Officially released on 12/20/2021, the Operator is the newest addition to Springfield Armory’s 1911 lineup. Machined down from a forged frame, slide, and barrel this pistol also features an ambi-safety, “Tactical Rack” rear/tritium front sights, and an accessory rail for lights/lasers. Designed as an affordable, tactical-grade pistol, this offering chambered in 45 ACP meets the mark.
Out of the box, the Operator felt and looked amazing. It was well oiled, and the anti-corrosion black Cerakote finish was spotless. The slide was smooth as butter while gliding on the rails as I racked it back. Including both front and rear slide serrations, the shooter has all the textured surfaces needed to operate the slide with a solid grip. This 1911 also features a skeletonized hammer, which slightly reduces weight but mainly just looks great.
My favorite feature of the Operator is the inclusion of a Picatinny accessory rail. This allows the end-user a myriad of options when it comes to lights and lasers. I firmly believe that all modern handguns should come from the factory with rail space to mount weapon lights to the platform.
Springfield included a tritium front sight which matches up with their rear irons. At first, I didn’t even notice the Operator had night sights because the tritium insert is white/clear, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover this when I was in low-light conditions. The rear “Tactical Rack” sight sits low on the slide, features anti-glare serrations, and has a steep curvature to the front making it more aggressive for grabbing when racking the slide.
The trigger in the Operator is great. The take-up is smooth and light. When reaching the wall, I do not notice any creep, which resulted in a clean break at a little over 4lbs. After firing, the reset is both minimal and tactile, putting your trigger finger right past the wall and basically ready to break your next shot. Overall, I give this trigger two thumbs up.
The Operator utilizes an ambidextrous safety that is easy to activate. The safety is narrow and curved as to not snag on anything while providing milled grooves just wide enough to provide a great thumb rest for a high and tight grip. I find the slide release to be slightly further forward than some other 1911’s making activation a little harder without requiring me to shift my grip.
Springfield provides two stainless steel 8 round magazines with this pistol. The mags have holes that are labeled to verify round count while loading. During my testing, these magazines performed without issue. They were easy to load and reload even with a minimally flared magwell.
The overall profile of the Operator is great. Personally, it fits my hands very well, and I find the thicker aggressively textured G10 grips to be effective. The deep scallops prove a great interface for the shooter. There is also a rounded cutout in the grip to allow easy activation of the mag release without needing to adjust your grip.
On the rear end of the grip, a machined frame provides adequate roughness to maintain a solid grip when firing. These grooves perfectly blend function with aesthetics.
The forged 5″ stainless steel match-grade barrel offers long life and great performance. Built for ruggedness and durability, I believe Springfield met their goal.
Even after my 200 round test, the slide is still buttery smooth. The tolerances seem very tight as I cannot feel any wobble between the slide and the frame. Springfield added front slide serrations to the slide, which aid with press checks, as well as provide a more modern and aggressive-looking platform. The slide serrations are both wide and deep enough to grab onto well.
Throughout two different range trips and five different types of ammo, I had only one issue with the Springfield Operator. While shooting, there was one time that the last round in the mag failed to go completely back into battery. I needed to tap the slide forward to get it to completely chamber before firing. Other than this one instance, everything else cycled with zero malfunctions. This FTF occurred with a 230gr +P bullet, which is no light load. I tend to think the failure to feed was pistol-related and not ammunition-related. However, with only one occurrence it makes the cause of the FTF difficult to diagnose. The pistol was also brand new and likely needs a few more rounds through it to be completely broken in.
Featuring a forged 5″ stainless steel match grade barrel, the Operator provides great accuracy. The image below shows some of my 5 round groups. I shot these groups standing up unsupported when it was cold and windy. While my groups were not that impressive as seen below, this pistol is much more capable than I was that day.
The following image is from my second range trip where I shot 8 round groups with warmer and calmer weather. Again, my shooting isn’t that impressive, and I believe this 1911 is capable of much more than I was able to showcase.
The self-defense rounds from Hornady performed well. Both the 185gr FTX and 230gr XTP are designed to stop threats quickly with consistent expansion and a lot of kinetic energy. The recoil impulse was also smoother than I was expecting from a 45, so quick follow-up shots were a breeze.
Overall, I have been very happy with the Springfield Armory Operator. It does a great job at bringing the 1911 to the 21st century by utilizing features such as the Picatinny rail, ambidextrous safety, forward slide serrations, and a Tritium night sight. The Operator shot better than me, performed almost flawlessly, looks cool, and fits my hands great. For the guy who wants a TRP but might not be able to afford one, I think Springfield did a great job including all of the previously mentioned modern features typically found in more expensive 1911’s at an MSRP of only $1,099. If you want to read more about the Operator, you can read up on it on Springfield Armory’s website here.
Barrel: 5″ Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, 1:16
Slide: Forged Carbon Steel, Black Cerakote
Frame: Forged Carbon Steel, Black Cerakote
Sights: Tritium Front, Tactical Rack White Dot Rear
Recoil System: GI Style
Grips: VZ Grips G10
Magazines: (2) 8-Round
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is passionate about hunting and competition shooting. During college he was the shooting instructor for Oklahoma State’s Practical Shooting Team, and these days he spends as much time as he can chasing after pigs and coyotes with night vision and thermals. You can follow Mitchell’s adventures over at his Instagram @That_Gun_Guy_