Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 50k Report

4-Sep-13 – 09:19 by ToddG

practicegear

50,286 rounds 14 stoppages 0 malfunctions 4 parts breakages

With fifty thousand rounds downrange and on the books, what is the no holds barred assessment of the SACS/Warren 9mm?

I like it. I like it a lot. 

Though in fairness, it’s hard to explain in objective terms. Looking at just the raw numbers, the only factor that stands out is the price. At more than twice the cost of a P30 or HK45 (or three times a Glock or M&P), good old WTS-017 has been spectacular more in its ability to shatter myths than shatter records. For example…

Shootability: This is where a 9mm 1911 was supposed to shine like a million hippies doused in gasoline at Burning Man. While it has turned in some good performances, there are areas in which I definitely struggled more than expected.

WTS017-50kIt’s hard to blame the gun too much since unlike previous tests, this one had multiple weeks- or even months-long breaks between training time. That doesn’t change the fact that some tasks are just plain undeniably slower (like slidelock reloads). Even the much-vaunted 1911 trigger wasn’t the magical faerie dust folks want you to believe.

Nonetheless, with some dedicated effort I was able to clean up a lot of my errors with positive results. Most telling for me is the consistency I was able to achieve on the F.A.S.T. in a 50-run marathon. Even giving up an entire half second on reloads, the SACS/Warren pistol gave me both the best average time, highest percentage of successful sub-5s clean runs, and best accuracy of any gun I’ve tested to date:

<5s 5-7s 7-10s Avg % 3×5 hits % 8” hits Draw 3×5 split R/L 8” splits
SACS/Warren 34 13 3 5.06 96% 99.50% 1.60 0.42 2.27 0.20
Glock 17 25 17 8 5.12 83% 96.50% 1.43 0.40 1.81 0.20
HK45 30 12 7 5.54 85% 96.50% 1.57 0.52 2.03 0.23

While consistency and accuracy were great, that reload definitely hurt in the record-breaking department. My personal best with the SACS/Warren gun was at 4.27 seconds compared to 3.87 with the Glock, 4.14 with the HK45, 4.08 with the P30, or even the M&P9 by a small margin at 4.26 seconds.

My best Dot Torture was a perfect 50 at seven yards, far from the clean 10yd run with the P30 & HK45, 49/50 at ten with the Glock, or 50 at nine yards with the M&P9. The crisp 1911 trigger is just so much easier to anticipate and snatch than a rolling LEM for me.

Another major benchmark test I use is JodyH’s popular 99 Drill. It’s a great test of consistent accuracy under time pressure. The SACS/Warren gun did very well, tying my personal best at 97/99 (first achieved with the Glock).

So in terms of performance, the SACS/Warren 9mm 1911 was a mixed bag. The potential is definitely there, but wringing it out of the gun required a lot of effort from someone used to double action and striker fired guns.

WTS017-50kaccuracy

Accuracy: New, the pistol averaged 1.82″ 5-shot groups from a rest at 25yd shooting my carry ammunition, Federal P9HST3. At 50,000 rounds after a very thorough cleaning — including soaking the barrel in solvent for hours — that had opened up to 2.40″ with groups ranging from the 1.70″ pictured below to 2.66″.

That accuracy is essentially identical to what the G17 turned in at 50k but certainly not as tight as the HK45 (1.85″), the M&P9 (1.72″), or the incredible 1.53″ averaged by the P30 when it hit 50,000 rounds.

Reliability: Comparatively, the SACS/Warren gun was the least reliable gun put through a 50,000 round test. It suffered fourteen stoppages compared to nine with the P30, eight with the Glock, and two each from the HK45 and M&P9 by the 50k mark.

In absolute terms, the gun’s reliability far exceeds industry standards and, once I settled on Wilson ETM magazines and 14# variable recoil spring it ran very reliably indeed.

In terms of expectations, this 9mm 1911 was amazingly reliable. Everyone — even the 1911 aficionados — expected more problems than this. If there is one myth that was squarely busted during this test it was the assumption of unrelenting problems with a sub-caliber 1911.

For more discussion about the pistol’s reliability, check out the detailed discussion posted previously.

Durability: Another major myth of the 1911 is that the small parts break frequently and that you “need to be your own gunsmith” to survive ownership. It took 18,000 rounds to break the first part, a mainspring housing pin that wasn’t discovered until the pistol was disassembled and which never diminished the gun’s function in any way. Springfield sent out an improved pin as replacement and it’s still in perfect condition today.

The ejector broke… twice. The first time was just past 30,000 rounds and the second was at 46,000 rounds. In both cases, the gun continued to run for hundreds of rounds without any trouble. Springfield fixed it promptly both times. The cause of the breakages: the 10-round Wilson ETM magazines were striking the ejector upon insertion. This also happens with the Metalform and Tripp magazines I have, but not with the factory supplied Springfield 9-round magazines. It’s only fair to say that had I used the factory magazines, these two breakages never would have happened.

