TWO TAKES ON A COMBAT CLASSIC
Kimber Warrior SOC TFS and Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec

There is something primal about the original GI 1911A1 pistol. For those who might want to wield a GI-looking 1911 that performs like a more modern gun, there is the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

There is something primal about the original GI 1911A1 pistol. For those who might want to wield a GI-looking 1911 that performs like a more modern gun, there is the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

How many ways might there be to extol the virtues of the 1911 pistol? To hear guys like me describe it, John Moses Browning was smarter than Einstein, more enlightened than Gandhi, more innovative than Edison, tougher than Chuck Norris, and more influential than Thomas Crapper (the guy who popularized the flush toilet).

Browning’s 1911 combat pistol is better reasoned than the iPhone, more inspired than the microchip, deadlier than the H-bomb, and more reliable than a tire iron. For us committed 1911 acolytes, it is undeniably one nifty smokepole.

Browning contrived the thing to kill the radical Islamic terrorists of the day. At a time when the Europeans were satisfied with a P08 Parabellum pistol that pushed a 115-grain jacketed bullet, Mr. Browning simply doubled it. The 1911 is loud, heavy, powerful, and obnoxious, just like the country that birthed it. As a nation of gun nerds, we are utterly enamored with the classic flat architecture of the 1911 combat handgun.

AN ODD LIBERAL TWIST

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec incorporates classic GI flavor with a few modern amenities.

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec incorporates classic GI flavor with a few modern amenities.

We really have Bill Clinton to thank for the modern popularity of this most classic of classic guns. His ill-founded abomination, the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, restricted magazine capacity to 10 rounds. This wretched piece of legislation fell right in the epicenter of the so-called “Wondernine” craze, wherein modern handguns crammed 15 or more rounds into their butts (a more indelicate metaphor than intended).

The Assault Weapons Ban subsequently drove us to revisit the idea of big heavy bullets packed into slim single-stack magazines.

With standard-capacity magazines artificially inflated in price, the classic svelte good looks and superb mechanical function of the 1911 saw a resurgence. As a result, everybody and their grandmother started churning out their own versions of Mr. Browning’s seminal combat gun. Along the way, some of us started to wax nostalgic for simpler times before the ubiquitous railed dust covers and radioactive sights.

GI CRED

Remington Rand GI 1911A1 rolled off the lines in 1944 and is in pristine condition. Sporting its original Du-Lite finish and no extra frills, this was the gun our forebears used to free a world enslaved.

Remington Rand GI 1911A1 rolled off the lines in 1944 and is in pristine condition. Sporting its original Du-Lite finish and no extra frills, this was the gun our forebears used to free a world enslaved.

The government-issue 1911 underwent a single major upgrade in the form of the 1911A1 in 1924. It soldiered otherwise on from the year of its birth to the present in the hands of U.S. GIs of various flavors. When the Army sacked the 1911 in favor of the Beretta M9 in 1985, many of us thought the world had ended.

I donned the uniform in time to wield a 1911A1. Ours were all World War II-era guns that had been through the rebuild process a time or three. They rattled when you shook them and grouped like shotguns in the hands of the uninitiated. However, they went bang every single time you squeezed the trigger and hit like a freight train downrange.

Unremarkable backside of GI 1911A1 is perfectly replicated by Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

Unremarkable backside of GI 1911A1 is perfectly replicated by Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

For many of my generation, the uniquely Spartan architecture of those old GI guns sparks a visceral appeal. Even today, when we hang everything but DVD players and espresso machines onto our forearm rails, there is just something nostalgic and powerful about an otherwise unadorned 1911 pistol. For anyone who might yet long to wield a GI 1911 for serious social work, Springfield Armory offers a splendid hybrid that embodies that original GI ambience with a few modern amenities.

THE 1911 MIL-SPEC

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec sports match-grade bar-rel and bushing for superb accuracy.

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec sports match-grade barrel and bushing for superb accuracy.

The Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec sports a traditional arched 1911A1 mainspring housing, basic cocking serrations on the back of the slide, a single GI left-sided thumb safety, and an otherwise unadorned solid GI trigger. The hammer is of the original GI spur type. The grip safety is left exactly as Mr. Browning contrived it, and the finish on my gun is a pleasing grey Parkerizing. Modern guns are also available in stainless steel.

The barrel and bushing on the 1911 Mil-Spec are match grade. This alone makes the fit of the various components and subsequent accuracy potential hugely better than was the case with our old high-mileage GI versions. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and the GI sights have been replaced by a nice rugged set of combat sights sporting three white dots. These modern sights are a bit higher and a lot more visible than the GI originals.

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec comes with attractive wooden grips. Dabbs’ gun also included spare conservative black plastic grips.

Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec comes with attractive wooden grips. Dabbs’ gun also included spare conservative black plastic grips.

The attractive wooden grips are embossed with the Springfield Armory logo. My gun also came with a set of black plastic grips should you yearn for a less ostentatious look. The dust cover is left smooth and uncorrupted by Picatinny rails. The 1911 Mil-Spec also eschews the traditional lanyard ring on the frame.

THE MISSION

Packing heat is big business in America these days. Gun and accessory manufacturers make a good living from the practice, while geeks like me spill rivers of ink jabbering about it. What it typically all boils down to is personal comfort.

Mil-Spec sports left-sided GI safety as well as standard spur hammer. Arched mainspring housing is grooved like the originals.

Mil-Spec sports left-sided GI safety as well as standard spur hammer. Arched mainspring housing is grooved like the originals.

If I were to find myself in a real-deal, balls-to-the-wall, live-or-die shootout, I would want my favorite tricked-out black rifle, Level XII body armor (not a real thing), and a 30-minute head start. While we’re dreaming, I’d really prefer a Reaper drone orbiting silently overhead and a tooled-up SEAL platoon for company. However, what I might really have is whatever I actually pack on my person.

As a result, I try to discipline myself to carry serious iron every day while at work or out and about with my family. While the world’s myriad plastic pistols offer modest weight and great firepower, none of them seem to shoot quite as well for me as a classic steel 1911. Despite the fact that my daily work uniform is a lightweight set of surgical scrubs, I have found that, with the proper gear, I can indeed carry a steel-framed 1911 throughout a standard 14-hour workday in relative comfort.

THE CONTESTANTS

Contestants, from left to right: original WWII-era Remington Rand 1911A1, Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec, and Kimber Warrior SOC TFS.

Contestants, from left to right: original WWII-era Remington Rand 1911A1, Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec, and Kimber Warrior SOC TFS.

The Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec represents a holy melding of classic GI cool with a nod toward modern amenities. It is both well executed and handsome. Our other two contestants represent the two disparate ends of the spectrum.

My GI-issue Remington Rand 1911A1 rolled off the lines in 1944. If you look closely, you can still see the tool marks where the slide was hurriedly ground smooth. It’s in great shape but remains utterly devoid of frills. The one exception is a cosmetic addition that is simply beyond price.

My wife’s grandfather served as an Infantryman in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy during World War II. He enlisted in 1940 as a Private and got out in 1945 as a Sergeant Major. Throughout his years in combat, he carried a 1911A1 sporting a handmade right grip.

This particular GI 1911A1 includes a priceless right grip crafted by hand and carried by Dabbs’ grandfather-in-law, a decorated WWII Infantryman. He carried this photograph of his young bride through combat in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

This particular GI 1911A1 includes a priceless right grip crafted by hand and carried by Dabbs’ grandfather-in-law, a decorated WWII Infantryman. He carried this photograph of his young bride through combat in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

This great man fashioned the grip himself out of Nazi Plexiglas harvested from a Fieseler Storch observation plane downed by Allied ground fire. He carefully smoothed the piece using the original as a template and situated a beaming picture of his young bride underneath. He wielded this pistol throughout his many military campaigns.

