Springfield Range Officer .45 ACP Pistol Review

Black Springfield Range Officer with dark brown grips on a white background, facing right.

Accuracy can be expensive. This keeps quite a few young people and interested shooters from investing in more expensive target-grade handguns. An affordable, accurate, 1911 handgun suitable for many forms of competition fills an important niche—if it can be done reasonably. Springfield recognized the market, and the need, and gave us the affordable, highly accurate Range Officer handgun.

After owning the Springfield Tactical Response Pistol and the Springfield Loaded Model Target, I can attest these handguns are indeed accurate, reliable, made of good materials and worth every penny you spend. You could spend more money and not obtain an appreciably better handgun. They cannot be faulted on performance—if you have the tariff.

The Range Officer is more like a handgun I have little experience with: the Springfield Trophy Match. My friend Nelson owns one and tells me is it a great pistol. The subject of this review is by repute based upon the Trophy Match.

Features of the Range Officer .45 ACP Pistol

You may spend money for an ambidextrous safety, beavertail grip safety and other features, and the only feature that enhances accuracy is a properly fitted match grade barrel and barrel bushing. The Range Officer exhibits excellent fit of the barrel and the barrel bushing. The barrel lugs lock properly into the slide and the barrel bushing is nice and tight. The Range Officer does not feature a foot-deep blue finish or stainless construction, nor does it have a checkered front strap. However, it features the aforementioned match grade barrel and excellent slide to frame fit.

This isn’t an inexpensive 1911, it is a 1911 that gives you the most performance possible for the price. The slide window is generous with the modern scalloped option that helps with positive ejection and administrative handling. The pistol features a lightweight trigger, beavertail grip safety and combat-style hammer. This light hammer should make for fast lock time. The safety is sensibly extended but not the gas pedal type. The Range Officer doesn’t come with forward cocking serrations. Forward cocking serrations are seldom used and are a tactical feature. The Range Officer could be tactical, and it is designed as a target pistol.

I mentioned the well-fitted barrel. The slide-to-frame fit is also excellent, with almost no vertical play. According to the RCBS registering trigger pull gauge, the trigger breaks at a smooth four pounds even. I think this is an ideal weight for all around use. There are few shooters who can take advantage of a trigger lighter than four pounds. (Individual handguns may vary, after all the 1911 requires some hand fitting.)

The 1911 features a straight-to-the-rear trigger compression and a fast trigger reset. The Springfield safety lock is present; which is a foolproof lock. It is located in the mainspring housing. A special key is turned, and a block rotates to prevent compression of the hammer spring. The Integral Locking System is a neat trick, which is mandated in some jurisdictions. Simple and impossible to activate as the pistol is fired, this is a laudable answer to problems both perceived and real.

The Springfield does not use a firing pin block or drop safety. The firing pin is a lightweight design and the firing pin spring is an extra power type. This prevents the firing pin from taking a run forward if the pistol is dropped. If you order spare parts, be certain you order a Springfield-specific firing pin.

The sights are similar to the legendary Bomar adjustable target sights. With Bomar now a memory, it is good to see another maker crafting first class adjustable sights. You simply have to purchase the Springfield Range Officer or Loaded Model Target to obtain them. My oldest son Alan is the finest shot I know; his personal handgun is the Springfield Loaded Model Target and he is well pleased with this handgun. The Range Officer uses the same sights. The sight outline is ideal for forming a precise sight picture free from shadow or glare.

The cocobolo grips are attractive and offer good adhesion. They are held in place by Torx head screws. The mainspring housing is nicely checkered. There is no front strap checkering. You can add the Wilson Combat front grip foil may be added later date if desired. As for my preferences, mainspring housing and grips offer sufficient abrasion for a good purchase on the handgun.

There is a lot of precision machine work evident in the Range Officer, including the dovetail for the sights, scalloped ejection port and frame cut for the beavertail grip safety. Springfield has done a good job in keeping costs down in this handgun.

