Ruger’s SR1911 CMD .45—The Right Gun at the Right Time

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 with a Two-Tone soft gray green treatment with brown grip against a log

Advances in firearms are often slower and incremental in nature. Society changes but slowly and so do society’s tools. When the 1911 pistol was adopted for U.S. military use and then a generation later improved into the 1911A1, few could foresee the tremendous popularity of the type. The 1911 went from a fight-winning pistol to a handgun used in competition and which won every competition it entered.

The Ruger 1911 CMD .45 in silver with a brown grip, muzzle pointed to the right, on a light gray background.
Well made from good material, the Ruger SR1911 CMD should give proven Ruger performance coupled with 1911 handling.

In time, the race was on for the most accessories and the greatest improvements. Much of what was added to the 1911s was counter productive to a combat pistol. Extended magazine release buttons dropped the magazine when the gun was holstered and extended slide release were often caught by the support hand, locking the pistol open during a firing string. The gas pedal slide lock safety was incompatible with well-molded leather holsters. A good quality 1911 crept over the thousand-dollar mark, putting many of us out of the market. Then there were the ultra-reliable polymer pistols, which possessed little pride of ownership, but always work. They captured the low bid police market and earned a place in the scheme of things.

Quite a few 1911 makers have offered a handgun of the GI type. This pistol is affordable and often works well although its practical value may be hindered by its lack of features. Still, wars were won with such pistols and the great feats of the 1911 were accomplished with the GI gun. I like to think that someone at Ruger realized that there might be a market for a handgun similar to the consensus gun once popularized by Colonel Jeff Cooper.

If you do not know who Cooper was, all I can say is, ‘My God didn’t your mother read to you when you were a child?’

I devoted a chapter in my first book on the 1911 to Colonel Cooper and he well deserved the ink. Cooper was of the opinion that an all around 1911 needed a good set of sights, a crisp—not necessarily light—trigger and a speed safety. This was the consensus. If you were going to use exotic bullet styles then you needed a feed ramp polish, but this was primarily due to the poor design of the hollow-point ammunition then in vogue. Modern JHP loads with an overall length of 1.250 inches and a well-designed bullet will usually feed just fine in a GI pistol. If the pistol is properly constructed with the requisite gap of 1/32-inch between the two portions of the feed ramp it will feed well-designed ammunition.

The Breakdown

So, the Ruger 1911 has what is needed in a 1911 but nothing superfluous to add expense. And the price point is very important in today’s market. The CMD pistol is a true Commander length 1911. In an age when many 1911 handguns use the belled barrel system for lockup the CMD uses the original 4.25-inch barrel with a separate barrel bushing. Some feel that this is the most useful and accurate set up.

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 focused on the grip handle on a gray background
The Ruger grip panels leave nothing to be desired.

The slide and frame are steel, so the Ruger isn’t a true lightweight aluminum frame Commander. The frame is cast. Since cast parts are used for critical parts in the aerospace industry I feel that they have made the grade for handgun frames. When has anyone ever had trouble with a Ruger frame or receiver?

The sights are an important feature of the consensus gun. The Ruger CMD features Novak low mount sights with three dot inserts. These sights are excellent examples of what a combat sight should be with a good sight picture. They will not snag on the draw. The slide serrations are much the same as any other 1911 and thankfully the pistol doesn’t feature forward cocking serrations.

The pistol is nicely finished in stainless steel while there are pins, screws and parts finished in black. The contrast is appealing to the eye. The magazine housing is nicely checkered. The grip panels are among the nicest I have examined on a factory pistol regardless of the price. I am a fan of custom grips but simply cannot see changing these out for anything in the foreseeable future.

The slide lock safety isn’t a gas pedal type, but it is larger than the GI types. It is ideal for all around use. The memory groove beavertail grip safety helps funnel the hand into the grip on the draw. It is also an advantage to those of us that use the thumbs forward grip style and sometimes allow the palm to rise off of the grip safety. The grip safety properly releases its hold on the trigger about half way into compression. Trigger compression is a smooth five and one half pounds with little creep and no backlash.

The package looked good after considerable examination. Field stripping the pistol showed that the CMD is free of excess tool marks. The Ruger marked magazines have good springs and a well-designed follower. Overall the quality of manufacture is high.

The Expectations

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45, partial view, with a two-tone soft gray green treatment with brown grip against a log
Ruger’s two-tone treatment is pretty nice!

