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  #1  
Old 03-05-2011, 10:27 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Springfield Range Officer - a review




There's a new Range Officer in Town



Springfield Armory has been making a number of value oriented 1911s for quite a while now. These G.I. and Loaded models have been good sellers and target two of the more common segments of the mass produced 1911 market - those wanting a plain, World War II style pistol, and those wanting some more user friendly upgrades.

Springfield also has a higher end lineup. You may not find these in the firearms department of your typical big box store, but many a local gun shop carries them. The Trophy Match and TRP pistols offer more refinement and hand fitting than the G.I. and Loaded models. For the ultimate Springfield offerings, get in touch with the Springfield Armory Custom Shop (SACS) and they’ll build you something to suit your personal tastes.

In the past, if you wanted some of the higher end features but in a pistol more in the "Loaded" price range, you might have looked somewhere other than Springfield Armory (SA). Springfield says that has changed with their new Range Officer model.

The Range Officer concept, according to Springfield’s advertisements, is to allow someone interested in competition to buy an affordable, entry-level pistol that is competitive right out of the box. The Range Officer is very similar to their Loaded models, but with the promise of "Trophy Match/TRP quality levels.” This means that some of the same slide, frame, and barrel fitting that go into their higher end pistols is supposed to be in the Range Officer model.



For quite some time I have wanted a 1911 more along the traditional G.I. lines (low key finish, no front cocking serrations, etc.). However, I knew I probably wouldn’t shoot it all that often, and was unlikely to consider it for concealed carry, if I didn’t change some things. I would probably have wanted to add a beavertail style grip safety, a commander type hammer, and maybe an extended thumb safety.

Well, that didn’t make much sense to me from a cost or effort perspective, so I put off getting a 1911 of that sort – until I saw the new Range Officer. It was a good blend of old and new, accuracy and reliability, and so on. The price seemed about right - $740 in my case, so I bought one to commemorate my wedding anniversary this year. (seems like a good excuse for a new pistol, right?)



Out of the box, it comes with two blued seven round magazines, a holster, a dual magazine carrier, two keys for the internal locking system, and a couple tools as you can see above. However, the grip screws are Torx and it didn’t come with a Torx driver. Not a big deal but it would have been nice. There is no bushing wrench, either, but the fit on my pistol was just on the right side of not needing one. On we go to the pistol itself.

The full size frame and slide are forged from carbon steel and have a parkerized finish. No full length guide rod here - a standard guide rod and plug are used. The slide features a lowered and flared ejection port for more reliable cycling.

Fully adjustable, low profile, BoMar-style target sights are atop the slide and are a good setup for competition and range use. If you want to conceal carry this pistol, you may want a fixed sight design* that is less likely to snag, scratch, or lose adjustment, and you may want to consider a set of tritium night sights. You may also want to upgrade your belt to one designed for carry, if you don't already have one, because like all full size steel 1911s this is a heavy pistol to wear all day. Unloaded, the Range Officer weighs in at 40 ounces, or two and a half pounds.

The frame features a checkered main spring housing, plain front strap, checkered cocobolo grips, a lightweight speed trigger, extended thumb safety, high rise beavertail grip safety, and skeletonized hammer.



Enough with the specs, does it live up to the billing of TRP/Trophy levels without some of the “extras” that drive up the price? The answer is, it depends on what you consider “extras.” The rear of the extractor on mine is proud of the slide by at least 1/8”, which is very apparent to the eye. While this does not affect function, it detracts from the sense of quality in my mind. My STIs, Colts, and Kimber aren’t like that.

The other aspect that detracts from the feeling of quality is the fairly prominent tooling marks on the inside of the slide and frame. These are also quite noticeable to the eye, more so than competitive models from the Colt or STI. They haven’t affected reliability in my pistol, but they do give a slightly gritty feel to the action of the slide while hand cycling the pistol. There are no tooling marks on the outside of the pistol, so you won’t notice this until you disassemble the pistol. The thumb safety also had a slight grittiness to it, although that is slowly going away with use (along with the slightly gritty slide action).



On the plus side, the rest of the pistol had little to nitpick. The Parkerizing was nice and even, the barrel to bushing fit was nice and tight, but not quite to the point where you would absolutely have to use a bushing wrench for takedown. The feed ramp had a nice polish, and I had no trouble chambering any of the FMJ ammunition I have used to date.



