Springfield 1911A1: GI, Mil Spec, or Loaded?


November 1, 2007, 06:14 PM
I'm not rich... far from it. I probably shouldn't buy another gun... but I really want a 1911 sometime in the not to far off future. I'm pretty set on the Springfields. Should I buy a GI, Mil - Spec, or Loaded?

How much of a difference does the accurized barrel in the Loaded model make? How expensive and difficult is it to upgrade the Mil-Spec or GI later? Any advice for me?

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November 1, 2007, 06:22 PM
You have to ask yourself what features do you really want and what are you trying to make this pistol do. The price of "upgrading" a 1911 depends entirely on what you want to put in it. "Upgrading" is subjective. People have their own ideas on what makes the "perfect" 1911. Hence "custom". I'm personally more of a GI-type 1911 fan and the only customizations I like are sights and grips.

Since price is an issue and you just want a 1911, start off with a GI or Mil-Spec and see if you really like them and you'll get a better idea after familiarizing yourself with the pistol on what you want to do with it.

November 1, 2007, 06:34 PM
I bought a Mil Spec not long ago. The difference for me is that the GI sights are borderline non-functional while the Mil-spec sights are just fine. The Mil-spec exhibits pretty good accuracy right out of the box, but if it doesn't satisfy you, you can just get a tighter barrel bushing for around $25, and it'll shoot about as well as any other non-custom 1911 will out of the box. The barrel on it has plenty of accuracy potential.

November 1, 2007, 06:40 PM
I know this not on your list but you may want to look at them because you said:
I'm not rich... far from it. I probably shouldn't buy another gun... but I really want a 1911 sometime in the not to far off future.

That being said then you should look at the Taurus PT 1911.

I'm waiting for the Sainless to come out and I'll be getting one of those also.

November 1, 2007, 07:02 PM
I would suggest that you get the Mil-Spec because it has all the main performance "upgrades" done to it already without changing the no-nonsense charachter of the pistol.

Just the better sights on the Mil-Spec is worth the extra bit of cash you pay for it but you also get lowered ejection port, polished & throated barrel ramp & magazine bevel. It is definitely cheaper to get these as part of the package rather than pay a smith to do this later- it could cost another couple of hundred dollars worth of labor.

Don't think the "loaded" is worth it. By the time you are familiar with your Mil-Spec, you should know what you want done to it in terms of upgrades. -You may feel that you don't need anymore upgrades at all.

Getting a Match barrel really depends on what type of shooting you plan on doing. If you want to seriously compete, then you should be getting a different gun altogether.

November 1, 2007, 07:07 PM
Get the milspec and fix it up like you and your wallet likes

November 1, 2007, 07:36 PM
I have the LDA Bi-tone model with night sights. I love this pistol. Noticeably lighter than the traditional 1911's. Very balanced with a loaded mag.


November 1, 2007, 07:49 PM
If you get a GI or a Milspec, you will spend more money on mods to get it up to par with a Loaded (less money when you get the Loaded at the get go). This is why I chose Loaded (better value if you are going to modify your Milspec or GI anyhow).

November 1, 2007, 07:54 PM
For the extra features you get I would go with the loaded. It would cost you more then the difference in price to have all these added

November 1, 2007, 08:18 PM
The Taurus 1911s (of recent vintage) are getting very good reviews; it seems they are competitively priced, too. Good luck.

USMC Tanker
November 1, 2007, 08:43 PM
Based on your parameters (low budget) that narrowed it down to the Mil Spec and GI IMO.

I have, love, and shoot the hell out of my GI. I got the GI to build something like what my father would have carried in Vietnam and what my grandfathers carried in WWII. I'm going to get a Loaded also, but the tribute was more important so I got the GI first.

For the money, the GI is a great pistol. It groups well, functions great, and despite being a reproduction, feels like a part of history. Keep in mind, the GI is more of a combat pistol (hit a man sized target and kill it) and not a target pistol. IMO, the sights on the GI are it's only downfall, but hey...that's what the grunts had!

For someone who just wants a good shooter, with decent sights, a few upgraded features, and is reasonably priced, I think the Mil Spec is your best option.

