A SINGULAR SINGLE-ACTION
RUGER’S NEW OFFICER-STYLE 9MM IS A 1911 THAT’S BOTH EASY TO CARRY AND TO SHOOT
Sometimes, small refinements to a good design can make all the difference.
There was a time when I would see an article on a newly introduced 1911 pistol and ask, “Do we really need another one?”
The 1911 pistol can stand on its own merits, of course. It’s a good design and it’s stood the test of time. Yet, once in a while one comes along with just the right enhancements that combine to make something truly special. Such is the case with the new compact pistol from Ruger: the Lightweight Officer-Style SR1911 pistol. It’s not “just another one,” and that’s due in large part to some well-thought-out touches.
Several companies offer small 1911 pistols; some of the more recent ones are small enough to be considered true pocket pistols. Ruger settled on a size similar to the old Detonics Combat Master and Colt Officer’s ACP—easier to conceal than a full-size 1911, but large enough to be able to shoot it well.
Ruger didn’t just chop the barrel and grip to make a down-sized 1911. First, the company chambered it for 9mm Luger rather than .45 ACP, which has two big benefits. It makes for a more controllable pistol with lighter recoil. Also, the 9mm also doesn’t suffer as much from a loss of velocity in a short barrel as the .45 ACP, so hollowpoint defensive ammo still has a chance at reliable expansion.
The slide is stainless steel with a matte finish. The wide cocking serrations at the rear are angled forming what looks like a pattern of arrows. They’re different and attractive to my tastes, yet they’re very functional. They make it easy to get a solid grasp on the slide.
There are no cocking serrations at the
front, but the slide is scalloped at the front. This tapered slide allows for easier reholstering and also provides a good handhold if you are accustomed to retracting the slide from the front.
Atop the slide is a full-size set of Novak metal sights in the three-dot pattern. They’re set in dovetails and the rear is drift adjustable for windage and is secured with a set screw. Engraved along the flat sides of the slide are “RUGER MADE IN USA” on one side and the Ruger logo on the other. The ejection port is flared at the rear and lowered for reliability.
“...IT’S SLIM AND SMALL ENOUGH TO BE EASILY CONCEALED AND COMFORTABLY CARRIED WHILE STILL BEING LARGE ENOUGH TO BE CONTROLLABLE AND EASY TO SHOOT WELL.”
The slide-to-frame fit was very good. The frame is made of lightweight aluminum, allowing the entire pistol to tip the scales at 27.2 ounces, not a featherweight, but much lighter than a full-size, steel-frame 1911 at 39 ounces. The frame appears dark gray, but with a bluish tint in brighter light. In any light it contrasts nicely with the stainless slide.
The controls are finished black. The slide release, manual thumb safety and magazine release are all on the left side only and are extended slightly for easy reach, but not enough to get in the way while firing. The plunger tube for the slide release and thumb safety is integral with the frame. It’s not staked on as with some other pistols and won’t work loose over time.
The beavertail grip safety cups the skeletonized “Commander-style” rowel hammer. The grip safety has raised surfaces at the bottom for positive activation when you take a grip on the pistol. The flat mainspring housing is
finely checkered for a secure hold, but it’s rounded at the edges so the pistol won’t cut into you when carried.
“ITS ATTRACTIVE TWO-TONE FINISH AND ENGRAVED G10 GRIPS COMBINE FOR A PISTOL THAT’S SURE TO INSTILL PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP.”
The single-action trigger of the 1911 is one of the main reasons it stays so popular. On the Ruger, it is unfinished aluminum. It’s skeletonized and is serrated on the face. It’s fitted with an over-travel screw. The trigger is excellent. It has a slight bit of take-up and then breaks cleaning at about 4 pounds even according to my scale.
The grips are gray G10. They’re very slim and feature a stylized wing on each panel from the Phoenix bird of the Ruger logo. Those wings are textured for a good grip without being too abrasive. The Ruger logo is also present on each panel.
THE INSIDE SCOOP
There are good features on the inside, too. The pistol features a bull barrel, putting a little more weight up front to help control recoil. It’s 3.6 inches long and made of stainless steel with a black nitride finish. A small port at the top serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator. No barrel bushing is needed.
