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Old March 5, 2011, 01:01 AM   #1
shanzlik
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Springfield Armory Range Officer - a review

There's a new Range Officer in Town



Springfield Armory has been making a number of value oriented 1911s for quite a while now. These G.I. and Loaded models have been good sellers and target two of the more common segments of the mass produced 1911 market - those wanting a plain, World War II style pistol, and those wanting some more user friendly upgrades.

Springfield also has a higher end lineup. You may not find these in the firearms department of your typical big box store, but many a local gun shop carries them. The Trophy Match and TRP pistols offer more refinement and hand fitting than the G.I. and Loaded models. For the ultimate Springfield offerings, get in touch with the Springfield Armory Custom Shop (SACS) and they’ll build you something to suit your personal tastes.

In the past, if you wanted some of the higher end features but in a pistol more in the "Loaded" price range, you might have looked somewhere other than Springfield Armory (SA). Springfield says that has changed with their new Range Officer model.

The Range Officer concept, according to Springfield’s advertisements, is to allow someone interested in competition to buy an affordable, entry-level pistol that is competitive right out of the box. The Range Officer is very similar to their Loaded models, but with the promise of "Trophy Match/TRP quality levels.” This means that some of the same slide, frame, and barrel fitting that go into their higher end pistols is supposed to be in the Range Officer model.



For quite some time I have wanted a 1911 more along the traditional G.I. lines (low key finish, no front cocking serrations, etc.). However, I knew I probably wouldn’t shoot it all that often, and was unlikely to consider it for concealed carry, if I didn’t change some things. I would probably have wanted to add a beavertail style grip safety, a commander type hammer, and maybe an extended thumb safety.

Well, that didn’t make much sense to me from a cost or effort perspective, so I put off getting a 1911 of that sort – until I saw the new Range Officer. It was a good blend of old and new, accuracy and reliability, and so on. The price seemed about right - $740 in my case, so I bought one to commemorate my wedding anniversary this year. (seems like a good excuse for a new pistol, right?)



Out of the box, it comes with two blued seven round magazines, a holster, a dual magazine carrier, two keys for the internal locking system, and a couple tools as you can see above. However, the grip screws are Torx and it didn’t come with a Torx driver. Not a big deal but it would have been nice. There is no bushing wrench, either, but the fit on my pistol was just on the right side of not needing one. On we go to the pistol itself.

The full size frame and slide are forged from carbon steel and have a parkerized finish. No full length guide rod here - a standard guide rod and plug are used. The slide features a lowered and flared ejection port for more reliable cycling.

Fully adjustable, low profile, BoMar-style target sights are atop the slide and are a good setup for competition and range use. If you want to conceal carry this pistol, you may want a fixed sight design* that is less likely to snag, scratch, or lose adjustment, and you may want to consider a set of tritium night sights. You may also want to upgrade your belt to one designed for carry, if you don't already have one, because like all full size steel 1911s this is a heavy pistol to wear all day. Unloaded, the Range Officer weighs in at 40 ounces, or two and a half pounds.

The frame features a checkered polymer main spring housing, plain front strap, checkered cocobolo grips, a lightweight speed trigger, extended thumb safety, high rise beavertail grip safety, and skeletonized hammer.



Enough with the specs, does it live up to the billing of TRP/Trophy levels without some of the “extras” that drive up the price? The answer is, it depends on what you consider “extras.” The rear of the extractor on mine is proud of the slide by at least 1/8”, which is very apparent to the eye. While this does not affect function, it detracts from the sense of quality in my mind. My STIs, Colts, and Kimber aren’t like that.

The other aspect that detracts from the feeling of quality is the fairly prominent tooling marks on the inside of the slide and frame. These are also quite noticeable to the eye, more so than competitive models from the Colt or STI. They haven’t affected reliability in my pistol, but they do give a slightly gritty feel to the action of the slide while hand cycling the pistol. There are no tooling marks on the outside of the pistol, so you won’t notice this until you disassemble the pistol. The thumb safety also had a slight grittiness to it, although that is slowly going away with use (along with the slightly gritty slide action).