Nothing wrong with the Loaded though, just be prepared for fork over some more dough.

Ala Dan
November 1, 2007, 09:55 PM
Springfield's MIL-SPEC :scrutiny: ;) :D :cool:

November 1, 2007, 11:26 PM
Little Or No Money
Springfield's MIL-SPEC


Noww on sale at www.budsgunshop.com $600 delivered No interest No payments for 90 days can't beat that.


November 1, 2007, 11:55 PM
Been shooting 1911s since 1959, when $25 would buy a nice GI pistol with some ammo money left over.

Picked up a Mil-Spec a while back. Only significant change I made was fitting up a slightly higher front sight in a dovetail cut to zero it where I wanted. that done, it shoots very well. Good sights, good trigger. I see no need to muck it up.

November 2, 2007, 12:18 AM
The GI is good, but if sights are important, get the Mil-Spec. I personally think the GI sights are usable and an important part of the classic shape/function, but I won't lie, they are not for everyone.

Don't buy a Springfield to modify because the Loaded is basically everything that people would do to it, but already done and for less money than modding a pistol. Modding a pistol to make it yours is nice, but not if you are strapped for cash.

November 2, 2007, 01:55 AM
If you're low on funds and you want it soon, get the GI and spend the money later for something high end when you can afford it.

If I was going to save up for a little while, I'd get the Mil-Spec only because the features on the Loaded don't really appeal to me

November 2, 2007, 02:42 AM
GI gets my vote.

November 2, 2007, 02:58 AM
...the Mil-Specs' I've seen or bought, are usually better fitted and have a stainless one-piece barrel...shoot to point of aim, have sights that work for Ex and tend to be better regulated than the Loadeds...I don't care for the Novaks that came on my loaded models and they all needed assistance to shoot POA/POI...The loaded parts were just not as well fitted or as durable on the samples I had...YMMV

November 2, 2007, 05:37 AM
I say go for the Mil-Spec. Shoot it a while and see what you need changed on it if anything. I bought an NM prefixed Mil-Spec that comes with the one-piece stainless barrel, stainless bushing and undercut front sight. I shot it for a while then sent it to the Springfield Custom Shop for the following; beavertail, skeleton hammer, extended thumb safety, 10-8 Performance Rear Sight, 10-8 Performance Long Solid trigger, 4.5# action job, polish the ramp and throat and reparkerize the whole gun. I paid $366 for the gun and $420 for the parts and mods. So for $786 I got a great 1911 with parts that were hand fitted, the sights I wanted and no forward cocking serrations.

November 2, 2007, 05:52 AM
Here it is, but it's a poor pic.

November 2, 2007, 06:23 AM
If you want a beavertail, extended safety and "Novak" type sights, you'll save a lot of money buying the loaded...without question!!

November 2, 2007, 06:48 AM

November 2, 2007, 07:42 AM
Have you had a chance to shoot both a Mil spec and a more tricked out 1911? You may want to give it a try. One difference you'll notice is the Mil spec has an arched main spring housing which is just the ticket for me. The Loaded models come with a flat mainspring housing which I don't care for personally, but alot of people prefer it. The Loaded models also tend to come with a long trigger while the Mil specs have a short trigger. It's sort of a toss up for me, but to some people it makes a bigger difference. Same thing goes with the extended beavertail grip safety. I like them pretty well for a range gun, but for everything else, I prefer a mil-spec type grip safety. For some people though, the mil-spec causes them to get hammer bite if they have larger or chubbier hands (my hands are on the large side, no problems). The extended safety lever is the same way.

Basically what I'm trying to illustrate is that all the bells and whistles aren't necessarily better for everyone. They do alter the feel of the pistol, so you'll want to handle both of them, preferably in live fire, and decide which fits you better. My first 1911 actually had all the bells and whistles, and I spent a little bit on some of the parts to convert them back towards a Mil-spec configuration, just because it's more comfortable for me. You'll have to decide for yourself what style you prefer based on more than just cosmetic considerations.

November 2, 2007, 12:17 PM
Have the 5" GI-45 and the 4" Loaded Champion.

