Tuesday, May 30, 2023
HomeSurvivalSpringfield Armory Operator 1911, by Pat Cascio

Springfield Armory Operator 1911, by Pat Cascio

Like most folks who are really into firearms, I always want the best for the least amount of money. Needless to say, that rarely works out, and I have to settle for less – it is frustrating, as most “gunnies” will certainly agree with me. We aren’t rich, and we live paycheck-to-paycheck most months. And it is only through frugal living and planning, we can get the things we want. At times, when I do settle for less than I want, I end up selling or trading the gun that I didn’t really want in the first place. This is frustrating!

I’ve been a 1911 fan ever since I was a teenager, and still believe that it might well be the finest handgun ever designed – they are that good! For a lot of years, I settled for a lesser 1911, and using my armorer and gunsmithing skills, I had fairly good success at customizing many 1911s. I’m still not 100% satisfied with my end results. However, I did customize quite a few plain-Jane 1911s. Unfortunately, I don’t own any of them any longer. I wish that I had held back one or two.

Over the years, I’ve owned almost every 1911 variant that Springfield Armory has manufactured. Short of a few very expensive models, most of the others found their way into my hands, and they’ve all been outstanding shooters. With the exception of an early mil-spec model, that wouldn’t even feed hardball ammo, I’ve never had any real problems. And, that one gun, only needed a little tweaking to get it running perfectly.

The gun under review today is one of the latest from the 1911 stable at Springfield Armory. This one is simply called the “Operator” and this one is a spectacular 1911, chambered in .45 ACP. The slide and frame are made out of forged – not cast – carbon steel and it makes a difference in the long haul. Forged parts last longer – probably longer than I’ll be around. The 5-inch barrel is made out of stainless steel and it is forged and match grade as well. The barrel is throated and polished and will feed any type of ammo you want to feed it. The frame feed ramp is also polished and it will let those rounds slip right into the barrel.

I should note that this has a mil-spec barrel bushing and guide rod, and it makes disassembly much easier than some of the full-length recoil rods are – nice touch. The bushing is made out of stainless steel – very attractive touch when you look at the front of the gun from the “wrong” end – it catches your attention. The recoil spring plug, is once again, mil-spec.

This is a full-sized “Government” model 1911 – comes with a 5-inch barrel. The sides of the slide, front and rear, have angled slide serrations – a nice touch. The front sight is a tritium night sight, and the rear has two white dots – easy to pick up under any lighting conditions. Plus the rear sight can be used to chamber a round, should your gun hand become disabled too. Just place the rear sight against your belt or shoes and you can chamber a round – it can be done, but practice doing so, ahead of time. I found that the extractor is perfectly fitted, as well.


The skeletonized combat hammer gives you a little faster hammer time – the hammer will hit the firing pin faster and harder than a solid hammer. Yes, it is measured in thousandths of a second, but it might make the difference in a gun fight.

As we move to the frame, you’ll notice right off the bat, that it has a dust cover with Picatinny rails, and I’ve been down this road before with some 1911s. I had one sample from Springfield, that was a “Commander”-sized frame, and the gun just didn’t balance in my hand properly for some reason – nothing wrong with the gun, but for me, the balance wasn’t there. I’m happy to report that on this full-sized model, the Picatinny rail wasn’t a problem at all, and it will allow you to mount a light/laser on one of the three mounting points. That is a nice touch.

The Operator comes with an ambidextrous extended combat manual safety. I used to love this feature, but over the years, I found that I prefer my 1911s with a single-sided thumb safety. However, since this is a standard feature on this model, I just live with the ambidextrous safety. Speaking of which, this safety snicks on/off with total authority – no slack at all – perfectly fitted!

The grip safety, again, is perfectly fitted with no slop at all and it is timed just right. It also has the memory bump on the bottom of it, so you can engage it and know it will release when needed.

The front strap is smooth. I wish they had checkered it but I’ll take care of that with a simple piece of skateboard tape on the front strap. This is inexpensive and easy to do. I replace this material about once a year if there is too much wear on it. A foot-long piece of this stuff is only about a dollar. The rear strap has something akin to a snake skin pattern, and this also helps keep the gun in your hand under recoil.

The grips are from VZ, and made out of OD green G-10 material – almost bulletproof. I considered replacing these grips with my own designed “Code Zero” 1911 grips, however, these VZ grips just seem to work on this gun.

The magazine well is slightly beveled for a faster reload. In the past, I had tried some of the aftermarket extended magazine wells, and none of them worked as well as I liked. I can do a speed reload in under a second and a half…and I’d sure better be behind cover at that point.

The three-hole, match-grade trigger, breaks cleanly at 4 pounds, and this is perfect for street carry if you ask me. I did Loc-Tite the trigger adjustment screw – so it won’t move under repeated recoil, and possibly tie-up the trigger so that the gun won’t fire. The magazine release is standard length – not extended. And the slide stop/release is standard length.

Each Operator comes in a cardboard box, and the gun is nestled in a nice cloth gun case inside, plus two 8-round Mec-Gar 1911 magazines are there, to round out the package.

This gun is perfectly fitted, no slack at any point – we are talking TIGHT! I’ve owned a couple of high-end 1911s from some of the famous 1911 custom makers, and none of them were as nicely fitted as this Operator is – none of them. The entire gun is Cerakote coated for a nice even finish, that will repel the elements. Now, speaking about some custom-made 1911s, they cost double what this Operator does – $1,159. So in my book, this gun is a deal. A lot of hand-fitting work went into this gun, it wasn’t simply “assembled” like so many 1911s are. The Operator is all hand-fitted.

My Shooting Tests

So, the real test is, how well does this gun shoot? Well, it’s a full-sized 1911 and weighs in at 42-ounces, so you know it will tame some of the recoil, from the stoutest loads. From Black Hills Ammunition I had every load in .45 ACP that they produce. Starting with the HoneyBadger 135-gr all copper, fluted bullet, to their 230-gr FMJ load…and there were zero malfunctions during my testing. Their 230-gr JHP +P load let you know you had a hot load. I also tested their 230-gr JHP standard pressure load – this one was pleasant to shoot. The 185-gr Barnes Tac-XP +P load is a great load for self-defense and while it is rated at +P, it was easy to handle. Their 200-gr LSEC lead match ammo was true to its name – it was super accurate. However, not the most accurate load in this gun.

I thought the HoneyBadger load was going to be the overall winner, but the good ol’ plain 230-gr FMJ load was the winner…it gave me groups close to 1.5-inches if I did my part, and that is fantastic accuracy. However, so long as I did my part, groups were kept right at near or slightly under two inches and that is about as good as I can get on the best of days. Yes, you read that correctly, a factory 1911 gave me groups around 2-inches all day long, so long as I hunkered down. Yeah, some groups were bigger, but that was attributable to me, not the gun. In all my testing, I fired well over 200 rounds. That’s a lot of ammo these days, especially since we are just starting to recover from the nation’s worst ammo drought! But the gun was just plain fun to shoot.

I carried this gun a Craft Holsters pancake hip holster and even though the gun is big and heavy, it rode nicely on my hip. This is a great holster for everyday carry. I also tested the Operator in a Blackhawk tactical thigh holster – outstanding – and this is the one you want if you’re in the military or law enforcement.

Hands down, the best 1911 I’ve ever tested and the most accurate. And, it is priced right. Yes, I know, it is still a lot of money, but worth saving up to get. You won’t find a finer factory Model 1911.

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