Range Report: Springfield Range Officer Compact 1911

Springfield Range Officer Compact 1911 pistol left

Springfield gained a great deal of experience in fitting frame slides and barrels during the past three decades. As a result, it is in a position to offer custom grade accuracy at a fair price. A few years ago, Springfield Armory introduced a pistol that became a great success. Springfield’s Range Officer 1911 is a first-class target pistol well worth its modest price, offering a match-grade barrel and accuracy potential that will win any match. In this world, you seldom get more than you pay for, but in the case of the Range Officer, a trained shooter has a great handgun for considerably less than the price of other target-grade 1911 handguns. The Range Officer is decked in a dull parkerized finish, which is an economy feature, but the heart of the pistol is what counts. Recently, Springfield has offered the concept in a downsized 1911.

The Springfield Range Officer Compact is a 28-ounce pistol with a belled barrel, short slide and abbreviated grip frame. Designed for personal defense, this handgun is intended to provide first-class protection without the expense of a custom grade finish. The well-fitted bell barrel, sometimes incorrectly referred to as a bull barrel, locks up securely on the slide. There is no room for the conventional barrel bushing of the 1911 in a short slide pistol. The barrel must tilt at a severe angle in order to feed and function properly. Changes in the 1911 template must be made. The pistol features a modern spring within a spring recoil technology to harness both heavier recoil and faster slide velocity.

The assembly includes a full-length guide rod. The ramped barrel eliminates the traditional two-piece feed ramp of the 1911. This barrel ensures feed reliability and properly supports the cartridge case head. A ramped barrel prevents damage to the aluminum frame from sharp-nosed JHP or SWC type projectiles, as well.

The slide is parkerized and the frame is anodized. The sights feature two white dots in the rear and a bright fiber optic front sight. This combination gives shooters every advantage in fast combat-style shooting. As a bonus, a couple of spare fiber optic rods are supplied with the pistol. The lockable hard case features a range holster, magazine carrier and spare magazine.

The pistol features a nicely checkered magazine spring housing that gives the shooter excellent adhesion when firing the light .45. The 1911 beavertail safety is particularly well designed. The beavertail safety funnels the hand to the proper firing grip, spreads recoil out in the palm to an extent, and ensures the shooter engages the grip safety properly. There is also a well-designed speed safety. The trigger offers a smooth compression at a crisp 5.5 pounds. There is about 0.13-inch travel—the typical rapid reset of the Springfield 1911 trigger.

The frame, with the six-round 1911 magazine, is properly called an Officer’s Model size. The slide, however, features a 4-inch barrel rather than the 3.5-inch Officer’s Model barrel or the 3-inch Defender-size barrel. In my opinion, this configuration offers excellent balance and utility. The .45 ACP relies upon mass and frontal diameter for effect, not velocity. However, just the same, the 4-inch barrel offers slightly higher velocity over the shorter 1911 barrels. The lightweight .45 kicks more than the 40-ounce Government Model, but if you can handle a Commander .45, you can handle this pistol. The Range Officer Compact kicks the least of any small .45 I have yet fired. For those that practice, the Range Officer Compact offers a high degree of protection.

The Range Officer Compact has impressed me with its engineering. The next step was to give the piece a good workout on the range. I leave nothing to chance with a personal defense firearm, and the pistol would be proofed. I lubricated the long bearing surfaces and took to the range with a good supply of practice and defense loads.

Many 1911 handguns demand a modest break-in period. The Range Officer Compact came out of the box running. The initial firing was accomplished with HPR 230-grain FMJ loads. If a 1911 doesn’t run with 230-grain hardball, it is pretty sick. I loaded the supplied magazines, a few extras and laid into man-sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. The results were excellent. The sights are an advantage in rapid fire. The pistol isn’t a heavy kicker, despite its size, and the sights are well regulated for 230-grain ball ammunition. Next, I fired one magazine each of the HPR 185-grain JHP and the HPR 230-grain JHP, to confirm feed reliability. The dozen rounds fed without a problem.

Firing from a braced barricade position, the pistol proved accurate enough for any reasonable chore. Firing at a Shoot-N-C target at 15 yards, and carefully aligning the sights and with attention to the trigger, 2-inch wide 5-shot groups were fired. That is more than adequate for the task. I also fired a number of defense loads during this outing. I once preferred the 230-grain JHP in my .45s and still do in the 5-inch guns. Hornady has done a lot with bullet technology. The 185-grain XTP American Gunner loads demonstrate an excellent balance of expansion and penetration in the ideal range. They are fast enough to ensure bullet upset and provide good accuracy. Recoil is slightly less than the 230-grain load. I have also carried the Critical Defense load and find it viable. Without splitting hairs, either one is a fine defense load. The FTX perhaps is more likely to offer consistent expansion; the American Gunner more likely to offer consistent penetration. Shot placement means the most. These loads gave excellent function and a full powder burn even in the RO’s short barrel.

After living with the Springfield RO Compact for several weeks and firing just over 350 rounds of ammunition, I find the piece reliable, accurate enough for personal defense and light on the hip when properly carried in a well-made IWB holster.

Would you carry the Range Officer Compact? Share your favorite 1911 carry in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (24)

  1. Too bad this blog didn’t exist 20 years ago. I have a Springfield V -10 Champion I bought brand new at the, then, premium price of $609. The V-10 is basically the same, Only Better.
    It takes a standard 7rd mag or a 8rd mag with a factory ported 4″ barrel (actually 3 7/8″). All internal parts are exactly the same as a full size 45, Beaver tail, main spring, the same. I “Know” I got a better deal at less than half the $1400 price tag.

