Buy One on GunsAmerica:/Springfield Armory TRP
Check out the TRP at SA:http://www.springfield-armory.com/products/1911-trp-45-acp/
One of the perks of this job is the opportunity to work play with some really sweet guns. Most of them I have to send back because there’s not enough money in Hollywood for me to buy all the ones that come through here. Maybe if I get fat, slovenly and start making fraudulent mockumentary movies I can afford a few more…
One gun that I had to keep, at all costs, was the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP Armory Kote. Yep, it’s a classic 1911 chambered in God’s own caliber, .45 ACP. As we’ll see, it adopts most features from the original design but makes a couple of departures here and there. An improvement or just heresy? We’ll get to that shortly.
Springfield Armory’s goal for this particular pistol was to provide similar quality, functionality, and specifications as the famous FBI contract Professional Model 1911, but in a production gun. The FBI contract model from Springfield Armory won bragging rights, and a lucrative contract for the FBI’s SWAT and HRT teams, over a field of top-notch competitors back in 1998. In the end, Springfield Armory beat out high-end pistol makers like Les Baer, partly for Springfield Armory’s ability to produce the 5,000 guns specified. That’s a lot of custom work.
Requirements for the FBI model were tough. Guns had to shoot 2,500 rounds without a stoppage. They had to feed reliably hollow-point ammunition like the Remington Golden Sabers chosen by the FBI. They had to shoot 1.5-inch groups with service ammunition from 25 yards.
To make guns capable of meeting these specs, Springfield Armory called on their Custom Shop. Parts were individually fitted to each gun. Components like the barrel, barrel bushing, and slide were individually numbered to a frame. While this type of attention creates fine guns, it doesn’t allow for mass production at prices affordable by those not working for the infinitely-wealthy government.
Enter the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP.
The idea behind this gun is to provide many of the end benefits of the FBI model, but without the level of individual hand fitting and associated cost.
Springfield Armory TRP Features
Let’s take a tour through the various components of the Springfield Armory TRP.
The TRP model shown here is the Armory Kote™ version with a black Teflon finish. You can also get the standard TRP with an all-stainless steel finish. Springfield Armory also produces TRP Operator variants that include rails on the dustcover. The standard TRP is a traditional smooth frame design.
The frame itself is forged, and National Match quality. On the right side, just above the trigger, you’ll see an engraving that states “Springfield Armory, Geneseo, IL, USA, followed by an NM plus the serial number. On the left side, just behind the front cocking serrations, the word “Tactical” is subtly stamped, presumably in homage to it’s FBI contract roots.
The checkering job on the front and back of the grips is impressive. The front of the grip has 20 line-per-inch checkering that created miniature square pyramids. I only clarify this as the points of the checking on the front strap are not softened or blunted. They’re sharp and feel sticky on the hand. They’re sharp, by design, but not uncomfortable. Just sticky. The back strap of the grip (flat mainspring housing) also features 20 line-per-inch checkering, but the pyramid tips are slightly softened. My guess is that they’re designed to be a little more compatible with the un-calloused skin in the web of the hand. Just to be sure I wasn’t seeing things with this subtle difference, I got out the magnifying glass. Sure enough, the checkering is blunted on the mainspring housing. It’s one of those little touches that differentiate a “regular” gun from a premium one. Either that or my grip is so amazingly strong that I’ve flattened the checkering.
Apparently the TRP Armory Kote model is supposed to be the more tactical version as it comes with G10 grip panels. The stainless TRP comes with attractive wood grips. The gray G10 grip panels are plenty aggressive and heavily textured. They provide a positive hold with bare or gloved hands. If you carry this model using an IWB holster, be sure to wear an undershirt else you might rub the love handles raw. You’ll notice that the left grip panel has a recessed cut that allows your thumb to reach the magazine release a bit easier. The cut removes just enough “distance” to allow me to activate the magazine release with no movement in my strong hand grip. Neat idea.
While not part of the forged frame, you’ll find an enlarged and beveled magazine well. It extends about ¼-inch below the based of the frame and makes fast magazine changes easy. The front is open while the back and both sides have wide bevels to guide the magazine into place. The included magazines have base pads so when inserted, they are flush with the bottom of the magazine well extension. No extra effort is required to seat the magazine properly.
