(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)
By Daniel Henderson
If you’re able to add and subtract, it’s easy to figure out that the 1911 has been with us for 105 years. There is a 1911 priced to fit every market you can think of. I could spend several hours listing every single 1911 available on today’s market and still miss some. So why would you care about this one?
Let’s rewind back to 1996. The FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) needed a 1911. The accuracy standard was for three 10-shot groups at 25 yards fired from a Ransom Rest with a group no larger than 1.5 inches with Remington Golden Sabers. It was then shot 20,000 times and retested for accuracy again. To give you an idea of how extreme this was, Bill Wilson produced a fixed barrel rig to show that grouping from Golden Sabers was impossible.
In the end, only one gun survived and met all of the FBI’s demands. The result is the most torture-tested, durable, and reliable 1911s ever made. It’s called the Springfield Armory Professional 1911-A1.
This gun defines the Springfield Custom Shop. If you want one of these at list price, you’re waiting 24 to 36 months for them to get to your order. It’s not just a normal pistol slapped together like a Mil-Spec or a Range Officer. This is a custom pistol, hand-fit and finished to a level comparable with the Wilson Combats and the Ed Browns of the world.
I was lucky enough to find a new one that wasn’t TOO much over MSRP, but still less than a brand new Wilson Combat CQB. When you hold the gun in your hands, you start to realize why this gun costs what it does and why it has a cult following. Nothing on the gun moves until you demand it moves. The bushing is fit so tight that it rubs the finish off of the Black-T coated barrel.
When you grip the gun, there’s no way you don’t notice the hand-cut 20-lpi front strap checkering and the mainspring housing. For those people with softer hands, it can feel sharp. For others like myself, the points blend in with your hand like it made just for you. From the rear, it looks like one solid piece with tattoo ink where the slide (with a lowered and flared ejection port) and national match frame join together.
There is a minor elephant in the room. There are three MIM parts on the gun. The slide release, magazine release, and the disconnect are MIM parts. Do I care? No. This is the most brutalized firearm in history. Did they break when it was torture tested by the FBI? No. Are they going to break under the so called “stress” I’ll put it through? No.
My Professional has survived about 1,000 rounds. I’ve run Federal HSTs, Speer Lawman loads from 185 grains to 230 grains, and crappy Winchester White Box ammo thru it. They all went bang with as much drama as a colonoscopy. I haven’t bench-rested the gun, but I can routinely put eight rounds with two inches from 7 to 15 yards standing. The funny part is the gun likes the Speer Lawman 200-grain +P loadings (1,080 fps/518 ft-lbs) better than rest. It’s a brutal load to shoot in most handguns, but the Pro shrugged it off and enjoyed it.
It also didn’t care what magazine you shoved into it. The gun came with five Metalform seven-round magazines. I’ve used Wilson Combat 47D and ETM mags with no drama. The magwell didn’t have an issue with Chip McCormick 10-round mag even though the base is wider than most 1911 mags. Cobra eight-rounders? Bring ‘em. The Pro doesn’t care. It just wants to be fed.
One part of the gun that has gotten much better with use is the trigger. When it arrived, the trigger pull was about 5 to 5.5 pounds. It had very little take up, but took much more effort to fire than a Wilson Combat Classic or a Dan Wesson VBOB. Now, the trigger pull is down near the advertised 4.5- to 5-pound pull and feels great.
As everyone knows, there’s no such thing as a perfect gun. It came with were plain-Jane cocobolo grips. They were OK, but they didn’t pop. I’ve replaced them with a set of Fusion Firearms — 1/2 smooth, 1/2 checkered — grips that has a beautiful grain to them and saves my thumb from being rubbed raw during range use.
The biggest change I made was the sights. Twenty years ago, if you wanted great fixed sights, your choice was Novak. These Novaks weren’t the ones Ed Brown uses with the painted white rings around the tritium vials. These were the metal-lined types that work great in the dark and get lost in the day. For me, the answer was Wilson Combat Battlesights.
The taller rear has an excellent .140-inch U-notch with yellow vials. The dovetail front sight is a .200-inch Dawson Tritium sight as Springfield uses a much larger dovetail in the front than the usual Novak cut. With a large white ring, the Green Tritium front works excellently with the rear sight when firing drills, target shooting, or shooting in the dark where the green front/yellow rear keeps you from asking which dot is in front.
Pricing on this gun is hard to figure out. If you were on the build list two years ago, you’ll be spending about $2,700. MSRP for current orders is about $3,100. I’ve seen Gunbroker auctions go north of $3,500 for this gun. Regardless, if you like 1911s, you cannot go wrong picking this one. This gun combines the traits of every semi-custom maker out there. It is fit as tight or tighter than a Les Baer. It has the beauty of an Ed Brown. It has ball-bearing feel of a Wilson Combat. You won’t regret it.
SPECIFICATIONS: Springfield Armory Professional 1911-A1
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5.0 inches
Barrel: Stainless steel national match barrel
Overall Length: 8.7 inches
Weight: 40 ounces
Finish: Birdsong Black-T (complete pistol)
Sights: low-mount Novak rear sight, dovetail front sight with 3 dot tritium inserts
Safeties: ambidextrous thumb safety, custom fit beavertail grip safety
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style: * * * * *
A distinctive take on the classic.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
This is the gun that taught everyone how an autoloader should feel.
Reliability: * * * * *
What break-in period? It worked from the start.
Customizable: * * *
If you order direct from Springfield, your only choice is rail or no rail. But once you have chosen, it’s a 1911. You can change anything you want if you have the cash.
Carry: * *
If I was a law-enforcement officer, I’d carry this no question. Concealed carry as a civilian? Carrying IWB? Not so much.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
Any GLOCKtard will tell you a gun this tight will choke. This gun says otherwise.