I think a 9mm 1911 is a fine alternative for consideration for improved accuracy in competition shooting with less felt recoil, as well as being cost-effective and viable for range and maybe home defense purposes. But, it must be reliable. It is my opinion that fast, accurate shot placement is the major variable to surviving any self-defense scenario, as well as performing well in competitive matches. So, make sure you are comfortable with a 1911 in 9mm from a safety, operational, tactical and other use perspective. Certainly, 9mm ammo is less costly than .45 ammo and this translates into more practice time. Today’s improved 9mm cartridges (especially hollow points and +P) with their increased velocities and muzzle energies, penetration, and expansion properties make the differences in one-shot stop percentages really close.
Some quote the .45 caliber one-shot stop percentage as 87%, with the 9mm one-shot stop percentage being close at 83%, based on studies. Almost a negligible difference for peace-of-mind purposes. Given the ammo considerations, reduced supply, and its high costs, I just want to go to the range and plink frequently, comfortably, accurately, and have fun at a reasonable cost. I don’t want to worry about malfunctions, stoppages, jams, and reliability issues. So, is the RO Compact an option to do so, in addition to being a consideration as a competition gun. Will it live up to all the expectations? Well, I shot it and studied it, and want to offer my report. First though, here are the new RO Compact’s Specifications:
Below are the criteria that I considered when I examined, analyzed, shot, and reviewed the RO Compact. The top two criteria are most important to me and I considered the RO Compact primarily for IDPA competition shooting and concealed carry, with fun range plinking secondary.
Criteria and Considerations
Here are My 10 Criteria for testing and evaluating the handgun and I will apply them for my concealed carry, IDPA and plinking purposes here. Of course, some criteria standards are defined differently and some not used for different uses of the handgun, e.g. carry versus competition. My criteria that follow are the physical gun attributes, features, and results I want. (You may recognize them from my usacarry.com articles- “Handgun Attributes to Help Improve Accuracy” – January 23, 2014 and my other gun reviews.) There are other less tangible, subjective (and some say very less important) features that may be appealing for some, like preference for a 1911 style, appearance, or included extras like a holster and pouch, etc. So, I combined these into the last Miscellaneous criterion. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria or desires and subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well consistently without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in accurate target hits with a maximum of a 4″ inch hit group and dependably;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.0 pounds (for single-action)- lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable;
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 4.0″-5.0″ (a longer barrel lessens felt recoil, means higher muzzle velocity & means more distance between the sights which enhances accuracy);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see; fast target acquisition; for my purposes- e.g. adjustable for windage and elevation- for Range Targets & IDPA);
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 30 oz or more for IDPA, Range use, & home defense & about 22 to 30 oz for carry);
7. Caliber match to your needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for better recoil control and related accuracy;
8. Capacity of at least 8-9 in a 9mm magazine;
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; and
10. Miscellaneous – Finish appearance; company representatives friendly help, information, & service; Ease of Disassembly-Assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like holster & pouch), etc.
There are a lot of attributes, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined needs and use.
After shooting and observing the new RO Compact in 9mm, here’s what I discovered. I shot it on 2 different days, with the first session shooting 150 rounds, and the second session about 75 rounds. What follows is just my opinion and observations for a new gun never fired before and certainly not broke-in. It did meet several of my above Criteria. Generally, it was a smooth, accurate, and fun shooting handgun for IDPA competition, plinking, and carry. Springfield has taken some nice features of the more expensive Trophy Match and TRP 1911s and included them, but kept the price reasonable below $1,000. You can buy it for less than $900 in the market. The RO Compact is a quality, classy, affordable, and precision handgun.
1. The accuracy of the RO-9mm was good for me at medium distances of 7, 15, and 20 yards. This old bird with aging eyesight was able to shoot decent groups, with the gun doing a lot of the work. My groups of 15 shots at each of the various distances were about 3-4 inches or so (with a couple of fliers at 20 yards) for the first time I ever fired the gun “out of the box” drawing from the holster it came with in the hard case. The 15 close-up hits at 7 yards were all about a 2 inch group, but it was slow fire. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot mostly my own various 115 grain FMJ and 124 grain FMJ ammo. I did not shoot hollow points. Certainly not great marksmanship, but I had fun. It easily accepted Blazer Brass, Winchester White Box, and some quality reloads as in my other 1911s.There were no malfunctions and stoppages and I believe this is a reliable gun and I would not hesitate to carry it. Try it for yourself. Accuracy was very good with this gun for my skill level and I did give this criterion a high rating for accuracy… 10.
2. The trigger press out of the box averaged about 4.6 pounds without modification, with 5 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. It is a new pistol with no break-in. For comparison, my other single-actions Sig 1911 .45 has a 5.1 pound press; my Kimber 1911 .45 has a 4.8 press; my Taurus 9mm 1911 has a 4.5 (modified) press; and my Colt XSE .45 has a 4.5 press. All of these are close to my desired range. The single-action RO Compact press was short and light and I liked that… 10.
3. The trigger was crisp and excellent with a short travel distance and short reset, so I could get off quick follow-up shots easily and keep on target easier. The reset was very definite and identifiable.The single-action trigger was very good and consistent shooting with pretty much the same press each time. I enjoyed shooting it… 10.
4. The 4-inch barrel helped to provide stability and to reduce recoil. This barrel would be acceptable to me for carry, since it has such a narrow width. I had no problem at all with the recoil and the longer barrel helped my stability, recoil control, and accuracy. The sight radius length helped. The barrel was match grade quality… 10.
5. The front sight is a red Fiber Optic and a green rod was included (which I prefer.) The rear sight is a Dovetailed Combat rear with 2 white dots and is drift adjustable for windage. I like this combination… 9.
6. The aluminum-alloy frame with steel slide RO Compact weighed 29.5 ounces and was heavier than I thought with a decent sight radius, much less felt recoil, and much less movement by me which helped my accuracy… 10.
7. The 9mm caliber in the Compact RO 1911 was a joy to shoot. The felt recoil was very tolerable and the 9mm ammo was much less expensive and readily available than the .45 ammo. I had fun shooting it… 10.
8. I liked the 8+1 capacity of the RO Compact-9mm. It was acceptable for the smaller frame… 9.
9. The ergonomics of the RO Compact were just right and I was easily able to reach all controls like the thumb safety, slide lever, and magazine release.The RO fit my medium-sized mits just fine. I had no hammer bite from the beavertail. It actually felt very good to hold in my hands. The grip safety was natural and comfortable… 10.
10. I easily disassembled and re-assembled it before I shot it. The hard plastic case included extras like a holster, mag pouch, and nice cleaning brush. The gun looks good. Also, the company representative was very helpful and friendly and she provided plenty of answers and help… 9.
Total Points = 97 out of 100 Possible.
I RECOMMEND this handgun, especially for fun plinking. Also, I would not hesitate to carry it and use it with its 4 inch barrel in the IDPA CCP Division as an option for competition shooting.
I hope this review of the Springfield-Armory 1911 Range Officer Compact in 9mm has helped you gain some information for YOUR decision. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using only a few rounds of available ammo. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what’s important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.