TFB REVIEW: Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite

Considering the fact that I am a lover of polymer, the absence of manual safeties and my ammo choice starts and ends with the number nine, I’m not exactly sure that I am the best choice to review a 1911 pistol. On the one hand, although I can appreciate the elegance and the history of Browning’s design, I couldn’t imagine carrying a single stack pistol for any sort of serious work. On the other hand, I will try to bring an outsider’s point of view to a pair of guns that are both beautifully crafted and function as described. Today we will be taking a look at the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite 1911 pistols in both the full size ‘Operator’ and ‘Compact’ versions.


If you all don’t mind, I’d like to handle this “review” a bit differently than my normal format. Instead of focusing on every minutiae of each gun’s function, I wanted to compare the original 1911 design with one of the newest market offerings. In the first section I’ll go through the basics, specifications, features and accessories. In the second section I will field strip the Operator alongside an original Colt 1911 manufactured in Hartford, Connecticut in 1912. From there we can compare parts and the overall designs of each gun.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t experience a single malfunction during my time with these two guns. Using Aguila 230 grain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) rounds, each pistol fed, chambered and extracted on command – the basic requirements of any defensive handgun. I’d also like to point out that I’d refer to these guns as being “combat accurate”. I only shot steel plates out to 25 yards (no paper punching for groups) and each pistol is accurate enough for government work (see what I did there?).

A short-term “fit and finish” non-scientific study revealed no blemishes, premature wear or any aesthetic issues. Obviously the ergonomics are classic 1911 form, with the addition of oversized, ambidextrous thumb safeties and a pronounced beaver tail blackstrap/grip safety. In addition, the full sized Operator includes a light/laser accessory rail which I believe is a necessity on a true defensive handgun.

Both pistols feature skeletonized triggers and hammers, a characteristic I assume reduces weight while increasing strength. Which I find somewhat amusing since neither gun could be considered “light”. Die hard 1911 fans can chime in on the importance of these features in the comments section below.


The trigger pull is crisp, clean and consistent – what you would expect from a mid to high-end production 1911. Hammer-fired guns are so much different from striker-fired guns; it’s nice to be reminded of what a match-style trigger feels like from time to time.

Each gun comes with four magazines. Sure, capacities are no where near what the modern day double stack pistols offer. However, each mag is slim enough that two of them take up roughly the same space as one Glock magazine.

Both pistols come complete with a range bag, cleaning kit, holster, double mag pouch, replacement fiber optic rods for the front sights and a cable lock. The holster and magazine carrier are made from injection molded plastic, not Kydex or leather, but I still consider it a nice edition for anyone who picks up their new gun at the shop and wants to head right to the range witchout shopping or waiting for a new holster. The bag is of average quality, good enough for light or infrequent use.

The front sight is an orange fiber optic dot that is fairly bright in lower light levels. Obviously, in full darkness they completely disappear. The rear sights are a classic ‘two white dot’ setup. I do like the full cantilever position that brings the dots back as far as possible for maximum sight radius. At this price point, however, I was hoping for tritium night sights.



Range Officer Elite - Operator

Range Officer Elite – Operator

Range Officer Elite - Compact

Range Officer Elite – Compact

Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Compact:

Designed for easy carry and heavy use, the RO® Elite Compact features a lightweight forged alloy frame and forged steel slide coated in corrosion-resistant Black-T® finish. The 4-inch stainless steel match grade bull barrel with fully-supported ramp is coupled with a flat wire captive recoil system for ultimate reliability. The tactical rack white-dot rear sight and fiber optic front sight speeds targeting, an ambidextrous safety adds security, and crisp Gen 2 trigger and thin-line G-10 grips provide the smooth action and secure hold of a quick, accurate and imposing defensive weapon. Available in 9mm and .45 ACP.

MSRP: $1030.00

SPRINGFIELD ARMORY RANGE OFFICER ELITE Operator:

The RO® Elite Operator® is a multi-threat athlete, combining trophy-level accuracy with do-it-all versatility. Match grade frame and slide are forged steel, Black-T™ finished to withstand corrosion, abrasion and extremes. The slide features slanted front and rear serrations for easy racking. The 5 inch stainless steel, match grade barrel delivers on-target rounds with repeatable precision, aided by a tactical rack white-dot rear sight and fiber optic front sight. The Operator sports a crisp Gen 2 trigger and GI recoil system. An accessory rail and ambidextrous safety add flexibility, and thin-line G-10 grips provide a solid, hand-pleasing fit. Available in 9mm and .45ACP.

MSRP: $1,145.00

Old Versus New – 1912 Colt & 2017 Springfield Armory 

After 105 years, very little has changed in terms of overall 1911 parts design. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since that was one of Browning’s goals in developing the 1911 – guns that can be repaired with parts that don’t require hand fitting (for the the most part). Sure, manufacturing processes have changed and material science has evolved, but in the end, interchangeability remains.

