Although it’s fallen out of the mainstream, .38 Super is a formidable choice for a critical-use handgun, and it’s one any serious operator should consider. READ WHY
The .38 Super was introduced in the 1911 handgun in 1929 to arm peace officers with a hard-hitting round that offered good penetration against the new breed of mechanized thug. The .38 Super saw extensive use in the hands of the FBI and figured into the demise of dangerous fugitives such as Baby Face Nelson.
The .38 Super is dimensionally identical to the .38 ACP of 1900, and Colt’s offered this in the 1903 model pistol. The .38 ACP fired a 130-grain bullet at 1,100 fps. Colt’s upped the power of the cartridge but used the same length cartridge case and chambered the 1911 in .38 Super when it dropped production of the .38 ACP pistols. The .38 Super was a sensation, noted for its high velocity of 1300 fps and 9 fast shots. At the time, you had to know not to fire a .38 Super in the older Colt’s 1903 pistols.
The effectiveness of .38 Super cannot be argued. The penetration of the cartridge and reliability of the 1911 gave law officers an advantage. However, the .38 Super suffered in popularity after the introduction of the .357 Magnum. In those days, lawmen were revolver men. The question is this: Is the .38 Super a viable personal defense and tactical combination today?
The answer would be yes! Ammunition development continues. Federal Cartridge recently introduced a 115-grain JHP load in its American Eagle Line, and Double Tap ammunition offers excellent tactical-grade loads. SIG Sauer also recently introduced a new .38 Super load.
Rock Island GI Series
The 1911 is a good home for the .38 Super. The 1911 features straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, a low bore axis, a grip that fits most hands well, and excellent speed into action. Its lower recoil makes the .38 Super an an easier cartridge to master than the .45 ACP, and the .38 Super gives two additional rounds of magazine capacity.
Rock Island Armory offers a GI-type 1911 chambered in .38 Super. The pistol is well finished, offers a smooth trigger compression at 5.5 pounds, and, overall, the parts on my test gun were well fitted.
Federal offers a 115-grain JHP in the American Eagle line that breaks almost 1200 fps. This is a good practice load and is just a bit hotter than most 9mm loads. The SIG Sauer Elite 125-grain V Crown JHP breaks just over 1200 fps. Either is a good defense load for most situations.
For loads mimicking the .357 Magnum, consider this: The .38 Super uses relatively fast-burning powder that produces less recoil energy than the slow-burning powder used in the .357 Magnum. The recoil spring captures much of the recoil energy as well.
There are loads available that maximize the caliber. If you wish a rapidly expanding load for use in an urban situation the Double Tap 115-grain Controlled Expansion JHP offers that option. For those preferring an all-copper bullet, the Barnes TAC XP load is an option with greater penetration.
At over 1400 fps, the 125-grain JHP Double Tap would be an excellent all around service load. I normally load my .38 Super with the 115-grain load for home defense. If using the pistol for tactical use, I would deploy the 125-grain bonded core loading. The following table outlines the load’s performance. The Rock Island Armory 1911 .38 Super produced good accuracy with each loading.
The .38 Super fits my needs well. Modern loads put the .38 Super just where it needs to be — a high-velocity loading with good performance, excellent penetration and governable recoil.
Looking for a SERIOUS AR15 pistol? Check out this one… READ MORE
Last year Barnes Precision Machine (BPM) added AR15 pistols to its line-up. Being a long-term fan of BPM, and reasons for that will come out in this article — I had to have one.
WHY BARNES PRECISION MACHINE?
Generally, as a reviewer of a continuous stream of AR15 rifles, I have to strain a bit to understand the benefits X-brand delivers vs Y-brand…because in most cases 99-percent of AR15 manufacturers all use the same parts from the same OEM manufacturers. Barnes is one of those OEM manufacturers in the list who makes parts for the biggest names in the industry.
With nearly every part being made in-house Barnes has the ability to assure every part they use comes together in the most optimal fashion. The result is a tighter fitting and feeling rifle with a higher potential for accuracy.
Barnes has both the build and part quality down; however, what sets them apart is the 100-percent in-house production (excluding springs, trigger, and furniture). I know of four manufacturers in the US actually making a majority of the AR15 parts in house — LMT, Daniel Defense, Colt, and Barnes Precision — however there are a few others starting to pop up here and there.
