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Springfield Armory Range Officer - a review

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by G27RR, Mar 5, 2011.

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  1. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    There's a new Range Officer in Town

    [​IMG]

    Springfield Armory has been making a number of value oriented 1911s for quite a while now. These G.I. and Loaded models have been good sellers and target two of the more common segments of the mass produced 1911 market - those wanting a plain, World War II style pistol, and those wanting some more user friendly upgrades.

    Springfield also has a higher end lineup. You may not find these in the firearms department of your typical big box store, but many a local gun shop carries them. The Trophy Match and TRP pistols offer more refinement and hand fitting than the G.I. and Loaded models. For the ultimate Springfield offerings, get in touch with the Springfield Armory Custom Shop (SACS) and they’ll build you something to suit your personal tastes.

    In the past, if you wanted some of the higher end features but in a pistol more in the "Loaded" price range, you might have looked somewhere other than Springfield Armory (SA). Springfield says that has changed with their new Range Officer model.

    The Range Officer concept, according to Springfield’s advertisements, is to allow someone interested in competition to buy an affordable, entry-level pistol that is competitive right out of the box. The Range Officer is very similar to their Loaded models, but with the promise of "Trophy Match/TRP quality levels.” This means that some of the same slide, frame, and barrel fitting that go into their higher end pistols is supposed to be in the Range Officer model.

    SARAAdUnpacking800600.jpg

    For quite some time I have wanted a 1911 more along the traditional G.I. lines (low key finish, no front cocking serrations, etc.). However, I knew I probably wouldn’t shoot it all that often, and was unlikely to consider it for concealed carry, if I didn’t change some things. I would probably have wanted to add a beavertail style grip safety, a commander type hammer, and maybe an extended thumb safety.

    Well, that didn’t make much sense to me from a cost or effort perspective, so I put off getting a 1911 of that sort – until I saw the new Range Officer. It was a good blend of old and new, accuracy and reliability, and so on. The price seemed about right - $740 in my case, so I bought one to commemorate my wedding anniversary this year. (seems like a good excuse for a new pistol, right?)

    SAROwmagsincarrier.jpg

    Out of the box, it comes with two blued seven round magazines, a holster, a dual magazine carrier, two keys for the internal locking system, and a couple tools as you can see above. However, the grip screws are Torx and it didn’t come with a Torx driver. Not a big deal but it would have been nice. There is no bushing wrench, either, but the fit on my pistol was just on the right side of not needing one. On we go to the pistol itself.

    The full size frame and slide are forged from carbon steel and have a parkerized finish. No full length guide rod here - a standard guide rod and plug are used. The slide features a lowered and flared ejection port for more reliable cycling.

    Fully adjustable, low profile, BoMar-style target sights are atop the slide and are a good setup for competition and range use. If you want to conceal carry this pistol, you may want a fixed sight design* that is less likely to snag, scratch, or lose adjustment, and you may want to consider a set of tritium night sights. You may also want to upgrade your belt to one designed for carry, if you don't already have one, because like all full size steel 1911s this is a heavy pistol to wear all day. Unloaded, the Range Officer weighs in at 40 ounces, or two and a half pounds.

    The frame features a checkered polymer main spring housing, plain front strap, checkered cocobolo grips, a lightweight speed trigger, extended thumb safety, high rise beavertail grip safety, and skeletonized hammer.

    SAROfieldstrippedetc800600.jpg

    Enough with the specs, does it live up to the billing of TRP/Trophy levels without some of the “extras” that drive up the price? The answer is, it depends on what you consider “extras.” The rear of the extractor on mine is proud of the slide by at least 1/8”, which is very apparent to the eye. While this does not affect function, it detracts from the sense of quality in my mind. My STIs, Colts, and Kimber aren’t like that.

    The other aspect that detracts from the feeling of quality is the fairly prominent tooling marks on the inside of the slide and frame. These are also quite noticeable to the eye, more so than competitive models from the Colt or STI. They haven’t affected reliability in my pistol, but they do give a slightly gritty feel to the action of the slide while hand cycling the pistol. There are no tooling marks on the outside of the pistol, so you won’t notice this until you disassemble the pistol. The thumb safety also had a slight grittiness to it, although that is slowly going away with use (along with the slightly gritty slide action).

