The new Ruger SR-1911
The new Ruger SR-1911 is a simple, straightforward 1911 pistol that John Browning would have liked. Photo courtesy of Ruger
The SR-1911 will fit any current 1911 holster, like this one from Blade-Tech. Photo Dave Spaulding
Photo courtesy of Ruger
The SR-1911 is more than accurate for police service. Photos Dave Spaulding
The SR-1911 is a classic “Series 70” design that uses a titanium firing pin and a stronger spring to pass any drop safety test. Photos Dave Spaulding
FEATURED IN TRAINING
The 1911 pistol is 100 years old. What other century-old firearm is still being introduced in new versions? Why’s the gun still popular a century later? I believe it’s due to John Browning’s understanding of human physiology and how it applies to firearm design.
Look at the 1911 and note how it fits the human hand. The grip angle has a natural “point-ability” as it’s brought to eye level and the wrist is locked—it extends from the arm naturally. Lay the gun in your open hand and slowly close it, wrapping your hand around the grip. Note how the thumb finds the thumb safety and depresses it as the hand closes. See how the web of the hand closes on the grip safety (Browning didn’t have this feature on his original design) and how the index finger engages the sliding trigger and presses it back until it stops. The reverse happens as the hand opens, unlocking safeties and releasing the trigger.
The short sliding trigger makes the 1911 the preferred gun of SWAT officers because depressing the trigger while keeping the muzzle on target is easier with this design than any other. Fast follow-up shots are easier as well, because the short trigger reset (one-fourth to one-half inch, depending on the gun) is easier to control without interrupting muzzle alignment. Pistols with long trigger actions aren’t as popular as guns with easy-to-use short triggers. It’s not right or wrong, just true—and John Browning understood it 100 years ago.
I had the opportunity to work with Ruger’s new SR-1911 during a writer’s event at Gunsite in December 2010. Over a two-and-a-half-day period, I put more than 600 rounds through my loaner gun and never suffered a single malfunction—without once cleaning the gun. I was also very surprised at the level of accuracy the gun displayed. My past experience had indicated that you can either make it accurate (tight) or reliable (loose), but having both is difficult. Ruger seems to have found the right combination. My school gun ran unhindered while placing unsupported shots inside a 4" circle at 25 yards.
Although Ruger’s gun is considered a “Series 70” 1911 (it doesn’t have a trigger bar plunger safety and it features original-style barrel bushing), Ruger took the time to study the classic design and see where they could make it better without messing with Browning’s brilliance.
The first order of business: Build the gun from stainless steel. Ruger felt it to be superior for a service pistol as supposed to carbon steel. I think John Browning would have approved the change. Ruger also stuck with the classic seven-round flat-floor plate magazine, but added an eight-round magazine with numbered witness holes and an extended base for faster reloading. The SR-1911 comes standard with a set of checkered wood grips with the Ruger emblem, much like John Browning’s original gun, but rubber grips with a Ruger logo will also be available. The SR-1911 will pass any agency “drop safety” test even without the Series 80 plunger spring. By using a heavier firing pin spring and a light titanium firing pin, “drop ignition” is eliminated.
The SR-1911 is everything you need in a fighting gun and nothing you don’t. That said, some will want an ambidextrous safety lever and a frame rail for lights. An ambi lever can easily be added because after-market 1911 parts will fit on the SR-1911 (not having it also reduces cost). But a frame rail would go beyond the classic Browning pistol concept. Don’t despair. I’ve been told that a version with these features is in the works, though I don’t know when it’ll be introduced.
Ruger has also done its homework to ensure the gun is durable. On other 1911s, the plunger tube for the thumb safety is pinned in place and can come loose. Ruger made this tube part of the SR-1911’s frame so it can’t happen on their gun. The trigger on my test gun broke at exactly 5 lbs. with little excessive movement—a very nice factory trigger! The reset distance was right at one-fourth inch, which means the trigger can be manipulated fast, with less risk of taking the muzzle off-target via sympathetic convulsing of the whole hand. The less the trigger finger moves, the less likely the rest of the hand will follow.
Many feel that MIM (machine-injection molded) parts are junk. I’d agree that this was the case in the past, but like most technology-driven things, MIM parts have improved, and they have a place in modern firearms manufacture because they help keep costs down and provide good service. In the SR-1911, MIM components are used for the hammer, sear, grip safety, thumb safety, mainspring housing, front sight, rear sight and disconnector. The folks at Ruger feel this makes a superior gun at a reasonable price and I have to agree—but performance can only be determined at the range.
Ruger’s new SR-1911 also features:
• Novak three-dot sights
• Oblong, serrated Commander-style hammer for easier manipulation
• Extended thumb safety
• Beavertail grip safety with a “memory bump” to ensure depression even if the grip isn’t perfect
• Beveled magazine well
• Flat checkered mainspring housing and a skeletonized trigger with over-travel adjustment
Note: Some of these components are black, which creates a very nice contrast to the matte stainless slide and frame.
Dropping the Hammer
I headed to my gun club to “drop the hammer” and determine the SR-1911’s level of performance. I started my test by bench-resting the gun at 25 yards using Giles Bags from The Wilderness (www.thewilderness.com). These varied-size bags can be stacked so as to offer a rock-solid rest for most any rifle or pistol. They also offer the advantage of being easily transported most anywhere. I placed my Shooting Chrony chronograph 10 feet from the muzzle and fired five round groups for both accuracy and velocity.
Corbon 185 grain DPX 1,062 fps 3.5 inches
155 grain Frangible HP 1,112 fps 3.5 inches
Winchester 230 grain 857 fps 3.0 inches
Federal 230 grain HST 901 fps 1.75 inches
Hornady 230 grain XTP 812 fps 1.50 inches
Any of the listed rounds would be a good choice for police service. No range session will simulate a fight, but by pushing the gun hard and fast, you can get a feel for how well it’ll work, if needed, in a fight. Draw and shoot, multiple targets, shooting from unconventional positions (kneeling, seated, prone), shooting while moving and from cover are all excellent evaluation drills. I completed them all with the new Ruger and concluded that it’s simply a stellar performer. There’s just no other way to say it.
The Final Word
This SR-1911 didn’t malfunction through 1,000 rounds of various ammo styles, including some nasty reloads that I had on hand. Is the SR-1911 the “ultimate” 1911? I’m not sure there’s an ultimate anything, but the SR-1911 is a darn good version. Considering the design is 100 years old, it’s reassuring to know that anything can be “enhanced”—no matter how good it started out.
Thinking about purchasing a 1911, but unsure of the brand? Discuss your thoughts and opinions with other officers here. http://connect.lawofficer.com/forum/topics/1911s-1