The old military 1911s had a reputation for poor accuracy and loose construction. Some of it is true and some of it isn't. While those with many thousands of rounds may have gotten sloppy, a good condition military 1911 will easily shoot five inches at 25 yards. But the old version's trigger pulls can be terrible and may have contributed to "poor accuracy" complaints.
Trust me. The Springfield has no such problems. Our test gun had a sterling trigger pull, measured at an honest, silky smooth four pounds with an RCBS trigger-pull gauge. While a "military" pistol, the Springfield showed excellent fit, and there was nothing we could even remotely consider "slop" when it came to function. The parts fit well, the safety "snicked" on and off neatly, and all the widgets worked as advertised.
I also noticed that the grip frame seemed to be slightly beefier in the front-strap portion. A quick check against an original Colt confirmed my observation. The edges are a bit "squarer," and it appears the front strap is actually a few thousandths thicker. This doesn't hurt a thing, and as a matter of fact, it makes checkering the grip frame easier.
Other than this one minor point, this gun is all 1911 and any G.I. from any period would feel right at home with it in his hand. The features are basic 1911. There's no firing pin safety (like a Series 80 Colt, or one of the new systems from Kimber or Springfield) that locks the firing pin until the trigger is pulled fully to the rear. A titanium firing pin is in place, which effectively prevents an accidental discharge if a loaded gun is dropped on the muzzle. But this is a classic 1911 design, and due caution needs to be exercised when handling it. Again, if you can handle a Glock or a Springfield XD, a 1911 is simple to master, so don't be put-off. The manual of arms to operate a 1911 quickly becomes second-nature.
The Mil-Spec 1911's basic parkerized finish gets the job done and will probably last as long as you own the gun. If it's good enough for the jungles of Borneo, it's probably good enough for Main Street.
This gun emanates quality, and frankly, I figured it would sell for around $650. But now comes the surprising part. Full retail is only $467. So, I imagine you'll see 'em for sale at $450 or so as the supply pipeline gets full. This is a lot of gun for the money.
On the range, the Springfield loaded and operated like a classic 1911 and there were no surprises, other than the accuracy. At 25 yards, groups hovered around the two-and-a-half-inch mark. Part of that was due to the excellent trigger pull and part due to the fit of the gun. The barrel throat is opened up slightly for reliable feeding, and I honestly did not experience any malfunctions during our shortish test. A total of around 350 rounds went downrange, and I came away very impressed.
This is a splendid entry-level 1911, or a basic, working gun for even an advanced shooter or police officer. The existing rugged, fixed sights would do just fine on patrol and in the "simple is best" frame of mind, the Springfield Mil-Spec is at the top of the pack. And the price is sure right, too.
Mil-Spec 1911 A1
Caliber: .45 ACP
Trigger Pull: 5 to 6 pounds (test gun 4 pounds)
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 36 ounces
Sights: GI Style, fixed
Sight radius: 6.25 inches
Price: $467 full retail
Roy Huntington is the editor of American Handgunner magazine and a long-time Police Advisory Board member.