When it comes to firearms pride, ego and emotional investment seem to take precedence over calm detachment among many shooters. Cold and pragmatic aren’t in the cards. Some make statements with enough conceit to honor a Democratic caucus with enough leftover to feed a small town council room. My educated and well-trained self isn’t immune to such leanings.
My choices are often based on a sense of history and the aforementioned emotional attachment. Just the same, these choices are proven, and the harmonic convergence of design in the 1911 handgun is demonstrable as the Divine Angle of handguns. Nothing fits my hand better, and no handgun performs better for me. If one did, I would carry it and not the 1911.
A positive demonstration of combat accuracy is an impediment to fallacies. A solid understanding of physics and honest research that is verifiable and repeatable favor the .45 ACP-caliber handgun. A top-quality 1911 is a formidable firearm in training hands. Quality is the baseline. There are a numbers of assemblers and few true manufacturers. It seems that there is a race to the bottom among 1911 makers. (This is common among AR-15 rifles as well.) It seems to be fueled by those who have difficulty discerning quality and choosing a superior product.
In the industry, marketing types and CEOs attempt to understand this market reality. If the Yugo were a 1911, it would sell, evidently, at the expense of Chevrolet, and Lincoln. Still, there are discerning shooters who recognize quality. Some of us enjoy heritage guns. These are handguns that are likely to last several generations and continue to give good service. There are handguns that would be suitable for leaving to the children or presenting to a soldier departing for the Sandbox. After all, most of the 1930s Star and Llama pistols are long gone while a Colt from the era may be counted on, but so may the Argentine 1927 pistol.
Springfield Armory began offering good, quality 1911 handguns in the 1980s. Other competitors opened the doors at the same time, made a few guns, and then folded. Many of these were parts guns made from readily available aftermarket frames and slides. GI parts were used in some. Springfield offered a quality product and is now respected as an “old line” maker by young shooters. Springfield has developed a number of variations on the original GI handgun and offers target and tactical models including the Range Officer and the Tactical Response Pistol. Its Bureau Model was adopted by FBI SWAT after a grueling 20,000-round test period. This is a tremendous achievement by any standard.
The GI pistol is well made and a strong favorite of those preferring a no-frills, all-business 1911. The Mil-Spec is an improved version with a lowered ejection port and high-profile sights. In my opinion, the best buy among the Springfield 1911 handguns is the Loaded Model. This model was developed in response to competition from other makers offering factory handguns with custom-grade features such as high-profile sights, a speed safety and a beavertail grip safety in one package. At the time, nothing quite like it existed. Today, the Springfield Loaded Model offers a good value in a quality 1911 and is arguably all the pistol most 1911 shooters will ever need.
The Loaded Model has build integrity, Novak sights, a speed safety, a custom-grade beavertail, a crisp trigger action, forward cocking serrations and an excellent barrel-to-slide fit. You can pay more for a 1911—the TRP is a good example—but you should be certain that the performance of the Loaded Model is holding you back before you proceed.
Longevity of the Springfield 1911 has been proven in FBI competition. My Springfield Loaded Model LW 1911 went 20,000 rounds without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. This seems consistent with the Springfield line. While enjoying such service from a handgun, I have done my part. The pistol has been cleaned and lubricated on schedule and the recoil springs changed every 5,000 rounds. Magazines are a renewable resource. The exactor looked fine at 8,000 rounds but was changed anyway. Wear was evident, but it was even, not eccentric. The steel-frame Loaded Model I carry most often has several thousand rounds on the frame without an issue. It’s no surprise that I trust the reliability of these handguns.
Some of the traits such as a low bore axis that limits muzzle rise, straight-to-the-rear trigger compression and hand-fitting grip are pure 1911 features. The build quality and performance are Springfield. The pistol illustrated is a blue-finish, steel-frame Loaded Model. This one tips the scales at 39 ounces. This weight makes for a 1911 that is a joy to fire with standard loads. The trigger action breaks at a clean 5 pounds.
The pistol exhibits the proper 1/32-inch gap between the two halves of the feed ramp, ensuring feed reliability. The slide-lock safety action is positive, snapping into place. The beavertail grip safety helps ensure that the hand properly depresses the safety. Some of us that like the thumb-forward grip may not properly depress the grip safety; the beavertail safety helps with this concern, as we sometimes raise the palm off of the grip safety.
Accuracy has been excellent. The accuracy load to date has been the Magnus hardcast 200-grain SWC over enough Titegroup powder for 890 fps. A five-shot group at 25 yards usually runs 2.25 inches but sometimes smaller, less often a little larger. The carry load is the Hornady 200-grain XTP. This loading is match accurate and offers an excellent balance of penetration and expansion.
Accuracy results, benchrest groups at 25 yards, average of two five-shot groups
|Magnus||200-grain SWC/Titegroup powder/890 fps||2.25 inches|
|Fiocchi||230-grain FMJ||3 inches|
|Fiocchi||230-grain Extrema||2.35 inches|
|Hornady||200-grain XTP||2.5 inches|
|Hornady||230-grain XTP +P||2.8 inches|
The Springfield Loaded Model is more than accurate enough for any conceivable personal defense chore.
The Springfield 1911 Loaded Model is like all standard 1911 handguns—long but flat and easily concealed. Concealment is really about comfort. As the steel-frame 1911 may be concealed in a proper holster, it is the comfort of the user that’s the bottom line and how the user tolerates the weight of the handgun. I have used a number of quality IWB holsters with the Springfield and settled upon the DM Bullard Dual Carry. Carried inside the pants, this holster offers excellent concealment. Speed is good. The holster is available in a variety of exotic skins, which adds to the longevity of the holster.
Loaded Model Target
The Springfield Loaded Model is also offered in a 9mm Luger version. The most interesting variant is the target-sighted model, available in both 9mm and .45 ACP. This handgun allows a marksman to adjust his sights for a precise point of aim and impact. While important for competition, many of us consider our 1911 handguns as all-around guns for personal defense, small game and competition. The rugged adjustable sights are a good addition to the handgun.
Springfield has really raised the bar for 2016, and the Springfield Loaded 1911 is no exception. What’s your favorite Springfield or 1911 model? Share it 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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