I’m always looking for an edge. The right tools, the right gun – a way to get better faster without breaking the bank. The Springfield Range Officer Champion 9mm 1911 is like that, it’s as good as you are. In my case, maybe better.
I’ve sometimes been accused of burying the lede, so let’s get this out of the way. The Springfield Range Officer Champion 9mm reviewed here shoots above its weight (and price) class. It’s tight. It’s right. And it has me wondering why I didn’t get my hands on one earlier.
The Springfield Armory
AMMDOG Reviews recently wrote about the Model 1884 “Trapdoor” Rifle produced by the Springfield Armory. That Springfield Armory and this Springfield Armory have nothing in common but the name. Well, maybe that’s not completely true – they’ve both produced some terrific firearms.
The storied Springfield Armory of Springfield Massachusetts closed their doors back in 1968. Once closed, a company called LH manufacturing obtained the Springfield Armory trademark for their own. They soon began to pay homage to the original Armory by cranking out tributes to a number of the original’s products like the M1 Garand, M14 and the (now) over century old 1911.
Half a century ago (more or less) Springfield set their skills on producing a quality example of the classic John Browning designed, Colt and later Springfield Armory manufactured, 1911 A1. Over the years they expanded from the core “Government” 1911 template and customized their 1911 offerings for different niches in the modern 1911 market.
A Little Off the Top
The “Champion” is a Commander sized option in their extensive Range Officer line. The Champion combines a full-size frame with a shorter 4” barrel. This format makes it an easier carry than a full sized 1911, but personally I still don’t see it as a carry pistol. To be sure, with the right rig you can conceal it and many do.
Keeping the full size frame gets you single stack 9+1 capacity in 9mm as we tested, using the stock flush fit magazines. If you prefer the more common .45 caliber, you drop down to 7+1.
The tapered forged stainless bull barrel in the 9mm looks massive and it is. There is no barrel bushing like the full sized Range Officer. The business end is all, well… business. Despite the muzzle looking like a miniature howitzer, the alloy frame keeps the overall weight of the pistol down to a relatively trim 31.5 ounces.
The slide is Parkerized forged carbon steel and the finish matches well with the black anodized aluminum alloy frame. It’s a low glare slightly matte finish. Maybe not pretty, but it’s functional. There are cocking serrations on the rear of the slide only.
The model and manufacturer lettering is etched into the slide and frame. With the dull black finish, it basically disappears giving it a very “stealthy appearance. The whole effect is very understated. It’s a good looking pistol, but if you’re looking for flash this isn’t it.
The Range Officer Champion comes from the factory with rear low profile white dot combat sights and a red fiber optic front sight. I’m a big fan of this arrangement. The front fiber optic sight gives you a great focal point in all but the lowest light conditions.
The factory grips are a rich looking cocobolo with deep diamond pattern checkering. The grips feature the crossed cannon “Coat of Arms” of the Springfield Armory as well as the “RO Champion” moniker. The skeletonized hammer and trigger add to the “custom” look of the Springfield 1911. It’s small stuff, but the small stuff adds up.
The mainspring housing is checkered but the front strap is smooth. With the stock wood grips there’s plenty to hold on to with the light recoiling 9mm cartridges. The ejection port is lowered and flared giving your ejected brass an easy exit from the pistol. The magazine well has a slight 45% bevel to help guide the magazines in.
Overall it has the look of a pistol that’s been tweaked for work, not just for show. The heavy stainless barrel has a fully supported feed ramp and the pistol uses a full length guide rod.
There is no play in the slide fit and when you shake, there’s no rattles. Like I said… tight.
The Springfield Range Officer Champion kit shipped with a complement of goodies. This one arrived with a couple stainless steel mags, magazine carrier, a polymer holster (of questionable utility) and a cleaning brush. Pretty much everything you need to hit the range except a boatload of ammo. We’ve got that covered.
Every new pistol in your hand takes a little adjustment to get in sync but I found that to be very a short learning curve with the RO Champion. Offhand at 15 yards the first magazine’s results told me this was set up for a six o’clock hold as it shot consistently a couple inches high.
Not familiar with six o’clock hold? It just means your sight picture consists of standard (equal height, equal light) sight alignment except instead of covering your target with the front site, it touches its six o’clock position as above.
Once I got the right sight picture it was embarrassingly easy to put rounds on target. In fact, I stood there wondering for a minute if I either had Wheaties for breakfast or stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. As long as I didn’t do anything stupid (as I do from time to time) and kept my mind right, it just kept printing in the center of the target.
The second magazine from 15 yards offhand looked like this.
I rarely shoot off a rest because, well… it just kind of annoys me. But if you did, I have no doubt you’d have no problem creating a single ragged hole at these distances with the Springfield RO Champion.
Springfield RO Champion Trigger
It’s definitely not the lightest 1911 trigger I’ve ever tried but at a consistent 4 pounds, 2 ounces pull weight, it ain’t bad. This is a new gun, so we’ll have to give it some time to break in but right out of the box it is very shootable.
The magazine springs need a little time to relax too, as the last round inserted into the 9 round magazine is pretty snug. In fact, with a full mag you could sense the slide slowing down as it stripped the first round off the top of a full magazine. It wasn’t enough to cause a feed failure, but still you felt it.
Other than that? Shooting the Springfield Range Officer Champion was pretty much smooth sailing. The trigger is just light enough for great accuracy and the pistol is substantial enough to minimize muzzle flip so follow up shots are quick.
I see the RO Champion 9mm as a target gun, an entry level competition pistol and lastly a defensive option. Despite the shorter 4” barrel of the Champion, if you’re going 9mm there are many lighter, more concealable pistols with higher capacities for defensive purposes. If you go with the .45 caliber model and you’re comfortable with 2 pounds plus riding around with you… I’ll just say that works for some folks.
However, if you’re all about the scores, the Range Officer Champion 9mm is a fine choice. It’s accurate and reliable right out of the box. It looks and feels great. With a little break in period I think it will give a lot of more expensive 1911s a run for their money.
|• Model: Springfield Armory Range Officer Champion|
• Caliber: 9mm
• Barrel: 4” Forged Stainless bull 1:16
• Slide: Parkerized Carbon Steel
• Frame: Anodized Forged Aluminum
|• Capacity 9+1|
• Weight: 31.5 oz
• Height: 5.5”
• Length: 7.6”
• MSRP: $924.00