Initial Thoughts on Ruger’s Lightweight SR1911

First, let me be perfectly clear: These are my first rather random thought on Ruger’s new lightweight SR1911 in the Commander style. I reserve the right to revise, abridge or reverse myself later.

In addition to all the other bovine residue I have been inundated with recently—take a look at my last blog—I received a sample of the Ruger SR 1911 in the Commander style with a lightweight aluminum fame. Up until yesterday late afternoon, all I had time to do was look it over occasionally as it takes up some space on the disaster area known as my desk.

Here’s what I like: It certainly is lightweight. At 33 ounces, loaded, it’s 13 ounces less than my Colt 1911, loaded, making it noticeably more pleasant to carry than the full-size Colt on a day-to-day basis. There will, however, be a price to pay for that lack of mass. More on that in a moment. Though it hasn’t been given the full “melted” treatment—where every sharp edge has been rounded—the edges are noticeably softer than my Colt. That means that under stress the owner will be less likely to cut him or herself while manipulating the pistol. The notch at the top, rear part of the barrel is a nice way for folks with good eyesight to perform a press check without having to retract the slide a bit and run the risk of not getting it into full battery when done with this task.

Like most copies of this famous pistol, the SR 1911 has been standardized with features heretofore considered custom. The ejection port has been lowered and relieved to allow clean ejection of fired brass—us reloaders like that a lot. At the rear of the barrel, the feed ramp has been opened up and beveled to allow the pistol to feed better performing bullets other than the old round-nose ones. The edges of the magazine well have been broken—or beveled—slightly to help make inserting a magazine a little easier. Another typical feature is the “skeletonized” hammer and trigger—the hammer receiving a little more lightening with a central groove on the spur. Because most shooters apparently have larger hands with long fingers, the trigger is of the long type. The sights are from Novak, who just about rules the roost of 1911 iron sights anymore and generally with good reason. Finally, the grip safety is of the beavertail type, but it, too, has received some skeletization. The edges of the beavertail portion that sits atop the web of the hand have been narrowed, and the cheater pad at the bottom has been minimized. More on that in a moment, as well.

So after spending most of yesterday assembling an automated bullet feeder to my new Dillon XL 650 loading machine, I said I deserved a break and a bone. I took the Ruger out on some BLM land to put a few magazines through it—not a real test, just fooling around a bit to see how it shot. To check how well it fed, I did what normally would be a taboo. I mixed ammo in the magazines. There were hollowpoints from 200 to 230 grains, a few Hornady truncated-cone bullets and some cast round-nose-lead bullets. I was deliberately shooting junk ammo—stuff from partial boxes that I’ve had around for years. The handloaded Hornady truncated-cone ammo was at least 30 years old. I need the brass to feed the Dillon anyway.

I had one failure to feed; it was the last round in the magazine, and to be fair, the magazine was not one that came with the pistol. That lack of weight had a predictable downside; the pistol is more difficult to control that a full-size, all-steel 1911. Training can cure that. The minimized grip safety failed to disengage a couple of times as I drew the pistol from a Yaqui Slide holster. That cheater pad only rises about 1/16 of an inch. It should be more proud. The trimming of the beavertail looks good but does not contribute anything toward making the pistol easier to conceal. Too, with such a lightweight piece, the normal beavertail would make it a bit more comfortable to shoot.

No accuracy or chronograph tests were done. As I said, I was just having a little fun and blowing off some steam, while seeing how this bantamweight 1911 shot. A full test will be forthcoming.

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s. It did not take long for him to graduate to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s tremendously successful Shooting Illustrated magazine. In 2006 he also edited the iconic book of terminal ballistics, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter—A Definitive Study. He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as a “recovering editor.”
  1. Peter gonzaled Reply

    Some simple yet perhaps interrelated questions. Why light weight when the .45 acp lends itself to a heavy weight for both balance and presumably accuracy?Then more technically are today’s alloys good enough to overcome the past problems of cracks and warpage of alloy frames? Can frames today be built thinner,reinforced in certain areas of stronger steel or more sophisticated to alloys derived basicly from aluminum even carbon or similar non metallics such as the glocks? What do you consider some of the better medium all steel .45 acps?

  2. Dave Campbell
    Dave Campbell Reply

    Wow! Peter, you have a lot of very good questions! As I mentioned in the blog, the ammo I used was a bunch of unrelated stuff from a long time ago. I will have a full and proper review of this pistol and good ammo in the not-so-distant future. I don’t think, even with today’s rather sophisticated alloys that aluminum-based alloys are suited for long-term usage and training. I do not have the resources to make a determinating evaluation regarding the long-term usefulness of this pistol. It’s purposefulness is rather limited; for those who need a lightweight pistol for concealed carry with .45 ACP stopping power. If you need more–i.e. a lifelong self-defense pistol–than you need to explore the all-steel alternatives that are available. Understand that a full review of this pistol and its usefulness will be forthcoming.

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