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Review: Ruger SR-1911

by Bart Skelton   |  November 7th, 2011 22
Ruger SR 1911

Ruger took its time in coming up with its take on the iconic 1911. The result was worth the wait.

The 1911 wave has been ridden by a number of manufacturers, and so many variations have been made over the past 100 years that it seems unlikely that there would be room for any more. Fortunately for 1911 fans, Ruger doesn’t go along with that theory.

The company recently jumped into the 1911 market with its SR1911. Ruger has long been known for the manufacture of tough, reliable and reasonably priced firearms. Its previous offerings in the auto pistol market have been excellent double-action and striker-fired models, and the addition of a 1911 is the perfect way to round out its extensive handgun lineup.

One complaint I’ve heard over the years about Ruger handguns has been that though they’re well-built, some models are perceived as unattractive. Prior to the company actually unveiling its 1911, there was some worry in certain circles that Ruger would bring a lack of style sense to its take on John Browning’s design.

The first time I handled the Ruger SR1911, it was quite clear this was not the case. It was immediately apparent, in fact, that the SR1911 very well may be one of the most handsome Ruger handguns I’ve seen to date.

Ruger SR1911 controls

The matte-black controls complement the brushed stainless steel of the frame very nicely, and the handsome wood grips complete the package.

The full five-inch pistol bears a great finish—bead-blasted stainless steel slide and frame. The components are matte black, which, in combination with nice checkered wood stocks, make the gun a striking piece.

Ruger outdid itself with the grips on this pistol. The grips on my test gun had a nice figure to them and excellent checkering in the old diamond pattern. They bear the Ruger emblem embedded on both sides.

As I mentioned, the pistol’s components, including the slide stop, thumb safety, magazine release and beavertail grip safety are finished in matte black. These parts are manufactured using metal injection molding, which is a process that uses powdered metal, along with a binder, that is injected into a mold. The binder is then melted out, resulting in a part that is dimensionally correct and metallurgically as strong as a wrought part.

The pistol’s mainspring housing is also matte black, and checkered. The magazine release and thumb safety are slightly extended, and the thumb safety isn’t ambidextrous, which I prefer. The Commander-style hammer has an interesting finish—it’s actually two-tone, with stainless sides and black matte and the back and top, covering the serrations.

The meat of the SR1911 is the stainless steel slide and frame. The slide is forged, and the frame is cast using Ruger’s time-honored investment casting system. They are then precision machined for a tight slide-to-frame fit. My test gun had a very tight slide-to-frame match, and sideways play between the two was minimal.

The SR1911 features several accuracy-inducing details, not the least of which is the fact the barrel and bushing are made from the same piece of ordnance-grade bar stock. Once the two pieces are made, they are kept together instead of mixed and matched. This ensures a precise fit and improved accuracy. Another interesting and unique detail is that the pistol’s plunger housing is cast integrally. This prevents the loosening of the housing from the frame, which can obviously be a problem.

Ruger SR1911 trigger and magazine release

The skeletonized trigger broke at just under five pounds, and the magazine release is slightly oversize for sure operation.

There’s been a good deal of debate over the years regarding Colt’s Series 70 versus the Series 80 1911 pistols. The 1911 design remained basically the same from the inception of the pistol until 1970 when Colt instituted changes in the pistol’s bushing design in an attempt to improve accuracy. These were the MK IVSeries 70 pistols.

In 1983, the company made significant design changes internally. The MK IV Series 80 guns employed a new firing pin block safety system. The design used internal levers and a plunger to positively block the firing pin, the block deactivating when the trigger is pressed.

The purpose of this new design was to prevent the gun from discharging if were dropped on a hard surface. The objection to the Series 80 firing pin safety system amongst many shooters was the idea that the action couldn’t be fine tuned because of the levers and plunger, especially if one wished to hone the trigger to a light action under three pounds. I’ve never worked on a Series 80 pistol, but I’m told that indeed a good gunsmith can smooth the action on one, though it’s a bit more time consuming.

