The Springfield Armory Garrison 1911.

“A fighting handgun should have everything you need and nothing you don’t!” I scribbled those words down during my first visit to Gunsite in 1981. Jeff Cooper, a retired Marine Lt. Colonel and founder of American Pistol Institute (now known simply as Gunsite) addressed our class as to what was needed on a fighting 1911. “Fundamentally, a worthy 1911 needs good sights, a good trigger and an extended thumb safety.” Forty years later those words still ring true, and I have to wonder if the folks at Springfield Armory had the good Colonel in mind when it designed the new Garrison.

Springfield Armory Garrison 1911

Last week I received a sample of the Garrison and true to form, it has everything a 1911 should have for carry and defense use. Starting with its low-profile combat sights, a 4.5-pound trigger and an extended thumb safety, the gun also features a high-sweep beavertail grip safety. If you do lots of shooting or anticipate taking a class, like at Gunsite, where you’ll fire a lot of rounds over a short period, a beavertail grip safety will eliminate “hammer bite” and make your shooting experience much more comfortable.

Springfield will be offering the Garrison in both blued and stainless-steel versions, and I received the latter for evaluation. It’s a handsome gun with the flats polished bright and the curved surfaces bead blasted. Only forgings are used for Springfield’s frame, slide and barrel components and these parts possess a tighter grain structure than cast parts and this guarantees a longer service life. Fit of the slide to frame is impeccable and wobble free. Its extended thumb safety disengages as crisply as the trigger breaks.

The Stuff You Need

The 5-inch barrel is also machined from a stainless-steel forging and is rifled with a 1:16” twist. It is throated from 3 o’clock to 9 and polished for flawless feeding, as is the frame’s feed ramp. Springfield uses a standard recoil spring guide on the Garrison rather than a full-length recoil spring guide rod. In my estimation its omission sacrifices nothing in terms of reliability. I once asked a group of dedicated 1911 experts if they had ever witnessed a 1911 failure that would have been prevented with a full-length rod. After a few moments of contemplation, they all shook their heads no.

The author testing the Garrison.

The Garrison uses a one-piece, Novak-style, rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage. Its front sight is narrow enough that I can see light on both sides when centered in the rear sight notch. That was a huge help in shooting groups!

On a warm November Arizona morning I made the hour-long drive south, from Tucson to Sonoita to shoot the Garrison for groups. I set my targets up at 25 yards and fired five shots to a group. Then I fired three groups with each ammunition and the smallest group is reflected in my accuracy chart.

Rounds Downrange

I fired groups with six different loads through the Garrison and my aggregate group size was just 1.23 inches! That left me pretty impressed with Springfield Armory’s latest offering! Remington’s 230-grain Golden Saber rounds produced the very best group placing five shots into a neat cluster that measured just .83-inch center to center! Speer’s Gold Dot G2 +P rounds were nearly as accurate and produced a whopping 497 foot-pounds of energy! Hornady’s Critical Duty +P 220-grain FlexLock round churned up 498 foot-pounds of energy. I do have to admit, however, these two loads were a handful to shoot from the bench, especially when I was concentrating on the sights while pressing the trigger. In comparison, the Golden Sabers were a pleasure to shoot.

I also had a chance that day to shoot some steel with the Garrison and I found it to handle extremely well, and the full-size gun made shooting double taps and controlled pairs easy. Through it all the Garrison ate up everything I fed it and never once burped!

The Garrison comes in both stainless and blued.

Here’s the best part, the suggested retail price for the stainless-steel version of the Garrison is just $849! But you understand how this works and chances are you’ll find it at your local gun shop for substantially less. Right out of the box the Garrison makes a wonderful carry or home defense gun, but it is also the perfect platform for the basis of a custom 1911. Even at its full retail price the Garrison represents a tremendous value for anyone looking for a gun completely made in the USA, possessing the accuracy and reliability needed for personal protection!

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Accuracy Results

Handload-200-gr. Laser-Cast RN, WW231 Powder8803431.56″
DoubleTap 200-gr. FMJ RN8963561.40″
Federal Punch 230-gr. JHP8833981.06″
Hornady Critical Duty +P, 220-gr. FlexLock1,0104981.65″
Remington 230-gr. Golden Saber Brass Jacketed HP900413.83″
Speer Gold Dot G2 +P 200-gr. 1,058497.86″

Springfield Armory Garrison Specs

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Operation: Locked Breech, Semi-Automatic
  • Overall Capacity: 7+1
  • Construction: Forged Stainless Steel
  • Overall Length: 8.6 jnches
  • Height: 5.5 inches
  • Overall Weight: 37 ounces
  • Barrel: Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, 1:16″ Twist
  • Sights: Low-Profile Combat 3-Dot
  • Grips: Thinline Laminate
  • MSRP: $849 (Stainless), $800 (Blued)

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