The proof is in the firing. Ruger has moved to a new type of manufacturing process that includes a surprising amount of handwork and machining to the barrel bushing and barrel from one piece of stock. I am pretty certain that custom barrel makers would approve. Accuracy expectations were high.

The pistol was lightly lubricated in anticipation of firing. The 1911 has often demanded a modest break in period of 50 to 100 full power cartridges before it commenced reliable function. The Ruger demanded no such break in. There were no burrs present and the link was properly set from the factory. The .45 ACP is a very efficient cartridge usually showing a full powder burn in even short Commander length barrels.

Accuracy potential is high and pressure is low. Despite the low pressure, the .45 ACP demonstrates excellent wound potential. With 1.6 inches of frontal diameter and sufficient mass to ensure good penetration the wound ballistics of the type are impressive. 230-grain ‘Hardball’ has enjoyed an excellent reputation on the battlefield.

Despite attempts to revise history and convince us that a small caliber somehow defies physics and does the work of a .45 by using a trick bullet, the .45 ACP remains popular. Total frontal diameter is 60% greater than the 9mm despite comments that the round is 1/10-inch larger than the 9mm—go back a few steps and study your geometry.

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 with a Two-Tone soft gray green treatment with brown grip against a log
While designed primarily for personal defense, the Ruger is a fine trail gun as well.

The .45 in standard loadings also has twice the mass of a 115-grain 9mm. .45 hardball produces a long wound channel and produces even more trauma when exiting, a fact that amateurs seem to ignore. Air in and blood out creates a complex wound. Just the same for public safety and to enhance wound potential an expanding bullet is preferred. But most of all remember the basic components of marksmanship. The .45 isn’t very effective if you miss the target.

At the Range

The initial testing was done with Winchester USA 230-grain ball ammunition. We began drawing from a custom leather belt slide. The belt slide is handy, secure enough for range work, and darned fast into action if need be. I often use this holster on the range and would not hesitate to carry it concealed under a proper covering garment. The finish is flawless and overall this is a good example of quality leather.

At three to seven yards the Ruger proved fast and accurate, practically placing the rounds into the same hole in deliberate fire. Double taps, hammers and controlled pairs were well placed. The pistol is simply well turned out and the first class sights and trigger compliment each other. Firing the pistol at the steel gong at a long 25 yards gave a satisfying clang more often than not. Once I acclimated to the trigger—and it is a well tuned 1911 trigger like many others—hitting small targets at known and unknown ranges made for great fun on the range.

The pistol was fired with a variety of left over ammunition from other tests and the results were always the same—the pistol fed, chambered, fired and ejected all ammunition normally.

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 in silver with a brown grip, cocked and ready to use, on a light gray background
Cocked, locked and ready to rock! This is a great 1911 pistol for all around use.

I racked up about 240 rounds and examined the pistol. As I expected, there was no eccentric wear. The pistol and the author returned to the range with a number of loads for accuracy testing. Twenty-five yards may be a long combat range but modest for an all around go anywhere do anything handgun, and that is what the 1911 is to me. I have taken a deer cleanly at about that range with a single round, so the .45 will serve in that niche. Not as a handgun of choice for hunting but as a firearm of opportunity to feed the hungry, well, it worked and that is an interesting story for another time.

Personal Defense?

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 with beavertail safety grip against a tree trunk
The beavertail grip safety is among the best factory designs at any price.

A personal defense loading should strike a balance of expansion and penetration. The Winchester 230-grain Bonded Core load is the choice of many law enforcement agencies. This load isn’t rated +P, but it breaks just over 900 fps from the Ruger CMD, as fast as many +P loads. The PDX 230-grain JHP on hand was slightly slower at 864 fps. This would probably be my all around personal defense choice. An interesting load that proved controllable and suitably accurate is the Winchester-230 grain JHP in the white box personal defense line. It isn’t a bonded bullet, but it expands reliably and is offered at a good price in 50-round boxes.

Prior to World War One Winchester was given a military contract on the premise that misfires were to be held to one in 100,000, very high standards for the day. The contract was met and Winchester standards are far higher today. These defense loads are useful and the PDX in particularly has demonstrated a good balance of expansion and penetration. The 230-grain PD bullet looks a lot like an unplated Silvertip and that isn’t a bad place to be. I also tested my last half box of the Winchester 185-grain Silvertip. This is a classic defense round that features light recoil as an advantage. Just the same, in the future I think I will continue to rely upon the 230-grain loads.

