Even when I was younger I was pretty much “old school” in many things. Maybe it came from being raised by my grandparents and all their friends. It’s just one of those mysteries in life that I can’t explain. I still love to listen to “oldies” music on the radio. When I first started listening to “oldies” it wasn’t old; it was the music of the 1960s that I fell in love with. And, to this day, my favorite song is “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by Peppermint Rainbow. Over the past several years, I have gotten to know several of the group’s members, and they are all super-nice people. Bonnie Lamdin-Phipps, her sister, “Peppermint” Patty Lamdin-Brown, and Doug Lewis are on my bucket list as people I want to get to meet in-person some day.
For many, many years, I was old school in that I believed with all my heart that the grand ol’ 1911 handgun was always meant to be chambered in one caliber– the .45 ACP, and I don’t think many will dispute the fight-ending effects of the .45 ACP round. Some years ago, I guess you can say I saw the light, or the error to my way of thinking. My first major shift in the 1911 was to a 10mm, and it was really a hot-stepping round. Then we have the 1911 in .38 Super, .40 S&W, 9mm, and many other calibers. The light bulb over my head started to glow a little bit. If many of those rounds were great for self defense in other handguns, then why not use them in a 1911? Hmm, so an old dog can learn new tricks.
The nice folks atRuger sent me their SR1911 “Commander” sized 1911 in 9mm, but I still wasn’t totally on-board with the gun. There are many other handguns that shoot the 9mm that are smaller, much smaller and more compact and light weight. So, why bother with a 1911, even if it is the smaller “Commander” sized gun in 9mm? I had to put it all to the test.
A quick look at the SR1911 “Commander” in 1911 is in order. Of course, it has the shorter 4.25-inch barrel, as opposed to a full-sized 1911 with a 5-inch barrel, so that’s a plus in my book. I’ve always thought, at least for me, that a Commander-sized 1911 handles faster for me than a full-sized gun. This gun is a light-weight model; with the aluminum frame, it weighs in at 29.3 oz and comes with hard rubber, checkered grips. The slide is brushed stainless steel. We have the outstanding Novak three dot drift adjustable, combat sights, which I personally believe to be the best in the world. (Way to go, Wayne!)
I always expect the best when it comes to Ruger firearms– all of them, so I carefully examine any and all of their guns that come into my hands. The frame and slide are precision CNC machined for a great slide to frame fight, and my sample had no rattle when I shook it. The stainless steel barrel and the stainless steel bushing are machined (from the same machine) from the same bar stock for an outstanding fit. The barrel locks up tight when the gun is in battery; again, there’s no rattle! BTW, the Ruger SR1911 line-up is based on the Colt series 70. It has no funky series 80 safety to contend with. The back strap on the frame is checkered for a firm grip; the front strap is left plain, and I take care of that easily with some skate board friction tape, which is a very inexpensive fix if you find the front strap on a 1911 too slick.
The trigger is a light-weight match, skeletonized version and had an over travel adjustment. My sample came timed perfectly with no need to adjust that little screw at all. There was a little “hitch in the git along” on the trigger pull; however, this disappeared during my testing, and this is very common. There is a speed-style combat hammer, for faster lock-time, and we have an extended beaver-tail grip safety that was also timed perfectly. The thumb safety is only on the left side of the gun, and this is outstanding. I used to believe, from reading gun magazines, that every 1911 had to have an ambidextrous thumb safety. I’ve since figured out that I don’t need those. If a gun comes with one, that’s fine, but I prefer only a single-side thumb safety.
Here’s a feature that most will overlook. There is a plunger tube on the left side of a 1911, and it has two little plungers in it that are at either end of the plunger tube spring. This keeps your safety in the on/off position as well as your slide locked; it’s locked so it doesn’t lock the slide open when firing. Well, on the Ruger SR1911, this plunger tube is CNC machined into the side of the frame. All other 1911s have this little but very important tube staked into the side of the slide. Over the years, I couldn’t tell you how many plunger tubes I’ve seen that worked their way loose from the side of the frame, then tying up the gun. There are no worries about this happening on the Ruger SR1911 line of pistols.
The ejection port on the slide is lowered and flared for sure ejection of not only empty brass but loaded rounds, too. This is more important than you think. I’ve had some 1911s that wouldn’t safely eject a loaded round; it would get stuck between the barrel and ejection port and create a major malfunction, not easily cleared. The magazine release is slightly longer, so it is easy to reach for those fast magazine changes.
