Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG
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It’s clear that the inventor of the 1911, John Moses Browning, had a good grasp of human engineering and mechanics. Browning was a genius by any standard. His enduring design is — still — one of the best shooting, best carrying handguns ever made.

The pistol we deploy today is a slightly different handgun in metallurgy and improved features, but any soldier of the Great War or World War II could easily use and shoot a modern 1911. And vice versa.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
The Ronin’s safety lever isn’t ambidextrous. That’s bad for lefties, but makes for a slimmer carry profile. (Virgil Caldwell for TTAG)

Some things are truly timeless. The 1911 features great ergonomics and a low bore axis, meaning the center line of the bore is located fairly low over the hand. This limits felt recoil and muzzle flip. The weight of the pistol helps there, too. The slim 1911’s cross section managed to fit most hand sizes well. If properly carried cocked and locked, there is no pistol that’s faster to an accurate first shot.

I have been carrying and firing the 1911 for more than four decades. I remember well when Springfield introduced their first 1911 handguns. Before Springfield we mostly had Spanish iron mongery, the Colt and little else.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG

Springfield began 1911 manufacture by obtaining affordable castings from Brazil and finishing them in house. Today the product is manufactured here in the United States. Among the many accomplishments of Springfield is to win the FBI contract for a SWAT pistol and supplying special models to US Military teams.

The two-tone 9mm Ronin is intended to have a retro look. It resembles a class of custom handguns commonly available in the 1980s and 1990s. This isn’t a high-end pistol, but it certainly isn’t a budget gun either.

Springfield makes a range of Ronin models in 9mm, .45 ACP and 10mm. The review gun is the the 5-inch 9mm version which packs 9 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber.

This pistol is stamped as a Ronin Operator but Springfield has since dropped that designation on these rail-less pistols. All Ronin models are simply Ronins.)

Fit, finish, and bluing are very good. The pistol features a blued steel slide with forward fore and aft serrations over a forged stainless steel frame.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG

Springfield equips the Ronin with a “tactical rack” rear slight and a front sight with an orange fiber optic tube. That rear slide can be used to rack the slide one-handed on a belt, a table top, or any firm object.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG

That orange tube makes for a very visible sight picture in almost any lighting conditions short of near-total darkness.

The Ronin’s beavertail is well designed and the slide lock safety is nicely fitted. The attractive laminated grips are partially checkered and provide a firm grip. They are slim line types which make for superior concealment and fit small hands well.

The real draw of the 1911 platform for most people — besides the classic lines and great ergonomics — is its incomparable trigger. The Ronin doesn’t disappoint in that area. The Springfield’s match trigger consistently broke at a hair under 5 pounds.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG

The pistol features a ramped 9mm barrel. As many of you who handload realize, this raises some possibilities. A fully supported cartridge case head and long loading makes for an outstanding 9mm sporting cartridge. Factory loads are also interesting. After inspecting the Ronin, I lubricated the long bearing surfaces and began the test with several 9mm loads.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Virgil Caldwell for TTAG

I added a couple of Wilson Combat 9mm magazines to the single 9mm magazine Springfield supplies with the Ronin. The primary load used during the evaluation was the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain FMJ. At 1160 fps this is a useful accurate and clean burning load.

I began drawing and firing the pistol at man-sized targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards. Just because this is a 9mm and not a .45 doesn’t mean you don’t have to grasp the pistol properly and concentrate. Even with the lighter load, there is some recoil and there is some muzzle flip.

The Ronin comes on target quickly. Combined with that great 1911 trigger and some decent fundamentals, you will get hits. Double taps, controlled pairs and hammers are very fast with this pistol. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

In addition to various range loads, I shot a magazine each of the Black Hills Ammunition Honey Badger 100 grain +P and the Black Hills Ammunition 124 grain +P. These are first class defense loads that are well suited to the Springfield Ronin. There was more push than with the FMJ loads, but not uncomfortable.

Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol
Springfield’s Ronin pistols feature 20 lpi checkering on the grip’s rear, but not the bead-blasted front. (Courtesy Springfield)

The 9mm pistol is as fast to an accurate first shot as any good 1911 and very pleasant to fire. I also did the obligatory accuracy testing, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. I used handloads with the Hornady 124 grain XTP and enough Unique Powder to produce 1315 fps…a stout load leaving little to be desired for effect.

I also fired five rounds of Black Hills 115 grain FMJ at the same distance. Each group was right at 2.0 inches. That’s plenty precise, what I call easy accuracy.

As you’d probably expect, 9mm Ronin is very pleasant to shoot. It functions as it should and the pistol is plenty accurate. With a full power or +P 9mm load the pistol is a fine all-around defensive pistol.

