Upgrading Rugers Commander

We dig into the SR1911 CMD-A pistol and make improvements.


Readers will recall our May 2015 test of Ruger's new SR1911 CMD-A, a Grade A lightweight Commander-style 45 auto. To sum up that test, we consider the new Ruger lightweight Commander-type auto to be one of the finest self-defense handguns available today. The gun has just what it needs and no extra nonsense. It has excellent sights. It does not have a firing-pin block, nor a full-length guide rod, which some of us despise. That means you can take the gun apart easily with no tools. The slim and attractive wood grips seem to be an aid to pointing the gun, and also contribute to concealment. We found the two-tone finish appealing, and the factory dehorning was mighty good. The original trigger pull was very much acceptable, as was the accuracy. The integral plunger housing cannot come loose. Finally, those with fat hands will like the full-size grip of the LW Ruger better than the shorter one on guns like the Colt CCO. It makes for a better grip, and speed reloading is easier.

But even good products like the CMD-A can be improved, so Senior Technical Editor Ray Ordorica bought it for himself with an eye toward making it resemble his Colt CCO. He slicked the Ruger up, included beveling the front of the frame, eliminating all the sharp edges around the ejection port, knocking the sharp bottom off the mainspring housing, removing metal from under the trigger guard to get the hand higher, checkering the front strap, and rounding the sharp edges at the sides of the grip safety. The steel parts were reblued as needed with Formula 44/40 Instant Gun Blue, and the aluminum parts were reblackened with Aluminum Black, both available from Brownells. And as the previous photo shows, he engraved the gun.

One of the main performance goals was to improve the Ruger's already good trigger pull, so he contacted master gunsmith Ned Christiansen at Michiguns and asked about getting a trigger job. Instead, Christiansen recommended we try an "ignition set" offered by John Harrison (HarrisonCustom.com). Harrison offers a complete line of gunsmithing services along with a not-quite-drop-in kit called the Harrison Custom HD-120-TR Extreme Service Ignition Package, Strut, and Trigger, $186. We chose the carbon-steel version in white, though the parts are also available with a black coating or of stainless-steel construction. At Harrison's suggestion, we opted for the True Radius sear, which has its contacting surface ground on an arc centered on the pivot pin. He also sent along a hammer strut and a replacement trigger a bit shorter than the Ruger's. Our task was to fit all the parts and see what dropped in and what did not, and of course evaluate the products. Here is what we found.

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