SPRINGFIELD ARMORY’S NEW RANGE OFFICER ELITE OPERATOR 1911 ADDS JUST THE RIGHT TOUCHES
Springfield Armory’s new Range Officer Elite Operator 1911 adds just the right touches. By Chuck Taylor
Sometimes the usefulness of a handgun is determined as much by what it doesn’t feature as by what it does.
Among the ranks of M1911 makers, one outfit in particular continues to offer the M1911 in virtually every configuration the market dictates, and does so while maintaining excellent quality—Springfield Armory. The company’s latest gun, the Range Officer Elite Operator, might just be one of its best. For every shooting discipline—bull’s-eye, IPSC, military, police or civilian self-defense—SA has several M1911s to fill the bill. Its prices are reasonable for what you get, which these days is no small feat in itself. But this new gun has one purpose in mind: protecting the life of its owner.
FOR SERIOUS WORK
The RO Elite Operator reflects a cognizance of the need for simplicity when things get deadly. It’s as simple as can be, while still offering a high mission-accomplishment capability. No gadgetry or gimcrack is evident anywhere, just what it takes to offer the combat shooter a nice tactical package. It has SA’s new Black-T finish to minimize corrosion and wear, both elements of which anyone who actually carriers a gun daily are all too aware. It also has high-visibility fixed sights that are easily acquired at high speed, even in low light, courtesy of their double white dot rear sight and fiber-optic front. The rear tactical-rack sight features a ledge to allow for one-handed slide manipulation.
Its stocks are thinner than typical, allowing fast grip acquisition when presenting from a holster and better control in the fast shooting sequences common to pistol encounters. And to aid in fast speed loading, the left-hand stock panel is relieved to allow faster thumb placement on the magazine release button.
On my specimen, no clothing- and skin-abrading sharp edges were evident either, which is in itself a major accomplishment, given the fact that such edges are commonly found on the majority of so-called “tactical” pistols. I also like the fact that the Elite Operator utilizes a standard bushing, recoil spring, plunger and guide rod, which in turn allow easy fieldstripping and maintenance.
Once again, most so-called “tactical” M1911s now use a full-length guide rod and special bushing to accommodate it, making disassembly an annoying—and unnecessary—chore.
The premise upon which this is based—that a full-length guide rod is needed to prevent the recoil spring from “kinking”—is erroneous.
X-ray photography shows that any partially compressed coil spring is slightly “wrinkled.” This is not “kinked.”
Kinking occurs when the actual wire of the spring is bent, causing the spring to lose its normal shape. In reality, all these gadgets do is complicate the fieldstripping process. In return for this, no actual advantage or increase in performance is achieved.
The RO Elite Operator also features well-shaped, edge-free ambidextrous
“THE RO ELITE OPERATOR REFLECTS A COGNIZANCE OF THE NEED FOR SIMPLICITY WHEN THINGS GET DEADLY.”
Below: Forward grasping grooves allow efficient slide manipulation regardless of method used and are free of excessively sharp edges.
Left: Flat mainspring housings are also popular nowadays. The one on the SA Elite Operator is also checkered for positive grip in fast presentation or shooting sequences or when the hand is moist.
Above: Distinctive “Operator” inscription is clearly visible on left side of slide. Bottom: RO Elite Operator features a standard bushing, barrel, recoil spring and guide rod for fast, easy fieldstripping.