It was on April 18, 2011, when Ruger, after years of consideration, finally launched its own version of the 1911 pistol. The SR1911, a full-size, stainless-steel combat pistol, launched the series. Now, just over a year and a half later, Ruger is ready to expand the SR1911 line to include the new SR1911 CMD.
The primary difference between the 1911 CMD and the original is the barrel length. CMD is short for "Commander," which denotes the pistol as having a 4.25-inch barrel instead of the standard 5 inch. Beyond this one change, the pistol remains the same. The pistol is of an all-steel construction, free of any polymer components. The slide and frame are stainless steel. Some folks lose sleep over the use of a cast frame, but Ruger is one of the finest casting companies in the world, and its frames hold up.
The machined bar stock slide is topped with a matte black dovetailed Novak three-dot sight system. The rear sight is windage adjustable via a tension screw. These low-profile sights are ideal for concealed carry due to their snag-free shape and excellent sight picture. The slide serrations are simple, straight, and located at the rear. The frame appointments, including the slide catch, thumb safety, magazine release, checkered mainspring housing, as well as the various pins and screws, have a matte-black finish to match the sights. The contrast of the black parts to the natural satin finish of the slide and frame is aesthetically appealing. The checkered Rosewood grip panels complete the handsome package.
The magazine release is extended to about double the height of a standard button and has a checkered face. This extra height comes in handy for shorter fingers. The thumb safety is extended for easier operation, but it’s also narrow enough for practical carry. The reduced-weight hammer is kept from nibbling at folks’ hands by a cupped, beavertail grip safety. This safety also features a grooved "speed bump" that does a good job of ensuring the safety is disengaged when the pistol is fired. The trigger is of the skeletonized aluminum variety and features an over-travel adjustment screw.
The interior of the SR1911 reflects the Series 70 design, providing a trigger feel that remains universally appreciated. Other features are "GI Standard" as well to help reduce the price and allow for easier mixing and matching of aftermarket components. These include a Browning-style barrel bushing, plunger, short guide rod and internal extractor. The linked stainless-steel barrel and its bushing are milled from the same bar stock on the same machine to improve accuracy.
Field stripping the SR1911 CMD prior to shooting revealed an interior free of the metal shavings, dirt or detritus that sometimes follows new guns home from the factory. The fitting of the metallic components was tight and precise. The slide cycled smoothly right out of the box (and only got better with shooting). The grip panels were properly fit and snuggly cinched into place. The two magazines were stiff and rugged, without the flimsiness that lesser magazines display. Overall, it looked like a fine pistol inside and out.
At the shooting range, the SR1911 CMD handled beautifully. The single-action trigger gauged at 5 pounds, 8 ounces, and proved to be smooth and crisp. The reduced-weight hammer clicked tightly into place, as did the thumb safety. The all-steel construction worked well to mitigate the stout recoil of hot .45 ACP rounds. One might not believe that shaving three quarters of an inch off the barrel end of a pistol could make much difference, but Commander-style 1911 pistols have a nice balance to them. The deep checkering of the straight mainspring housing kept the pistol firmly seated, while the Rosewood grip panels were comfortable to hold. The Novak sights did not need any adjusting, hitting to point-of-aim all the way out to 25 yards.
John Browning designed his pistol to be reliable, and since this is intended to be a defensive pistol, Ruger did too. Using the original Browning-style barrel and recoil assembly, as well as leaving just a little wiggle in the slide, can provide reliability with a variety of ammunition. The pistol fed, fired and ejected everything from 230-grain standard pressure ball loads to 185-grain +P hollow points. There were no malfunctions during the break-in period or accuracy testing.
Working from a bench rest with targets at 25 yards, the SR1911 CMD produced consistent five-shot groups with multiple brands of ammunition. The best-single group was 2.75 inches, with no single group larger than 3.75 inches. The best five-group average of 2.95 inches was yielded by ASYM Precision's 185-grain +P Barnes Tac-XP hollow points. This would be solid accuracy from a more expensive 1911, so it’s certainly nice to see it in a mid-priced model like this one.
Commercially produced, American-made 1911 pistols have a history of carrying a high price tag when compared to other modern defensive handguns. Part of what's kept prices high has been the addition and implementation of the bells and whistles that aficionados think the average Joe wants. As less expensive polymer-framed pistols continue to out-price 1911s, several companies have been striving to compete by providing value-priced 1911s. Some do this by offering very basic features, less expensive finishes, cheap grips and only shipping one magazine in the box.
What becomes clear with handling the new SR1911 CMD pistol is that while Ruger had to make choices to keep this Command-size .45 affordable, good choices were made that provide real value to the shooter. Rather than dressing the gun up too much and making it too expensive, or stripping it of features folks really want in a modern combat 1911, Ruger used its knowledge of casting and modern machining techniques to provide a solid, good looking 1911. The SR1911 CMD is a defensive pistol that's ready to go to work right out of the box. The accuracy and ammunition reliability are just what they need to be to make this American made handgun a keeper.