Testing the Springfield Armory Vickers Tactical 1911

So, what do you get when you combine a Special Operations veteran that is passionate about firearms and a legendary manufacturer that has been building 1911 pistols for decades? The Springfield Armory Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911. 

Larry Vickers is a retired Army Delta veteran who has remained active in the shooting industry for decades, and Springfield Armory has been known for its 1911 pistols since the ’70s. The years of experience wrapped up in this pistol between these two institutions yields impressive results.

First Impressions

My first thought when I pulled the Vickers Tactical from the box was that it was somewhat of a “retro” pistol, in that it is very classic in its appearance. It didn’t have the tactical rail under the dust cover, a tri-topped fancy machined slide, or the front cocking serration that have become so prevalent in recent years. 

However, most people I know do not carry a light on their everyday carry gun as it adds too much bulk, so the rail is not a necessity, or even desired.  As for front cocking serrations, I have never used them when actually clearing a jam on a pistol; usually only to press check during competition. So, the smooth clean look is a welcome change.

I instantly liked the Black-T finish, grips, and the serration pattern on the slide and front strap. The gun has a very clean look about it. Full disclosure, I must admit my bias as I have always appreciated a good 1911.

G10 grip color and texture compliment the Black-T finish and woven serrations.

Pulling the slide back to ensure the gun was empty I noticed it was very smooth, with no real play noticed on the slide to frame fit. Hmm, interesting. Easing the slide back down it went smoothly into battery without the slightest bump, glitch, or hesitation. 

Pressing down on the barrel hood to check for play, there was none. Torqueing on the slide side to side, it had no wiggle room what-so-ever. Pushing around on the muzzle and bushing, again there was no play at all. I have to say I was impressed, while also slightly worried at the same time. Often if the tolerances are too tight on a new gun it tends to sometimes be a bit finicky on reliability, but we would soon see about that.

Initial impression, the Master Class is a pretty gun with a very tight fit and finish on all the moving parts, sights, and grips.

Range Time

I applied a few quick drops of oil to the slide, barrel, and bushing of the gun as it didn’t appear to have any more on it than to prevent corrosion and started loading magazines.

The two eight-round Vickers Tactical magazines extend from the beveled magazine well and have oversized steel bottom plates for positive seating. The bottom plates also have an over-travel stop to prevent over-insertion of the straight-walled magazines.

Tritium portion of front sight shows up brightly in low light conditions.

The mags loaded easily and seated securely. Shooting 100 rounds of ball and semi-wadcutter ammunition to get used to the sights and trigger went flawlessly. My reservations about the tight fit were laid to rest.  

On the other hand, my expectations of accuracy due to the tight fit were confirmed, this is one accurate pistol. At first, the U notched rear sight seemed a bit strange but after just a few rounds I decided I liked it.

Sight picture is fantastic for practical applications.

Larry got it right designing the Vickers Elite Battle Sights. The relationship between the size of the notch and the front sight is perfect. There is enough white space to the sides to allow rapidly finding the sight, but not so much that you can’t shoot accurately due to the front sight wandering around in too much gap.

The tritium/ luminescent front sight worked great out in the daylight; showing up as a red dot on the black post. I also tried out the low light effectiveness of the tritium later that evening and it also performed extremely well. It’s a great dual-purpose front sight without the fragility of an exposed fiber optic.

Tab on the front of Vickers magazine provides a positive stop for mag insertion.

The woven texture checkering on the front strap and mainspring housing worked in concert with the G10 LAV (Larry A Vickers) signature grips to provide the traction to control the 45 caliber rounds. The checkering is not overly aggressive, but the grips are a bit more so, and really stick the gun in your hand.

The same woven pattern serrations on the rear of the slide worked well, and I never had any issues racking the slide even with sweaty hands against the full power recoil spring.

Accuracy

Well, this is where that tight lockup and slide fit earned their keep. The bottom line up front, this is a very accurate gun. I was shooting 5 and 10 round groups at 15 yards off of a bag on a table while sitting and was more disappointed in me than in the Vickers Tactical.

SA Vickers Tactical Master Class 1911 ran perfectly on a wide variety of ammunition.

I shot seven different types of ammunition and the Master Class shot all of them exceedingly well. The solid aluminum match trigger was smooth and just slightly heavier than I would have liked at 5 ¼ pounds. 

The no name manufacturer “match” wadcutter ammunition was actually the worst grouping of all the ammunition tried, but was a great testimony to the reliability of the Vickers Tactical, as that bullet design often won’t feed reliably in many handguns. These groups were all still 2.5 inches.

The remaining ammunition, two different kinds of ball, and four varying types of defensive ammunition had a combined average group size of 1.73 inches. This was a mixture of slow 230-grain ball, up to +P large open-faced hollow points. That is fantastic accuracy across the board.

Best grouping ammo
Hollow point +P and ball ammunition both grouped well.

