Springfield Armory leaves stainless steel’s sordid history behind with the introduction of its 9mm Garrison 1911 in stainless steel. Let me explain. In the mid to late 1980s, semi-automatic pistols started to replace revolvers as the duty guns for many street cops. In central Ohio, agencies often turned to Smith & Wesson stainless steel models in 9mm or .45 ACP. Stainless steel handguns had the advantage of being rust-resistant. Unfortunately, stainless steel isn’t rust-proof, as some found out through poor gun maintenance habits.
Prior to Glock’s truly rust-proof Tenifer treatment, stainless steel was the only game in town to protect handguns carried in all kinds of weather. However, stainless steel at the time had a reputation for galling — a form of metallic wear caused by sticking between sliding surfaces. If there is not adequate lubrication in the grooves of a stainless-steel pistol slide and frame, galling occurs more easily. This often made those pistol actions feel rougher than their carbon steel counterparts. But, immediately upon removal from its box, you can tell this version of the Garrison is not an “old-school” stainless steel handgun.
The Stainless-Steel Springfield Armory 9mm Garrison
Like its carbon steel sibling, the slide of the stainless-steel 9mm Garrison 1911 glides across the frame. It felt almost as if it was riding on ball bearings. This was a pleasant surprise; I expected it to be less smooth than the blued carbon steel Garrison. Obviously, 40 years of metallurgical developments have given gun manufacturers better materials to work with. Plus, CMC machining has made the entire process much easier. The result is a 1911 every bit as beautiful as its blued counterpart.
The stainless Garrison is set up the same as the blued Garrison in terms of controls and features. Both guns have forged stainless-steel frames, slides (with brightly polished flat surfaces) and match-grade barrels with fully supported ramps. The Garrison 1911s have a GI-style recoil system and low-profiled 3-dot Novak-style fixed combat sights. And they both come with one included stainless steel 9-round magazine.
The 1911 9mms have Springfield Armory’s “Thinline” brown wood double-diamond checkered wood grips, featuring the company’s logo and flat-checkered stainless mainspring housing.
Weight: 38 ounces
Barrel: 5-inch stainless steel match-grade finished bright/lowered ejection port
Overall length: 8.6 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Magazine: 8-round stainless
Grips: Dark brown checkered thinline double-diamond wood with Springfield Armory logo — wood type unspecified
Mainspring Housing: Flat checkered
Grip Safety: Beavertail with bump
Sights: Low profile three-dot combat
Thumb safety: Extended/ left side only
Slide release: Standard
Magazine release and mag well: Standard
Recoil system: GI-style with stainless steel barrel bushing
Trigger: Three-hole skeletonized with overtravel adjustment; pull weight 4 pounds, 3.2 ounces average
In terms of differences, the stainless steel 1911 9mm is 4/10 of an ounce heavier with an average pull weight that is half an ounce lighter.
Stainless-Steel 9mm 1911 at the Range
To make the comparison as exact as I could, I conducted the shooting test using the same 115-grain Magtech FMJ ammo that I used with the blued Garrison. All the shots were again fired from 30 feet, standing and using both one-hand and two-hand grips. Target again was a B27 silhouette. And results were again outstanding.
Not only is the slide-to-frame fit extremely smooth but so is the trigger mechanism. Shooting results were impressive.
The first groups were all fired with two hands. My first group consisted of 6-shots. Five shots were in a ¾-inch, one-hole group. One flyer opened the entire group to 2 ¼ inches. The next group fired was a 5-shot group that measured 1 ¼ inches. That was followed by another 5-shot group — my best — measuring ¾ of an inch. The worst two-hand group measured 2 ¾ inches.
My final group was fired with one hand as a stiff breeze picked up. The result was a group that was 4 ½ inches in diameter and all six rounds striking in the head of the silhouette. Four shots were clustered in the center. My group with the blued Garrison was half that, but the doubling in group size was entirely my fault. Of course, there were again no malfunctions with the stainless Garrison.
Both 9mm 1911 Springfield Armory Garrisons are skillfully rendered examples of classically styled 21st-century 1911s. They are set up with just the right amount of upgrades so as to not destroy the original lines and operating system. Their machining and finishes are top notch. My favorite is still the blued model just because of its traditional finish. If you prefer a greater deal of rust resistance but the exact operational feel of the carbon-steel version, opt for the stainless-steel Garrison.
The MSRP of the blued carbon steel 9mm Garrison is $849 while the stainless version is $899. Either version represents top-of-the-line in factory-produced 1911 9mm pistols.
Springfield Armory: Springfield-Armory.com