Testing a Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander

Hickock45 here, with my new Ruger SR .45 1911 Lightweight Commander Pistol.

Oh, there’s my 1911. Derrick, you keep grabbing my gun.

Okay, all right.

You keep grabbing my gun, man. I want to shoot this thing. Derrick. Derrick loves a 1911 .45 better than anything. Now he’s mad and he’s going to go home. Derrick, don’t go away mad. You know Derrick from Hickock45 and Son. He and John yack it up at least once a week, it seems like, over there on the Hickock45 and Son channel. So even you know that Derrick loves a .45 and a 1911 better than anything. He shoots one all the time, carries one. Let’s see, he was in the military for 21 years. I think he came along after the 1911 was put into mothballs, but not for him. If he can get his hands on one, he wants to shoot one.

Yes, Derrick was right. This is the Ruger 1911. The SR1911 in a Lightweight Commander version. We have not gotten our hands on one of these and it’s pretty cool. See, now Derrick is so mad he’s peeling out through the grass. We had a lot of requests to look at it, so we got Bud’s to send us one. We appreciate Bud’s lending this to us. Check the website for www.budsgunshop.com and the Ship My Guns and the eGunner, all the things they’re involved in there that are great resources at Bud’s.

We got this from them. It will be going back to them in a few days. I have fired it quite a bit here over the last few days and have cleaned it, fired it, cleaned it, fired it, which I explained I like to do. It has performed pretty well. We’ve had a couple, I’ll go ahead and tell you in case it happens today, it won’t be a surprise. We had two or three times where it’s not gone into battery all the way and I’ve had to kind of push the slide in. I’m assuming that’s because it’s new. It might need a break-in. It’s not had any major hang-ups. Of course it might today on video, right, but it’s not hitting major hang-ups. It just didn’t go into battery fully a couple of times. Just with hardball.

All right, so let me just find some ammo here. I didn’t want to be wrestling it out of Derrick’s hand with ammo in it. Okay, Derrick is a great guy. All right, now these are the magazines it came with, the Ruger mags. I’m going to use a mixture of different mags here, so we’ll assume those are – I’ll put this one back here and put that in my mag pouch.

All right, Lightweight Commander, which means it’s a little lighter than most 1911s. Why don’t we just start right out by putting a couple on that target? Oh, we’ll see if I remember where this thing hits.

Kind of hits. Oh, there it goes again right there. That’s odd, isn’t it? It’s not dirty. Okay, now that one wouldn’t go on in. All right, better loosen up here. A couple more on that guy and a clay pot. Another clay pot, nice. Oh, you thought you got away. We will get you. In fact, I have another magazine.

Yes, look at that. Can’t get away from me. Oh, it did it again.

Okay, let’s take a look at it and, like I say, it’s not broken in yet, I guess. Well, I won’t take ammo out of there.

I want to show you the construction of this firearm. Then, we’re going to shoot it a bunch here and tell you a few things about it. I can’t see as well there, so let me take it apart. It’s clear and it is a lightweight frame. It is aluminum, of course. I specifically, myself, have had problems, well, one problem with an alloy frame on a 1911.

It goes way back with another company. I was firing hollow points in it after I bought it and it was denting the fame. It was nicking it up, it really was. I took the gun back. I hadn’t fired but about a box of hollow points through it and it was putting literally dents in the feed ramp because of the alloy. What a piece of junk.

I don’t want this. I understand it might wear a little sooner, but the cool thing about this one is it has a titanium insert. Not only is it metal, it’s titanium inserted there, so the round is going to be banging off of that and going up into the barrel.

That should solve the problem, right? It should solve it. I understand it has a titanium firing pin as well with an extra-strong spring to help keep it from firing if you were to drop it or something because this doesn’t have the firing pin block. It’s a Series 70 style 1911. You don’t see the firing pin block there.

I know there are other companies that have done the same thing. They just put a strong firing pin spring in there so it’s not going to just move forward as easily.

