Springfield Armory Range Officer?

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Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/15/2018, 8:47 am

So Springfield Armory has finally been added to the approved 1911’s I can purchase in my State.  I have never owned a 1911 and want to make my first purchase.  Almost everything I have read on the Range Officer seems to indicate it is a great first choice that can take me pretty far in competition. 

Putting a .22 conversion on the frame is not out of the question either.  While I have become a dedicated .22 shooter, having a back up .22 that is as competitive as my match 22 and serves as practice for the .45 is not a bad thing in my opinion.

I’m a dot shooter too.  I do expect to mount a dot on whatever 1911 I end up with, if that makes any difference in model choice.  Before I make the investment I’d like to ask if the Range Officer is still considered the best choice?  I’d hate to buy one and find out that for a few hundred dollars more XYZ brand / model would be a much better option.

Thanks

Jon
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Sc0 on 1/15/2018, 9:10 am

In my opinion, still the best choice unless you come across a built wad gun or a really good deal on a RRA.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by kc.crawford.7 on 1/15/2018, 9:17 am

Jon, you can't go wrong with a Range Officer.  Easy to set up for your conversion if you don't mind a heavier trigger for the 22 portion.  Most folks find fitting a new bushing and doing trigger work is all you need to start out.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Tim:H11 on 1/15/2018, 9:38 am

Still the go to for new shooters as far as I know. I bought one just for service pistol (hardball) and after testing the only thing I did was set up the trigger, and put a 14# recoil spring in it. It’s good to go. It can always be improved upon but for local service pistol matches trying to leg out its perfect. For a new shooter needing a wad gun; you won’t out shoot the gun. An excellent place to start and learn on. Ought to last you right on through expert class. Maybe into master class but if you’re shooting those scores you’ll benefit from a new bushing for sure, maybe a new barrel as well.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/15/2018, 10:11 am

Thanks,
 I looked at a 9MM one in a shop yesterday and it was mighty impressive.  I assumed they were still the best choice, just wanted to confirm that something had not surpassed them in recent months.

I have very few local center fire matches so I’m sure I’ll never get enough experience with it to need any better.  I thought that about 22’s and I’ve upgraded three times in a year; but I have a lot of opportunity to shoot them in matches.

Will a RO shoot non-jacketed bullets?  I was assuming it was a FMJ proposition.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by cdrt on 1/15/2018, 10:18 am

I would recommend that you go with the RO in .45 ACP and not 9 mm.  If you are only going to get one centerfire pistol, it would make sense to get the .45.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by willnewton on 1/15/2018, 10:47 am

Agreed, buy .45, especially if you reload.

I bought a stainless RO and it has been great. It can grow with you.

I think the only stock parts left on mine are the grip screw bushings, firing pin, and magazine catch housing.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Tim:H11 on 1/15/2018, 10:52 am

Jon Math wrote:Thanks,
 I looked at a 9MM one in a shop yesterday and it was mighty impressive.  I assumed they were still the best choice, just wanted to confirm that something had not surpassed them in recent months.

I have very few local center fire matches so I’m sure I’ll never get enough experience with it to need any better.  I thought that about 22’s and I’ve upgraded three times in a year; but I have a lot of opportunity to shoot them in matches.

Will a RO shoot non-jacketed bullets?  I was assuming it was a FMJ proposition.

Range Officer’s Will shoot lead or jacketed just fine. But off the shelf ammunition may not perform to your expectations. You’ll want to load ammunition to fine the best ammunition for your particular gun. Of if you don’t reload then buy match ammunition. 

My good things to say about the Range Officer only goes as far as the 45 caliber model. I know nothing of the 9mm Model. 45 caliber would be a smarter choice because like mentioned about it gets you in to both center fire and 45 caliber matches.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/15/2018, 11:58 am

I was not considering the RO in anything but .45.  The one I’ve seen was the one in the shop in 9mm and from a quality fit and finish standpoint I was impressed;  I’m having him order me one in .45. 
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Russ OR on 1/15/2018, 12:27 pm

RO in 45 acp is good.  - The real pistol smiths can provide the best advice.
I know just enough to be dangerous.

