Light and Handy 1911: Springfield Armory’s New Ronin Operator 4.25”

Much as I love and appreciate the traditional 1911, I am always looking for a lighter, handier version of my favorite semi-automatic pistol. My issue revolves around concealed carry. At 38-plus ounces (unloaded) and sometimes heavier, I find the standard Government 1911 too heavy for concealed carry; I prefer to carry a 1911 that is lighter, while just as accurate and reliable as it’s bigger cousins.

I found one in the Springfield Armory’s new Ronin Operator 4.25”.

Springfield Armory’s new Ronin Operator 4.25”—a fine 1911 for home defense and concealed carry.

With its 4.25-inch barrel and a forged aluminum-alloy frame, the Ronin Operator 4.25” qualifies as a Commander model 1911 in size, but in the 45 AUTO model I received weighs less than a standard Commander at a nifty 29.5 ounces unloaded. It’s also offered in 9MM, with a weight of 31 ounces. Yes, both are heavier than many of the poly-frame semis I’ve used of late—but not by much.

I put over 300 rounds of 45 AUTO through the Ronin Operator 4.25” sent me for testing without a failure. It was also very accurate at closer, self-defense distances and beyond.

The Ronin Operator 4.25″ features a forged carbon steel slide done in a hot salt blue finish and a forged stainless-steel barrel. The frame sports a satin Cerakote-finish, and with the reddish wood-laminate grips prove a third color accent. It’s a fine-looking pistol.

The three-color scheme of the Ronin makes for a fine-looking pistol.

The Ronin Operator 4.25” is outfitted with a traditional barrel-bushing operating system. To ensure durability and maintain reliability, the barrel is fully supported and ramped. The pistol operates with a Commander-length recoil spring system.

The pistol features a traditional barrel-bushing operating system for barrel stability.

The fiber optic front sight came up to my eye easily and quickly.

The Ronin’s fiber optic front sight came up to McCombie’s eye easily and quickly.

The Ronin’s Tactical Rack white dot rear sight has a generous notch that provides room at each side for the front sight post.

A generous rear notch on the Ronin’s Tactical Rack white dot rear sight provides room at each side for the front sight post.

The pistol features a traditional beavertail grip safety complete with memory bump, a manual safety, wood-laminate grips with Springfield’s Crossed Cannon trademarked insignia, a checkered flat mainspring housing, 2nd Generation Speed Trigger, and a base pad-equipped magazine.

The Ronin’s traditional beavertail grip safety features a memory bump.

The magazine pops out very forcefully when the Ronin’s release button is pushed.

The checkering on the main spring housing and on the wood-laminate grips makes for a very firm hold, though I would not have minded checkering on the front strap metal for added grip.  

My Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge measured the Ronin’s trigger pull at a crisp 2-pounds, 5-ounces on average.

The trigger pull on the Ronin averaged a crisp 2-pounds, 5-ounces.

All in all, a solid pistol that felt great in my hand, pointed naturally and put the 45 AUTO bullets exactly where they need to go, making the Ronin Operator 4.25” is a great option for concealed carry, home defense, and all-around shooting.

I shot the Ronin Operator during three separate sessions. After using a grab-bag of 45 AUTO rounds I had on hand, I switched to three specific brands for my accuracy testing. The two practice/range options were Sellier & Bellot firing a 230-grain full-metal jacket bullet and Team Never Quit with a 155-grain frangible projectile.

For a self-defense option, I went with Federal Premium’s Syntech Defense, launching a 205-grain semi-jacketed hollow point bullet featuring a poly coating.

I tested accuracy at five and ten yards to mimic possible self-defense distances, and then at 25 yards to see what one could expect at longer distances. And I was impressed.

At five yards and shooting offhand, I shot three magazines of five rounds for each ammunition. Anytime my five-shot group wasn’t at or just over an inch? It was because I’d pulled a shot. My best group at this distance was .86 inches with the Team Never Quit training ammunition.

McCombie best group at five yards and offhand was Team Never Quit 45 AUTO at .86-inches.

My ten-yard groups also shot offhand, averaged 1.5-inches, with the Federal Syntech Self-Defense scoring a 1.25-inch group for six shots.

At ten yards, offhand, the Ronin and Federal Syntech Self-Defense 45 AUTO scored a 1.25-inch group–for six shots!

I put two magazines of each ammo through the Ronin Operator 4.25” at 25 yards and all three 45 AUTO brands placed groups between 2.5-inches and 3.25-inches, shooting from a rest. The Syntech Defense did best here, too, with groups averaging just a shade over the 2.5-inch mark

To test for concealed carry, I carried the Ronin for several days in a Blackhawk Colt Govt 5-inch holster, and a 1791 Gun Leather Open Top OWB 1911 Belt Holster. Both holsters provided a comfortable carry and allowed for relatively easy drawing of the Ronin.

The Open Top OWB 1911 Belt Holster, from 1791 Gun Leather, was a perfect carry holster for the Ronin.

Both holsters were made for full-sized 1911’s, but the length difference between a Government and the Ronin being about ¾’s of an inch, I didn’t think it necessary to get a more Commander length holster.

The Colt Govt 5in holster, made by Blackhawk!, was another solid concealed carry choice that McCombie used.

The Ronin Operator 4.25” pistol is an impressive 1911, and I do hate to send it back to Springfield. One of the questions people will have, of course, is how well the aluminum-alloy frame will hold up to a high round count. I don’t know the answer to that question. If I decide to keep the Ronin? I will let GunsAmerica Digest readers know how it handles the many, many boxes of 45 AUTO I put through this 1911!

But given the overall quality I have experienced with Springfield pistols in the past, I would bet their lighter-weight frame was designed to take a pounding and come back for more.

Laminate wood grips on the Ronin Operator 4.25” feature Springfield’s Crossed Cannon trademarked insignia.

Specifications:  Springfield Armory Ronin Operator 4.25”

Caliber: 45 AUTO

Action:  Semi-automatic

Trigger:  Single action, and

Slide: Forged Carbon Steel, Blued

Frame: Forged Aluminum Alloy, Satin Aluminum Cerakote®

Barrel: 4.25″ Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp, 1:16 Twist

Recoil System: Commander Length GI Style

Grips: Crossed Cannon Wood Laminate

Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Tactical Rack White Dot Rear

Safeties: Manual Flip Up and Grip Safety

Weight: 29.5 Oz.

Length: 7.9 In.

Height: 5.5 In.

Magazines: One 8-Round

MSRP: $849.00

For more information visit Springfield Armory website.

Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!

About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ryan Menke June 28, 2021, 8:35 pm

    Mr. Mcomb would you please reach out and point me in the right direction for poly 1911s and I am a gunsmith/engineer working on some exciting new things.

  • Bill G June 28, 2021, 7:58 am

    I’ve had one in 9mm on order since January. I haven’t seen one in a gun store since 2020. Where are they, Springfield!

  • Jeffrey Gottlieb June 22, 2021, 2:43 pm

    I have several 1911’s and this one is a dream to carry…perfect size and weight.

  • Mark N. June 22, 2021, 1:01 am

    I wish they would include front strap checkering in these shorter barrelled pistols. They have a tendency for a fair amount of barrel flip, and for me personally, that means readjusting my grip every third shot as the gun slides up in my hand.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend