1911s may not be the only pistols I enjoy shooting, but they are one of my favorites. I cut my range teeth with a Springfield A1 Loaded. I still have fun bringing it out to the range. Recently I did just that, and was able to compare how the A1 Loaded handles against how the Springfield Range Officer 1911 shoots.
The Springfield A1 Loaded covered in this article has had several thousands of rounds through it, and as it was the first 1911 with which I had any experience, I’ve gotten accustomed to how it handles. For this particular range trip, I put a box of 50 rounds of .45 ACP through it. When shooting from 16ft, most of them ended up in the 8,9, and 10 rings with a few fliers outside that range, including slower, more precise shots, and quicker controlled pairs.
I put a box of the same ammo (good ol’ cheap PMC) through the Range Officer 1911 for comparison. It took me a little time to adapt to the different sight picture, at first. The A1 Loaded features (white) three dot fixed sights while the Range Officer (marketed by Springfield as an entry level competition gun) features an adjustable (for windage and elevation) black notch and black blade sight picture. Add to that shooting at a black target made the transition a little trickier. However, when shooting the same 16′ distance, my groupings ended up largely in the 10 and 9 rings with one flier in the 7.
The physical differences between the two models are understated, but the difference in performance was notable. When shooting, the Range Officer feels just like what I’d expect from a Springfield 1911, but improved. The RO’s trigger is what was most apparently different. The pull is lighter and cleaner. The fit and finish of the two pistols feels slightly different, too. The A1 doesn’t seem quite as smooth or snug when cycling (although, after at least 10k rounds through it – it still has yet to have any error in operation of any kind).
If some .45 “plinking” is your goal, the Springfield A1 Loaded will do that, and then some. But the Range Officer offers a more precise shooting experience. The Range Officer does just what the A1 Loaded does… it just does it better.
Firearms photos pictured in the featured image courtesy of springfield-armory.com.