BPM DOES NOT DO IT BECAUSE IT’S COOL
Many manufacturers are creating ARs and AR accessories because they look cooler than the original. Do they work better? No, generally it is about blinging out your AR versus increasing any real level of performance. Barnes Precision takes a different route with the belief that the overall AR15 platform and design is excellent as is, but some smart tweaks can make it exponentially better without huge cost increases — and still maintain the integrity of a Mil-Spec rifle. Little things make a difference like a captured take-down detent spring that doesn’t go flying when you remove the buffer tube, a tight receiver-to-receiver fit that can even be tightened with an internal receiver tension screw, a sub-MOA match-grade barrel included even in their least expensive rifles, and softer-shooting mid-length gas systems. BPM includes their own Barnes NiBo (Nickel-Boron) coated bolt carrier group and a nice lockable hard-sided Patriot Case with die-cut foam inserts.
There are other innovative design concepts BPM pioneered to improve reliability and durability of the AR15 platform. The in-house made bolt’s cam pin hole is reamed versus being peened which increases the strength of the bolt. BPM designed the first long extended barrel nut design for free-float handguards which does not require indexing, allows perfect torquing of the barrel, and delivers a significantly stronger rigid handguard (in my opinion it is the most solid in the industry). The design is so rigid that certain Military units are using the handguard to mount precision sighting systems. BPM was also the first in the industry to offer NP3 coating on AR15s not because it was cool looking, but because it protected all those typical phosphate coated parts from rust and corrosion in a marine environment. Of course all these great features are included in the BPM-15 Pistol as well.
NOT JUST ANOTHER AR15 PISTOL
Back in 2014, I had several discussions with Andrew Barnes (President BPM). His perspective was that he did not want to offer an AR15 pistol because everyone else had one, he wanted to assure it could be a tool for military, law enforcement, and civilians from a practical perspective. With the rise of the Sig Brace and civilian comfort with Trusts to register SBR — Short Barreled Rifles — he believed there was a niche. Input from his military and LEO contacts really wanted a fast AR15 pistol or SBR which could get in and out of vehicles fast with all the same features as the BPM-15 rifle, including good accuracy. College campus security wanted something light and fast which could address terroristic threat on campus, but be light and small enough to carry every day on the golf carts and Segways used on campuses.
The base of the pistol is exactly the same as their rifles, but with a shorter 7.5-in. barrel, shorter handguard, and Sig Brace with extended buffer tube. The result is a civilian-legal short, fast, and powerful defensive and sport pistol that is a tool versus a toy.
The handguard for instance is not the cool-looking extended-over-muzzle-length style because the handguard length is sized to assure clearance of any muzzle device or suppressor without worrying about handguard interference. Barnes also used a heavier barrel to assure it could satisfy the demands of sustained continuous fire versus a faster-heating skinny barrel. Instead of just slipping a Sig Brace on the back of a standard pistol buffer tube, BPM used a KAK buffer tube to provide a more comfortable shooter platform with the Sig Brace. The end result is a tight, well-thought-out AR15 pistol which is useable out of the box as a defense and sporting tool, but can be easily converted to a shoulder-stocked SBR with the properly acquired tax stamp.
BPM ROBAR NP3 & MELONITED MARINE AR15
Almost every other manufacturer who offers some fancy diamond hard finish are only at best delivering a upper and lower receiver with a really hard finish. The problem is that they are coating the hard anodized items which are already the most impervious to corrosion, but all the other phosphate parts are left exposed which can rust of corrode quickly in a marine or wet environment. Barnes offers 100-percent NP3 coated firearms as a BPM NP3 Parts Upgrade Package.
The package includes NP3 coated trigger assembly pins, a trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, selector, take-down and pivot-pins, springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, te handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are are NP3 treated. On my model, the stainless match barrel, gas block and gas tube are Nitrocarburization treated (AKA: Melonited) inside and out which is better than chrome because it delivers superior corrosion resistance and does not degrade accuracy like chrome can.
In the end, the coatings deliver a totally corrosion-resistant AR. All this was done not to deliver the stunning custom-look it has, but, as Andrew Barnes was quick to point out “the cool factor is only a side benefit…it’s all about performance.”
My testing did not center around the conventional accuracy testing, but instead testing the pistol for what it was designed for — fast shooting on man-sized targets from 0-300 yards. For this task, I attached an Israeli Mepro 21 sight which has proven itself easy in combat environments as one of the best combat reflex sights on the market. My Mepro 21 features the triangle dual (fiber optic and tritium) illuminated reticle. Frankly I love this optic and it proved perfect for this BPM15 Pistol.