I used the Jeffrey Custom Leather Professional holster during the test. That combination doesn’t get any better for a carry and range pistol compliment. If you are able to wear a cover garment, the holster rides high and close and features an ideal mix of speed and security.

Specifications: Springfield 1911 Ronin 9mm Pistol

Capacity: 9+1
Weight: 41 Ounces
Overall Length: 8.6 in.
Height: 5.5 in.
Barrel: Five inches, hammer forged
Slide and frame: Forged stainless steel
MSRP: $849 (about $790 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability   * * * * *
Perfect. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject with a wide range of cartridges. Similar pistols from Springfield have given good results.

Accuracy: * * * * *
The pistol is more than accurate enough in slow fire and combat accuracy is very good.

Handling, ergonomics * * * * *
Come on…it’s a 1911. It’s one of the best handgun designs ever created.

Concealed Carry  * * * * *
As with most 1911 pistols, the Ronin is relatively flat and balances well. Concealed carry and efficiency are very high in a quality rig.

Overall * * * * *
At a retail price of right around $800, the attractive Ronin can almost be considered a bargain, assuming that you can find one to buy. The level of fit and finish is comparable to 1911s costing significantly more. In the Ronin, Springfield has packed excellent features and very good performance into a classic-looking, pretty affordable package that will take you back a few decades. And that’s a good thing.

 

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41 COMMENTS

  1. Well, this article will generate some salt.

    But just for funzies let’s turbo-charge that…

    The 1911 is exactly like it’s average fanboi; overweight, underwhelming, capacity challenged and a relic in need of thousands of dollars in work to bring it up to speed.

    A Springfield 1911 fixes none of those issues but adds a traitorous anti-2A aura to the gun.

    • Well played, sir. I appreciate a 1911, but your wordcraft on the shortcomings was solid.

      The reference to the Springfield betrayal harkens back to a 60s vintage of corporate-backed gun control that will never cease to be equal parts quaint and disgusting.

    • Oh, but that trigger! A whole half-pound under a stock Glock’s, and therefore “incomparable” (LOL)

      At least this one isn’t an aftermarket “upgrade” of an already expensive pistol, like in the previous gushfest.

      • There’s a lot more to a good trigger pull than weight. I have never met anyone who fired my Springfield 1911 and then any stock striker gun, Glocks included, who would then describe the striker trigger as “crisp.” I love striker guns and carry one daily, but there is no comparing any of them to even a half-decent 1911 trigger.

        • True – no argument with that at all.

          On the other hand – while nobody’s perfect, and safety features are good – both manual safeties and heavier triggers promote safety at the cost of fast and accurate shooting. I therefore consider them an either/or proposition.

          Like many police and military forces, I believe a fivish-pound trigger alone is adequate (in combination with a proper trigger-covering holster) for safety. A manual safety to me is a “mode switch” that enables trained shooters to obtain both a crisp and light trigger squeeze. It is therefore both mechanically unnecessary (it isn’t working against the striker spring like a Glock’s) and counterproductive (unless one has Parkinson’s or something) for an SA trigger with a manual safety to be that heavy.

    • Not overweight if you are an actual man, not a soyboi.
      Make the proper life choices and capacity isn’t an issue.
      “Underwhelming”? A pistol my great grandkids will be able to shoot. I have owned black tupperware pistols, ended up getting rid of every one of them because they are so underwhelming.
      “relic in need of thousands of dollars in work to bring it up to speed.” I have owned 1911’s ranging in price from $400 to $1500. Every one has been perfect out of the box. I do admit to changing grip panels to personalize my pistols. But that was purely cosmetic.

    • Eeeenh…

      It would have been nice if JMB had designed it with a captive recoil spring so it wouldn’t fly into low orbit and land in Oz if you didn’t hold it just right while taking it apart for cleaning out on the deck because it was a nice sunny day. My Glock doesn’t do that. My $igs don’t do that. But the Kimber has to be held just right, or I’m gonna be hunting for something in the shrubbery.

      That gun reminds me of an ex-girlfriend.

      • Sounds like operator error to me.
        I too prefer captive springs but I’ve never once had the slightest bit of trouble assembling my 1911. I’ve even done it blind several times, just for kicks (silly, I know but fun none the less).
        My wife’s Walther PK380 though, that spring (non-captive) is a PITA and an unguided missile if you’re not careful during reassembly.

        • I generally don’t criticize pioneers and inventors when first-generation products appear flawed (through the lens of subsequent development). That’s the nature of technological progress, and JMB got much more right the first time than so many others.

          OTOH, it’s perfectly logical to criticize manufacturers who robotically replicate most / all of those first-timer flaws 110 years later. The “either/or” nature of today’s pistol market is annoying as hell. I’m holding out hope for the Dan Wesson DWX as a “best of both” design (if it’s ever actually sold).