Original 1911 Patent Diagram

Credit: Inland Manufacturing

Basic research on the Colt’s serial number shows that it was part of a lot of 2000 guns that went into service in the later part of WWI. At some point it was sent into storage where it waited for three decades to be reissued in WWII.

I love these wood grips, and I’d like to say the G-10 panels on the Springfield are more durable, however if these are the originals, they still look good for being over a hundred years old and surviving two world wars.

The original Colt recoil spring was replaced about 10 years ago. I did keep the original, or at least the one that had been in it since ~1945.

Finishings and coatings have advanced in the last 100 years. Although, for spending most of its life in a tanned leather holster in a variety of climates, I think the slide and frame of the Colt look fairly decent.

If this barrel could talk. What I wouldn’t give to have a camera ride-along since it left the factory.

Range officer Elite – CONCLUSIONS:

The Range Officer Elite series of pistols from Springfield Armory is a good value for the mid to upper level range of production 1911s currently offered in today’s market. Do they do anything exciting or special over other pistols in their price range? Not really. However, they are both well made and are solid performers that would be good for range use or every day carry spending on your needs.

I’d like to thank Aguila Ammunition for supplying quality rounds for our reviews. Consider Aguila the next time you are buying ammo.


Range Officer Elite

Special Thanks: MAC Tactical for always providiñg top notch FFL services





Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com
Twitter: @gunboxready
Instagram: @tfb_pete
https://www.instagram.com/tfb_pete/


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  • Rick O’Shay

    That’s nice. I’ll just wait for one to hit the secondary market, as I won’t be giving Springfield another dime.

    • AC97

      Correct choice, their “rogue lobbyist” narrative doesn’t really hold up all that well when you know that the only four members of the IFMA were: Dennis Reese (the CEO of SA), Tom Reese, the lobbyist, and Chuck Larson, of Rock River Arms, as per the IRS 990 form. (# 46 – 4628447)

      How do you cut ties with yourself, and how would all three of the directors not know what the Executive Director is doing, again? Can anyone tell me how that load of BS makes any sense?

    • Tom Currie

      Hey, Rick, is there ANY major manufacturer of rationally-priced acceptable-quality firearms left that has not screwed shooters one way or another?

      Maybe that needs to be an article for TFB (as if they would have the nerve).

      When you rule out every firearms manufacturer, importer, and distributor who has ever failed to fall on their sword over every piece of anti-gun legislation somewhere, and every company that has been caught bribing some two-bit government official for a contract, and every company that has been caught dodging international arms controls to sell to some country we don’t like, and every company that has ever made or sold a poorly designed or poorly assembled firearm, I’m not sure there is anyone left in the industry.

      And, of course, no RKBA-supporting shooter who supports these boycotts could ever be a member of the one organization that has supported EVERY single piece of anti-gun federal legislation passed by congress in the past fifty years: the NRA.

      • Rick O’Shay

        You pick your hill of outrage to die on, I’ll pick mine. Looks like yours is net neutrality. How’s that working out?

        Springfield didn’t “fail to fall on their sword,” they flat-out pulled a Benedict Arnold in the interest of profiteering and threw every other gun business in Illinois under the bus. Plenty of manufacturers have screwed over gun owners, but primarily in the form of cheapening production quality. Very few have actively supported legislation that actually harms their consumer base. SA just hoped no one would find out. And they almost got away with it.

        I haven’t been a member of NRA in years, so if you’re trying to imply I’m unwittingly supporting them, you’d be wrong.

        • javierjuanmanual

          why weren’t other gun retailers, manufacturers etc also contributing to the lobby group or have their own lobby group ?

      • Paul White

        to me it kind of depends on how much time has passed, and if the people in charge that screwed up are still in charge (or if they’v eat least mended their ways).

        So Ruger, to me is fine. Springfield Armory? not so much. By the time the CEO and board responsible for the current crap are gone, maybe.

      • Edeco

        I’ve never been an NRA member. With me Smith, Ruger and Colt got a reprieve in 2012 due to a situation.

        You’re looking at this the wrong way, like it’s a reaction. That’s a losing position. Getting back at SA itself doesn’t mean much. Showing a clear message to other gun companies is the payoff.

  • Michael Boudreaux

    I’ve only ever bought two boxes of aguila, both 9mm. One box had a jam every 2-3 rounds I shot and I didn’t have any other issues that day with any other ammo I shot. Haven’t bought anymore since.

    • DangerousClown

      Their .22 Colibri is great ammo for basement plinking. Or so I’ve heard.

      • hkryan

        Or didn’t hear?

  • David L. Willis

    Seriously dude, quit doong reviews on thier products and giving Springfield press coverage. Don’t care if they come out with some holy grail platform…any money spent by gun owners has proven to be used to undermine those same customers over bs political pandering. Won’t buy anything they make, regardless of excuses or explanations and won’t keep coming here if you keep making excuses for them. Plenty of great, smaller companies out there, like Andro Corp Industries, who are actual 2A and gun community supporters that could greatly benefit from even a paragraph from you.

