The NEW Springfield Armory RO Elite in 10mm – First look

All new RO Elite in 10mm

It has been a banner year for the resurgent 10mm Auto cartridge across the board. As a High Priest in the Cult of the Ten, I have never been happier. Springfield Armory, since about this time last year, has introduced 6 separate models in 10mm. Considering that is up from zero, the improvement is vast. Starting with the 1911 TRP in 5 inch and 6 inch, followed by both with a factory installed Trijicion RMR, and just last month two sizes of XDM, the gun world may be wondering if they are done. Personally, I see 3 more places 10mm perfectly fits the Springfield Armory family. And today we get one of them.

Included with the RO Elite package

New today is the 1911 Range Officer Elite Operator in 10mm. That is quite a mouthful, but considering the number of 1911 models Springfield has introduced over the years, it is understandable they have issue with naming conventions. We will be calling it the RO for short, not least of which my editors would accuse me of inflating the word count.

Fits same holsters as 45 ACP version

The RO series, at the present time, makes up just under half of the production models available from Springfield. The first RO series was introduced as a no frills competition gun. It was everything you needed, including a national match grade barrel, with nothing you didn’t. Customer requests quickly led to the introduction of a 4 inch Champion model, and a compact model with a chopped grip.

Hornady Custom XTP 10mm, an excellent choice to feed your RO

Never a company to rest on their laurels, Springfield Armory took customer feedback over the next few years, along with homegrown design improvements, and introduced the RO Elite line next. This was an all at once blitz of the 1911 market, with a day one release of Compact up to Target size models, with every gun available in both 9mm and 45 ACP. I was lucky enough to review those guns as well, and I liked what I saw.

5 inch 10mm RO Elite

Which brings us to today, with the introduction of the RO Elite in 10mm. The new 10mm has all the same great features as the other calibers, but there is an important one to talk about first, the frame. Full power 10 is not something you just slap in some cheap import pig iron 1911 and expect things to be okay. It wasn’t that long ago that reputable gunsmiths would ONLY work on frames/slides made by Colt or Springfield Armory, and it was for a reason. Springfield Armory only uses forged slides and frames, not cast. Without getting into a level 9 dark mage level nerd discussion, forging produces a much stronger product. If you are planning to run a high pressure round, made of melted down leaf springs is not the option you want to see on your frame.

Black-T finish

Like the rest of the RO Elite series, the 10mm features thin cut G10 grips, for purchase in all weather conditions. They are also extremely moisture resistant, a nice feature on a steel frame. In use, I find the grips an excellent balance of keeping my hands on the gun, but not so aggressive you wouldn’t set it down on your leather seats. The thin cut is perfect for the smaller handed, or those that prefer to minimize the gun’s width.

G 10 Grips

The finish on the RO Elite series is called Black-T. It is billed as highly corrosion resistant, and self-lubricating. The self-lubricating part I would buy, you can feel the slickness just running your finger down the flat sides of the slide. Corrosion resistant is a little harder to test on a loaner gun, especially if you are 9 hours from the nearest salt water spray. But it is the same finish specified on the contract guns Springfield Armory builds for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, so I think we can take their word for it.

rear sights

The sights on the RO Elite are a balance between competition ready and combat. The front is a fiber optic, which is hard to beat for either job. The rear features a tactical racking shelf, perfect for one-handed manipulations should the need arise.

Front fiber optic sight

The front of the slide features forward cocking serrations, a nice bonus at this price point. I also really liked the inclusion of a picatinny accessory rail, a necessity in this day an age of flashlights and lasers. The added weight out front is certainly not a negative in this caliber either.

Picatinny rail, a fan favorite in modern 1911s

Changes from the original RO model to this Elite series are most prominently visible in the trigger and hammer. The Elite version is called the Gen 2 Speed Trigger and lives up to its name. Traditionally Springfield Armory has always had good 1911 triggers, but the Gen 2 is a step up. The minimal reset and clean, consistent break are better than previous versions, if mildly. Considering 1911’s, in general, have the best triggers in the world, improvement is sometimes difficult to spot. If you shoot the two side by side, however, you will feel the difference. The hammer is a skeletonized D shape, which is slightly longer than other versions, making it easier to thumb cock if necessary. An ambi safety is included standard.