The sights are tiny on the GI-45, while the Champion has the Novak night sights.

Don't have the "Mil-Spec" version, but as I understand it has better sights and the lowered/flared ejection port.

So, it boils down to YOUR preferences & budget.

even with the tiny sights, I prefer the size/feel of the GI-45 over the smaller Champion.

November 2, 2007, 02:12 PM
Springfield Mil-Spec if you are low on funds. Skip the GI. At least splurge enough to upgrade to the Mil-Spec.

November 2, 2007, 03:21 PM
The GI is good, but if sights are important, get the Mil-Spec. I personally think the GI sights are usable and an important part of the classic shape/function, but I won't lie, they are not for everyone.

Don't buy a Springfield to modify because the Loaded is basically everything that people would do to it, but already done and for less money than modding a pistol. Modding a pistol to make it yours is nice, but not if you are strapped for cash.

Plus 1 here. I own and love my GI-45. It is an enjoyable gun to shoot but it is not a target pistol. The Mil-spec is kind of a compromise with better sights the main thing, and the loaded is well... loaded.

If basic is all you want the Rock Island Armory 1911's actually get pretty good reviews. No personal experience but many THR posters have given them thumbs up. Somewhere on THR I followed a link to a gun-mag article where a Kimber, RIA, and one other 1911 were put thru a real torture test (buried in mud, etc and then fired). The Rocks apparently held up as well as the more expensive makes.

November 3, 2007, 10:52 AM
I have an Operator, by far the best shooting handgun I own. I always save it for last when shooting at the range because I shoot the best with it and I can go home feeling good!

November 3, 2007, 01:08 PM
You are going to get as many different answers with justifiable rationales as there are different people. You must decide what you want.

If you are a traditionalist, the GI45 is your ticket. It's also (IMHO) the best deal going on a 1911.

If you just want a capable 1911 without a lot of flash, just a couple of upgrades, the Mil-Spec might be what you want, although a GI45 would fill that bill too, if you shoot OK with military sights.

If you want a swoop-de-doo type gun with all the doo-dads, then a Loaded is the least expensive route from Springfield, compared to "upgrading" a GI45 or Mil-Spec.

If you are the type of guy that enjoys working on things, then a GI45 or a Mil-Spec and a Brownell's catalog would give you a sense of accomplishment as well as a depleted billfold. If you drive a self built hot rod or a scratch built Harley, this would be a natural choice.

If you are the type of guy that hires someone else to change your oil, then a Loaded is probably a better choice.

If you drive a 1949 DeSoto, definitely get a GI45.

95% of a gun's accuracy is in the shooter. A world class shooter can take a GI45 and wax almost anybody's tail with it at the range, just as Eddie Van Halen can take an acoustic guitar and outplay the guy at the local coffee house.

I am not certain whether the three choices have different barrels. I thought the barrels did not change until you got to the Trophy Match and TRP. I could be wrong though. My NM serialed Mil-Spec came new with a stainless bushing and a two piece barrel. I replaced the bushing with a fitted King's bushing, and I doubt I will ever outshoot the gun.

I have not owned a Loaded. I always customized my own, mainly Colts when I wanted that type of gun. That way, I got exactly what I wanted. I also own a couple of GI45s and a Mil-Spec. All are modified. All shoot well, and each is reliable. I have to admit, I fell into three SW1911s that I have not altered too much. It's tough to make a swoop-de-doo gun into anything other than what it is. A basic 1911 is a blank canvas though.

The source of your enjoyment may vary.

November 3, 2007, 01:57 PM
Not to digress--but just what *does* the SA "NM" prefix mean?
Anyone know for certain? My park'd SA (bought in '91) has it. It was prior to the 'mil-spec' offering, but I've basically modfied it close to that style over the years.

Apart from that, mil-spec. And save a few bucks for good mags.

November 3, 2007, 05:47 PM
Unless I'm mistaken, the NM serial simply means the pistol was finished in the US.

November 3, 2007, 05:53 PM
If you are the type of guy that hires someone else to change your oil, then a Loaded is probably a better choice.

