Springfield Armory 1911A1 Loaded .45 ACP, $565 (1999)
When we tested this pistol in June 1999, it was because a friend of Gun Tests named Bruce decided to buy himself a .45 auto. Although he had been a revolver shooter for several decades, Bruce recently received some intense instruction in the un-gentle art of rapid-fire shooting and handling of a 1911 .45 auto. His eyes were opened to the many possibilities of the caliber, so he went shopping and examined eight different .45s. Now, picking a .45 for some of us is a simple task because we impose a few personal requirements on the gun that greatly limit our choices.
However, there are many different kinds of full-size .45 autos available, and our friend didn’t have our strict prejudices, so he had a harder time choosing. He considered the qualities of fit and finish of the different guns. His final choice also had to have a good trigger pull. Price didn’t make a lot of difference, but he couldn’t see spending extra money for features he wouldn’t need, like adjustable sights or checkered steel.
We thought it would be interesting to compare a few of the full-size .45s guns our friend looked at, to see if we’d come up with the same choice, or another. One was the full-size Springfield “Loaded” Model 1911-A1, $565.
Our recommendation: With a list price of only $565, the Springfield had the most to offer, in our opinion. Its all-steel construction and good looks were matched by a perfect trigger pull and outstanding accuracy with all loads, plus complete reliability. It’s our first choice.
The strikingly attractive Springfield had fully checkered wood stocks and a high polish to the sides of its blued receiver and action. The slide top and the rest of the gun was matte black. There were no plastic parts on this gun. It had a long aluminum Videki trigger, a beveled magazine well, extended safety, a skeletonized Commander-style hammer, a Novak rear sight and a highly visible front sight. The gun had a flat steel mainspring housing with vertical serrations. The beavertail grip safety had a big, hand-filling bump on the bottom, which we liked a lot. The Springfield came in a fitted plastic storage/carry case with a spare magazine, cleaning rod, and full instructions. Although it looked great, the Springfield front sight was not dovetailed into the slide. We feel dovetailing is the most foolproof, if not the best-looking, method of attaching a front sight. The Springfield had the now common front slide serrations. The top of the slide permitted easy stovepipe clearing. The Springfield’s feed ramp was highly polished and the chamber throat was widened to ease feeding.
At the range, the Springfield handled all ammo with aplomb. There were no problems whatsoever. Our average five-shot group size was 2.5 inches at 15 yards, and the smallest was 1.4 inches with the Winchester hardball. This gun didn’t like the Speer Lawman 230-grain FMJ, getting a 3.5-inch group as the smallest. We were quite impressed with the Springfield. In spite of its having a half-pound heavier trigger pull than the Kimber, the Springfield’s pull felt lighter. There was absolutely no creep, and overtravel was minimal yet adequate. The gun felt precise.
Of the 1911-style guns, we’d have to go with the Springfield “Loaded” Mo-del 1911-A1, $565, backing our friend Bruce on his decision. We like all-steel guns, and we like perfect trigger pulls, and we like good-looking guns. The Springfield had all those qualities packed into a reliable and accurate handgun. We’d pick the Kim-ber Classic Model Custom, $657, a very close second, but would avoid the Colt M1991A1 Series 80, $556, because of all the items it ought to have, but doesn’t.