A few decades ago, a startup company resurrected a revered name in firearms. Springfield Armory Incorporated has since prospered. Today, it is regarded as an old-line company by younger handgunners. Considering the conservative nature of shooters, this is quite an accomplishment. Springfield began its climb to the top by offering a good product at a fair price. The Range Officer now continues the tradition.
Springfield began its climb to the top by offering a good product at a fair price. Its primary claim to fame was the Government Model 1911 handgun. Today, the 1911 is just one of the many accomplishments of firearms inventor John Moses Browning. While he invented sporting arms such as the Winchester 1894 and Browning A5 shotgun, his field of expertise included the Browning Machinegun, Browning Automatic Rifle, M2 .50 caliber machinegun and others.
The Government Model 1911 has kept Americans alive and buried their adversaries for over 100 years. The 1911 is a single-action pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. The original 1911 pistol endured rigorous testing including being dropped in sand, fired until too hot to handle, and being fired 6,000 rounds without a single malfunction.
The pistol is fed from a 7-round box magazine. The pistol features a slide lock safety that locks the action when applied, and the safety may only be applied when the pistol is properly carried with the hammer to the rear. This ready mode, known as “cocked and locked,” is faster to an accurate first-shot hit than any other system.
The pistol may be placed off safe as it is drawn into action. The single action trigger does one thing; it drops the hammer. A straight to the rear trigger compression is an advantage in accuracy and rapid fire control. A grip safety locks the trigger until the safety is depressed.
Manipulating the slide lock safety and depressing the grip safety are each natural motions that do not interfere with the firing grip. The pistol also features a low bore axis. Due to the design and uncomplicated trigger action, the pistol may use a lower riding slide. As a result, there is decreased leverage for the muzzle to rise in recoil.
Springfield Armory introduced its original 1911 at a time when the supply of GI 1911 pistols was drying up. At the time, competition shooters often turned to building their own pistol from aftermarket slides and frames; the situation was ripe for the introduction of a quality 1911 clone. Springfield introduced several improved models, including the Mil Spec, which features good sights and a scalloped ejection port, and eventually the Tactical Response Pistol and Professional Model. These are excellent handguns well worth their price, but it is a price some cannot bear.
Springfield won a prestigious contract for the FBI SWAT pistol. This 1911 handgun fired 20,000 rounds without any type of malfunction and maintained an accuracy standard of 5 shots in 1.25 inches with FBI issue JHP ammunition. Springfield has continued to offer good pistols at a fair price including the Loaded Model. Primary improvements include a beavertail grip safety that prevents hammer bite and helps funnel the hand onto the frame during high-speed drills. The memory bump beavertail grip safety also ensures the grip safety is consistently depressed during action.
The pistols are offered in stainless, blue, and parkerized finish. Improvements in grips include laser-engraved crossed cannon grips that many find attractive—other pistols are supplied with high-end G10 grips. Internally, the trigger action features a smooth break and the magazines have been perfected for feed reliability. Coupled with the good qualities of the original 1911 such as reliability, good heft and balance, these are incredible fighting tools. When you hold the pistols something says “friend.”
Springfield has used Range Officer as a designation for its ‘value line’ 1911 handguns. The primary difference between the RO guns and the high-end pistols is the finish. The Range Officer line features a parkerized finish. In this case, the pistol also has a slide lock safety of standard configuration rather than the more expensive ambidextrous unit. The match-grade stainless steel barrel and tightly fitted barrel bushing provided good accuracy potential.
The Springfield Range Officer Operator features a light rail. This rail is compatible with the wide range of combat lights and lasers currently available. The pistol features forward cocking serrations. The sights are a Novak white dot rear and fiber optic front sight. The contrast is good, and the fiber optic sight offers rapid acquisition in speed shooting. The pistol features a scalloped ejection port, lightweight hammer, target trigger, and a well designed beavertail safety. Trigger compression is factory-set at a clean 6.5 pounds. I think the Range Officer line offers good value. I have experienced good results with every version tested.
Working from Eclipse Holsters’ strong side holster, speed was excellent. This holster keeps the pistol secure on the belt and offers a good mix of speed and retention. I loaded the Springfield magazines and backed them up with a good supply of 7- and 8-round magazines. The pistol was lubricated on the long bearing surfaces. The magazines were loaded with Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ ammunition.
Firing quickly at 5, 7 and 10 yards, and working double taps on the target, the pistol provided excellent results. This is a handgun that responds well to a trained shooter. Moving between targets quickly, and getting the fiber optic sight on the target, gave a solid hit when the trigger was properly compressed. The results simply cannot be faulted.
The light rail doesn’t seem to affect balance; however, a steel frame .45 is controllable. While I sometimes deploy lighter, aluminum-frame handguns whenever possible, the steel frame 1911 should be adopted.
I also proofed the pistol with several defense and service loads. Recoil was greater with +P loads and a decision must be made if these loads are worth the extra effort to master. The wound potential of the .45 ACP is proven. I do not let those with a one-safari resume affect my view. I have observed the effect of the .45 ACP personally and researched the wound potential of many handgun cartridges.
The .45 ACP offers the best balance of control and wound potential available. Among the top loads available for the .45 ACP is the Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok. An intelligently designed bullet with a proven history, the Hydra-Shok offers excellent wound potential. The American Eagle practice load fires to the same point of impact, making the two a good combination. Firing for accuracy from a solid bench rest position at a long 25 yards, every effort was made to gauge the accuracy potential of the Springfield Range Officer Operator. The pistol is responsive to a trained shooter and offers excellent practical accuracy. The single best group was a 2.0-inch effort for 5 shots with the Speer 230-grain Gold Dot.
The 1911 is a respected war dog and law dog as well. Many attempt to denigrate the reputation of the 1911. I doubt they would take their argument to the face of the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen that saved their lives and defend our freedom with the 1911. Many civilians and peace officers have similar experience with the 1911. Springfield Armory has taken a great handgun and not only made it better, Springfield made it affordable.
25-Yard Accuracy—average of two 5-shot groups fired from a solid rest
|American Eagle 230-grain FMJ||832 fps||2.8|
|Federal 230-grain Hydra Shok||854 fps||2.5|
|Speer 200-grain Gold Dot +P||1050 fps||2.65|
|Speer 230-grain Gold Dot||827 fps||2.15|
|HPR 185-grain JHP||980 fps||2.6|
|PMC 230-grain FMJ||867 fps||4.0|
Do you own or have you shot Springfield’s Range Officer? Share your Springfield story in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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