The best single group I managed was with Hornady’s 45 Auto +P 200 grn ammunition, it was 1.35 inches. I’m a practical pistol shooter, not a bullseye guy, and I honestly believe the Master Class would shoot a one ragged hole group in the right hands or with a better rest. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Equally impressive is the fact that it fed, shot, and ejected all those types of ammunition without a single jam. No issues at all. After the warm up shooting and the accuracy testing, I was closing in on the 500 round mark so I kept shooting and so did the Springfield Armory Vickers Tactical. 

A one hole group was certainly looking possible.

It shot the first 500 rounds with no issues, feeding low powered semi-wadcutters, ball ammunition, defensive hollow points, and some +P fire-breathing heavy recoiling rounds. This is definitely not a finicky pistol, it’s an extremely reliable, exceptionally accurate 1911. 

The Black-T finish on the forged steel slide and frame was a breeze to clean after the range session. On a whim, I took my calipers and measured the rail and slide dimensions, as well as the bushing and barrel. The clearances between the barrel OD and the bushing ID was about .002.

Old box of Speer Gold Dot still shooting the 10 ring.

The clearance between the outside of the rails and the inside of the slide was about the same, .002’ to .003”, less than the thickness of a hair. So that’s about one-thousandth of an inch on each side. Springfield Armory is doing an amazing job of manufacturing and fitting.

Other Notable Features

The G10 grips have a nice relief cut to allow reaching the magazine release button for faster reloads. The well-fitted grip safety has the raised section at the bottom to ensure a positive removal of the grip safety while shooting.

The Vickers Tactical features a Wilson Combat Bullet Proof tool steel hammer and single-sided manual safety. The safety detents are very positive so no doubts if you have the safety off or engaged.

Tritium glow at night or red dot in the day = awesome sight.
Vicker’s sights were stout and secure.

The Vicker’s front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide, and the rear is locked in place by 2 Torx set screws for reliability.

Specs

Caliber             45 ACP

Height             5.5”

Length             8.6”

Weight            41.5 oz

Barrel length   5” Forged Stainless Steel Match Grade

Finish              Black-T

Frame/ Slide   Forged Steel

Grips               G10 Custom LAV

Magazine        Vickers Tactical (2)

Capacity          8 Rounds

MSRP              $1495

Distributor       Lipsey’s Distributors (Exclusive)

Back side of the target after many bullseye targets shows overall of hundreds of rounds.

Final Thoughts

Springfield Armory and Vickers Tactical have collaborated and put together a fine pistol with many personal touches that is both extremely reliable and exceptionally accurate. This pistol offers the performance of a custom pistol at a much lower price point, along with the signature touches of a Special Operations veteran. 

If you’re into 1911’s this one is definitely worth considering putting into the collection or on your hip for daily carry. It exceeded my already high expectations for it.

For more information about the Springfield Armory Vickers Tactical 1911 visit Springfield Armory Here

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About the author: Jeff Cramblit is a world-class competitive shooter having won medals at both the 2012 IPSC World Shotgun Championship in Hungary and more recently the 2017 IPSC World Rifle Championship in Russia. He is passionate about shooting sports and the outdoors. He has followed that passion for over 30 years, hunting and competing in practical pistol, 3gun, precision rifle and sporting clays matches. Jeff is intimately familiar with the shooting industry – competitor, instructor, RO, range master, match director. Among his training credits include NRA Instructor, AR-15 armorer, FBI Rifle Instructor, and Officer Low Light Survival Instructor. As a sponsored shooter, Jeff has represented notable industry names such as: Benelli, 5.11 Tactical, Bushnell, Blackhawk, DoubleStar, and Hornady. He has been featured on several of Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episodes and on a Downrange TV series. Jeff’s current endeavors cover a broad spectrum and he can be found anywhere from local matches helping and encouraging new shooters as they develop their own love of the sport, to the dove field with his friends, a charity sporting clays shoot, backpack hunting public land in Montana, or the winners podium of a major championship.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Mike lewis August 10, 2020, 2:56 pm

    Don’t misunderstand my comment, “ ho hum another nice 1911”. No matter how every writer describes them, a 1911 is a 1911. John Browning needs a no fancy talk , they are what they are, period.

    • Yep yep August 12, 2020, 4:30 pm

      Yep you keep it 💯👊

  • Tim August 10, 2020, 10:30 am

    I have a few Springfield’s and like them. This one looks and sounds tempting except one thing in the pictures. Not a professional look with the metal around the hammer. Looks like someone forgot to smooth the metal and hurried it up and slapped it together. My $400 1911’s look better there. I’ll pass so far. I expect and demand better on guns I shoot. Would be interested in getting one except for that.

    • Yep yep August 12, 2020, 4:31 pm

      Really? Was that worth writing? Build your own if you complain about someone else’s labors!!!

  • Tim August 10, 2020, 5:42 am

    The most accurate 45acp pistol I have ever owned is a Springfield Armory loaded model. It shoots extremely well. I can ring steel out to 100 yds with mine. I haven’t a need for another 1911 but this Vickers model has me VERY interested. I really like the sights and lack of an ambidextrous safety. I have zero use for a dual sided safety on a carry 1911. This pistol seems to be well thought out. It has everything I need and nothing I dont need in a carry pistol.

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