The NEW Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model.

The NEW Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model.

Most BHVeterans are a Hi-Power enthusiast, or a 1911 enthusiast. At this point in 1911 history…it has been noteworthy that in the past 7 years (since the 100th Anniversary of the Model 1911), some companies like Remington, and Ruger, started making 1911 pistols. And both were slow to take on the challenges that occur when shortening the barrel of the original 5” Barrel 1911, down to the Officer’s Model’s 3 ½ inch measurement. The 3 ½ inch barrel and even 3 inch barrel 1911 pistols in .45ACP have been around a long time now, so why the avoidance? Especially when shorter barrel 1911 pistols are very popular in Concealed Carry roles. The core reason seems to be the question of Recoil Control in 3.5” and shorter 1911 pistols.

The .45ACP was designed by John Browning for the Model 1911 5” Barrel Pistol, which was also designed by John Browning. The typical Recoil Spring in the 5” Barrel 1911 is long, has lots of coils, and sufficient room for an adequate diameter spring wire to be used for the Recoil Spring. These capabilities of the recoil spring in a full-size 1911 live in perfect harmony with the energy of the .45ACP. They typically perform well and enjoy a long service life. When the barrel starts getting shorter, but the caliber doesn’t get smaller, the question becomes how to control that same recoil with less spring – there is less and less room for the recoil spring as the barrel gets shorter.

Manufacturers shortening the barrel of the 1911 to 3.5”, and less, have engineered a variety of different approaches: some have just shortened the 1911’s single recoil spring and spread the coils farther apart – this has downsides because it is literally asking too much of too little spring. This year BHSpringSolutions finally worked out an Optimized 1911 Officers Recoil Spring that has performs extremely well – but there is no escape that the Service Life of a single Officer’s Model Recoil Spring will be less than a Full-Size Recoil Spring in a 5” 1911. With the single spring approach, function problems present in irregularities in performance – you’re shooting through a magazine and empty shell casings a landing 6-8 feet away from you…then one sails 16 feet and the next one barely lops out the side of the pistol, or worse yet, even short cycles and jams the pistol. Too much is being asked of too little spring and consistency of performance (reliability) can suffer. As the spring begins to degrade and need replacement, performance and reliability become increasingly more marginal.

Kimber makes a 3” Barrel 1911 in .45ACP with two recoil springs captured on a guide rod assembly – and recommends in their owner’s manual to change these springs each 800 rounds. From the perspective of a Spring Designer / Manufacturer – that’s extreme degradation of springs with relatively little use. It’s tough to find consistent performance out of springs that are going away that quickly.

And there have been other designs of captured recoil spring assemblies, and Flat Wire Springs, and we’ve seen braided wire and flat springs working in tandem on a captured assembly. Another very negative downside of the 3 – 3 ½ “ Barrel 1911s, for the manufacturers, is that these short barrel 1911s have been sent back to the manufacturers because of function problems at much higher numbers than handguns where the caliber and barrel length are not a mismatch. Not only is a customer’s return-to-the-manufacturer-activity bad for any Company’s financial bottom line, it’s also bad for a company’s reputation for building reliable firearms.

From a historical perspective it’s quite flattering to John Browning really – nobody has ever needed to re-invent the recoil spring in the original 5” Barrel 1911 for either functional or longevity reasons in 107 Years. And 107 years later, the technology and engineers of 2018 are still looking for “thee way” to control the energy of the .45ACP in a 3 – 3.5” of barrel in a 1911. John Browning’s formula was to put smaller calibers in shorter barrels which allows caliber and recoil control to co-exist in perfect harmony. The market of handgun buyers wants to believe: the .45ACP is appropriate and can be reliable in a 3.5” barrel 1911, and that the .45ACP is not disadvantaged ballistically by removing 28% of the barrel. So gun makers continue to try to figure out the way to do that with the least downsides.

The question of how to control the same recoil with less spring has been encountered in history with a different famous handgun – the Hi Power. The Full-Size Hi Power is 4 21/32” Barrel. Two Hi Power Compact models were manufactured over the years that did become available in the U.S. in some numbers: The Argentine FM Detective and the Bulgarian Arcus 94C. Both are Hi Power “Clones”, both are 4” Barrel Models, and they used different designs for controlling the 9X19mm Recoil. FM used a Full Length Recoil Spring Guide Rod and Two Recoil Springs – one fits very close to the guide rod and the second recoil springs goes over the first – so, the two springs work in tandem and both are a smaller diameter spring wire than the Full Size Hi-Power’s Single Recoil Spring. Function with this system is typically good when the springs are fresh – and these springs have a reputation of requiring more frequent replacement than a Full Size Hi Power Recoil Spring. The Bulgarian Arcus 94C shortened the Hi Power’s standard Recoil Spring Guide Rod and shortened the Full Size Hi Power’s Single Recoil Spring. Likewise, function with this approach is typically good and the single/shorter spring should also be expected to have a shorter Service Life than a Full-Size Hi Power Recoil Spring.

