Springfield’s New Ronin 1911: Bombproof Quality at a Great Price (Full Review)

I recently learned about a trend in the world of AR-15 building called “bombproofing.” Builders use the beefiest, most indestructible components to develop an AR-15 that will hold up for tens of thousands of rounds and keep ticking after intense environmental stress.

Springfield’s new Ronin is like a bombproofed 1911.

John Browning’s legendary design is already tough. It wouldn’t have stuck around for over 100 years and dominated military engagements all over the world if it didn’t have the proverbial stones to get the job done. But Springfield’s new offering is about as tough as a 1911 can get. Seriously. You could use it as a wheel chock or the world’s manliest paperweight.

The best part? At $849 MSRP, you won’t have to mortgage your house to bring one home.

“We wanted to develop a pistol that gave you all the strengths and benefits of the Springfield 1911 and at a price point of only $849,” Springfield’s Mike Humphries told me when I asked him why the company began developing the Ronin. “The result is a pistol comparable to ones that cost more than a thousand dollars with these features.”

The Ronin was developed with classic styling but modern features.

Specifications, per Springfield’s website:

  • CALIBER: .45 ACP or 9mm
  • COLOR: Stainless/Black
  • BARREL: 5″ Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, 1:16
  • SLIDE: Forged Carbon Steel, Blued
  • FRAME: Forged Stainless Steel
  • SIGHTS: Fiber Optic Front, Tactical Rack White Dot Rear
  • RECOIL SYSTEM: GI Style
  • GRIPS: Crossed Cannons Checkered
  • MAGAZINES: (1) 8-Round for 45ACP; (1) 9-Round for 9mm
  • WEIGHT: 40 oz (45ACP); 41 oz (9mm)
  • LENGTH: 8.6″
  • HEIGHT: 5.5″
  • MSRP: $849

Built to Last: Forged vs. Cast

What makes the Ronin so tough? It starts (and ends, really) with the manufacturing process. Unlike many other 1911’s at this price point, the Ronin uses a forged frame and slide rather than cast components. And I only say “many other” on the off chance that one exists I haven’t been able to find. The other big manufacturers all use cast components for their sub-$1000 1911’s.

The Ronin is built to last, and that starts with a forged slide and frame.

As Humphries explained, forging is the process of pounding and compacting material into a uniform piece. It’s a classic manufacturing technique that keeps irregularities from forming within the component. It also produces a high level of density, which allows for higher-quality machining and a much stronger material.

Casting, on the other hand, involves pouring material into a hollow mold that resembles the piece but could leave cavities, voids, etc., after the process has cooled. Cast slides and frames aren’t weak by any means. Lots of firearms manufacturers use cast components with acceptable results. But if you’re looking for something that will last decades and keep shooting, forged parts are the way to go.

The 5-inch barrel is also hammer forged.

That quality is apparent in the Ronin even right out of the box. At over 40 ounces, it’s slightly heavier than other 1911’s at this price. Weight isn’t a perfect indicator of quality, of course, but the Ronin feels well-built. Its heft makes it a bear for concealed carry (more on this below), but a dream for competition.

The slide-to-frame fit also testifies to the quality of Springfield’s manufacturing process. There is zero wiggle with the hammer un-cocked and only a slight side-to-side movement with the hammer cocked. Slide-to-frame fit has a debatable effect on accuracy (some say it matters, others say it doesn’t), but you can’t get this kind of fit with an imprecise manufacturing process.

Some users might question Springfield’s decision not to include a full-length steel guide rod and spring plug. I get this critique but keep in mind that there are inevitable trade-offs at this MSRP. Personally, if I have to choose, I’d rather have a forged slide, frame, and barrel than high-quality small parts that I can swap out later.

Modern Features

A variety of modern features build on the Ronin’s base of quality materials. The sights and the trigger are excellent. I like the contrast between the two white dots and the red front fiber-optic, which can be swapped out easily for a different color. The rear sight is also what Springfield calls “tactical rack.” It’s raised slightly, which allows you to press it against the edge of a table or chair and rack it with one hand.

The “Gen 2.0 Speed Trigger” features a crisp, consistent 4-pound break, and the reset is audible and tactical. The trigger is polymer, which I understand isn’t as desirable to old-school 1911 aficionados. But Glock, et al, have demonstrated the durability of polymer triggers, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which the trigger’s construction would become an issue. On the contrary: I found it comfortable to shoot and super fast. The Gen 2.0 uses four skeletonized sections in the shoe rather than five on the Gen 1.0.

The Ronin implements tons of modern features.

Forward cocking serrations, a beavertail grip safety, an extended safety lever, and a baseplate magazine round out the Ronin’s laundry list of modern features. It’s an impressive array of features for the price, and all aid in handling, safety, or accuracy.

