Over the last six months I’ve been shooting the Springfield TRP Operator; specifically, a 45 ACP two tone gray and black ArmoryKote version. I love the 1911 when it comes to range time and general shooting, but the whispers of a friend that the 1911 is obsolete for anything else made me wonder just how effective this tricked out pistol would be in “the real world.” Thus, we ran it through our standard battery of tests including dust, mud, water, being tossed by a trebuchet, and also drop testing with a primed case at various angles, while also putting plenty of rounds downrange in non-torture-testing settings.
My first handgun was a 1911, and I have carried and shot that pistol plenty, but it tended to be pushed to the side once I picked up newer, lighter pistols with bigger magazines. Given that it has a Picatinny rail integral to the frame, the TRP Operator is even heavier than my old Government Model-size 1911, which is both good and bad. It’s good because the weight helps tame recoil and the light rail makes it possible to use the pistol much more effectively in darkness, but it’s bad because it’ll cause even more pant sagging if your belt isn’t up to snuff – or even if it is.
What really put me off carrying this pistol every day was the 20 LPI frontstrap checkering. Sure, it’s fantastic when you’re shooting with gloves on or if your hands are sweaty, but it’ll tear up clothing fast and it’s not easy on sensitive skin, either. For me to carry this pistol I’d have to be somewhere open carry was both permissible and acceptable, because concealed carry just wouldn’t cut it.
For someone like a police officer, these concerns are moot and the gun would be a great choice if you want a 1911. In a home defense situation, again, those carry concerns are of limited relevance, and the light rail plus the night sights makes it a strong contender for such duties.
In the course of our normal shooting – that is, not with the pistol in a Ransom Rest and not during torture testing – I encountered zero malfunctions over nearly a thousand rounds of various ammo types in six months. I did have several feeding problems with Federal Gold Match semi wadcutters while the pistol was in a Ransom Rest – clearly the Ransom Rest was limpwristing – and I saw malfunctions in the mud test.
I also had a couple of malfunctions in the water test, but this comes with an important asterisk – the failures were encountered with the use of one of my own old magazines, and when I ran the test again with the supplied 7 round mags, the pistol did not malfunction. All of our abuse testing, by the way, is conducted with Gorilla Silverback ammunition, because I’ve found it to be very reliable in such conditions. There’s little point in conducting torture testing with weak FMJ bulk / practice ammo, because it’s unlikely to be relied upon were one to encounter those real-world abuse scenarios.
Accuracy from the pistol was quite good, if not totally match grade. On paper, 25-yard 10 shot groups hovered in the 2-2.5” range. Offhand at 100 yards, most of my shots easily found a reduced size IPSC silhouette, even after the sights took a pounding from the trebuchet launches.
I had two concerns about the pistol at the outset of the test which proved to be unfounded: MIM parts and an adjustable rear sight. None of the MIM parts broke or saw any signs of problems despite repeated abuse, and the adjustable rear sight maintained zero after four (yes, four) launches from the trebuchet. I should mention that after the conclusion of our video review, we conducted drop testing with primed cases, and the pistol passed this test. After the twelfth drop onto concrete from a height of 4-5 feet, the rear sight did break. However, I still would feel comfortable relying on this sight and having it bump into walls or bulkheads while in a holster. I simply think we pushed it well past its limits by dropping the pistol such that on multiple occasions the rear sight took the brunt of the pistol’s 38 oz unloaded weight.
One test we don’t incorporate into every review but managed to include for this pistol was snow and extreme cold. After sitting in the snow for 15 minutes, the pistol would not function – note that these were the first shots ever put through the pistol. I don’t blame the gun, though. Whatever lube or grease – Springfield Armory couldn’t tell me exactly what it was – happened to be smeared everywhere did not like the cold. The hammer fell slowly and the trigger wouldn’t reset, not to mention that when I did manage to get it to fire, it wouldn’t cycle most of the time. However, a quick treatment of Hoppes #9 removed the offending substance and the TRP proved to be completely reliable at temperatures below negative 30 Fahrenheit. These bitterly cold temps did kill the tritium vial in the front sight, though.
Maintenance proved simple and other than the dead front sight and some loose grip screws after a few months, the pistol gave me no headaches. I expected some, but found none.
With zero malfunctions in the dust test or the trebuchet test, and none in the water test with the proper mags or in the snow test with no lube, the gray Springfield 1911 TRP Operator outperformed multiple modern polymer frame striker fired guns. It’s hard to call performance like that obsolete, Friend Who Shall Remain Unnamed. Despite my initial skepticism of the TRP based on its appearance, this gun has my wholehearted recommendation for anyone who hasn’t sold a kidney lately and finds themselves in need of a quality 1911.