  2. MAKE MY MOUTH WATER . MAKE A GROW N MAN CRY / SCREAM , I WANT IT , I NEED IT .
    MY KIND ARTICLE . THANKS . YA KINDLY PARTENER . NEED ONE IN 45 , 9MM , 380 ,
    22LR , OK OK , SO I LIKE S&W , KIMBER , RUGER , , AN ON N ON . NEED MORE AMMO ..

  3. Pretty pistol, kind of heavy for carry.
    Springfield still imports pistols in various stages of completion from Imbel in Brazil, last I knew:
    Springfield Armory has been known to cause a bit of confusion, around the pieces they produce. One of the most controversial and often misunderstood is the “NM” prefix on the serial numbers. Normally this prefix stands for “National Match”. In this case is does not stand for that.
    IMBEL forgings located in Brazil stamp a frame that has more than 50% worth of the work done in Brazil with the a prefix designation of “N”. This is often confusing as the GI models are also made in Brazil and the a prefix of “WW”. Even the mil-spec models produced by Springfield Armory can come with either a “N” or “NM” designation but more commonly found is the “N”.

    Springfield Armory’s Loaded models can come with either the “NM” or the “N” designation. It’s important to note that the “N” prefix are imported completed with the exception of the sight, and beavertail grip safety cuts. The finishing touches are actually completed at their main plant in Illinois. The difference with the “NM” models have majority of internal cuts done, but the rail cuts are performed in the US. The final machining is performed by CNC again, in Illinois.

    Here is a quote from an email exchange with Deb from the Springfield Armory Custom Shop

    Springfield uses the prefixes of “N” and “NM” to designate 1911-A1 type pistols, just as we used “AM” as the prefix for the P9 series of pistols. The only pistols which use the national match frames are the complete custom pistols built through our custom shop. These pistols have “Springfield Custom” etched on the slide, and will have the “NM” prefix to the serial number.

    Deb, Custom Shop Coordinator
    Springfield Custom
    Springfield Inc.
    Click to expand…

    If you are looking for a Springfield Armory piece made from the Illinois factory look for a serial number consisting of the following:
    LW
    EMP
    TGO-2
    TGO-3

    If it’s a true Springfield Armory Custom Shop piece it will have this in the serial number:
    CRG
    FBI
    DEA
    TGO-1

    So many of you will simply ask, is the build quality any different? I personally own the NM models, compared to the N model I thought the slide and frame work better together.

      • +1. Don’t forget. Don’t forgive. Don’t support those who were willing to sell us out, and then lied about it when called on it.

        • +2. Springfield needs to atone for their treason. Send everyone in Illinois a free gun coupon and then donate $20 mil each to SAF, FPC, and GOA and we can start to forgive.

  4. So we’ve forgotten how they hired a lobbyist to promote gun control, while carving themselves out? I don’t care what they make, I don’t support traitors.

    • Have you forgotten that he was not an employee, but actually a separate company to lobby on behalf of multiple companies? That he made that decision independently of those companies? That he was fired and shut down as fast as humanly and corporately possible when that decision was discovered? That Springfield engaged in a successful publicity campaign which got that bill blocked? (The gun grabbers eventually rammed it through a year or two later.)

      Your mistake is assuming that his action was known beforehand and that it could not possibly be any other way, when in fact, the corporate structure of the arrangement gave him independence to make day to day decisions with having to check with the board on everything. That’s how these things work. While it is possible that the board knew ahead of time, it is absolutely not certain.

      In fact, it’s unlikely they would have approved given that dealers are the ones who sell their products to end users. If you hurt the dealers, you hurt the manufacturers.

      • You’ve got some of your facts wrong. The separate entities you speak of was made up of a total of three individuals, the CEOs of RRA and Springfield and the lobbyist they hired to hide their dealings. Those CEOs personally signed the checks going from that shadow organization to multiple anti 2A politicians, including Nancy Pelosi. The lobbyist was not immediately fired. In fact, Springfield Armory initially lied about it entirely and “fired” the lobbyist only after being caught, on this very website, with their own public filings and campaign finance donations.
        You don’t have to speculate about any of this. Use the search function on this website and you will find quite a few articles on it, which all include links to the actual campaign finance documents, press releases and bald-faced lies of Springfield’s CEO in particular.

  5. I had a Colt .38Super once and sold it because I couldn’t easily find ammo.
    I’d like to see the weight of ammunition exceed the weight of the firegunms that are being sold.

  6. “….Springfield began 1911 manufacture by obtaining affordable castings from Brazil and finishing them in house….

