Tag Archives: 45 ACP

Review: Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator

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If you’re looking for higher-end features in a quality 1911, and you’re on a lower-end budget, look no further than the Range Officer: it’s ready to go!


by Bob Campbell


Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator
Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator

The original Springfield Armory (the very first armory established under authority of General George Washington) started making guns in 1777. Closed by the federal government in 1968, and then privately reopened with a brand new start in 1974 in Geneseo, Illinois, the resurrected Springfield Armory also resurrected its military roots, producing the semi-auto M1A rifles (the first civilian production of the M-14) and soon thereafter the venerable 1911 John-Browning-designed handgun — the “Government Model.”

The 1911 has been produced now by a plethora of different manufacturers, and, holding true to the original design, they all share most things in common. A 1911 is a single-action, magazine-fed autoloader with a sear-blocking safety as well as a grip-actuated safety on the frame backstrap. A well-made 1911 is a hard-hitting, durable, and reliable pistol design (especially hard-hitting in its original .45 ACP chambering). The original 1911 pistol endured a series of rigorous testing trials before being adopted by the U.S. including being dropped in sand, corroded in acid, fired until too hot to handle, and firing through 6,000 rounds without a single malfunction. It was the only design submitted that passed all these tests. (It later passed a 20,000 round endurance test to meet FBI-mandated contract requirements, a contract which was won by Springfield Armory.)

The 1911 safety and firing mechanism is different from most available handguns: its safety can only be applied when the pistol’s hammer is set fully to the rear, ready to fire. Carrying a 1911 in this mode, known as “cocked-and-locked,” makes it very fast getting to the first shot. The single-action trigger helps here too. Unlike the double-action-first-shot, double-action-only, or those using a “trigger-actuated” safety system, all a single-action trigger does is move the sear to drop the hammer. This is an advantage in accuracy and control on the first shot, and for subsequent rounds. The grip safety locks the trigger until the safety is depressed by the shooter’s hand grip.

Springfield Armory offers a wide variety of 1911-style handguns, ranging across frame and slide sizes, weights, calibers, and “levels” of build attention. There is also a wide price range that goes along across that board. The main differences among their various 1911 models are in the attention to details: the component quality, and the level of fitting and tuning, and the finish. At the base level, you can still get an “original” GI-spec .45, and at the upper-end, Springfield Armory can box up a championship-level competition piece ready for you to take to the USPSA Nationals, and win it.

Springfield Range Officer Operator grip
Checkered grips, checkered mainspring housing, a speed thumb safety, and a good beavertail grip safety are desirable features for a 1911. The 1911 is one of the fastest handguns out there coming from the holster to an accurate first shot on a target.

Springfield Armory has used “Range Officer” as a designation for its “value line.” The primary difference between these guns and the higher-end pistols is the finish. The Range Officer line has a parkerized finish (stainless steel is also available). These pistols also have a one-sided thumb safety rather than the more expensive ambidextrous unit. However, the Range Officer lineup still features a match-grade stainless steel barrel and tightly-fitted barrel bushing, two primary keys to good accuracy potential from a 1911.

The Range Officer version tested (the “Operator”) features a light-mounting rail. This rail is compatible with the wide range of available combat lights and lasers. The Operator also has forward cocking serrations on the slide. Its sights are from Novak — a white dot rear and fiber optic front. The contrast is good, and the fiber optic sight provides rapid acquisition. The pistol also features a scalloped ejection port, lightweight hammer, target-style trigger, and a grip-enhancing beavertail grip safety. Trigger compression is factory-set at a clean 6.5 pounds.

Range Testing
Working from an Eclipse Holster, speed was excellent. This holster keeps the pistol secure on the belt and offers a good blend of speed and retention. I loaded the supplied Springfield magazines and backed them up with a good supply of other 7- and 8-round magazines. The pistol was lubricated prior to testing. The magazines were loaded with Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ ammunition.

Springfield Range Officer Operator firing
The author found the Springfield Range Officer Operator a reliable and accurate service pistol. A steel-frame .45 is heavy to carry but the extra weight provides excellent control.

Firing “double-taps” quickly at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the pistol produced excellent results. This is a handgun that responds well for a trained shooter. Moving between targets quickly, and getting the fiber optic sight on the target, gave a solid hit when the trigger was properly compressed. The results simply cannot be faulted. While I often deploy lighter, aluminum-frame handguns because they’re lighter in the holster, the extra weight of its steel frame makes the Range Officer easily controllable.