Test Firing the Range Officer .45 ACP Pistol

The pistol was field stripped and examined, then lubricated before firing. The recoil spring is a full power unit so if you intend to fire light target loads be certain to order the Wilson Combat Spring Caddy. With rates from 22 to 10 pounds—the latter for powder puff loads- the Spring Caddy is a great option when you’re interested in target shooting and handloading.

I elected to test fire the piece with target loads, hardball and a good personal defense load. I envisioned the Range Officer as a go anywhere do anything pistol, not a handgun destined only for the target range and light loads. The pistol in some ways harkened back to the pre war National Match pistols. These were service grade handguns often carried by hard-bitten cops and outdoorsmen.

They were not delicate target guns and neither is the Springfield Range Officer. The handgun was well lubricated and taken to the firing range along with an eclectic selection of ammunition and a half-dozen Wilson Combat ETM Magazines. The supplied plastic magazine carrier and holster are OK for range use. They hold the gun and allow you to get the feel of drawing and using the .45, but something of a higher order would be needed for daily carry or critical use.


Initial testing was performed with a handload using the Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC and a modest charge of Titegroup Powder for 870 fps. This load has proven brilliantly accurate in a number of 1911 handguns. For a heavier load, duplicating military ‘Hardball’, the Sierra Bullets 230-grain FMJ was used over enough Titegroup for 790 fps. These loads were put up in new Starline Brass.

As may be expected there was a break-in period. During firing the first 50 cartridges, the slide did not completely lock into battery with every shot. This occurred perhaps 10 times during the first few magazines. This disappeared after this round count—SOP with a well-fitted target grade 1911. Frankly, we were pleased to see this break in period as it signified a well-fitted pistol. During bench rest testing, the 200-grain handload averaged five-shot groups of about 2.0 inches, which was encouraging. The 230-grain load gave average results for hardball in a tuned target gun, about 2.5 inches.

Next, I moved to a loading that has been a bit difficult to find during the previous ammunition crisis and current shortage. The Federal 230-grain MATCH is legendary for quality control and accuracy. A number of shots were fired from a solid bench rest to confirm the pistols accuracy potential. We were gratified to turn in an average of 2.0 inches for three, 5-shot groups including one exceptional grouping of five shots inside of 1.7 inches. This dog will run. This is as good as the author may fire any handgun from the bench.

Finally, I fired a number of the Speer 200-grain Gold Dot +P loads. +P loads are sometimes not the most accurate, other times they are brilliantly accurate. The use of a +P load is sometimes indicated for personal defense. When firing these loadings from a 40-ounce handgun, the weight is a big advantage in firing off hand. Recoil is there but not excessive. The Gold Dot +P load exhibited an average of 2.2 inches for a 5-shot group.

There have been no malfunctions of any type when firing these full power and +P loadings. The Range Officer gets a clean bill of health, and an enthusiastic recommendation. This is a first-class target gun with much to recommend.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Action: Recoil-operated, single-action, center-fire semi-automatic pistol
  • Frame: Hammer-forged 4140 steel
  • Barrel: Stainless steel
  • Rifling: Six-groove, 1:16″ LH twist
  • Magazine: Blued steel detachable box, seven rounds
  • Sights: Dovetailed, adjustable Bo-Mar-style post-and-notch
  • Trigger Pull: Single-action; 4 pounds
  • Stocks: Cocobolo
  • Overall Length: 8½”
  • Width: 15⁄16″
  • Height: 5.5″
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 8 ozs.
  • Accessories: Extra magazine, lock, owner’s manual and plastic holster

Have you shot the Springfield Range Officer? What did you think about it? Tell us in the comments 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 (11)