Ouch. Not because I don't change my own oil (I work on diesels lol) but because I want to buy a Loaded or Operator in the future.:D:D:D:D:D

November 3, 2007, 06:11 PM
A world class shooter can take a GI45 and wax almost anybody's tail with it at the range, just as Eddie Van Halen can take an acoustic guitar and outplay the guy at the local coffee house.
and a pro pool player can beat your pants off with a broom stick. :D

November 3, 2007, 07:03 PM
Not to digress--but just what *does* the SA "NM" prefix mean?

The slide and frame were imported as raw forgings and machined and finished here.

November 3, 2007, 07:26 PM
I own the Loaded because I'm a lefty and wanted the ambi safety right out of the box. The beavertail was a close second on my list. That said, I voted mil-spec for many of the reasons already mentioned. And though this is subjective, I think it's lack of front slide serrations make it prettier.

November 3, 2007, 11:19 PM
Thanks--that is an odd practice when on the planet (in the gun world) Earth 'NM' usually means national match--and when did the company crest/logo change from using the rather factual date of 1974 to the one that implies a direct lineal tie to the SA Mass ('Since 1794')? I like SA and they have treated me well--but they lay it on a bit.

November 6, 2007, 10:11 PM
I sold my Glock SF21, and spent the loot on a stainless combat Springfield Loaded. The gun is sick!!!!
I am shooting 1-1 1/4 inch groups at 25 yards.
I just bought a Nowlin Match barrel for it and I hope to be under 1 inch.
This gun out shoots my Sig P220, it is by far the best .45 I have owned.
I have put everything down it from Gold dots, to Powerball. I have even fed it SWC. without one problem....
Awesome Gun and what I now carry everyday. I know that it is the best tool for my job. But what it all comes down to is what is best for you, and how you plan to shoot the weapon. I don't have the cash for the Professional, but I still need a top shooter. PLUS I have never built my own .45s . I had always carried a Glock or a Sig in 45 or 10mm. But after shooting a friends loaded I SOLD MY GLOCK. Don't get me wrong in the bronx I bring my Glock 20, 15 rounds of 10mm just makes me feel all warm and cozy. When I should have crap running down my leg. The others are right in if you have the time and know how you can build yourself an awesome gun, but if you like me and just want a out of the box shooter the loaded is it. GunBlast.com did a review of the loaded. Give it a look. Also because I work at night most of the time I put a laser grip on mine. There are better guns out there, but for what I have to spend the Loaded has been great, but give that review a read. Peace<}}}><
Salt and Light

November 6, 2007, 11:17 PM
I went with the PT1911 as well but the Loaded in SS is an awesome 1911!

November 7, 2007, 08:50 AM
I really think this depends on what you intend to use the pistol for. If it's going to be a plinker/paper puncher, and you mostly want the nostalgia of a 1911, go with the GI. If you ever intend to use it for HD/SD, get one with better sights, (either the Loaded or the Mil-Spec). My recommendation, however, is to look at the Taurus PT1911. I know you say you're pretty set on Springfield, but you also said you're on a budget. The PT1911 is a quality 1911 with much of the great features one could want. It's not the top of the line 1911, but it's likely to be much more affordable for you. Great bang for the buck. I haven't shot one yet. As a matter of fact, I haven't shot an SA yet either. Only Kimber and Colt. But I am looking at getting the Taurus right now for much the same reasons, and I've heard nothing but good things about them.

Will Learn
November 7, 2007, 10:13 AM
I've been down this road before and would advise you to get the Loaded. I sold my GI two weeks ago and have a Loaded target on order right now. I really didn't like the GI. The hammer bit into the webing of my hand and the sights were crap. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate the look of the original design but it wasn't very easy to shoot.

My friend has a Loaded Target that I handled and it feels great. I like shooting gongs at 50yds and the GI would just leave me shaking my head. I would hit the things about every time with my Sig but when I switched over to the GI I would get one hit per mag. This could be due to my lack of skill but I didn't feel like the gun fit me as well.

