Very interesting piece on a very interesting pistol.
This is a discussion on SA Mil-Spec 3K Update... within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello. Several months ago I purchased a NIB Springfield Armory Mil-Spec with the parkerized finish. I have owned several Springfield Armory 1911's in the past ...
Hello. Several months ago I purchased a NIB Springfield Armory Mil-Spec with the parkerized finish. I have owned several Springfield Armory 1911's in the past and still had one, a lightweight full-size 5" gun, but was very favorably impressed in what I saw in the current production SA 1911 pattern pistols. Slide-to-frame fit was tighter and there was zero barrel-to-slide movement. I also liked the fact that SA had gone to the rounded front grip strap from the more flat version previously used.
I chose the "regular" Mil-Spec for the simple reason that I preferred the higher visibility fixed sights over the smaller GI type on what they then called the "GI Mil-Spec." Since I also reload, I figured that the lowered ejection port might result in fewer dinged cases.
What I didn't like was the standard GI grip safety and spur hammer. Though some people are not plagued with either hammer bite or wear and tear from the edges of the relatively narrow grip safety, I am not one of them. Still, for the money spent I believed it was a very good buy. (I still do.)
After a few range sessions the pistol was still in its unaltered state except that I'd slightly bobbed the hammer spur, which helped quite a bit in relieving the hammer bite problem. Before that the web between my thumb and forefinger looked like a rabid piranha in a feeding frenzy had gotten it!
The pistol digested just under 1000 rounds of assorted handloaded CRN and CSWC rounds as well as many types of factory ball and JHP ammunition. It never failed to function properly. While I greatly appreciated this, the pistol had a fairly tough and gritty trigger pull. In short, it was unacceptable for best work.
Teddy Jacobson was contacted and I wound up with replacement parts for the hammer, sear, trigger, and other internal parts that he had done his magic to. The trigger went from hard and gritty to clean and light at between 4 and 4 1/2 pounds. The wide checkered spur hammer had also been relieved and reshaped by Mr. Jacobson. This change is not obvious to the eye, but certainly is to the shooting hand: no hammer bite.
Here is the gun with the wide checkered hammer slightly bobbed and reshaped to avoid hammer bite. The rear sight is also visible. Since the sights on this particular pistol are definitely "on" for me, they'll stay as they are. One can easily see that the rear of the slide is not even close to being perfectly flush/mated to the rear of the frame nor is the rear of the extractor but this has not affected function.
The Mil-Spec is not fitted as nicely as this slowly-assembled, handfitted 1911, and between this one and it, I'd keep this one. Both have been utterly reliable and I have no doubt that this one will group tighter, but I find myself taking extra care in using this gun and pampering it due to not only the dollars spent, but time invested. For toting under the coat at night or knocking around in a rainy woods, I find myself carrying the Mil-Spec
more and more.
Since installing these upgraded parts, I've fired just over three thousand more shots through this gun and so far, zero malfunctions. As was the case before, the gun doesn't seem to "care" what the bullet profile is. The trigger pull has remained constant and the ISMI springs continue to work perfectly and without getting weaker as might others after this number of full-power loads.
The only other modifications to this Mil-Spec have been to round the edges of the GI grip safety and to replace the grips. I also replaced the mainspring housing with a checkered arched one in my parts bin.
This pistol has worked perfectly with several different makes of magazines and ammunition since the first shot.
My Mil-Spec shows centered firing pin strikes and the fixed sights are dead "on" for me at 15 yards. During a recent range session with a friend in which we were trying out a new SWC bullet, I got 50-yard groups approximately the size of an open hand. Most of that error was mine and not the pistol. Certainly this is not match gun accuracy, but this pistol serves 99.99% of what I believe I need in a "carry gun."
This slow-fire group is certainly not up to winning bullseye matches, but even with my human error in the mix, I think it demonstrates at least ample accuracy for the majority of us under field conditions.
This pistol is not nearly so elegant and beautiful as some other more expensive 1911 pattern pistols. I cannot say that it's true for others but speaking only for myself I find that I'm more likely to pamper or not use my more expensive custom 1911 pistols if there's any likelihood of rain (while hunting) or getting them dinged up. I found myself carrying the Mil-Spec more and more.
