The Springfield Armory 1911 Range Officer

by Administrator on May 8, 2011

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Our review scope is the flagship 3-12 power M-223, that here is mounted on a STAG Arms Model 3 with integrated rails. Note that the M-223 mount is free through May of 2011 with a special promotion from Nikon. If you miss the promotion, buy the mount anyway. It is far better than random cheap scope rings and will make your AR-15 package look, feel , and perform like the advanced weapons system It was created to be.
The Springfield Armory Range Officer or RO, is meant to be a basic platform for competition. What you add and why is up to you, not a custom 1911 builder.
This inch and a half group was the best I was able to do at 25 yards.
This inch and a half group was the best I was able to do at 25 yards.
This 100 year old design hasn't changed, and is every bit as good as it was in 1911. On the RO, the parts are made to a stricter tolerance than other 1911s that aren't made specifically for competition. Things fit tighter, which increases accuracy, but in the RO it doesn't come at the cost of reliability so common in lesser examples of the 1911 design.
This 100 year old design hasn’t changed, and is every bit as good as it was in 1911. On the RO, the parts are made to a stricter tolerance than other 1911s that aren’t made specifically for competition. Things fit tighter, which increases accuracy, but in the RO it doesn’t come at the cost of reliability so common in lesser examples of the 1911 design.
If you haven't taken down a 1911 before, the tricky part most people forget is that, after you remove the slide from the frame, The bushing must be turned to the side to take out the button, then you remove the bushing, then pull the barrel assembly out the front. To reassemble is the reverse
If you haven’t taken down a 1911 before, the tricky part most people forget is that, after you remove the slide from the frame, The bushing must be turned to the side to take out the button, then you remove the bushing, then pull the barrel assembly out the front. To reassemble is the reverse.
The grip safety on the RO has the bump at the end to insure a more positive release when you draw it quickly for competition. Behind it is a Remington Rand set up for competition with an old Bo-Mar sight. Note the difference in the thumb safety as well. The RO is a large flat paddle with grooves you just can't miss.
The grip safety on the RO has the bump at the end to insure a more positive release when you draw it quickly for competition. Behind it is a Remington Rand set up for competition with an old Bo-Mar sight. Note the difference in the thumb safety as well. The RO is a large flat paddle with grooves you just can’t miss.
I found the quality of the Nikon turrets to be as good as a scope twice the price. They snap up, snap down, and the idea to match the distances to a specific factory ammo was genius. I would buy this scope in a heartbeat
The RO comes with a belt holster suitable for carry or competition. If you plan to carry the RO (which many people are already), you should replace the rear adjustable sight with a fixed low profile, and replace the big flat thumb safety with something that won’t snag on clothes so easy, and is preferably ambidextrous.
I can't say I have any complaints about the RO, but its tight tolerance and heavy spring make it a little harder to reassemble than your average off the shelf 1911. It works so well though, that surviving a little thumb busting is a small price to pay
I can’t say I have any complaints about the RO, but its tight tolerance and heavy spring make it a little harder to reassemble than your average off the shelf 1911. It works so well though, that surviving a little thumb busting is a small price to pay.

Springfield Armory
http://www.springfieldduel.com/

How is it that 100 years after John Browning invented the 1911, it can still be the gun that everyone is talking about?  Well, since SHOT Show of 2011, that has been true for the Springfield Armory “Range Officer,” or RO as it is being called.  This is not a gun that could be termed “yet another 1911.” It was developed with World Champion shooter Rob Leatham, and seems to have hit the sweet spot with both 1911 enthusiasts and new shooters alike as the gun to have if you want to buy a competition 1911.

The plan for the gun was to create a basic, stable, high quality platform for the shooting competitor looking for a 1911, without all of the bells and whistles of guns costing into the thousands. The RO is made from match grade components and will stand up to tens of thousands of rounds per year, that a normal serious competitor would shoot, without deteriorating the way a standard 1911 would.

When I spoke to Rob about it on Range Day before SHOT Show, he explained that it is all about “slop.”  If you want a 1911 to always go bang no matter what ammo you put into it and how rarely you clean it, you build in a certain amount of what is called “tolerance,” otherwise known as slop, wherever the parts meet each other. This allows them to rattle around a bit and not bind or stick when the gun is hot and dirty. The gun works, and always goes bang, but will not be particularly accurate and will wear more quickly as the parts bang around.

Eliminating that slop and increasing the accuracy without compromising the reliability of the gun is the basis for the “custom competition 1911.”  Match grade  frames, slides and barrels with tolerances that are tighter and more defined are where you start, but where you finish is what makes the RO different from other offerings in the market. Most often a custom 1911 comes with a whole bunch of features, from “sticky” grips, to special adjustable triggers, to hammers and safeties and a whole bunch of other stuff you may want, and you may not want.  And you won’t know if you want them until you get yourself out shooting and see what you feel could make your own game better.