Gen 2 trigger

Performance wise, the RO Elite 10mm delivers. It is snappier than a 45 ACP, but you should expect that given its equal weight. If you do your part, this gun will stay on target and sling lead like a fire hose. The biggest thing to remember with this gun is why you want it in 10mm. I did say it harder recoiling that 45 ACP, with full power rounds. And I wouldn’t do a test with anything except full power. But that gets us to the strength of the caliber. 10mm is perfect for everything, depending on the loads you purchase or make. Full power, it is the best choice in autos for bear country. Downloaded slightly, it is formidable against humans should they force your hand. Downloaded just a bit more, it actually recoils less than 45 ACP. And with available light loads, it is absolutely a competitor in Single Stack class for a race gun. Or for training younger shooters.

I would also like to add a bit about the new Hornady Custom XTP, which Hornady provided for this test. For 2018, they turned up the juice, now pushing a 180 grain bullet at 1275 FPS. This makes for a very useful hunting or defense bullet, at real 10mm velocity. I am duly impressed with the change to this round, even if it makes me look slow on camera.

Skeletonized hammer

I applaud the extension of the RO Elite line into 10mm and the continued resurgence of the caliber. If you are looking for a feature packed 10mm on a medium-sized budget, this is hard to beat. And when it comes to 10mm and 1911’s, I absolutely don’t recommend you go cheap.

Field stripped

GI Style guide rod

For more information visit Springfield Armory by clicking HERE.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next Springfield Armory 1911***

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Mike Kavanagh May 13, 2019, 2:54 pm

    I just bought one of these, and I am very impressed. I’m fairly new to the 1911 platform, but have been shooting 10mm Auto for a few years now. That said, this gun shoots very smoothly.

  • Michael Cordero December 14, 2018, 8:34 am

    If they did 10mm in the The RO® Elite Champion then I would buy one. I have the Range Officer® Compact
    and think that the ro elite champion would replace my ro compact for everyday carry for city, woods and the country side where I live. Thanks for the reviews much appreciated.

  • Russ H. December 5, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Geez, bitching, complaining, correcting and griping in the comments. Give it a rest people, it’s not impressing anyone. This review answered every question I had about this pistol. Thanks Clay.

  • Jon December 3, 2018, 2:57 pm

    I feel like every article here talks about AR-15s or 1911s, can we talk about something new please? Not just reskins of 100 year old guns.

  • Richie December 3, 2018, 1:41 pm

    Ohhh gee, it looks like my omega ten Springfield. Which I now use as a paper weight on my desk…. due to stupidity and incompetence of Springfield not supplying parts for the pistol”

  • Lew Peterson December 3, 2018, 11:45 am

    Is Springfield ever going to let Californians have their good stuff?

    • Matthew August 7, 2019, 10:29 pm

      When they repeal their law allowing new pistols to be approved you dumbass

  • Sora December 3, 2018, 10:51 am

    Your “Full Power” 10mm rounds are WEAK compared to +P+ 10mm ExtremeDefender from Underwood Ammo.
    740 ft-lb vs 500+ ft-lb.

    RO series are not the same as Operator series.
    On Operator series the slide is not dehorned. You can tell that the bottom of the slide and serrations have sharp angle edges instead of rounded edges found on other RO series.

  • M Sawyer December 3, 2018, 8:38 am

    No bull barrel, no adjustable sights, no want. 10mm shooters usually hand load and bullets from 135gr to 220gr are available to load. Who would want fixed sights? Not me.

  • Rick December 3, 2018, 8:29 am

    I have a Colt Delta Elite in 10mm which my wife prefers over any of the other handguns we have. I also have a Glock SF20 in 10mm which I converted to a 9×25 Dillon. It is loaded with Underwood ammo. Specs say they produce 2000 FPS and 800 ft#s of energy. Wife hasn’t shot this bad boy yet. Rick.

  • Ed Manigault December 3, 2018, 7:22 am

    Clay, so which is your favorite of the new 10’s?

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