On the plus side, the rest of the pistol had little to nitpick. The Parkerizing was nice and even, the barrel to bushing fit was nice and tight, but not quite to the point where you would absolutely have to use a bushing wrench for takedown. The feed ramp had a nice polish, and I had no trouble chambering any of the FMJ ammunition I have used to date.



How does it handle? The Range Officer handles quite well, with one exception that may or may not bother or affect you. The edges of the rear sight blade are fairly sharp. This makes it a little more difficult to comfortably do the overhand slingshot chambering method I am used to using. I am considering swapping out the rear sight, or possibly easing the edges to take the sharpness off.

How does the Range Officer shoot? Since Springfield has brought the Range Officer to market as an entry-level competition pistol, it ought to shoot pretty well, right? Well, I am happy to report that mine does. The only open lane at the range was the 15 yard line. I didn’t shoot from a rest for group size, but I shot well enough offhand for another shooter to come up and ask what I was shooting and compliment me on my accuracy.

I found it a little easier to shoot more precisely at that distance than with some of my other pistols, possibly because of the target style sights. The heft of a full size steel 1911 also makes quick follow up shots easier due to less muzzle flip and lower felt recoil.

Is it reliable? I don’t have a complete answer yet, as I have only shot 150 rounds in the 24 hours I have had the pistol. I shot 100 rounds of PMC Bronze, followed by 50 rounds of Blazer, and they were all 230 grain FMJ. All 150 rounds loaded, fired and ejected their casings without a hitch. The lack of ejection problems does go to show that the untrimmed rear end of the extractor had no affect on reliability.

I used the two factory mags, which aren’t the highest quality but they do work, and two eight round Wilson mags. The Wilsons are much easier to load, and much smoother, despite the extra round of capacity. I alternated between all four of the magazines and they all worked flawlessly.

Would I recommend the Range Officer? My early indications are a good but qualified yes. As long as you can get it for about $740 give or take, and you can live without a couple little finishing details, it’s a pretty good choice. It’s also one of the seemingly few new model 1911s coming out today without the trendy front cocking serrations.

If you intend to compete with it, it’s probably a good starter pistol. I have no reason to suspect it wouldn’t be accurate enough or reliable enough. The forged slide and frame should make a good base for upgrades if you decide you need or want them later on. On the other hand, options are out there, too.

If you intend to carry it, or use it for home defense, you should consider changing at least the rear sight so you don’t tear up your side, your holster, or your clothing on the target sight. It could also be difficult to see the black against black sight picture with the target style sights if you find yourself in a low light situation. Another option would be keeping the sights and adding a Crimson Trace lasergrip.

If you’re planning on using the holster and/or magazine carrier, be sure to loosen the tension screws before inserting your pistol or the magazines, and then make your tension adjustment from there. If you don’t, it is possible to either mar your pistol’s finish, or stretch and/or break the injection molded plastic gear. You should only need to make this adjustment one time unless it loosens up.

If you want to use this as a range pistol, you should be good to go right out of the box. Who knows, you may even shoot so well with it that you, too, wind up with a new acquaintance at the range.

*Rear sight has an LPA cut. One replacement available is the Harrison Extreme Service Rear Sight (HD-002 standard / HD-002-T2 night sight), which is CNC machined with 50 lpi serrations in the rear to prevent glare, and a squared off front face to allow one-handed operation of your 1911 by using it against the edge of a table or other item. About $70 / $125 from http://shop.harrisoncustom.com



Springfield Armory 1911A1 "Range Officer"

Model: PI9128LP

Caliber: .45ACP

Frame: Forged carbon steel
Government sized

Slide: Forged carbon steel
Lowered and flared ejection port

Barrel: 5" Stainless steel match grade

Trigger: Lightweight speed trigger
5-6 lb factory weight
Cross drilled, 3 holes

Mainspring Housing: Checkered

External Safety: Extended thumb safety, single side

Grip Safety: High rise beavertail

Sights: Fully adjustable, low profile, target sights (rear has LPA cut)

Guide rod: Standard GI length with plug

Hammer: "Delta" skeletonized lightweight hammer

Grips: Cocobolo with Springfield's "Crossed Cannons" logo, torx screws

Capacity: 7 + 1 (8 + 1 with 3rd party magazines)

