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Range Review: Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP — Pure Performance

Ruger SR1911

Those who collect certain handguns seem to have different personalities. The Glock man may be practical. He owns a hideout Glock, a full-size pistol, and perhaps a spare. SIG folks appreciate fit and finish, but a half-dozen pistols satisfy their needs. Both will appreciate the Ruger SR1911.

The 1911 man will own as many pistols as he can afford. It has been a long time since I purchased a 1911 I needed. A shooter who gets the 1911 bug may own a cheap 1911, several middle-of-the-road guns, and a top-end pistol or two. He is convinced he needs them all.

I appreciate the 1911 and demand a lot from individual handguns. I know what a properly setup pistol is capable of. The Ruger SR1911 is among the best 1911 handguns out of the box and is all of the gun many shooters need. The pistol wasn’t introduced all that long ago, but has earned a solid reputation as a working man’s 1911.

Ruger SR1911
The stainless steel SR1911 is nicely polished.

Ruger 1911

Ruger is known to be a good value for the money. The P89-type pistols are reliable and accurate, but very clunky. When Ruger introduced the SR1911, it had a relatively slim, ergonomic, and effective firearm that was based on proven principles.

All Ruger had to do was pursue quality of manufacture. If anyone thinks Ruger cannot make a stylish gun, the SR1911 puts a lie to that statement.

Ruger introduced the SR1911 as a brushed stainless hard-use 1911. The grip safety, slide lock, thumb safety and grip safety are nicely contrasted in black. The pistol features checkered grips with the Ruger emblem.

While there are a number of variations, the pistol illustrated is the popular five-inch barrel Government Model steel frame .45 ACP. There are also Commander and Officer’s Model pistols with excellent performance.

1911 in brown leather holster
The author often carries the Ruger SR1911 in a Bullard Leather basketweave holster.

Ruger SR1911 Government Model

The appearance of the SR1911 is flawless. The machine work is flawless. The stainless steel slide and frame are well fitted. As the slide is racked, the locking lugs run smoothly out of lockup, and the pistol locks solidly again as the slide comes to rest.

The pistol features a slightly extended thumb safety and a modern beavertail-type grip safety. Trigger compression is a tight and smooth at 5.1 pounds. The beavertail safety funnels the hand into the grip as the handle is grasped. The grip safety — when depressed properly — releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into the grip safety’s travel.

The checkered mainspring housing helps the shooter keep a firm grip on the handgun. The slide is a forged unit, while the frame is cast. I have no problems with cast parts. Ruger revolvers are cast. These revolvers are easily the strongest modern revolver. Perhaps, they are the strongest revolvers ever made.

Fieldstripped Ruger SR1911
Disassembly is straightforward. Quality of manufacture and good finish is evident.

SR1911 Features

The barrel is a standard five-inch long 1911 .45 ACP barrel. The two halves of the feed ramp — one on the barrel and one on the frame — are nicely polished. There is the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the two halves to ensure proper feed reliability.

The extractor features a tight tension on the cartridge case when in battery. Feed, extraction, and ejection are positive, with spent cases ending up in a neat pile about 11 feet to the right. The barrel bushing is nicely fitted. The fit of the bushing to the barrel is snug, but not so tight it cannot be fieldstripped by hand.

With the original 1911 design, and almost every modern pistol, the plunger tube is a separate staked-on part. This is the tube that holds the tension spring that provides tension to control the slide lock and thumb safety. I have seen a number of loose and broken plunger tubes over the years. They are not easy to replace and re-stake.

The Ruger features a design change in which the plunger tube is part of the frame. This is a big advantage.

Ruger 1911 frame
The pistol’s thumb safety and grip safety are well designed and properly fitted.

Drop Safety Solution

An important issue with any handgun is drop safety. Once the SIG P-series introduced a positive firing-pin block, many makers rushed to redesign their handguns. The 1911’s firing pin is the inertia type.

When the hammer strikes the firing pin, the firing pin runs forward, and strikes the cartridge primer. The firing-pin spring then withdraws the firing pin to its original resting position.

The problem with a free-floating firing pin would be a case where the pistol was dropped dead on the muzzle from a sufficient height. The firing pin may take a run forward, reach the cartridge primer, and fire the pistol. Colt introduced the Series 80 firing-pin block to counter this problem.

The firing-pin block keeps the firing pin locked in place until the trigger is fully pressed to the rear. Some feel the firing-pin block is an unnecessary complication. Ruger has solved this problem in a neat way.