Right now, Springfield doesn’t have any plans to release a lefty version. Humphries told me they decided to cut the ambidextrous safety to keep the price low. This is obviously a bummer for the lefties among us, but aftermarket 1911 products are easy to find—along with reputable gunsmiths to install them.

At the Range + Accuracy

The Ronin is a pleasure to shoot. I opted for the 9mm, and I’m glad I did. The weight of the Ronin combined with the relatively light recoil of the 9mm are a match made in whatever heaven John Browning ended up in.

The sights are easy to pick up, which makes follow-up shots even easier. I found myself shooting faster without sacrificing accuracy as the pistol’s weight reduced muzzle flip and the checkered grips provided a positive, non-slip grip surface.

The trigger also helps throw lead downrange in a hurry. The single-action break and quick reset made for faster shooting, and the straight-line texturing helped keep my finger on the trigger.

Excellent trigger and sights help make the Ronin a pleasure to shoot.

I had no problems with reliability. I used two hollow-point loads (Hornady’s Critical Duty 135g and American Gunner 115g) along with one FMJ cartridge (Remington UMC 115g) throughout the course of my testing and never experienced a single malfunction. I also shot rapid fire and with a limp wrist without issue.

Shooters with physical limitations might find that the weight of the handgun becomes an issue over an extended range session. The same heft that helps control recoil might make the handgun difficult to lift and aim for certain types of shooters. I can’t see this being a huge issue, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Accuracy was well within the acceptable range for an off-the-shelf 1911. I shot two 10-shot groups with two different Hornady cartridges from 25 yards using a Ransom Multi Cal Steady Rest. As you can see, all groups fell between 2.2-2.5 inches.

You can take this for what it’s worth, but I also backed up to 100 yards and took some shots at a man-sized steel target. Once I found the correct point of aim, I could ring it all day.

Applications?

The Springfield Ronin 1911 would excel in any appropriate competitive setting. It’s well-built, accurate, easy to shoot, and reliable. The magazine also drops free, which is an important consideration for any competitive firearm. Sure, you can find souped-up 1911’s that might be more accurate or boast a lighter trigger. But for the price, the Ronin’s performance is tough to beat.

This may sound counterintuitive, but I also think the Ronin would make a great training gun for new shooters. Some folks put new shooters on smaller guns that seem easier to manipulate. But the smaller the gun, the greater the recoil, generally speaking. The Ronin’s weight lessens felt recoil, and new shooters will appreciate its easy-to-understand external-hammer design and its crisp trigger.

The Ronin is a great entry-level option for 1911 competition.

There are probably better options for defensive purposes. I say that only because of the limited magazine capacity. These days, even subcompact handguns can squeeze more than 9+1, so I’d look elsewhere for a home defense or concealed carry firearm.

If you’re stuck on the 1911 as a defensive piece (it did win WWII, after all), I’d keep it in the quick access safe at home. Carrying the Ronin around all day would get old pretty quick, and you’re not increasing capacity for the weight you’re sacrificing.

Conclusion

But let’s be honest—you’re not going to buy the Ronin because it’s the most practical gun in the world. If you wanted something cheap, practical, and ugly, there are lots of striker-fired plastic guns to choose from. You’re going to buy the Ronin because it’s beautiful, tough, wonderful to shoot, and will last until your grandson’s son or daughter is ready for their first 1911.

For more information visit Springfield Armory website.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Tony Privett June 30, 2020, 12:35 am

    70 series got one a month ago. Added a Wilson combat magwell an g10 grips

  • Jimmy June 20, 2020, 7:46 am

    Bombproof? What’s so durable about this 1911 over any other one? Sounds like another marketing scheme to get unknowledgable people to buy their pistol. Don’t get me wrong, Springfield Armory builds a decent 1911 but they have used forged frames and slides for years. I’m sure a lot of their small parts are mim, to cut costs. I’m so tired of companies and authors trying to spin products into something they are not. Bombproof, what a joke.

  • CLIFF CHANDLER June 19, 2020, 3:52 pm

    A real man would have tested and reported on a 45 not the sissy 9mm. If you are going to shoot a gun shoot a real gun.

  • Eugene Whitley June 16, 2020, 8:15 pm

    Where can I purchase a “Military” 1911 that really looks, feels and performs like the old military 1911 I had in Turkey & Vietnam in 1966-67? I can’t afford a Colt so that’s out of the question due to price.
    Any suggestions are appreciated.

    • Allen June 17, 2020, 3:00 pm

      Springfield makes a 1911A2 that is an exact old school copy that you are looking for. Still forged slide and frame with good internals. Some high gunsmsiths only work on colts or Springfield Armorys for their custom work. Price should be less than this model. Used ones too. Just my 1.5 cents.

    • Jim Parker June 19, 2020, 4:32 am

      They aren’t as easy to find as they were 20 years ago but 1927 Argentine .45acp pistols are still to be found for less than $1000. Refinished Argies go for less than 700 bucks. Don’t pay more. They interchange with all parts of a 1911. The 1927 is indistinguishable from a standard 1911a1. They all had good heat treat and are 100 percent forged steel/machined pieces except the grips and magazine. Chinese made 1911s ditto, but these days I’m not buying anything Made In China if I can avoid it.

