Ruger SR1911 45 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn, Boge Quinn & John Taffin

April 18th, 2011

 

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Ruger's new SR1911 45 pistol.

 

 

 

 

Lightweight skeletonized trigger is adjustable for overtravel.

 

 

Extended thumb safety, skeletonized hammer and beavertail grip safety.

 

 

Beveled magazine well.

 

 

Checkered steel mainspring housing.

 

 

Excellent Novak three-dot sights.

 

 

 

 

Slide lock.

 

 

 

 

Chamber is throated for reliable feeding.

 

 

 

 

Barrel hood has a witness hole as a loaded chamber indicator.

 

 

SR1911 does not have a firing pin safety, nor is one needed.

 

 

Wood grips are checkered in the classic double diamond pattern.

 

 

Simply Rugged "Range Master" holster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that one hundred years after its adoption as the standard sidearm of the US Military, John Browning’s most famous pistol design is more popular than at any time in its history. In 2011, we have seen the introduction of a couple of brands of 1911 pistols hit the market, and some of the names that have long been in the 1911 pistol business are introducing new variations of the great design.

It has for a while now been anticipated by many that Sturm, Ruger & Company would eventually introduce a 1911 pistol of their own, and it is finally here. It would seem that the 1911 pistol market is already saturated, and that there would be no room for another in that crowded market, but every day, more and more shooters are realizing the advantages of that grand old pistol design. Over the past century, many good pistol designs have been introduced. Some have held on, while others have faded away. Still, the 1911 keeps gaining in popularity. After being pronounced antiquated by self-proclaimed experts many times in the twentieth century, there appears to be no one who is now claiming that the 1911 pistol will be fading into obscurity any time soon. Every new design introduced for a sidearm today has to compete against the 1911, and most are found lacking when compared to the simplicity, power, reliability, and ease-of-use of the 1911 design.

I was first shown the new Ruger SR1911 back in early December of 2010. I had the opportunity, along with a handful of other writers, to shoot the new Ruger at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona, and also to tour the Ruger factory in Prescott, getting a close look at the production line for the SR1911. Ruger has set up an entire new production line for the SR1911, with all new machinery. Ruger has revamped the whole Prescott plant, and it runs very efficiently. The parts are all ordered, produced in house, and distributed using a card system unlike any that I have ever seen before. It appears to be a very simple system, and it keeps parts right within reach of the assembly personnel. The whole inventory thing is run by one very nice young lady, and observing the efficiency of the Prescott plant, she must do her job very well.

The new SR1911 shown here is pretty much identical to the ones that we fired for three days back in December, with the exception of the grip panels. The plan was originally to ship the SR1911 with black synthetic rubber Hogue grips, but the production guns are shipping with some good-looking checkered wood grips. The Hogues were good grips, but I prefer the look of these wood grips. They give the pistol a better appearance to me, contrasting with the otherwise stainless and black SR1911.

The SR1911 is built primarily of stainless steel. The slide is CNC machined from bar stock, and the frame is made using Ruger’s proven investment casting process. One unique feature of the SR1911 build process that I observed in Prescott is that the barrel and barrel bushing are machined from the same piece of bar stock, and the two parts are kept together throughout the machining and assembly process, instead of just grabbing a barrel from one box and a bushing from another. These two parts start off as one piece, and both end up in the same pistol. Another unique feature of the SR1911 is that, unlike other 1911 pistols on the market, the plunger housing is not a staked-on part. The plunger housing is cast integrally with the frame, eliminating the possibility of the housing ever coming loose from the frame.

Most of the small parts on the SR1911, such as the magazine release, slide lock, thumb safety, grip safety, sights, hammer, and mainspring housing, are finished in a matte black which contrasts beautifully with the satin stainless finish. The mainspring housing is flat and checkered, just as it should be. The magazine release is of the slightly extended type, protruding .162 inch from flush with the frame. The wood grips are checkered in the double-diamond pattern, and wear the Ruger bird logo. The trigger is adjustable for overtravel, and is a skeletonized aluminum unit. The hammer is also skeletonized, and is polished on the sides. The grip safety is of the high-ride beavertail style, and has the raised bump at the bottom to ensure positive disengagement by the hand for firing. The Novak sights are made of steel, and are of the three-white-dots pattern. The SR1911 comes supplied with two magazines; one is a seven-shot mag which fits flush with the grip frame, and the other is an eight-shot mag with extended base pad. Both mags are made of stainless steel. The SR1911 will accept any aftermarket 1911 magazines.

The SR1911 uses a standard-configuration recoil spring guide rod. The extractor is also of the traditional and time-tested internal style. The SR1911 is of the pre-Series 80 style, having no Swartz safety, nor any type of firing pin safety at all. Ruger uses a titanium firing pin with a heavy firing pin spring, so no firing pin safety is needed. The SR1911 has no internal key lock; at least this first variation of this new Ruger does not. I have no knowledge whether or not a version with an internal lock will be offered later, but the SR1911 does come with a nice Ruger padlock, for those who wish to use it. I have Ruger padlocks on all of my farm gates. The thumb safety is of the extended style, and is a right-handed user only unit. I am told that a variation with an ambidextrous safety will be offered later. While on that topic, the SR1911 shown here is but the first variation of Ruger 1911 pistol. Other variations are also planned, for those who prefer different features on a 1911 pistol. Looking at the picture of the frame casting, it appears that Ruger is thinking ahead, with perhaps a version with an accessory rail to be produced later. I have no verified information on this, so that is just my speculation, but there is a market for such, as many shooters like to hang flashlights and such on their pistols. As for the ambidextrous safety, I can place a call to Brownell’s and have one on the way, and as soon as I purchase this Ruger, I will install one on it immediately. There is, thankfully, no magazine safety on the SR1911.