Many of today’s 1911 pistols still utilize the Series 80 firing pin safety design. Ruger was able avoid this system by incorporating a titanium firing pin and a heavy firing pin spring. Ruger says this method negates the need for a firing pin block, offering an updated safety feature to the original Series 70 design without compromising trigger pull weight. The combination of the lightweight firing pin and heavy spring eliminates the possibility of an inertia firing.

The trigger itself is relatively crisp—just under five pounds according to my RCBS trigger pull scale. The trigger itself is skeletonized aluminum, and is adjustable for overtravel.

Ruger has long been fond of hand forging its barrels, but the SR1911’s is not forged since the integral feed ramp would have called for a large forging blank. The barrels are broached using 410 stainless steel.

The SR1911 comes standard with the Novak three-dot sight system. They are fitted into a dovetail slot and locked in with a small set screw. The rear sight is adjustable for windage. While I’m a fan of Novak sights, I’m not particularly a fan of the three white dot system. It’s personal preference, but I like black sights or certain night sight combos. I find it very difficult, especially when shooting for accuracy, to get a good sight picture with the white dots. I’m hoping Ruger will offer other sight options in the future.

While the SR1911 aesthetically is an outstanding rendition of Browning’s original 1911 pistol, the obvious question is how does it actually perform? I took the Ruger out to my desert range on a hot afternoon with several brands of factory .45 ACP ammunition for workout. I started out with Black Hills 230-grain jacketed hollowpoints, running a number of magazines through the gun. I picked various targets at various distances, getting familiar with the feel and trigger pull. The Ruger proved to handle easily, and I had little difficulty busting dirt clods and aluminum cans at ranges out to 30 yards offhand. The gun also performed quite well on the 25-yard accuracy test.

The SR1911 functioned very well using the several varieties of factory ammunition I had on hand. I experienced two failures to feed, both using the Black Hill 230-grain jacketed hollowpoint ammunition. The hollowpoints have a particularly wide mouth, and I think that’s what casued the failures. I suspect a little extra polishing of the feed ramp would remedy this problem for anyone wishing to use this load extensively.

I believe the SR1911 is going to be a great success for Ruger. With a retail price of just under $800, it’s an outstanding value. Anyone looking for a well-made, well-finished 1911 pistol at a price that won’t leave them eating frijoles for a month should look no further than the SR1911.

Fast Specs

  • Type: 1911 semiauto
  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Barrel: 5 in. stainless 6-groove
  • OAL/Width/Height: 8.67/1.34/5.45 in.
  • Weight: 39 oz.
  • Construction: low-glare stainless steel slide and frame
  • Trigger: single action, 5 lb. pull
  • Sights: fixed Novak 3-dot
  • Safeties: grip, thumb
  • Price: $799
  • Manufacturer: Ruger

Accuracy Results

  • Smallest avg. group: 230 gr. Black Hills JPH +P—2.0 in.
  • Largest avg. group: 230 gr. Hornady TAP—3.5 in.
  • Avg. of all ammo tested (5 types)—3.0 in.
  • Accuracy results are averages of three three-shot groups fired at 25 yards from a sandbag rest.
  • 1911 gunnuts

    on may 6 2010 i went in to a gun shop just to look at guns they were just putting out a ruger1911 i had been told that it would be a year before they would be out . well all i need to say is [ SWEET]
    IT fits in your hand like a good cap fits your head shoots well 300+ rounds no hangs

  • Ed Hunter

    Looks like my 4th Ruger pistol is here!

  • packeryman

    I have a SP101 in 357mag and the piece is fantastic from construction, to the way it shoots. What is the comparison of the Taurus 1911 and the Ruger 1911? Please no anti Taurus B.S., just facts.

    • howard

      I think both the ruger and taurus our both good guns I a taurus 1911 it is very well made thier are alot of extras on the taurus.

  • KahunaCFA

    I like Ruger, a lot. I also own the company's stock(RGR) with a cost of about $4 per share — currrently selling for $29.13 per share — a seven bagger!!!

    Kahuna, CFA

  • Steve Lamanen

    Some invest in gold; the wise invest in Ruger… better return on investment.

  • Jack

    Great looking Gun, and if it's as reliable as the others they make it should a nice piece to add to any collection.

