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Springfield Armory Parkerized Mil-Spec 1911: Going Back to the Old-School 

Springfield Armory Parkerized Mil-Spec 1911. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Springfield Armory Parkerized Mil-Spec 1911

112 years and 108 years after their respective debuts, the M1911 single-action semiautomatic pistol design and the .45 ACP cartridge alike remain more popular than ever. And as our regular readers may have noticed, this writer has been on a renewed 1911 test-firing kick (bad pun intended) as of late. 

However, the makes and models of the 1911 that I’ve been reviewing in the past few months have been the so-called “factory custom” guns with all sorts of proverbial bells and whistles which, whilst certainly highly desirable modern, state-of-the-art features also somewhat detract from the classic, old-school M1911-A1 look and feel. Hence my decision to review the Springfield Armory “GI” Mil-Spec 1911.             

Springfield Mil-Spec 1911 Early History and Specifications

Springfield Armory of Geneseo, Illinois (not to be confused with the original Springfield Armory of Springfield, Massachusetts, which is a national historical landmark) started out in 1974, and in 1980s started making moderately-priced 1911 clones with an excellent value-for-price ratio that seriously challenged Colt’s domination of the M1911 market. Alas, in 1992, Springfield declared bankruptcy, but they bounced back from that bankruptcy stronger than ever, with improved quality control for good measure. 

As I mentioned in a previous 19FortyFive article, back in 2003 (sheesh, has it really been 20 years already?) I bought out one of these post-bankruptcy Springfields, a so-called “Mil-Spec” with a stainless steel finish. I say “so-called ‘Mil-Spec’” because, as much as I like stainless steel finishes for their resistance to rust and corrosion, it feels like a misnomer applying the “Mil-Spec” label to a 1911 with such a finish, as true government-issue M1911s and M1911-A1s either had a blued or Parkerized finish (the latter is a protective finish that involves boiling the steel in a phosphate solution). That said, I was happy with the gun because it was the first 1911 I’d owned that was reliable out-of-the-box after a seemingly endless string of bad luck with that pistol platform. 

That said, Springfield does offer another option of the Mil-Spec that’s truer to the GI look, that being a Parkerized version, in the so-called “Defend Your Legacy” series. As the manufacturer’s official info page wittily puts it

 “Don’t be fooled by imposters. Like bearded, flannel-clad hipsters, a lot of 1911s out there only look the part. The Mil-Spec, however, is true to its roots and rugged to its core…Built on a forged frame and slide the Mil-Spec carries on Springfield Armory’s long legacy of quality 1911s. Traditionally styled and built on a full-size frame the Mil-Spec features a 5″ match grade barrel and rear slant serrations on the slide. The mainspring housing is the original arched style found on G.I.-issue 1911-A1s, giving you a classic look with modern upgrades for improved performance and reliability.” 

Specifications are true to the old-school 1911 specs in terms of the 5-inch barrel length and 39-ounce empty weight. Overall length is 8.6 inches, and height is 5.5 inches. Magazine capacity is 7+1 rounds. Mind you, the high-visibility three-dot sights and stainless steel barrel are not GI-spec, but I ain’t complaining about that!

Personal Shooting Impressions/Range Report

So then, it was back to good ol’ Cindy’s Hot Shots indoor pistol shooting range in Glen Burnie, Maryland, to try out a rental Springfield GI.45. (Sidebar Note: for the benefit of our readers in Maryland, good news, as the facility in Severn, formerly known as On Target, is finally back up and running, thus alleviating the crowding problem at the Glen Burnie location.) 

Fit & finish were very impressive, especially for a basic, no-frills 1911 as opposed to a “factory custom” version like the SIG Sauer 1911Smith & Wesson SW1911Ruger SR1911, or Springfield’s own TRP; the Parkerizing job on this pistol was truly top-notch.  

Target used was “Silhouette Target (USPSA) made by Baker Targets. Ammo used was 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 230-grain full metal jacket full metal jacket (FMJ) AKA “hardball,” divvied into 25 rounds of heads shots at 7 yards and 25 yards of center-torso shots at 25 yards, all delivered from the Classic Weaver Stance.  

At 7 yards, five of my first eight shots strayed slightly low-right into the B-zone of the target’s head, so I took the appropriate “Kentucky windage” and proceeded to absolutely annihilate the A-zone head box of the target. At 25 yards, again my first shot strayed low-right, which is the polar opposite to the typical high-left tendencies of a cross-eye-dominant right-handed shooter (as my friend and fellow firearms instructor Lou Chiodo has often pointed out). After adjusting fire appropriately, I ended up tallying 12 hits in the A-zone, 12 hits in the C-zone (which still would’ve been solid torso hits on a real-life bad guy), and one high-right in the D-zone (which was entirely the fault of the shooter and not the gun, as I simply had a temporary lapse of concentration). 

Reliability was flawless, which is better than I can say for all too many 1911s I’ve fired in the past. And whilst some highly respectable old-school gun writers like Dave Anderson of American Handgunner and the late great Dean A. Grennell (gone but not forgotten) depict the factory stock 1911 as being downright painful to shoot without the aftermarket beavertail grip safety, the standard grip safety has never caused me any discomfort issues. And the trigger was also surprisingly crisp, which was atypical for true military-issue and civilian market pistols from WWII all the way to the Vietnam War and beyond.  

Overall, not as refined as the factory custom 1911s, nor as truly bona fide “old school” as my WWI-vintage Colt, but definitely a nice shooter overall that gives plenty of cliched “bang for the buck.”

Want Your Own?

True Gun Value states that “A SPRINGFIELD ARMORY MIL SPEC 1911 pistol is currently worth an average price of $606.52 new and $601.38 used. The 12 month average price is $613.91 new and $583.49 used.” Springfield’s website shows an MSRP of $725.00.  

Sportsman’s Warehouse has a current asking price of $839.99.

Christian D. Orr has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).