It seems to be made well. You have seen the SR1911s here a few times. It’s got all the bells and whistles that we like. The barrel and the collar here are supposed to be cut from the same piece of – not aluminum – of stainless steel. It’s from the same billet and I’m not sure what all the advantages of that is as long as you have got them milled out correctly, but I guess maybe that helps prevent galling or something that could occur. I don’t know.

Pretty cool little firearm. Like I say, it apparently needs a little more breaking in and I’m not going to put like 3000 rounds through it to do that. I’ll let somebody else do that.

It is thinner, has thin grips on it, which I don’t like as well, but that’s because I have really large hands. They’re just a little too thin. A lot of people, I think, like those, but I’m not crazy about them. I didn’t want to change them out. If it was a gun that I had bought or something, that’s one of the first things I would do, but I’m not going to change those out.

Another thing here, I had a little trouble – there we go – lining up the link. I don’t know what that was about. Okay, try not to put the idiot scratch on somebody’s gun here. It’ll end up being somebody’s gun off of eGunner.

There we go, all right. Everything seems to fit well. It’s not overly tight. It’s just right in terms of tightness as far as I’m concerned. It does have some weird full-length guide rod that makes it hard to take apart and it serves no real advantage. It has all the smart things on it. It’s got the nice beavertail safety, a grip safety there. Novak low mount sights, 3-dot, those are always good especially. It’s basically a Commander in the lightweight version.

I think Colt came out with the original Lightweight Commanders in the late ’40s or ’50s, 1950, somewhere along in there. A very desirable gun for someone who’s going to carry a 1911 and carry it a lot, but not shoot it a lot necessarily. The alloys back then were not as strong either and you’d get frame cracks possibly after thousands of rounds. I understand a lot of that’s been corrected, and then with the better aluminum alloy, and then also with that titanium insert, you have the potential of a firearm here that’s pretty light, but yet one that you wouldn’t have to worry about shooting a fair amount, I guess.
I need to do, with this one, even some more and break it in. Boom, Mr. Cowboy. A mixture of magazines; that’s a Brownells right there I think. I’m going to get this pot out of my face.

Another 2-liter. Yes, doggies. Nice, the sights are pretty much right on, so I can’t blame much on those.

If I miss, it’s me. It’s me, it’s all me. With an alloy frame, if you have never fired one of these with an alloy frame… Let me get some more of my hodgepodge here. Shooting Federal 230 grain hard ball. American Eagle; you can see the boxes there. Nothing exotic yet. I do have a magazine of hollow points, yeah, we’re going to try, but nothing exotic. Let’s bear down on that 12 ounce bottle there.

All right. How about a plate?

Feels pretty good. Did I hit that fourth one?

Yeah, it’s nice. It jumps around a bit more. It wouldn’t be advisable maybe if you were going to a USPSA match and, you know, you’re hoping to win. You would have a little bit of a disadvantage because, you know, it’s a lighter gun, so it’s going to hop a bit more. Let’s see if it will knock a limb around.

Okay, I’m holding, I guess, a little bit low. Yeah. I can’t do that. We got that issue again there. Okay, let’s get a new mag. I tend to want to do a 6 o’clock hold with the 1911, but you have to bring that sight up on the target.

You can tell that it’s a .45, knocking them around for sure. Now, speaking of weight, just out of curiosity, because you might have heard me say in the radio show or somewhere, a vlog of some sort, that if I’m going to carry a 1911, the one that would be attractive to me, especially after all these years of having been spoiled by the polymer lightweight firearms; they’re so good, so reliable and everything. If I was going to go back to a 1911 and carry it on a regular basis, first of all I have to get over the thumb safety. Switch the mental switch on that, retrain myself for any kind of stressful situation.

I’ve shot a 1911 so many times, but it’s different if you’re carrying it. So many firearms today are pull and shoot and the 1911 is not. You’ve got another step there, but if I were going to carry one, the one that seems the most attractive to me is a lightweight Commander that has some ramped barrel or something to where you’re not relying on the aluminum frame and it doesn’t get beat up, and, you know, unreliable, all that sort of thing. This one has kind of done that, taken care of that. So, if you’re interested in a carry gun and a 1911, this configuration, in my opinion, is a nice configuration.