  • Eric

    I used to get made fun of for my Ruger P-90 that I carried as a police officer. The thing was built like a boat anchor, but tough and dependable. I got into a contest against a fellow officer and his kimber. Endurance wise, the Kimber couldnt hang with my Ruger. Beat it, hurt it, talk dirty to it, the Ruger has always, in my opinion delivered. Looks like ill be getting a new Ruger. Have the Taurus. Need the Ruger 1911.

  • Ray

    I own a SR1911. I am so happy I found one because many people haven't been able to find one to buy. I've put about 300 rounds through it so far and no problems at all and the groups are close together. If ou waiting for one you order, keep waiting because it is well worth it.

  • Gitarded

    I just bought an SR1911 after wating 4 months. This gun shoots great and looks like a beast. I love it.

  • shannon

    i just got my SR1911 waited 6 months. this gun shoots right out of box shoots just is well as my kimber. if u want american this is the gun for you. you wont be disapointed shannon

  • leroy

    I own or have owned @8 rugers have always loved them for thier rugged rreliability quality and accuracy all the way back to my first handgun recently been bitten by the 1911 bug love my kimber ultracarryII now looking for a full size 1911 and prefering to support american companys and americans Im oh my way to my gunshop to look one over handle it and most likely buy it!! ADDICTED TO 45S oh well couid be worse obakma needs to be fired!!! sorry coudnt help it Leroy4545

  • Bruce

    This is great looking pistol and built with Ruger's traditional history of reliability. But, and tat is a big but, you can't get one here in California – no mag block. Dang!

  • Pat B.

    Bought my SR1911 Oct. 25,2012. Found 2 at an Academy store 13 miles away. Had them hold one for me as I was in my truck in route. Looks and feels great! I am a ruger fan as I have other Ruger rifles and pistols.Have not had time as yet to go to the range but really looking forward to it. Watch the videos on YOUTUBE about the Ruger SR1911, Quite impressive!

    • Pat b.

      I finally shot this 1911 a couple of days ago. This is the first pistol I shot right out the box,no cleaning. This pistol is amazing! I shot 230 gr ammo at 5,7 and 15 yards outdoor range .TORE OUT the red bullseye in center of target consistently! No jams, no stovepipes. Just precision accuracy. I read negative reviews on some post but I assure anyone reading this I am 100% pleased and would not hesitate to do it all over again!

  • Ghostwolf1

    Go out and get one if you can find it! If you want a full size 1911 you won't be sorry.i sure am looking for one right now! Hope to get lucky and find it soon.can't wait to get one out to the range!

  • Gerry Smith

    is this the one I want ?

    • Charles Blackburn

      I purchased one 3 weeks ago, Wow clean and beautiful a pleasure to fire, and very accurate. My first 1911, maybe my only and last, Been to the range 4 times and other than me shooting strays groups of 1 to 2 inches every time, knocking the bullseye out consistently. I love it will never part with it.

  • Robert

    I was looking to get a 1911 45 but was unsure which one to get. When I saw this I knew I had to have one. I called the Cabela's and they didn't have one in stock but I went to the store to look at other 1911's. I was there about 2 hrs and i was getting ready to leave when I ran in to the store manager. I asked him if he could put me on a waiting list for the Ruger but he said he couldn't but then he called over another gentlemen and told him to take me back over to the gun counter and to ask a guy in the back to find out when they would get one in. About 5 minutes later he came out of the back with a Ruger box! He told me it was my lucky day and it was the sr1911. I bought it right there and then. I feel really lucky because everywhere i look they are sold out and have heard people waiting up to a year. I havent fired it yet but I cant get it out of my head waiting for the weekend!

    • Jon Robert McSpadden Jr.

      YOu did get lucky. I can’t get that lucky. Now with the new SR45 out I am waiting on two now. My wife has the SR9 and SR40, so the SR45 is her next purchase. I am a 1911 nut and this Ruger will be my next.

      • Kenny Unger

        KYGunCo has the SR1911 right now @ $760. Kind of stiff, but not in stock anywhere else!

  • bobb2

    Ruger? please always been Pos gun

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