The Ruger SR1911 CMD .45 in silver with a brown grip and the speed safety option on a white background
The Ruger’s speed safety isn’t quite a gas pedal but it is ideal for concealed carry use.

I was a bit surprised to find the Ruger demonstrated such good accuracy, but then why shouldn’t it? It is a steel frame .45 with ¾-inch off the barrel and the short sight radius isn’t a hindrance off of the bench rest. Army demands for accuracy in the original 1911 called for a five-inch group at 25 yards and a 10-inch group for five shots at 50 yards. That type of accuracy will save your life but many of the GI guns were a bit more accurate. The Ruger clearly bested that standard.

Firing from a benchrest was pleasant but the heavier loads did wear on the wrist after a few magazines of ammunition. There is less give from the bench and when standing in the Weaver stance the elbows act as shock absorbers. Just the same the poorest group was fired with the mildest load, so figure that. Like all quality handguns the Ruger CMD preferred one load to the other but any of the loads tested were accurate enough for personal defense.


The Ruger CMD has made the grade. It is well made of good material, utterly reliable, fast into action and packs a serious punch. For those who practice it is difficult to imagine that a higher level of protection would be offered by any other system. The bottom line—the pistol lists for $842. Examples are sometimes found just a little less. Either way, the pistol is worth its tariff.

Accuracy Results


Load Velocity Group
Winchester 185 grain Silvertip 909 fps 4.0
Winchester 230 grain USA ball 822 fps 3.0
Winchester 230 grain JHP PD 841 fps 2.5
Winchester PDX 230 grain JHP 870 fps 2.8
Winchester 230 grain Bonded Core 901 fps 2.6


Load Velocity Group
Rainier 185 gr. JHP/WW 231 870 fps 3.15
Rainier 185 gr. JHP/Titegroup 909 fps 2.6
Montana Gold 230 grain FMJ/WW 231 807 fps 2.0

What do you think about the Ruger 1911 CMD? Have you shot one? Do you own one? What are your impressions? Share them with us 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 (20)

  1. I bought the CMD after trying one during a “Demo Days” event. I was strictly a Glock-guy, but have always liked the look of the 1911s.

    It was perfect right out of the box. I have since changed the grips to Pachmeyers, and will probably change the sights for a set of Tritium’s.

    This pistol is a true pleasure to shoot, and for the price/quality is tough to match, let alone beat. I have yet to have a feed issue with anything I have fed it, whether off the shelf or handled.

  2. I own two Ruger SR 1911’s. One a 4.25” CMDR and second SR911 5” Model 6715. I love shooting both. I had to turn in my Glock 30 because I couldn’t get a good sight picture. The Glock has a .125 rear sight opening. The SR1911’s have a .180 opening and I can clearly see the Novak 3-Dot sights. Great improvement on the range. I have had a few jams but corrected them by making sure OAL 1.25+ and stiffer arm.

  3. Better late than Never. I sure wished I could have carried this gun when flying AH-6 armed Little Birds, instead of that old Detonics. But that was then and this is now. I carry the CMD in my JKUR, at FBC, and everywhere but the Courthouse. It loves 200 gr Speer +P, but I like 230’s best like Bob.

  4. I’ve had mine for a few months now. About 100 rounds thru it with no problems. My first 1911 and the only other semi auto pistol is a Ruger Mk2 that is the most accurate handgun I have ever owned. I was always aS&W wheel gunner but I’m very happy with my commander. I thought it well worth the $649 and tax. Now just need to find a comfortable carry kholster, any suggestions?

  5. My Ruger Commander is one of my very favorites of my collection to take to the range and run a box of 230s through it. I won many of buddy range bets with this one. Very accurate and easy to shoot. I put it up there right with my Colt Commander and Defender.

  6. I’ve had mine for 2 years the only FTF i had was reload range ammo.
    Even my wife love’s shooting it ,,,, and i have the full size

  7. I’ve had a Colt Combat Commander (series 70) since purchasing it in 1971 and it has been my personal defense handgun since I bought it. A lot of work has gone into it and it is fully dependable. When the Commander length SR1911 became available I knew I had to have one. I wanted to retire my old Colt and replace it with something I felt confident with. I fully love the Ruger and it has proven to be totally dependable, but there was one exception to the dependability

    On the first trip to the range I loaded up a magazine with some commercial rounds and began the workout. On the very first shot it didn’t return to battery. I switched to handloads and everything was fine. I then headed for home to find out what the problem was. It turned out that the factory ammo (just one brand) didn’t have the bullets seated as deep as my handloads or other commercial ammo.
    I ran that batch of commercial ammo through my seating die and then they worked flawlessly. I have to assume that the Ruger may have the chamber cut not quite as deep as in the Colt. There was no problem with that ammo in the Colt.
    I normally don’t use factory ammo except for defense loads and for legal reasons. If/when I buy commercial defense loads I check the seating depth before using them., So far I’ve only had that problem with one brand. Don’t know if I’m supposed to mention brands here or I would.


