When it comes to handguns, everyone has a favorite. There are a few I respect for service grade reliability. I give a picayune nod to the big bore revolver, but the 1911 is a handgun that fits my world view. On more than one occasion, the 1911 has adjudicated an argument in my favor. On a personal level, the 1911 has defended me against adversaries with a ferocious enmity toward me, for no other reason than I was attempting to put and end to an illustrious criminal rampage. Those who have vigor and proficiency at arms will find the 1911 is a great fighting handgun.
The 1911s good features are obvious to anyone who understands handgun geometry. The trigger offers a straight to the rear compression, affording both good control and accuracy potential. The slide sits low in the hand, resulting in a low bore axis. There is little leverage for the muzzle to rise in recoil.
The grip fits most hands well. The fit of the 1911, compared to handguns with an oversized double-column magazine is barely comparable, because the 1911 fits most hands so well. The 1911’s controls are a marvel of human engineering. The slide lock safety, magazine release and slide lock are all within easy reach of the average to short finger size. The slide lock safety offers cocked and locked, hammer to the rear carry.
When the safety is disengaged we have a smooth straight to the rear trigger press. The grip safety must be depressed to allow the trigger to drop the hammer. While the safety features of the type are impressive, there is nothing to impede a brilliantly fast and accurate first shot.
The 1911 is relatively flat, allowing good concealment in a proper holster. A great advantage of the 1911 is the big bore cartridge. The .45 ACP operates at low pressure, resulting in long firearms life. Accuracy potential is high.
The .45 ACP often demonstrates a full powder burn. The muzzle signature is muted, with perhaps a few sparks in service loadings. There have been complex formulas contrived to attempt to demonstrate that small bore cartridges have parity with the .45 caliber in wound ballistics. Historical verdicts and common sense prevailed and today’s professionals realize that such claims are absurd. The .45 is the superior service cartridge for well-trained individuals.
In my youth, the only 1911s available were Colts and poorly made Spanish ironmongery. Today, there are a number of makers producing high quality 1911 handguns. The first real competitor to Colt came when Springfield introduced its GI pistol. The 1911 A1 proved to be well made of good material. Just the same, Springfield gradually increased quality and also introduced new models with features demanded by the buying public.
Speed safeties, high visibility sights, and ambidextrous safety levers were among these improvements. Many shooters are familiar with the Springfield Loaded Model, a pistol that incorporates a combination of features that makes the Loaded Model among the best buys in modern 1911 handguns. There is little to be desired with the Loaded Model. The limiting factor is the skill of the user.
A few years ago, Springfield engaged in a rigorous competition. The FBI was choosing a modern, reliable, and accurate 1911-type handgun for issue to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), and SWAT trained officers. The end product was the winning Springfield Professional.
This handgun finished a grueling 20,000 round test without a single malfunction—while maintaining a 1.25-inch average for a five-shot groups at 25 yards. The Springfield Professional is beyond question the most proven of all modern 1911 handguns. The pistol is offered commercially as the Professional Model. A combination of features including a match grade Nowlin barrel and superb handfit make the Professional a very desirable handgun.
Today, with the hunger for 1911s seemingly insatiable, sales of the Professional are good, but limited by production methods and the price of the Professional. A considerable amount of hand fitting goes into the pistol. They simply cannot be built any other way. For those like myself, who desire a good 1911 and have a strong suppitional belief in the type, the wait and expense are reasonable.
Just the same after waiting 36 months and spending over $2,000 for the Professional handgun, a good solid custom shop handgun such as the Tactical Response Pistol is attractive. The TRP is a top grade 1911 but just a notch or two downscale from the Professional. The TRP is much closer to the Professional than the Loaded Model in fit, feel and performance. You cannot upgrade the Loaded Model to TRP status.
The TRP features Novak sights with tritium inserts. The slide features a lowered, scalloped ejection port, and forward cocking serrations. The pistol features a very tight lock up. The beavertail safety is well designed, serving to funnel the hand into the grip and accenting the already low bore axis. The ambidextrous safety strongly resembles the classic Armand Swenson design. The pistol combines considerable flair with practical utility.
Trigger compression is set at a smooth five pounds. The magazine funnel is the classic Smith and Alexander. The magazine funnel is a considerable aid in rapid magazine changes. While we may not be called upon to reload under fire very often, the magazine chute makes for much more positive administrative handling in all conditions.
