Springfield Armory and I go back a long way. Not as far back as 1974, which is when Springfield was “reborn” in Geneseo, Illinois, but at least as far as 1986, when my wife placed a plain-vanilla, mil-spec, olive drab 1911 underneath the Christmas tree. I replaced the miniscule sights with ones I could actually see, then spent the next 15 years or so trying to wear the gun out or make it fail to feed, fire or eject. It was a workhorse, an absolutely reliable companion. The 1911 clearly has a strong tradition as a military pistol due these very characteristics, but in its enhanced versions, it can also serve capably as a specialized LE tactical pistol. An excellent example of this is the Springfield Loaded 1911-A1, a sample of which recently showed up at Abbott’s Farm Supply in Halifax, Virginia, for me to test out. As I opened the case, I remember thinking to myself, “This one may be hard to send back.”
The Springfield Loaded Parkerized 1911-A1, model number PX9109LP, is a solid, robust, full-sized .45 with lots of semi-custom refinements. The Parkerized finish is a dull black, and the best way to describe the look of the gun is to say it’s all business. This pistol features a 5-inch, stainless steel barrel, forged frame and slide (precision-fitted), front and rear cocking serrations, and a flat mainspring housing. The gun has no sharp edges—Springfield calls this the “carry bevel” treatment—and it wears dovetail-mounted front and rear sights. The rear sight is the low, swept-back “Novak” style, and both front and rear sights have tritium inserts. The beavertail grip safety has a small “speed bump” and the hammer is the somewhat elongated, spurless version that Springfield designates a “Delta lightweight hammer.” No danger of getting the web of your shooting hand pinched here.
The grip panels are very attractive cocobolo hardwood, nicely checkered and bearing the Springfield Crossed Cannons emblem. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and the magazine well is very slightly beveled. The long, aluminum, match-grade trigger is advertised as breaking at 5 to 6 pounds. Mine broke at 5.25 pounds when I first weighed it, but it was so crisp that I would have guessed it was much lighter. After a few hundred rounds and a thorough cleaning, the trigger got even better, dropping the hammer at exactly 4.75 pounds. It has stayed at that weight ever since.
The ambidextrous thumb safety is slightly elongated and serrated. The recoil system uses a two-piece guide rod—something with which I had no experience, and something I thought might take some getting used to. While John Browning did not design the 1911 with a full-length guide rod, folks have been experimenting with it and arguing hotly about its advantages and disadvantages for some time now. With the introduction of the two-piece rod, there is even more to argue about. A full-length guide rod may aid in accuracy and smoothness of function, as some competitive shooters believe. But it also makes disassembly and reassembly a little more complicated. A two-piece full-length guide rod is a bit easier, but it requires an Allen wrench.
In fact, all three guide rod systems (including the traditional GI) seem to work just fine, and each has its adherents and detractors. Once I got used to it, I found the two-piece system easy to work with. For what it’s worth, the new Springfield has an extraordinarily smooth action, and it works just fine. If I keep the gun, I’ll keep the two-piece guide rod.
Inside the sturdy plastic case I found a polymer holster and double magazine pouch, two of Springfield’s seven-round magazines, a cleaning brush, an instruction manual, and a sheet of coupons for discounts on other merchandise from the company. There were also a couple of keys for the Internal Locking System (which is designed to lock the action of the pistol so that it cannot be fired), one Allen wrench for taking out the two-piece guide rod, and another smaller Allen wrench for adjusting the sights. Mine needed no adjustment at all. Finally, there was a curious little L-shaped tool for removing the mainspring housing in case one should desire to do so.
This is a big, beefy handgun weighing exactly 40 ounces with an empty magazine inserted. That’s a few ounces heavier than some of John M. Browning’s variants, but the gun balances so well in the hand and rides so well in its polymer holster that the difference is not really noticeable.