Moving to frame-mounted components, you’ll find an aggressive beavertail grip safety that, for me, does a flawless job of preventing hammer bite no matter how sloppy my grip is. The grip safety has a “memory bump” that provides a little extra insurance that it will activate with a variety of grip styles. For example, I like to shoot a 1911 with my thumb riding the safety lever. This grip has a tendency to draw the web of your hand ever so slightly away from the back strap of the pistol. Yeah, weird, but true. Give it a try by gripping the pistol with your thumb curled down. Now raise your thumb, and you should see the web of your hand move away from the gun just a hair. Anyway, the bump provides a little forgiveness and I have no problem with activation of the safety using my thumbs up grip.
While we’re talking about safeties, the TRP has ambidextrous thumb safeties on either side of the frame. To my naked eye, the left safety lever is ever-so-slightly wider than the right side. Sorry, I didn’t remove them to check with a caliper. The net takeaway point is that the safeties are basically equal on either side of the frame, so operation with either hand should feel identical.
The slide is machined to a very tight frame fit. When I first picked up this TRP, racking the slide took some enthusiasm. It was smooth, but tight. From shot number one, the gun functioned perfectly, even with a very tight slide fit. Over the couple thousand rounds I’ve put through this pistol so far, the tension has loosened, and the slide racks with less effort. It’s still smooth, however, and has no detectable shake.
As you might expect, the ejection port is enlarged and has a bevel cut near the breech, presumably to smooth ejection.
The slide has cocking serrations both front and rear. The pattern is subtle, yet effective. Both sets of serrations are created with squared ridges. The pattern provides good grip but isn’t sharp and won’t tear up hands or holsters. The front serrations are clearly a personal preference issue. I like them for press checks, but I fully agree that’s neither right or wrong, just my habit.
On a 1911 like this, you would expect a match barrel and bushing, and the TRP includes that too. We’ll get to accuracy a little later, but for now, we’ll just mention that barrel and bushing are stainless steel. There’s a “S.A. .45 ACP” stamp on the top visible through the ejection port.
The sights are Novak low profile style. They have Trijicon tritium inserts both front and back, using the standard single dot up front and two dots in the back pattern. The housings are actually manufactured by Springfield Armory. The rear sight is ramped, but has a small ledge. With a little care, you can rack the slide using the small ledge, but it does require a sharper surface to catch. Both front and rear sight housings are installed with dovetails should you choose to swap them out for something different.
Moving around to the muzzle, you won’t see a standard 1911 recoil spring plug. You’ll see a full-length guide rod with a hex hole. That’s because it’s a two-piece guide rod system. At risk of opening a philosophical debate, I’ll say that guide rods are something I don’t care about, one way or the other. I care about function. Does it work? All the time? If so, great, whether there is a full length guide rod or not.
For those who care about the field expedient scenario of disassembling your pistol without tools, you won’t like this feature. You can remove the whole slide assembly from the frame without any tools, but you won’t be able to remove the barrel from the slide without an allen wrench. Turning the exposed end of the guide rod allows it to separate into two pieces. Remove the front piece, and the TRP field strips like any other 1911 from that point on.
As for me, I don’t care too much about this. The overall time to disassemble is only a few seconds longer than that of a 1911 without a two-piece guide rod. I’ve yet to find myself in Siberia without any sort of multi-tool in my possession and a pressing need to completely disassemble my pistol. But if you do that sort of thing, be forewarned. Of course, you can always swap out the factory guide rod for a traditional one and recoil spring plug.
As to the pro arguments, some are convinced that the full length guide rod increases accuracy and/or reliability. This is not something I’ve ever been able to test quantifiably in any meaningful way. So for this purpose, I’ll simply report that I’ve put a few thousand rounds through this pistol, with it’s guide rod, and it has worked just fine.
The trigger on the TRP is a match grade aluminum model with three holes behind the face. The front is covered with vertical serrations. An adjustable overtravel screw is inset at the base. There is short frictionless take-up followed by a crisp break. Without any adjustment to the overtravel screw there was no detectable movement after the break. Using a trigger gauge, I measured the break at five pounds.
The TRP includes an internal lock. Meh. Apparently lawyers are masters of the universe. I really prefer not to have any extra internal locks inside of my guns. It’s just one more thing that adds needless complexity. If I want to lock my gun, there are dozens of ways to do that without interfering with the internal action. This one is a custom, two-hole “screw” that is accessible through the rear of the mainspring housing. You don’t need to remove grips to access it. It’s intended to lock the hammer in the down position. This is a longer term storage feature, not something you would use if you ever might need quick access. Springfield includes a special key to operate the mechanism. All my griping about internal locks aside, I’ve never touched this one and it hasn’t caused me any problems.
