Springfield Armory 1911 Mil-Spec Defender Series

Without a doubt, the 1911 is one of the most recognizable handguns on the planet. Having served as the standard sidearm for United States forces for 74 years - longer than any other - it’s hard to imagine our world without such an iconic handgun.

In March 1911, however, the fate of this latest design by John Moses Browning was very much undecided. US pistol trials had been underway since 1907, and many companies had already fallen out of the running. The field of contenders was growing small, but it also grew more fierce the smaller it became.

Colt and Savage had emerged as the top two companies with designs that were seriously being considered for adoption. For the final trial, each company submitted a gun for a 6,000-round torture test conducted over a 12 hour period. Colt selected serial number 5, fired by E.G. Reising; Savage selected serial number 4 fired by Charles Nelson. Each shooter was instructed to follow a protocol incorporating a five-minute cooling period after each 100-round stage, and a thorough cleaning and oiling after each 1,000-round mark.

When the dust settled, Colt appeared to be victorious, having suffered far fewer mishaps than Savage. The final verdict, though, would not arrive until the end of the month.

On March 29, 1911, Lt. Col. John T. Thompson (later of Tommy gun fame) sent a letter to Colt informing them that their design had “passed the prescribed tests and has been adopted” as the new military sidearm. Colt was instructed to reply with a quote for an order of 30,262 pistols, along with “spare parts and screwdrivers” to be sent to Springfield Armory in Massachusetts ASAP. Fittingly, the Colt 1911 bearing serial number 5 is in the permanent collection of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site.

While the design has remained relatively unchanged, one of the most beloved versions of the gun is the M1911A1. That’s SA Defenderthe pistol that helped GIs make the world safe for democracy during World War II. As such, it seems almost poetic that Springfield Armory’s Defender Series Mil-Spec pistol carries on the legacy of that particular 1911 design.

The Mil-Spec 1911 from Springfield Armory has a carbon steel frame and slide and a 5-inch Match Grade stainless steel barrel. All of those parts are fully forged, not cast, for the highest degree of durability. The slide has slanted serrations and the mainspring housing is the original arched style found on GI issue 1911A1s.

The pistol also features fixed 3-dot sights, lowered and flared ejection port, and single-sided thumb safety. Each Mil-Spec comes with fully-checkered wood grips, has a Parkerized finish to combat corrosion, and comes with one 7-round magazine.

At 39 ounces, you can literally feel the weight of the Mil-Spec 1911’s history in your hands.

Offered as part of Springfield Armory’s Defender Series Sales Event, this pistol is designed to encourage new shooters to invest in their first firearm, and introduce value-driven customers to the Springfield Armory brand.

If you’re in the market for your first firearm ever, your first 1911, your first gun from Springfield Armory, or you’re just looking to add another gun to your safe, this would be a good one to choose. Built from a design that has more than a century of battle-proven tenacity, you can’t go wrong with a Mil-Spec 1911 from the Springfield Armory Defender Series. ~ T. Logan

T.Logan Metesh 
Logan is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry. For more information, please visit www.highcaliberhistory.com.