    SAROCloseupsFittingFinishing800600.jpg

    On the plus side, the rest of the pistol had little to nitpick. The Parkerizing was nice and even, the barrel to bushing fit was nice and tight, but not quite to the point where you would absolutely have to use a bushing wrench for takedown. The feed ramp had a nice polish, and I had no trouble chambering any of the FMJ ammunition I have used to date.

    SAROrampILSmagwell800600.jpg

    How does it handle? The Range Officer handles quite well, with one exception that may or may not bother or affect you. The edges of the rear sight blade are fairly sharp. This makes it a little more difficult to comfortably do the overhand slingshot chambering method I am used to using. I am considering swapping out the rear sight, or possibly easing the edges to take the sharpness off.

    How does the Range Officer shoot? Since Springfield has brought the Range Officer to market as an entry-level competition pistol, it ought to shoot pretty well, right? Well, I am happy to report that mine does. The only open lane at the range was the 15 yard line. I didn’t shoot from a rest for group size, but I shot well enough offhand for another shooter to come up and ask what I was shooting and compliment me on my accuracy.

    I found it a little easier to shoot more precisely at that distance than with some of my other pistols, possibly because of the target style sights. The heft of a full size steel 1911 also makes quick follow up shots easier due to less muzzle flip and lower felt recoil.

    Is it reliable? I don’t have a complete answer yet, as I have only shot 150 rounds in the 24 hours I have had the pistol. I shot 100 rounds of PMC Bronze, followed by 50 rounds of Blazer, and they were all 230 grain FMJ. All 150 rounds loaded, fired and ejected their casings without a hitch. The lack of ejection problems does go to show that the untrimmed rear end of the extractor had no affect on reliability.

    I used the two factory mags, which aren’t the highest quality but they do work, and two eight round Wilson mags. The Wilsons are much easier to load, and much smoother, despite the extra round of capacity. I alternated between all four of the magazines and they all worked flawlessly.

    Would I recommend the Range Officer? My early indications are a good but qualified yes. As long as you can get it for about $740 give or take, and you can live without a couple little finishing details, it’s a pretty good choice. It’s also one of the seemingly few new model 1911s coming out today without the trendy front cocking serrations.

    If you intend to compete with it, it’s probably a good starter pistol. I have no reason to suspect it wouldn’t be accurate enough or reliable enough. The forged slide and frame should make a good base for upgrades if you decide you need or want them later on. On the other hand, options are out there, too.

    If you intend to carry it, or use it for home defense, you should consider changing at least the rear sight so you don’t tear up your side, your holster, or your clothing on the target sight. It could also be difficult to see the black against black sight picture with the target style sights if you find yourself in a low light situation. Another option would be keeping the sights and adding a Crimson Trace lasergrip.

    If you’re planning on using the holster and/or magazine carrier, be sure to loosen the tension screws before inserting your pistol or the magazines, and then make your tension adjustment from there. If you don’t, it is possible to either mar your pistol’s finish, or stretch and/or break the injection molded plastic gear. You should only need to make this adjustment one time unless it loosens up.

    If you want to use this as a range pistol, you should be good to go right out of the box. Who knows, you may even shoot so well with it that you, too, wind up with a new acquaintance at the range.

    *Rear sight has an LPA cut. One replacement available is the Harrison Extreme Service Rear Sight (HD-002 standard / HD-002-T2 night sight), which is CNC machined with 50 lpi serrations in the rear to prevent glare, and a squared off front face to allow one-handed operation of your 1911 by using it against the edge of a table or other item. About $70 / $125 from http://shop.harrisoncustom.com



    Springfield Armory 1911A1 "Range Officer"

    Model: PI9128LP

    Caliber: .45ACP

    Frame: Forged carbon steel
    Government sized

    Slide: Forged carbon steel
    Lowered and flared ejection port

    Barrel: 5" Stainless steel match grade

    Trigger: Lightweight speed trigger
    5-6 lb factory weight
    Cross drilled, 3 holes

    Mainspring Housing: Checkered

    External Safety: Extended thumb safety, single side

    Grip Safety: High rise beavertail

    Sights: Fully adjustable, low profile, target sights (rear has LPA cut)

    Guide rod: Standard GI length with plug

    Hammer: "Delta" skeletonized lightweight hammer

    Grips: Cocobolo with Springfield's "Crossed Cannons" logo, torx screws

    Capacity: 7 + 1 (8 + 1 with 3rd party magazines)

