The 1911 style pistol in just about any iteration is a handsome firearm. I think you’d be hard pressed to find somebody that would honestly disagree with that statement. One that would cause a shade more discontent is if the 1911 is still relevant in the self defense role. It has many detractors, but I am not one of them. I won’t go into the why or wherefore, at least in this article. Suffice it to say that I believe the 1911 to be perfectly adequate for self defense, duty, and combat. We will leave it at that for now.
Every gun collection is incomplete without a 1911, so the problem is not if you should get a 1911, but which 1911 you should get. The firearms market is permeated with good ones and bad ones, cheap ones and expensive ones, and ones that are a combination of the aforementioned qualities.Almost every major firearms manufacturer has their version of the 1911 (and the AR) and Ruger is no different. The SR1911 is a handsome yet very spartan styled version of JMB’s ubiquitous handgun, with some very important updates to bring this fine fighting pistol into the 21st century.
The Ruger lineup includes quite a few variations of the SR1911 to suit almost any gun owner, with the one I have for reviewing being the CMD, or “Commander” if you will. The only real difference between the CMD and the standard SR1911 is the CMD’s shorter 4.25″barrel over the standard 5″ pipe.
The all-stainless steel Ruger CMD follows the lines of the classic Colt Commander, or Combat Commander as it was later known to distinguish it from the Lightweight Commander which had an alloy frame. Ruger also has a Lightweight CMD in their product lineup. Despite the significant weight difference between the CMD and the Lightweight CMD (36oz vs 29oz) I feel that the CMD still makes for an excellent carry option, while the all-steel frame absorbs full power 45 ACP loads with ease. I should mention that I have had this pistol for almost two years and have been most satisfied with the purchase. My first pistol I bought on my 21st birthday was a GI style 1911 of East Asian extraction that was reliable enough, but not very well finished, and certainly not accurate. It was minute of 55 gallon drum. At 15 yards. After a few years I knew I wanted (needed) another 1911, but wasn’t sure what to get. After literally months of research on current manufacturers 1911s and waffling on the idea back and forth, I made a conscious decision to buy a SR1911 CMD.
The SR1911 CMD ships in a plain white cardboard box. Inside the box are pistol, two magazines, a bushing wrench, a zip-up black Ruger pistol case, and then gun lock and literature. You noticed I said bushing wrench. Yep. The SR1911 retains the old-school recoil bushing/ recoil spring system instead of the popular guide rod found on many newer 1911 iterations. I am a fan of this. Not only is it easier to disassemble, I believe it makes the pistol vastly more reliable. A guide rod might be perfectly fine on a race gun or target gun, but as one wise and well respected gun writer once told me “it has no business on a fightin’ pistol” Remember, the further you deviate from JMBs original design the more problems you run into. (e.g. all 3″1911s)
An interesting change is the firing pin. The Ruger, similar to a Series 70 Colt and dissimilar to a Series 80 Colt, does not have a firing pin block. The firing pin block on a Series 80 Colt (and a lot of other currently made 1911 clones) was implemented to prevent accidental discharges should the pistol be dropped on its hammer while loaded. Unfortunately there is with all things a tradeoff. The firing pin block can make the trigger gritty, mushy, and heavier. It can also lead to other issues down the road. So how does the Ruger pass a drop test without a firing pin block? With an ultralight titanium firing pin and extra strong firing pin spring. It makes for a very safe pistol while retaining a very crisp trigger.
The Ruger does have a big wing type safety, but it is not ambidextrous, something else I like. Ambi safeties, especially on 1911s have a habit of getting switched off by every little thing in close proximity and makes the pistol unnecessarily wide.
Mounted in the frame are low-profile three dot Novak sights. The Grips are checkered hardwood and have the customary Sturm-Ruger Eagle emblazed on them. I may swap them for some ultra thin G10s, but for now they work fine and look good. The hammer is a skeletonized ring-type and the three-hole trigger is adjustable for overtravel. And no, there is no light rail on the dust cover or forward serrations on the slide. This is a good looking pistol, remember?
The Ruger CMD has an overall length of 7.75″with a 4.25″ barrel. It weighs a solid and reaffirming 36oz unloaded. Compared to your G19 that may seem heavy, but the weight is reassuring, it reminds us of a time when guns were made of steel and wood, and men were too.
Dissasembly is a breeze, field strip it as you would any other standard 1911. I won’t go into it, as there are quite a few steps and plenty of literature on the topic. Don’t let that discourage you, 1911s are easy to strip and reassemble, just not Glock-simple.
1911s are exceptionally thin for a full size pistol and at 1.3″ at its widest point the Ruger CMD is no exception. If one wears baggy shirts or light jackets, the pistol is easily concealed using a plain ‘ol OWB holster. For those of you frothing at the mouth, yes, 1911s are perfectly adequate, and in some situations stellar for self defense and concealed carry, providing the responsible gun owner is properly trained and knowledgeable on how to carry a loaded 1911 safely. (hint: it’s called “cocked and locked” or condition 1) but that is another article for another day. When I carry the Ruger I have it loaded with Federal HST+P 230 grain pills as it is a street proven round with devastatingly reliable penetration and expansion on several mediums.
On the Range
Accuracy in the Ruger CMD is very good for a 1911 and especially for a 1911 in this price range. It prefers brass Federal and Winchester plinking loads, but really shines with the abovementioned Federals. The smallest 3 shot benched groups at 25yards hover around the 1 3/4″ range with the Federals and open up to 3″ with off the shelf plinking loads. I did have some trouble with rounds impacting several inches low at any range at first, but when I isolated the problem I found it to be my own trigger finger causing the problem. Once rectified groups rose to POA. Recoil is very manageable, with controlled pair drills and failure drills easy on the wrists and hands. The extra wide, beveled ejection port allows plenty of room for spent cases to fly out of. To date I have had no FTFs or jams of any kind.
The Ruger CMD is an affordable 1911 that has all of the bells and whistles of pistols much more expensive. It is made in the USA by a very reputable manufacturer with years of building quality firearms that will last for a lifetime. It should be apparent by now that the Ruger SR1911 CMD is not a safe queen, this is a rugged, durable pistol that is ready to work. If you decide to make the plunge and purchase one of Ruger’s 1911s you certainly wouldn’t be undergunned or disappointed. I know I am not.