How does it handle? The Range Officer handles quite well, with one exception that may or may not bother or affect you. The edges of the rear sight blade are fairly sharp. This makes it a little more difficult to comfortably do the overhand slingshot chambering method I am used to using. I am considering swapping out the rear sight, or possibly easing the edges to take the sharpness off.

How does the Range Officer shoot? Since Springfield has brought the Range Officer to market as an entry-level competition pistol, it ought to shoot pretty well, right? Well, I am happy to report that mine does. The only open lane at the range was the 15 yard line. I didn’t shoot from a rest for group size, but I shot well enough offhand for another shooter to come up and ask what I was shooting and compliment me on my accuracy.

I found it a little easier to shoot more precisely at that distance than with some of my other pistols, possibly because of the target style sights. The heft of a full size steel 1911 also makes quick follow up shots easier due to less muzzle flip and lower felt recoil.

Is it reliable? I don’t have a complete answer yet, as I have only shot 150 rounds in the 24 hours I have had the pistol. I shot 100 rounds of PMC Bronze, followed by 50 rounds of Blazer, and they were all 230 grain FMJ. All 150 rounds loaded, fired and ejected their casings without a hitch. The lack of ejection problems does go to show that the untrimmed rear end of the extractor had no affect on reliability.

I used the two factory mags, which aren’t the highest quality but they do work, and two eight round Wilson mags. The Wilsons are much easier to load, and much smoother, despite the extra round of capacity. I alternated between all four of the magazines and they all worked flawlessly.

Would I recommend the Range Officer? My early indications are a good but qualified yes. As long as you can get it for about $740 give or take, and you can live without a couple little finishing details, it’s a pretty good choice. It’s also one of the seemingly few new model 1911s coming out today without the trendy front cocking serrations.

If you intend to compete with it, it’s probably a good starter pistol. I have no reason to suspect it wouldn’t be accurate enough or reliable enough. The forged slide and frame should make a good base for upgrades if you decide you need or want them later on. On the other hand, options are out there, too.

If you intend to carry it, or use it for home defense, you should consider changing at least the rear sight so you don’t tear up your side, your holster, or your clothing on the target sight. It could also be difficult to see the black against black sight picture with the target style sights if you find yourself in a low light situation. Another option would be keeping the sights and adding a Crimson Trace lasergrip.

If you’re planning on using the holster and/or magazine carrier, be sure to loosen the tension screws before inserting your pistol or the magazines, and then make your tension adjustment from there. If you don’t, it is possible to either mar your pistol’s finish, or stretch and/or break the injection molded plastic gear. You should only need to make this adjustment one time unless it loosens up.

If you want to use this as a range pistol, you should be good to go right out of the box. Who knows, you may even shoot so well with it that you, too, wind up with a new acquaintance at the range.

*Rear sight has an LPA cut. One replacement available is the Harrison Extreme Service Rear Sight (HD-002 standard / HD-002-T2 night sight), which is CNC machined with 50 lpi serrations in the rear to prevent glare, and a squared off front face to allow one-handed operation of your 1911 by using it against the edge of a table or other item. About $70 / $125 from http://shop.harrisoncustom.com
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Last edited by G27RR; 05-14-2011 at 02:26 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-05-2011, 10:30 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Springfield Armory 1911A1 "Range Officer"

Model: PI9128LP

Caliber: .45ACP

Frame: Forged carbon steel
Government sized

Slide: Forged carbon steel
Lowered and flared ejection port

Barrel: 5" Stainless steel match grade

Trigger: Lightweight speed trigger
5-6 lb factory weight
Cross drilled, 3 holes

Mainspring Housing: Checkered

External Safety: Extended thumb safety, single side

Grip Safety: High rise beavertail

Sights: Fully adjustable, low profile, target sights (rear has LPA cut)

Guide rod: Standard GI length with plug

Hammer: "Delta" skeletonized lightweight hammer

Grips: Cocobolo with Springfield's "Crossed Cannons" logo, torx screws

Capacity: 7 + 1 (8 + 1 with 3rd party magazines)

Magazine: (2) 7 round magazines included, blued finish

Other: Made to Springfield's Trophy Match/TRP quality levels
Slide, frame, and barrel have extra fitting performed at the factory
Designed as an affordable, entry-level competition pistol
Fewer "extras" to keep the price down
Injection molded holster and magazine carrier included in plastic/foam case
Smooth front strap
Beveled magazine well
"Loaded" coupon for discounted Springfield accessories & merchandise

Finish: Parkerized

Length: 8.5"

Height: 5.5"

