Springfield Armory 1911 A-1 MIL–SPEC Part 5
Two gun showdown and benchrest accuracy
By Dennis Adler
While we might have expected Umarex or Swiss Arms to develop a new 1911 model to challenge Sig Sauer’s WTP, it was another relatively new company to the airgun game that rose to the occasion, Springfield Armory. In many ways this is not unexpected as neither Sig nor Springfield were in the airgun market until the last couple of years for Sig, and only just this year for Springfield since they are both manufacturers of centerfire guns; this as opposed to airgun manufacturers like Umarex, among others, collaborating with gunmakers to produce CO2 copies of their cartridge guns. Of course, Umarex being the parent company of Carl Walther puts them in the perfect position to do this with gun manufacturers like Colt, S&W, and Glock. When a gunmaker decides to make the move into the airgun marketplace, like Sig Sauer did, even establishing a separate division (SIG AIR), it becomes a more meticulous in-house effort. Much the same has occurred at Springfield Armory and the result is a series of new models that have individually raised the bar. The 1911 MIL-SPEC does that, for the most part. We now have two relatively new airgun manufactures with R&D and marketing divisions and offshore manufacturing competing for the most authentic copy of a current production 1911 model in their respective centerfire lines. We also have Umarex and Glock delivering on their promise to introduce new and better models, including the just released Glock 19X. So the race for this year’s top gun is still up for grabs! But first, the benchrest test of last year’s top ranking 1911 CO2 model, the Sig Sauer WTP, literally against “the new kid on the block.”
I have seen competition shooters that have such a steady hand, that the only movement in the gun is recoil, and even that is more controlled. Most of us have a little shake when aiming a pistol because we are not trained competitive shooters (or Navy SEALS). For gun tests where we want to just show how well the gun shoots, you eliminate as much of the human element as possible. A Ransom rest, which holds the gun, totally eliminates the human element, but that’s a tough one with air pistols. The next best way is a bench rest that supports the gun like the Hyskore model I sometimes use. This leaves the majority of variables to holding the gun in the rest and pulling the trigger. And this is where we will find some interesting differences between the Sig and the Springfield.
There is a contrast in how they feel and work. The Sig trigger design changes the trigger pull in ways that cannot be measured in take up or resistance alone, but rather in how the trigger breaks the shot and feels to the shooter. In design, the Sig is closest to a Match trigger like the Caspian TRIK or STI Match Grade, vs. the 3-hole trigger design copied on the Commander and TRS, and far better than a standard military-style trigger like the Springfield. In that respect, the Sig is not a fair comparison for handling when it is up against a much older design with a military-style trigger. If you want an older, more traditional 1911, like the Springfield MIL-SPEC, you have to be willing to accept an older trigger design that in this version (as opposed to military-style triggers that have been adjusted and tuned for smoother operation) is a heavier trigger.
21 feet and rested
I honestly hate shooting air pistols from a benchrest because I rarely do any better at close to medium ranges than I do shooting off hand. With the benchrest at 21 feet, the Sig WTP put a 10-shot group into a spread of 1.062 inches with a group of 5-shots measuring 0.68 inches, which is not my best group with this gun off hand, but within a few fractions of an inch. I repeated the test shooting off hand from 21 feet and put 10-rounds into 1.44 inches, so just a little wider, but a tight overlap of three rounds plus two closest for a 5-shot spread of 0.5 inches. That’s just a little tighter, so it’s a coin flip and I’ll take the dime-sized group.
Repeating the same test from the benchrest and off hand, the Springfield gave me 10-rounds from the pistol rest measuring 1.125 inches, with a best five shots at 0.59 inches. Shooting off hand I had a 10-shot spread of 1.0 inches, with a best five at 0.625 inches. Both guns shoot well, but neither has a POA that doesn’t need some judicious POI corrections, the Springfield more so than the Sig. Fixed sights have their limitations, these are not target pistols.
At the end of this series I have to call the new Springfield Armory 1911 MIL-SPEC a performance equal overall to the Sig Sauer WTP, and for exterior styling a sedate counterpoint to the Sig’s weathered patriotic overtones. Fact is, it’s a matter of choice. As to how well each performs, they are equals within the framework of their respective designs; a modern competition trigger and Novak-style white dot combat sights, vs. a traditional short 1911 A-1 trigger and Series 70-style white dot sights. The Sig WTP has come very close to meeting its match!
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.