    • Edeco

      Well, I see them advertised here and there’re still the technicals to report. I don’t mind TFB reporting their stuff and taking their money and leaving it to us to maintain the boycott. It gets money from SA to TFB and gives us interesting info and a forum to stomp and growl.

      I almost want that EMP 40 commander. But too expense, too heavy, the frame texture is too crazy, and I think they use special grip. And principle of course.

    • James Young

      Firearms not politics. That’s why they do Springfield reviews. I’m sure they have discussed the issue behind closed doors, but they shouldn’t be getting into that part. Besides people can still buy used Springfields without supporting the company

    • javierjuanmanual

      curious, does andro corp lobby for everyones rights, even against their own interest ? maybe the foot the bill for the entire state, and hundreds of other businesses contribute nothing ?

  • Rem870

    Springfield Armory shot themselves in the foot as i recall.

    • Edeco

      Totes.

  • TheSeaward

    Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • BravoSeven

    Regardless of your opinion of Springfield these really are nice handguns. Even with hoopla with SA I still wouldn’t mind having one.

  • marinepride

    But muh Illinois wahhhhh. I bought 2 of them.

  • Landru

    Regardless of ones feelings on Springfield Armory the company those are two nice looking firearms and priced within reach of mortal man & women.

    As a side note if I boycotted every company that has had a hiccup over the years I would have very few places to shop.

  • the ambi safetys on 1911’s ruin it. lefties should stop crying

    • Jeez Louise

      Yet it is righties that are complaining like babies….

      • I am sure john browning disagrees that’s why it was only on the right

      • there’s a reason he didn’t put a ambi safety on the original.

  • DESTRO YAKISOBA
  • Harry’s Holsters

    This gun is really pushing the limits of my fortitude on not directly giving business to Springfield.

  • JimDan

    Whats up with the Gen 2 trigger? Could you take it down further so we could see how it differs from the old trigger? does it appear to have a firing pin block?

    • Grant

      There is no firing pin block in this gun.

  • Gol

    Quick slightly unrelated question, what are everyone’s thoughs about buying a used Springfield Armory? I’ve wanted a TRP for years, but as we all know about the current fiasco with them, I’d rather not buy a new one. Is it ok to buy used?

    • AC97

      Well, considering how they don’t get money from a used sale… yeah, go for it if you want a Springfield Armory.

    • Edeco

      I wouldn’t try to advise or say what’s OK for anyone else. In any case, you seem thoughtful, I hope you get what you want.

      I’ve considered it for myself, and concluded that a used purchase might benefit SA a bit by tightening the supply of substitutes for new product and increasing, to a tiny extent, the resale value of an SA. Not near as much as a new purchase, but also not the gold standard of treating them like kryptonite.

    • Gol

      Thanks guys. I’m not in a huge rush for one, but i figured if I come across a used one I’d be awfully tempted to buy it.

    • Jadam

      If you are an adult, I would say you are free to make any decision you like. I often get grief from people at the range because, evidently it is wrong that I can afford guns that some cannot. People love to hate. Gun people really love to hate. Why would you care what someone’s opinion about your firearm is? Personally I will take my TRP and RRA to the range and have fun. If someone has a problem, well that’s even more fun. One thing I will never do is change who I am based on what someone feels is what I should be. Honestly this boycott talk is starting to sound like virtue signaling. SA isn’t going anywhere, much like Ruger didn’t go anywhere.

  • Rick O’Shay

    I’m lefty, but grew up in an era where there was no such thing as a left handed gun. With the exception of my M&P 9c,, which has the mag release flipped around, and my ARS, which have ambi safeties, all my guns are “normal,” for the simple reason of “that’s what I’m used to shooting.”

  • Openmindednotangry

    Nice gun! Does it also come with 30 pieces of silver? It only costs your eternal soul…….

  • Tom of Toms

    Skeletonized triggers and hammers are not for the purpose of lightening the gun, or for mere aesthetics. A lighter trigger produces a lighter trigger pull. Would probably need an instrument and have all other trigger components well polished and fitted to notice a difference. Skeletonized hammers exist to decrease lock-time.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks for answering that question.

  • ChuckCVG

    Meh. Buy a Kimber Custom II for less than HALF the price and you will have a better gun.

    • javierjuanmanual

      no.

  • Sam Damiano

    Pete, they make one for 9mm guys, too. Check out PI9129L. List $945.00, but real prices are as low as 700.00, 9mm elite PI9129ER is available for $840.

    • Sam Damiano

      PS: I have polymer .45’s, G30SF and G21. Nothing wrong with trying different things. I carry them but shoot bulls eye with 1911’s.

      • Pete – TFB Writer

        You’re right. I should probably branch out a bit.

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      Thanks. I should have mentioned that. I wish the operator came with a threaded barrel.

  • MikeA

    The top down view with the slide off, the Springfield frame looks a lot thicker around the recoil spring housing.