Magazine: (2) 7 round magazines included, blued finish

Other: Made to Springfield's Trophy Match/TRP quality levels
Slide, frame, and barrel have extra fitting performed at the factory
Designed as an affordable, entry-level competition pistol
Fewer "extras" to keep the price down
Injection molded holster and magazine carrier included in plastic/foam case
Smooth front strap
Beveled magazine well
"Loaded" coupon for discounted Springfield accessories & merchandise

Finish: Parkerized

Length: 8.5"

Height: 5.5"

Weight: 40 ounces, unloaded

Point of manufacture: Brazil and United States

Warranty: Limited lifetime

Website: http://www.springfieldarmory.com

MSRP: about $940
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Old March 5, 2011, 01:16 AM   #2
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Like it.
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Old March 5, 2011, 03:43 AM   #3
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A very thorough review! Thanks!
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Old March 5, 2011, 08:36 AM   #4
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Nice review, thanks. I appreciate all the (literally) gritty details.
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Old March 5, 2011, 09:16 AM   #5
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Did the MSRP go way up? What kind of group sizes are we talkin with a prefered ammo? Thanks for the excellent review. I've noticed a lot of springfields have their extractor butts protruding, it was the deciding factor for me in a Para P18 vs 9mm Loaded dilemma.
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:10 AM   #6
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Don't know if the MSRP has changed, but several sources I checked have it at $939 (I rounded up, Mas Ayoob's review also listed it at $939). They seem to be commonly available for about $200 less.

I am not a competitive shooter, but I was able to hold all of a 50 round box to about 6-7 inches at 15 yards offhand. Individual mags held pretty tight groups as small as about 2". The accuracy potential seems to be there.

Mas Ayoob's review said his shooting from a bench rest (though not a machine rest) at 25 yards had 5 round groups of 1.55" using Wilson ammo with a "best 3" of 0.65".
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:14 AM   #7
shanzlik
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Quote:
Nice review, thanks. I appreciate all the (literally) gritty details.
Funny, and you're welcome. The grittiness is smoothing out with use and wasn't horrible or anything, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:41 AM   #8
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I will have one before the end of 2011! I really like this gun.
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Old March 5, 2011, 02:54 PM   #9
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Great review.
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Old March 5, 2011, 09:42 PM   #10
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I bought a RO the beginning of Dec. and paid $678.00 shipped to my FFL. The reason I bought it was the price and it was a SA.

Someone asked about group size? I sand bagged mine right out of the box @25yds. It shot 2 1/4" groups with WWB FMJ 230gr.

I've put about 600 flawless rounds through mine. FMJ and LSWC

Very nice and complete review.
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Old March 5, 2011, 09:54 PM   #11
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If the prefix to your RO is "NM" and I think it is, this means the frame and slide were forged in Brazil and the pistol was fitted and assembled in Genesco, IL which is a good thing.

I see it has the SS barrel bushing. I have a MIL SPEC made in 2003 that also is an "NM" gun. It also has the SS barrel bushing.

I am told the newer MIL SPEC and GI pistols are made and assembled in Brazil.

Great pictures; good story; enjoy
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:10 PM   #12
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Yes, they are doing the assembly on all the ROs in the US, and they all have the NM prefix. That was one of the selling points for me. The forgings are still done at IMBEL in Brazil, as you noted.

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Old March 5, 2011, 10:11 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for the compliments, and for the additional accuracy report. $678 for this pistol was a very good deal, SauerGrapes.
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:15 PM   #14
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That has to be the most comprehensive, in depth review that I've ever seen posted on a gun forum. Thanks for taking the time to put that together! Springfield seems to be making some fine 1911's these days, no matter where they are made or assembled.
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Old March 5, 2011, 10:46 PM   #15
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Shanzlik: I bought my MIL SPEC at an Academy in Plano, TX right at Park and the Toll Way. I paid $449.00 for it and it only came with one magazine. With Tax, it came to $487.00. At that time, they had lay-away. I put $120.00 down on it in May of 2004 and got it out in July of 2004. The best $500.00 I ever spent on a handgun.

The first time shot it, I ran a box of Federal Hydra-Shok 230 grain JHP and then a box of .230 grain ball. It never bobbled on the Hydra-Shoks. It has never jammed.