Ruger uses a lightweight titanium firing pin. This lightweight firing pin is far less likely to run forward should the pistol be dropped. In addition, the firing-pin spring is an extra-strength design.

The pistol features Novak fixed sights. The rear sight may be adjusted for windage. A set screw holds the rear sight in place. Loosen the screw and bump the sight to adjust the windage. Novak sights are the standard by which all other handgun sights are judged.

The rear sight is angled to prevent snagging the sight on clothing as the pistol is drawn. The combination of a square rear notch and post front sight makes for an excellent all-around combination.

1911 pistol on target with magazines and ammo box
Ruger also offers a 10mm SR1911 with adjustable sights.

Test Firing the SR1911

All of my examinations added to up to confirm the pistol’s quality of manufacture. However, the real test is firing the pistol. The pistol was taken to the range with a good mix of .45 ACP loads from Federal, Remington, Winchester, and Fiocchi.

The pistol was lubricated on its long bearing surfaces, barrel hood, barrel bushing, and locking block. Wilson Combat and Ruger magazines were loaded with 230-grain ball ammo.

Drawing quickly from a custom leather holster, produced excellent results. There is no pistol faster to an accurate first shot hit than the full-size 1911. The pistol comes on target quickly. The sights line up quickly, and the trigger is smooth. Firing at seven and 10 yards, the pistol proved fast on target.

It was easy to get solid center hits. Fire, allow the pistol to recoil as you control the handgun, get it back on target, and fire again. The Ruger SR1911 is an impressive combat pistol.

Firing from a MTM Case-Gard K-Zone shooting rest at a long 25 yards, I fired several groups with three types of 230-grain FMJ ammunition. The Ruger may be counted on for 2.5-inch groups at 25 yards. With quality ammunition, some groups will be smaller.

The single most accurate loading tested was the Fiocchi 200-grain XTP with a 2.0-inch group. The Ruger SR1911 is well made of good material, and is reliable and accurate enough for all but the most demanding competition.

The Ruger SR1911 is among the best buys in the 1911 world.

What do you think of the Ruger SR1911? Let us know 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 (13)

  1. Oh look… ooooohhh ahhhhhh…. another 1911…
    Yawn…
    Never have understood the fascination with 1911. Handled them, shot them, and for me it’s just a meh pistol. They’re heavy, have low capacity, seem finicky, and are frickin’ expensive. And before anyone freaks out accusing me, I don’t like “Block Perfection” either so don’t bother trying. I really do admire JM Browning’s design genius but I will never for the life of me figure out the whole 1911 thing.

  2. Have 2 of the Ruger SR-1911’s. First got the stainless as shown above. Perfect out of the box and very accurate.
    The second one I bought later is a Desert tan, with lower rail. Just like the Stainless mdl6700 it is perfect out of the box.

    Have many Ruger pistols and rifles.

  3. looks like a nice ride, Ruger usually puts out good gun for money ratio from my experience. as a collector of all things that bun powder i want one just because. i have 4 1911’s, -sig tac ops in 45acp(shoots anything flawlessly)
    Springfield operator with trijcon RMR (nail driver) 45acp Remington R1(good entry likes all ammo no problems old school look) 45acp and Kimber custom II (only likes Kimber mags for some reason but a pleasure when running Kimber mags so you forget all about that) 45acp
    all in all the Springfield is the smoothest running and the RMR makes for fast easy target first and follow up. little on the higher side of price but worth it ,sig is tough to beat for several reasons but is a little looser than the rest but easily my 2nd choice. Kimber is all around good fit finish and is very pleasing to the eyes so 3 in my book and the rem R1only 4th due to the basic model no skeletonized trigger , hammer , no beavertail plain sights but just a cool good running 1911 for the money .think it was about $550 barley used, wile the Springfield with RMR installed buy smith, was almost $1800. and the other 2 in-between. bottom line there is such history with this pistol shoots awesome in my opinion and hitting targets has never been a issue with the gun mostly seems like its user error for me lol have a blast be safe and i look forward to stopping by the shop and checking one out

  4. I’m USN RETIRED. I was on a regional pistol team which we shot, of course, the gov. model Colt 1911. I have one still along with a S&W 1911(external extractor, the new Taurus 1911 made in Bainbridge, GA & the Ruger SR1911. The Ruger is my favorite 1911. I paid around $500 less than the S&W for, in my opinion, a pistol of the same quality & slightly better accuracy. It’s just a great gun. Period

  5. I’ve had my SR1911 for about 3 years now and there’s no pistol like a 1911 but for the money this is, in my opinion one of the best shooting and best looking 1911’s money can buy. I absolutely love my SR1911!!

