Range Report: Ruger SR1911 9mm

Ruger SR1911 9mm pistol right profile

Ruger is an old line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. Although Ruger was late getting into the 1911 market, it introduced a short slide 1911 handgun, the SR1911 that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy, and value. When the Commander version was introduced, I obtained one of the first short-slide 1911 Rugers and found it good.

Ruger SR1911 pistols stainless finish left side
While the pistol is safe with the hammer down, the proper carry mode is cocked and locked, lower pistol.

The SR1911 9mm is an aluminum-frame 1911 in the Commander configuration. Commander is a generic term for the compact 1911 with a full-size firing grip but shortened slide and barrel. .75 inch off of the slide makes for a fast handling handgun with much to recommend.

Today, there are many 1911s available. Unfortunately, some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol. I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus—and it wasn’t only his but as he stated the conclusion of learned minds—was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating the pistol, I found it to be a service-grade handgun well worth betting your life on. And, it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.

Examination of the Ruger SR1911 9mm

The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the lightning like cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original 1911 serrations. The gray, hard-anodized frame looks great, it is well done. The pistol does not use a firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters while exciting others. The Ruger accomplishes drop safety by means of a low mass firing pin that is backed up by an extra power firing pin spring.

Two Ruger SR1911 pistols back to back
Custom grade beavertail safeties make handling the 1911 and quickly getting into action easier.

The slide is finished with the Ruger logo on one side the other side marked MADE IN USA. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights are leagues ahead of GI sights and allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more.

The hammer is a light weight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked as designed. With the hammer to the rear and the safety on, the disconnect is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is pressed, the trigger is blocked by the grip safety. The grip safety is a memory bump-type. This aids in properly pressing the grip safety with a less than perfect grip, but you damn well better know what you are doing with a 1911! The grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into its travel.

The barrel uses a conventional barrel bushing and locking lugs for lockup. The recoil spring plug is conventional, and there is no full length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years, quite a few target features have crept into the 1911. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons.

Ruger SR1911 9mm Luger slide and logo
This is the news—it is a Ruger, and it is a 9mm 1911!

The barrel is a ramped type; all good for case head support and feed reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes occasionally wear loose with time and use, and sometimes the grip panel does not properly support the plunger tube. The trigger is a long target-type. I can live with this. The magazine housing is a flat type,—the only way to go with a custom grade beavertail.

The trigger is superb. It was crisp, and broke cleanly at a smooth 5.25 pounds. The slide lock safety snapped into the locked position smartly. There was no slop or loose fit. The grips are rubber. They were comfortable and gave good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap that aided in gripping the pistol and may lower the bore axis. The height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is controllable in rapid fire. There is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.

The magazines are well made stainless steel units. Quality aftermarket 9mm magazines are widely available. The supplied magazines feature strong magazine springs. It is a tight setup and a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle at different speeds. These magazine springs will raise the cartridge to the chamber with authority.

Barrel bushing of the Ruger SR1911 9mm
Barrel bushing to barrel fit is nice and snug.

As for the caliber itself, the 9mm is popular based upon many good traits. After all, the first Commander in 1948 was chambered in 9mm in hopes of securing a military contract. The 9mm offers modest recoil, yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those that cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber.

Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true. 9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ is one example, the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1200 fps, we see real performance.

The Firing Line

The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the firing line. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, after that it was smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired, and ejected every cartridge. Like all quality firearms, the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over the other for accuracy but not in reliability. The pistol was fast from leather, fast on target, and offered excellent control. The 9mm just doesn’t kick much and you may run double taps, hammers, and controlled pairs home. This is simply a great handling 1911.

Front strap of the Ruger SR1911 9mm pistol
A slight dip in the front strap aids in getting a good hold and also lowers the bore axis.

The good traits of the 9mm are preserved and there are sensible improvements. That is how it should be in the natural progression of things. As for ammunition performance, I was able to test and evaluate a number of loadings. The Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P is a good choice for personal defense. The balance of expansion and penetration is good and expansion potential excellent. If you do not wish to run +P loads in your 9mm—and many do not—the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip offers good expansion with less recoil. The bottom line will be shot placement. I fired a number of loads for accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. 15 yards is a long distance for personal defense.

During the test, I carried the Ruger in a Professional holster from Jeffrey Custom Leather. With a retention screw, first rate stitching, top saddle grade leather, and a good balance of speed and retention, I wear this holster often. The Professional rides high and may be worn beneath the typical concealed carry vest.

Accuracy Testing, 15 Yards

Load Speed Group
Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ 1170 fps 1.9 in.
Winchester USA Forged FMJ/steel case 1120 fps 2.2 in.
Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P 1212 fps 1.25 in.
Winchester Silvertip 115-grain 1160 fps 1.75 in.

I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.

The author was very smitten by the SR1911 9mm; are you? What’s your take 9mm 1911s? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. The only SR1911 available with a rail, as far as I know of at this time, is the Model 6715; a “Government” model that is available exclusively from Talo Distributors. Go to Ruger’s website for details.

