Any Experiences with Springfield Champion .45?


January 14, 2010, 06:19 AM
I posted something earlier asking about a fair price on a Champion .45 but got no responses so thought I'd ask something more short and basic.

Anyone have any experience with Springfield's Champion .45 (believe it's the 4" barrel). There's one for sale used at a local gun shop for around $425, but I don't know much about them, nor do I know if it's from their "loaded" line or not.

Any thoughts, feedback on the Champion line would be appreciated. I won't post again on this but thought I'd try one more time.

Take care all and have a great day!

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Dr.Mall Ninja
January 14, 2010, 06:21 AM there is one for sale here for 900 bucks, if its the same gun buy it, you cant really go wrong with any Springfield for 425

January 14, 2010, 10:52 AM
I have 4 SA 1911's including a SA Loaded LTWT Champion Operator. It's one of my favorite 1911's. It’s accurate, reliable, controllable and comfortable to shoot. It was about $900 when I purchased it a few years ago. I suspect that the Champion that you’re looking at for $425 is probably the GI/Mil spec model. They don’t offer the features the loaded series have, but they’re nice pistols for the price. I believe that a new Champion GI/Mil spec model can be purchased for $500-$600. Springfield Armory offers a lifetime warranty and some of the best customer service in the business.

The loaded features include: Precision-fit forged frames, slides and barrels; Flat, serrated mainspring housing; Lowered and flared ejection port; Delta lightweight hammer; Loaded chamber indicator; Titanium firing pin; Carry Bevel Treatment; Ambidextrous thumb safety; High-Hand Beavertail Grip Safety; Torx-head grip screws; Lightweight, adjustable speed trigger.

January 14, 2010, 11:47 AM
I had one of the early GI Champions. For the first year or so it worked well for the most part, but right before I got rid of it, it started having feeding issues, which may or may not have been spring related, but I dont know for sure. It was shot a fair amount over that year. At that point I was pretty burnt out on the 1911's, so I didnt feel like bothering with it and just got rid of it. It always shot well, and had a decent trigger.

The thing I didnt like about it was its spring set up. It had a cheesy little piece of plastic that was the "take down tool", and it was easily lost, and you basically needed the clip to take the gun apart. I dont know why they just didnt put a hole in the rod so you could put a paper clip in it like the others of the type. Maybe they have since.

For the 1/4" difference from the Commander, I dont really see bothering with the Champion. You'll never notice the difference anywhere but the take down.

January 14, 2010, 01:05 PM
Thanks for the quick responses. I imagine it is probably the GI model, but is there some way to know for sure? The original grips are gone, and I know it just had "Champion" on the side. Is there some designation that denotes the "loaded" options? Also, FWIW it's stainless and that's kind of nice...definitely has some wear but I think it would polish up nicely and make a fun recreation and occasional CC gun.

January 14, 2010, 01:25 PM
If I'm not mistaken the "champion" is basically the same as the colt "commander" model or just a four inch 1911. I bought a champion GI model a few years back and use it as my "tinkering" gun. I doctored it quite a bit and learned a lot about 1911's by doing it. It is still one of my favorites. The only drawback I can think of is that it's heavy for it's size. I have a full size Kimber that actually weighs less than my SA champion.

January 14, 2010, 05:34 PM
I imagine it is probably the GI model, but is there some way to know for sure?

I edited my post to include the loaded features on my Champion Operator. You may want to visit the springfield armory website. They have photos and details on each series. You might also ask the shop owner if the seller provided the container the pistol arrived in. It would have the model number on it. With it Springfield armory could identify it for you.

January 14, 2010, 07:44 PM
Unless they have changed them, the "GI" version looks like a standard GI 1911A1, just shorter by an inch. Same finish, same GI sights, standard grip safety, and a set of walnut "diamond" grips with the letters US in the center of the panels.

Like this.....

Full Metal Jacket
January 14, 2010, 09:36 PM
dead reliable tac driver :D

January 14, 2010, 11:18 PM
EAJ (and others): Beautiful guns...thanks for the responses.

Hey, I believe (and I'll check for sure tomorrow) that the gun I was looking at has an ambidextrous safety...did any GI models have that? I'm also going to get the serial number and call SA up--talked with them today and they told me they give me info about it with the serial number.

Thanks all...regardless of whether it's the GI model or not I'm leaning towards it...can never have too many 1911s I don't think. :)

January 14, 2010, 11:46 PM
The drawback with the GI model is that it has GI sights. They are very small and hard to use. Besides the sights, the other features of the fancier models are something I can live without. You could probably get basic three dot sights installed for $100 or less. You could afford that at the price offered.

