Ruger Lightweight SR1911CMD-A 45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 8th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.





Thin, checkered grips offer a positive hold, without being abrasive.







Checkered mainspring housing (top), grooved frontstrap (bottom).







Slide stop (top), thumb safety (middle), magazine release (bottom).



Novak LoMount sights.



Polished titanium feed ramp.







Ruger has just introduced their version of a pistol that many experts consider to be the ultimate fighting pistol; a "Lightweight Commander" 45 ACP.  The original Commander, introduced by Colt in 1949, was nothing but a 1911A1 with the slide/barrel shortened by 3/4 inch, a rounded hammer spur, and a lightweight aluminum frame. Very simple differences, but those differences transform the handling and carrying qualities of the pistol into a whole different weapon. Dropping almost three quarters of a pound off the weight of a full-sized steel 1911, while retaining the full-sized grip made a world of difference in the way in which the pistol carries and handles, making the Lightweight Commander much easier to carry comfortably all day, while retaining the excellent qualities that make a 1911 a great fighting pistol.

It has been almost four years now since Ruger introduced their version of the 1911 pistol into the highly-competitive field of similar pistols in the US market. Ruger quickly carved out their share of the market by providing a high-quality made-in-the-USA pistol that is priced lower than much of its competition. Almost two years later, they introduced their all-steel SR1911CMD with a shortened slide and barrel, but retaining the stainless steel frame. In my opinion, shortening the slide and barrel does very little to change the carrying ease of a 1911, as steel Commander pistols weigh almost as much as their full-sized counterparts. Now, Ruger has added to their SR1911 line by introducing their "Lightweight Commander" version, the SR1911CMD-A.

Aluminum versus steel. This is the question that always is argued in a discussion of a Lightweight 1911 versus an all-steel 1911, and rightfully so. I have two friends in the Marketing Department at Ruger; let's call them Mark and Ken, because that is their names. Both are good, highly-educated and dedicated family men. Mark has a background in metallurgical engineering, and is not a fan of aluminum. Ken is a wine expert. I do not drink wine, but have sat quietly and listened as he has spoken with others knowledgeable in that language about the qualities of one wine versus the other, and details about what makes one wine superior to the other. Mark looks at a piece of aluminum like Ken looks at a three-dollar bottle of MD 20/20. Both men will acknowledge the existence of these things, but neither will enjoy the experience. Me, I am neither highly educated nor an expert on anything, and if my doctor keeps pushing hard enough, I might have to try some wine. While I really enjoy the packing qualities of a Lightweight Commander 1911 pistol, and am willing to acknowledge that an aluminum frame will never be as strong as a steel frame, I like the way the lighter gun carries on my hip. Sorry, Mark. I will also concede that a glass of MD 20/20 might be useful to wash down a good fried baloney sandwich before bed at night. Sorry, Ken.

Critical specifications for the SR1911CMD-A 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 frame and includes the thumb safety lever. The height includes the sights. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. The weight includes the empty seven-round magazine. Length is measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip safety.

Weight 28.5 ounces
Height 5.45 inches
Length 7.87 inches
Slide Width 0.91 inch
Maximum Grip Width 1.15 inches
Frame Width 0.753 inch
Maximum Width 1.258 inches
Trigger Pull 4.25 pounds
Trigger Reach 2.76 inches
Barrel Length 4.3 inches
Magazine Capacity 7 rounds
Magazines Supplied 2
Firing Pin Safety No
Magazine Disconnect Safety No
MSRP as of January 2015 $899.00 US

It is important to many folks that a 1911 not have a firing pin safety, often referred to as a "Series 80", in reference to Colt adding a firing pin safety to their pistols around 1983, and renaming the pistols "Series 80". Series 70 and all earlier 1911 pistols had no firing pin safety, but the main innovation of the Series 70 was mainly the collett bushing, and had nothing to do with the firing pin. However, many still refer to a 1911 without a firing pin safety device as a "Series 70" style, no matter the brand nor vintage. The Ruger SR1911 (and other 1911 pistols) already have in the design several things that must occur before the weapon will fire. The chamber must be loaded, the automatic grip safety depressed, the manual thumb safety disengaged, and the trigger pressed. The reason for Colt adding the firing pin safety to the Series 80 pistols, was that with a Series 70 and earlier gun, if it was dropped upon its muzzle, it could possibly fire by the inertia of the firing pin overcoming its spring. Ruger avoided that possibility entirely by using a lightweight titanium firing pin, so an extra firing pin safety device added to the system is unnecessary, serves no purpose, and complicates a wonderful design. Thankfully, Ruger found a better way.