    I have one from the late 1980/early 90s. Has made in Brazil on the slide. Think I paid less than $450 for it new. I pull it out of the safe now and again, never had any issues with it going bang. It is just a basic .45. I probably would not buy anything Springfield, or Rock River at this point. Instead I would look at the Rock Island compact .45s for carry.

    • My first 1911 was a Colt Gold Cup.
      My second was a SA Gov’t Model 1911 A1, cost 269.00 as I recall. It was a solid, basic pistol but lacked some features I wanted. Took it to Kings for some custom work- sights, safeties, fitted bushing, long trigger, Commander hammer etc. Top quality work performed by “Al” Capone (RIP, sir.) That pistol is a keeper. Semi-retired now in favor of shorter 1911s.
      The Gold Cup is long gone…

  7. It may be a fine pistol, but since it says “Springfield” on the side, it’s made of radioactive cow manure.

    Until the company entirely divests itself from the sociopath POS who attempted to simultaneously restrict the rights of Illinois citizens and use the power of the state to give his company an unfair advantage, they don’t get a cent from me.

    For those of you who are going to use the tired “it was a third party, as soon as they found out they fired him” excuse, I have but one question. Considering that the registered executive principals of this lobbying firm consisted of three men (the owners of Springfield, RRA and the individual lobbyist in question), there are only two scenarios:

    1) The owner of Springfield is dangerously incompetent and therefore should be nowhere near the levers of power in relation to policy that affects every single citizen of his state.
    2) He is a bald-faced liar who, when caught, deliberately obfuscated and spun the issue to minimize the damage.

    Which one is it?

    • Until the company entirely divests itself from the sociopath POS who attempted to simultaneously restrict the rights of Illinois citizens and use the power of the state to give his company an unfair advantage

      They did. It was discovered over the weekend. By Tuesday he was gone and the lobbying company formed around him was dismantled.

      Considering that the registered executive principals of this lobbying firm consisted of three men (the owners of Springfield, RRA and the individual lobbyist in question),

      Only the lobbyist was active in day to day activity. The others were on the board. Boards give oversight and direction, but are otherwise hands off. Decisions are made without direct input by the board except in unusual circumstances. That is how this works.

      Do you have any evidence that the members of the board knew about the lobbyist’s actions ahead of time? Being on the board is NOT such evidence.

      The only thing being on the board guarantees is that they could act in response to actions by lobbyist, which is exactly what they did. They did the right thing, but you call that “obfuscation and spin”?

      Is every man who protests their innocence automatically guilty even if they’re actually innocent? It appears that “innocent until proven guilty is a foreign concept to you. I would think those in the 2A community would know better than anyone just how important that principle actually is.

      • Okay, so then he’s not a liar, he’s just stupid. It doesn’t inspire confidence in me that the CEO of one of the largest firearm manufacturers was so easily duped by a person who is diametrically opposed to our natural and inalienable rights. What has he done to show that he won’t get fooled again?

        (Also, how much do you get paid by the Springfield PR department?)

        • You have a strange definition of “diametrically”. What the lobbyist did was stupid. But he was at least trying to limit the damage being done by those who actually are diametrically opposed to our rights: gun grabbers.

          Up until that time, the lobbyist apparently had done a good job at defending our rights for several years. If you think it’s stupid to trust someone with such a track record, then you also have a rather strange definition of “easily duped”.

          And of course, you also attempt the irrational, name calling, ad hominem fallacy. I’m just someone who knows how a board structure works. And if you’re a member of a gun club that has a board structure (which most clubs do) and pay attention at membership meetings, then you do too.

          I vigorously oppose unthinking rage mob mentality cancel culture. Just because you’re trying to defend a legitimate right doesn’t make that tactic legitimate. It just means that you forge the tool of your own destruction when the mob eventually turns on you.

  8. Please stop advertising Springfield they let me and all people of IL down. I closed shop and left IL due to their carve outs. May they go out of business and stop marking up Croatian arms and acting like an American company that they’re not.

  9. TO ALL THE “PEOPLE” COMPLAINING ABOUT SPRINGFIELD ARMORY……….. GIVE YOUR EGO A REST ALREADY……. I’M SICK OF READING YOUR WHINING…..
    Springfield Armory is a firearms manufacturer….. they sell good weapons to the public…..I could CARE LESS the politics of the “CEO”….. All I care about is if the weapon works.
    … YOU’RE HURTING THE 2A WHEN YOU SHILL TO BOYCOTT A FIREARMS MANUFACTURER, YOU GOD FORSAKEN IDIOTS!!!!!
    S TF U AND STOP WHINING……

  10. Even you hate Springfield for what they did. Springfield armory makes good products. But what they did was wrong and thats why they deserve all the hate. Its a good thing they make good guns or they would be out of business

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