Gun Review: Springfield Armory Marine (MC) Operator 1911

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    Springfield Armory has been one of the very top manufacturers of 1911’s for many years. Springfield Armory was also the first company to forge a rail on the frame of a 1911. The initial intent of the Operator design was to compete as the sidearm of the Marine Special Operations Unit (MEUSOC).

    The Operator is meant for duty use whether in the holster of a police officer on patrol or a SWAT unit. It would also serve well as a home defense pistol with a light/laser combination mounted on the rail. The primary restriction for any other use is the size and weight. The rail adds a good deal of bulk to the overall size of the pistol. The weight is 42 ounces empty so you add ammo and a rail mounted light and it’s just too much gun for regular CCW daily carry. Another restriction when it first hit the civilian market was a lack of holsters. There just weren’t any to be had for months. Since railed 1911’s are fairly popular there are plenty of holsters to choose from these days.

    Since my primary daily carry gun is a 1911 I use my Operator as a night stand pistol with an Insight Technologies M6X light/laser combo. I still enjoy taking it to the range and using it in local competition. It’s just an enjoyable 1911 to shoot period.

    The Operator is an all forged steel pistol. They come standard with Novak 3 dot night sights, Pachmayr grips, ambidextrous thumb safeties as well as a match barrel, match bushing and match grade aluminum trigger. Slide serrations are front and rear. The Armory Kote finish with olive drab frame and black slide looks really sharp.

    There is one feature or rather lack of one I like. The Operator uses a GI recoil plug and spring guide rather than a full length guiderod. At least in my opinion the full length guiderod adds nothing useful to a 1911 but they have become popular. Kudos to Springfield for leaving it off. I believe this might have been a request from the military during the design phase.

    They come packed in a hard shell blue case with two 7 round magazines included. The warranty is an industry standard one year.

    Caliber .45 ACP
    Capacity 7 rounds
    Finish Olive Drab/Black Armory Kote
    Frame / Slide Forged Steel
    Grip Pachmayr Wraparound
    Barrel 5” Stainless Steel Match Grade and Bushing
    Overall Length 8.5″
    Weight 42 oz. (empty magazine)
    Sights Fixed Low Profile Combat Rear, Dovetail
    Trigger Long Aluminum Match Grade, 5 – 6 lbs.
    Recoil System GI Style Guide Rod
    MSRP $1,387

    Handling the Operator is straightforward and differs little from any other 1911. I noticed when I fired my first magazine the recoil was lighter than a non-railed 1911. Since the rail system is mounted under the front of the frame most of that extra weight is where it will do the most good in reducing recoil.

    While the trigger pull is listed at between 5 and 6 pounds I found it to be 5.5 pounds and crisp. The trigger can also be adjusted for takeup. This one needed no adjustment and was fine as it came from the factory. The thumb safeties operate easily with a firm engagement in both positions.

    The very first thing I check on any 1911 is the adjustment of the grip safety. The grip safety is designed to block the trigger when the pistol is not in your hand. It should be tuned so that a perfect grip isn’t needed to depress it enough to fire the pistol. For some shooters this can be a big problem. Small hands or very incorrect grip with keep that trigger locked and it’s not going to fire. Those of us who ride our thumbs on top of the thumb safety are even more susceptible to this. You’ll be surprised how many 1911’s come from the factory lacking in this adjustment. Now this is not a reason to put the 1911 back in the case and move on. What it means is you take it to a gunsmith for a very simple and inexpensive adjustment to fit your unique grip style. This is a very important consideration though and with the Operator having more hand fitting there should be no problem. Mine works fine with no adjustment needed.

    With aftermarket light added.

    Normally I’m not too happy with any type of rubber grip since they tend to cause too much friction on your clothing when drawing. This slows or even stops your draw. Now with my Operator I left them on since this is a range and nightstand gun for the most part. Other wise I’d recommend the Mil-Tac G-10 grips in green and black. They compliment the colors of the gun very well Also if you happen to be a police officer or in the military you get a 10% discount.

    Mil-Tac G-10 grips

    Range Time

    As I mentioned earlier this is one enjoyable 1911 to shoot. Sometimes I’ll take it to the range in the evening and practice with the light/laser attached. The M6X is a great piece of gear with the bright red laser and 125 lumen white light. These aren’t just fun sessions either. You need to practice even if it’s only making sure your laser is still sighted in.

    I took a variety of ammunition this time out. I had ball ammo from Winchester, Sellier & Belliot. The hollowpoints were from Hornady and Speer.

    Since I’ve shot this pistol so much there were no surprises. Firing from distances of ten and fifteen yards my average group with ball ammo at ten yards was under two inches making one big hole. At fifteen yards groups of just over two inches were common.

    The hollowpoints always seem to give the best results in a 1911. The groups shrunk at ten yards to one and three quarter’s inches. At fifteen yards the average group was two and one eighth inches.


    Springfield Armory has always made excellent 1911’s and they certainly have a large number of models to choose from. I mentioned the weight and bulk preventing a shooter from carrying one of these concealed. There’s another option which is the Operator with a four inch barrel with alloy frame. This one you can carry all day. This is a review for another day but it’s worth mentioning.

    Springfield Armory Lightweight Champion Operator

    As a retired police officer I can say with confidence that should I still be working the street this pistol would be right up there in my top five pistols to consider for duty carry. For a good number of years I was on our departments SRU team. With this in mind I would make this my number one choice if I was performing both jobs.

    For the homeowner the Operator is an excellent choice for defending your family. Setup as mine is with the laser/light combination and reasonable amounts of practice this pistol will be very effective.

    The bottom line is this is a very reliable 1911. In fact one of the most reliable I’ve ever owned. I can’t remember the last time I had a malfunction. It’s a very handsome 1911 as well. Now that may not seem important and I suppose it isn’t but you’ll enjoy it more 🙂

    Happy Shooting!

    Phil White

    Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.