December 16, 2022
Geneseo, Illinois-based Springfield Armory is a company that keeps me on my toes. Long known for producing 1911 handguns, the XD series and M1A rifles, the company is rapidly expanding into other categories. Recent launches of firearms, including the bolt-action Waypoint and bullpup Hellion rifles, along with the Hellcat series of pistols, came as a surprise to most. I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when the company released another game-changer: a double-stack 1911-style handgun called the DS Prodigy AOS—DS as in double stack and AOS an acronym for Agency Optics System. The DS Prodigy AOS is a high-capacity, single-action, optics-ready 9mm available at a consumer-friendly price.
A bit of history. The first double-stack 1911s appeared in the late 1980s and were produced by the then-Canadian firm Para Ordnance. At first the company produced only frames but eventually offered finished pistols. I recall my dad buying one, then scrambling to acquire full-capacity magazines before the 1994 Clinton gun ban went into effect. These handguns, along with the models produced shortly afterward by Strayer-Tripp International (STI) and Strayer-Voight International (SVI), became the go-to handguns for use in the practical shooting world. Single-stack guns became obsolete in the Open and Limited divisions of USPSA/IPSC virtually overnight.
Although some high-cap 1911s were used by the U.S. Army’s highly specialized Delta Force, the category saw little use in the military and law enforcement worlds for many years. That has changed recently, with tactical teams reexamining the role of the double-stack 1911 in law enforcement, and seeing such a handgun in a cop’s holster these days is no longer a rarity. The interesting part is that the double-stack 1911s that are available now tend to be chambered in 9mm rather than .45 ACP. These guns give users the capacity of a modern polymer-frame handgun with the unrivaled shooting characteristics of the 1911.
Back-To-Back Double-Stack Champs
Several companies offer double-stacks nowadays, ranging from bargain-priced pistols from Rock Island Armory to high-dollar examples from Nighthawk and Staccato. The DS Prodigy AOS may just be the Goldilocks of this category of handgun, sitting in the sweet spot by offering a great deal of quality at a price that many can afford. There are two DS Prodigy AOS models currently available: a full-size handgun with a Government-length five-inch barrel and a compact model with a Commander-length 4.25-inch barrel. I shot both versions.
Like many double-stack 1911s on the market, the DS Prodigy AOS has a two-piece frame. The top section, which comprises the frame rails, dust cover and areas surrounding the thumb and grip safeties, is built from forged carbon steel. This steel chassis stubs into a polymer grip module that includes the trigger guard. The steel offers strength where it’s needed, and the polymer cuts weight, keeps the price down and provides a comfortable grip. The grips on the five-inch and 4.25-inch models are identical, although the latter has a shorter dust cover to match the barrel length.
The controls on the DS Prodigy AOS handguns are pure 1911. There’s a Delta-style hammer, an ambidextrous manual thumb safety and an extended beavertail grip safety with a bump to ensure it disengages easily. The magazine release is in the traditional position on the left side of the frame, and the trigger is skeletonized aluminum. The trigger on the five-inch model broke at 4.75 pounds; the trigger on the 4.25-inch model broke right at 4.5 pounds. The Commander’s trigger pull was slightly slicker out of the box, but the full-size gun’s trigger smoothed out over the course of the first few magazines. If the trigger pull doesn’t suit you for some reason, the hammer, sear and disconnector are the same as a standard 1911, and aftermarket parts options are virtually unlimited.
Both DS Prodigy AOS models feature accessory rails that are integral to their respective dust covers. The only difference is that the longer rail on the five-inch model has five Picatinny slots while the 4.25-inch model uses a single slot. The grip is cut high under the trigger guard, allowing for a high grip on both guns. The sides and frontstrap of the grip frame are textured in a stippled pattern that provides plenty of grip. The mainspring housing is polymer, checkered at 30 lines per inch. The magazine well, which is integral to the polymer grip, is slightly flared at the front and beveled on each side.
AOS Optics-Ready System
The slides on both models are forged carbon steel and, like the frame, are coated in satin black Cerakote. Slides are round-topped with deep front and rear cocking serrations. The AOS system employs removable optics plates that incorporate a rear sight. It’s a serrated black Heinie-style rear with a U notch. Since the rear sight sits at the back of the plate, this system provides a maximum sight radius while positioning the optic as low as possible. Both handguns have a green fiber-optic front, and the sights are suppressor height, which allows for a co-witness between the iron sights and a mounted optic. I used a Trijicon RMR on the five-inch model and shot the shorter gun with irons only.
