Springfield 1911 Loaded Model

Springfield Loaded 1911 pistol and box of Hornady Critical Defense ammunition

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.

Alan Campbell firing pistol from behind a jeep
Alan Campbell practices firing around cover with his personal Springfield, a Loaded Model Target.

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 Loaded Model with spare magazine, range holster and dual magazine carrier.
The Springfield Loaded Model is delivered with a spare magazine, range holster and dual magazine carrier.

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.

Springfield Loaded 1911 safety
Note the speed safety and beavertail grip safety supplied with the Loaded Model. They are excellent designs that work well in practice.

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.

DM Bullard Dual Carry
The DM Bullard Dual Carry is an excellent inside-the-waistband holster. Note the sturdy belt clips for attachment to a gunbelt.

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.


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 (26)

  1. I shoot well with both the Springfield 1911A1 Range Officer and the new XD .45. I have had the 1911A1 since 1985 and it still shoots very well.
    The XD also shoots well and does carry a few more rounds in the double stack mag.. When I CC, either one will do. And the .45 cal. round has proven to me, it’s the round for stopping anyone.

  2. If you can’t shoot with a 1911, you can’t shoot. Detractors favoring plastic guns with spray and pray magazines who have never mastered the 1911 platform carried cocked and locked, are biased without experience to be so.
    I own several plastic guns but none serve me better than one of my 1911s, especially for concealed carry.

    1. It’s rather amusing how you pretend the 1911 is somehow difficult to master. The light and short trigger pull compared to both striker-fired and DA pistols make the 1911 one of the easiest pistols to shoot well.

      Perhaps if you actually put in some practice with that polymer striker-fired pistol before running to your 1911 crutch you wouldn’t find it to be so “spray and pray”.

    2. Brass,

      You are correct. A short straight to the rear trigger compression a low bore axis and both a slide lock and grip safety– and I could go on. When mastering a pistol to the highest degree nothing shoots like a good 1911. I also own HK, SIG and Beretta but find the 1911 is like nothing else when the hits matter. I think people look to polymer for economical ingenuity and that is fine. Personally I had rather get Dutch Elm disease from an Emerald Ash borer than carry polymer over the 1911. I also respect some of the now cartridges but do not like muzzle blast that rattles the American flag on the moon. Take care,

      Spray and pray is unfortunately prevalent even in firearms training. 50 rounds in a tight group on paper isn’t what saves lives.

  3. Ah, this was funny.
    I do own a Springfield 1911, the Mil-Spec and it’s a fine range toy. It’s just amusing to have 4 paragraphs spent explaining why the author prefers an obsolete pistol. Maybe obsolete isn’t the right term and I’m not mocking Mr. Campbell, if it comes off that way, my apologies.

    But the gun, fun as it is to shoot, just doesn’t compare in weight or capacity or ease of use to a more recent pistol. Hence the explaining away of why he uses this pistol instead of a Glock or XD, etc.

    If it fits your hand, and you like it and can shoot and change mags…go with God. But for me, my Springfield 1911 is a range toy and a collection piece, not my carry choice.

    1. I don’t consider any firearm a toy for the range or otherwise.

      The .45 1911 does what it was designed to do and it has served that purpose since it’s inception, through war and peace, in foreign lands and in the hands of law enforcement on the streets of America.

      It may hold less ammo, but all the ammo in the world won’t do any good if the user can’t hit the target. Also, there are a great many people who can not handle a double stack pistol due to hand size and strength.

      I carried a .45 1911 in Vietnam in place of the .38 S&W M&P K15-4 the USAF routinely issued. It served me very well in combat. (I served in the combat arm of the USAF in Air Base Ground Defense, in both reactive and proactive roles.)

      I live in the Socialist Republic of California where all those modern firearms are being prohibited. Magazines are being limited to 10 rounds. My 1911 holds 7+1. That’s only a two round difference. If those two rounds are the difference, then the user is in serious trouble. The 1911 is simple to maintain and use. The day may come when all we have are the “toys”.

      After a career in law enforcement I have a lot of friends who are also LEOs and military, and it’s surprising how many do not like the 9mm. Most prefer for the .40 as a personal choice, and the .45 as second choice. Unfortunately for them, many agencies opted for the 9mm. In many cases, their departments still allowed them to choose for themselves, while others have stuck with the 1911.

      Not saying that the 1911 is better than many more modern firearms, but one should not discount it.

  4. Throughout most of the 70’s and 80’s I performed my annual pistol quals with a Colt 1911. I could usually qualify Sharpshooter with the armory range guns (mostly Remingtons), but a good friend had an old military Colt that he bought used and had spent several hundred dollars to have a gunsmith completely rebuild. He let me borrow it, and I always qualified expert with it at 25 yards. Still the most comfortable handgun to shoot of all the ones I’ve ever shot or owned. Based on several reviews, including one here, I took a chance a couple years ago on a RIA Tactical II MS (4.25″ barrel) , and have not been disappointed. Adjustable rear sight, fiber optic front, G10 grips, parkerized finish. Right out of the box, two clicks of the rear sight, and the third round was dead center. I have two cousins who are both deputy sheriffs who both carry Springfield 1911’s, and are dismayed that their department has decided to go to 9mm. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

  5. I would personally challenge any 1911 to go up against the Springfield TRP … … simply my favorite single piece.

  6. Well, we certainly don’t lack for choices when shopping for a 1911. The best way is to go to a range that rents 1911s and try to find the one you like best…the proof is in the shooting.