The recoil spring and plug are standard, not the one-piece set-up that is so popular for some reason. I like it a lot, as it makes field stripping much easier. There is that little cut in the top rear of the barrel’s chamber, so you can see if there is a round or empty brass still in the chamber. My aged eyes just can’t see if there is anything in the chamber through the little cut. The slide serrations on the rear of the slide are deeply CNC machined on both sides of the slide, and they are a shallow “V” design to them. It is very easy to retract the slide to chamber a round.
We also have a titanium firing pin, for a faster firing of the gun. It’s a small improvement but a nice one. Best of all, this gun takes all after-market standard 1911 parts. However, I couldn’t find anything I would change on the gun, period, and this is very unusual for me to not want to swap out something, anything! We have two 9-rd, 9mm magazines that come with the gun, and any after-market full-sized 1911 mags will fit and function in the gun. The gun comes with a bushing wrench and a nice soft-sided carrying case. Last but not least, the feed ramp has a titanium block for a feed ramp. Many light-weight, aluminum-framed 1911s get the feed ramp chewed-up with aggressive hollow point ammo. This won’t happen with the light-weight Ruger 1911s. Whew!
Okay, I meant for this to be a “quick” run down of the features on this SR1911 9mm, but there were so many of them I just felt the need to list them all and why some of them are such a good idea. There are things I would normally change out, but these don’t need changing. Ruger’s engineers really listened and thought out their entire SR1911 line and are giving shooters everything they need and nothing, absolutely nothing, they don’t need in a 1911.
I note, on the Ruger website, that this particular model now has a black anodized frame. On my early sample, it has a frame color that closely matches the brushed stainless steel slide.
So, this Ruger SR1911, 9mm has every feature you need and nothing you don’t need. If you want night sights, you can order them from the Ruger Store. The question is, how did the gun shoot, right? Well, I loaded up the two magazines that come with the gun and went to chamber the first round. It didn’t fully chamber. Uh-oh, this isn’t looking very good. However, after that first and only malfunction, the gun perked along just fine through more than 500-rds of various ammo.
From Black Hills Ammunition , I had their 115-gr JHP +P load, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr EXP (Extra Power) Hollow Point, 124-gr JHP, and their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P load. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 147-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P load, 147-gr Subsonic Heavy Standard Pressure FNJ FN load, 115-gr and 95 gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P+ load, and their 124-gr Penetrator FMJ FN +P+ load. So, there was an excellent selection of 9mm ammo to run through this gun.
Accuracy testing was done using a bag that was rested over a rock, and the target was at 25 yards. The best overall accuracy was dead-on at three inches and was the Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman load, but I believe the gun can do better. The method I was using to rest the gun wasn’t all that stable. I believe this gun, with the right ammo, can easily shoot 2 ½ inch groups all day long. Then let’s talk about recoil. Well, there’s nothing to discuss. There’s very little felt recoil at all. My wife loved shooting this gun, and she’s not big into single-action 1911s. She doesn’t like the short and light trigger pull, and on my sample the trigger broke at 4 ½ lbs.
I carried the SR1911 9mm “Commander” for two weeks in a Blackhawk Products SERPA hip holster with the belt loops attachment. I don’t like the paddle carry at all. The gun rode high and close to my body. Any 1911 holster will work with this neat 9mm pistol.
There are some real pluses, if you ask me. First of all is the recoil of the 9mm compared to a .45 ACP; the 9mm was not punishing in the least, not that I’ve ever found the .45 ACP round to be too much to handle. Then there was retracting the slide to chamber a round. I’m thinking that the recoil spring was about 10 or maybe 11 pounds, which makes it easy, very easy, to chamber a round. This may not sound like much of a benefit to many, but to older folks who don’t have a lot of arm strength this means they can handle this 9mm 1911 without any problems.
After all my testing was complete, I wanted to run some under-powered or troublesome 9mm through this Ruger. I hate to put anyone’s ammo down, but I’ve had a lot of problems with some 9mm from a place called Rogue Defense; they are outside of Portland, OR, and my local gun shop sells a lot of the reloaded 9mm and .223 ammo. I’ve complained several times to the gun shop that this ammo is not consistent in power, and I’ve had many, many under-powered rounds, that were so under-powered that the empty brass wouldn’t eject. I ran 50-rds through the SR1911 9mm. Even though I could tell that some of the rounds were really puny, the gun fired and ejected the empty brass.
If you’re a dyed in the wool 1911 fan and love it in .45 ACP, don’t overlook this new offering from Ruger in 9mm. It might just be what you’re looking for in a new self-defense gun.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio