Things become a classic because they endure and work as intended. The 1911 is certainly a classic handgun. Likewise, Springfield Amory has earned an excellent reputation for quality 1911 pistols. The new Springfield Garrison may be said to be a classic right out of the box.
I must supply a disclaimer. I am never happier than when firing a 1911 .45. The type has served so well, and for so long, that any argument against it doesn’t hold water.
Quality is important. Some pistols are just too cheap. You cannot expect a pistol that demands hand work, close attention to specification, and tolerance to perform well for the long term in a bargain-basement type. Just the same, we don’t wish to fracture the retirement fund. Springfield offers 1911 handguns to fit most every budget.
The Springfield Garrison is in the $800 range, so the price is attractive. The pistol is hot salt blued. That is quite an accomplishment at this price point.
The pistol is a forged-steel frame and slide handgun, with a well-fitted barrel. The locking lugs ran smoothly under the slide as the slide was racked. The barrel bushing was snug and tight, but not too tight.
The pistol featured Novak-style low mount sights with a three white dot outline, and a target-style trigger. The trigger broke smoothly, exactly halfway between six and seven pounds — a good spot for all-around use. The slide lock safety was well designed with a firm sharp indent.
The magazine well was slightly beveled to aid in quickly loading the magazine into the pistol. The slide scroll markings were well done — tasteful, not overstated. The pistol was supplied with a single magazine, cardboard box, and a zippered case. The Garrison was well fitted and finished and seems well worth its modest price.
Springfield Garrison Grips
The grips demand some discussion. These are slimline grips that are slightly thinner than the standard 1911 grip. Since my hands are average, and my fingers are short-to-average, these stocks worked well enough. I am used to slightly thicker slabs, however, and the slimline grips may not be ideal for all hand sizes.
That is fine there are many choices in aftermarket grips. When ordering grips, remember that slimline grips demand shorter grip screws and grip screw bushings. If you order Hogue grips, order full-size grip bushings and screws as well.
Aesthetics and Reliability
The pistol is conventional in appearance and compares favorably to any other 1911 pistol. The baseline is reliability. Without reliability we have nothing. Some prefer a simple handgun. Good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety are all that are needed. Light rails, night sights, and an ambidextrous safety are not desired by all shooters. The Garrison has all that is needed and at a fair price.
The pistol was inspected and then lubricated liberally with Ballistol gun oil before being fired. When the slide was racked, the locking lugs rolled smoothly under the hand. The pistol demonstrated very little lateral play between the slide and the frame. All controls checked out well, and the pistol passed my standard 1911 function test.
The pistol was supplied with a single 7-round magazine. I added several magazines to the test program. Most were MecGar, supplemented with a number of magazines from Wilson Combat. Most of the initial firing was done with factory 230-grain FMJ ammunition.
Model 1911 handguns were designed for the hardball round, and it is still the loading I use in primary testing. Fiocchi offers a quality version of this load. Firing from the 7-yard line, the pistol proved fast from leather. Draw, disengage the safety as you come on target, press the trigger smoothly to the rear, and you’ll have the desired hit.
Like all steel-frame .45 ACP pistols, the Garrison proved controllable when proper technique was applied. Fire the pistol, allow the trigger to reset during recoil, and bring the pistol back on target. Fire again, and you’ll have another hit. Don’t fire the pistol before you retain the sight picture.
The pistol was also proofed with the Fiocchi 230-grain JHP, Federal’s 230-grain Punch, and the Hornady 185-grain Critical Defense loading. Results were good without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.
Combat firing — moving quickly between targets — is the true test of a combat pistol. Just the same, absolute accuracy is always interesting and tells us something about the handgun’s fitting.
I used the MTM K-Zone shooting rest to test accuracy. I used a handload using the Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC and enough Titegroup powder for 1,050 fps. This is a strong load well suited to many tasks. I also used the Hornady 200-grain XTP, perhaps the single factory load with the greatest reputation for accuracy potential. Each load averaged 2.5 inches, with neither having a clear advantage.
Packing the Springfield Garrison
I like the versatility of a well-designed crossdraw holster. The ability to quickly deploy the pistol while driving or seated is an advantage. You cannot simply wear a strong side holster on the wrong side, you must choose a properly designed cross draw-specific holster. The DeSantis Sky Cop should be at the top of the list.
The DeSantis Sky Cop is constructed from saddle leather versus thin or suede leather. The Sky Cop features a reinforced holstering welt on the mouth of the holster. The holster will not collapse after the handgun is drawn, and the pistol is easily re-holstered. A tension adjustment is used to adjust retention. This is a well-designed holster at a fair price.
Springfield Garrison Vitals
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Length: 8.6 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Magazines: One 7-round magazine supplied
Action: Single-action locked-breech pistol
The Springfield Garrison is a nice-looking handgun with all the features needed for personal defense and nothing else. Greater accuracy will cost more and so will self-luminous iron sights, an ambidextrous safety, and a light rail.
If you are betting your life on a 1911, the Springfield Garrison is a good starting point. Reliability is there, and the pistol offers pride of ownership and a good name at a modest price.
A good 1911 is hard to beat, but the question always centers around what defines a “good” 1911. Give us your definition or favorite model of a “good” 1911 and how it measures up to the Springfield Garrison in the comment section.
Springfield Garrison: A Classic Springfield Out of the Box is written by Wilburn Roberts for blog.cheaperthandirt.com