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Reviews : Arsenal

Sturm, Ruger & Co. SR1911 Pistol

Ruger celebrates the M1911 centennial with a hard-nosed pistol for purists, collectors, and warriors.

June 07, 2011  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author

Photo: Sean Pollock

Editor's note: View our extended photo gallery of images that didn't appear in the June "Arsenal" review iof the Ruger SR1911 in print.

Just into the second decade of the 20th Century the U.S. Army adopted a new handgun, the "U.S. Pistol, Automatic, Caliber .45, M1911"...And a legend was born. The M1911 (and the later M1911A1) didn't display any of the old world craftsmanship, mechanical intricacies, or svelte outlines of its European contemporaries such as the Parabellum/Luger or Mauser C96 Selbstaladepistole. But the gun that was nicknamed "Old Slabsides" by its detractors would go on to become the most respected military handgun of all time.

Three features endeared the M1911 to soldiers around the world: its utter reliability, its mechanical simplicity, and the performance of its .45 ACP cartridge. 

The first two of these features were trademarks of all of the firearms designed by the M1911's inventor, John Moses Browning. The third was a result of the U.S. Army's less than positive interaction with the Moro Juramentados of the Philippines whose propensity for soaking up .38 revolver bullets without being incapacitated led to the Army's insistence that any issue handgun be of at least .45 caliber.

Browning was only too happy to oblige and designed the "pistol, ball, caliber .45, M1911." This cartridge proved so effective that it is still issued to American soldiers, no changes being deemed necessary after more than a century of service.

The same features that have made the .45 ACP effective for the military made it equally attractive to law enforcement officers, especially members of tactical units who appreciate the 1911's excellent ergonomics and the accuracy provided by its single-action trigger.

Today several dozen manufacturers produce 1911 pistols to satisfy demand from collectors, gun enthusiasts, and warriors. One of the newest is Sturm, Ruger & Company.

Since the late 1980s, Ruger has offered an extensive line of 9mm, .40, and .45 caliber pistols. But while all of them have been commercially successful, they have seen only limited use by law enforcement agencies.

Until recently all Ruger centerfire pistols were built on alloy or polymer frames and utilized either a DA/SA or a variation of the so-called "Safe Action" trigger. But the company has always been known for its entrepreneurial acumen. So it came as no surprise to most gun writers when, in recognition of the 1911's centennial, Ruger announced its first 1911-type pistol, the SR1911.

A True 1911

At first glance there is no doubt that the SR1911 is...well... a 1911. It has all the classic features of Browning's most famous pistol but with a few modern, shall we say, "modifications" that significantly improve handling and shootability.

First of all, it's made from 100 percent stainless steel with a bead-blasted matte finish. The slide features a lowered and flared ejection port and is fitted with a set of Novak-style low mount three-dot sights. Square cut grasping grooves enable positive retraction of the slide, even with wet hands or when wearing gloves.

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