The Springfield 1911 Range Officer is a semi-automatic large-frame pistol chambered in .45 ACP. The Range Officer was released in late, late 2010 and was highlighted at Shot Show 2010. Springfield considers it a no-frills Trophy Match or TRP and since it lacks the match grade features, it costs about $650 less. Springfield says they designed it this way so shooters can customize it anyway they want.
Features include a lightweight aluminum trigger that sets off the action with a 5- to 6-pound pull, fixed sights, a wide-mouth magazine well for easy and quick mag change, and a skeletalized hammer.
Just like the original 1911A1, it is recoil operated, so the expanding gases that push the projectile out also forces the slide back and by doing so ejects the casing and chambers another round.
It has two safety mechanisms. A grip safety that rests within the beavertail curve below the hammer. The grip safety is automatically engaged when not in use, so it cannot fire unless the trigger is actually pulled. This means no accidental discharges if dropped. The second safety is a ambidextrous manual safety that turns on and off with a flip of a switch.
Springfield recommends the Range Officer for competitive shooting.
|Features:||Match grade barrel|
|Trigger Pull:||5 to 6 pounds|
During a recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I was able to get my hands on a Springfield, recently released, Range Officer. I know my friend Billy very well and he tends to lean towards quantity rather than quality when it comes to firearms, so I was surprised to see this design among his collection.
He spread several guns out on his bed and there it was sitting right in the middle. I asked, “When’d you get that?”
He said, “About two weeks ago.”
I picked it up, popped out the magazine, saw that it was empty and put it back in. I gripped the rear serrations and tried to pull the slide back and, at first, I thought the safety was on, but it wasn’t. I asked him, “Have you fired this yet?”
“Nope. I got it brand new. On sale too. I’m going to get rid of it though. It’s too heavy.”
I quickly recalled all the guns I’ve seen in his possession and a 1911 was never one of them. “Big mistake sir. I think you’re making a big mistake. Let’s take it out and then decide if you’re going to sell it.”
So he did.
Billy had planned for us to go shooting on a farm located in a remote area about 40 miles east of the city during my first day of the weekend visit. A place off the grid where people drink well water, grow their own vegetables and raise their own livestock. People move there to start communes and live a self-sustaining lifestyle—there wasn’t a grocery store or gas station for at least ten miles in any direction.
We arrived to the farm and were greeted by a flock of goats, under the protection of a very aggressive Lama and turkey hawks circling the sky.
The owner of the farm fashioned a dirt mound about 100 yards out from the barn. The barn has two prime shooting spots, too: the front porch, which stands two stories up, and the tower, which stands about 30 yards farther back from the berm and five stories tall.
We had a trunk full of guns and $350 worth of ammo.
Overall, it’s the ideal shooting locale, but also the last place I thought I’d review a gun. As it turns out, the Range Officer is that memorable.
Looks and Handling
Like all 1911s, the Range Officer has a solid frame—it’s what 1911s are known for—so there’s almost no recoil. Springfield considers it an economical pistol about $650 less than the top models making it one of the least expensive models in their line. But there’s a reason for that. They market it as a featureless Trophy Match or TRP (competition quality pistols). They suggest that you buy the pistol and modify it to your liking.
Unlike its sister models, it doesn’t have front slide serrations, but I never pull the slide from that end anyway, so it made no difference to me. The cocobolo grips are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. They’re a rich brown with checkering and the Springfield emblem carved in the center. And they’re decent on the hands too mostly because the heavy frame already dampens the recoil from the .45 caliber cartridge. There was no rub or burn on my palms even after shooting 300 rounds through the gun, so if I owned it I probably would never replace the grips.
Also, upon a closer inspection of the Range Officer and perusing Springfield’s catalog, I realized it looks very similar to Mil-Spec model except for the backstrap. On the Range Officer there’s a flat backstrap opposed to a round one. Again, I didn’t really feel the difference. I have big hands, but if someone else has bigger hands than me perhaps the Mil-Spec would be preferable.
Like I said before, the internal components like the spring were still tight and proved difficult to pull back, but I didn’t have any failures to feed or eject.
I didn’t have any trouble with the trigger either. I didn’t find myself waiting or getting annoyed with the pull. It’s rated to have a 5- to 6-pound pull—just long enough to get the sights lined up, exhale, squeeze and BAM!
I never felt the need to adjust the trigger pull, but if you do, the option is available.
We peppered the berm with orange clays and shot them from all different ranges, however, I’m going to exclude the shots from the porch and tower because it’s not fair to count those (although I did nail a couple clays).
We started close with the sights still set at zero and loaded the 8-round magazine.
At 10 yards away I didn’t miss and the same went for Billy. Clays shattered left and right, up and down.
Fifteen yards was a different story. On the first set, for me, I hit dead-on five out of eight shots, and Billy was about the same (I’m being generous though). We noticed the shots hitting left of target, so we adjusted the sights accordingly—only two clicks. (Note: both Billy and I are right handed). In the end, seven out of eight.
At 25 yards we went ahead and tested the gun and adjusted the sights before our actual sets and we didn’t have a problem. Although the clays did remain intact a little bit longer because my average was a little lower at five out of eight, but that’s not the guns fault.
The Range Officer is equipped with BoMar-style sights. The rear looks like a flat block with a notch in the center, a little different from traditional dovetail sights, and the front is fixed. Like I said before, they’re really easy to adjust, just a simple turn with a flathead screwdriver.
My one complaint is that the sights are blued, which can be a little difficult to see, but it wasn’t a huge problem because I’m accustomed to using plain sights. Probably one of the first modifications would be to add dot sights or grab some nail polish and make it myself.
Disassembly and Re-assembly
After a satisfying day of shooting under the hot Tennessee sun I was looking forward to cleaning the gun. Honestly I was. I wanted to see the insides of this bad mother, however, during the drive back I remembered taking apart the Springfield Loaded and I started to get pissed because you need an Allen wrench and the spring pops out—it’s kind of a headache. But the Range Officer wasn’t like that. Although it was confusing at first because that’s what I thought you had to do. Turns out, you just press down on the plug, turn the barrel bushing and out comes the rod and spring.
When we were all done and the Range Officer was clean, I was still curious to what Billy was thinking. Would he quickly turn over the gun to some gun store that would surely make a large profit? Or would he keep it and make it a favorite gun for his recreational shooting?
And you know what happened?
I told him I’d buy it for $500, but he refused and said he wouldn’t take less than $600, the price he bought it for.
So I took it.
I never told him it was worth a thousand bucks.
Sorry, Billy. I'll buy you dinner next time.
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