For most of my life, about three quarters of it, I have deployed a steel frame .45 with a five inch barrel as my carry gun. When the city or county decided I should carry something else I did, but most of the time I carried a cocked and locked 1911 .45. On my own time it was always a 1911, although I admit a Commander .45 has become a favorite.
Over the years the Government Model has become less common. Various tactical models and rail guns are offered. With the Government Model at 38 ounces, a 40 to 43 ounce rail gun becomes a drag on the belt. The Government Model is controllable and handles well. The balance is excellent. There is no handgun faster to an accurate first shot than a properly carried cocked and locked 1911, in my humble opinion.
There are a very few affordable but quality 1911 pistols. It seems that the reliable types are over a thousand dollars, then there are the cheap cast frame 1911s that I would never bet my life on.
Let’s look at Springfield’s recent introduction of an affordable quality 1911.
The Springfield Garrison offers all I need in a defensive 1911 handguns: good sights, a speed safety, and a good trigger. The pistol doesn’t have night sights, a light rail, an ambidextrous safety, and other extra features some may not need.
The Springfield isn’t ‘cheap’ but at eight hundred dollars it is affordable. Specifications and tolerances of a quality handgun demand hand fitting. Hand fit and precise machine work are exhibited by the Springfield Garrison. The pistol features a hot salt blue finish. While not as durable as some modern finishes, it is a rich deep impressive finish. For a few dollars more a stainless steel version is available.
While I like the look of my blued pistol the stainless pistol probably makes more sense in a service grade handgun. The forged steel frame and slide are well finished. I like the hard fit of the barrel. The fit of the barrel bushing is snug, but not too tight for easy disassembly. The locking lugs are snug in the slide.
The slide lock safety is tight with a positive indent, no mushiness to be found. The slide lock and magazine release are positive in operation. The pistol features slim line grips. If you replace the grips you will need standard length screws and bushings as well. I like the slim line grips, they take a little getting used to. Those with larger hands may need standard grips.
The pistol features Novak style three dot sights. The Novak is the standard by which all other pistol sights are judged. Trigger compression is a smooth 6.5 pounds and tight with modest take-up, no creep, and no backlash. Reset is rapid. A sharp reset is as important in combat shooting as a smooth compression. Thankfully the pistols scroll markings are not billboard types but tastefully done. Disassembly revealed no internal tool marks and good fit. Lateral play in the slide was almost non-existent. Overall this is a nice package. The proof is in the firing.
The pistol has visited the range several times and never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Function is good and recoil is modest. While a steel frame 1911 is pleasant to use and fire, Springfield seems to have addressed recoil with a proper weight recoil spring as well. When firing the pistol slim line grips are no drawback and offer a good firing grip. However, some with larger hands may require standard size grips to ease this. If so, be certain to order standard length grip screw bushings and screws as well as mentioned earlier.
The three dot outline sights are well designed for rapid acquisition. They are also suited to precision shooting at ranges past 15 yards. In rapid fire take aim, press the trigger, then control the pistol in recoil as the trigger resets, align the sights, and get a hit. The cadence of fire is controlled not by how quickly you may pull the trigger but how quickly you are able to realign the sights after firing. While I have fired a good number of cast lead bullet handloads, I have also used a good supply of factory FMJ ammunition. These included Winchester’s 230 grain FM loading. This load burns clean and offers good practical accuracy.
Firing for accuracy from a solid bench rest at 25 yards provided good results. I used the Winchester 230 grain FMJ and Browning’s 230 grain X Bullet. The X bullet is a well designed hollow point loading that uses a combination of Winchester’s famous crease fold design, first used in the Silvertip, and an X block inside the hollow point sump that helps ensure expansion. Accuracy is service grade at the least, with the FMJ load averaging 2.65 inches for a five shot group and the Browning loading 2.5 inches. The pistol is accurate enough for most any personal defense chore.
I used the Jeffrey Custom Leather Professional holster for most of my range work. This is a first class holster with a well designed tunnel loop for belt attachment, a tension screw, and a reinforced holstering welt. This holster rides close to the body. While useful for range work this holster concealed well under a light garment. This holster rides high and offers a sharp draw.
For general purpose concealed carry when driving or riding I like the DeSantis Sky Cop cross draw. A cross draw with a proper design that offers a sharp draw is rare. The Sky Cop is among the best modern holsters and a good companion for concealed carry use. A reinforced holstering mouth and tunnel belt loop make for good utility.
The Springfield Garrison is good pistol, well made of good material. It has a consensus of good features and should prove to be an effective personal defense handgun.