Again, because you have got the rounds bouncing off the titanium up into the chamber, so that eliminates that issue pretty much. Then you have got the light weight, and speaking of weight, I’ve got a fully loaded Glock 19 with 15 rounds in it and I loaded this up with the full magazine, and I weighed them. I got… What was it, 33? 33, I think. No, it’s 34 versus 31. 31 ounces on the Glock and 34 on this. So, 3 ounces difference is what I got.

That’s not a lot of difference. In the past you could argue, or with other 1911s it’s a pretty legitimate argument. They’re nice guns. They’re actually thinner than a Glock generally, but they’re heavy. They’re heavy, even an all-steel Commander is heavy. My Cobra carry, it’s just heavier than a Glock 19 or 22. There’s no way around it and you can tell the difference. It’s hot and it’s going in my holster.

It’s not that when we talk about weight, again, no charge for this, but let me explain this weight issue. Some people who don’t carry or have never carried or you live somewhere where you can’t carry, you won’t ever be able to carry, that kind of thing. You probably wonder “What a bunch of wimps, talking about weight? You know, 3 ounces, 10 ounces, like duh?” We’re not talking about “Oh I can’t walk. I’m going to the mall. I’m walking for half a mile and I’ve got this heavy gun on.” That’s not it, that’s not it. It’s the pull on your belt. Feeling it when you move, when you sit down. It’s just a constant pulling on your belt.

Just like if you had a young son or daughter pulling on your belt really hard or they’re not pulling quite so hard. It’s a big difference. That’s what we’re talking about with weight. It’s not like “Oh my legs are tired.” Most of you know that, but I at least want to point that out, because some of you might be like me, and have an extremely low IQ

Okay. Oh, I’ve got a bunch of empty mags. I needed to restock, didn’t I? Let’s go ahead and restock. What did I not point out about the thing? Thin grips. You have got the nice trigger, the skeletonized trigger. We’ll shoot these hollow-points, that’s what we’ll do.

Yes, it’s got basically the Commander features. Your Commander-type hammer, good sights. The thin grips I don’t like, but you’ve got your flat main spring housing and a nice beavertail safety as I pointed out. We’ve got a little bit of a serration going there, that’s always nice. It’s not as good as checkering, but it’s not bad. It feels good. You have a pretty good sized safety on there too. That’s not a problem to find and hit.

It’s a good feeling little gun. Again, it’s thinner than it would be if it were mine. I would put standard 1911 grips, rather than the thin ones, but if you have normal sized hands or smallish ones, you will like that better. Some of you probably have put those sorts of grips on your 1911 anyway because they feel better to you, but they don’t to me.

The trigger is pretty good. It is a little gritty but it’s not bad. It’s not bad at all. It feels pretty good. I wouldn’t want it any lighter really, honestly, for a carry gun and that’s really the niche that this firearm falls into.

We got it dirty, so let’s see if it will feed hollow-points. It might not. Although I’ve fired hollow-points already and not had any trouble. Let’s put a hollow-point on the two liter, see if it will explode. I’ll put it near the top.

Boom, all right. Again, those are our new targets. I hope you like those. We’ll put a link to those at Bud’s website if you need some of those. Let’s see, that cowboy there remains unscathed so often.

Another cowboy needs to be put down. Boom.

Okay. It feeds the hollow-points, so whatever it’s doing there, I guess it needs a little breaking in there. It could be that the extractor is too tight. That’s the thing about a 1911, when you get them tweaked right they can be as reliable as anything, but if they’re not tweaked, if the extractor is a little loose or a little tight, you get some weird things and I’m not going to mess with it. I’m not a gunsmith.

John and I were talking about that. It seems like we’ve had a couple of Colts in here in recent decades where the extractor was too loose right out of the box, and we were getting weird things happening before we discovered that. All right, let’s go across the hill. See if I can hit that red plate with it.