Barrels are match grade, forged from stainless steel and rifled 1:16. They are integrally ramped with fully supported chambers. The bull-profile barrels eliminate the need for a barrel bushing. A slot in the barrel hood serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator. The barrels in both models locked up well with no sign of barrel squat—a common source of vertical stringing in 1911s.
Prodigy magazines are U.S.-made DuraMags with steel bodies and polymer followers and base pads. Standard magazines hold 17 rounds while 20- and 26-round mags are available. Models ship with one 17- and one 20-rounder. The 17-round mag sits flush, with only the small base pad extending below the frame. With the 20-round mag in place, the extended base pad extends 0.9 inch below the bottom of the frame. The 26-round magazine extends much farther: 2.2 inches below the frame.
Disassembly of both guns is identical and is the same procedure as any 1911 with a two-piece guide rod and no barrel bushing. With an unloaded handgun, use the included hex wrench to loosen and remove the forward section of the two-piece recoil spring guide rod. Disassembly is straightforward. Align the slide stop with the half-moon cut on the slide and push the stop left and out of the frame. Remove the slide from the frame, cupping your hand to ensure the recoil spring isn’t launched across the room. Remove the rear section of the guide, the spring and the recoil spring plug and then slide the barrel forward to remove it.
I test-fired both handguns but only performed formal accuracy testing with the five-inch model. Accuracy was quite good with two out of three loads tested, and given the wild velocity swings of the third load, I don’t think I can blame the gun for not shooting it well. Given some of the groups that I was able to shoot with the five-inch model, I think this handgun would be capable of putting five rounds into one ragged hole at 25 yards with the right ammunition. For my tests, the 147-grain Federal American Eagle load came the closest to meeting that standard.
One of the simple tests I use to evaluate shootability is to put 10 rounds into a 10x10 steel plate at 20 yards as quickly as possible. I was able to complete this drill numerous times with no misses with both models. Thanks to the great sights, good trigger and overall ergonomics, making hits with either barrel length came easily. Recoil and muzzle rise were minimal with both models, which is typical of 9mm 1911s. I ran a few drills with each handgun, and they performed very well.
I experienced some failures to feed with two different bullets styles/weights in the five-inch model. It could be that the feed ramp could use some polish, it could be a magazine issue, or it may just require more break-in rounds. This is why you always, always, always test-fire any firearm you intend to use for defense with the same ammunition that you’ll use it with. The 4.25-inch model was 100 percent reliable, although I put fewer rounds through it.
The reason we are seeing a rising use of double-stack 9mm 1911s with law enforcement comes down to shootability. A SWAT team member serving a high-risk warrant, pursuing an active shooter or encountering a hostage situation must have the ability to take difficult shots rapidly, putting rounds on target and minimizing the risk of collateral injury. If said officer is carrying a ballistic shield, he or she must also be prepared to shoot one-handed. If you think about such a scenario, it doesn’t sound too much different than a practical shooting match—at least regarding the mechanics of it. The same attributes that have made such handguns so popular in that realm—especially the single action trigger pull—are now being recognized by individuals who must shoot under the highest of stakes.
The double-stack 1911 has reemerged as one of the hottest-selling handguns in recent years, so Springfield Armory’s timing in releasing the DS Prodigy AOS is excellent. For decades, Springfield has had the reputation of being a company that provides a great deal of gun for the money. These two handguns pile a long list of features into a moderately priced gun, and they fit into a good niche price-wise. Both handguns were accurate and easy to control, and rapid hits on target came with minimal effort on the shooter’s part.
Springfield Armory DS Prodigy AOS 1911 Specs
- Type: Hammer-fire, double-stack, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 17+1, 20+1 rds.
- Barrel: 5 in., 4.25 in.
- Weight: 2 lbs., 1 oz., 2 lbs., 0.5 oz.
- Construction: Carbon steel slide, carbon steel/polymer frame
- Grips: Textured polymer
- Sights: Suppressor height, fiber-optic front, serrated ledge-style steel rear
- Safeties: Ambidextrous manual thumb, beavertail grip
- Trigger: 4.75 lbs./4.5 lbs.
- MSRP: $1,499-$1,699
- Manfacturer: Springfield Armory