If you love 1911 handguns, the Springfield Ronin Operator Commander will be a pistol after your own heart. The pistol features two-tone styling that appeals to many of us. The gun shoots and shoots well, and is offered at an excellent price.
The Ronin name was well thought out and is an apt description. The Commander version of the Ronin is a lightweight, aluminum-frame pistol with a 4.25-inch barrel and traditional barrel bushing. The pistol features excellent wedge-type fixed sights and a clean trigger.
For a pistol that costs less than $1,000, this is an impressive piece. After carrying a 1911 for many years, and firing the pistols for some 50 years, I appreciate carrying a lightweight pistol.
No, the Commanders do not shoot quite as well as the larger guns, but the difference is measured in millimeters — after a slow fire group at 25 yards. This isn’t quite a test of a combat pistol, but regardless of who started this, we all now adhere to it.
The pistol isn’t quite as easily controlled as a Government Model. In firing a box or so of ammunition at the range, you don’t notice the sharper recoil in general. However, after a longer session, the wrists may protest. With the Government Model in daily carry, the hip protests. The Commander is a compromise of sorts and one that works well for many shooters.
Author’s Note: Commander refers to a 1911 with a ¾-inch shorter barrel and lightweight frame compared to the Government Model.
As issued, the Springfield Ronin features a slide lock safety that is only on one side, a well-designed beavertail grip safety that funnels the hand into the firing grip, and that snazzy two-tone finish — deep blue over anodized aluminum. The pistol, like so many today, is delivered with a single magazine. I have a precious stock of Wilson Combat and Mec-Gar magazines on hand for serious use.
The sights bear some explaining. The front sight is a bright fiber-optic. The rear sight features a rear serrated face. The sights are excellent. Speed shooting is made easier, and precision fire is also very good in part due to the sights.
The pistol came sighted in for 230-grain loads. The rear sight is the wedge type that allows racking the slide on a belt. I don’t know anyone that has done this, but to some, it seems important. I think, quickly lowering the slide after a speed load might be a better use for these sights, if one hand is wounded and cannot grasp the rear of the slide. Slip the wedge into a belt and tug, and the slide will fall. Racking the slide is more difficult.
The grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about halfway into compression. This is the correct set-up. The slide lock safety is positive in operation, locking in with a sharp click. The feed ramps are properly finished and feature the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the two halves of the feed ramp.
There is no firing-pin block. A lightweight firing pin and heavy-duty firing-pin spring make the Springfield Ronin drop safe. The barrel hood and locking lugs glide into place properly as a well fitted 1911 should. The trigger features a clean break at almost exactly 5.0 pounds. It may smooth up with use and settle in at about 4.75 pounds with experience as a guide.
The grips are nicely checkered, wooden, slim-line grips. I am able to get a nice firm grip, and found control to be excellent, even though the front strap isn’t checkered. Some of the gun writers with big burly hands may have more of a problem than I. I found the Ronin grip to be excellent.
1911 pistols demand lubrication. I lubed the long bearing surfaces, slide rails, barrel hood, and barrel bushing. The magazines were loaded with 230-grain ball ammunition. This ammunition is the original loading for the .45 ACP. At an average of 850 fps among Winchester, Remington, and Federal loads, these loads burn clean with little muzzle signature. Feed reliability was unquestioned.
I began drawing from a Galco Avenger strong-side holster. The Galco Avenger is a proven design. The Avenger features close-riding belt loops, one standard, and one tunnel loop that cinches the holster in close to the body. The holster was double stitched and featured a reinforced holster mouth and retention screw.
The holster was designed by Colonel Charles Askins and popularized by (General) John Bianchi. The holster was beautifully waxed and molded. This holster also offered a clean, sharp draw. After all, what good is combat practice if you cannot execute a sharp draw?
Drawing and firing at 6, 8, and 12 yards, the pistol came on target and delivered X-ring hits. The sights, a good trigger, and a nice grip that is typical of 1911 handguns made for good all-around handling. As for recoil, take a firm grip and use the Weaver stance with good tension between the hands, and you will have no problem. Double-taps were carried off with real speed. This is a formidable combat handgun.
I fired a few rounds into the cranio-ocular cavity represented by the target at a long 15 yards with good results. I settled into a benchrest firing position on a shooting rest to test accuracy. The rest is a great resource that eliminates wiggling and most human error — if you can manage the trigger, you will be very close to true mechanical accuracy.
At 15 yards, I used the Federal Punch 230-grain JHP to test accuracy potential. Five rounds went into 1.4 inch. That is good enough to ride with.
The Springfield Ronin Operator Commander is an attractive and reliable gun. This pistol reminds me of the old consensus pistols. The consensus of what was needed — speed safety, good trigger and sights — and nothing else. I have added this handgun to my shortlist of favorite carry guns. The pistol is usually carried concealed in a Galco Summer Comfort holster.
Commander or Government length, easier on the wrist or hip — Do you prefer Government or Commander-length pistols and why? Share your answers in the comment section.