Springfield created the RO to start with the basic match grade platform, and stop there.  At an MSRP of  $939 with a free holster and belt magazine holder, the RO gives you what you need to hone your skills at the range through thousands of rounds and go shoot your first match with a gun that won’t handicap your ability to actually win the thing.  Where you take it, what you add, what you don’t, is up to you from there.  Springfield’s argument is that nobody should make those decisions for you.  They may claim to sell you a “complete package,” but “complete” means having what you want, and not what you don’t.

As a reviewer, we can’t really test the RO to see if it shoots at 20,000 rounds the way it did at 200.  I don’t think Rob Leatham would put his stamp of approval on it unless it really did what it said it was going to do, and I’m not skilled enough a shooter to say if the RO can shoot a ragged hole at 100 yards.

We did shoot several hundred rounds through our review RO, with 230 grain FMJ roundball, 230 grain lead roundball, and some Hornady Critical Defense just to see how it shot with the +P. There were no failures to feed, even limp-wristed,  and we didn’t clean the gun at all in between. The adjustable competition sights I wouldn’t say are the best I’ve ever shot, but I don’t care for sights where the front blade doesn’t fill the rear notch. But if anything, it illustrates the entire premise of the Range Officer. Springfield put one competition feature on the gun, and I would most likely replace it, and throw the sight I paid for with the gun into the parts drawer never to be seen again.

The trigger on the RO is a whole different story. I love it!  It broke consistently at 4 lbs. 12 oz. and has no creep whatsoever.  When you rest your finger on the trigger and pull, there is no takeup before the hammer falls. It is like an electric switch, on or off.

Likewise the grip and manual safeties. The grip safety has a bump in it at the end and a dip where the web of your hand goes in, which is not a new feature in 1911s, but also not something you find on a GI model or many that are made for carry. It gives you a positive push on the safety when you grab the gun, which under timed match conditions is critical.  The drop safety is big and flat and has grooves in it so you can drop it with the edge of your thumb with no misses.

In many ways, it isn’t fair to gun writers that we have to write about the same gun 100 years later. This RO 1911, like almost all 1911s, is interchangeable with all the rest, going back to 1911.  But if you keep in mind that even 20 years ago to get a 1911 that shot well you had to buy a $1,000 gun off the shelf, then send it to a specialty gunsmith for weeks, at the cost of hundreds of dollars, and even at that you had a chance of it only shooting one ammunition well.  Now we are in the golden age of firearms still shooting the same 100 year old design, but with stellar results from just about any ammo you put into them.  The Range Officer from Springfield Armory fills a need in shooting sport for a basic platform at a reasonable price. Now all you have to do is get out and shoot.

Springfield Armory
http://www.springfieldduel.com/

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig Pfleger May 9, 2011 at 9:30 am

RO! What a great gun. I hit rocks at 30-40 yards at no problem, everytime! I can shoot out further but my eyes are not so good after 50 yards, glasses help but I see 2 bottles or other targets out plinking without them.
What I want to get is the longslide 6″ barrel. Can not find em any were on line. Live an hour away from stores and don’t do much shopping. If I could find a 1911 6″ barrel on line? I’d buy it!!!
Thanks
Craig Pfleger

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Amir May 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

Seems like a good firearm. I’m not shure I was expecting a different result. All though I think the firearm could be better I guess it was a lot better than it’s challenger. Personally I would match it up against something else. It just looked suspect…I gues what I mean to say is. WHat are the points of in comparison that make sone better than the other … besides being a peoples choice award?

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Administrator May 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

1911s are all the same gun so what you say is really true. My perspective is that Springfield Armory is an old tried and true maker of 1911s, and Rob Leatham is perhaps the greatest pistol shooter who ever lived. He is on the Springfield payroll, but he could work for anyone he wanted and he chooses Springfield. I think this gun came about because Rob got tired of answering questions about which $3,000 1911 to buy, when he knew you didn’t need to spend that much. Head to head comparison against another gun is impossible without a micrometer, feeler gauge, caliper, and dicing the gun into half a dozen pieces. Only then could you prove out the tolerances that make the gun able to run like it does as compared to lesser offerings.

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Robert Krause May 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

If it will stay within the 10 ring at 50 yards I would consider it a match grade gun for bulls eye shooters.
show us what it will do at 50 yds.

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Glen May 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

I don’t know who taught the author how to disassemble/assemble a 1911, but if he’d make his first step the removal of the recoil spring plug (with the slide still mated to the frame) and make the last (reassembly) step the replacement of the recoil spring plug, he might find a whole lot less of that trickiness and thumb-busting he speaks of in the article.

