Well here it is. My recently acquired, brand new Springfield GI Mil Spec 1911. As you may have noticed I have become a HUGE 1911 fan. I shoot them well, they feel better in my hand and after my experience at Shootrite, I feel very comfortable “running” the gun.
The Springfield, however, has left a bit to be desired. Now let me say that I like Springfield Armory, I believe they are a good and reputable company and they make a solid product. I have owned Springfield products in the past and would recommend them to other shooters without hesitation. This review is a singularity, it’s my own experience with this gun, not an indictment of Springfield itself.
Having said that, on to the review. Upon purchase I was pleasantly surprised. Springfield provides you with a nice hard plastic case, a sturdy, serviceable holster, a double mag pouch and even a second pair of rubber type grips. The external finish on this pistol is parkerized and it was very well done. The lines are crisp and sharp and they pay good attention to detail. All in all Springfield makes a good looking 1911.
The sights are very serviceable with the three dot system being employed. They are an upgrade from the original GI sights (thank goodness) but still look like they fit with the GI appearance. The hammer, slide safety, and grip safety are all the old GI style in appearance. The short trigger, and the rounded mainspring housing complete the look.
I was not initially aware of the ILS locking system contained in the mainspring housing when I purchased the gun, I simply overlooked it, but while inspecting the included accessories I discovered what it was. Immediately I decided I did not want that feature on the gun. It seems unnecessary and not something I would use and certainly far from consistent with a GI style gun. I researched the issue and determined the best course of action was to order a new MSH and the associated internals to go with it and replace the whole thing.
I went online and ordered the parts, but before they arrived I decided to shoot the Springfield in my very first Wild Bunch match anyway. I figured it would be a good test run. I had reloaded ammunition to shoot for the match which had Winchester primers. I figured a right out of the box, factory gun would have no issues reliably breaking primers as almost every company sends guns out of their factory with very heavy springs. This was also the case with the GI but it did not reliably break the primers. I found out during the match that in 6 stages, with 20 round strings of pistol fire in each stage I had failures to fire at least 5 times per stage. That’s 30 out of 120. This was not only aggravating, but worrisome as I had just purchased the gun. Now I’ve been shooting long enough that I didn’t panic, it’s almost always a solvable problem. After the match was over I performed some investigation and discovered the firing pin spring was extremely heavy. I compared it to two other 1911s and found it to be at least twice the tension! (If not more.) I had a Wolff brand firing pin spring on hand, so I installed it and could immediately feel a considerable difference. I also noted that the firing pin stop was uneven and irregular. I removed it and stoned the face on a flat stone until it was uniform and flat.
Before any testing could be done to see if that alone fixed the issue, I was scheduled to head to a friends place who is a gunsmith. He has been teaching me some tricks of the trade and while there, we did a complete action job on the pistol and it made a significant difference in the performance of the gun. As we worked on the various pieces however I noted that they were cast parts. While this alone does not necessarily mean they are poor quality, these were not finished very well at all. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. I will say the gun was in the $575 dollar price range and is not Springfield’s top of the line model but I was nevertheless displeased. My friend indicated that that was simply the type of parts used by a lot of the companies manufacturing 1911 model pistols. It took us some time polishing the requisite parts but we were ultimately able to achieve a desirable result.
I would very much like to see manufacturers move to utilizing better finished parts but I know all that does is raise the price of the gun. I suppose it’s the difference between a $600 1911 and a $1500 custom or semi-custom 1911. As a shooter it’s just a little frustrating. It seems purchasing a gun these days in that mid-range price point means gunsmithing will be needed for ideal and sometimes even just functional performance.
All in all, I am glad I bought the Springfield. As previously stated they are a good, quality company. I suppose this shooter longs for the days when everything wasn’t CNC, or EDM machined or even parts made through PMP processes to the finest tolerances and then these parts just dropped into to any gun on the production line. Seems like back in the day they weren’t built on a price point but on a desire for solid craftsmanship by a group of highly qualified, talented gunsmiths. I guess those days are gone unless you can afford a Les Baer, Wilson Combat or Ed Brown custom pistol or you can do it yourself which is exactly what I’m trying to learn to do.