Shooting the SR1911 at Gunsite, my gun ran perfectly, and I know of no problems encountered by any of the others shooters either. The Rugers ran like a well-built 1911 should, and they were the first pistols off of the new line. The SR1911 has other nice touches that we have come to expect on a quality 1911. The barrel is throated to reliably feed hollowpoint ammunition, and the feed ramp is polished. The ejection port is lowered, and the pistol uses the slightly-extended Commander style ejector for positive ejection of the empty cases. There is a witness hole at the rear of the barrel hood, to serve as a loaded-chamber indicator. The trigger released crisply, and the release measured four and one-half pounds on my gun. The magazine well is slightly beveled to facilitate quick magazine insertion. The finely-checkered mainspring housing is made of steel. The extended thumb safety clicks on and off positively, with just the right amount of resistance. There is no discernable play between the barrel and slide, nor between the slide and frame. Lockup is tight.

Critical specifications for the SR1911 are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest points. The maximum width is measured across the grip panels, and includes the thumb safety. The height includes the sights but not the magazine base. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of pressure. The weight includes the empty eight-round magazine, with the base pad. Length is measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip safety.

Weight 43 oz.
Height 5.5"
Length 8.63"
Slide Width 0.918"
Maximum Grip Width 1.33"
Frame Width 0.765"
Maximum Width 1.36"
Trigger Pull 4.5"
Trigger Reach 2.8"
Barrel Length 5.05"
Magazine Capacity 7 or 8
Magazines Supplied 2

Besides the extensive amount of shooting that we did at Gunsite, I wanted to put a lot of rounds through this new SR1911, so I ordered a large quantity of 230 grain Remington hardball (full metal jacket) ammunition from Lucky Gunner. I like those folks. Their prices are good, and shipping is usually the same day. Anyway, besides the hardball, I also tested the Ruger SR1911 with every type of 45 ACP ammo that I had available, mostly high performance Buffalo Bore and Cor-Bon Plus P hollowpoint ammunition. Shooting at Gunsite was a lot easier than the shooting that I did here in Tennessee. At Gunsite, the Ruger folks showed up with hundreds of magazines already loaded. Here, I had to load my own, but that gave the weapon time to cool a bit between volleys.

The SR1911 fits any holster that is built for a 1911, and I tried out a couple while involved in shooting this weapon. One new maker to me is Peters Custom Leather. The holster from Peters is a high quality unit built for strong-side carry outside the belt, and does a good job of keeping the butt of the pistol tucked in tight for good concealment, as does the excellent Range Master shown here from Simply Rugged Holsters. I have used Simply Rugged leather for many years, and it never disappoints. This holster is beautifully tooled around the border, and is designed to do double duty as a concealment holster or for field and range use.

There are lots of good choices on the market for a quality 1911 auto pistol, and from the vast amount of email I get on the topic of choosing the right one, it is a hard decision for many. One must weigh the features, materials, finish, quality, and price. Another important feature to many purchasers is the country of manufacturer. There are many high-quality imported 1911 pistols on the market, but given a choice, most shooters in the US choose an American made 1911, if everything else is equal. However, in many cases, the price difference between a US-made 1911 and an import of the same quality is large. This new Ruger SR1911 is one hundred percent American made, down to the last pin and screw, but it is priced lower than many of the import 1911 pistols. I usually do not list the suggested list prices in my reviews, but in this case, price is one of the SR1911’s strong selling points. MSRP as of the date of this writing is $799 US. That is well under the price of other stainless American-made 1911 pistols, and it is even lower than comparable imports. The Ruger SR1911 is a quality pistol that could compete with any other quality 1911 pistol, even if it was priced like its competition. However, for an American-made 1911 of this quality at this price, the SR1911 has no competition.

I have a few 1911 pistols already. I do not know how many, but I do know that I will be buying this new Ruger SR1911 pistol, and ordering an ambidextrous safety from Brownell’s.

The SR1911 is in production, and will be shipping to distributors shortly.

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at www.ruger.com.

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the SR1911 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order the quality holsters shown here, go to www.simplyrugged.com and www.peterscustomleather.com.

To order quality 45 ACP ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com and www.luckygunner.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

The SR1911 proved to be very accurate with a variety of ammunition, as shown by these 25-yard groups. Photos courtesy John Taffin.

 

 

Shooters on the line at Gunsite in December 2010 with the new SR1911.

 

 

Loaded magazines ready for fun.

 

 

Ruger's new manufacturing line for the SR1911.

 

 

 

 

Barrel and bushing are machined from the same piece of bar stock, and stay together as a matched set through the manufacturing process.

 

 

Plunger tube is cast integrally with the frame.

 

 

 

 

Frame is CNC-machined to final form.

 

 

Slides are machined from ordnance stainless steel bar stock.

 

 

Sadie is responsible for the logistics of having materials and parts within easy reach of each worker in the Prescott plant.

 

 

 

 

SR1911 comes with one seven-round and one eight-round magazine.

 

 

SR1911 also comes with pad lock, bushing wrench, and soft zippered case.

 

 

Author's favorite 45 ACP ammo, Buffalo Bore's 200-grain JHP load.

 

 

 

 

Peters Custom Leather holster.