Posted before: 
RO trigger job for dummies:
Stock ROs have stout mainsprings & recoil springs.
On my RO-after some break in I installed a Wolff ILS reduced power (24#) mainspring - a touch of Neco Molyslide on the sear/hammer engagement and it's right at a 3½# pull - feels good. - -A friend did the same thing and uses his w/ a conversion.
ILS=internal locking system 

The Wolff ILS mainspring weights (24-28(30?)) are different from standard (18-24?). Trust Wolff.
Many like to replace the ILS mainspring housing w/ standard. I kinda like the ILS housings -easy to remove / replace with the take down pin.
2¢ - YMMV

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by KenO on 1/15/2018, 6:52 pm

I bought one last year for Leg matches. It didn't come with a ILS.  I occasionally practice with regular BE loads (3.8 BE over 200gr LSWC,) it functions just fine and its completely stock. I expected to have to change out the recoil spring for the light load, its has a pretty stiff spring, but didn't have to. 

I'm happy with it. I think its a fine choice.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Virgil Kane on 1/16/2018, 6:52 am

No ILS on the new ones.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Bullseye_Stan on 1/16/2018, 7:19 am

I like my Range Officer (no ILS).  It has a parkerized finish, all steel, with wood grips.  I appreciate the click adjustable rear sight.  IIRC, the price was ~ $800.  I'm sure they can be purchase for less, but the transaction was smooth and convenient. 

I have put a cylinder and slide (C&S) sear and hammer kit in mine (~$150) when Brownells had them on sale.  That helped, but just installing a C&S reduced strength sear spring made a noticeable difference.  I reload and installed a reduced strength recoil spring for 'Powder Puff' loads. Some day I may try my hand at checkering the front strap.

The Range Officer (IMO) is a 'build as you go' type of gun.  Eventually (and this is speaking for myself), I'll probably have $1500 in the gun.  But, that will happen after multiple upgrades including optics.  It's a good platform to customize.

I like to 'tinker' (to a point) and with the myriad of 45acp custom parts available, that's a bit too tempting for me.  The Range Officer is a 'standard' Government model 45.  Of course, there is always the possibility of getting a 'dud' from the factory, and a couple have reported having one.  Mine has been great!  When people talk about: "buy a 45, learn the fundamentals, and when you shoot expert scores then upgrade", I'm fairly certain they are talking about the Range Officer.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/16/2018, 3:09 pm

Locally .22 matches are easy to find, but center fire ones are pretty rare so I really don’t want to make a huge investment in a pistol I will not get much opportunity to use.  But I’m a fair shooter and don’t want a noise maker that will embarrass me either; the RO seems like a perfect choice.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/22/2018, 8:46 am

Thanks for the advice Gents:
I did purchase one of these in .45 this weekend.  I wish is it was made in blued steel rather than the oxide finish, but that is a minor and so far my only complaint.

The gun shop only had one brand and style of .45 ammo on the shelf.  Full metal jacketed Mexican stuff.  I was not expecting much, but at 50 feet, indoors, it was on the paper from round one and once I made a sight adjustment I was shooting touching groups.  I am impressed.  Being full boat military loads the noise and recoil was pretty interesting but not overly intense, but I have had harder kicking pistols in smaller calibers.  I hope with a target load it still shoots and functions as well.
Browning built a winner over a hundred years ago, I understand why they are still so popular to this day.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by willnewton on 1/22/2018, 11:36 am

I am going to guess you shot some Aguila round nose FMJ.  It has a solid kick to it.  

The next level down might be something like ASYM, a JHP target round that is slightly less powerful, but still has some kick.  You can also handload a slightly lighter recoil version of this ammo.

Below that you can try dropping into lead semiwadcutter. These are nice to shoot and more than enough for target needs.  You may need a lighter recoil spring depending on how lightly loaded they are.

At the lowest recoil levels, you are handloading LSWC at powder puff levels.  The recoil is very low, and you will probably be doing some spring tuning for sure to get proper cycling.

You can also switch to a more squared off firing pin stop and that may help.  

One of the biggest changes you might make in the future could be a slide mounted scope. Depending on your setup, it can soak up a fair bit of recoil.  Again, you will probably need a lighter recoil spring for proper ejection, depending on your load.

Not long after getting my .45, I picked up the reloading habit.  It is totally worth it to pick a basic press and dies to get started.  It was not hard to get the basic technique down and the money savings will pay for your reloading setup surprisingly quick.  You will be able to make any type of load you like and shooting .45 will become a pleasure.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Eulette on 1/22/2018, 11:42 am

I build lot's of RO's into full blown wad guns. They are great base guns. I like'm!
Jon
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/22/2018, 12:09 pm

willnewton wrote:I am going to guess you shot some Aguila round nose FMJ.  It has a solid kick to it.  

The next level down might be something like ASYM, a JHP target round that is slightly less powerful, but still has some kick.  You can also handload a slightly lighter recoil version of this ammo.

