Springfield Armory 1911-A1 MIL-SPEC Part 1

Springfield Armory 1911-A1 MIL-SPEC Part 1

A new blowback action 1911 model with its own heritage

By Dennis Adler

Today’s Springfield Armory is the successor to the original Springfield Armory established in 1794 as the first manufacturer of arms and munitions for the United States military. Originally located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Armory remained America’s oldest armsmaker until it was closed in 1968, with the facilities becoming a National Historic Site and the main arsenal converted into one of America’s largest arms museums.

Our first look at the Air Venturi Springfield Armory 1911 MIL SPEC blowback action model confirms three things, one that Springfield Armory knows how to build a good box for storage, two, print a first class instruction book based on the centerfire model’s book, and lastly, build a darn good looking air pistol. How this all plays out in use we will find out over the next week.

The Springfield Armory name and legacy as one of the great armsmakers in American history was reestablished in 1974 with the design and production of three of the original armory’s most important contributions to our nation’s military, the M1 Garand, Model 1911-A1 and M14. That trio of famous American arms was the foundation for today’s Springfield Armory brand produced in Geneseo, Illinois. The 1911 was the basis for the company’s handgun manufacturing (which now includes other handguns like the XDM Series). Beginning with the 1911-A1 standard model over 30 years ago, today Springfield Armory is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of the legendary Colt Model 1911.

Here is the .45 ACP Springfield Armory model. Take note of the manufacturer’s stampings on the slide and frame.

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There are 16 different 1911 models (along with variations of each) offered by Springfield Armory, from modern tactical versions, like the 1911 RO Elite Operator, which is a full military design rail gun with ambidextrous safeties, red fiber optic front sight and G10 grips, to Springfield’s classic 1911 series of traditionally-styled pistols, including the 1911 MIL-SPEC, the basis for the first ever Springfield Armory 1911 blowback action CO2 model. That gun is copied from the MIL-SPEC Stainless version with Springfield’s Parkerized finish contrasted by a polished barrel bushing surrounding the stainless steel 5-inch barrel.

Springfield Armory wanted the CO2 model to be as close to its Parkerized finish MIL SPEC model, which is heavily based on the WWII era 1911-A1 design with a few upgrades. The CO2 model is a very close copy but with white lettering for the safety warnings on the frame, and the use of white S F and an arrow to tell users which way the safety goes. If you have never seen or handled a 1911 I guess this would be a worthwhile feature. Setting that aside, the lines of the gun are exceptional as is the authentic MODEL 1911-A1 CAL .45 stamping on the slide. The grips are a very nicely executed injection molded plastic copy of the centerfire pistols double diamond cocobolo and black composite wood grip panels.

Back to Basics

The .45 ACP Springfield Armory MIL-SPEC is a modestly updated version of the original Colt Model 1911-A1 they produced beginning in 1984. There are two versions; the Stainless Steel Mil-Spec built on a full-size frame and slide with stainless steel construction and a polished finish on the flat surfaces and bead-blasted matte finish on the rounded areas. The mainspring housing is the original arched style found on GI issue 1911-A1s, but it includes Springfield Armory’s I.L.S. (Internal Locking System) on centerfire models, (but not on the CO2 version).

Plastic never looked so good and the grips on the CO2 model are exceptional. S F arrow…not so good but it is one of those things we just have to accept on some 1911 models.

The pistol has a standard spur hammer, standard grip safety, left-side, non-extended thumb safety, and short military combat trigger true to the original 1911-A1. Improvements to the original design include 3-dot fixed sights, and a lowered and flared ejection port (on the centerfire models). Each MIL SPEC comes with cross-cannon emblazoned walnut grips that are held in place with slotted grip screws. The grips for the CO2 model are duplicated with quality injection molded panels that have the same checkering and cross-cannon Springfield Armory logo. As plastic 1911 grips go, these are exceptional looking. The same can be said of the Parkerized-look finish on the CO2 model, and all of the Springfield Armory stampings on the slide. Visually, it is a handsomely upgraded WWII-era 1911-A1 design.

The CO2 model has the same Parkerized like finish as the MIL SPEC .45 ACP and the contrasting stainless barrel bushing and polished barrel. Also note the manufacturer’s stampings on the frame and slide are the same as the centerfire models, though the frame is done in white. This is not an altogether incorrect feature as some gunmakers use white lettering as well. The caliber marking is also in white, but the slide is superbly done to match the .45 ACP model.

The only immediate fault I have with the gun is the use of the S F white lettering and an arrow on the thumb safety (like the Umarex Colt Commander) and white letter warnings in small type on the left side of the frame. White lettering is also used on the right side for the Springfield name and caliber stamping, but this is more than forgivable as white lettering is sometimes used on centerfire guns for the same purpose. It is the warning on the left side and the S F arrow on the safety that diminish an otherwise superbly executed copy of the Springfield Armory Parkerized finish MIL SPEC model.

Some of the upgrades on the centerfire model are also on the CO2 version of the MIL SPEC including the white dot sights. From an authenticity standpoint this new model from Springfield Armory looks like it could climb to the top of the 1911 lineup.

In Part 2 we begin examining the features and compare this latest 1911 CO2 model to the competition.