Once I established a 25-yard zero and confirmed no additional tweaks were needed at 300 yards, I started having A LOT of fun. With my steel Action Targets set up at 25, 100, 200, and 300 yards, I was extremely impressed how easy the Barnes pistol was to shoot. They had done their homework. I was able to keep my hostage 6-inch swinger swaying on the 200-yard line. Of course I missed a few shots here and there, however for an AR15 Pistol, this gun is well-suited to serious work whether for defense or sport.
AR15 pistols are, of course, just as legal and easy to acquire as any other handgun through your local FFL. An AR15 pistol is a great path to acquiring a Short Barrel Rifle complete with any rifle shoulder stock you might want. A buyer can purchase and enjoy the AR15 pistol while waiting for ATF SBR tax stamp to come through and then swap out the Sig Brace for a rifle stock. I cannot wait to push my SBR stamp through on this build to convert from pistol to Short Barrel Rifle.
About a year ago, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of an AR15 pistol in the home and urban environment. Today I stand converted. Once I shot a well-designed AR15 pistol and realize how quick the gun is for urban home interiors, I began to believe that the AR15 pistol is actually the best home defense option that combines the accuracy, power, and capacity of the AR15 with the maneuverability of a pistol. This BPM-15 pistol embodies that concept perfectly.
[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]
Don’t wait too long after getting that new handgun to get it, and yourself, ready for use. “Right now” isn’t too soon! Read why HERE
Imagine being the victim of a burglary five times in a six-year period. Not only would you be losing personal valuables during each burglary, but undoubtedly the ongoing victimization would take a toll on your life in other ways.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a man named Harvey Lembo. Harvey is a retired lobster fisherman who lives in a small apartment in Maine. He takes multiple medications and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.
Most likely, the criminals who kept breaking into Harvey’s apartment knew he had prescription medications in his home. They also assumed he was an easy victim since he was only able to move around using his wheelchair.
The fourth time Harvey’s apartment was burglarized, the thieves made off with around $1,000 and several prescription bottles. It was then that one of Harvey’s neighbors suggested he purchase a gun to protect himself. About a month later, Harvey decided that was probably a good idea. So he went out and purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver that he kept under his pillow.
The same day he purchased the gun, Harvey was awakened in the night by a noise coming from his kitchen. He got out of bed, moved himself to his wheelchair and quietly proceeded to the kitchen with his gun.
When he reached the kitchen, he saw a man going through the cabinet where he kept his medicine. Harvey told him to sit down and wait for the police or he would shoot. The burglar didn’t listen to instructions and Harvey ended up shooting the suspect as he ran out of the apartment.
A short time later, police arrived and followed the trail of blood. It led them to 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber, who had been shot in the shoulder. Wildhaber was arrested and charged with burglary. He was later sentenced to four years in prison.
According the Maine Criminal Code, “A person in possession or control of a dwelling place or a person who is licensed or privileged to be therein is justified in using deadly force upon another person… when the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other person.” Basically, Harvey was perfectly within his rights to do what he did to protect himself in his own residence.
But consider this: Within hours of buying his revolver, Harvey had to use it to defend himself. He didn’t have weeks or months to spend time at the shooting range practicing and breaking in his new gun. That being said, today I want to share with you four steps for breaking in a new firearm — which hopefully you’ll have time to do before ever having to use your gun.
1. Clean your gun
Even if you purchase your gun brand-new straight from the factory, it doesn’t hurt to give it a good cleaning. You never know how long it’s been sitting on a store shelf or under what conditions it’s been kept. Whenever you clean your gun, you should visually inspect each part of the firearm. Make sure there aren’t any loose metal shavings or barrel obstructions. And don’t forget to grease your gun with some sort of oil or lubricant such as Remington oil.
2. Practice dry-firing
If your new gun is a semiautomatic, you should definitely dry-fire and function-test your gun. In other words, rack the slide to ensure it moves properly, and then dry-fire the gun multiple times. As long as it’s a centerfire gun (not rimfire like a .22), you can safely dry-fire your new gun without damaging it to make sure it works properly.
3. Shoot an FBI qualification
The first time you go to the range with your new gun I recommend shooting an FBI qualification test. This is only 60 rounds, but it’s a good way to get started with your new firearm. Of course, 60 rounds aren’t enough to break in your firearm. Ideally, you should shoot at least 500 rounds through your new gun to break it in. This should include different drills in addition to the FBI qualification test. In short, you need to test out every aspect of your new gun. Now is the time to find out if you have a bad magazine or you need to adjust your sights — not when an intruder is barreling toward you.
