Personal disclosure: I have a lot of trigger time with the 1911 platform. I’ve collected, sold, fixed, competed, hunted with, and shot tens of thousands of rounds through the platform, and have owned about a dozen of them in various sizes and calibers over the years. Back when I was behind the gun counter, we sold a lot of Springfield’s “Loaded” series of 1911s, and never had a customer come back dissatisfied with one of those pistols. Therefore, when an opportunity to try out Springfield’s newest 1911, the Garrison came about, I jumped at it.
Springfield Armory @ TFB:
Springfield’s newest 1911, the “Garrison”, is a full-size, full-featured .45ACP 1911 that has a ton of bang for the buck. The hot salt blued Garrison I got to try out features Springfield’s forged frame and slide, a short guide rod, 3-dot hi-vis low profile sights, extended beavertail, and the same match-grade barrel that comes in their “Loaded” series, all for $800 MSRP. I think of it as a mid-point between their “Mil-Spec” and “Loaded” 1911s.
Specs, per Springfield:
BARREL: 5″ Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, 1:16
SLIDE: Forged Carbon Steel, Blued
FRAME: Forged Carbon Steel, Blued
SIGHTS: Low Profile Combat 3-Dot
GRIPS: Crossed Cannon Wood Laminate
Springfield Garrison First Impressions
Out of the box, I was impressed by my sample of the Garrison. It was properly oiled, and the slide racked quite nicely, not too easy, not too hard. The 16lb recoil spring works perfectly in this configuration. The polish levels on the flats of the slide and frame are just ever so slightly different, and the matte finish on the top of the slide is wholly appropriate to reduce slide glare. The checkering at the back of the grip is just right-not overly aggressive like the TRP, yet not too subtle. Overall, the Garrison has a great aesthetic for a full size, value-priced 1911.
There is only the slightest bit of play between the slide and frame, much better than other 1911’s I’ve seen at this price point in that regard. There was not too much of a gap between the ejector and the slide either. The trigger is excellent, breaking cleanly, crisply and consistently at 4lb, 4oz. The trigger reset is among the better and more positive resets I’ve yet to feel on a production 1911. Curiously enough, the rear of the extractor protrudes ever so slightly from the rear of the slide, a slight difference from the flush fit of my old Micro-Compact.
The Garrison comes with one flush fit 7 round magazine, a zippered soft case, a manual, and a gun lock. Other than that, there’s not much else in the box. The Garrison is not an “ambi” gun, but features a safety on the left-hand side of the frame that clicks positively and securely into place both on and off, as well as a standard size magazine release.
Springfield Garrison at The Range – Did it survive Over 1000 Rounds of .45ACP without failure?
The first 500
As mentioned before, I’ve competed with the 1911 platform for a good while. Therefore, I grabbed my competition bag with about 20 Wilson Combat 8 round ETM magazines, a few different holsters, and about 50lbs of .45ACP ammunition and headed to the range during a pretty good snowstorm.
On the first day, I put 500 rounds through the Garrison doing various drills and figuring out the overall “feel” of the gun. A friend of mine who is a firearms instructor, as well as a master-class shooter, got some trigger time with the gun as well. We both were impressed at the level of quality one gets for the price of the Garrison. We found the trigger predictable and excellent, and the recoil spring to be “just right”. This full-size 1911 settles back on target quickly and predictably after each shot. The mid-size safety lever on the left-hand side of the frame also helped control the Garrison quite nicely.
Though the front strap of the Garrison’s grip is smooth, neither of us felt that it was a detriment to the gun. With a proper grip, it sits securely in your hand and does not move. That being said, if one’s hands were wet with perspiration or blood, a little checkering on the front strap doesn’t hurt.
I did have a minor issue with the standard magazine release, in that when using anything heavier than a liner glove and in a condition where the magazine well is a bit dirty, one has to modify one’s grip and very positively push the magazine release button in order for the mag to drop free. It’s a minor issue that can be corrected with an aftermarket part, but its something to be aware of. I’m also not a huge fan of the standard 7-round magazine it comes with, but Wilson ETMs are still the gold standard for 1911 magazines in my opinion.