  8. I just picked on up and love it, I test drove a few 1911’s with values up to 1900, The Ruger is the only one that didn’t give me an issue. Fed all the range ammo I could feed it. Bought one, 250 round in one day to break it in with 8 hollow tips at the end when it was good and dirt, again flawless. Sure it isn’t as pretty as a Kimber. I will take reliable over pretty.

  9. I have to agree with the argument that you can’t say much negative about this gun. I took my Kimber Pro Carry II and my Ruger SR1911 CMD to the range. I had bought several hundred rounds of Silver Bear ball ammo in the bi-metal cases. My Kimber continually would not feed the ammo but the Ruger had no issues. I also was having better accuracy with the Ruger. I am looking forward to buying the new Lightweight Commander length 1911 that they just introduced. That was the only complaint I had with the Ruger was the carry weight. The new version trims about 8oz off.

  10. Guess what? in the last few years I bought some very expensive 1911 guns from Colt, Remington, Kimber and S&W. The only 100% reliable one was the Ruger 1911 CMD

  11. They must have listened to the good Dr., as I just purchased one from my LGS for $594 + tax. I love my polymer-framed friends, but am becoming quickly attached to this pistol.

  12. Ruger made one BIG mistake!
    They got greedy…
    When I first looked at the pistol the retail was $629.00.
    When it elevated to $729.00 I started to lose interest.
    Now I see from your article, once again, they increased
    the price to $842.00. Sorry Ruger, but you have moved
    your price up a little much. For a few bucks more, I can
    own the Kimber! A far superior 1911 to the Ruger..

    1. If it makes you feel better, I bought a brand-new one yesterday for $619.00. 😉

    2. Far superior? When you haven;t even touched one, your assumption is a little irresponsible. Upon what scientifically based measurement do you offer your claim?The Ruger product is 100% made in the USA by american workers using components manufactured in the USA., Can you say the same for your superior Kimber?Personal opinion without facts is just that; personal . My mother makes superior apple pie to your mothers. How do I know? yI know with as much certainity as you do when you say your kimber is superior to the Ruger. Its my opinion.

  13. I have one now for just a couple of month. Just today had to send back to Ruger to have the front sight replaced. Had only shot four rounds through while doing some qualification firing when the sight broke. Before that time had fired approximately 200 rounds through it. Ruger is replacing the sight with a machine sight so hopefully will not have the problem again. After using a 1911A1 in the Navy for years if felt great to have one back in my hand… btw… i passed my qualifications with a score of 246 out of 250…. even with out a front sight… great gun easy to shoot

    1. i also had the front sight break off while firing at the range. $6.25 for a replacement from Ruger and $32 to the local gunsmith. Have since put about 100 rounds down range with no problems. Really enjoy shooting this gun.

  14. 3000K plus rounds and only one FTF which happened in the first 50 rounds. As a former plastic wonder pistol guy this is now my SHTF pistol. Enough said.

  15. I have owned the Ruger SR1911 for about a year and a half now and have put more than 500 rounds through it. Mostly Winchester Ball ammo, 230 grain, some Magtech and several reloads from my buddy. It has become by far my favorite 1911 and has now replaced my Kimber Ultra CDP II and my Smith 4566, both of which I sold in favor of the Ruger. I am absolutely dead accurate with this gun up to and including 50 yards. Maybe this gun just suits my shooting style better than the others, but this is the gun I will keep and never sell. Even my friends were impressed with the gun and my son’s both love shooting it. As far as I am concerned, it is my favorite gun in my collection, other than my M1A, but that’s not even a fair comparison. I have not had a single FTF, or any kind of jam or miss fire in 500 + rounds. Good job Ruger, I might have to buy another one. My only other Ruger is my trusty old Blackhawk revolver 357 Mag and it’s not going anywhere either. I like my Rugers and would have to say, this SR1911 is one really nice collectable handgun and would fit well into anyones shooting collection.

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