Modern-day Springfield Armory has been around since 1974, beginning with manufacturing contemporary iterations of three famous U.S. military firearms: the 1911A1 .45, .30-06 M1 Garand and 7.62 NATO M14 (renamed M1A by Springfield). These were excellent renditions of three great combat arms. While the Garand is out of production, Springfield’s product lineup is extensive. The current Mil-Spec 1911A1 is a modern take on the classic GI 1911.

The 21st Century Springfield Mil-Spec 1911A1

Today’s Mil-Spec 1911A1 does have a GI appearance to it but it is not as an exacting copy of a GI 1911 as the original Springfield .45. Three main changes to the original Springfield .45 have been adopted to lessen its GI appearance. One is practical, while two are cosmetic.

Slide Grasping Grooves

Some years back, Springfield changed the slide grasping grooves from the original military vertical to angled grooves. This gives their 1911s a distinctive look. Angled fine grasping grooves were added to the Mil-Spec 1911A1 to keep it in line with the modern Springfield style. The angling of the grooves doesn’t change the feel of the pistol.

Stainless Steel Barrel

Another cosmetic change is the match-grade polished stainless-steel barrel on the Mil-Spec 1911A1, instead of a blued steel one like the originals. The feed ramp and chamber throat are also nicely polished — a process that was left to the owner to have done by local gunsmiths back in the 1980s. The barrel bushing is also stainless steel, and the ejection port is lowered. The contrast between the barrel assembly and the Parkerized slide is striking, especially when viewed from the “bad guy” perspective.

Three Dot Sights

The third deviation from the original is perhaps the most beneficial. The plain military sights were switched to prominent modern three-dot sights. 1911A1 military sights, which are tiny and ill-defined by today’s standards, are, admittedly, a bit difficult to use. The sights on the original 1911 are even worse. The addition of three-dot sights definitely makes the Mil-Spec more user-friendly and takes it out of the curio type category.

GI Features

Outside of these three differences, the remainder of the Mil-Spec is true to original GI form. The forged steel frame and slide are Parkerized, and the grips are a checkered brown wood composite. The grooved thumb safety is of the larger modern style. The spur hammer is also grooved, as is the trigger, magazine release, slide release and the arched mainspring housing. The bushing spring plug is checkered, and the grip safety is the original A1 style. Overall, the Mil-Spec is still quite GI looking, and the feel is exactly the same.

The Mil-Spec at the Range

Before I left for the range, I tested the Mil-Spec’s trigger on my Wheeler Engineering Trigger Gauge. The trigger pull measured a crisp 3 pounds, 10 ounces — pretty decent for a 1911 in this price range.

I decided to test the Springfield Mil-Spec using Polycase Inceptor ARX Self-Defense ammunition. According to Polycase, the .45 ARX round utilizes a non-expanding polymer-copper matrix projectile whose spiral shape delivers its energy to the target through the “Venturi Effect.” In .45 ACP, the ARX Bullet weighs 118 grains and travels at a velocity of 1,350 feet per second, delivering 477 foot-pounds of energy. I figured if the Mil-Spec fed the unconventional ARX bullet, it should feed about anything.

When I got to the range, I loaded up the magazine with a full seven ARX rounds and prepared to test the Mil-Spec 1911A1 right out of the box. A single magazine is supplied with the gun.

I chambered the first round, applied the thumb safety and moved to 21 feet. The 3-dot sights were easy to align. I touched off the first round and noticed the light recoil of the ARX load … and the dead center hit. I fired off the next six and was rewarded with a tight 2-inch group. The good group was no doubt due to the match barrel, less-than-4-pound trigger and decent sights. I finished off the box without malfunction. I did not suffer any hammer bite. It was very nice performance for a 1911 priced below $500 and made right here in the United States.

1911A1 Wrap Up

While the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec is not an exacting copy of a wartime 1911A1, it is a fine 1911A1 in its own right. It is also available in stainless steel. With its tough finish, it is a pistol you can carry under the worst of conditions without worrying about marring its finish. It’s made to take all the rough stuff the original GI 1911s did. It would be a great choice for truck or trail and a great way to be introduced to the 1911A1 pistol without breaking the bank. I found my test model for sale online for as low as $469!

This year is the 110th anniversary of what is arguably the finest fighting pistol ever made. While the Springfield Armory is no longer an exact copy of an original GI .45, it is perhaps the perfect amalgam of the historic military pistol combined with modern improvements.


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