The sights are crisp and clear with minimal glare, enabling us to clang 1/3 size USPSA steel silhouettes at 25 yards easily. A 3″ gong at 30 yards also went flying each time we pressed the trigger. My friend encouraged me to give the 150y gong a try, and we were able to clang it as well! The Garrison handled all 500 rounds just fine without a single malfunction, despite the wet, cold and dirty conditions.
500 to 1000 and beyond
On the second day, I put the Garrison through its paces on paper a bit. First, I shot the Garrison for accuracy at 25 yards, supported off of sandbags. The overall build quality of the Garrison, combined with Springfield’s 5″ match grade barrel yielded the following results, measured center-center with calipers:
- Black Hills 230grn FMJ: 1.53″
- Black Hills 200grn SWC: 1.1″
This is excellent accuracy for any 1911, let alone a production 1911 at an $800 price point. Consider the fact that Wilson Combat’s accuracy guarantee for its Supergrade models (which cost over 5 times as much as the Garrison) is 1″ at 25y. In fact, I shot the Garrison side by side with my Wilson Supergrade, and though the Wilson has a superior fit, finish and feel, as well as a trigger that is 1/2 the pull weight of the garrison, the Garrison didn’t feel all that bad in comparison and is less than 1/5 the price of the Wilson nowadays.
I also took some time to see which distance the Garrison’s sights were calibrated for. Shooting a full magazine at targets posted at 5, 10, 20 and 25y, I was able to see that the Garrison’s sights seem dead on between 15-20y. The Garrison also demonstrated good enough accuracy during this exercise not to throw any shots outside of the A zone of a mini IPSC silhouette until 25y.
Measuring “practical accuracy” with the Springfield Garrison, I decided to integrate some time stress and shoot the IDPA 5×5 Classifier with the pistol. The 5×5 is a total of 25 rounds. Each string must be started by drawing the firearm from the holster, and all are fired from 10 yards. String one is 5 shots freestyle, string 2 is 5 shots strong hand only, string 3 is 5 shots, slide lock reload, and another 5 shots. String 4 is 4 shots to the body and one to the head.
Though it was only my second day with the Garrison, I have a lot of experience with the 1911 platform in competition. My hits were good enough to be “down zero”, and I was able to squeak out a time just under 19 seconds, good enough to classify as CDP “Master”. This was largely due to the Garrison’s speed at settling back on target, along with its excellent trigger reset.
Given my use of a Kydex holster during the second range outing, I did notice a few more minor issues with the Garrison. The finish on the top of the slide got a bit scuffed from about 200 holsterings and unholsterings in the Kydex throughout the day, and the slide was able to be slightly bumped rearward when cocked and locked when I would reholster the gun in the Kydex.
Reliability-wise, the Springfield Garrison fired over 1000 rounds of .45acp out of the box, without cleaning without a single malfunction. This was with over 400 rounds being +P JHP, 50 rounds of SWC, as well as Lehigh bullets thrown in. Given my healthy supply of magazines, I was able to fire the pistol rapidly enough to create a pretty good heat mirage off the top of the slide, and still, I had no issues other than an ever so slightly loose right grip panel, remedied easily enough. Well done, Springfield.
Overall Impressions of The Springfield Garrison 1911
The Springfield Garrison represents an excellent value for its $800 MSRP. Objectively, it was reliable, accurate, and well put together. Subjectively, I find it to be probably the best 1911 I’ve yet experienced at this price point, and that it is a better pistol than many 1911s twice its price.
The finish might not be the most durable, but it is a great entry-level candidate for later Cerakoting if one should want it, and a stainless model is available as well. The same can be said for the Garrison’s magazine, magazine release and grip panels-if any of these items become an issue for you, you can always change them for not much more of an investment.
If I was in the market for a sub-$1000 1911, the Garrison would be my choice, no question. I would also recommend it as a first 1911 to get if you are interested in the platform but don’t want to invest too much money into trying it out for competition or defense. If you’re in the market for a no-frills, yet reliable and accurate 1911, give the Garrison serious consideration.
Thanks to Springfield for the opportunity!