    Magazine: (2) 7 round magazines included, blued finish

    Other: Made to Springfield's Trophy Match/TRP quality levels
    Slide, frame, and barrel have extra fitting performed at the factory
    Designed as an affordable, entry-level competition pistol
    Fewer "extras" to keep the price down
    Injection molded holster and magazine carrier included in plastic/foam case
    Smooth front strap
    Beveled magazine well
    "Loaded" coupon for discounted Springfield accessories & merchandise

    Finish: Parkerized

    Length: 8.5"

    Height: 5.5"

    Weight: 40 ounces, unloaded

    Point of manufacture: Brazil and United States

    Warranty: Limited lifetime

    Website: http://www.springfieldarmory.com

    MSRP: about $940
     
  2. george d dennis

    george d dennis Member

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    wonderful write up

    thankyou
     
  3. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

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    I'll be picking up a RO from my FFL in a couple of hours...........I'll post some pics and review the same areas to see if there is any difference on mine.
     
  4. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Thanks, glad you liked it.
     
  5. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    That will be interesting to see, thanks.

    I have been hearing, now that I've looked into it some more, that the extractor is often not flush on the Springfields, but that mine is more pronounced than usual even for a Springer. It doesn't affect function so far, so I'm not inclined to mess with it for now.
     
  6. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    I noticed something when I cleaned it yesterday - the numbers scribed into the slide (last three digits of the serial #) may have been part of the cause of the grittiness I felt when hand cycling before I had shot it. That spot had felt rough (as you'd expect, somewhat) to the touch before shooting, and now it is no longer rough and you can see shinier spots where the high edges were worn down. You can of course still feel the depressions, they just feel smoother now.

    IMG_1840.jpg

    Here are some more pictures of the pistol after shooting 150 rounds of FMJ (nothing unexpected)...

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  7. actionflies

    actionflies Member

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    Good review! I think this will be a hit for SA.
     
  8. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Member

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    Excellent review. I've had my eye on one.
     
  9. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

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    Haven't had time to shoot it or take pics, but I will say that there are about 5, very light scratches on the slide. I have had it soaking in oil for the past 24 hours.........if they don't "rub out/in" it's going back to Springfield. (Also not too happy with the trigger and the frame/slide fit.

    More to come later........
     
  10. 38 Super Fan

    38 Super Fan member

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    Outstanding review. :)
     
  11. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Thanks again for the compliments.
     
  12. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Boy, sorry to hear that. Mine is tighter than I was expecting, and had a surprisingly flawless finish. From everything I've heard, Springfield takes care of people, though.
     
  13. viking499

    viking499 Member

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    Do they make a version of the Range Officer without the adjustable rear sight? Same quality as the RO, but with a fixed rear or low profile sight? Or is it easy to swap out the rear sight?
     
  14. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Just so you folk's will know, we have had some SA 1911's on back order for
    over five years; with NO end in sight~! :uhoh: :eek: :(
     
  15. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    They don't make one yet. Not sure if they plan to do so. The rear sight swap to a Harrison should be close to fitting easily, but I have heard from one or two that have done it that they needed to very lightly stone the bottom of the sight for it to slide in. (You don't want to stone the pistol, only the sight). I am thinking of swapping mine out, but I don't have another 1911 with target sights so it is also tempting to just leave them.
     
  16. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Are you talking about the low production models like the Professional ("FBI gun"), or standard models?
     
  17. viking499

    viking499 Member

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    I don't either, all mine are fixed. Don't know if I would like an adjustable rear sight or not. It looks big, bulky and snaggy to me.

    How do others like the adjustable rear on a 1911?
     
  18. 38 Super Fan

    38 Super Fan member

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    I don't think the wait on any of their custom shop guns is that long, even the Pro. :confused:
     
  19. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Well, I decided to try out the Harrison Extreme Service fixed rear sight on my Range Officer and placed an order for it today. A review will follow once I have it installed and tested. For now, see the manufacturer's description below.

    0000261_300-1.jpg

    The rugged HD-002 Extreme Service fixed rear sight is available plain black. It fits 1911 slides machined to mount the LPA adjustable rear sight as used by Springfield Armory and other 1911 manufacturers. The HD-002 is CNC machined and incorporates the most*desirable*features in a 1911 rear sight. The rear blade is serrated 50 lpi to reduce glare and reflection. All edges and corners are machine radiused for handling, carrying and operational comfort. The front face of the sight is squared to allow one-handed operation. The notch dimensions are .135" x .125" to allow adequate light into the sight picture, assuring a rapid sight acquisition and alignment. The HD-002 has become a favorite for use in custom installations, due to it's good looks and balanced proportions. The HD-002 will often regulate with the OEM front sight, or with new installations in the range from .170" to .200", depending on the pistol.

