Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 MIL–SPEC Part 3
By Dennis Adler
You would think that if all these 1911 CO2 models share the same parts internally and variations of the same parts externally, and use the same CO2 BB magazines, that they would all shoot the same and have average velocities that are very close. But there are differences from the sights to the trigger designs and trigger pull weights. All of these can lead to differences in accuracy, as they should, that’s why 1911 sights, triggers, recoil springs, and slide and frame interfaces, have been improved upon over the years for centerfire models. A gun that is based on an early design, like the Tanfoglio Witness, Swiss Arms 1911 A-1, and John Wayne 1911 A-1 WWII commemorative have the oldest design features and those will have an effect on accuracy for most shooters. (I say most because there are some people who can pick up any gun and instinctively hit their target.)
Internally the same basic parts are used for the CO2 firing systems because they are all using the same CO2 BB magazine designs, but there can be subtle differences in the air nozzles, air nozzle restrictors, magazine valve releases, and other parts. Technically, they should all be about equal. In my comparative tests of the five models shown in this series of articles, however, the average velocity has not been the same, close, but not consistent between guns.
The John Wayne averaged 303 to 309 fps. The Umarex Colt Commanders average is 300 to 312 fps and average velocity for the Swiss Arms TRS is 304 to 309 fps, all pretty close but under advertised “up to” 314 to 320 fps claims (the TRS is listed as 314 fps). Currently the Sig Sauer WTP has consistently shot steel BBs at between 329 and 338 fps making it the highest velocity 1911 CO2 model with a factory claimed “up to” velocity of 340 fps. The new Springfield Armory has a factory rating of 320 fps and tested at an average of 314 fps, but is about the most consistent gun I have shot with 10 rounds clocking 314, 313, 313, 317, 315, 314, 314, 314, 313, and 314 fps, which puts it in second place.
Recap of velocity from top to bottom:
- Sig Sauer WTP 329 to 338 fps
- Air Venturi Springfield Armory MIL-SPEC 313 to 317 fps
- Umarex Colt Commanders 300 to 312 fps
- Swiss Arms TRS 304 to 309 fps
- Air Venturi John Wayne 303 to 309 fps
Now, the question is, do the magazines have anything to do with this? I put the new Springfield mag into the Swiss Arms TRS, which previously had shot a best 309 fps with the Swiss Arms magazine, and the gun delivered a velocity range of 313 fps to 318 fps with an average of, you guessed it, 314 fps, the same as the Springfield Armory MIL-SPEC. Now, what would the Sig Sauer WTP magazine (the gun with the highest velocity) do in a gun like the Swiss Arms TRS? Let’s find out. There’s a surprise. First, felt recoil on the Swiss Arms model increased by at least 10 percent over the Springfield and Swiss Arms magazines. Second, average velocity increased from 304 to 309 fps up to 310 to 314 fps; just a slight bump in velocity with a bigger bump in felt recoil. I put the WTP magazine (after 10 rounds through the Swiss Arms TRS) back in the Sig which broke its own previous record of 329 to 338 fps with a new high for a 1911 CO2 model of 338 to 348 fps. So, the best combination of magazine and gun delivers the highest velocity, and that appears to be the Sig Sauer 1911 WTP. But one last magazine swap, the WTP into the Springfield. The MIL-SPEC did the same 314 fps average as before, so the Sig magazine works best in the Sig, helps the others a bit, but it is not the magazine alone making a difference.
The same guns from the same design parts, when assembled to the specifications of their respective brands, are not the same guns in the end. Sig Sauer labored over the details of the WE THE PEOPLE to deliver a best in category gun against some pretty tough competition. The Springfield Armory MIL-SPEC, for its combination of features, comes in second overall for velocity. As a gun combining original Colt design, an upgrade in sights from military to white dot, and being a duplicate of a .45 ACP production gun (like the Sig Sauer WTP), it comes in a solid second to the Sig. It is a new contender but not a new champion until we see what happens downrange.
In part 4 trigger comparisons and accuracy at 21 feet.
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.