Monday, June 04, 2012

Old Friend: The Springfield Armory 1911A1

Today I took an old friend out to the range.

This is my 1911A1, made by Springfield Armory. A bit worn these days, I bought it new back in the 1980s from a then little-known pistolsmith in Redford, Mi named Patrick Sweeney.

I went into that shop as a novice shooter looking to order a frame and a slide for a 1911, having just read a magazine article that told how easy it was to build your own 1911. Now Pat could have taken my money and ordered the frame and slide that I'd come seeking, but being a decent guy, he took me back into his work area and showed me several botched "do-it-yourself" 1911 pistols that people had brought in at one time or another. Apparently, all of those parts from different manufacturers really don't go together as easily as the article implied. He then explained to me how it wasn't something that I, a non-gunsmith with no tools or know-how, was likely to pull off. Then he directed me to this brand new Springfield Armory pistol that sat in his display case--a cheap, no-frills, parkerized clone of the old GI model. "Try this one, and if you decide that you really like it, you can always trade it in and get a nicer one later."

I walked out with it, and then I spent a lot of time and money learning to shoot it. Along the way I had it's trigger reworked for a 4.5lb. pull instead of the 12lb+ pull that it came with. I also had new, hi-visibility sights put on it, added a Wilson Combat ambidextrous safety, and replaced the plastic grips with a set of Hogue wrap-around grips. And I never got around to trading it in for a "nicer" one. I like this one and I like it just the way it is.

Thing is, I hadn't shot it in quite a while, being too busy paying with newer acquisitions or repairing and test-firing other firearms. But lately, every time I'd open up the gun safe to get something else, I'd see this old pal of mine and feel just a bit guilty for not taking it out and dirtying it up.

Well today, I remedied that. I got out on the range with Proud Hillbilly, and I brought just one pistol--this one. And even though I haven't shot it in what seems like forever, it still fit my hand like a comfortable old shoe fits your foot. Then the steel plates began to fall, and the dueling tree targets began to flip back and forth.

PH's Glock may hold more ammo than my 1911, but even she noted that the .45 slugs moved the steel with noticeably more "oomph" than her 9mm. But it's like I always say: 9mm is fine if you're just shooting Europeans, but if you want to put an American bad guy in the dirt, you need to use a .45. If you hit something with a .45, it stays hit.

Nice shooting you, old friend. And we won't go so long between range sessions again. I promise.


  1. My all time favorite pistol!
    It was the first pistol I ever shot.
    It was the first pistol I ever bought new.
    It was the first pistol I took some serious training with.
    And it's the first pistol I'll reach for at 3am when I hear funny noises in the house!

  2. My first pistol was a 1911 Springfield, I bought it in the late 80's from the rod and gun club on post in Germany. I took it to the range and that damm thing jammed, stovepiped and feeding issues. I was really pissed since I laid out a good chunk of money( especially for an enlisted guy) Well I was also the unit armorer and we had range the following week. I took that pistol with me(with permission of my chain of command) and fed a LOT of .45 ball through it. I put over 400 rounds through it. After it was all said and done, that pistol fired great!. I then had pacmayer grips and a competition sight placed on it. it was my favorite pistol. Alas it was stolen from me when my truck got broken into when I had returned to the world. I do count my blessing, if they had flipped the seat forward, they would have gotten my 870 pump that I had purchased at the same time. I still have that shotgun. I do miss my pistol and do hope to buy another one...but the prices of good .45's have increased. I still have good memories of that pistol and still have the serial number memorized.

  3. @ drjim: This is the only one that I ever bought new, too.

    @ MrG, Man, that sucks, having any gun stolen, but a nice 1911...I feel ya.

  4. What drjim said.

    It's the first pistol I ever shot. It's the one the Navy first handed me. It's the one the GMC (Gunner's Mate, Chief) taught me to hold, fire, field strip, and clean.

    And it's the one I carry every day. 1911A1, all the way.

  5. My first pistol was a Springer 1911 too. It had a 3.5" ported barrel and was fun to shoot, but I sold it because the porting made huge fireballs in low light. Now I miss it.

    Keep that 1911 dirty!

  6. I too have a Springfield GI 1911, much newer but pretty much the same I think. We were still using those on my ship when I was in the Navy, and I liked having the same pistol again. But I saw the picture of yours with those Hogue grips and just had to try them. Those particular grips do work the way they look - that gun fits my hand like a glove now, and the first range outing with it went very well too. This 1911's going to see some more use soon! (for IDPA for instance). I wouldn't have thought to put those grips on it if I hadn't see the picture of yours- thanks!