4. Test your self-defense ammunition
Go to the range and run your self-defense ammunition through your gun. You need to make sure your hollow points feed properly and the gun doesn’t jam with this type of ammunition. I realize self-defense ammo is a lot more expensive, but this is very important to do. I know some people who shoot two or three rounds of hollow-point ammo and then start carrying their gun. Personally, I’m not comfortable carrying a gun I’ve only shot a handful of defensive rounds through, which is why I recommend putting at least 100 rounds through the gun. Once I’m sure my new gun functions flawlessly with my self-defense ammo, then I’ll give it another cleaning and start carrying it.
If you follow these four steps to break in your brand-new firearm, you will be better prepared to use it if and when the need arises. It’s lucky that Harvey was successfully able to use his new revolver to keep himself from being robbed a fifth time, but that’s not a chance I’d want to take in my own home.
Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, click HERE.
Don’t buy into these age-old myths! Sheriff Jim tells the truth, and the truth might just save your life… Keep reading!
SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated by Sheriff Jim Wilson
Just about the time it appears they have been proven false and dismissed, the same self-defense and gun myths pop again. Part of this is probably due to the fact there are always new people who finally realize they need to do something about their personal safety and begin seeking answers. Unfortunately, it is also due to the tendency of some people to pass on advice they have heard, but never took the time to find out if it is really true. Since it sounds cool, it must be right. This is one of the many reasons why defensive shooters need to receive professional training. With a good, professional instructor, it is remarkable how many of these myths quickly fall by the wayside and are replaced by cold, hard facts. Let’s look at three of the old self-defense myths that just won’t die and discuss the truths they conceal.
Myth No. 1: Hit him anywhere with a .45 and it will knock him down. This myth probably started with the advent of the .45 Colt back in the 1870s, but it has been repeated most often when people refer to the .45 ACP. Nowadays, you will hear it touted regarding the .44 Mag., the .41 Mag., the .40 S&W or whatever new and powerful pistol cartridge that has just been introduced. The truth was discovered way back in 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton published his third law of motion. Newton stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if a bullet shot from a handgun was so powerful that it could actually knock a person down, it would also knock the shooter down. There are a lot of reasons why a person who is shot may appear to fall down, or even be knocked down. But, the truth is the force of the bullet striking him is not knocking him off his feet. That only happens in the movies and TV. In reality, a person who is shot with even a relatively powerful handgun may show very little indication of being hit. There will also be very little sign of blood, especially at first. Therefore, the defensive shooter should not rely on these as cues that the fight is over. The important thing is to recover from recoil, regain your sight picture and quickly re-evaluate the threat. If the criminal is still armed — whether or not he is on his feet — and if he appears to still be a threat, additional shots may be necessary. Just don’t expect the bad guy to go flying off his feet, because it probably won’t happen.
Myth No. 2: There’s no need to aim a shotgun, just point it in the general direction of the bad guy and fire.
The shotgun is an awesome firearm that is altogether too often overlooked by today’s defensive shooters. However, it is not a magic wand. People who claim you don’t have to aim a shotgun have simply never done patterning tests with their favorite defensive smoothbore. When shot exits a shotgun barrel, it does so in almost one solid mass. That mass is smaller than a man’s fist. It is only as the shot travels downrange that it begins to spread apart, and it spreads much more gradually than a lot of people expect. Whether you are using buckshot or birdshot, from 0 to 10 yards you should consider it to be one projectile. Actually, by about 7 yards the shot has begun to spread noticeably, but not as much as you might think. From 10 yards to about 25 yards, the average shotgun will deliver a pattern that will still stay on the chest area of a silhouette target. But, by 25 yards some of the pellets may stray off target. When dealing with a threat at 25 yards and beyond, it’s time to think about transitioning to a slug. Instead of taking anyone’s word for it — mine included — the defensive shotgunner should run pattern tests using his shotgun from extremely close range out to 25 and 30 yards. He will also find his shotgun performs better with one brand of ammunition than others. There are a lot of reasons for this preference for particular loads, but the defensive shotgunner should know this occurs and make his selection accordingly. The smart defensive shooter will run tests until he knows which load his gun prefers and exactly what his shot pattern is doing at the ranges his shotgun could be called upon to perform. Always true: don’t just believe it, test it!
