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SA 1911A1 MilSpec Review

13754 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  wwb
Here's an excellent review of the Sringfield Armory's 1911A1 MilSpec... just posted by Steve Camp:

Hello. Several months ago I purchased a NIB Springfield Armory Mil-Spec with the parkerized finish. I have owned several Springfield Armory 1911's in the past and still had one, a lightweight full-size 5" gun, but was very favorably impressed in what I saw in the current production SA 1911 pattern pistols. Slide-to-frame fit was tighter and there was zero barrel-to-slide movement. I also liked the fact that SA had gone to the rounded front grip strap from the more flat version previously used.

I chose the "regular" Mil-Spec for the simple reason that I preferred the higher visibility fixed sights over the smaller GI type on what they then called the "GI Mil-Spec." Since I also reload, I figured that the lowered ejection port might result in fewer dinged cases.

What I didn't like was the standard GI grip safety and spur hammer. Though some people are not plagued with either hammer bite or wear and tear from the edges of the relatively narrow grip safety, I am not one of them. Still, for the money spent I believed it was a very good buy. (I still do.)

After a few range sessions the pistol was still in its unaltered state except that I'd slightly bobbed the hammer spur, which helped quite a bit in relieving the hammer bite problem. Before that the web between my thumb and forefinger looked like a rabid piranha in a feeding frenzy had gotten it!

The pistol digested just under 1000 rounds of assorted handloaded CRN and CSWC rounds as well as many types of factory ball and JHP ammunition. It never failed to function properly. While I greatly appreciated this, the pistol had a fairly tough and gritty trigger pull. In short, it was unacceptable for best work.

Teddy Jacobson was contacted and I wound up with replacement parts for the hammer, sear, trigger, and other internal parts that he had done his magic to. The trigger went from hard and gritty to clean and light at between 4 and 4 1/2 pounds. The wide checkered spur hammer had also been relieved and reshaped by Mr. Jacobson. This change is not obvious to the eye, but certainly is to the shooting hand: no hammer bite.

Since the sights on this particular pistol are definitely "on" for me, they'll stay as they are. One can easily see that the rear of the slide is not even close to being perfectly flush/mated to the rear of the frame nor is the rear of the extractor but this has not affected function. For toting under the coat at night or knocking around in a rainy woods, I find myself carrying the Mil-Spec
more and more.

Since installing these upgraded parts, I've fired just over three thousand more shots through this gun and so far, zero malfunctions. As was the case before, the gun doesn't seem to "care" what the bullet profile is. The trigger pull has remained constant and the ISMI springs continue to work perfectly and without getting weaker as might others after this number of full-power loads.

The only other modifications to this Mil-Spec have been to round the edges of the GI grip safety and to replace the grips. I also replaced the mainspring housing with a checkered arched one in my parts bin.

This pistol has worked perfectly with several different makes of magazines and ammunition since the first shot.

My Mil-Spec shows centered firing pin strikes and the fixed sights are dead "on" for me at 15 yards. During a recent range session with a friend in which we were trying out a new SWC bullet, I got 50-yard groups approximately the size of an open hand. Most of that error was mine and not the pistol. Certainly this is not match gun accuracy, but this pistol serves 99.99% of what I believe I need in a "carry gun."

This pistol is not nearly so elegant and beautiful as some other more expensive 1911 pattern pistols. I cannot say that it's true for others but speaking only for myself I find that I'm more likely to pamper or not use my more expensive custom 1911 pistols if there's any likelihood of rain (while hunting) or getting them dinged up. I found myself carrying the Mil-Spec more and more.

As you know, Springfield Armory 1911 pattern pistols do not have an internal firing pin safety. Other than the ability to lock the pistol via a key lock in the (removable & replaceable) mainspring housing, this company has not added more parts to pass the mandated "drop tests" required in some states before a handgun can be sold there. That does not mean that the design was unaltered. SA uses a 9mm size 1911 firing pin made of titanium in combination with a rather stiff firing pin spring to pass these tests. Though I've never had a single malfunction with this setup in my pistol, I have noticed a few "light" firing pin strikes on ammunition having harder primers such as CCI and Sellier & Bellot. Cutting to the chase, I replaced the titanium pin and its firing pin spring with a steel one of the proper diameter and a standard spring. Strikes appear deeper and more "sure" on the tougher primers causing mild concerns earlier. Do I recommend this for others? Not necessarily, but I'd rather have a pistol that I know will detonate any properly functioning primer and maybe fail a drop test than the opposite and leave this decision entirely to those contemplating it.

Do I have 1911 pattern pistols that I prefer to this one? You bet I do; some for sentimental reasons and some simply for their esthetics and proven performance.

Do I have any 1911 pattern pistols that I trust more than this one? No. All of my pistols are reliable or they are repaired or replaced. This gun has been absolutely reliable since the first shot and with its much improved trigger pull, it is an easy pistol to get the hits with both in slow-fire and at speed.

