Ruger is an old line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. They were late getting into the 1911 market, but introduced a 1911 handgun that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy and value. When the Commander version was introduced, I obtained one of the first short slide 1911 Rugers and found it good. The SR1911 9mm is an aluminum frame 1911 in the Commander configuration they may be even better.
Commander is a generic term for the compact 1911 with a full-size firing grip but shortened slide and barrel. Taking .75 inch off of the slide makes for a fast handling handgun with much to recommend. There are many 1911s available, unfortunately some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol.
I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus, and it wasn’t only his but as he stated the conclusion of learned minds, was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating the pistol, I find a service grade handgun well worth betting your life on—and it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.
Examination of the Ruger SR1911
The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the lightning like cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original 1911 serrations. The gray hard anodized frame look great; it is well done. The pistol does not use a firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters.
The Ruger accomplishes drop safety by means of a low mass firing pin that is backed up by an extra power firing pin spring. The slide is finished with the Ruger logo on one side, the other side marked MADE IN USA. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights are leagues ahead of GI sights and allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more.
The hammer is a lightweight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked—as designed—with the hammer to the rear and the safety on the disconnect is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is pressed, the trigger is blocked by the grip safety. The grip safety is a memory bump type. This aids in properly pressing the grip safety with a less than perfect grip, but you damn well better know what you are doing with a 1911! The grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into its travel.
The barrel uses a conventional barrel bushing and locking lugs for lockup. The recoil spring plug is conventional, and there is no full length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years, quite a few target features have crept into the 1911. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons.
The barrel is a ramped type—all good for case head support and feed reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes sometimes wear loose with time and use and sometimes the grip panel does not properly support the plunger tube. The trigger is a long target type. I can live with this. The magazine housing is a flat type, the only way to go with a custom grade beavertail. The trigger is superb. It is crisp breaking clean at a smooth 5.25 pounds.
The slide lock safety snaps into the locked position smartly. There is no slop or loose fit. There grips are rubber. They are comfortable and give good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap that aids in gripping the pistol and may lower the bore axis. The height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is controllable in rapid fire. There is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.
The magazines are well made stainless steel units. Quality aftermarket 9mm magazines are widely available. The supplied magazines feature strong magazine springs. It is a tight setup and a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle at different speeds. These magazine springs will raise the cartridge to the chamber with authority.
As for the caliber, the 9mm is popular based upon many good traits. After all, the first Commander in 1948 was chambered in 9mm in hopes of securing a military contract. The 9mm offers modest recoil yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those that cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber. Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true.
9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ is one example, the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1,200 fps we see real performance.
The Firing Line
The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the firing line. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, after that it is smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired and ejected every cartridge. Like all quality firearms, the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over the other for accuracy but not in reliability. The pistol is fast from leather, fast on target, and offers excellent control.
The 9mm just doesn’t kick much and you may run double taps hammers and controlled pairs home. This is simply a great handling 1911. The good traits of the 9mm are preserved and there are sensible improvements. That is how it should be in the natural progression of things. As for ammunition performance I was able to test and evaluate a number of loadings. The Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P is a good choice for personal defense. The balance of expansion and penetration is good and expansion potential excellent.
Accuracy Testing, 15 Yards
|Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ||1,170 fps||1.9 in.|
|Winchester USA Forged FMJ/steel case||1,120 fps||2.2 in.|
|Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P||1,212 fps||1.25 in.|
|Winchester Silvertip 115-grain||1,160 fps||1.75 in.|
If you do not wish to run +P loads in your 9mm, and many do not, the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip offers good expansion with less recoil. The bottom line will be shot placement. I fired a number of loads for accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. 15 yards is a long distance for personal defense.
During the test, I carried the Ruger in a Professional holster from Jeffrey Custom Leather. With a retention screw, first rate stitching, top saddle grade leather, and a good balance of speed and retention, I wear this holster often. The Professional rides hide and may be worn beneath the typical concealed carry vest.
I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.
Do you prefer to run +P ammunition in your self-defense handgun? Why or why not? Share your answers in the comment section.
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