As you know, Springfield Armory 1911 pattern pistols do not have an internal firing pin safety. Other than the ability to lock the pistol via a key lock in the (removable & replaceable) mainspring housing, this company has not added more parts to pass the mandated "drop tests" required in some states before a handgun can be sold there. That does not mean that the design was unaltered. SA uses a 9mm size 1911 firing pin made of titanium in combination with a rather stiff firing pin spring to pass these tests. Though I've never had a single malfunction with this setup in my pistol, I have noticed a few "light" firing pin strikes on ammunition having harder primers such as CCI and Sellier & Bellot. Cutting to the chase, I replaced the titanium pin and its firing pin spring with a steel one of the proper diameter and a standard spring. Strikes appear deeper and more "sure" on the tougher primers causing mild concerns earlier. Do I recommend this for others? Not necessarily, but I'd rather have a pistol that I know will detonate any properly functioning primer and maybe fail a drop test than the opposite and leave this decision entirely to those contemplating it.
Do I have 1911 pattern pistols that I prefer to this one? You bet I do; some for sentimental reasons and some simply for their esthetics and proven performance.
Do I have any 1911 pattern pistols that I trust more than this one? No. All of my pistols are reliable or they are repaired or replaced. This gun has been absolutely reliable since the first shot and with its much improved trigger pull, it is an easy pistol to get the hits with both in slow-fire and at speed.
Am I saying that all Mil-Specs will perform as well as mine has for me? No, I cannot do that. In the fast-production and neck-to-neck competition in 1911 pattern pistol production, it seems that most companies are selling these type guns as quickly as they can crank them out. I think all companies let some out that don't function, as they ideally should. Though I don't like it, I have accepted it as a sad fact of life. That said, those I know who own both the "standard" Mil-Spec and the GI versions are having no problems.
The two-piece barrel in my Mil-Spec is of stainless steel and continues to work fine. Its construction doesn't bother me as I've been a Browning Hi Power shooter for decades and the Hi Power barrel is two-piece and I've never experienced a failure. If it is considered a major problem, there is no shortage of replacement 45-caliber 1911 barrels.
Three-thousand shots certainly is not any sort of torture test nor even very much shooting for many dedicated users of the 1911 including myself, but there has been no undue wear, parts breakage, or loss of accuracy.
Please do not take this any sort of criticism of more expensive 1911 pistols. It is not. It is merely a suggestion to take a look at this version of John M. Browning's classic design. I believe that it is well worth the tariff.
Nothing fancy here, but the pistol runs fine and has shown no inordinate amount of wear.
I place more value on the pistol than is reflected by the price paid…significantly more.
Very interesting piece on a very interesting pistol.
Don't you love something that Just Works.
No muss, no fuss.
Gun control is hitting what you aim at
Although I do get a bit of a chuckle at how it still sounds so easy to do even with the technical details included.
What can I say!!
Steve - once more you treat us to a report par excellence and thank you. Excellent run-thru on that gun and very useful info for anyone in the 1911 scene.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
Great timing! the SA Mil-Spec is what I've decided on as my next purchase. This report is VERY encouraging considering I'll use mine as my primary carry weapon (provided it tests out satisfactorily).
I hadn't given any thought to replacing the Ti firing pin, I'll have to make sure I run some S&B and CCI through it to see how it handles those primers - many thanks for the warning!
As always, an enjoyable and informative read. Look forward to your next report.
Well, based on your report and advice from the other good folks here, I just called my favorite shop. They've got a few in stock (new and used) so I'm going to try to check them out tomorrow morning.
Last edited by maclean3; January 31st, 2006 at 04:45 PM. Reason: added info.
good stuff as always
Great write up, my mil-spec is box stock, but I have never had any problems with it.
Hello. I just checked via email with a couple of folks in different parts of the country who recently purchased Mil-Specs (within the last year) and both report no problems with their pistols. One has shot a few hundred rounds of factory; the other around a thousand of CRN handloads.