Accuracy
I also tested with several defense and service loads. Recoil was greater with +P loads and a decision must be made if these loads are worth the extra effort to master. The wound potential of the .45 ACP is proven. I do not let those with a one-safari resume influence my view. I don’t think anyone can argue against the defensive capability of a .45 ACP.

Springfield Range Officer Operator tsrget
The author found the Springfield .45 exhibited excellent practical accuracy. The Operator is factory-sighted for 25 yards and may fire a little low at 7 yards, but this is easily compensated for.

Among the top loads available for the .45 ACP is the Federal 230-grain Hydra-Shok. An intelligently-designed bullet with a proven history, the Hydra-Shok offers excellent wound potential. The American Eagle practice load fires to the same point of impact, making the two a good combination. Firing for accuracy from a solid bench-rest position at 25 yards, the single best group was a 2.0-inch effort for 5 shots with the Speer 230-grain Gold Dot.

Springfield Armory has taken a great handgun design and not only made it better, but, with the Range Officer, Springfield Armory made it affordable. Compared to even minimum custom-done modifications to a standard-style 1911, the package wrapped around the Range Officer is a great value.

Springfield Range Officer Operator accuracy


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

The Thompson ‘Chicago Typewriter’ Turns 100

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John T. Thompson first began researching a portable hand-held automatic weapon in 1915, with the firearm later being known as the “Chicago Typewriter” because of its staccato sounds of report. Now, Auto Ordnance is producing a commemorative 100th Anniversary matched set edition of the Thompson 1927A-1 rifle and matching 1911A1 pistol.

Auto Ordnance is offering a commemorative 100th Anniversary matched set edition of the Thompson 1927A-1 rifle and matching 1911A1 pistol.
Auto Ordnance is offering a commemorative 100th Anniversary matched set edition of the Thompson 1927A-1 rifle and matching 1911A1 pistol.

“We are proud to honor the name and the legacy of General John T. Thompson with this special 100th Anniversary matched set,” said Frank Harris, VP of Sales and Marketing, Kahr Firearms Group. “There is a rich historical past attached to the Tommy Gun, and we feel General Thompson would be proud to see that what started as a research project in 1915 has served the military, law enforcement and shooting enthusiasts around the world so prominently for over 100 years.”

The limited edition Thompson 1927A-1 Deluxe Carbine is offered in .45 ACP and comes with one 20-round stick magazine. It features a 16.5-inch finned barrel (18 inches with compensator) and is prominently engraved with the classic Thompson logo, limited edition numbers, and displays the words “100th Anniversary” on the matte-black steel frame. The gun weighs 13 pounds and has an overall length of 41 inches. Other features include a pinned-in front blade and an open rear adjustable sight. The stock is fixed, has a vertical foregrip, and is made from American Walnut.

As a matched set, the limited edition series also comes with the Thompson 1911A1 GI Specs pistol likewise chambered in .45 ACP, with a 5-inch barrel and a matte-black steel frame. Overall length is 8.5 inches, and it weighs just 39 oz. The low-profile front and rear iron sights are set in dovetail cuts. The pistol is shipped with one 7-round magazine. Just like the Thompson 1927A-1, it too is engraved with the iconic Thompson logo, the words 100th Anniversary, and lists the limited edition numbers on the frame. Both guns must be purchased as a set and the MSRP is $1,971. The guns are shipped together in a polymer hard case with the yellow Thompson Bullet logo and the words “Chicago Typewriter” in white stamped on the black case cover.

The story behind the guns: John T. Thompson was born in Newport, Kentucky on December 31, 1860. His father, a graduate of West Point, served as Lt. Colonel during the civil war and, John, following in his father’s footsteps, also graduated from West Point and served in the Army. It was while he was in the Army that Thompson went to engineering and artillery schools and began researching small arms. He was later assigned to the Army Ordnance Department in 1890 as a 2nd Lieutenant and was responsible for arming and dispersing of weapons during the Spanish-American war.

During WWI, before the U.S. became involved, Thompson saw the need to assist the allies with better artillery, so he retired from the Army to develop a fully automatic weapon. By 1916, while employed as chief engineer at Remington Arms, he created a gun that could be used to clear enemy trenches, nicknamed the “Trench Broom” and this was the beginning of the Thompson submachine gun.