    1. The Range Officer Compact is in the seven hundred dollar range.

      I do not know where the 1400 tag comes from.
      This is a great gun but affordable.

      You are correct, six hundred 20 years ago was a lot of money!
      Still is to me—-

    2. Truth be told….There is no handgun on the market today, at any price, I would trade for my V10 for. In compatition, it does just as well as some of the $4000 race guns I’ve been up against using “Major Power Factor” ammunition.

  2. I like the ROC, but I wish they would offer it as an ambi model also, I own two SA 1911, a Millspec and a TRP, the Millspec I had and ambi safety put on and made it a much better carry gun for my needs, I wont carry any gun that isn’t Ambi, just for safety reasons, too many LEO’S have had big problems when one or the other hand was injured in altercations and they couldn’t operate the their gun because there was just a right handed safety, I think and know for this reason a lot of law enforcement has gone to the striker fired guns with no outside safety to worry about, only trigger control….

    1. so true

      I consider my hands backwards and forward not right and left when firing in a tactical sense

  3. Would love to purchase this gun, but I live in California and have been told it is not available in Ca, is this true?

  4. The author states that this weapon is offered at “modest” price.. To me a $1400 price is not modest to the average joe.

    1. yes 1400 is way too much for the average joe, there is alot i could do with 1400.00. half of that would still be too high for the average joe. the 400 to 600 dollar range is a good price for the average joe seeing that the average american makes less than fifty five thousand a year and out of them ninety percent make less than fifty thousand a year.

  5. I use the colt gold cup and have for 50 years, the Springfield 1911 with these excellent sights are the only other 45 I would use for self defense. I do find your article very well done and agree with you 100%! I do like the 13 rd magazine for combat.

    1. Sir,
      Thanks for reading. I agree, I have one Springfield that has 20,000 rounds on it, at over 11 years of use.
      Both of my sons own SF 1911s.

      For me Colt and SF are at the top of the list.

      Bob Campbell

  6. My favorite CCW is my Ed Brown Kobra Carry LW. Reliable, easy to conceal and VERY accurate. Found it used at a local dealer in pristine condition at a very reasonable price. Fabulous handgun!

  7. I totally agree with your article. I have a RO compact 45 and I simply love mine! Since I am female and have smaller hands, it works perfectly for me. I did have my local shop install an insert underneath those beautiful grips to insure a firm purchase (finger grooves). Still breaking mine in, but it is the envy of every woman in my “Well Armed Woman” group that meets once a month. No problems and it is a dream to carry. Good review, Bob; thank you. BTW, I love 1911’s…..they are made for small hands. Own several, including Colts.

    1. Ms. Pat,

      Thanks for reading! Your comments are spot on and much appreciated.


  8. I have the1911RO compact9mm and it shoots great hadn’t had no issues with it yet it’s a very good carry gun I would recommend it to everyone looking a1911 carry gun

  9. Sir,
    Thanks for reading. The 1911s speed is a combination of features coming together– the straight to the rear trigger compression isnt impeded by a need to sweep down and move the trigger in an arc, the grip fits most hands well, and the slide lock safety is easily moved to the fire position as the pistol is drawn. This isn’t a supposition but fact. In every type of competition against all types of handguns the 1911 continues to win the match and has proven the fastest and most accurate handgun system.

    1. Bob, I am also retired LEO & wondered if the compact kit could be ordered with a LEFT-HANDED holster for those of us that are “south paws?” Companies are beginning to be more aware that a sizeable # of us are left-handed, and manufacture accordingly. (wish I could lay my hands on one of the Ithaca riot shotguns like the one I 1st was issued in 1974. Loaded and ejected @ the bottom — no shells-in-the-face when pumping it)

    2. Sir,
      The Springfield kit cannot be ordered left handed, but very good point. The supplied plastic holster isnt service grade, however, it is just a range holster. Try DM Bullard leather works, mention my name, and discuss left hand holsters with them. I think you will be pleased.
      Drive slow shoot fast!

      Bob Campbell

    3. I do appreciate the timely response. I love my Blackhawk holsters for Beretta & Glock 23 along with the magazine carriers & cuff holsters.. We have one particular gunshop that caters to LH carry & keeps a good supply of appropriate holsters in stock. That being said, I’ll have check out your suggestion.
      Thanks again.

  10. Very nice gun. Beautiful, in fact.

    I like to put Pachmayr rubberized grips on my 1911s to be a bit more ergonomic and soak up a little of the recoil, but it would almost be a crime to replace those very nice stock grips it comes with. And Springfield makes a great gun at a reasonable price, which is one of the reasons Colt is in bankruptcy. Competition.

    I do have one little contention, however. I have owned 1911’s, and carried a Kimber in Iraq for 2 years, to the overt jealousy of the other operators who saw me with it, but I have to differ a little with the comment:

    “Properly carried cocked and locked there is no pistol faster to an accurate first shot than the 1911.”

    I honestly think that’s a bit of an overstatement. My EDC is an XD .45 and I also own and sometimes carry a Glock 21, and I don’t see how, all other things being equal such as conditions, experience of the shooter, etc., a 1911 could deliver an accurate first round any faster than an XD or Glock. I’m not saying it would be slower, just that with a mechanical safety to manipulate, it would probably not be faster.

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