January 15, 2010, 01:22 AM
Mine is a early loaded model. I would trust my life with it and I do use it for a carry gun. It is accurate enough but not a tack driver. I have put somewhere around 8,000 rounds through it and only had failures due to tinkering with reloads or a bad mag. I don't think you could go wrong with $425. My slide is a little loose now but it still functions and is good enough. For daily carry this is my go to gun.

The loose slide helped me convince my wife that I needed an new pistol. I ended up getting a Fusion Firearms and that IS a tack driver.

January 15, 2010, 08:11 AM
I think $425 is a fantastic price for a Loaded Champion and very good price on the GI Champion, depending on condition. I have a Loaded model that has been 100% since I purchased it a couple of years ago. Accurate, well-balanced and reliable...just what I was looking for when I bought it.

January 15, 2010, 08:42 AM
I had a GI Champion as my first 1911. If it has the smaller ejection port, it's a GI. If it has the enlarged EP and better sights, it's a Mil-Spec.

The GI Champion was a competent pistol, and really helped shape my likes/dislikes about 1911s. I discovered I didn't like 1911A1s with the smaller EP, arched mainspring housing and short trigger. Between it, and the Kimber Pro I had, I also discovered I don't like 4" bull barrels that you need a plastic clip (SA) or a paper clip (Kimber) to disassemble. I much prefer a true 4.25" Commander size with a bushing.

$425 is a good price on a used one though.

January 15, 2010, 02:23 PM
I don't have any special tool to field strip my Champion. It has a bull barrel and it comes apart real easy. The only plastic tool that was in the box was an orange chamber flag.

January 15, 2010, 02:24 PM
Thanks for all the advice and input. Turns out the gun is a Loaded Champion, and it's in pretty good shape. Shot it and gives a tight grouping...definitely been used but as much as anything I think it needs a good cleaning. One of the owners of the gunshop told me he was going to buy it himself but a used Gold Cup came in that he bought instead. Anyway, it feels good and I've got that 1911 Love back...and hopefully $465 is a fair price for a stainless Loaded Champion.

Thanks again guys, and have a good day!

Full Metal Jacket
January 15, 2010, 03:08 PM
I don't like 4" bull barrels that you need a plastic clip (SA)

i've never used the plastic clip to takedown my champion operator. you don't need to use it. it takes down like any standard 1911.

not sure, but the same probably goes for kimber.

January 15, 2010, 03:33 PM
They dont take down like a GM or Commander. They dont have a standard plug and spring, nor do they have a bushing, which retains the plug and spring.

Mine used the little clip to retain the spring while you were taking the gun down. My Kmber used a paperclip or a piece of wire, as it had a hole in the guide rod for that purpose, something I wish the Springfied had.

January 15, 2010, 07:06 PM
The bull barreled Champions are easier to take down than a government model, and you absolutely do not need any plastic tool to get it done.

pull the slide back
remove the slide stop
pull the slide off
lift the back of the guide rod and remove the entire assembly
reverse for assembly
Not complicated at all and I can do it in half the time it takes for the standard setup.

January 15, 2010, 07:24 PM
I've taken 1911's with a FLGR down like that too, some were easy, some not. I never tried it with my Champion, as it was a lot easier with the clip, and thats how they have/had it done in the manual. At least there wasnt a fight that way.

I believe all the Champions have the bull barrel, including the GI version. The lack of a bushing with those models makes the front of the slide seem all that much sharper too. It was one of the things I found annoying with the gun. A bevel cut on the end of the slide would make it a lot more holster friendly.

January 15, 2010, 07:35 PM
The bull barreled Champions are easier to take down than a government model, and you absolutely do not need any plastic tool to get it done.

* pull the slide back
* remove the slide stop
* pull the slide off
* lift the back of the guide rod and remove the entire assembly
* reverse for assembly

Not complicated at all and I can do it in half the time it takes for the standard setup.

The downside might be re-installing the slide stop against recoil spring pressure, especially if you have older, "less functioning" hands. Holding the slide back with one hand while inserting the slide stop so it "pops" into "battery" could work or the slide stop might just take a trip across the slide or frame and give it a nice scratch. I found the clips to be advantageous due to hands and fingers that don't work as well as they did 30-40 years ago.