  • Tim June 16, 2020, 8:55 am

    A few years ago I purchased a SA loaded model 1911 45 cal. It’s been the most accurate pistol I have ever owned. I carry it concealed and I qualify with it out to 50 yards including body armor drills out to 25 yards. I can ring steel out to 100 yards over a barricade with it. It’s been a absolute joy to own and shoot and Its been dead nuts reliable. I have never had a malfunction of any kind with it. If these new 1911’s are have as good as mine they will be great pistols.

    • Rich Miller June 22, 2020, 8:54 pm

      “…dead nuts reliable”? One would think that “dead nuts”, would be unreliable…

  • Steven Kennedy June 16, 2020, 2:12 am

    It still has that cursed series 80 firing pin garbage.

  • Tyler June 15, 2020, 1:54 pm

    All the small parts are MIM. What makes this bombproof?

  • JSK June 15, 2020, 11:27 am

    Bomb proofing, AKA marketing to sell a product. Too funny, actually I don’t care what it’s called just keep buying more weapons and ammo! It’s all good and drives the market which keeps them in business and us very happy. A win/win for all.

  • Todd June 15, 2020, 10:26 am

    Based upon the info in the write-up, I’d say it’s a hell of a deal.

    I tend to not get caught up in whiny noise about what something is *not* or what something does *not have* and most particularly when an effort has been made to make the product affordable.

    When comped against other manufacturers’ offered, more or less, base models – I’d say that S.A. nailed this presentation beautifully.

    In short, for a base gun or a project base it’s everything I need and nothing I don’t leaving room in the cost and on the gun itself for me to add curb-feelers and cup-holders later if I deem them worthwhile.

    I particularly appreciate them offering a product in which I am not required to underwrite the features and crutches so many firearms utopians deem mandatory these days.

    Forged & forged well under a Grand? Yes please!

    Todd.

    • Will Drider June 16, 2020, 1:36 am

      You want to compare it to other companies “base models” but this Ronin isn’t a SA base model is it? But if you want to go there, please compare the features of a basic Taurus 1911, the Ronin is out classed by a mile and it $300 to $400 cheaper. Them curb feelers: already included!

      Few things degrade the quality of a 1911 like a plastic trigger. Yes, plastic fantastics have them but they’re poly frammed guns! I think STI screwed the pooch with a plastic trigger on one model too.

      Your points are all towards a basic 1911 that you can use as-is or bulid as you wish. The Ronin isn’t basic as SA’s Mil Spec 1911 has a forged slide and receiver @ $549. The authors article pounds a drum like nobody else makes 1911’s with forged slides and receivers when there are several that do and beat the Ronins price point!
      To each their own choices but compare on equal terms understanding the difference between marketing and true evaluation of competition if it is mentioned.

      Is the Ronin manufactured in the U.S. or just assembled with slight fitting in the U.S.?

  • Matthew A Carr June 15, 2020, 10:24 am

    70 series or 80 series?

  • al mollet June 15, 2020, 10:08 am

    Pictures are great gun looks exceptional price is not what is actually listed all over the web. The biggest concern is no one seems to have it in stock. And of course the cheaper the price the more unavailable the gun is.

  • Sky Buster June 15, 2020, 10:00 am

    The frame and slide may be forged but I’ll bet most of the small parts are
    metal injection molded. Isn’t this gun the same as a Range Officer except
    for the fixed rear sight?

  • The Sergeant Major June 15, 2020, 7:00 am

    What is the trigger pull weight, over 3-3 1/2 lbs is a waste. Why no fully adjustable sight on the rear? Most handguns sold today are decently accurate at 25 mtrs when fired from a rest/supported. I want to see what it will do when fired hand held between 7 and 12 meters.

  • Charles Tuggle June 15, 2020, 5:35 am

    Now if they had just made it optic ready it would have been a complete package. And for you young men that say why do you need it optic ready? Well when you get my age (73) you will know why.

  • Mchap60 June 15, 2020, 5:09 am

    No excuse at this price point to not be ambidextrous now. Nothing like getting a new piece and having to “fix” it right out of the box. Lots of ambi 1911’s out there.

    • Donnie June 15, 2020, 8:10 am

      “At this price point”….what are you talking about? The MSRP is $850 and I’ve seen it available for $699. That’s the most inexpensive forged frame and slide 1911 with the features in its class. It was designed to be a “classic” 1911, everything doesn’t always need to be covered in tacticool BS.

    • paul June 15, 2020, 8:36 am

      This is for those of that do not like the clutter of something we don’t need. Now checkering on the front strap is unforgivable and I’m back to single colors. Plenty of 1911s out there.

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