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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2011 Digital Edition - Page 26

WINNINGEDGE Dave Anderson A police officer/PPC Grand Master friend borrowed the Range Officer and shot these groups from a rest at 25 yards. SOLID ADVICE TO KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION once undertook a minimalist approach to modifying a stock Series 80 Colt. Just the basics like Novak sights, beavertail, burr hammer, long trigger and an extended safety. The result was a very nice and shootable pistol for not a lot of money. I remember thinking it would be even nicer to buy such a pistol readymade, with everything you need (okay, everything I need) and no more. The Springfield Armory Range Officer is exactly such a pistol. The fact the designers agree with me on what features are essential just proves what clever people they are. Actually, if the pistol on consignment is typical, they went a little further. The slide/frame fit Range OfficeR I Springfield Armory’S is excellent and accuracy is outstanding — as in equaling some of my match pistols costing three and four times as much. The base gun is a classic, full-size 1911-A1 .45 ACP with 5" barrel. There’s a ramped, serratedpost front sight. The fully adjustable rear sight, made by Springfield, is virtually identical to the (no longer made) Bo-Mar BMCS. The sight is low-mounted in a dovetail cut for the classic “buried” look. There’s a beavertail grip safety, extended manual safety and long trigger. The flat-mainspring housing is check- The Springfield Armory Range Officer has everything needed for entry level — or even top level — competitive shooting, at a moderate price. ered. The Range Officer has match grade, stainless steel barrel and bushing. It uses the “original” recoil spring guide, magazine release and slide stop. Otherwise, the pistol is notable for what it doesn’t have. There are no front cocking serrations, no magazine loading chute, no frontstrap or triggerguard checkering, ambidextrous safety or fancy 2-tone finish. pringfield’s concept is a simple, basic but very well made pistol for newcomers to the various action/practical-pistol competitions — not just novices either. I know of veteran competitors at the Master level who bought R/O pistols as a moderately priced backup to their full-house match gun. Sometimes the backup proves to be more accurate than the match pistol. Workmanship, parts, fit and quality of the R/O are outstanding. The exceptional barrel fit, slide to frame fit, crisp operation of the controls and smooth, even finish exude quality and inspire confidence. A couple of friends who compete regularly in USPSA matches borrowed it to try out, so on top of my own shooting, I lost track of round count. I’d say it was around 600-plus rounds with no malfunctions. Accuracy was amazing. One talented shooter, shooting from a rest at 25 yards, had 5-shot groups in the 1" range, using reloads with 200-gr. lead SWC bullets. It would average 2" or better with every type of ammo tried, including hollowpoints and FMJ ball. There’s one feature I would need to change, and a couple more I’d add later. I would want to tune the trigger. It is commendably crisp and consistent, but at 6¼ pounds it is unnecessarily heavy. Personally, I like a 3-pound pull on my 1911s, and even on a defensive pistol I see no need for over 4 pounds. Many years ago, I learned some good lessons from my dad on buying equipment. If you can’t, or don’t, want to spend on exactly what you want, buy the highest quality, longest-lasting, no-frills gear you can afford. If it’s good equipment and you like it, add other features as you can afford them. The Springfield Armory Range Officer has a hand-fitted match-barrel/bushing and slide/frame, among other features. Everything needed and no more, keeping the price down. ALL YOU NEED General PurPose 1911 S like a checkered or scalloped frontstrap, both for appearance and for a secure grip, but it has to be done well or not done at all. Coarse checkering or serrations not only look bad, but also make it impossible to do the job right. With the smooth frontstrap of the R/O, I can get by with a few cents worth of skateboard tape. Later, it can be sent to the S/A Custom shop to be checkered as you like, or otherwise fancied-up. For regular carry, many 1911 fans prefer fixed sights. My lifestyle doesn’t involve a lot of extreme weather or physical demands so I don’t mind carrying pistols with adjustable sights. Well made and fitted (as these are), they are tough enough for most needs. However, for concealed carry those sharp corner edges would have to go. The Range Officer is marketed as an entrylevel competition pistol, which it certainly is. But it is also an excellent general purpose, all-around 1911. It’s a pistol you could use for home defense, pick off the nightstand and go win a match in the morning, plink at cans with friends in the afternoon, conceal in an IWB holster while out to dinner with the family and then slip into a police duty rig when reporting for the midnight shift. Setting price aside, it’s a great 1911-style pistol. I’ve seen it offered for sale at prices around $850, making it a terrific value. I * For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/ springfield-armory WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2011 26

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