This example of the Hi Power’s barrel shortened to a Compact version is offered as a reference point – a Hi Power Compact involves only shortening a barrel by about 5/8” or 14% of the original barrel length. Shortening the 5” Barrel 1911 to 3.6” as in the case of the New Ruger Officer’s Model involves shortening the original 1911 Barrel by 28%, AND playing with a larger caliber! It starts to make sense why so many makers of 3-3 1/2” barrel 1911s have tried so many different recoil spring systems – it creates a bit of desperation actually because it’s asking a lot from any possible recoil spring system.

Enter the Ruger SR1911 in 3.6” Barrel Officers Model in .45ACP.

Ruger developed a very easy to install/uninstall Recoil Spring Guide Rod that uses 3 Recoil Springs – one over the other, over the next other – awkward as that sounds. The innermost spring fits snuggly on the guide rod but moves freely, then there is a spring over that, and then an outer spring over the first two. It’s FM Detective style, Plus One. The diameter of the spring wire, of all three springs, is much smaller than the diameter of the spring wire to make a single full-size 1911 recoil spring – so it can be logically assumed that the lifespan of these three springs will be shorter than a full size 1911 recoil spring. The REAL NEWS about this system of Ruger’s – it functions and it works – and Very Well! In our testing, all shooters described the Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model as “the softest recoil in a 1911 I’ve ever experienced” and “feels more like I’m shooting a 9mm”. That reaction was completely unexpected by any us. Ruger’s uses of a bushingless Bull Barrel adds muzzle weight/balance that also really works. Controlling the 1911 Officer’s Slide Velocity has connections to accuracy – and the Ruger 1911 Officer’s Model proved to be impressively accurate and fun to shoot. Distance of ejected empty shell casings was precision perfect with no irregularities and no stoppages.

The Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model really shines as a Concealed Cary handgun, because of its size – and that being the case, reliability and the subject of Recoil Control was our first and primary focus. We were uncommonly impressed by this aspect of the handgun. The possibility of needing to install fresh recoil springs at rather short intervals, will be part of the ownership experience with the Ruger SR1911 Officers, but nobody yet knows how aggressive the change out interval will need to be.

Satisfied with the engineering of the Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model, and really impressed by most all the features of the handgun – we decided to optimize it for Carry. Ruger’s website notes that the SR1911 Officers Model is compatible with standard 1911 after-market parts.

1911 Fast Safety (SFS)
The RDIH / BHSS Fast Safety (SFS) for 1911 is an easy install and allows the 1911 to be carried in Condition 1, “Hammer-Forward”! The Ruger is a Series 70 design, so the Series 80 SFS parts don’t get installed. The grip frame itself is slightly wider than a G.I. 1911, so we needed to scratch the back-side of the 1911 SFS Ambi-Safety Lever on sandpaper a few times, and fit was immediately excellent. We replaced the Ruger’s enhanced beavertail grip safety with a Standard G.I. grip safety to create a Carry-Profile that “prints” less under clothing.

With the Ruger’s original operating system in place, Trigger Pull break weight was a bit inconsistent and ranged between 5 ¼ – 6 lbs. The 1911 Fast Safety (SFS) replaces the Hammer Assembly, and hence the Hammer Tooth’s relationship with the Sear. It is normal to then need to adjust the 1911’s 3-Way Sear Spring, which we did. We added forward angle on the left leaf (Sear) – and added forward angle on the middle leaf (Trigger) – and added rearward angle to the right leaf (Grip Safety). In its out-of-box configuration, the Grip Safety seemed to have very little pressure on it which did not make its function seem decisive – adding more rearward angle to the right leaf of the Sear Spring improved that.

After completing the install of the 1911 Fast Safety (SFS) – the Trigger Break weight measured 5 1/8 lbs. And in a dozen trigger pulls, there was no “range” – the trigger broke at 5 1/8 lbs, 12 times in a row. This is another testimony of the improved Hammer-Tooth/Sear relationship that accompanies installation of the 1911 Fast Safety (SFS) system.

Finally, the Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model comes with a long list of great features – the rounded off Main Spring Housing at the rear bottom of the grip frame makes for comfortable shooting, since the grip frame is also shorter than a full-size 1911 grip frame. The adjustable trigger is a great feature. And the Stainless model’s finish is also very nice.

The real story of the Ruger SR1911 Officers Model is: It runs, and impressively. A real eye-opener. We think it just might be that Ruger will NOT be seeing great numbers of this handgun being sent back to them for repairs and adjustments due to function problems – which has frequently been the case with short barrel 1911s.

After installing the 1911 Fast Safety (SFS) with Extended Slide Stop, the Ruger SR1911 Officer’s Model immediately became a firearm we wanted to hold onto for a while!