The recoil spring surrounds a fulllength guide rod. They’re held in the slide by the recoil spring plug. This pistol has no firing pin block. It does have a titanium firing pin to lessen the chances of an accidental discharge if dropped. That lightweight firing pin also helps to improve lock time—the time between when a pull of the trigger releases the hammer and when the gun goes boom.
This is probably the easiest 1911 to disassemble that I’ve ever encountered. There’s no barrel bushing, no capturing of the spring required and no tools involved. Move the slide rearward until the takedown notch aligns with the slide stop lever. Push out the slide stop lever from right to left. The slide can then be removed from the frame. You can then lift out the recoil spring, guide rod and recoil spring plug. The barrel slides out the front of the slide.
AT HOME ON THE RANGE
Down-sized 1911 pistols are notorious for reliability issues. Many are reliable only after a substantial break-in period. This Ruger had no reliability issues whatsoever and needed no break-in period. Through several hundred rounds of ammo of all types, it was flawless.
Of course, I was using quality ammo throughout. I tested the gun with two
Hornady loads. The first was their Critical Defense load with FTX bullet that has a flexible polymer tip filling the hollowpoint. That tip aids expansion and prevents clogging of the hollowpoint by barrier materials. The second was their American Gunner load with conventional XTP hollowpoint.
I was favorably impressed with the Sig 365 ammo both the hollowpoint and full metal jacket loads designed for short-barreled handguns. Recoil with the Winchester Defender 124-grain +P load was predictably snappier, but still very manageable. The American Eagle full metal jacket ammo from Federal makes a great practice load.
Most of my shooting during this test was performed standing with a two-handed hold, although I did fire a couple of magazines one-handed with each hand. I found the gun more controllable than smaller 9mm pistols I’ve tried.
I also performed a minimal of obligatory accuracy testing from the bench. The sights were well-regulated; I punched holes in the target where I was aiming when I did everything right. Five-shot groups fired at 15 yards were in the 1.5-inch to 1.75inch range with some a bit above or below that.
Two stainless steel magazines came with the gun. One review I read listed the magazine capacity at nine rounds. I could squeeze eight into them if I really tried. The Ruger website now lists the capacity at seven rounds. Carried for defense, I’d go with seven rounds plus one in the chamber and not risk any reliability issues from an over-stuffed magazine.
During the test, I never felt as if I wanted something more from this
“THROUGH SEVERAL HUNDRED ROUNDS OF AMMO OF ALL TYPES, IT WAS FLAWLESS.”
pistol. There was nothing lacking. It offers complete reliability in a proven design with performance-enhancing features. Its attractive two-tone finish and engraved G10 grips combine for a pistol that’s sure to instill pride of ownership. And you still get a pistol that’s compatible with standard parts and magazines. Best of all, the Ruger Lightweight Officer-Style SR1911 pistol balances along that fine line: It’s slim and small enough to be easily concealed and comfortably carried while still being large enough to be controllable and easy to shoot well. And that above all makes it a winner. Apparently, we really did need “another 1911.”CC
The G10 grips are slim and comfortable. They provide a good grip without being too abrasive. A nice touch is the stylized wing from the Phoenix bird in Ruger’s logo. The full-size, white three-dot Novak sights provide for a good sight picture and are a definite aid in shooting the pistol well.
Above: The mainspring housing is nicely checkered for a good grip but is rounded at the edges so it won’t dig into you when you carry the pistol.
Right: The pistol features a bull barrel that helps to control recoil by getting a little more weight out front. It’s made of stainless steel with a black nitride finish.
Above: The Ruger Lightweight Officer-Style SR1911 pistol is easy to disassemble as there is no barrel bushing. Sidebar: A closeup of the Gun ProSure Fire magazine shows the small spring that’s intended to prevent bullets from nose-diving and causing a malfunction.
The slide doesn’t have forward cocking serrations, but it’s scalloped at the front in a way that it can still be manipulated easily from the front if desired.
The pistol has a single manual thumb safety on the left side of the frame as well as a beavertail grip safety. Note the skeletonized rowel hammer.
The author found the new Ruger to be 100 percent reliable with all ammo tested.
Leftr: The newRuger maintains the slim profile that’s always been one of the strong points of the single-stack 1911 design.