When the U.S. entered WWI in 1917, Thompson re-enlisted into the Army and was promoted to brigadier general. Once the war was over, Thompson continued to perfect the Tommy Gun, and by 1920 it was patented.

Once the war was over, there was little demand for military arms, so Thompson began marketing the Tommy Gun to law-enforcement agencies and also to the general public. Historically, it also became infamous as the weapon of choice for gangsters, including John Dillinger, Al Capone, and Baby Face Nelson.

Thompson died in 1940 at age 79 and was honored with a burial on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Less than two years after his death, WWII broke out and the U.S. Army ordered significant quantities of the Thompson submachine guns.

Exploring Hodgdon’s Pistol-Cartridge-Load Website

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Midsouth Shooters Supply customers buy a lot of Hodgdon powders because the company makes great products and because Hodgdon’s staffers support the efforts of reloaders in a number of ways.

We previously noted here that some of the company’s available materials appear in the Hodgdon Reloading Education section. Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process. Click here to see Safety precautions. Then click the Reloading for Beginners tab to get an overview of the basics of handloading. Click here to  prob

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.
The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

e more deeply into the data available for reloading rifle cartridges.

This time we’re going to explore the Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page. Like the Rifle page, the Pistol page gets you started by asking you to select a cartridge from a pulldown menu. The lineup of available cartridges begins at the 17 Bumble Bee and continues through the 500 S&W Magnum. There are dozens choices of currently available commercial favorites, such as the 380 Auto, 9mm Luger, and 45 ACP, plus a bunch of popular high-performance loads that can be chambered in handguns as well as rifles.

Once you’ve selected a cartridge, which for our purposes here is the 45 ACP, you’re then able to select a range of bullet weights. In the case of the 45 ACP, that ranges from weights from 155 to 230 grains and a variety of bullet profiles.

When the user selects a bullet weight (or weights), the site returns a range of data for that load. We’ve been looking at building a lower-recoil training load with a 155-grain bullet, so we clicked “155” from the bullet-weight menu, and then perused the two load-data selections the site presented: a 155-grain cast bullet and an SFire projectile. The cast load was what we’re looking for, so we then expanded that window and saw additional information about that choice, including Case: Winchester, barrel twist (1:16 inches), primer (Federal 150 Large Pistol), barrel length (5 inches), and trim length for the case (0.893 inches).

Then, in more detail, the window for the 155-grain cast LSWC (lead semi-wadcutter) load lists the recommended powders, starting loads, and maximum loads, along with estimated pressures. For our training load, a promising starting load for the 45 ACP 155-grain round is 4.9 grains of Winchester WST, which will produce a velocity of 919 fps and develop 13,100 copper units of pressure (CUP).

If we wanted to work up hotter and hotter loads, there are plenty of powder choices — 15 others, to be exact. Just among the starting loads we could run up to 1,019 fps with 7.8 grains of IMR 800-X, which is estimated to produce 13,600 CUP. Then, if we wanted to really push that 155-grain round, we could work up to maximum loads producing as much as 1,132 fps and 17,000 CUP with 6.2 grains of Hodgdon’s Titegroup.

Also, you can narrow your selections by manufacturer or specific powder if you have already have pet loads you like to work with.

The Hodgdon pistol-cartridge reloading table lets you select proven, safe, and varied mixtures of bullet weights and powder choices to build nearly any recipe of handgun performance you need.

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. See the image above for a detailed look at the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

Sierra Announces Five New SIG V-Crown Bullets

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Sierra SIG Sauer V-Crown Bullets Nov 2015

Sierra Bullets, in partnership with SIG Sauer, has announced the availability of five new members of the V-Crown self-defense-bullet line. The V-Crowns deliver Continue reading Sierra Announces Five New SIG V-Crown Bullets

Ruger Rolls Out ‘American’ Pistol Line

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Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE: RGR) has announced a new line of full-size duty pistols, available in 9mm Luger and .45 Auto. The two 9mms are Model Nos. 8605 (17+1) and 8607 (10+1) and the 45 is Model No. 8615, and all will list for $579 MSRP. Continue reading Ruger Rolls Out ‘American’ Pistol Line