Weight: 40 ounces, unloaded

Point of manufacture: Brazil and United States

Warranty: Limited lifetime

Website: http://www.springfieldarmory.com

MSRP: about $940
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  #3  
Old 03-05-2011, 10:39 AM
Uga1911 Uga1911 is offline
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Nice review, thanks. Probably going to buy this as my first 1911.
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  #4  
Old 03-05-2011, 10:48 AM
SteedGun SteedGun is offline
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There are six places an SA will have toolmarks as you describe. They indicate which pistolsmith worked on your gun. They appear on my TRP, TM, and RO. Can you name all six?
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  #5  
Old 03-05-2011, 11:09 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Originally Posted by SteedGun View Post
There are six places an SA will have toolmarks as you describe. They indicate which pistolsmith worked on your gun. They appear on my TRP, TM, and RO. Can you name all six?
Do you mean marks left over from the machining process, which is what I meant, or do you mean proof and inspection type marks?
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:26 AM
SteedGun SteedGun is offline
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I was talking about the proof marks left as a number etched in six places. As for machine marks on the inside I am not too overly concerned as my Range Officer shoots just as well as my TRP and TM. For me anyway.

I posted the question just for fun to see how many people can answer question about the location of all six SA pistolsmith marks.

How many can you find on your Range Officer?
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  #7  
Old 03-06-2011, 09:30 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Originally Posted by SteedGun View Post
I was talking about the proof marks left as a number etched in six places. As for machine marks on the inside I am not too overly concerned as my Range Officer shoots just as well as my TRP and TM. For me anyway.

I posted the question just for fun to see how many people can answer question about the location of all six SA pistolsmith marks.

How many can you find on your Range Officer?
Haven't had a chance to really look yet, but I'm only seeing two, I think.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:31 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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I noticed something when I cleaned it yesterday - the numbers scribed into the slide may have been part of the cause of the grittiness I felt when hand cycling before I had shot it. That spot had felt rough (as you'd expect, somewhat) to the touch before shooting, and now it is no longer rough and you can see shinier spots where the high edges were worn down. You can of course still feel the depressions, they just feel smoother now.



Here are some more pictures of the pistol after shooting 150 rounds of FMJ (nothing unexpected)...









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  #9  
Old 03-06-2011, 09:43 AM
rushca01 rushca01 is online now
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Originally Posted by SteedGun View Post
There are six places an SA will have toolmarks as you describe. They indicate which pistolsmith worked on your gun. They appear on my TRP, TM, and RO. Can you name all six?

I would be interested in hearing this.
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  #10  
Old 03-06-2011, 09:42 PM
Papa1911 Papa1911 is offline
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Originally Posted by SteedGun View Post
How many can you find on your Range Officer?
I can't find any on my RO. I have them on my TRP, at least the two I can see.
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  #11  
Old 03-06-2011, 10:16 PM
SteedGun SteedGun is offline
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O.K. I am going to post this as a seperate post as well.

When I learned about the pistolsmith marks I went looking at the gun on my bench. It just so happened that the gun on my bench was the Trophy Match. Today I became curious and decided to detail strip all three of my guns. I found one on the RO, five on the TRP, and six on the TM. Here is the summary of pistolsmith marks I found and the pistolsmith's number on each gun:

Range Officer 285
1 Slide (underneath near the disconnector gutter)

Trophy Match 33
1 Slide (underneath near the disconnector gutter)
2 Barrel
3 MSH
4 Grip Safety
5 Frame
6 Ejector

TRP 20
1 Slide (underneath near the disconnector gutter)
2 Barrel
3 MSH
4 Grip Safety
5 Frame


I love this stuff. Sick huh?
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  #12  
Old 03-07-2011, 07:57 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Interesting, thanks Steedgun.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:57 AM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Well, I decided to try out the Harrison Extreme Service fixed rear sight on my Range Officer and placed an order for it today. A review will follow once I have it installed and tested. For now, see the manufacturer's description below.



The rugged HD-002 Extreme Service fixed rear sight is available plain black. It fits 1911 slides machined to mount the LPA adjustable rear sight as used by Springfield Armory and other 1911 manufacturers. The HD-002 is CNC machined and incorporates the most*desirable*features in a 1911 rear sight. The rear blade is serrated 50 lpi to reduce glare and reflection. All edges and corners are machine radiused for handling, carrying and operational comfort. The front face of the sight is squared to allow one-handed operation. The notch dimensions are .135" x .125" to allow adequate light into the sight picture, assuring a rapid sight acquisition and alignment. The HD-002 has become a favorite for use in custom installations, due to it's good looks and balanced proportions. The HD-002 will often regulate with the OEM front sight, or with new installations in the range from .170" to .200", depending on the pistol.