The front strap is checkered in a custom grade 20 LPI. This is raspier than the more common 30 LPI and may demand gloves for long practice sessions. The 1911-man’s attention is arrested by such features. This is a far different handgun than the 1911s I handled as an inquisitive teenager. Today, no other handgun suits me as well as the 1911. My passions are stubborn but sound.
Despite a permanent stamp of enthusiasm for the 1911, I demand much from each new handgun. An appraisal of the TRP shows that the pistol is tight, very tight. Some effort is required to rack the slide. Such attention to fit is necessary for the level of repeatable accuracy demanded of the TRP. Good fit also results in less eccentric wear and less slop, the reason a high end pistol such as the TRP has a predicted long life.
I began the firing test by lubricating the long bearing surfaces of the pistol. The TRP is supplied with two magazines, so I supplemented these magazines with MecGar magazines. I negotiated the test with an eclectic supply of cast bullet handloads and factory jacketed and jacketed hollow point loads. My 1911s run on good cast bullet handloads and so should yours.
I used the Magnus cast bullets 200-grain SWC and enough WW 231 powder to break 890 fps. This is a proven accurate combination. During the first few magazines fired, the slide needed to be nudged forward to fully lock up, but once the break in was over, the pistol never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.
The principles of marksmanship are proved by the exception, but experience is the chief essential. With attention to detail, the TRP proved very accurate. Initial accuracy work showed the pistol capable of two-inch, 5-shot groups or less at 25 yards with the Magnus bullet load. Switching to handloads using the Hornady 200-grain XTP at 950 fps, the pistol continued to feed smoothly and gave good results in rapid combat drills. The TRP is solid in the hand and navigates combat courses seamlessly. The 1911 has adjudicated more disputes than we care to imagine, and what the GI pistol did, the TRP will do even better.
I had on hand a box of left over loads of every description, including Hornady loads from the 200-grain XTP and 200-grain TAP to the 230-grain XTP +P. These were digested with equal function. While recoil was greater with the +P loads, at no time did I find the pistol difficult to control.
The TRP is equally at home in fast shooting, accurate off-hand shooting or from the barricade position. The TRP sits well in the hand, offering excellent balance. While the forward gripstrap checkering is appropriately raspy, at no time was the grip uncomfortable. If I were attending a training class that demanded 1,000 rounds to be fired in a compressed time frame, I would opt for Gripswell shooting gloves.
The G10 grips are cut away to allow rapid magazine button manipulation. The TRP cannot be faulted on attention to detail. As I experienced good results with the point of aim and point of impact relationship, I built excellent confidence in the possibility of long range hits with the pistol.
The TRP delivered good performance. While designed for service use the pistol is suitable for competition and given proper leather, concealed carry. The TRP is a pistol that encourages shooting. You have got to see what it will do and the rewards are there are those willing to master the piece. It is interesting that Springfield was once an upstart company that now is regarded as an old line company by most shooters.
Another old line and respected company is Galco. I used the Galco N3 inside the waistband holster during the evaluation and adopted it for concealed carry. The N3 presents the grip at the ideal angle for a sharp draw and makes for comfortable concealed carry with its twin belt loops and strong spine.
After months of evaluation, I find a great 1911 in the TRP. The pistol embraces theory hammered out on the anvil of experience. This is a handgun that demands the most from the operator and delivers the goods in return.
Accuracy and Velocity Testing
Chronograph Testing With Competition Electronics Chrono, 10 Feet From Muzzle
Accuracy from a solid bench rest firing position at 25 yards, using the Bullshooters firing rest, firing two five-shot groups
|Browning 230-grain FMJ Flatpoint||873 fps||2.5 inches|
|Federal 230-grain MATCH||821 fps||1.8 inches|
|Gorilla Ammunition FBI||799 fps||2.0 inches|
|Hornady 185-grain XTP||880 fps||2.0 inches|
|Hornady 200-grain XTP||920 fps||1.9 inches|
|Winchester 1911 230-grain JHP||830 fps||2.25 inches|
|Winchester 230-grain PDX||860 fps||2.1 inches|
Have you fired the Springfield TRP? What was your impression? What is your favorite 1911 handgun? Share your answers in the comment section.