A word about safety

Blowback action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

20 thoughts on “Springfield Armory 1911-A1 MIL-SPEC Part 1”

  1. Why do you believe Springfield Armory Inc is the successor to the Springfield Armory?
    As far as I can tell they have no relation other than the name.

    After Springfield Armory was closed in 1968 the current Springfield Armory Inc started using the name and selling M14s assembled in Texas. The receivers were imported. I just don’t see how they are related by anything but name. Assembling clones of old firearms doesn’t make this company related to the Armory of fame.

    Today they seem to mostly import other manufacturers firearms with new names. The XD series are actually made by HS Produkt in Croatia, for example.

    The 1911s were originally made by Imbel of Brazil and are now made in the USA with frames made by a larger manufacturer.

    I just don’t understand how Springfield Armory Inc is considered much more than a marketing company. They do assemble guns, but they do not make them.

    None of this means the guns aren’t good, they are great, but the branding is dishonest.

    • Steven

      Everything you say is true except about the branding being dishonest. The name is often everything and in the evolution of companies, acquisition of brand names and products is often the means of perpetuating a brand. Springfield Armory Inc. holds the brand name and uses it to market Springfield Armory branded products. Yes, the XD Series guns are made in Croatia and that is no secret, it is stamped on the gun, but Springfield’s engineers have had significant input into the design and manufacturing of the XD models. As for the 1911s, the company started out small and built itself into a manufacturer over 30 years with dedicated designs engineered by Springfield Armory. Is this the original Springfield Armory, no, its not, but the holder of the brand name, logo, etc. You can say the same for Dan Wesson, a company that went through several owners to where it is today as a part of CZ USA. Dan Wesson is a brand name just like Springfield Armory. But when you buy a Dan Wesson (centerfire or CO2 branded model air pistol) you are buying a Dan Wesson licensed product. Even Sig Sauer isn’t the company it was originally (it is part of a larger conglomerate of companies in Switzerland), so this is a common thread throughout the firearms world and brand name marketing in general. The end product is really what matters and the guns from Springfield Armory wear the name proudly. And I think honestly.

      • Dan Wesson was bought and sold though, right? Same company, just new owners.

        Sig Sauer is a conglomerate made up of the original companies and some new ones.

        When did Springfield Armory Inc start casting frames? My understanding is they are still an assembler not a manufacturer
        Those others have their names from their own past. Springfield Armory Inc took another name that was no longer in use. They try to claim a legacy they aren’t related to.

        It would be like if you died, and I started publishing under your name. We have no relationship, is it ok that I continue your “brand” without your permission?

        • Steven

          I’ll have to follow up with Springfield Armory on that, especially on the castings. As for dead authors still writing (I assume with permission) there are quite a few, Tom Clancy comes to mind right away. Anyway, Springfield Armory, Inc. seems to be doing a very good job of building the brand.

    • Steven, generally the answer is no because there is a convex curve in the grip frame for the CO2 and while the base of the grip panel, screw holes, and top of actual 1911 grips do line up perfectly on the air pistol, they don’t quite fit flush. I’m going to mention this in the next part of the article and illustrate what I am talking about. You can sand down the inside of a 1911 grip panel just enough to accommodate the shape of the CO2 pistol’s grip frame contour, and that would work. I have been meaning to try that, so you just reminded me to do just that. More to come…

  2. Most of the Pimp’s I know(Detroit area) have really nice piece’s and like to show them off….Mostly Sig’s and Custom’s….At the range where I shoot I know a few Vet’s that have the Sig 1911 WTP in 9mm and just because they are a 2nd Amendment Show Off piece….I have the CO2 version and strictly for Show Off…

      • Steven I completely understand your position and respect it… Plenty of 1911’s out there to choose from, I hope you find “just the right one” …Let us know when you do.
        PS. I think the SA 1911 Mil Spec is a good way to go…then go to Ebay and buy some real Wood grips to replace the SA plastic ones…
        BTW are you a Collector or a Shooter ???

        • I am more of a shooter, than collector, but it does have some attraction for me.

          I am strongly considering this 1911 and buying some wood grips. My luger needs them as well.

  3. I have the SIG. I think it’s one of the best looking 1911’s on the market right now(my favorite would be Stallone’s Kimber Gold Combats in the “Expendables” series) I took it a step further using steel wool and Super Blue defarbed all the white lettering crap off the pistol. Then I took the steel wool to the grips and brigthend them up. I compared mine to a picture of the .45 and it’s a dead ringer to me. The bright silver grips give a nice contrast to the weathered slide and frame. Can’t post a picture, file is too big.

  4. I own the Springfield Armory 1911 MIL SPEC airgun, and it looks and feels great. The plastic grips are unbelievably good fake wood emulation.
    But, aside from the annoying white lettering of the safety, there are a couple of other things wrong with it when compared to the real deal. The slide ridges on the back of the slide are slanted on the real gun, and on the CO2 they’re straight up. The front of the trigger on the original has straight grooves running from top to bottom, whereas on the CO2 replica it’s a crisscross knurling. Finally, the safety on the original gun has a long lever, and on the CO2 it’s a very short one.
    Aside from those, it’s another fine 1911 airgun produced by KWC under Springfield Armory license.

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