  7. Good article Bob, but I’m really envious on the Bullard holster. What is that buffalo? I’ve bought 3 different holsters from him, but didn’t want to wait for exotic or hand-tooled, so I went for the saddle brown in stock holsters. Love the bodyguard feature, can’t feel the hammer dig into my muffin top.

    1. Bohica,
      That is Chocolate Elephant.

      There is nothing quite like DM Bullard exotics.

      Thanks for reading.

  8. I have a stainless Springfield 1911 that I bought used. I think it was traded in because is was inconsistent to fire, because the hammer would not always fall. There was actually sand under the grip safety, and no oil on the gun at all. I have had several 1911 models, mostly Colts (In the Marines, I had an International Harvester!). It has been my experience that most 1911’s that are broken in (maybe 100 rounds) will hit a target as well as I am capable of shooting. The more bells and whistles, the more to go wrong. I’ve never had a 1911 that didn’t perform well with a variety of ammunition, including handloads.

  9. I love the Springfield but like what has been said, price doesn’t always determine quality. I just received an ATI FX45 Military and bought it for a pittance. I was astounded by the fit and function. Sure I’ll spend a couple hundred more to tailor it to my needs but I still come out ahead.

    1. Doug, I was really glad to see your comment. My wife has an ATI FX45 Military, and I have the ATI FX Tactical model, and they are both excellent guns. She loves hers and won’t even let me change the grips because it feels and shoots great for her, and she is very accurate with it. My Tactical model has all the features like an extended ambidextrous safety, beavertail grip safety, improved sights, and even a threaded barrel. All I’ve done to it is add the Hogue grips and it works like a champ. It’ll digest any ammo I feed it and it is very accurate.

      Both guns are perfect examples of very well built and reliable yet inexpensive 1911s. And we got both of them for less than the cost of one high priced 1911, so even if we decided to do some tweaking we’d still be money ahead. Sure, they don’t have the satin finish and high dollar engraving that a lot of costly 1911s have, but they are both working guns and that’s what they do best . . . they work.

  10. If your planning on purchasing a M1911 Model, make sure of what the “Barrel Pressure Rating” is. Most are Rated at 23,000psi, a “Wildcat” Round like the .460 Rowland is Rated at 45,000psi. It would do to have the Hundgun “Blow-Up” in your face, when you need it the most…

    1. That’s understandable but also unfortunate for your readers. While the reviews on this blog are generally accurate and informative about a given firearm, there are so many options on the market today that it’s often difficult for even an experienced shooter (let alone a novice) to make discerning choices between options that have minimal (if any) apparent distinction.

      This is complicated by the simple truth that price doesn’t always indicate value. There are some model lines that perform well above their price point and others that seem to simply charge a premium for the name on the slide/receiver.

  11. Chevys versus Fords. Or Mercury versus Ford… the Mercury is the richer man’s Ford. Still, they use the same platforms.

  12. Good combination . . . Springfield and 1911.

    I really have to agree with you on “When it comes to firearms pride, ego and emotional investment seem to take precedence over calm detachment among many shooters.”

    Guns are a very emotional purchase . . . even more so than cars, and believe me when we bought my wife’s Charger, THAT was an emotional choice. I certainly look for performance and reliability in any gun I buy, but if they don’t have that certain emotional mystic about them, they are about as interesting as a good chain saw. But if they have it and they work as expected they become like a member of the family, but if they don’t work it really becomes like a personal betrayal.

    I also get what you’re saying about all the low quality guns disguised as great deals. I won’t name any names. But you don’t have to spend the equivalent of two house payments to get a solid, reliable, accurate gun, even a 1911. I have an ATI 1911 Commander tactical model with the extended safety, improved sights, beaver tail grip safety, polished ramp, and threaded barrel that is accurate, fun to shoot, and will feed any ammo I load it with, even cheap Blazer aluminum cased range ammo. A set of Hogue grips and it’s a keeper that i am very attached to.

  13. I have a Springfield “full out” Trophy Elite I have had for several years and is is the best 1911 I have owned for the 50 years that I have been shooting a 1911. I paid a little extra for it but was well worth the $1500! love it!

  14. What would be really useful to see in one of these various 1911 reviews is a comparison between brands. For instance, what does a Kimber or Colt 1911 offer that makes it worth the price premium over a similarly equipped Springfield 1911?

    1. That’s actually a really good idea. I was issued a Kimber when doing private security in Iraq, and it was on sweet gun. I was alos issued a Colt M4 and it was every bit as sweet and reliable as my Kimber 1911.

      A comparison would be helpful to people shopping around.

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