By John Taffin
Ruger took a long time to get into the manufacturing of 1911s, waiting until the 100th Anniversary of John Browning’s magnificent design. When they did bring out their version of the 1911 it was done right, and like all Ruger firearms it’s both rugged and reliable. Since the first one chambered in .45 ACP, they’ve added three more .45 versions, Commanders in both standard and Lightweight versions as well as a Target Model 1911. In 2016, Ruger introduced the Lightweight Commander in 9mm, followed by the 10mm Target Model. Now in 2018 we’ve two more iterations of the 9mm, a Lightweight Officers Model-style and a Target Model.
Taffin got a real kick out of Ruger’s trio of soft-recoiling 9mm 1911s. Shown are the
Target Model full size, Commander-Style mid-size and compact Officers Model-Style.
The Officers Model-Style compact (top) has a short
3.6″ barrel and the Commander has a longer 4.25″ barrel.
These two latest 1911s from Ruger fill out the 9mm Trio as all standard possibilities for the 1911 are fulfilled, with one example being smaller than the Commander-style Nine and the other the larger full-size 1911. The first one to arrive for testing was the Lightweight Officer-Style as Ruger calls it and it’s basically a rendition of the Officers Model. This little pistol weighs in at just over 27 ozs. with an anodized aluminum frame and a barrel length of 3.6″. The slide is stainless steel with a low-glare finish, and the excellent sights are drift adjustable three-dot Novaks.
Normally I change grips on all my personal pistols and 1911s are some of the easiest to personalize. However, I find the factory grips on the Ruger OM to be both functional and attractive. They are of deluxe checkered G-10 material and a close look shows the intriguing pattern found on these grips are an outline of the wings of the Ruger Eagle. These grips combined with the rounded mainspring housing makes shooting quite comfortable.
The pistol’s slide-to-frame fit’s tight and the slide travels very smoothly and evenly. It’s easy for older hands to chamber a round by pulling on the slide using the grooves found on both sides of the slide below the rear sight. Instead of the traditional barrel bushing found on most 1911s, this model’s got a bushingless black nitride-coated barrel and a full-length steel guide rod. Both the hammer and trigger are lightweight and skeletonized, with the latter having an adjustable over-travel stop.
One of the things making this little pistol so easy to shoot is the now almost mandatory beavertail grip safety with memory bump I find almost necessary for my hands to acquire a quick firing position. Operation’s enhanced by an extended thumb safety and slide stop lever as well as an extended magazine release, which allows positive removal when pressed. The over-sized ejection port aids functioning and I had no problems whatsoever with feeding, chambering or ejection of any rounds tried. Capacity is 8+1 rounds.
The full-size Target Model 1911 9mm was a
real shooter and has the longest barrel at 5″.
The handy little Officers-Style 1911 delivered good fight-stopping
accuracy for Taffin.
I’ve had considerable experience with .45 Officers Models over the past 30+ years from a couple different manufacturers. I’ve often heard these smaller .45s with their shorter barrels weren’t reliable, however I haven’t had a single problem with feeding and functioning that could not be traced to the ammunition. With proper loads they always work. The one drawback however is the fact in my now much older hands recoil is definitely objectionable after a couple of full magazines have been emptied.
For use as a defensive pistol there is no problem, however shooting several hundred rounds over a period of a couple hours isn’t something to look forward to. But the 9mm version changes this. Even though it is only 27 ozs. with its anodized aluminum frame, it’s still quite pleasant to shoot and I’ve no problem putting 300 rounds through it in one session.
Sixteen factory loads were tried in extensively testing this Ruger Officers Model-Style 9mm. Both hollowpoint and full metal jacket designs were tried with bullet weights running from the NOV X 65-gr. ARX bulleted rounds up to SIG SAUER 147-gr. FMJs. All firing was done at a self-defense distance of 7 yards. It shot 115- and 124-gr. JHPs exceptionally well, with the Black Hills 115-gr. JHP +P loads clocking out at over 1,200 fps and their 124-gr. JHP right at 1,100 fps. Standard velocity 115-gr. JHPs which performed well included the HPR at 1,030 fps; SIG SAUER V-Crown,1,067 fps; and Speer Blazer at 1,109 fps. The HPR proved to be most accurate with five rounds in 3/4″ at 7 yards. The specialty Honey Badger load from Black Hills with a 125-gr. ARX bullet was also quite accurate with groups under 1″. I would have no hesitation carrying this small 9mm concealed.
Two weeks after receiving the Officers Model Ruger, the pistol from the other end of the spectrum arrived. The SR1911 Target Model full-size 1911 is fitted with finely adjustable target sights. The 5″ Black Nitride barrel is also bushing-less with a full-length steel guide rod. The checkered flat mainspring housing’s exactly as my hand prefers and mates up nicely with checkered G-10 grips. Just as with the Officers Model-Style Ruger, this full-sized adjustable sighted version has a lightweight skeletonized trigger and hammer, beavertail grip safety with memory bump, oversized ejection port, an extended magazine release, and extended ambidextrous thumb safety, as well as slide stop lever. Capacity of this Ruger 9mm is 9+1 rounds. This is a much heavier pistol at 41.9 ozs., which combined with its excellent adjustable sights makes shooting especially comfortable. All three of the SR1911 Ruger 9mms have a barrel twist of 1:10.
The Target Model 9mm Ruger was also test-fired with 16 factory loads ranging in weight from 65 grains up to 147 grains with JHP, FMJ and ARX bullets. For five shots at 20 yards, the most accurate loads with groups just over 1″ include the Black Hills 115-gr. JHP +P at 1,306 fps; Black Hills 125-gr. Honey Badger, 929 fps; Hornady 90-gr. XTP-JHP, 1,382 fps; and SIG SAUER 115-gr. V-Crowm JHP loading at 1,222 fps. As with its smaller counterpart, the full-sized SR1911 9mm was 100 percent reliable with no malfunctions whatsoever in feeding, chambering or ejecting. Presently, I’ve only test-fired the Target Model with jacketed factory rounds; however, and especially as the weather gets better, with spring just around the corner by a couple of months, I’ll be trying it with several handloads using cast bullets.
Not too long ago, it was almost impossible to find a full-sized 1911 chambered in 9mm. Now we not only have this excellent version but also the two smaller versions to choose from, thanks to Ruger. Their Target Model lineup is almost complete now with chamberings in .45 ACP, 10mm and 9mm. I hope this Target Model Trio soon becomes a quartet with the addition of a similar model chambered in .38 Super. But, these 9mms will definitely keep me happy for now!
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index