Below that you can try dropping into lead semiwadcutter. These are nice to shoot and more than enough for target needs.  You may need a lighter recoil spring depending on how lightly loaded they are.

At the lowest recoil levels, you are handloading LSWC at powder puff levels.  The recoil is very low, and you will probably be doing some spring tuning for sure to get proper cycling.

You can also switch to a more squared off firing pin stop and that may help.  

One of the biggest changes you might make in the future could be a slide mounted scope. Depending on your setup, it can soak up a fair bit of recoil.  Again, you will probably need a lighter recoil spring for proper ejection, depending on your load.

Not long after getting my .45, I picked up the reloading habit.  It is totally worth it to pick a basic press and dies to get started.  It was not hard to get the basic technique down and the money savings will pay for your reloading setup surprisingly quick.  You will be able to make any type of load you like and shooting .45 will become a pleasure.

Thanks for the information!!


I was shooting them.  As much as I like the iron sights on the pistol, I will be replacing them with a dot pretty quickly.  I use long tube Ultra/Match dot scopes on my .22’s but was considering one of those small Fast Fire or Vortex style dots that have the adapters that fit into the rear sight’s dove tail in the slide.  My experience with gunsmiths local to me has been a disaster.  You would assume drilling and tapping a couple of holes in a line would be one of the first things a smith is taught, but mine must have missed that lesson.  I’d much rather have a rail on top of the slide.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Amati on 1/23/2018, 6:37 am

Lots of user reports ^^^ for the RO beg the question of what springs are being used with 185gr. LSWC.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by willnewton on 1/23/2018, 7:24 am

The one that the cycles the gun well with your load.  It is not a single number.  Depends on your gun setup as well.  It is not just about your ammo specs.  Hammer spring weight, magazine spring weight, firing pin stop geometry, slide to frame fit, even the finish can all affect the number.  Even if you have a number, you just won’t know if it works for you until you try it.

Buy a pack of them from 9-16 lbs. and try them all out.  You will find one that will launch your case 6 feet and one that won’t allow the gun to cycle.  It will be between there.  

I have had it set up so they just fall out of the gun onto my shooting hand and/or not lock the slide back on the last round only about half the time.  I tend to go a pound lighter than that spring, so the cases land within a few feet and the gun cycles 100%.  Also, since I have a tightly built gun, I have to make sure it is well-oiled and the ways stay reasonably clean or the slide may start to drag and I could have function issues.  So, even though I have the “right” spring I need to do my part to make sure the gun will cycle 100%.

You might pick a stronger spring that helps puts the pistol back on target after firing when the slide cycles back into battery.  This might be more important for heavier loads or in RF/TF.

Sure, there will be folks shouting out “their” number and it may be a good starting point or even a perfect fit for you, but what will you have learned?  Not as much as if you tried a 5lb spread of them and seen for yourself how the pistol behaves.  It only takes a few minutes to swap them out at the range and is great first experiment to learn more about your pistol.

General rules of thumb. Lighter load, lighter spring. Heavier slide (slide mount dot), lighter spring. Heavy slide and light load, lightest spring.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jack H on 1/23/2018, 1:55 pm

I rate my recoil springs as Zing, Throw, Lob, Bloop, Dribble, and PJ.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Amati on 1/23/2018, 4:47 pm

willnewton wrote:The one that the cycles the gun well with your load.  It is not a single number.  Depends on your gun setup as well   .....

Nice post that makes a lot of sense.

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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Jon Math on 1/24/2018, 9:10 am

Are the scope mounts that replace a grip panel and cantilever the rail over the slide any good?  Is any one brand better than others?   I’d like a scope on the 1911, but do not want to do anything permanent, until I’m sure I’m keeping the pistol for a while.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Chris Miceli on 1/24/2018, 9:12 am

Jon Math wrote:Are the scope mounts that replace a grip panel and cantilever the rail over the slide any good?  Is any one brand better than others?   I’d like a scope on the 1911, but do not want to do anything permanent, until I’m sure I’m keeping the pistol for a while.
I believe Jon has shot some 880+ scores with a grip mount gun.
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Re: Springfield Armory Range Officer?

Post by Dr.Don on 1/24/2018, 9:26 am

IMHO they are a reasonable way to test your liking for the gun, but you will want to go a different route if you keep it.  I used one (NPC, no longer made) for several years.  They mount the sight higher than you may want, and I would not trust anything that uses solely the grip mount screws long term.  I put 2 extra screws in mine in locations that are hidden under the grip panels when the mount is removed.  

If you keep the gun you will probably want to go with either a slide mount (most popular) or a Dave Sams style frame mount.
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