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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information visit Springfield Armory by clicking HERE.