  1. I purchased this pistol new at a remarkable price and it is right up there with your $1200 pistols and even exceeding some imho. I have been a long time fan of Springfield 1911s and their top notch superior customer service. Springfield has been making 1911s for many many years and I know what they are as do many of us older dogs! With so many manufacturers producing the model 1911 it confuses those new to the platform. Being well acquainted with the production brands on the market now I can say that the Range Officer is a pistol that is well beyond its price point and I am no expert nor do I get any brownie points for saying this stuff. The Range Officer utilizes the same barrel,bushing,slide and frame that gives life to the TRP and the Trophy Match pistols at much higher price points it just lacks some features and refinements that those models are equipped with to keep it at a lower price point for the average joe. Are you getting less quality with the Range Officer? ABSOLUTELY NOT. There are no nylon trigger shoes or mainspring housings on this pistol or any Springfield 1911s. The Range Officer is a series 70 style as is all of their 1911s. If you pick one up study it closely, looking at the lines and slide serrations how crisp and straight they are. Most of us that are 1911 nuts almost always do some type of trigger work on them to our liking but honestly there is really no need with this pistol. The trigger is quite impressive on a pistol at this price point. I notice on all Springfield factory triggers that while handling them the trigger isnt sloppy in the trigger track allowing it to bounce around and the Range Officer is no different. The slide to frame fit is super nice with almost no side to side or vertical play. The barrel locks up very nicely and the bushing fit is tight as well but not ridiculous to the point you need a pipe wrench to disassemble the thing. The sights on it are all black with serrations on both front and rear to cut down glare. The rear notch is nice and wide for easy pickup of the front. Some see this as a drawback to this pistol but again, it’s what Springfield did to offer this pistol at its price and you can change the front and or rear to your liking. The front sight is nicely dovetailed blending well with the slide. There is no sloppy work on these sights either and they work well. Accuracy- I have fired many 1911s from GI base models to full custom and take this fwiw but this pistol is impressive in this department. After I got it dialed in it put a smile on my face and I was using lower grade 230gr. Fmj stuff. You can spend more money but you will be extremely hard pressed to get a “better” production 1911 but I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself 🙂

  2. I bought the Range Officer about a year ago.
    It has functioned flawless form the very first.
    Shoots accurate & where I point it.
    I installed Night Sights on it and it is now my carry weapon of choice.
    Kensight makes the Adj. Night Sights for the Range Officer.
    I recommend the Range Officer to anyone wanting a reliable, accurate 1911.

  3. I might have missed this in the review, but what was the distance to target during test firing. I have fired at Camp Perry a few times over the years. The standard for a bullseye pistol chambered in 45 was a pistol that would group inside of three inches at fifty yards. I remember that my James Clark hardball gun was proved with about two inch groups at that distance. If the gun will perform according to that standard at fifty, then timed and rapid fire at twenty-five yards would not be an accuracy issue. So what can the Range Officer do at fifty yards?

  4. I, have shot the Range Officer & it’s everything you have said. I have a Pimped T.R.P. & I Could not want anything better, as it’s also a great .45 A.C.P., I could say more, however you said it best, and the Range Officer, will not break the bank. Do you want to make it better, well it’s better than most right out of the box. They did not have the Range Officer when I bought my TRP, Or that most likely would of been in my safe, along with a Colt Sers. 80, that is bone stock & it will run also , however when I bought that NIB in 1980 something, out the door was $350.00…and them days are gone forever. Thanks for all of the great writing,on all the firearms you do. Glenn…

  5. The Range Officer is my only 1911. I have nothing to compare it to but I can say that we like each other. It may sound strange but this handgun gives confidence. I know it will impact where I aim it. I expect it to impact where I aim it. And it does. Same goes with other shooters. After firing a magazine, they slowly hand it back to me with a faint smile.

  6. Its listed as 816 on their website, plus shipping costs and the new 2014 Drose (sp?) procedures you are looking at around a grand. I bought a Kimber eclipse off of gun broker and if you don’t count their fee, but everything else, it cost me $1255. This Springfield is impressive but I’m certain my Kimber would be more accurate if put up against it. Plus I get factory set night sights. Good article. Glad to see the 1911 getting coverage as always.

  7. I might have missed something here; in who’s opinion is it affordable? I didn’t see a recommended list price mentioned. If it was, and I missed it, I apologize. We have two 1911’s; mine and the wife’s Long Slide Springfield Armory model and there’s no argument about the fact that hers is a lot better. I haven’t seen anything come out of the Springfield Armory that I wouldn’t like to have but it’s still a seller’s market and a lot of vendors are plainly abusing the customers at the cash register.

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