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papa Vet November 24, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Right on Glen just makes sense.

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Bill Puckett May 13, 2011 at 2:52 am

I have a S/A 1911 that agter many trips to many different gunsmiths finally got ALL the bug works out and it is a tack driver at 50 yads. I wish ther had this gun available 20 years ago. I could have bought one and gone straight into competition (IPSC) without all the side trips to gunsmiths along the way. If I were going into combat today I would want a 1911 on my hip.
1911′s RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Diablo May 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

will they make this in stainless? I would like to see 38Super also.Diablo

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Administrator May 22, 2011 at 12:37 am

Not yet.

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JAY KAUFMAN August 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm

WANTED A 1911 AND BEEN LOOKING FOR SOMETHING AROUND A GRAND OR SO .WASN’T LOOKING TO COMPETE JUST A GOOD SHOOTER AND NO PROBLOMS. JUST ORDER ONE FROM CHAMPION FIREARMS.BEEN LOOKING AT KIMBERS COLTS SIGS AND OTHER SPRINGFIELDS THINK I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE? WOULD HAVE LIKED A STAINLESS BUT FELT I WAS GIVING UP GUN IF I WAS TO BUY THE SPRINGFIELD LOADED STAINLESS 1911 AND IT WAS ABOUT $55 MORE.

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Roger Z September 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm

You mentioned the tight tolerances and heavy spring made reassembly a little harder so I am assuming you reassembled the slide first, including the recoil spring, instead of installing the slide on the receiver and then feeding the spring in from the bushing end, as some consider “the normal way”. The 1911 slide can be removed and re-installed similar to how one would field strip a Glock (as your comment suggests) with the only significant drawback being thumb soreness. I love my Glock but I (and my thumb) still prefer to strip the 1911 the old fashioned way.

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Nick November 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I bought myself a range officer for a birthday/ college graduation present…my third 1911 and up to that point i was not at all impressed with the platform…hot damn do i love this gun…im still using the same sights that were on it out of the box but i got it dialed in perfetly…its like cutting butter to shoot and i can shave the hair off a ticks ass with the accuracy and sighting.

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John Law November 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I have carried a 1911a1 (Remington Rand) since 1968 in Viet Nam, then for 38 years in law enforcement. I have been mandated by some departments to carry their favorite flavor or the month from time to time but always came back to the Browning Masterpiece. I own several 1911′s, two Springfields, one Remington Rand, Kimber, Colt, Norinco, Taurus, Argentine and a piece gun I built myself.
You can not improve on perfection, the combination of reliability and the 45 acp round make it the preferred choice of knowledgeable professionals worldwide.
’nuff said.

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james walker November 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Why can’t I get one chamberd for .30 carbine? It would be what a 1911 should be!

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DJ November 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I have 2 Springfields (including a RO), 2 Kimbers and a Remington Rand circa 1942. The Remmy shoots as good as any, sounds a long story but consider I bought the Remmy from an estate auction. She was owned by a medical corps major who served in WWII. It was tighter than my cousin’s Gold Cup (not that I was ever impressed with the Gold Cup). Most of the stories about how loose the .45 was is because most of them in boot or AIT were shot away and just worn plum out. I hit the X on the target at 15 yrds everytime. Just another celebrated accomplishment of John Moses Browning. God must have a seat set aside for this man.

It also tells us how much politicians foul up even the most basic of tools.

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NickC November 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

The 1911 is a simple design, like the AK 47. It’s heavy and only holds a few rounds. True, they can be made very accurate for competition shooting but I prefer to carry something lighter that holds more rounds. I walk in the woods and would not wish to tackle a big cat with .45. I prefer 17-20 rounds of .40 S&W. A clear disadvantage in combat of the .40 would be the likelihood of killing the enemy vs. wounding him with a .45. For combat, I’d rather have a Sig.

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John Plunkett January 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I have recently bought this 1911 I did pretty well at the indoor range at about 15 yards but over the weekend took it to an outdoor range and shot it at 25 yards and could barely hit the paper it seems i loose site of the front site any suggestions on what to maybee technique or upgrades? I was very disappointed to say the least I had really talked the gun up with my dad and of course I shot horribly.

Thanks

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Ron Godbout January 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

John, I had a similar problem a few years ago. It turns out my near vision was deteriorating with age, and I couldn’t get the sights in focus any more, even at arm’s length. I started using reading glasses, the sights cleared up, and my shooting improved significantly…..not to mention the improvement in reading fine print! With the readers, your target will be fuzzy, but the sights will be in focus, which is much more critical to aiming properly.
I hope this helps.

Ron

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Zach February 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I got my hands on one a few months ago and have loved it! I took it to an outdoor range and could consistently hit silhouette target in the head at 40 yards.

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