  6. JACK

    “I’ve had my Ruger SR 1911 for about 5 years and love it. There is nothing as sweet to shoot as a .45 ACP 1911. Be sure to keep an eye on screw tightness, I had to put a drop of Locite on one of my grip panel screws.”

    I had that problem with my S&W PC 1911. It has unique G10 grips and they would be loose after every day at the range. I tried blue locktite and they still came loose plus the Locktite messed up the threaded inserts. I ended up replacing the studs with some Wilson Combat ones and replaced the grips with Crimson Trace Cocobolo laser grips. That did the trick and they don’t come loose anymore.

  7. I have 3 1911s. My first was a Springfield EMP, then a Ruger SR1911, and my best one is a S&W Performance Center Scandium frame Commander. I use the Ruger for shooting reloads and it has never missed a beat. It is a good solid gun and about the only thing I miss is an ambidextrous safety as I’m a lefty. For about half the price of my S&W it is a very good value and the fit and finish is actually better on the Ruger though it weighs a lot more.

  8. I’ve had a Ruger 1911 Commander for some years and think it’s a great pistol. My other .45 acp is an October 1918 made Colt. The Ruger seems to be made of tougher steel. I have had a laser grip on the Ruger, but will put the wood ones back on. They look and feel better. With the current price of ammunition I look at it more than I shoot it.

  9. I have a Ruger SR 1911 and it is the most accurate 1911 I’ve ever shot. I feel this is because of the way the barrel locks up in the barrel bushing. I may or may not be wrong but I think it’s because the barrel, slide and bushing are all made from the same piece of metal. Because of this I have a problem when I rack the slide. Because the barrel locks up so tightly Ruger puts a heavier recoil spring (18 lbs) in the gun to make sure the gun goes into battery. The only way I can rack the slide is by first cocking the hammer. I tried a lighter recoil spring (standard 1911 15 lbs spring) but because of the weaker spring the gun didn’t always go fully into battery. So, I put the Ruger spring back in and the gun worked properly. This is the only 1911 I have where I need the bushing wrench to disassemble & reassemble the bushing. Normally, you use hand & finger strength to push the plunger down and turn the barrel bushing. I can’t do this without using the bushing wrench. That’s how tightly the parts all fit together. After shooting several hundred rounds the front sight broke and flew off the gun. I contacted Ruger and they told me to ship just the slide to them for repair. They replaced the front sight and returned it to me within a week at no charge to me. When I got it back I thought I would have to make a windage adjustment. I was wrong. The gun shot dead-on and the bullets were going right in the center of the target, where it belongs. This is a great gun, an accurate gun and even thought it’s considered a mid-range priced 1911 it’s worth more than the money I paid for it. I’m very happy with it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  10. While researching the purchase of a FIRST 1911, and hearing old stories that a 1911 couldn’t hit the inside of a barn even if you were inside, I read where the SR1911’s barrel, and bushing, is made from the SAME piece of steel, on the SAME machine, at the SAME time. Let that sink in for a moment, because the accuracy of the SR1911 IS IMPRESSIVE! One day a friend was using an AR on a 6′ steel at (a guess) 40 yards, and said; see if you can hit it with that. Man! It was the first time I heard a 45 ring a GONG! LOL, FIRST TRY! AND yes it was repeatable. True Story, nuf said.

  11. There is no better shooting gun then a 1911 full size I own a Springfield 1911 like I said the best shooting gun

  12. I have a Ruger SR1911 in 10mm. While there are differences in the sights and the 10mm sports a bushingless bull barrel, the pistol is of excellent quality, accuracy and reliability. It is the equal of my Springfield TRP Operator. Fit and finish is excellent as well. It devours all styles and brands of 10mm fodder and runs Ruger, Wilson, Chip McCormick and 10 round Cobra mags equally well. I completely agree that a true 1911 man can’t have too many of the Ol’ Slabsides and I find myself really “needing” an SR1911 Commander .45acp… I don’t think my wife agrees, though…she just hasn’t shot one… yet!

  13. I’ve had my Ruger SR 1911 for about 5 years and love it. There is nothing as sweet to shoot as a .45 ACP 1911. Be sure to keep an eye on screw tightness, I had to put a drop of Locite on one of my grip panel screws.

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