The Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style is a compact handful of 45 Auto power and a good alternative to plastic fantastic strikers and presets. Perhaps not the first choice of a Volvo driving, overly evolved, target punching, recently graduated, software engineer gone firearm enthusiast, but a great pick for someone who needs a reliable tool for self defense. And what is your basis for that statement, Joe? Glad you asked, or there would have been a long, blank digital page to follow.
Contextual narrative flashback…
|Model SR1911 Officer-Style 45 Auto
|Type Action||Single Action|
|Finish – Barrel/Side||Low Glare|
|Barrel Length||3.60“ Bull Barrel
|Weight – Empty||31.0 oz|
|Sights – Rear||Novak – Drift Adjustable|
|Sight – Front||Black – White Dot
|Trigger Pull||5 lbs 4 oz (Actual)|
|Includes: Display box, 2 Magazines
gun lock, and manual
The year was 1975. Cocktail party socialist were not yet hosting network news and insanity was not the cornerstone of liberal politics. The 1911 General Officer’s Model Pistol began as a project at the Rock Island Arsenal for issue to Army and Air Force general officers. The following year, a similar pistol was produced for the civilian market by the Detonics Manufacturing Company as the Combat Master. The Combat Master remained in production until 1992 when this iteration of Detonics closed its doors. But over the years, numerous manufacturers have offered similar products. My personal experience with this type of early compact 1911 of that period, because of the difficulty in managing a high velocity, low mass slide, were unreliable and inaccurate.
Colt introduced its Officer’s Model 1985, a product which sold through the mid 1990’s before being discontinued. In 1998, Colt introduced the Defender, the a compact 1911 type with a half inch shorter barrel, three inches, and bushingless slide to accommodate a more acute barrel angle during cycling. During the same period, numerous manufacturers produced Officer’s Model type guns, few with out of the box reliability. As an owner of a frequently shot Colt Officer’s Model that had gone through lots of massaging and refinement on it’s way to accurate and reliable performance, I was very interested to see how Ruger’s Officer-Style all steel 45 Auto would perform.
Above, a very clean Ruger Officer-Style 45 Auto, everything the Officer’s Model was intended to be and my Miami Vice inspired Colt. The Ruger fired its first shot and every subsequent shot during all range session, cycling without mishap. The Colt, when new, would cycle only two or three shots consecutively, the trigger felt like an elastic band, the stubby fixed sights shot 4″ right and high, and a protruding mag release occasionally would prevent a round from being fed.
The then new Colt set me back $759… and approximately an additional $600 in parts, accessories, machine work, and labor to get it to a level of reliability and accuracy consistent with a weapon intended for self defense. Adjusted for inflation, current dollars would be $2,827 . The Ruger delivered the same level of performance out of the box and has an MSRP of $979.
What is going on in there?
The Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 45 Auto is easy to disassemble and requires no tools, including the little wire used on the 9mm version to capture a compressed recoil spring. The magazine comes out, the chamber is checked for empty, the rear of the slide stop is aligned with the takedown notch and removed, and then the slide is eased forward and off the frame.
The triple recoil spring works well, balancing of slide weight, velocity, recoil spring, hammer contact timing and mainspring to make an incredibly reliable compact 1911 that can easily handles any type of standard and +P ammunition. The use of three lighter springs provides more progressive compression loading and the thinner gauge wire prevents coil bind and is less prone to taking a set. I shot everything from +P 230 grain to SWC target low velocity rounds and the Officer-Style cycled and fired with absolute reliability. As a bonus, the slide is easy to rack.
The original slide for my Colt Officer’s Model… I always save original parts in the event I want to restore it to factory configuration. Probably because of the bushing bore in the Colt piece, the Ruger slide weighs 0.7 Oz more than the Colt piece even though the Ruger slide is scalloped. Overall, the Ruger is a lighter gun, 31 Oz compared to 34 Oz. Side note – the Ruger barrel is 0.1″ longer than the Colt Officer’s Model and a full 0.6″ longer than Colt’s current Defender.
The Ruger offers vast improvement over the stubby factory Colt sights with a no snag, low profile Novak three dot system.The BoMar sights installed on my Colt were a big improvement over the factory pieces, but the gun is only used in open rather than concealed carry. Drawing it from under a jacket would be like pulling a claw hammer through a bundle of laundry.