Fits all Springfield Armory models with adjustable sights, (except TRP Operator - see HD-001) including the new Range Officer. Also fits some models of Para-Ordnance, Charles Daly, STI Spartan and other pistols machined for the LPA adjustable rear sight.
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Old 03-07-2011, 10:32 AM
saread saread is offline
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Check your serial number. I'll bet the marks are the last few digits. Probably matching parts to eliminate hand fitting.
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:15 PM
rman rman is offline
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Great range report and generally good news. I just bought one of these and haven't had a chance to take it to the range yet.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:53 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Great range report and generally good news. I just bought one of these and haven't had a chance to take it to the range yet.
Thanks, and I think you'll be pleased with your's. Mine has really grown on me the more I've handled it.
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:55 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Check your serial number. I'll bet the marks are the last few digits. Probably matching parts to eliminate hand fitting.
They are, and that is what they're for - probably would have made a good addition to the review if I had thought of adding it.
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Old 03-08-2011, 08:26 AM
Uga1911 Uga1911 is offline
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Originally Posted by G27RR View Post
Well, I decided to try out the Harrison Extreme Service fixed rear sight on my Range Officer and placed an order for it today.
Cant wait for review. I purchased my RO on Saturday and want either this sight or the night sight. Pics would be great!
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:01 PM
RatBastard RatBastard is offline
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I bought one today. Very excited and can't wait to pick it up. Yes, one of those 72 hour states. $927 out the door. A LOT more then I wanted or had seen on the net back when they came out. But every month I procrastinated the more they went up. So I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger, so to say. Gotta love over $77 of taxes and fees.

It's one of the ones that says "1 of 500". Not a fan of that but that's ok. Also didn't seem to have any evidence of Brazil parts. Would like to have the front strap checkered but not sure on that cost. Will probably start with a wrap around rubber grip first if I have much of a problem with sweaty hands while firing! But I know I really liked that feature on a different 1911 I shot before.

So I get to pick it up Friday. Plan on checking out Cabela's since they have a sale on Herter's 45ACP target rounds (500 for $153). Checking on line it seemed to be a great deal. Anyone used this ammo before? Am I asking for problems? I don't mind cleaning. Its kind of a ritual after the range or a hunt anyway for me.

I do have to thank the 1911 Forum and many of the people here that post. I tried out a couple Springfield 1911s a few years ago and fell in love with them. A GI and a Mil Spec. The GI actually functioned better but they were range rentals so couldn't really tell. Came here looking for what the differences were between different options of Springfields and other brands and learned a lot. Figured I wanted a Mil Spec with some alterations to the basic model. Then the RO came out. Read more reviews here. Again, compared to other equivalent pistols, even Kimber. The news was good, the knowledge was gained and I felt very confident that I made the right choice today. Thanks. Enjoy the swelling of your heads.

RB
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:32 AM
SteedGun SteedGun is offline
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I forgot to post that I did check the back of my RO and my extractor is also proud of the slide but not by 1/8" more like a barely noticable 1/32".

Also, the more I shoot, the smoother it gets.
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:15 AM
amacro amacro is offline
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Excellent review thank's for the effort
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:28 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Excellent review thank's for the effort
Thanks, and you're welcome.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:34 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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I bought one today.

RB
Congrats!

Springfield charges around $150 for machine checkering depending upon the number of LPI (lines per inch). You would also need to have the frame reparkerized for about $45 or so. Prices are from memory, as I was looking into checkering and Armory Kote the other day, but they should be close. Also have to pay shipping.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:37 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Originally Posted by SteedGun View Post
I forgot to post that I did check the back of my RO and my extractor is also proud of the slide but not by 1/8" more like a barely noticable 1/32".

Also, the more I shoot, the smoother it gets.
Mine is also smoothing out. The extractor isn't bothering me as much as it did at first. I just wasn't expecting it.

I got my new grips in from Larry Davidson and will post some pics up a little later. They look really good on the RO.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:39 PM
G27RR G27RR is offline
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Cant wait for review. I purchased my RO on Saturday and want either this sight or the night sight. Pics would be great!
Pics will be posted with the review. I also plan to review the sight pusher I bought. I have several other pistols I want to change the sights on, so it was worth buying the tool.
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