Myth No. 3: If you have to shoot a bad guy in your front yard, drag him into the house before calling the cops.
As ridiculous as this may sound, it is one of the self-defense myths that just won’t go away. A student brought it up once in a defensive pistol class. There are couple of good reasons why this is a terrible idea. To begin with, most states determine the justification for using deadly force as being a reasonable response to prevent immediate death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, if a person is justified in defending himself inside his home, he is also justified in defending himself in his yard, because he is under an immediate attack in which he could be killed or seriously injured. This varies from state to state, so check your own state’s laws before determining your home-defense plan. The second, equally important, reason is the crime scene will quickly make a liar out of you. Any investigator worth his salt will know within five minutes that you moved the body. And, if you’re lying about that, you are probably lying about everything else, or that’s what the investigator will assume. It is the quickest possible way to go directly to jail. Protecting yourself in a completely justifiable shooting can get expensive. So can lying to the police about a shooting. Part and parcel to obtaining a defensive firearm should be obtaining advice from a criminal defense attorney. He can tell you what your state laws are, how they are interpreted in court and the limitations regarding use of deadly force and how they apply to a legally armed citizen. Getting that sort of advice from the guys down at the bar or from an Internet commando is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
Every Member has to make the decision to intervene in a fight — or not — based on a host of tactical and safety issues. Member Ambassador Sherry Hale interviews Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington to learn how Good Samaritans can stay out of legal trouble if faced with these dangerous situations.
Make sure to check your states laws on protecting yourself, and those around you. Every state is different. Some have clear-cut laws defining the shooters rights, some are vague, and some states have no laws on the books at all, but rather court cases by which to stand behind. Ohio is a rare case, where the shooter (person using deadly force to protect him/herself) must prove their justification for defending themselves.
Post in the comments what the law says in your state!
Maybe yes and maybe no, but if you do need a rail gun you will need it badly!
By Bob Campbell
Among the decisions to be made when purchasing a personal defense handgun is caliber, action type, and size and weight. Also now among the options to be considered is the light rail. A “rail gun” is common parlance for a handgun with an accessory rail. The rail is there to mount a flashlight bracket or a laser sight. Some handguns leave the buyer no choice. All modern Glock pistols, save for the very smallest such as the Glock 42 and Glock 43, have light rails. The Colt 1911 may be had with or without a rail, and the popular CZ75 is another available in both versions.
An important part of owning a handgun is pride of ownership. You have to be happy with the handgun.
Some feel that a light rail isn’t fitting on a traditional design such as the 1911. Others feel that the added weight and the possibility of snagging on the holster are real problems. There are also difficulties in finding a proper holster for a rail gun. As an example, the Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator and the Rock Island 2011 Tactical have different light rail designs and demand different holsters.
But then there are those who like the light rail and some have been in a position where white light has been beneficial to their survival or in situations where they wish they’d had the light. Many handguns feature the technical over the tactical, but the light rail is a tactical improvement. The catch is the pistol is a reactive weapon, when the pistol is drawn in response to an attack. Few, if any, concealed carry permit holsters will carry a handgun with the light attached. They may carry a light in their pocket, but very few will practice quickly attaching the light to the handgun. If you can anticipate a fight, then you had best avoid it or at least get to cover. It is better to have the rail and not need it than to need it and not have it of course. You just have to ask yourself, “Are you are willing to embrace the rail and obtain a suitable light or laser and learn to use it properly?”
The 1911 pistol balances well. Nothing feels better in my hand. Some 1911 rail guns are neutral. The new Rock Island 2011 with its monolithic rail is very well balanced. It isn’t quite muzzle-heavy but it certainly dampens recoil due to extra weight out front. The Colt Rail Gun may be an improvement in balance over the Colt Government Model. The CZ 75 is among my favorite handguns. But after a hard test and firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition I find the CZ P-01 a great compact 9mm that is very well balanced. I can fire the pistol more accurately than the full-size CZ. The P-01 features a light rail on its long dust cover. I like this a lot. Keep an open mind when considering a rail gun.
The best place for a rail gun is home defense. No handgun is too large to keep at home ready! As an example, one of my personal favorite handguns for “just shooting” is the Glock Model 35 .40 caliber. This long-barrel pistol balances well and it is plenty accurate. The accuracy load, the Hornady 155 grain XTP, breaks over 1180 fps from the Glock 35. The pistol has factory night sights, and with an Insights M3 combat light I don’t think there is anything better as a home defense handgun. This brings us to another consideration.