The slide stop notch began to round a bit at the 30,000 mark and Springfield touched it up when the gun was back for the ejector replacement.

Except for some holster wear on the exterior and cycling wear on the rails, the gun is pretty much good as new.

WTS017-50k-slidewear2 WTS017-50k-magwellwear WTS017-50k-slidewear1

Notably, a lot of the parts that people expect to fail on a 1911 simply didn’t. The extractor, for example, is original to the gun. It got tuned as a courtesy by SACS when the gun was back to them around the 6,000 round point and hasn’t been touched in more than forty thousand rounds since. The MIM sear didn’t disintegrate. The plunger tube never launched into space. The link didn’t become dislodged, get stuck in my throat, and choke me to death. The ambi safety didn’t break, come loose, or murder my dog when I wasn’t looking.

I never needed a file, dremel, or CNC machine to keep the gun running. While I cleaned it uncharacteristically “frequently” compared to previous tests, it received such treatment just 21 times (about once every 2,300 rounds) and was only detail stripped & cleaned a few times.

Concealment & Comfort: As usual, full size gun + excellent holster = all day comfort and excellent concealment. The two holsters I used the most during the test were the JM Custom Kydex aiwb and the 5 Shot Leather S.M.E. While the gun is almost twice as heavy as those used in previous tests, substantially longer, and taller in the grip area, the thinner frame actually made it easier to conceal than some of the wide, blocky guns. I’ve worn the gun during long drives, at the movies, and more than once I’ve fallen asleep on the couch with it on.

WTS017-carrygear

Overall pros:

  • the pistol’s all-steel construction and short, light trigger add up to consistent accuracy on low% targets at speed and very fast splits on high% targets
  • reliability far exceeding expectations and industry standards
  • required much less maintenance than predicted
  • sense of oneness with the universe when shooting a 1911

Overall cons:

  • slidelock reloads are much slower due to narrow magazine and the short, forward placed slide stop lever
  • trigger is very easy to anticipate when slowing down for maximum accuracy
  • ten rounds is a whole lot less than seventeen when you’re thinking about needing to shoot multiple people five or six times each
  • it’s ‘spensive
  • no matter how well it runs and how well you shoot it, some people will always criticize it (and you) for being 9mm

My  conclusion: Separate from any data or list of pros and cons, I simply love this gun. Even when I’m frustrated by it, I always having fun shooting it. Would I say you’re crazy to choose a $450 Glock over a $2,000 9mm Springfield Custom Shop 1911? No. But if you did choose the 1911, I’d understand completely… and I’d do the same.

And once again I’d like to thank the companies that helped make this test possible:

 

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Previous Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 Endurance Test posts at pistol-training.com:

  1. 26 Responses to “Springfield/Warren 9mm 1911 50k Report”

  2. I never needed a file, dremel, or CNC machine to keep the gun running.

    Quelle surprise. :|

    ;)

    (To listen to some people, you’d think that this basic GI service pistol required more fettling than an Italian V-12’s worth of Weber carbs to keep it operating right.)

    By Tam on Sep 4, 2013

  3. Are Weber carbs good like fiber or bad like processed sugar?

    By ToddG on Sep 4, 2013

  4. Like pasta carbs, they’re apparently only good for you if you’re Italian.

    By Tam on Sep 4, 2013

  5. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey exactly what I’m thinking, but I’ll give it a try.

    Despite a particular tool’s performance, given that it is reasonable/reliable, is there a positive factor in there somewhere that a person is better off carrying and using the tool he/she “likes” than carrying one that is more reasonable/reliable, but that he/she doesn’t like?

    happy shooting, dv

    By dustyvarmint on Sep 4, 2013

  6. Now Todd, I think you should test a CZ-75. Maybe you’ll change your opinion about them as well…

    By Irfan on Sep 4, 2013

  7. Wow! I never thought I would see the day when ToddG would say anything good about the 1911. We really appreciate you doing this test.

    While several years ago I changed directions to a P30, the 1911 was my previously carried pistol, and my wife still carries a 9mm 1911. I do miss the slim lines and the target grade trigger but got fed up with magazine issues.

    By Kirk in Utah on Sep 4, 2013

  8. DV,

    Not one to speak for others, but in my head there is a very good case to be made for carrying something a person likes, within reason. I really like my P225. It has two great attributes in a gun – it is paid for, and I have some trigger time on it. The cost and opportunity cost of experimenting with a new carry option is VERY high when you start talking gun, accessories, ammo, range time, etc. I keep wanting to experiment with one of the newer H&Ks, but for some reason can’t talk myself into spending what would be very well spend coin.

