Over the years I’ve carried a pretty diverse collections of pistols as well as one revolver. A Beretta, S&W, two Glocks, Browning, Sig, and Springfield XD are the ones I remember off the top of my head. All of them were fine firearms in their own right.
With my training time compressed, I wanted to narrow down to a single gun for both carry and competition. My personal perspective is that the mastery of accurately deploying and operating my CCW is critical. That means training with my CCW often – not just shooting it.
One of the challenges is that I have two carry guns – my primary carry and a compact carry. Both are completely different, so my training time was split.
One gun that I’ve always been able to carry well is a 1911 IWB, regardless of the slide length. The 1911 is one of my favorites for training and competing– it doesn’t hurt that I can crank out piles of .45 ACP with my Dillion 650XL.
The primary options I was looking for included:
SS frame and slide: I like the appearance and the resistance to daily holster abuse.
A reasonable magazine well: Training has taught me that when the heat is on, a magwell is a big help. I didn’t want an STI monster well, just something that works on a CCW.
Ambidextrous safety: Not to harp on training again, but working with a wounded limb or weak side goes better with the ambi safety.
Front cocking serrations: You guessed it – training. Learning to run the gun with one hand has shown me that ability to “scrape” the slide back on the edge of something could be helpful. I don’t use the serrations normally, but like having them when things aren’t normal.
Decent sights: Good sights include a rear sight with a strong, flat surface facing the muzzle that can be used to rack the slide. Training to run the gun one handed (trend on training emerging?), the rear sight can be a real asset for racking the slide.
I figured that anything else I could take care of myself if needed, but this pretty much covered the big ones.
I’m not shocking anyone when I say that the market is flooded with 1911 choices – a lot of very good choices with more than a few beyond my budget.
After beating my head in to a wall for a few weeks, I made the jump and purchased a Springfield Loaded Black Stainless Steel Target 1911 (PX9152LP). The Target model had three things over the full-size (PX9154LP), although both are full size. It had a magazine well, great G10 grips and ambidextrous safety.
A few bumps in the begging
I have high expectations of a gun with “Loaded” in the name – Springfield and I have a difference of opinion on this point.
The first visual inspection showed the feed ramp was marginal at best – it wasn’t cut straight and not close to polished. A call to Springfield was answered with a willing offer to take care of it with a recommendation that I put 200 rounds though it first. Fair enough, but my opinion is that it should have never left the factory that way.
230gr FMJ ran without a hitch, but Winchester Ranger “T” 230gr HP had misfeeds every other round. My experience has been that it is unusual to have problems with the Rangers, so I took matters into my own hands. Shaping and polishing the feed ramp resulted in flawless operation.
The second item is the trigger – it’s just too long. It is unclear why long triggers became the norm, but fortunately companies like Sig Sauer are getting with the program of shorter triggers. I replaced it with a short trigger and all is well.
While not a functional issue, it annoys me that the extractor isn’t flush fitting.
On the Range
At first I viewed the adjustable night sights as something I would replace. Once I got the gun on the range and racked the slide a few times with the rear sight, my mind was changed. I REALLY like the profile of the rear sight as it grabs on to whatever you want to push against.
The rear sight is pretty rugged, but time will tell. Holding up to the abuse of racking the slide seems like a tough order for this sight configuration.
This 2.75” Shoot-N-C target with 17 rounds at 12 yards tells the story of how this gun shoots:
As things stand today, I have 500 rounds through the gun and have carried it quite a bit. Since the polishing, I haven’t had a single feeding problem.
Carrying a Brick
Full sized, all steel 1911’s are heavy, so carrying one comfortably requires a good holster and a good belt. I’ve had a number of nice, and more not so nice, holsters through the years. I’ve learned that well made holsters make all the difference in
CCW. However, it took a while for me to learn how much of a difference a great gun belt makes.
My search landed me with Tim Thurner at TT Gun Leather and his reinforced IWB holster, OWB canted mag holder, and a Stronghold gun belt with internal stiffener. As you can see in this photo of my carry rig, Tim’s work is amazing. The belt makes carrying the gun a piece of cake and the IWB holster is fantastic. It is without question the nicest and most comfortable rig I’ve owned.
I’m really impressed with the canted OWB mag pouches. The mags ride relatively high and are tip forward just the right amount.
If only there was a way for you to handle the belt. Quality is exceptional and it has a unique stiffness from the top edge to the bottom edge while still going around your waist like a high quality leather belt. The belt won’t roll under the weight of the gear and it distributes the weight nicely.
Living with it . . .
Having a few months of time with the gun and rig, I’m happy with it overall. These are the few things I’ve noticed:
First, the loaded chamber indicator is worthless. It is harmless enough, but it doesn’t provide a positive indication of the chamber status. Press checks are the only way to be sure with this gun, which isn’t an issue from my perspective. It is just a pet peeve that they say it has a chamber indicator. The Ruger LC9 has a loaded chamber indicator!
The black finish is changing and wearing. We’ll see what happens over the next few months, but the front strap is getting splotchy.
The grips are awesome. They take some getting used to as they are really rough, but they provide great purchase.
As reluctant as I was to accept the rear sight, it continues to prove that it belongs on the gun. If you’ve run this sight on your 1911 for a while, I’d really like to hear your comments on how they are holding up.
The two-piece recoil rod requires and allen wrench to remove and you need to remove it to disassemble the gun. It is not a big deal for my use, but I see it as a disadvantage in the field. I like to be able to field strip a gun without tools. Pet peeve type of thing but I’m going to pull it out in favor of a Springco unit.
Lastly, the gunleather from Tim is awesome. This is a lot of gun to haul around, but my carry rig from Tim makes it so comfortable you don’t think about the gun being there until you need it.
The Big Question
So, would I buy it again? “Yes”.
Would I recommend it? A conditional “Yes”.
You should have the feed ramp worked if you plan to carry hollowpoints. It isn’t a difficult task to do yourself, but you can also create permanent and non-warrantied issues if you don’t do it right.
The trigger is too long for all but the biggest hands. This isn’t just a Springfield issue though; a lot of the target style triggers are just too long. A short trigger is another task that isn’t too tough, but it can go really wrong if you aren’t careful and precise.
It is heavy – plan on getting good gun leather and you’ll be pleased with your choice.
I look forward to your comments and I’m glad to answer any questions you may have.
Oh, and did I mention train, train, train!