Reading through the features and specs, I expected a lot from this pistol and I wasn’t disappointed with it’s performance on the range. Shooting it is pure joy. The trigger (deliberately set in the five pound range as it’s a tactical model) is delightful. It’ll spoil you, and it feels a lot lighter than the five pounds I measure with a scale.
As far as feeding, one of the main requirements of its Grand Pappy, the FBI contract model, was to feed all sorts of difficult hollow point ammunition. It does. In fact, I’ve shot somewhere around thirty different types of .45 ACP ammo in all weights, bullet shapes, and velocities.
Heck, I’ve even shot 450 SMC ammunition in six different weights and bullet profiles. If you’re not familiar with 450 SMC, think of it as turbocharged .45 ACP. At the low end, I tested a DoubleTap Ammunition 160 grain Barnes TAC-XP that clocked 1,241 feet per second in the TRP. At the heavy end, I tried another DoubleTap Ammunition load, a 255 grain semiwadcutter hardcast that clocked in at 1,085 feet per second. That’ll wake you up in the morning. Of course, if I was going to feed the TRP a steady diet of 450 SMC, I’d be sure to put in a heavier weight recoil spring.
The Springfield Armory TRP eats everything. I’ve had no malfunctions of any kind (yet) in somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 rounds. I regularly make 185 and 200-grain lead semi-wadcutter ammo for this gun and it feeds those like a champ. I’ve not found a commercial or hand loaded round yet that presents any type of problem. I might have to try loading spark plugs or something to see if I can make it fail. Just kidding…
Accuracy and Velocity
As a 5-inch barrel government model size, you’ll get maximum .45 ACP velocity out of whatever load you I choose. As part of my function testing, and to be honest, my not so serious plinking regimen, I clocked a number of loads for velocity.
|Black Hills JHP +P 230 grain||927 fps|
|CCI Blazer FMJ 230 grain||853 fps|
|Federal FMJ 230 grain||866 fps|
|Federal FMJ white box 230 grain||803 fps|
|Federal Guard Dog EFMJ 165 grain||1,053 fps|
|Federal Hydra-Shock 230 grain||883 fps|
|Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain||1,002 fps|
|Magtech First Defense +P SCHP 165 grain||1,076 fps|
|Remington Golden Saber +P 185 grain||1,165 fps|
|Remington UMC 230 grain||844 fps|
|Sellier & Bellot 230 grain FMJ||804 fps|
|Winchester PDX1 230 grain||911 fps|
I also did some quick and dirty accuracy testing. I’m not a big fan of testing for accuracy without either a Ransom Rest or a rail equipped gun where I can attach an optic. With iron sights, there is just too little precision at distance based on the limitations of the human eye. Sure, we can shoot small groups, but without fail, I can take the same gun, shoot careful iron sight groups, followed by groups using an optic, and the optics groups will always be smaller. Rant over.
With that said, here’s what I measured for 5-shot and best 3-shots within the groups at 25 yards with a sandbag rest. I figure the best three measurement will help rule out some of the sighting error from my aging eyes.
|Black Hills JHP +P 230 grain||2.74″||1.45″|
|PolyCase Inceptor ARX 114 grain||2.57″||.87″|
|Federal Premium HST 230 grain HP||1.86″||.89″|
|Federal Premium 230 grain Hydra-Shok||2.07″||.97″|
|Barnes TAC-XPD 185 grain +P||2.14″||1.17″|
|Sig Sauer Elite 230 grain FMJ||2.14||1.10″|
That’s nice, but the real accuracy indicator for me is how easy it is to shoot accurately. The weight, balance, and outstanding trigger provide a lot of confidence that I can hit what I intend to hit, with great precision. And that’s what I care most about.
I’ve had time to really run this gun with plenty of range visits and rounds down range. It lives up to its $1,500 or so street price in every possible way. Can you buy a serviceable 1911 for less? Sure. You can also buy a serviceable car for less than a Ford GT, but they won’t be comparable either.
The bottom line? I carry this gun as my CCW. That’s how much I trust it.
Full size 1911-A1 platform
5-inch match grade barrel and bushing
8.5-inch overall length. 5.7 inch overall height.
Armory Kote™ Teflon finish (as tested)
Weight: 42 ounces, unloaded.
Aluminum match grade trigger
Checked front strap and mainspring housing
Wide mouth magazine well. 2 included magazines with slam pads.
G10 grip panels
Low profile tritium combat night sights