    Fits all Springfield Armory models with adjustable sights, (except TRP Operator - see HD-001) including the new Range Officer. Also fits some models of Para-Ordnance, Charles Daly, STI Spartan and other pistols machined for the LPA adjustable rear sight.
     
  20. tmoore912

    tmoore912 Member

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    You have done a very nice review by the way.

    That number on the bottom of the slide should or could be the match grade number SA uses when building match grade guns. They pair up the slide and frame early on in the build cycle and brand them with matching numbers so they will always stay together throughout the build. They do this with the barrel too. You should be able to find those same numbers scribed on the frame and barrel somewhere.

    I had the same numbers scribed on the slide, frame, barrel, ejector, extractor and bushing of my Springfield TGO II. The number matched the last three numbers in the serial number on my gun.

    IMG_1758.jpg

    IMG_2219-1.jpg

    I'm looking forward too your review with the Harrison rear sight.
     
  21. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Those TGOs are nice!

    Pics of the new Larry Davidson grips on my RO. Couldn't decide which one to go with without seeing them on the pistol. The extra set will go on one of my other 1911s.

    Black and tan wyrms

    IMG_2043.jpg

    IMG_2048.jpg

    Black wyrms

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    IMG_2068.jpg
     
  22. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Member

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    Does the adjustable rear sight from a R.O. fit on a Loaded Springfield? It looks too long.
     
  23. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    Not sure what sight cut Springfield puts on the Loaded models. You need an LPA cut.
     
  24. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    The Harrison Extreme Duty rear sight is now on my RO. Here are some pictures. More info to follow.

    HD002SAROrtcloseup2.jpg

    SAROwHD002rightside6.jpg

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    HD002ltrearqtrcloseup.jpg

    SAROslidewHD002leftfront2.jpg

    HD0023qtr.jpg
     
  25. G27RR

    G27RR Member

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    SAROwHD002800600.jpg

    This review will cover the Harrison Extreme Service rear sight and the UNI-2ooL Universal Sight Mover I used to install it on my Springfield 1911. But first, a little background on why I changed the sight in the first place.

    I bought one of the new Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911-A1 pistols in February 2011. According to Springfield, the Range Officer was created with the idea of offering an affordable, factory production 1911 that was still capable of winning shooting competitions. The idea was to get a pistol in the hands of those wanting to try competition shooting, with enough features to help them win and a solid enough base that they could further customize it if they so desired.

    The Range Officer accomplishes that goal. It comes with low profile, fully adjustable target sights. That's good for a competitor because it is easy to finely tune it to sync up with a particular load the shooter favors. However, what's good for target shooting may not be so good for concealed carry or other uses.

    The problem is the rear target sight. A target sight is typically made up of angular pieces, which can more easily snag on clothing or other objects. The adjustments are set and kept using screws. In a pistol carried daily, it is more likely that these screws could loosen over time, which could throw your sights off. Finally, target sights are a little more prone to breakage because they are made up of multiple pieces.

    Since I am not going to compete or limit myself to target shooting with my Range Officer, I needed to solve those problems while keeping the other great features of the pistol intact. I looked into various sights that would fit the LPA cut Springfield uses with the rear target sight. I chose the Harrison Extreme Service rear sight (model HD-002) as a replacement.

    The Extreme Service sight is a one piece, CNC machined, low profile rear sight. It has 50 LPI (lines per inch) serrations cut into the rear to reduce the chance of glare affecting your sight picture. The blade has a squared off front face that you can use against the end of a table, counter, or whatever to operate your pistol one-handed (right there you know that this sight is more rugged than an adjustable sight - try doing that with an adjustable target sight and you may break part of it off in the process).

    All of the edges and corners were treated to radius cuts during the machining process, so they are much more comfortable while handling, concealed carrying, and operating the pistol. If you want, you can even get night sight models with tritium inserts. They are currently available in either the 3-dot style or the single dot Heinie Straight-8 style.