I have covered the details of the Ruger SR1911 in depth before, so here, I just want to touch upon a couple of items that, while not earth-shattering, they do make for a better pistol. The first is a minor detail, but if you have ever had a plunger-retainer tube come loose on a 1911, you will understand. The plunger tube retains the springs and plungers for the slide stop and for the thumb safety, and have always been staked to the side of the frame, which works really well, unless something happens to knock it loose. If it comes off, you are either on your hands and knees searching for small parts, or more likely, on Brownell's website just ordering some new ones. Either way, the pistol is broken until you get those parts and get the tube staked on again. Ruger eliminated this potential problem by machining the plunger tube integral with the frame. It cannot become unattached, because it is not attached. It is part of the frame.

I tested for velocity with my chronograph set at ten feet from the muzzle, and an air temperature of thirty-seven degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of fifty-two  percent. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level. Velocities are listed in the chart below, and are listed in feet-per-second (fps). FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. DPX is an homogenous copper hollowpoint bullet. Glaser is a specialty pre-fragmented core inside a copper alloy jacket. PB is Pow’RBall. LWSC is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. UHD is Remington Ultimate Home Defense hollowpoint ammunition. HCL is a hard-cast lead bullet. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Cor-Bon JHP 200 1065
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1121
Cor-Bon JHP 230 1003
Cor-Bon DPX 185 1146
Cor-Bon PB 165 1187
Cor-Bon Glaser 145 1186
Buffalo Bore HCL 255 990
Buffalo Bore JHP 230 1012
Buffalo Bore FMJ 230 990
Buffalo Bore JHP 185 1160
Atomic HP 230 937
Remington FMJ 230 811
Remington UHD 230 821
Handload LSWC 200 1003
WCC 1911 Ball FMJ 230 808

The Lightweight Commander functioned perfectly. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected flawlessly, whether firing the pistol hand-held, or when it was secured into the Ransom Rest for accuracy testing. The slide never failed to lock open on an empty magazine. Accuracy varied from not-so-good to match-grade, depending upon the ammo used. This particular pistol really took a liking to Remington UHD hollowpoint ammo with the 230 grain Golden Sabre bullet. That ammo consistently grouped five shots under two inches at twenty-five yards from the Ransom Rest. Most ammo grouped between two and three inches, rested, at twenty-five yards. The largest groups were fired with the 255 grain Buffalo Bore ammo, which surprised me, as in most pistols it shoots really well. It just goes to prove that I can't be sure until I have tried it, no matter the brand of ammo. 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter handloads performed very well.

The Lightweight SR1911 is a pleasure to shoot. I like it better than the full-size model. It carries better and conceals more comfortably. It is lighter, smoother, and just seems bit more refined to me. I am not sure what process they used to get there, but the finish on the slide is very smooth, with every edge slightly rounded, even the edges of the slide serrations. To my eyes, the two-tone appearance of the black anodized frame contrasting with the satin stainless slide looks great, and then the addition of the thin checkered grip panels make this pistol look, feel, and shoot better than guns costing twice its price.

One more small detail that can easily go unnoticed, but important to someone who has experienced a bullet hanging up, instead of sliding up the feed ramp as it should, is that this lightweight Ruger has a titanium feed ramp. Most feed ramps on aluminum-framed 1911 pistols are aluminum. There is normally nothing wrong with that. If polished and kept clean, most shooters will never know the difference. However, after a lot of use, an aluminum feed ramp can become a bit rough, especially with some of the modern high-performance hollowpoint bullets, and then feeding problems ensue. Sometimes. However, to assure that this never becomes an issue, Ruger uses a titanium feed ramp, which is inserted into the frame in such a way that it will not come out. The titanium will remain slick and polished forever, giving the bullets an unobstructed path from the magazine to the chamber. Some would address the problem with a ramped barrel, but that is not a perfect solution, and I think this approach is better, as the polished titanium feed ramp can accommodate even the widest hollowpoint bullets on the market. Again, this is a detail that Ruger did not have to do, but they did it anyway. It is good insurance, but something not found on production pistols. As I was typing this review, I got curious as to why they would go to that extra trouble and expense for a seemingly minor detail, as this is not a three-thousand-dollar pistol, so I called Mark-The-Aluminum-Hater and asked him, regarding the titanium feed ramp, something like, "Mark, I know why you did it, but why did you do it?". His response was "To make it better." He went on to state that Ruger plans to sell a lot of these, and they want them running perfectly for a long time.

I often get accused of liking every gun that I fire. Okay. Guilty. I love guns. What am I supposed to do? It's like asking a biker if he likes motorcycles, or a Baptist preacher if he likes fried chicken. Of course he does. A man is supposed to love his work. However, every now and then I do run across a gun that I like a bit better than most, and this new Ruger falls into that category. They got the details right on this pistol. 

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the SR1911 pistols online, click on the Gun Genie at

To order quality holsters for the Ruger SR1911CMD-A, go to,,  and

To order quality 45 ACP ammunition, go to,,,  and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.





SR1911CMD-A (left) compared to full-size SR1911 (right).





Upswept beavertail grip safety.





Simply Rugged "Shootist" holster and belt.