All right. Nice. I mean if I put the sights on there, it’s going to hit it, so we ought to be able to hit the gong

I love the sound. Maybe we’ll get a little piggy

Boom. It’s a good feeling. A lot of people in the videos will comment how slow the rounds are traveling, and that’s because of the camera angle from behind the round. You could watch a .50 caliber round from a BMG going up into the sky with tracers at a target. It looks like it’s barely moving. Now, a .45 is not as fast as a 10mm or a 9mm, but it’s not going as slow as it appears to. It’s just a big round. You can more easily see it and it’s the camera. You’re catching the entire arc of the bullet and you’re kind of zoomed in on it. They’re not as slow as they look. Just for those who think a .45 is really, really weak. Let’s try a ram.

I’m going to see if I can pick off that turkey behind the ram.

Oh, I thought I hit it. Oh, had to move the ram to get to it. It seems accurate. The misses are on me.

There you go. I’ll take a couple at the chicken, but if I hit it, it’s going to be about half luck.

I’m scaring him.

I’m just throwing lead now. Sometimes I’m in the mood to really bear down and hit him, but other times I’m not. Let’s shoot it a little faster. Maybe it’s getting broken in here. I’m going to put it in the holster. 1911, safety on, hammer locked. That’s the typical carry method.

I think there’s a desperado or two down there that needs to be dealt with, so let’s deal with them.

Okay, let’s deal with them some more. You know what, this coffin here has been making some smart aleck remarks to me.

You can’t hate a little gun like this that’s not very heavy, slinging out .45 rounds and there’s a 10 round mag I think. I think the spring is weak on it but we’ll try it. Oh, another cowboy.

Good little shooter. Maybe it’s getting broken in here. I’ve got two mags left. I’m sorry John, I’m not going to go to the barn with full mags, so let’s just empty them. Okay, I’ve put one in the pouch here. All right, seems like it’s getting loosened up.

Another mag.

I think she’s getting loosened up there a little bit. Yes, I think that’s enough lead slinging. Let me tell you, just like Derrick, when you get a 1911 in your hands, you just want to shoot the thing as much as you can. There’s something fun about it. I have to say, this one whoops you a little bit more, but unless you’re just really recoil-sensitive or you have not shot much, it’s not going to be a situation where “Oh, I can’t shoot that, it hurts.” It doesn’t hurt, it just gives you a little bit more recoil. You’ve got a shorter barrel, 4.25 versus a 5 inch with the standard 1911, and of course the alloy frame, so you’re giving up some weight there, but for carry, it just doesn’t matter.

Just plinking around, you can see that you’re not going to have any trouble hitting if you’re carrying in a defensive mode. It’s heavy enough. The frame, believe me, is very desirable in a carry piece. It just is. You might disagree, but I kind of like that. I have grown to like it. I used to not think I’d ever want an alloy frame 1911, and if I did, it would just be to carry it mainly. My others for plinking, shooting, if I were going to compete again with them or whatever, give me steel, blue or stainless. I think that’s mainly a breaking in issue. You gunsmiths out there in the audience, does that sound like it could be an extractor too tight or too loose? I don’t know, but it’s a good little shooter and a nice little package.

It sells for around $700 MSRP I think, or probably about $750 MSRP. You can get them for around $700, in that ballpark. A little under or a little bit more if you have interest in one. I know one thing that appeals to a lot of people is the fact that Ruger is even making these 1911s, and they’ve got them in a lot of popular configurations now, made in this country. That’s an attraction to a lot of folks looking for a 1911 that’s got a lot of the stuff that you really want on one, for well under $1000. As you know if you look around at some of the 1911s, it’s very easy to start at 1000 or 12-1300 dollars before you finish without any trouble at all.

Pretty cool little gun. I kind of like the thing and you’ll probably see it on the internet. Life is good.

We’d like to thank one of our sponsors, SDI, the Senoran Desert Institute. SDI has fully accredited distance learning programs where you can get certified in gunsmithing, or even an associate’s degree in firearms technology. Of course, the study includes hands-on experience, which is important, of course. Check it out. Go to SDI.edu or just click on the link in the description. I would also like to remind you to check out the Hickock45 Facebook page and the Hickock45 and Son channel and its Facebook page, as well as Gun Culture Radio on iTunes. Now remember all of this, because I’m coming to your house randomly over the next year or two to give you a quiz on it, okay? Thank you.