Springfield’s ‘Mil-Spec’ 1911A1
Range conditions were not ideal for the Mil-Spec’s first outing, but I was anxious to shoot. The distance was 25 yards. I started with Wolf hardball, standing on my hind legs and blasting away at an empty cartridge box on the snowy berm. Point of impact was a little high left, so I switched over to a paper target that someone had shot with a .22 & left hanging on the stand. From a rest, 5 rounds of Wolf went into 4 inches, about 4″ out at 11 o’clock. I noticed I was fighting the creepy trigger, and determined to concentrate on the sights and just press it off. I switched over to my 200 grain SWC reload, and a fresh target. 5 shots went into 3 1/2 “- about what I’d expect at twice that distance. 230 grain Federal HydraShock fared little better.
By this time there were about 22 rounds of everything left, so I loaded the factory mag with every round different than the one below it, using all loads listed above. Then I turned and hosed the rounds into the berm, as fast as possible. I repeated this three times, and the MilSpec ran like clockwork with the mixed loads.
Still, this was a nice, tight 1911 and I thought it should have shot better. When I got home I tore it down again and started looking for anything, which might have inhibited accuracy. The first thing I found was a small imperfection in the barrel’s exterior, on top about an inch ahead of the front locking lug.
I also found a corresponding defect in the barrel’s interior. It appears that whatever force caused the exterior defect, crushed the barrel enough to form a ridge into one land and groove of the rifling.
I notified SFA of the barrel problem on 02/01/05, and shipped it to them on 02/02. I simply asked that Springfield ship me a one-piece stainless barrel, sans the problems, that miked a full 0.580” at the muzzle. Megan Klavon at SFA handled the service matter and she was a pleasure to work with. The new barrel on 02/16 was a superb piece of manufacturing. It was also a dead-perfect, drop-in fit. I asked Megan which model this particular barrel was typically furnished with, her reply was “We use that barrel in our Trophy Matches and TRP’s.”
While the gun was without a barrel, I raided a local purveyor of GI-surplus parts and located hammer & sear pins that fit snugly in this frame. I also replaced the OEM disconnector with a GI part that fit better and these three little changes removed all the creep from the trigger. And speaking of triggers, I am a big fan of the original “A1” GI trigger with the short, checkered face; so I installed one of those while I was at it. The gun was starting to feel like an old friend.
The new barrel was brought about immediate accuracy improvements. At 25 yards, three 230 HydraShoks grouped into an inch and a half. The 200 LSWC load ran just over two inches for five shots. I walked back 43 yards, used the side of a handy tree and tried a third load; was 8.1 grains of HS6 under the Sierra’s 230 grain JHC. Four of the five were inside 3.5 inches, and the stray was definitely mine.
Since this new barrel was really showing promise, I went ahead and fitted a Maryland Gun Works match bushing per Kuhnhausen’s shop manual, and shot from a rest at 50 yards. The 3-shot cluster is probably what the gun can do; the flyers were the best that I could do, on this particular day. Still, it went under 3.5 inches, which makes me pretty proud of the reload if nothing else. The load was 8.1 grains of HS-6 under Sierra’s excellent 230 grain JHC. The Navidrex grips (from Brownells) aren’t bad for “cheapies” either.
The Springfield MilSpec is a decent-enough 1911 clone, which can benefit from the replacement of some substandard small parts; the bane of bargain 1911’s. Springfield’s frame and slide are forgedin Brazil, but they are good forgings and you can count on getting a decent slide and frame. The rest of the components bear watching closely. This one had a lousy barrel, but they replaced it with a much better one and it became a real shooter.
This gun now belongs to a friend who is a retired California Sheriff’s Sergeant; he shoots it regularly and reports an additional 500 or so trouble-free rounds. I’m calling that a happy ending.