If someone tells me to grab a pistol for a day of hard use, chances are I’m going to grab something made of plastic. While all-steel guns have their benefits, low weight, high capacity, ultra customizable pistols have clearly taken over, and they’ve been king for a while. Contrary to what you read on the ‘Gram, there are still plenty of people carrying and using older designs on the daily, namely the 110-year old 1911. In fact, I personally know a gang officer in the heart of South Central Los Angeles who carries the classic banger. I’m not going to pretend that I think the 1911 is just as relevant as more modern options, but it has a few things going for it. In this article, we’ll be looking at the Springfield Armory 1911 Loaded Marine Corps Operator in God’s caliber, .45 ACP.
The 1911 Loaded Marine Corps Operator: Specifications
- Barrel length: 5”
- Height: 5.5”
- Weight: 43 oz
- Overall length: 8.6”
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Capacity: 7 rounds
- MSRP: $1,308.00
Party Like It’s 1911: First Impressions
I’ve said before that I don’t really care about packaging. Some people will complain about guns coming in cardboard boxes, but that’s typically my preference. I don’t need a flimsy plastic case that I’m just going to throw away and replace. At least the cardboard can be recycled or used as a target. I drove down the street to pick up the gun at Centennial Gun Club in Centennial, Colorado. To my surprise, I got much more than a cardboard box, and I’m stoked. The packaging for the Marine Corps Operator is a legitimate soft pistol case. It’s well-constructed and has some pockets for organization. In this case, the packaging adds value to the overall package, as I’ll likely use it to go to the range or to hold my toiletries while traveling.
The aesthetics of the pistol are both handsome and practical. Forward cocking serrations are a welcomed feature, especially while dry firing. The non-traditional checkering on the front strap gives a modern look, while still grabbing my hand. We’ll see how it works while firing. The two-tone color scheme makes this feel like it’s more than just another 1911. I feel like I have a unique piece that I can be proud of.
Ancient Solutions to Modern Problems
People began history with impact and piercing weapons. Someone thought to themselves, “I’d really like to stab that guy, but I want to do it from over here.” This is what led to projectile weapons, and ultimately, modern firearms. While you shouldn’t trust the accuracy of my history lesson, one thing is true; whether ancient or modern, the problem we’re trying to solve is at a distance and the solution is to put something through it that will make it stop being a problem. The 1911 solves that problem using the “big bullet/big hole” philosophy. This gun launches a projectile that’s nearly a half-inch in diameter in an effort to take as much with it when it hits its target. So, how easily can we make that happen? I did some accuracy testing to find out.
I did my “accuracy testing” at about 15 yards, using Sellier & Bellot 230-grain FMJ. The sights were easy to pick up. Below is my best semi-rapid, standing, unsupported, three-round group. I didn’t do an exact measurement, but it was about a two-inch group.
By now, we all know and understand the benefits of the 1911 platform. Great ergonomics, a supremely crisp trigger, and the steel frame make the 1911 a great (and fun) gun to shoot. Like any relationship, it’s not about the good; you need to make sure that the bad isn’t a dealbreaker, so I set out to see if the Marine Corps Operator lived up to its name (no crayons were harmed). I decided to put the gun through its paces to see if I could get the 1911 to do its least helpful and most famous trick; malfunction.
In the coldish December wind, I scooped up my wife and went to see my friend Dave at MODTAC Training Group. If there’s any place to push a gun to its limits, this is it. Keep in mind that ammo is still pretty expensive, but I wanted to make sure I gave the gun at least one hard day.
I ran the gun through a mixed bag of activities, including one-reload-ones, moving and shooting, bill drills, pairs on steel, and some good ol’ fashioned mag dumps. The Marine Corps Operator didn’t choke once during the 200+ round day. The weight of the pistol made .45 ACP a pussycat. The sights naturally returned to where I was aiming, making for some very quick controlled pairs.
Most of my guns exclude a manual safety, but getting used to running one was easy. The safety was large enough that I didn’t have to search for it and positive enough to send my ears a clear and consistent click.
Ninety-Nine Problems But A 1911 Ain’t One
The Springfield Armory 1911 Loaded Marine Corps Operator is a fun gun. I didn’t want to leave the range, and I completely forgot about my plastic guns for an afternoon. The pistol reinforced my thoughts that though the design is old and has been surpassed in many regards, it is just as capable as modern pistols. Everything is a trade-off, and if you’re willing to accept the “bad”, you gain a few advantages.
The grip texture was so effective that I completely forgot to pay attention to it. I never felt like the gun was trying to jump out of my hand. The recoil was very manageable. Paired with some sights that were easily reacquired, I was able to make quick and effective A-zone hits all day. The legendary 1911 trigger didn’t disappoint. Most importantly, I had zero malfunctions.
One negative thing that I noticed before I even fired the gun was the safety. This might be one of those things that comes down a long lineage of safety Nazis, but I was always told that the safety doesn’t come off until you’re on target. The problem with this is that my grip has already been established. If I don’t deactivate the safety before my hands meet, it pinches my support hand skin against the grip panel.
The conversation around the relevance of the 1911 is a dumb one. Losing capacity comes with a larger bullet, great ergonomics, and a near-perfect trigger. Use what works for you. I can say that in my capacity as a civilian, I do not feel at all undergunned with this pistol.
If the 1911 Loaded Marine Corps Operator tickles your fancy, get all of the specs from the Springfield Armory website. You can also see more content when you follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.