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”.
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 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 fiber optic front sight came up to my 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Specifications: Springfield Armory Ronin Operator 4.25”
Caliber: 45 AUTO
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