved the Government Model 1911, in .45ACP, it isn’t my first choice – in a 1911. I’ve lost count of the number of 1911s I’ve owned over the years, and traded or sold, for some stupid reason, but I suspect, I’ve owned well over a hundred different types of 1911s in my lifetime. However, given my druthers, I’d druther have a Commander-sized 1911 – one with a 4.25-inch barrel, instead of the 5-inch barrel found on the Government Model. The 4.25-inch barrel 1911s just seem to balance better in my hand, and they are quicker on-target. Additionally, they seem to pack better for me on my hip, especially when seated in a car – that 3/4 of an inch, when seated can be a bit uncomfortable when in a car all day long – it digs into my hip!
I’ve been fortunate in that, when I was a police officer over the years, I was able, for the most part, to pick whatever type of firearm I wanted to carry on-duty – one of the perks when working for a small department, or if you’re the chief of police – as I was, of a small department. When I was the police chief of a small town in Eastern Oregon, the county sheriff at that time, frowned upon me packing a cocked ‘n locked 1911 on my hip. He never directly said anything to me about it, however several deputies mentioned to me that the sheriff would prefer I not carry my gun cocked! Well, to be quite honest, that is the way you carry a 1911 handgun – with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the safety on! I’ve seen many other folks, who carried 1911s carry them with a round in the chamber and the hammer down – which meant, in order to fire the gun, they had to manually cocked the hammer – which is dangerous itself because you might allow the hammer to slip ‘causing an ND (Negligent Discharge). It is much safer and easier to carry the gun with a round in the chamber, and the hammer cocked, with the safety on. It only takes a mere fraction of a second to snick the safety off, as you draw the gun, and ready it to fire.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox when it comes to the proper method of carrying a good ol’ 1911 handgun. What we have under review in this article is the Ruger SR1911 CMD which has the Commander-sized barrel and slide length of 4.25-inches. Some other gun companies have similar models, with barrels slightly shorter, but for all intents and purposes, they are all basically “Commander-esque” in size when it comes to barrel and slide length. And, to be sure, only Colt can use the term “Commander” as they have it copyrighted and trademarked! So, Ruger simply calls their Commander-size the SR1911 CMD and I don’t have a clue as to what the CMD stands for, other than perhaps being short for Commander. Over a year ago, I did a review on the full-sized Government Model SR1911 from Ruger and I was very pleased with the performance, but I longed for a “Commander-sized” SR1911. Ruger delivered!
The Ruger SR1911 CMD, as mentioned, has a 4.25-inch slide and barrel, and the slide and frame are manufactured out of stainless steel. And, I still remember the first stainless steel auto that came on the scene many years ago. There were a lot of problems with “galling” – when the guns got a little bit hot, the slides wouldn’t move easily on the frames – they sometimes “froze” and wouldn’t move at all, no matter how much lube you put on the gun. This problem has been solved by using a slightly different type of stainless steel in the slide and the frame – they are not exactly the same type of stainless steel.
The Ruger SR1911 CMD also comes with everything you need, and nothing you don’t really need. There is a skeletonized trigger, with an over travel adjustment – my sample was perfectly adjusted as it came from the box. There is a combat-style hammer, and black, flat mainspring housing, which I prefer over the arched mainspring housing. And, the mainspring housing is also black – as is the extended single-sided thumb safety – it makes for an attractive set-up with the rest of the gun being a satin finished stainless steel. And, the mainspring housing isn’t plastic, it’s steel. The slightly extended magazine release is also black – and I really appreciate the slightly extended magazine release on 1911s, makes for a fast magazine change. The black front sight has a white dot, and the Novak combat rear sight has two dots, and in my humble opinion, the Novak rear sight is still the one all others long to be – it’s the best on the market!
Inside the white cardboard box the SR1911 SMC came in, is a second magazine – stainless steel, and a soft carrying case, too. Nice touch, Ruger! The magazines appear to me, to be made by Checkmate Industries, but I could be wrong, and they are both flat bottomed 7-round magazines. The full-sized SR1911 comes with a flat bottomed 7 round magazine and an extended 8 round round magazine. I’m not quite sure why Ruger decided to go with two 7-round magazines with the SR1911 CMD model. And, speaking of the magazines they are VERY well made, and they have a stout spring, which makes for getting those rounds fed reliably. The gun weighs is at 36.40-ounces. Trigger pull was slightly under 5 pounds with no creep – the left-off was nice – nothing I would do to the trigger at all – and I usually tinker with trigger-pulls on most 1911s. Also, there is no full-length guide rod – many makers are going to the longer full-length guide rods, but I’ve long ago decided they don’t add anything to accuracy or function to a 1911 – they only complicate the take-down for cleaning. Congrats, Ruger! The SR1911 CMD also has some beautiful hardwood checkered grips with the Ruger trademark in the center of them.
During the ammo drought, I was fortunate in that, I had a good selection of .45ACP ammo to run through my SR1911 CMD. From Black Hills Ammunition I had their 185-grain Barnes Tac-XP +P all-copper hollow point, their 230-grain JHP and their 230-grain FMJ loads. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 185-grain Barnes Tac-XP +P load, their 200-grain JHP +P, their 255-grain Hard Cast +P load, their 230-grain FMJ FN +P loading, and their new standard pressure 185-grain FMJ FN load. So, I had plenty of different types of ammo to run through the SR1911 CMD.
I headed out to the range, with high expectations, the gun is solidly built, no play between the slide and frame to speak of, and the barrel was expertly fitted, I was expecting outstanding accuracy. Sad to say, I had numerous failures to feed in the first 50 rounds. About every other round and oftentimes, every round, wouldn’t fully chamber. I knew the problem – an extractor that was too tight. Luckily, where I shoot is only about 5-6 minutes from where I live. So, I headed home and broke the SR1911 CMD down, and sure enough, the tension on the extractor was high – I’m guessing it took about 20 pounds of pressure to slide a round under the extractor – with the frame off the slide. I took the extractor out and adjusted the tension – it was still pretty tight though. Back to the range, and the feeding problems were better, but not quite right, yet. I used to take my gunsmithing tools and parts box with me to the range, but more often than not, a spring or small part would go flying, never to be found again. In all, I made a total of 4-trips home, to readjust the tension on the extractor before it would feed properly. However, I still had problems with one round – the Buffalo Bore 255 grain Hard Cast rounds, and this round has fed in every .45ACP pistol I’ve put it through. One more trip home.
I took the SR1911 CMD apart again, and examined the barrel – the top of the chamber, the hood – had some serious gouges in it – and I know it wasn’t from the ammo I had been shooting through the gun. I can only surmise that, this barrel wasn’t properly finished before being put into the gun. I got the Dremel Tool out and polished the barrel hood. Back to the range, one more time. However, the gun still had problems feeding the Buffalo Bore 255-grain Hard Cast rounds – I finally gave-up, and decided, for whatever reason, this round won’t be one I can use in this gun. Too bad, this is my preferred round for out in the boonies – where I might run into a black bear.
Okay, with the feeding problems resolved – for the most part – I proceeded to my accuracy part of my testing. I’m happy to report that this gun can shoot, and shoot with the best of them. No groups exceeded 3-inches at 25-yards, firing over the hood of my SUV, supported. This gun is a consistent shooter in the accuracy department. However, there was one real stand-out, and it was the Black Hills 185-grain Tax-XP +P load, which is one of my favorite street self-defense loads. I was getting groups right around 2-inches with this load, and hot on it’s heels was the Buffalo Bore 185-grain FMJ FN Standard Pressure load. Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore came up with this load from customer requests – they wanted a load that was low-recoil, but that could offer some serious penetration on dangerous game or if someone is behind cover – this load delivers!
I had no failures to extract – only the failures to feed, at the start of my testing. The +P loads really threw the empty cases far from the gun. The standard loads threw the empties only a few feet away. After my testing, I came home and took the SR1911 CMD apart for cleaning, and I polished the breech face while I had the gun apart – there were a few rough spots on it, but nothing that was causing the feeding problems. I’m happy to report, that I had the gun out several more times since my testing for this article, and there were no malfunctions of any type – but I steered clear of the Buffalo Bore 255-grain Hard Cast +P loads – this gun just won’t feed this round for some strange reason.
I’m confident in the reliability of the SR1911 CMD these days, and it is riding on my hip daily – I actually do carry the handguns I test. I’ve only had two “bad” guns from Ruger in all the years I’ve been shooting, the first was the P85, and I had an early production run model, and the slide would just lock open halfway during shooting – never could figure that one out. The other is this SR 1911 CMD. Whoever fitted the extractor to my sample didn’t “fit” it – they just installed it, and never checked the tension on it, the gun wasn’t test-fired at the factory, had it been, they would have found out in the first couple of rounds that the extractor was too tight to allow the rounds to easily slide under the extractor as they came out of the magazine.
Now, this isn’t a knock against Ruger – I’ve had “bad” guns from the best gun companies, a bad one slips through every now and then. Ruger has outstanding customer service, and as a rule, has a turn round of a week or two if there is a problem and you send your gun to them for service. I could have easily returned my SR1911 CMD to Ruger for service, but I honestly enjoy working on 1911s, so I took care of the problem myself. If you have a problem with any Ruger product, return it to them, and they will make it right, in very short order. I’m confident in my SR1911 CMD sample, and expect many years of service from it. And, it is plenty accurate, too.
Right now, all guns are in great demand, I read in an article the other day that 37 guns per minute are being sold in this country. And, Ruger firearms are always in demand. So, it might be a little hard to find an SR1911 CMD right now. Full retail is $829 on this gun, and traditionally you could find Ruger firearms discounted a bit – but these days, all bets are off. I know some dealers are selling this gun for more than retail, and people are paying the price, too. So, if you’re in the market for a Commander-sized 1911, take a close look at the Ruger SR1911 CMD for your next purchase.
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