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Springfield Armory MC Operator: One of the Best .45 ACP Guns?

Image Credit: Creative Commons.

One good .45 ACP review deserves another … and another … and yet another. Likewise, one good Springfield Armory pistol review deserves another … and another … and yet another. 

Yes, this gun writer has already penned two reviews apiece of Springfield Armory’s M1911-A1 .45 ACP Mil-Spec and their mega-popular XD series in the same caliber. But those were all “basic guns,” i.e., “stock guns.” Until this past weekend, Yours Truly, with all of his Springfield trigger time, had not yet fired any of Springfield’s myriad of “factory custom” 1911s that make them competitive with the likes of Wilson CQB, Les Baer, the Ruger SR1911, the SIG Sauer Scorpion 1911, and so forth.

Well, as luck would have, I finally got the opportunity to make up for lost time and get some trigger time with one of the company’s more “upscale” guns. Time to discuss the Springfield Armory MC Operator M1911-A1 .45 ACP. 

Springfield Armory MC Operator History and Specifications

The M1911 .45 ACP needs no introduction to anybody who’s remotely familiar with firearms history, but for the benefit of anybody who needs a quick refresher, you can read this article, and for a more in-depth history, check out the late Dean A. Grennell’s “Gun Digest Book of the .45.” As for the Loaded Marine Corps (MC) Operator, as far I can ascertain, it was first made available to the general public in 2007 or thereabouts. Sadly, this particular model has been discontinued but is still listed on the manufacturer’s official website. To wit:

“The 1911 Loaded Marine Corps Operator .45 ACP pistol is the custom shop tactical handgun with features like three-dot tritium night sights and an extended lightweight trigger available right from the factory. A precision-fitted barrel bushing combined with a 5″ service-length match grade barrel ensure tack-driving accuracy, while deep slide serrations front and rear make the gun fast to run. The G.I.-style recoil system is proven in more than a century’s worth of hard service … The black Cerakote slide against the OD frame delivers an attractive and effective finish … Octo-Grip checkering on the frontstrap ensures the optimal interface between pistol and shooter.”

Personal Shooting Impressions

This latest opportunity to evaluate the fancy-schmancy version of Springfield’s M1911 .45 line comes courtesy of my high school buddy “Misfit,” whose pseudonym you may recall from several of my other gun articles, including “SIG Sauer 1911 .45: Finally A SIG Pistol I Really, Really Like” and “Fire The Gun! The Top 5 Handguns Of The Literary World.” Dave is the proud owner of an MC Operator, and this past weekend I happened to visit him while on vacation in sunny southern California, so off we went to the top-notch Smokin Barrel Gun Store and Shooting Range in the City of Simi Valley, California. Smokin Barrel prides itself on having the “Largest Firearms Selection with the Highest Tech Indoor Shooting Range in Southern California.” As for Simi Valley, for those of you not familiar with it. It’s one of the decidedly rebellious red-voting and pro-2nd Amendment enclaves in infamously anti-2A blue state California. I mean. Simi Valley is home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

The shooting session consisted of 25 rounds of PMC Bronze 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) “hardball,” divvied into 15 rounds of head shots at 7 yards and 10 rounds of center torso shots at 25 yards, delivered from a Classic Weaver Stance, using Smokin Barrel’s in-house scaled-down target. At 7 yards, 14 rounds produced a hole I could darn near pass my fist through, totally annihilating the paper bad guy’s right eye socket and center of the forehead, with one lousy flyer acting as the proverbial black sheep and striking just below the left eye socket. At 25 yards I overcompensated a bit, throwing one round into the left edge of the 4-zone and one right forearm of the 2-zone. The remaining eight struck satisfyingly in the 5-zone, with one hit in the tiebreaking 5-x ring. Overall, I wasn’t quite as accurate with it as I was with the Wilson CQB, but more accurate than with the Kimber, and about on par with the SIG Scorpion, Ruger SR1911, and Smith & Wesson SW1911

Ergonomics and comfort were on a par with what one would expect from a custom 1911, as was the delightfully crisp trigger pull.

The Lady Friend’s Shooting Impressions

Joining me on this SoCal vacay range outing was my totally awesome girlfriend Ms. Lisa Moore, who shares my affinity for both the M1911 pistol platform and the .45 ACP pistol cartridge, as can be seen in my June 2023 article titled “Meet The M1911 .45 ACP: The Ultimate Ladies Gun?” (That’s just one of many reasons why she and I are matched up so well [insert multiple heart emojis here].) Her assessment of the MC Operator was somewhat mixed, but positive overall: “I didn’t like the hard plastic grips, they were hard on the hands for sure. Other than that, she was still nice to shoot, with good action, nice and smooth. Not as punishing as some other .45s have been.” 

Want Your Own?

According to True Gun Value, “A SPRINGFIELD ARMORY OPERATOR MC pistol currently has too little sold data to calculate an average price …” Which is kinda weird, because scrolling down the page reveals four used and six new recently sold specimens; the used ones range in price from $1,055.00 to $2,052.00, and the new ones ranging from $1,224.99 to $1,675.00. Omaha Outdoors sells them at a price range of $880.00 to $3,495.00 depending on the number of proverbial bells and whistles. 

Christian D. Orr has 33 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.  

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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).