The Springfield Professional Model has been the choice of the FBI regional SWAT teams since 1998. I am impressed with the number of models along with the quality and performance of Springfield’s line of 1911s. As most readers remember, the Professional model is a limited production pistol that is hand built in Springfield’s Custom Shop. The majority of the production goes to fill government agency contracts with a small number being allotted to dealers. It should come as no surprise that the demand for the Professional far outstrips the supply and there is a two-year backlog of orders.
However, for those who want a quality, duty-ready 1911 without a long wait, there is another option. Perhaps the unsung hero of Springfield’s entire line of 1911s is the Springfield TRP (Tactical Response Pistol). According to Springfield’s website, “The TRP standard line is designed around the same specifications as the FBI contract pistol the Professional Model. It offers nearly the same performance at a fraction of the cost.” I called Dave Williams, director of the Custom Shop, to get the full story on the TRP. Williams pointed out that the TRP is not a Custom Shop product. However, it is hand built by some of Springfield’s most experienced gunsmiths.
According to Williams, Springfield TRP production starts in a similar manner as the Professional. The gunsmith receives a semi-finished, hand-forged National Match frame and slide, and individually cut the rails, drill the pinholes, and fit the slide by hand lapping it to the frame. The result of this attention is a slide to frame fit that has zero vertical or horizontal play. The TRP has a match-grade Springfield barrel that is fitted to a match-grade bushing making the pistol more than capable of providing superb accuracy and reliability. The match grade trigger is aluminum and fitted with an overtravel stop. The trigger pull on my sample broke cleanly at 4.5 pounds with no overtravel. As with the Professional, the TRP features a magazine well extension, checkered front strap, beavertail grip safety, and ambidextrous extended safety. The grips are unique to the TRP line. They are made from a G10 composite with a snakeskin like texture and feature a relief cut on the left panel to improve access to the magazine release.
My only complaint is that the TRP comes with a two-piece full-length recoil spring guide. However, a quick call to Brownells will have the system replaced with a standard length guide and plug. It is an easy fix and well worth the call.
Currently, the TRP is available in three different models. The standard TRP is equipped with Springfield low profile combat sights and is available in either stainless steel or with Springfield’s proprietary black Armory Kote. Armory Koting is very similar to Birdsong’s Black-T in that it provides both extended protection and lubricity. The finish on the test TRP was smooth and very consistent. The stainless model is mechanically identical to the Armory Kote model except it is polished and matte stainless. The third model is the TRP Light Rail model. The Light Rail model has a forged steel National Match frame with an integral accessory rail and is similar to the Pro Rail and the MC Operator. However, instead of being fixed, the light rail model features a low-profile adjustable sight with tritium inserts. The Light Rail is also finished in black Armory Kote. When I ordered a TRP to test, I knew that I would be carrying the pistol a good bit and therefore ordered that standard model with the Armory Kote.
Like other Springfield pistols, the TRP comes in a hard shell case that is lockable and suitable for storage and transportation. Two of Springfield’s excellent stainless steel 7-shot magazines with bumper pads are provided. I have been running Springfield magazines in my MC Operator and a LW Champion for several years and have never had a problem. A molded holster, double magazine pouch, and bore brush round out the accessories.
On the range, the TRP could be described as boringly reliable. It ran with every load we tried. The TRP’s slide to frame fit was tight but not overly so. I was able to set up my rest at 25 yards to see what kind of real accuracy the TRP was capable of. With 230-grain Remington Golden Saber, four shots of the five shots were touching with one called flyer. The extreme spread of the group was a mere 1.25 inches including the flyer. Bear in mind that this was from an honest 25 yards, not feet. This is outstanding accuracy from a production pistol and is a tribute to the attention to detail that Springfield Armory takes in assembling the TRP’s.
When you first handle the TRP the 20 lines-per-inch (lpi) checkering on the front strap can feel a little sharp. However, once on the range, running the gun it is forgotten about. From 7 yards, one of the shooters was able to run double taps with a 0.30 of a second split with both shots being within 3 inches of each other.
For concealment, I carried the TRP in my well-worn Sparks Executive Companion IWB holster. The Executive is very thin and the wings smooth the profile and act as a foundation to anchor the holster inside the pants. During the range trips, we used a BlackHawk SERPA and a Tactical SERPA. The Tactical SERPA features a “Y” harness that distributes the weight on the waistband. The SERPA retention device offers positive retention as well as a very intuitive release during the draw stroke.
If you carry a gun, you need to carry a light. For the past several months I have been testing the Tomahawk ST from First-Light USA. First-Light came on the scene several years ago with the Liberator light that mounts to the back of the hand and allows for hand-free use. It is a radical departure from the traditional “tube light” and takes some getting used to. The Tomahawk is made from aerospace-grade aluminum and has a lot of features and power. It measures 3.4 inches in height and provides a whopping 120 lumens of light. The Tomahawk is held by placing the index finger through a ring mounted on the front of the light. The ring will allow the light to rotate for individual alignment of the beam. A control panel on the top of the light is activated by the user’s thumb with switch options to control a constant on, momentary activation, or a strobe feature. The electronics will allow the user to default to three different output settings when the constant switch is activated. A spring clip on the rear of the light allows the light to be attached to MOLLE loops, a belt or a pocket. Other models are available with auxiliary LED lamps that provide multi-color beam options. The Tomahawk has become one of my “go to” lights when things go bump in the night.
The TRP is perhaps the best value pistol on the market today. It is constructed of quality materials, and the fit and finish rival many custom pistols. The accuracy is exceptional and our test pistol would probably pass the FBI accuracy requirement for the Professional Model. The Armory Kote has proven to be a very tough finish and is slightly harder than Black-T. I have found that it tends to wear a little better than Black-T under harsh conditions. Were you to buy a basic 1911 and ask a custom shop to bring it up to TRP standards, you would exceed the retail price of the TRP by several hundred dollars.
Dave Williams summed it up when he said that Springfield could sell two to three times as many TRPs a year if they had them. However, the current staffing and other demands on the factory will not allow this increase without sacrificing quality, something Springfield will not do.
It is no wonder that demand for the TRP continues to grow. While Springfield has requested that specific customers or agencies not be listed, it is fair to say that the TRP is carried by serious people who are in harm’s way on a daily basis. Teams have found that they can rely on the TRP to carry them to the fight and bring them home. The TRP is good to go.
The Springfield Professional Model has been the choice of the FBI regional SWAT teams…
by Combat Handguns / Feb 2, 2009