The year was 1964. I’ll never know the circumstances of the arrest, but I do know a Border Patrol Agent apprehended an illegal alien who was carrying a Colt 1911 .45ACP pistol. The pistol was a commercial model with the highly polished blued finish typical of ones manufactured in 1919. The other thing I’ll never know is how the pistol made its way from Hartford, Connecticut to Mexico, and how it came to be in the possession of the man who was arrested. Still, I do know what happened to it after that day in 1964.
In those days, it was customary for agents to keep weapons they seized in the course of their official duties as long as the gun was “clean”, as in not reported stolen or involved in a crime. No record was discovered and in due course the pistol was transferred to the agent. Some years later he gave the pistol to his son when he too joined the Border Patrol. The old pistol languished, unused in a sock drawer until I bought it and later used it in my first Gunsite class taught by Jeff Cooper. I’ve been a 1911 guy ever since and I still have that old pistol.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. surprised consumers with the introduction of their first 1911 pistol at the beginning of 2011. We had gotten a look at it during a writer’s rollout at Gunsite a month earlier and Downrange.TV did a video report you can see at this link. The pistols we shot in December were assembled days before at the Ruger factory in Prescott, Arizona. They featured rubber Hogue grip panels that were replaced with beautiful double diamond checkered hardwood stocks when consumers saw the pistols for the first time. Since their rollout, SR1911s have been selling like the proverbial hotcakes. I managed to miss out on the SR1911 but got my hands on Ruger’s new SR1911- CMDR early this year. A Commander size pistol with 4.25” barrel, the CMDR is otherwise identical to the full size 5” barreled SR1911. I wrote it up in a two-part article for Downrange.TV in February. Good things come to those who wait and I recently received a SR1911 pistol for evaluation.
The SR1911 is packed with features most shooters want and represents excellent value at a suggested retail price of $829. Novak sight cuts in the slide allow the mounting of sights in colors and patterns to satisfy any shooter – the pistol comes from the factory with the popular white three dot sights. Other features include a beveled magazine well for quick reloads, an extended thumb safety and magazine release, beavertail style grip safety and undercut frame to seat the pistol low in the hand, and skeletonized hammer and trigger. The aforementioned hardwood stocks are secured with black hex-head screws that match the beavertail, slide stop and thumb safety; all in blackened steel that contrasts nicely with the matte finish of the stainless steel. Accessories boxed with the pistol include a barrel bushing wrench, zippered gun rug, and the mandated padlock. Two stainless steel magazines are included, one with a flat baseplate and 7 round capacity and the other with an extended baseplate and 8 round capacity.
The trigger on my test pistol is outstanding. Fresh from the box it broke crisply at 5 pounds with no over-travel, that being movement of the trigger after it releases the sear and drops the hammer. The trigger has broken in and now breaks perfectly at 4 ¾ pounds. This pistol may have the best from-the-factory 1911 trigger I have tested.
I did something a bit different when testing the SR1911. I used it as part of a project involving the firing of about 400 rounds while shooting the demanding Federal Air Marshal qualification course. Taking it fresh from the box, with no lubrication or cleaning, I shot it over two range sessions. The ammo used was the excellent Black Hills 230gr. FMJ (full metal jacket) commercial version of military “hardball”. I pre-loaded about 40 magazines of various origins for this test. Along with the Ruger magazines I used McCormick, Wilson, Brownells, Colt, Act-Mag, Elite and Novak magazines in 7 and 8 round versions. Someone recently asked me if the SR1911 was magazine sensitive – I would say, at least as far as this pistol is concerned, the answer is a big “No”. There were two malfunctions, both failures of the slide to close completely. One occurred at about the 200 round count, and another in the last magazine of the test. I’m not sure what happened at 200 rounds, and suspect it had to do with an old magazine, but the malfunction at the end of the test was simply because the pistol was hot, dry and filthy. Bear in mind, I ran it with no lubrication or cleaning and it probably would have kept on running with two drops of lube applied to the barrel and barrel hood. But, since I had completed the test and was done shooting, I simply fieldstripped and cleaned it. In a subsequent range session I shot the pistol at 25, 100 and 150 yards. For those concerned with accuracy of the SR1911, I’ll just say it shoots better than I do and has all the inherent accuracy you could want in an off-the-shelf 1911 pistol.
The only other issue I had with the pistol during my range sessions was a grip screw that loosened. This was quickly remedied with the proper hex wrench. Normally, I recommend you clean and lubricate a new pistol then inspect it for any loose parts or screws that should be snugged up before you start shooting. On 1911s these screws include those that secure the grips and the setscrew in the rear sight.
The curse of gun writing is the temptation to buy the guns that come your way. More than a few stay with me, to the detriment of my bank account. I like the trigger on this SR1911 so well I think it’s going to be a keeper. I have a long range 1911 pistol project in mind and, with the right sights, this may be the pistol I need for that test. If you’re looking for a nicely featured 1911 pistol, with everything you need and nothing you don’t, you might decide you need a Ruger SR1911 too.
About the Author:
Ed Head is a regular on Shooting Gallery, Gun Stories and Down Range TV. He has worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed has an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, where he continues to teach and write.