Another thing to consider is that if you plan to use a "high hold" on the gun you'll want a gun with a beavertail safety. The metal nubs for sights on the GI are not for me but if you plan on shooting at 25yds or under they should be okay.

Springfield armory has great warranty services and you wouldn't have to make a long distance call to Brazil to get help(I know Springfield frames are made by Imbel).

November 7, 2007, 12:30 PM
Xavier: "If you are a traditionalist, the GI45 is your ticket. It's also (IMHO) the best deal going on a 1911."

Right on! Xavier's and others' advice over the past couple of months led me to the GI, which I'm picking up tonight, $439. I'm as excited as a little girl.

It's been a strange journey. I have a family, so can't just spend anything, and wanted to get one 1911 that would be classic and typical, in case I don't ever get to buy another. For me, that meant 5" and blue for starters. I also don't dig holes in my trigger and front serrations.

I started looking at Colt, because of their quality and history. I like the reputation of the 70 series reissue, but didn't care about the safety, so why not get the 1991 and save a few bucks? Well, if it were priced at $600 I might, but 80 series government models are closer to $700 or more these days. Used Colt prices are high, even for stuff that's not LNIB or is modified. The WWI replica looks beautiful, I like the simplicity and lanyard hole, but the lowest price was $917 and I had some concern about the carbonia finish & whether I might wind up babying the piece.

Enter the Springer GI: blue, 5", lanyard hole, "U.S." stamped on the grips, associated with a glorious, victorious war effort from the greatest generation. I pick it up tonight, I'll photo 'er and give you a range report. I'd still like to own a Colt something someday, but I'm thrilled with the GI for giggles and laughs right now! Thanks Xavier and the folks here and greater gun community!

November 7, 2007, 12:36 PM
I would go for the G.I. but if you want something better out of the box, the Mil-Spec is the way to go.

I like the G.I. but like others have previously stated, the sights are small, but hey they're low profile (no snags!).

The three dot setup on the Mil-Spec is easier to pick up and align in a hurry.

I usually practice point shooting so the sights aren't much of a problem.

Black Majik
November 7, 2007, 12:46 PM
I've come to realize, if I was to have only one 1911, I would prefer to have a 1911 with the bells and whistles over a plain jane GI spec 1911. I started with a bare bones 1911 as my first pistol, a Colt Government. It satisfied me for about a year and half until I picked up a Kimber Pre-series II Classic Royal with the "goodies" on it. This gun rocked my world. The better sights over a GI style sights, the beavertail was more comfortable, and the extended thumb safety to shoot high thumb all helped my shooting by fitting me better. If I was to do it all over again, I'd get a bare model with the upgrades over a GI style pistol. S&W 1911s, SA Loaded, Kimber Custom II, or even a Taurus PT1911. They'll all feel better out of the box than a plain jane SA Milspec or a Colt Government.

I still have my plain jane Colt, but it's now a dedicated .22 gun. I far prefer guns with the bells and whistles than a bare stock gun. And I recommend people to at least start with a Loaded/Custom II/S&W1911. The small price increase over a milspec model is definitely worth it for the upgrades you get. Honestly, I can't agree with buying a Milspec gun and upgrading it later. In the end you'll have spent more, and 1911 parts usually require fitting.

But as they always say, you certainly don't stop at your first 1911. You'll get more. So, sure... get a Milspec and test the waters. Or jump right in and get a Loaded/Custom II/S&W1911. Either way you can't go wrong, but the additional costs for a Loaded model is worth it for your first 1911.

Good luck!

November 7, 2007, 02:23 PM
It ultimately depends on how comfortable you are working on guns and with your hands...or if there is a reasonable smith locally that can make small basic mods for you. (and of course how many mods you want over stock) The milspec would be my choice "from what you put up there" as the hard stuff (outside of sights) is all done...a $150-200 of parts upgrades from midway and a dremel and some files and punches and a few hours of time and you could get a great gun together on a reasonable budget over time. Ultimately if you pretty much want a "loaded" gun you may as well buy a Kimber or S&W or whatever the way you want it and pay it off. I've seen some nice springfields and some not so nice ones with issues. It will be cheaper in the long run and easier if you are not handy on stuff like that to just buy a better fully rigged up gun the way you want it.