Upon his death at age 96, stewardship of this priceless artifact fell to me. It is now among my most prized physical possessions.

Kimber Warrior SOC TFS includes all the bells and whis-tles. Rough G10 grips improve handling, while robust two-tone finish just looks cool.

Kimber Warrior SOC TFS includes all the bells and whistles. Rough G10 grips improve handling, while robust two-tone finish just looks cool.

On the other end of the scale we have the Kimber Warrior SOC TFS (Threaded For Suppressor). The Kimber name is foundational dogma for 1911 enthusiasts, and their Warrior SOC TFS is among their most rarefied handguns.

The Warrior SOC TFS offers a railed dust cover, radioactive raised tritium night sights, an extended bilateral safety, a generous beavertail grip safety with a memory bump, and a cool two-tone green/tan finish. The match-grade barrel is extended and threaded, and the eight-round magazine includes a rubber bumper to protect it when dropped either intentionally or otherwise. The extended trigger fits my anatomy perfectly. The Kimber Warrior SOC also includes a lanyard ring.

TRIGGER TIME

Lowered and flared ejection port of Kimber Warrior SOC TFS spits empties out away from the shooter.

Lowered and flared ejection port of Kimber Warrior SOC TFS spits empties out away from the shooter.

Comparing and contrasting these three guns is indeed an interesting exercise. The modern tuned trigger of the Warrior SOC makes the gun a much more relaxed platform, while its many manifest creature comforts enhance speed and efficiency. We had no failures among all three guns.

However, I really came to appreciate the salient benefits associated with a lowered and flared ejection port. The GI gun consistently bounced empties off my face. The Springfield Armory and Kimber heaters did not.

Extended trigger of Kimber Warrior SOC TFS fit author perfectly.

Extended trigger of Kimber Warrior SOC TFS fit author perfectly.

If the mission is simply to fight the gun with its single onboard magazine, all three were variations on a theme. The Warrior SOC and 1911 Mil-Spec were a bit handier than the GI original, but not by much. It is in these nuances that fortunes are made selling rarefied custom guns.

What really sets the more modern iron apart from the geriatric original is the sights. Particularly for my half-century-old peepers, those tiny GI sights just don’t cut it any more. But alas, everybody’s sights were too small back then, so I’ll cut old John Moses some slack in that regard.

Luminescent sights on Kimber Warrior SOC TFS are easily acquired, even in hard dark, while being raised to accommodate operation with a sound suppressor.

Luminescent sights on Kimber Warrior SOC TFS are easily acquired, even in hard dark, while being raised to accommodate operation with a sound suppressor.

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. If you find the classic GI vibe appealing, the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec brings you the subtle nuances that guarantee world-class performance without leaving the chassis particularly cluttered.

Browning’s classic 1911 is indeed heavier than most modern iron, and only carries seven or so in the magazine. But those nearly half-inch gaping hollow-points mean not having to say you’re sorry in any language, and the thin, svelte frame does allow for fairly easy concealment. For proven combat performance along with GI chic, little can compare to the Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec.

SOURCES

KIMBER MFG, INC.
(888) 243-4522
www.kimberamerica.com

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY
(800) 680-6866
www.springfield-armory.com


All three guns performed well on the range. Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec was the most accurate, while Kimber Warrior SOC TFS turned in the highest velocity.

All three guns performed well on the range. Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec was the most accurate, while Kimber Warrior SOC TFS turned in the highest velocity.



TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS


SPEC

GI 1911A1

KIMBER WARRIOR SOC TFS

SPRINGFIELD 1911 MIL-SPEC

CALIBER

.45 ACP

.45 ACP

.45 ACP

LENGTH

8.5 inches

9.19 inches

8.6 inches

BARREL LENGTH

5.03 inches

5.25 inches

5 inches

WEIGHT

39 ounces

40 ounces

39 ounces

MAGAZINE CAPACITY

7

8

7

MSRP

N/A

$1,605.00

$828.00


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