Springfield Armory .45 ACP Garrison 1911

Here's Your Huckleberry
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The new Springfield Armory Garrison is a solid 1911 with quality engineered into the basics to keep costs low.

Back in the day, when my cohort in crime, GUNS Magazine Editor Brent was born, they used to make guns one by one. The gunsmith (or company) would meticulously fabricate each part, barrel included. The result was a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The downside of this exercise in craftsmanship was parts weren’t interchangeable. In fact, in many cases, the company would ship a custom mold for bullets to fit that particular firearm. Needless to say, such a firearm was an investment akin to a mega-yacht.

Times changed. Henry Ford helped advance the concepts of mass production and assembly, and gun companies began to make standardized parts, in the process increasing reliability and dramatically lowering costs.

Over the past year or so, Springfield Armory has taken the concepts of economies of scale to new heights. Pistols in the Ronin family and the new SA-35 Hi-Power have proven to the market you can make a rock-solid pistol at a price friendly to most everyone.

The latest entry in this race to provide top-notch firearms at affordable price points is the anchor of a new family of 1911 pistols — the Garrison. It’s a basic 1911 design with modern refinements to make it reliable with defensive ammo, accurate and comfortable to carry and shoot.

The safety is left side only — one of the “basic” features chosen to keep this pistol affordable.

Guided Tour

The Garrison has all the right bones. Construction is from forged steel, either hot salt blued carbon or stainless depending on which of the two initial models you choose. The barrel is machined from forged stainless steel, and in these first models, the standard 5″ length. I get the feeling the Garrison is about to become a product line in its own right, so I’d bet a sandwich we’ll see plenty of variants in the future. Just to be clear, that’s my assumption, not based on anything official from the company, so I could be entirely wrong. It just makes sense to create a family of high-quality, high-value pistols at modern production price points.

You get a lot of core pistol for the dollar with the Garrison as the Springfield Armory engineers have emphasized an in-the-box feature set of the most important components and manufacturing decisions. The barrel is match grade. The fit and finish are not bougie, but effective and flaw-free. You’ll note the side surfaces are polished while the rounded top of the slide and front strap of the grip are matte-finished. In the case of the grip, the finish provides a nice surface to hold. As for the top of the slide, the texture reduces glare as you’re sighting.

You’ll find a single safety lever on the left side of the frame, so lefties will need to swap this out with an ambi model. The hammer is skeletonized for faster lock time and the trigger sports a skeletonized design too. You’ll get the extended beavertail negating risk of hammer bite with a high and tight grip and the grip safety sports a generous memory bump.

Grips are checkered wood with the classic double diamond pattern. They also have the nifty Springfield Armory crossed cannons logo cut into both sides. They are ultra thin and I love the feel of this pistol in hand. It’s what a 1911 should be.

You’ll get just one 7-round steel magazine in the box — another nod to keeping the overall cost down.

Sights are of the three white dot variety with a low-profile housing in the rear. Another feature easy to upgrade over time.

Solid Pistol and Custom Gun Platform

My take on the value proposition of the Garrison isn’t in the official marketing materials, but I think it boils down to this.

Out of the box, it’s a high-quality but basic 1911. It’ll perform — well — forever, with no changes. If you want a good 1911, here’s your huckleberry.

On the other hand, if you want a truly great 1911, customized to your own exacting standard, here’s your huckleberry. The important stuff — slide, frame, and barrel make for an outstanding starting platform to do whatever you like over time and as the budget allows.

I intend to buy this one, and over the next couple of years, I’d like to initiate a home improvement program to evolve it into a more custom pistol. For example, I’ll stock up on a pile of dedicated 8-round magazines with bump pads of my choice. I’ll add Novak LMA mega dot sights with the adjustable rear low-profile sight equipped with a horizontal bar. While the trigger is peachy on this one, I might do something bougie there too. I might or might not add an ambi safety. Maybe I’ll hand fit a barrel bushing. And I’ll be keeping my eye out for some one-of-a-kind grips and custom leather. All this because … why not?

The grips are a wood and carved thing, making for excellent feel in the hand. Note the standard double-diamond pattern.

Trigger

The factory trigger is just what you’d expect for a defensive or general purpose 1911. A tiny fraction of an inch of smooth take-up followed by constant pressure for about 1/16″ before a crisp break. Using a trigger scale, I measured the break at a constant 4-1/2 lbs.

Field Stripping

Traditionalists will be happy to find standard guts and takedown procedures. No full-length guide rod here.

Listen up traditionalists! When you field strip the Garrison, you’re not going to find any of the newfangled stuff inside that makes you crazy. There’s no full-length guide rod and the barrel bushing is right where it should be. So, yes, you can field strip this pistol just the way John Moses Browning intended.

Accuracy Games

Tom used this Multi-Caliber Ransom Rest for some quick and dirty accuracy testing.

The dustcover is classic smooth — no rail underneath — so I did some basic accuracy testing the old-fashioned way with iron sights. Often I like to mount a scope to take all “eyesight error” out of the equation. To stabilize things, I used a Ransom International Multi-Caliber rest. This unit is rock solid and helps you keep sights perfectly aligned. I set up targets at 25 yards and proceeded to shoot five-shot groups using a variety of ammo. Just for kicks, I brought out the Competition Electronics ProChrono DLX to read velocity while I was at it. This unit has proved reliable (hardly any missed readings ever) and it beams results back to the bench via a companion smartphone app.

I wanted to try out a range of bullet styles and weights, so I started with Black Hills HoneyBadger. These are solid-copper rounds weighing in at just 135 grains — obviously light for .45 caliber. Recoil was minimal and velocity averaged a whopping 1,233 fps according to the ProChrono DLX. Five shot groups came in at 2.6″.

Next up was a heavier match load — Black Hills’ 200-grain Match Semi-Wadcutter. These exited the muzzle at an average velocity of 897.3 fps. From 25 yards, the five-shot group size measured 2.1″.

Last, I checked out a full-weight defensive load — Federal’s 230-grain HST. These clocked at 892.8 fps and printed a five-shot group of just 1.7″.

 

Tom tested the Garrison with match and defensive ammo ranging in weight from 135 grains to the standard 230.

The Bottom Line

Want a spiffy 1911 but concerned about the budget? Look no further. You won’t go wrong with the Garrison. The blued model carries an MSRP of $800. If you prefer the stainless model, add $49. Keep it as is or make it your hobby over time — it’ll serve you well either way.

For more info: Springfield-Armory.com, RansomRest.com, Black-Hills.com, FederalPremium.com