My daily cary gun started as a Springfield GI...but it was a handpicked gem...most of the recent ones have been pretty sorry (I quit ordering them actually) Kimber is still hard to beat for the money...for what you get they are really not that expensive compared to a stripped GI for (now) over $500 on average! plus you get a better slide frame and bbl with the kimber. Troll gunbroker and you can find some great deals on older safe-queens without the firing-pin safety to. Slightly used safequeens can be had for bargains in Kimbers SA ect. if you search and jump when the deals are found on GB or in local stores. Whatever you get order some wilson mags for it!

Your basic custom or procarry are hard to beat. If you can scrape up another couple or three bills the pointman from dan wesson (sold through CZ) is aa really great gun...and it looks like a $1500 gun when you get ahold of it...if only it came without the adjustable sights! But that can be changed easy enough I guess.

November 7, 2007, 02:31 PM
holy cow! that buds gunshop link shows the dan wesson (look under CZ) pointman 7 for under $800 delievered! the 10mm I orderd a customer was closer the a grand...they must have come down...it looked as good as what was at the shot show...hand fitted frame and slides and everything was really nice. For $775 that trumps the heck out of a Kimber IMHO...I didn't realize you could get one that cheap now! You're going to make ME buy one!:Dhttp://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/21_82/products_id/17997

Didn't realize it was an investment cast slide...the fit and finish sure didn't make it look or feel that way. The CZ website says " a stainless steel frame and forged stainless steel slide" so I dunno now...I guess the Kimber would still get a slight knod in that area possibnly...the PM7 was so nice though...one of the nicest production guns I've seen lately (besides Kimber) I may get one anyway myself at that price. Maybe after christmas :)

November 7, 2007, 04:57 PM
If a loaded model is in the picture go w/ that...it's already fixed up w/ all the doo-dads so in the future yo won't have to wonder about smiths or which parts to use.
IMO, a blue loaded would be the way to go :D

November 8, 2007, 09:27 AM
Picked up my new GI last night I bought on Gunbroker and had sent over to my local dealer. He liked it too, retired LE, had carried a 1911 a bunch of years, can't get them in to stock easily, and he says XDs are very difficult to get right now. Sounds to me like Springfield is doing something right.

The gun looks and feels nearly perfect. The fit is tighter than I expected. The arched housing feels great, the bluing or parkerization very even, the grips beefy and well made, the finish overall better than I expected, it may be a basic stripped model but it doesn't feel rough around the edges at all. The sights are teeny, but the thing's a freaking cannon, I can use the Mark II if I want to be Target Boy. In a perfect world, I wish they gave me an extra clip instead of the cheesy holster, but that's about it. I'm really happy with this purchase, and plan to shoot the crap out of it, and not write back again without pix. :D

November 8, 2007, 11:03 AM
I will say I'm quite partial to my Loaded. I like the novak sight picture, and not having to put night sights on was a plus. Since i have slightly fatter hands, the extended beaver tail grip safety is nice. I would recommend that, unless new is just something you have to have, go ahead and fine a used pistol in whatever one you choose. I purchased my loaded for $525 out the door with box, papers, and 2 Wilson mags.

November 8, 2007, 03:26 PM
I purchased my loaded for $525 out the door with box, papers, and 2 Wilson mags.

How long ago. Where?

November 8, 2007, 04:11 PM
I had the same question when deciding on a 1911, but I went with the GI because I wanted something simple that I could upgrade myself. The GI I think is the best deal on the market. Besides if you would want to get a Loaded, why not go for a Kimber Custom 2. And unless I'm wrong they're close to the same price and it has all the same features, plus it's match grade.

November 8, 2007, 05:14 PM
I had to make the same decision about a week ago. I am dirt freakin poor. I went with the GI model, I like the no bs look of it and the price is great. The only thing I changed was the goofy "US" grips, I got some original brown plastic ones for 10 bucks. I plan on wearing this badboy out and not worrying about scatches and holster wear. I also took the extra money I saved and got a decent CCW holster for it.

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