    Since this will not be primarily a carry pistol, I chose the standard sight without an insert and saved a little money. If I had changed the rear to tritium, I would have needed a tritium front sight to make proper use of the design.

    My impressions of the sight are that is machined well, looks good, and adds different functionality while losing the original target sight's adjustability. I didn't need to make any kind of fitting adjustments to the sight during the installation process. It is a tight fit, as it should be, so you will want to use an installation tool designed for the purpose if you do it yourself. It has a wide notch just like the rear target sight, so you have essentially the same sight picture. The only complaint so far is that the matte black finish seems to possibly be a little bit thin. There were some wear marks on mine where it rubber against its plastic bag. Otherwise, I am very happy with this sight.

    To install the Harrison Extreme Service rear sight, I first needed to remove the existing target sight from my Springfield without damaging anything. To accomplish that, I ordered a UNI-200L Universal Sight Mover from Brownell's.

    Why buy a slide pusher instead of having a gunsmith install my sight? Well, as a woodworker and mechanically-inclined kind of guy, if I anticipate needing a tool more than once I usually go ahead and buy it. That saves money in the long run. First, you have the right tool for the job, which saves time and reduces the chance of fouling up your project. Second, you can use that tool over and over again for the one-time upfront cost of buying it the first time. Finally, you effectively pay for the tool after a few uses by not having to hire anyone.

    The UNI-2ooL is machined from heavy bar stock steel, and features coated jaw faces to reduce the chance of damaging either the pistol or the sights during the installation process. It is capable of removing and installing both front and rear dovetailed sights on the majority of semi-automatic pistol slides. It comes with an installation video on DVD, a vinyl fabric lined storage case, and an instruction sheet.

    If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the video is worth 10,000. If you watch the video, you probably won't even need the instruction sheet. Here are a few cautions I'd like to stress. Make sure the padding that should be stuck to the clamp jaws is in place so that you don't leave marks on your slide. You should also make sure there are no other objects, such as grit, on either the slide or clamp pads so it doesn't get ground into your slide. Also, when lining things up, make sure that neither the front nor rear set of pushers will contact any part of the slide itself. It may take some effort to begin to move the sight, but don't over do it if it doesn't seem to be working. You may be trying to move it in the wrong direction and you don't want to damage anything. If it's not working, stop and re-evaluate and maybe break out the written instructions.

    The tool is very easy to use, you just need to lock your slide into place in line with the sight pushers and tighten down the two clamps. Then you just take your time to lineup the correct set of pushers connected to the top steel bar with the lowest point on the dovetail portion of your sight as you can without having it contact the slide at any point. Turn the handle to move the sight in the proper direction for removal (may vary by firearm manufacturer) until the sight is free of the slide.

    Remove your slide at this point and start the new sight into the dovetail by hand. Return the sight to the Uni-200L and lock it into place. Turn the handle the opposite direction and push your new sight into the dovetail. When you have it centered, you're now good to go and your new sight is installed. The Harrison sight has a set screw in the top to help secure it in place, so tighten that down but don't over do it or you will possibly damage the slide underneath.

    Okay, that's it. Installation should be about a 5 minute process if you're used to doing things like this. If not, take some extra time to make sure you don't damage anything.

    In closing, I highly recommend both the Harrison Extreme Service rear sight (HD-002) and the Uni-200L Universal Sight Mover.



    Harrison Extreme Service rear sight (HD-002)

    Features: fits the LPA style cut (common on Springfield Armory and other 1911s with target sights)
    CNC machined with 50 LPI serrations on the rear to reduce glare
    squared off front face of the rear blade allows one-handed operation of the pistol
    all edges and corners are machine radiused for handling, carrying, & operational comfort
    rear notch dimensions 0.135" x 0.125" to allow adequate light for rapid sight picture
    often regulates with OEM front sights that range from 0.170" to 0.200"
    also available with tritium inserts

    Finish: black

    Price: $67.95 + shipping

    Website: http://shop.harrisoncustom.com


    HD002closeups8006002.jpg


    UNI-200L Universal Sight Mover

    Features: adjusts both front and rear dovetail sights on semi-automatic pistols
    steel frame and inserts are machined from heavy bar stock
    coated jaw faces reduce the chance of damage to pistol and/or sights

    Price: about $160 + shipping

    Website: http://www.brownells.com (see item 080-000-688)

    Uni-200LSAROsightswap800600.jpg
     
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