Springfield’s ‘Mil-Spec’ 1911A1

Springfield’s Mil-Spec

 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.

Closing Thoughts…

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.


4 Responses to Springfield’s ‘Mil-Spec’ 1911A1

  1. Gabbar Singh says:

    Wow, you seem to have extraordinarily bad luck with Springfield barrels. Besides the obvious damage that you noted, there are chatter marks in the lug grooves, and the barrel otherwise looks unfinished. It looks like they took a barrel out of the reject box and shipped it.

  2. Sarge says:

    I have always had a gift for finding lemons and entry-level Springfields have been fruitful indeed for me.

  3. Herb Gessler says:

    I have had the pleasure of shooting two SFA 1911-A1s, a V-16 and a range officer. In the past all the 1911s, no matter what make only performed OK. My son wanted to by a Kimber so I took him to my favorite gun shop. Under the counter was a Kimber and the V-16, both in stainless. I told my son take the SFA and boy was he glad he did. We both fired it at a gun range and was totally impressed. At forty-five plus yards, we were bouncing a pop can someone had left behind. The V-16 was sweet in the hand, so sweet I wanted to get one. It was then I found out the V-16 was no longer in production. I called SFA and asked how I could get one. They informed me they will make one for me. It was then I found out that particular pistol comes from their “LOADED” department or the custom shop. It could be mine for $1600 and sixteen months wait. Needless to say I am still one year away from my delivery date. Please note: when a gun comes from the LOADED department, there is nothing else that can be done to the gun. Match quality is what’s delivered. To bide the time I purchased a “Range Officer”, another excellent shooter. It is not often I find a product line that performs well. I can tell you that the two models I have shot from Springfield Arms have been great. This comment comes from someone that prefers long guns.

  4. Sarge says:

    I’m glad you got a couple of good ones, Herb. I am getting good feedback on the Range Officers too, FWIW.

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