It’s quite possibly the most tested 1911 ever. It’s certainly one of the most sought after ones. And, it’s even a bit of issued kit for the FBI’s legendary Hostage Rescue Team, 87 years after it was originally designed. It defies classification: it’s handmade by the Springfield Armory Custom Shop’s smiths, but comes with a very specific list of features. Want different ones? Then it’s not a Professional, and doesn’t get the cool serial number prefix. Or the knowledge that this pistol is built to pass one of the most ludicrous challenges ever presented to a modern handgun.
Background: The Challenge
When the HRT went looking for a sidearm, they put a ridiculous set of requirements in the RFP. They asked for a Pistol, Caliber .45, Model 1911. They wanted a 4.5 lb trigger pull (originally 5-6.5, later revised down). They wanted a warranty for 50,000 rounds. They demanded that the pistol be capable of firing three consecutive ten-shot groups from a Ransom rest no larger than 1.5 inches at 25 yards using the FBI’s .45 round of choice, Remington Golden Saber. The pistol then had to be fired for 20,000 rounds and undergo a reduction of not more than 15%. The pistol could not have a stoppage in 2,500 rounds. Only one manufacturer could make this happen–the Springfield Armory Custom Shop.
So what are the other features the FBI got in it’s pistol sans pareil? A classy matte black finish. A GI-type guide rod, none of that silly full length stuff. A skeletonized, commander-style hammer, made from hard, tool-steel. A skeletonized trigger. 20 lpi checkering on the front- and backstrap. A 5″ match grade barrel. An 18.5 lb. recoil spring. And the sort of supertight hand fitting that would make Les Baer proud. Also, the expected Novak three-dot tritium night sights.
Picking up the pistol, the first thing one notices is the 20 lpi checkering. It is sharp. It does not let go. You grip the gun, and she grips you right back. Some might not like this. Some might say they don’t need a pistol that may as well have a barbed grip. Those people are not me. I like a very aggressive texture on my grips, but if you prefer your hands not be heavily callused, you may wish to use gloves. The beavertail grip safety works as intended, and I haven’t been able to get it to not engage with any sort of weird, half-assed grip that I’ve tried. The thumb safety goes on and off crisply, and is small. Small so you won’t bump it accidentally. Small so it won’t dig into your side when you carry the gun. I’m fine with this.
The trigger. Oh, the trigger. This was made for insufferable trigger snobs like me. This is why people say that the 1911 is ‘God’s gift to gunnies’. It is so wonderful. It has the tiniest bit of takeup, and then a crisp break. Insert metaphors about breaking a glass rod here. It’s fantastic–and this from a guy who’s spent many hours with the finely-tuned hair-trigger of an olympic-grade air pistol. Unlike that, this pistol does not have a hair trigger. It will not go off if you brush your finger on it. But it will go off with just a little bit of pressure, so don’t be thinking about shooting until you want to be shooting.
Fit and Finish
Tight. Really tight. Between a lockup tighter than a bank vault and that 18.5 pound recoil spring, the first time racking the slide will make you question your manhood. It’s okay. Grunt. Curse. Breathe. You’ll get it. And no, you’re not getting the Pro apart without the use of that bushing wrench. That’s why they gave you one. It’ll loosen up some with use. It’s okay. That’s the point. It’s supposed to be like that. Go run your new gun. Your hands will thank you, and you’ll enjoy it.
The Black-T finish on the gun is classy. It’s subtle. It’s not inherently gorgeous like the carbonic blue on my old Model 29, but it’s very nice. It doesn’t really have imperfections, just a smooth matte finish that is designed to take some abuse. So what are we waiting for, let’s go shoot it!
Shooting the Professional
A crisp 4 pound trigger on gun that weighs somewhat north of two pounds loaded? Yeah, this gun makes you look good. This gun makes you look like you know what you’re doing, even if you suck. It’s all steel construction means that it soaks up recoil from the big, beefy .45 rounds. And one of the few benefits of the single stack design is that it fits everybody’s hands. And that trigger makes you want to keep shooting. It does however expect and demand that you have good trigger control. Try to live up to the Professional rollmark on the slide. Breathe. Fundamentals. It will magnify any errors you have in your technique, and put them on display for all to see. And you’ll come to appreciate that 20 lpi checkering, since it means the gun goes absolutely nowhere, despite firing big .45 rounds downrange. Before long, you’ll wish the magazines held more.
The Professional comes with six magazines, made by Metalform. 1911s being what they are, there are many different magazine designs out there for them. They only hold seven rounds, because seven round 1911 magazines are more reliable than the alternatives in general. This is as good a time as any to bring up a few annoyances of modern 1911s. Many different magazine variations means you need to find the one(s) your gun likes. And you need to keep an eye on them, because they do wear out. Being steel framed, 1911s run best with lubrication.
At this price point, those are about all the annoyances that there are. The price sucks, but if ever you got what you paid for, this is it. It ran great from the moment it left the box. The Professional is a joy to shoot.