Hard to believe 7 years have passed.
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Old March 6, 2011, 11:46 AM   #16
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I noticed something when I cleaned it yesterday - the numbers scribed into the slide (last three digits of the serial #) may have been part of the cause of the grittiness I felt when hand cycling before I had shot it. That spot had felt rough (as you'd expect, somewhat) to the touch before shooting, and now it is no longer rough and you can see shinier spots where the high edges were worn down. You can of course still feel the depressions, they just feel smoother now.



Here are some more pictures of the pistol after shooting 150 rounds of FMJ (nothing unexpected)...









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Old March 6, 2011, 12:08 PM   #17
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Thanks, Larry.
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Old March 6, 2011, 12:52 PM   #18
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Fantastic writeup, no question.

The extractor bump is the norm on Springers. Has absolutely nothing to do with fit/finish/function. That's just how they sit. I've never understood why people gripe about this over the years. It doesn't get in the way nor have I seen where it's a requirement to be flush with the slide.

I do wonder about the brass marks on the slide. Is this a sign the extractor tension is too tight?
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Old March 7, 2011, 08:50 AM   #19
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Well, I decided to try out the Harrison Extreme Service fixed rear sight on my Springfield Armory Range Officer and placed an order for it today. A review will follow once I have it installed and tested. For now, see the manufacturer's description below.



The rugged HD-002 Extreme Service fixed rear sight is available plain black. It fits 1911 slides machined to mount the LPA adjustable rear sight as used by Springfield Armory and other 1911 manufacturers. The HD-002 is CNC machined and incorporates the most*desirable*features in a 1911 rear sight. The rear blade is serrated 50 lpi to reduce glare and reflection. All edges and corners are machine radiused for handling, carrying and operational comfort. The front face of the sight is squared to allow one-handed operation. The notch dimensions are .135" x .125" to allow adequate light into the sight picture, assuring a rapid sight acquisition and alignment. The HD-002 has become a favorite for use in custom installations, due to it's good looks and balanced proportions. The HD-002 will often regulate with the OEM front sight, or with new installations in the range from .170" to .200", depending on the pistol.

Fits all Springfield Armory models with adjustable sights, (except TRP Operator - see HD-001) including the new Range Officer. Also fits some models of Para-Ordnance, Charles Daly, STI Spartan and other pistols machined for the LPA adjustable rear sight.
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Old March 7, 2011, 09:00 AM   #20
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Great review, thanks for all the work you put into it.
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Old March 10, 2011, 08:23 AM   #21
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Pics of the new Larry Davidson grips on my RO. Couldn't decide which one to go with without seeing them on the pistol. The extra set will go on one of my other 1911s.

Black and tan wyrms





Black wyrms



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Old March 10, 2011, 09:54 AM   #22
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It's beautiful!!!! I can't wait to get my Mil-Spec back from the gunsmith already! I like the first grips you put on it btw....I'm getting "10-8 dirty olive" on mine.

Also, I second Shane's question,

Quote:
I do wonder about the brass marks on the slide. Is this a sign the extractor tension is too tight?
Mine is parkerized too and all that, it gets that also. It does, however..come off eventually. Just wondering though, what is that from?
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Old March 10, 2011, 10:19 AM   #23
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I read your range report on a 1911 forum and it's a great one. I tracked you back to this site.

I couldn't find one locally. I just picked mine up from my FFL Monday. Ordered it through Guns America - $760 + $15 shipping + 15 for transfer fee or $790. Not a bad price. Unfortunately I've not been able to get to the range with it yet.

I wanted a good range gun with adjustable sights and if it shoots good, it will be just what the doctor ordered. Mine has a VERY tight frame to slide fit and there is no play in the barrel at the breach or the muzzle. It should be a shooter. If it shoots as good as my stainless Loaded Target in 9mm, I will be a happy camper!
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Old March 14, 2011, 09:18 PM   #24
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I wonder if the Range Officer beavertail will fit on the Mil-spec?
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Old March 14, 2011, 10:04 PM   #25
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I read a lot of reviews and they all need to be like this one...Bravo Sir- Bravo!
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