The slide stops on both of my former Springfield's required a punch to remove plunger pressure so the SS could be inserted. I did this mod on both slide stops and it worked great:

Springfield will send the plastic clips for free. Ask for two of them and this will line the slide stop up with the notch in the slide. Also, interesting things to know: if the pistol hasn't been "bubba smithed" the warranty should follow the pistol. They have a habit of paying shipping both ways for covered warranty problems. (The did on my LW Champion.) Springfield has very good warranty and customer service and the dual recoil spring setup should be good for around 30,000 rounds (per Springfield's answer to my e-mail.)

January 15, 2010, 08:06 PM
Well, I just got done with about 90 minutes of scrubbing with 0000 steel wool and some Flitz (which is amazing stuff by the way). I'm amazed how well the gun cleaned up with not too much effort (just put on some nice music, got a glass of cold Diet Coke, and went at it). No clip or anything needed; it took down very easily and quickly.

And the Springfield Armory folks are as nice as I've read on THR; I called them and explained the situation and they're sending out the owner's booklet and other materials that originally came with the gun (previous owner evidently didn't keep them). I also bought some SA grips (the right ones for the gun) for ~$35. All in all, seems to be working out pretty well...made my day!

I'll try to load a picture (hopefully it works; haven't tried it before). The light is low so the trigger, etc. doesn't look as shiny as it actually is. And thanks to those who helped with their input and perspective. Take care!

P.S. Okay, I'm actually very comfortable with technology but having a hard time getting the image to just show up...apologies and I'll figure it out, but you can click for the image below. Thanks again guys!


January 15, 2010, 11:21 PM
Very nice, rockhound, and you got a heck of a deal on that gun.

January 15, 2010, 11:26 PM
Thanks Az_imuth, I think I did okay as well. Plus, I just like (and had forgotten) how nice a good 1911 can feel. I really like shooting my XDM .40 but there's something about that heavy freakin' 1911 that I like.

By the way, the recoil spring in my Champion is really strong, much stronger than my Colt Government Model. Not sure if my Colt spring needs replaced and/or if the SA spring is either really stiff or maybe was replaced. Was your stock spring really stiff?

January 16, 2010, 07:20 AM
Yes, the springs seem a lot stiffer than the ones on the 5 inch models. Yours does still have the dual spring setup, right? I know some people have changed theirs out for other options, but I think I'll keep mine the way it is since it works so well for me.

January 16, 2010, 10:16 AM
If you get a cone or "bull" barreled Springer Champion that comes with a FLGR, just dump the guide rod for a reverse recoil plug, a short GI spring guide, and get a Wolff recoil spring. Problem solved.

January 16, 2010, 10:30 AM
Az, I'm not sure if it's the dual spring setup or not...I don't have the manual yet but I'll do some checking...the dual spring wasn't the main spring assembly was it? I know when taking it apart there was just the one main spring...sorry to sound ignorant but I'm learning.

And Boats, I need to research more so I can understand what you does have a FLGR (full length guide rod??), so I'll check with some folks and see about what you've mentioned. Bottom line is that I just want to make sure it cycles through all different kinds of ammo (including middle of the range range/plinking reloads).

Nice gun though, and I'm still smiling. One can probably have too many 1911s, but I don't know what that number is yet (and it sure as heck isn't 2!).


January 16, 2010, 11:47 AM
The dual spring system has two springs, a small diameter spring inside of a larger one.

Also, the SA 1911 manual can be downloaded using the button to the lower left of this page:

Full Metal Jacket
January 16, 2010, 02:17 PM
don't change your dual recoil spring assembly to a gi one. this system works great at reducing recoil, frame wear, and doesn't complicate takedown one bit.

leave it alone.

January 16, 2010, 02:43 PM
Thanks for the info, guys, and I'll check it when I clean it today (I want to run a box or two of ammo through it). I just briefly reviewed the online manual, but it seemed like my Champion disassembles a bit differently than what's shown. Once I take the spring (or springs :) ) out, I just pop a little bushing out from under the barrel then remove the barrel. Pretty simple.

Anyway, thanks again for the usual THR and its members have been incredibly helpful!

January 16, 2010, 04:17 PM
Love my champion , got it in trade with Crimson Trace grips . The sights are marginal , but it shoots well and is a great carry option .

January 16, 2010, 06:27 PM
Congrats, glad to read it worked out for you. The only downside to owning a 1911 is that itís difficult to stop at just one. Enjoy your new pistol. :)

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