When choosing a combat light make the choice one that is appropriate for the application. A neat compact light such as the Viridian types seem ideal for the Glock 23 class of handguns. No need in having a light protruding past the muzzle. With the Glock 35 this isn’t a consideration but with my compact CZ pistols the smaller lights are best. And it isn’t always lights: it might be the Lasermax Spartan laser for some applications. This is a handy, affordable, and well-designed laser that gives the user a sharp point of reference when the sights cannot be seen. If you do not have a rail gun you would have to purchase expensive laser grips, which are are not available for every handgun.
The rail gun should also be proofed with its attachment in place. On occasion handguns have had their cycle reliability affected with the light attached. I think that this is less likely with steel frame guns. Handguns with frames that give or flex a little in recoil are most susceptible to this problem. This is simply another consideration when you deploy the rail gun, and the answer is simple: test it!
For myself I continue to deploy standard handguns for the most part, usually a Commander .45 or a CZ 75 variant. But I am not blind to genuine progress. I keep a rail gun with light attached and ready to go in the home. Just in case.
Bob Campbellis 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).
Check out the accessories Midsouth has to offer CLICK HERE
A fan of the 1911, the author found this Ruger to be a great pistol, perhaps as good as it gets!
by Wilburn Roberts
Ruger is an old-line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. They were a latecomer in the 1911 market but introduced their version that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy, and, as always with Ruger, value.
The Ruger SR1911 9mm is an aluminum-frame 1911 in the Commander configuration. “Commander” is a generic description of a 1911 with a full-size grip and frame but shortened slide and barrel. Taking that 3/4 inch off the slide makes for a fast-handling handgun that’s more compact to carry.
There are many 1911s available. Unfortunately some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made, and with high price tags, but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol. I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus (and it wasn’t only his but as he stated “the conclusion of learned minds”) was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating this pistol I found a service-grade handgun well worth betting your life on. And it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.
The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the chevron-style cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original-style 1911 serrations. The gray hard-anodized aluminum frame look great, well done. The pistol does not incorporate a Series-80-style firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters. The Ruger accomplishes the effect of a drop safety by means of a low-mass firing pin backed up by an extra-power firing pin spring. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more. The hammer is a lightweight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked, which is correct as designed. With the hammer to the rear and the safety on, the disconnector is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is depressed the trigger is blocked. The grip safety is a “memory-bump” type, which aids in properly depressing the grip safety with a less-than-perfect grip.
The barrel features conventional 1911 locking lugs and barrel bushing. The recoil spring plug is likewise conventional and there is no full-length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years quite a few “target” features have crept into 1911s. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons. The barrel is a ramped type, an asset to improve case head support and feeding reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes can become problematic over time. The trigger is a long target type. I can live with this. The trigger is superb. It is crisp and clean, breaking at 5.25 pounds. The mainspring housing is a flat type, the only way to go with a custom-grade beavertail. The slide lock safety snaps into the locked position smartly indicating a tight, quality parts fit. The grips are hard rubber. They are comfortable and provide good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap beneath the trigger guard that aids in gripping the pistol and also lowers the bore axis. The relatively short height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is so controllable in rapid fire; there is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.
The magazines are well-made stainless steel units, with stout springs. It is a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle the slide at different speeds. A stout spring presents the rounds more quickly for better assurance of feeding reliability.
The 9mm chambering offers modest recoil yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those who cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber. Accurate shot placement can make up for power; the reverse is seldom true. 9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115 grain FMJ is one example, and the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1200 fps we see powerful performance.
The Firing Line
The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the range. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, but after that it was smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired, and ejected every cartridge. Like most firearms the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over others for accuracy but not for reliability.
The combination of lighter weight, shorter slide, and 9mm chambering means that this pistol is fast from leather, fast on target, and offers excellent control. The 9mm just doesn’t kick much so fast and accurate double tap and controlled pair hits were easy. This is simply a great-handling 1911.
I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.
Wilburn Roberts is a veteran police officer, gunsmith, and professor. His articles have appeared in numerous publications over many years.
In the accompanying 4-minute video, Clint Smith, president and director of Thunder Ranch Training Center, talks about owning a firearm for the purpose of home security and personal protection.
If someone were to enter your home with the intent to do harm to you or your family, having a gun by the bedside and reacting just won’t cut it — you need good judgment, too. Smith suggests that to stay safe you need a plan and plenty of practice. There are no “do-overs.”
Video courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.