Once again, another new and very exciting 1911 from Springfield Armory is under review today. This one is a winner and a bargain as well.
Range Officer 1911 From Several Years Ago
Several years ago, Springfield Armory came out with the Range Officer 1911. It was meant to be all set up so the user could enter various shooting competitions, and it worked quite well in that regard. However, it wasn’t 100% suitable for street carry, if you ask me; it needed to be refined, updated, or “something” needed to be done.
The All-New SA Range Officer Elite Operator 1911 Name
Enter the all-new SA Range Officer Elite Operator 1911. This baby has everything you’ll ever need and nothing you don’t need on a carry gun, or one for shooting competitions. So, I have to ask myself, why didn’t Springfield Armory just give it a completely new name instead of using the “Range Officer” designation in the title of the gun? No one asked me.
The all-new Springfield Armory RO Elite Operator 1911 in .45 ACP, which is the caliber I requested to test, is really a new model and not any part of the RO that was released several years ago. Guess I would have called it the 1911 Elite Operator and left the RO out of the name of the gun so there wouldn’t be any confusion about which gun is which.
The Grand Ole 1911 in .45 ACP
The grand old 1911 is still my preferred choice in a handgun, in .45 ACP, if it was the only handgun I could own for the rest of my life. I have tremendous confidence in the .45 ACP round and the 1911 line of pistols, period. I don’t think there are many guns that can fire as fast and as accurately as any single-action 1911 handguns on the market. That short trigger pull, and a trigger pull you can have lighter or heavier (adjusted by a gunsmith) as well as that super-short trigger reset, makes the 1911 perfect for street/self-defense use.
The 1911 Is Not For Everyone
Now, I’m not saying that the 1911 is for everyone. Nope, just the opposite; it requires a lot of training to use and carry. First off, it should be carried with a live round in the chamber and the thumb safety applied. If you are afraid to carry a gun with a loaded chamber, then you probably shouldn’t be carrying at all. That’s just my take on it.
New Features On the RO Elite Operator
Let’s check out some of the new features on the RO Elite Operator. First of all, it has an all-steel, forged carbon steel frame and slide, and they are match-grade and nicely fitted with zero movement when shaking the gun. It is that tight, I’ve had some custom-made 1911s over the years that didn’t have a slide-to-frame fit this nicely done. The 5-inch barrel is also match-grade and stainless steel, which is another outstanding touch. Both the slide and frame have a Black T coating to help them resist the elements.
This is some tough stuff, to be sure. The front and rear sides of the slide have angled serrations, so it’s easy to check the chamber to see if it is loaded or not. The Gen 2 match-grade trigger is perfectly fitted and timed. My sample let off right at 4-lbs even, which is a very outstanding trigger pull. I also love the GI recoil spring set-up. No special tools are needed to field-strip this gun.
To begin specs on the gun, the weight of the RO Operator Elite is right at 41 oz, which is a little bit heavier than similar 1911s, but you have that Picatinny-style rail on the frame that adds some weight. The gun comes with two factory 7-rd mags, and this is my only minor “complaint”. I’d like to see two 8-rd mags included, instead of 7-rd mags. When some of the first 8-rd 1911 .45 ACP magazines first came out, they weren’t very reliable. However, these days, those 8-rd mags are well made and feed those rounds right into the chamber without any problems.
There is the famous beaver-tail grip safety with the memory bumps, and it is expertly fitted and timed. The frame also has a Picatinny-style rail under the dust cover for attaching lights or lasers. It’s a nice touch. The RO Elite Operator also comes with an ambidextrous thumb safety, which I could do without it since just a single-side safety is all I’ll ever need. I absolutely love the thin-line G10 checkered grips. They make this big ol’ gun feel all that much better, if you ask me.
The rear sight has two white dots on either side of the opening, and the front sight has a red fiber optic insert, making this sight picture very, very fast to pick up under most weather conditions. The magazine well is slightly beveled to enable faster and easier mag changes.
When time came to starting shooting this 1911 from Springfield Armory, there was no lack of volunteer helpers on hand. There never is, when the gun and plenty of free ammo for them to shoot is provided. I always start out the shooting sessions myself, and then I start passing the gun around for others to test. I had several feeding problems in the first 100 rounds; after that, there were no problems of any kind. This isn’t all that uncommon with a brand-new 1911 handgun in .45 ACP. This is why I always tell folks to make sure they fire 100 and 200 rounds through a new handgun to make sure it works 100% of the time before trusting it to self-defense needs.
After those first 100 rounds, and it was with a variety of .45 ACP that we had feeding problems, the gun magically started feeding 100% of the time with zero problems. It just needed a good break-in period. Sometimes there might be a few burrs on the steel parts that need to work their way out, and sometimes there just isn’t any explanation why a gun does this. So, be advised, you should always test your new handgun with a variety of ammo, before carrying it for self-defense purposes.
Ammo On Hand
When it came time to shoot this outstanding Range Officer Elite Operator, I had a really good selection of .45 ACP ammo on hand. From Black Hills Ammunition, we had their 200-gr Match Semi Wadcutter load, 230-gr FMJ, 230-gr JHP +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC XP all-copper hollow point that is +P, and their fairly new 135-gr HoneyBadger all-copper round that has flutes cut into the bullets.
From the nice folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition, we had their 160-gr Low Recoil, Standard Pressure Barnes TAX XP all-copper hollow point round, their 185-gr FMJ FN round, 255-gr Outdoorsman, Hard Cast FN +P load, 230-gr FMJ FN +P load, and their 200-g JHP +P fodder. All outstanding ammo, all have different purposes in real life.
Shooting was conducted by myself, with the target down range at 25 yards, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest over the hood of my pickup truck. I will say this; this may be the most consistently accurate 1911 pistol I’ve ever shot, bar none. All rounds were 2-inches or less, if I did my part. I did re-shoot a couple of targets, because I know I pulled a few shots. I wanted to be as fair as I could be when it came to accuracy.
Was there an overall winner? Yep, it was the Buffalo Bore 200-gr JHP + load, which is one of my favorite carry loads for self-defense. It came in slightly under 1.75 inches. Hot on its heels was their Black Hills 230-gr JHP +P load, followed by their 200-gr Match Semi Wadcutter load. Both were giving the Buffalo Bore winner a run for their money. However, when you get an out-of-the-box 1911 that will shoot 2-inches or less all day long, it is a winner in my book.
Changes Made To This Range Officer
The only changes I made to this Range Officer was to install a heavier 18.5-lbs recoil spring because of all the +P loads we fired through this gun. I didn’t even install my now-famous skate board tape to the front strap for a better grip on the gun. The G-10 thin line grips really allowed a great hold on the gun. I also liked the Black T coating, which is very tactical looking and once was only found on custom handguns. The sight picture was great with that red fiber optic front sight. It really stood out under bright outdoors condition.
I carried the Range Officer Elite Operator on several treks on nearby logging roads in a Blackhawk Tactical Thigh holster, and the gun rode tight to my leg but still readily accessible for a quick draw. This is one of my favorite holsters and one I would sure use if I were a cop once again.
Put It Up Against Just About Any Custom 1911
All-in-all, I just couldn’t find anything to fault with this new 1911 from Springfield Armory. The good news is, with all these tactical updates on this RO compared to the original RO, the price only went up a little over a hundred bucks. However, if you added up all the improvements, it would easily come to well over $300 in upgrades. Check out the Springfield Armory website for more information, and then start shopping around for your own Range Officer Elite Operator. They are in short supply, and I expect them to be that way for a long, long time to come. They are that good. I’d put it up against just about any custom 1911 on the market.