Am I saying that all Mil-Specs will perform as well as mine has for me? No, I cannot do that. In the fast-production and neck-to-neck competition in 1911 pattern pistol production, it seems that most companies are selling these type guns as quickly as they can crank them out. I think all companies let some out that don't function, as they ideally should. Though I don't like it, I have accepted it as a sad fact of life. That said, those I know who own both the "standard" Mil-Spec and the GI versions are having no problems.

The two-piece barrel in my Mil-Spec is of stainless steel and continues to work fine. Its construction doesn't bother me as I've been a Browning Hi Power shooter for decades and the Hi Power barrel is two-piece and I've never experienced a failure. If it is considered a major problem, there is no shortage of replacement 45-caliber 1911 barrels.

Three-thousand shots certainly is not any sort of torture test nor even very much shooting for many dedicated users of the 1911 including myself, but there has been no undue wear, parts breakage, or loss of accuracy.

Please do not take this any sort of criticism of more expensive 1911 pistols. It is not. It is merely a suggestion to take a look at this version of John M. Browning's classic design. I believe that it is well worth the tariff.

Nothing fancy here, but the pistol runs fine and has shown no inordinate amount of wear.

I place more value on the pistol than is reflected by the price paid…significantly more.

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I buy it all except for the 3000 rds and no failure. That part smells a little fishy. Ill give him a few commercial loads that will make his gun jam.

Im correcting this for the second time because I read it right the first time. See the post below.
What do you mean that 3000 rounds and no failure is fishy?
Im saying that 3,000 is alot of rounds to shoot through a gun without any type of failure. I know what manufacturers claim, and I have read many stress tests of guns, but even my sig 226 fails to lock back every once and a while. My 1911's are great but I dont think any of them made it 3,000 rds without failure using a wide variety of handloads or crappy commercial loads. On avarage the most I was shooting was about 1,000 rds a week being .38, .45, and mostly .22lr. The only gun that never failed EVER was the .38/.357 revolver, and that one saw the least use. So im not calling this man a liar. IM just saying that is a little hard to believe as anything reasonable to expect from a 1911, and most other semi-autos. I am counting follower and magazine problems, pins loosening, and anything minor espicially after any type of custom work.

Im sure Glocks are the most formidiable in this category and Bill Wilson claimed the Beretta 92f is the most reliable gun in this category. My Beretta has jammed and my friends Glock has jammed with handloads, and I saw a Glock Barrel that had exploded and Glock replaced the barrel.

On a second thought I guess "fishy" was a poor choice of words. I guess what im getting at was the same notion the reviewer said on how this performance shouldnt be expected from all these production guns. I was trying to renforce that notion thats all. I just made a hasty post.
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I agree that 3000 rounds is alot with any kind of hangup... but I am at 1000 on one of my Springfields without a glitch, thus far. I think your emphasis of the main point is a good one... reviews are just that - review of a single weapon... not en masse. :wink:
I also think the words "wide variety of reloads or crappy commercial loads" is a key also. Other than with steel cased Wolf ammo, my SA Ultra Compact has gone a couple thousand rounds of various brands of ammo and my own reloads without a gun related hitch many times (there have been a couple squibs due to not fully cleaning the oil from new cases but that is hardly the gun's fault). This gun went 1213 rounds without any type of cleaning before it had its first FTE. I will not say this is typical or even not uncommon but I find the base level of a gun platform often has many fewer problems than the higher ends as tolerences seem to be less critical. I guess it is just like cars, the more performance you try to wring out of them the less dependable they become in the long run.
LOL hahahaa I was thinking Wolf Steel ammo too.


Werent they using corrosive primers for a while too??
I've put a lot of Wolf through my Kimber and have never had a FTF with it. What I hate about Wolf is cleaning my pistol after using it; it is the dirtiest ammunition I've ever used.

BTW, what my Kimber doesn't like is "green" ammunition like WINclean.
I have had a Taurus 92 since 1988 and it has never jammed or failed to feed anything I put into it. My guess is that it has shot at least 5,000 rounds during that time. It has been incredible. I have had a ss Beretta 92 since the late 90's and it has jammed only twice and that was a defective mag. I thoroughly trust my 92's, however, my primary carry gun is a Springfield Champion. It is a stock, stainless steel .45 that I got in 1995. I had to send it back to the factory for an adjustment because it jammed at least twice on every magazine. Springfield fixed it, sent it back to me and it has never jammed since. OK, I started using Wilson Mags, too. It passed the 3,000 mark at Thanksgiving time without a failure to feed. Granted, no Wolf ammo (stay away from that crap), but it shoots like a "Champion" should shoot. I trust it completely with any ammo that is decent. Springfield makes a great gun!
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How about a WW II issue 1911 (it was my Dad's) that has to have gone well over 5,000 rounds, and the sole problem was a failure to fire.... and the primer was SERIOUSLY dented, so it wasn't the pistol.

With a 1911, I'd have no problem believing 10,000 rounds or more without a problem. I've heard the the GIs currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will swap a Beretta 9mm for a 1911 .45 in a heartbeat..... not only do they function all the time, they do a better job of puttin Hajii down NOW.
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