Ruger SR1911 CMD

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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.

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The Ruger SR1911 CMD is a very simply styled pistol with some very interesting upgrades

 

 

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.

 

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The wide, beveled, ejection port helps makes for seamless and reliable feeding of the fat 45ACP

Overview

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.

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The low mount Novak sights, skeletonized hammer, upswept beavertail, extended grip safety, and wing safety help to keep a classic pistol current

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.fullsizerender-5

 

 

 

Conclusion

  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.

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Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit

The Colt 1911 is probably the most iconic pistol of the 20th century.

There, I said it.

I will not go into great detail about the history and the legacy left by this grand old pistol, just suffice to say that it has paid its dues numerous times over. It is an exceedingly popular pistol in several shapes, styles, and sizes. It can also be chambered in a myriad of calibers ranging from .17 to .50. Despite the various configurations that the 1911 can come in, it is a safe bet that the most common is the 5” barrel chambered in .45 ACP.

The .45 ACP, while not a wrist breaker, is a stout cartridge that can generate a quite a bit of recoil in its hotter loadings. It is also a little pricey. Both of these factors can make a range session rather difficult to enjoy and harder for the new shooter to become proficient with their pistol. If only there was a solution.

The Solution

The Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit is a complete kit that contains the 22LR conversion slide, barrel, recoil spring assembly, and one 10 round magazine. The kit mounts to the frame of your existing 1911 single stack with standard length frame and converts it to fire .22LR. You use the same trigger, grips, safeties, and hammer. This kit retails for $339 and since it is not a firearm, can be shipped to your door.

My first thought upon inspecting the slide assembly was how light it was. And rightfully so, it cycles on blowback operation with the 1911’s standard hammer spring, so it has to be light to overcome the resistance. The slide appears to be made from an aluminum alloy and is painted black, as I later found. The ramped barrel is stainless steel and has a target crown. The slide comes with adjustable target-style sights that seem to hold up well to repeated use. It also has an external extractor and a long ejector that is pinned to the barrel in order to more positively grab those pesky .22 shells that can swell and crack in a chamber all to easily.

The kit comes in a hard plastic case with foam cutouts for the slide assembly and magazine

The kit comes in a hard plastic case with foam cutouts for the slide assembly and magazine

The slide has forward and rear serrations that are similar to what is on the company’s .45 version of the pistol, but that serve no use, as the resistance required to pull back the slide is nil. The magazine is made of plastic and has a cutaway portion to show the number of rounds still in the chamber. The assembly has a mixture of the old bushing system and the newer guide rod system amalgamated together. This allows for the whole kit to be completely assembled in one piece while mounting to the frame of the host pistol. The biggest “issues” I have with this whole kit is that Kimber recommends using only high velocity .22 ammo to ensure reliable cycling, and that the slide does NOT lock back on the empty magazine.

Converting your standard 1911 over to the .22 conversion kit is very simple and straight forward. Simply field strip your 1911 as if for cleaning. I won’t go into that process because disassembly on 1911’s that have a bushing or guide rod system will vary. Mount the complete and assembled slide assembly to the rails of the frame and insert the pistol’s original retaining pin in the hole in the frame and Viola! You now have a .22 caliber 1911. You can now train with your pistol and work on areas such as grip and trigger squeeze without having to worry about pain in your wrist and in your wallet.

On The Range

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The Kimber Conversion Slide as mounted on my Ruger SR1911 CMD

I mounted the kit on two different 1911-style pistols for comparison sakes: a High Standard GI .45 with a 5 inch barrel that has sloppy tolerances, and a Ruger SR1911 CMD that is an absolute dream to shoot and is as tight as a pin hole. Once I mounted the kit on both pistols I was amazed at how good they both looked with the conversion slide mounted on. They looked like a real Kimber Target .45 that cost five times as much. One thing is for certain, this is a handsome, well fitting conversion kit.

Mounting on the GI was very easy and it shot ok, nothing to write home about.         Mounting the kit on the Ruger was a bit more difficult. The tolerances are waaayyy tighter and could definitely be determined while shooting and cycling the firearm. However, it shot very tight groups with all the .22 ammo I fed it. I think that this is a valid point to make because of the wide variances in 1911-style pistols out there, from 400 dollar Tisa’s to an Ed Brown ,you will probably have different experiences than I do. In fact I almost guarantee it.

I tested several brands of high velocity, and standard velocity 22 ammo. I also plinked about 500 rounds out of it at various targets and distances to see how well it could run. I had about the same amount of reliability either way. About one out of every 75 rounds would fail to cycle the slide all the way back, or would stove pipe. Is that any better or worse than a dedicated .22 pistol? I don’t think so. When I shot this pistol for testing I shot from 25 yards, and used 5 shot groups. The ammo I used for accuracy testing was Federal High Velocity, which is a 36 grain hollow point advertised as 1260 fps out of a rifle. My chronograph measured the velocity of the round at an average of 1089, with a low of 1032, and a high of 1115 fps. That’s not bad at all for .22LR out of a pistol. From the rest I could eek out 2.2 inch groups with the Federal Ammo. This slide is definitely a shooter, at least from my Ruger. The GI Model was consistently producing clay target accuracy with all brands of ammo. I attribute that to the sloppier tolerances and rougher trigger.

The  can utilize the same controls on the pistol with the kit installed on the host pistol frame

You can utilize the controls on the pistol in the normal fashion with the kit installed

Conclusion

I have to say that I really like this kit. Is it perfect? No. Does it fit the bill for every circumstance that is required of a 22 pistol? No. Does it work within the confines of its design and intent? Yeah. This is a great tool for sharpening your skills on your 1911 without breaking the bank. It is also a great tool for introducing new shooters to the 1911 format. Is it a great hunting or packing .22? Not in my mind, no. But for training, target practice, and platform familiarity this is about as perfect as it can be.