  2. I respectfully disagree on two counts; trigger pull weight and zero distance. I do agree on keeping the trigger finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire.

    Trigger pull weight is subjective to the operator’s level of competence and comfort. My EDC 1911 has a trigger pull weight of 5.25 pounds and I consider a pull weight of 4 to 6 pounds good for a pistol that is being carried for defensive purposes. I do have several 1911-based pistols where the trigger pull weight is about 3.5 pounds, but these pistols are not carried because I consider the trigger pull too light for defensive purposes. They are; however, excellent target pistols.

    Zero distance is subjective to the operator’s level of competence and comfort. Any handgun has a “natural” zero that is dependent on the relationship between the front sight height to the rear sight height to the bore axis of the hand gun and to the ammunition being used. The operator needs to know where the bullet will impact at any given distance under ideal conditions with the sights that came with the pistol. At that point, the operator has several choices; change the relationship of the rear/front sight height or physically compensate for the difference at varying distances.

    The truth of the matter is that there is very little difference in a .45 ACP bullet’s flight path at 15 yards to 25 yards so either zero would be sufficient for a fighting handgun. In fact, if the POI equaled the POA at 50 yards, the difference of impact at combat distance would not even be enough to concern one self with. And, getting back to the matter at hand, the SR1911 in any caliber is capable enough to deliver the mail at combat distances.

    I have written a series of article on what I went through to get a Rock Island Armory 1911 FS Standard to shoot accurately.

  3. To address the front sight issue:

    I have five Ruger SR1911 pistols. As of yet, I have had no front sight issues. With that said, you can contact Ruger Customer Service and provide them with the serial number of your particular pistol and request them to see if your pistol is affected by the front sight issue. If it is, Ruger will send you the requisite shipping bag so that you can send your pistol to them. Even if the front sight is not damaged. They will replace the front sight. for you.

  4. 5.25 trigger is too heavy for an SA gun. My 1911’s run 3-4 lbs; safety on/finger off trigger until ready to destroy the target.
    15 yards is a long way for most defensive shooting but is too short for accuracy evaluation which is what you were doing. 25 yds is the handgun standard, got to compare apples to apples.

  5. I have purchased both a full size and commander in 45 and have been shooting them for 2+ years. After less than a year the front sight sheared off while target shooting. Ruger sent me a return label, but will not install any other than the original MIM front sight, even if you purchase it from them. about 3 months later exactly the same thing happened to the commander. I sent the slide to NOVAK’s who installed and returned it within a week. When I got it back I sent the full size in.
    Ruger uses MIM parts the must make themselves and to have TWO pistols have exactly the same part failure is not good.

  6. Just a comment on the 9mm vs .45ACP discussion. My 7 rounder guns are all .45. My 9mm are all 12 plus rounds ( mostly Sigs) except for my Ruger LC9s. I just decide what I am doing and what sort of print I might need and pick the firearm that fits. My LC9s works nicely in a Sneaky Pete at some formal occasion where I might remove my suit coat. I select well researched, tested and rated ammo and do not worry to much about the caliber if it meets my needs and situation for that day.

  7. I own a full size SR 1911 in .45 ACP. Excellent value for the money and never a function problem with all types of ammo. My friends who have similar 1911s that cost a lot more money say they wish they had just bought the Ruger. I have many Ruger firearms and find they are well made weapons that work and a good value for dollars spent. Ruger Precision is my next purchase in .308. j

  8. I got a chance to test fire one of these over the week. I loved the overall balance and feel of this Ruger. I tested it along with a Kimber TLE in 45. The lightweight handling is far better than that of the other fullsize. I had zero issues with it. This will be my next purchase for concealed carry.

  9. The SR1911 in 9mm is, indeed a pleasure to shoot. I purchased mine shortly after they first came out. Ruger admits that the magazines are an issue and are researching other vendors; I run Mec-Gar 9-round magazines and Wilson Combat 10-round magazines, although the magazines that came with the SR1911 work just fine. However, if you try to insert a full Ruger magazine with a closed slide, the magazine cannot be fully inserted, because there is just not enough space to compress the magazine further. This fact could negate any “combat” reload, which is why I use other than Ruger magazines.

  10. I’ve been carrying one of the 1911 Commanders in 45 ACP since shortly after it was introduced. It is unique among my handguns in that I haven’t changed a thing about it. The only things I’ve purchased to go with it are additional magazines and leather. It has everything it needs to have and nothing it doesn’t, is easy to shoot well with , and is totally reliable.

  11. well ok target gun in 9mm but would go for the 45 as a carry – just like Jeff Cooper – who was one of my early hero’s would as well….

  12. Nice review. A small typographical error near the end caught my attention.
    “The Professional rides hide [sic] and may be worn beneath the typical concealed carry vest.” I suspect that the author meant to write “high”.

  13. I’m surprised at the number of stock 1911 triggers coming with pull weights of five to six pounds (or more). That’s basically the same weight as modern striker-fired pistols, and generally heavier than the SA pulls of DA/SA pistols like the SIG P22x series.

    Given there’s a manual safety, I’m surprised triggers aren’t generally in the four-pound range.

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