The Officer-Style has numerous useful features that are almost undetectable, unless you had to buy them as after sale accessories; extended beavertail with speed bump, narrow extended thumb safety, lightweight aluminum trigger with adjustable overtravel stop, lock time reducing skeletonized lightweight hammer and titanium firing pin.
The Ruger has a clean round top slide with low glare stainless finish. Both sights are dovetail mounted to facilitate adjustment or change, sight radius is 5.25″. They were clearly visible in direct sunlight and shade and against most any background. The rear aperture is large enough for rapid target acquisition. The little port in the barrel hood allows for a quick loaded chamber check, perhaps not for safety checking for empty as much as verifying there is a round in the chamber.
No, not a Hollywood shooting hold, just me avoiding text wrap and formatting around a narrow vertical image. Say what you want about old guy’s eyesight and steadiness, but that sight alignment was shot through an unsupported camera with a moderate telephoto lens, several feet from the pistol. A tad right, but not retouched. I really like the sights, the grip length and shape are hand filling. It is an easy reach to the thumb safety and the slightly extended magazine release. The rounded shape of the mainspring housing is comfortable, but I wish it wasn’t plastic, even if a modern industry standard material for the purpose.
The Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 45 Auto in terms of aftermarket parts, accessories and gunsmithing techniques is a Series 70 standard. Working mostly with the full size SR1911 I have changed out virtually every part of significance, done traditional trigger jobs, changed sights and changed out all of the fire control component parts without encountering a fit problem and with excellent, if easy, results.
The Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style is devoid of gewgaws and doodads. Subsequently, the thumb safety is left sided, a coincidental match for my most useful of my two thumbs, which is located on my right hand. I know, what happens if I am hunkered down behind a tree, in the midst of a shootout with multiple assailants and a opossum leaps from the tree and gnaws off my right thumb ? One, I would probably not have the safety engaged so nothing to thumb release and, push to shove, I could always throw the opossum at the assailants. Besides, everyone knows that an ambidextrous safety is only installed to quell the desperate cries of left handed shooters.
The Deluxe Checkered G-10 grips provide a good non-slip, but also non-abrading surface and 3 more than required for an economic summit. I have no real reason for the image other than to illustrate the Officer-Style Ruger is a good looking pistol, made in Arizona.
Shooting… Isn’t that really what it’s all about?
Five types of ammo were fired during check out in an all out effort to get the pistol to jam, fail to feed or misfire so I could claim unique insight into the pistol’s misconduct. Unfortunately, the Ruger was having none of my nonsense and just went along digesting, shooting, ejecting, and cycling whatever it was fed… including some semi wad cutter bullseye shooting handloads that barely resisted gravity when exiting the muzzle.
|45 Auto Ammunition||Bullet
|Federal Personal Defense||JHP||185||950||838||1.3|
Dropping from a 5″ barrel standard to a 3.5″ barrel In all cases will somewhat diminish velocity, but the achieved velocity was high enough to stabilize and expand jacketed hollow point bullets. I kept shooting distances to 10 yards, 30 feet, as it is a practical self defense distance. Ruger ARX was produced by PolyCase with a poly/copper composite bullet and is now sold under the Inceptor brand as loaded ammunition and in 118 component bullet form. The round demonstrated a good deal of self defense potential in terms of penetration and observable and measurable lateral shock. Accelerating a low density, low inertia bullet resulted in high velocity even from a short 3.6″ barrel.
Representative targets… I copied and pasted targets until tedium numbed my brain made me stop and question why. The groups size numbers are on the table, but the holes illustrate point of impact shift was not major and two handed shooting delivered better than necessary accuracy. What surprised me was that the short barrel Ruger was soft shooting. Muzzle rise was minor, recoil was modest and even muzzle blast wasn’t bad. I would guess the laws of physics are responsible, where the velocity is reduced, and therefore primary and secondary recoil is diminished. Any shooter who could handle a full size 1911 type, surely could handle the Ruger SR1911Officer-Style.
Ruger has done wonders carving out a large place in the market for yet another quality 1911. Good quality, good performance, good price