    By dan-o on Sep 4, 2013

  9. Your conclusion was actually the most telling part of 1911’s-“I simply love this gun”-in bold no less. You can’t really rationalize “soul”. I am a huge 1911 addict, and generally of the very high end custom side. They are like Bespoke guns. Somebody (who often become a friend) has built it for me. They speak to you, they have a very unique feel, and there is just something comforting about them. My polymer framed service pistols are simply tools. No particular huge love, I can be talked out of them, they are the first to go when I need money for some emergency, but those 1911’s just stay with daddy. I have been offered STUPID money for my MARS Thug, my MARS Axiom retirement gun, and my Vickers 1911. I just won’t sell them because I love them. Additionally, while not always “the best” or perfect, I have found that some of those tough shooting performance standards we meet were done with a 1911. The only pistol I have ever broken a .50 draw and hit (solid center chest full value hit) with was my MARS THUG from a Milt Sparks CC1AT. They don’t often make sense on paper, but there is more to them than that.

    By nyeti on Sep 4, 2013

  10. “Shine like a million hippies doused in gasoline at Burning Man.” Are you going to trademark that phrase or can anyone use it?

    By SteveJ on Sep 4, 2013

  11. Questions:

    How many mags, total, did you buy?

    How many mags had to be pulled from service?

    By Tyler on Sep 4, 2013

  12. Let me preface this post by saying there is no more aesthetic, elegant and exquisite handgun than a well made 1911. Some smiths are putting out what I consider just plain works of art that belong in the Louvre. More so than my beloved revolvers. I have always said that a 1911 is a gun’s men’s gun, knowledge of handling and knowledge of upkeep required.

    Todd if you hadn’t figured out the magazine & recoil spring issues early on and continued to experience that failure rate through out the 50,000 round test would the gun have met the industry standard of 2000 rounds between stoppages? I don’t know, for the price of admission into the 1911 club I would expect at least the recoil spring issue to have been worked out before I took initial possession. Your average gun owner doesn’t have access to the expert advise that you had and the time/ammo budget to work things out.

    That said I’ve always enjoyed shooting the 1911’s I’ve owned or borrowed. Someday I hope to once again own one to fondle, admire and shoot the snot out of.

    By rsa-otc (Scott) on Sep 4, 2013

  13. So I read it like this: a 1911 that is highly customized, used by a shooter supported by the top smiths’ in the world; who is willingly to test and try out different magazines and recoil springs to find the ones to work, and has access to thousands and thousands of rounds of ammo, will experience a less reliable pistol than Glock, M&P, and HK, the shooter will be a little slower and almost as accurate, but the pistol will be “liked” a whole lot. Now, take into consideration between the HK45 and now you have gone to at least (from following your blog) professional training from Ken Hackathorn, Rogers, Robert Vogel, and hung out with Ernest Langdon and who knows who else and probably shot 100k rounds of ammo covering hundreds of hours of training and practice…so are you really – a lot slower and less proficient with the 1911- because where would/could your performance/ability lie today after all this additional training and experience with the M&P or P30, or any of the other guns you have tested? Personally, I think you proved what most people already think about 1911’s which is they “can” be done as long as you are willing to do what you did. But anyway….. what is next? XDM, FNS, BHP ?

    By Matt on Sep 5, 2013

  14. Thanks for the test. I bought two of these (one for my brother) and we love them. Do I love it as much as my Springfield Professional? I can’t really say. In either case I would agree with nyeti in that these guns have “soul” I have several M&P’s, XD’s, XDM’s, etc. But whenever I go to the range strictly for fun and relaxation (other then training) it is always the 1911’s that tag along.

    By Scott E on Sep 5, 2013

  15. FYI, I wouldn’t mind seeing an XDM test. Also another visual puzzle guessing what your next test is would be cool.

    By Scott E on Sep 5, 2013

  16. I’d like to see a da/sa test.

    By john k on Sep 5, 2013

  17. Nice test! I have two questions – Do you think the reliability results would have been significantly impacted:

    1. If you had shot regular 9mm ammo versus +P?

    2. If the SACS test gun had been initially built with Wilson Combat Bulletproof parts?

    Good luck this weekend.

    By Tom D on Sep 6, 2013

  18. Tom — There’s no way of telling but I don’t think the stronger ammo hurt the gun or its reliability.

    As for how Wilson parts would have played a role, I can’t guess. The Bulletproof parts have earned a reputation for excellence, though.

    By ToddG on Sep 6, 2013

  19. Magazine changes are slow? I’d say practice. Todd Jarrett can shoot an El Presidente (3 targets, two shots each / magazine change / two more double taps per target) in 3.47 seconds using a 1911 – and it takes you 4+ seconds to change a magazine?

    By Steve on Sep 7, 2013

  20. Steve,

    Read a little more carefully next time.

    By SLG on Sep 7, 2013

  21. What occurs to me here is that it seems you did better on the drills with the pistols you shot more recently. I.e. you did better with the M1911 because you’ve practiced shooting for longer than you had been practicing when you shot the P30. If you went back to a P30 and assiduously practiced/lived with that for another few months/year, do you think you would surpass your previous performance with the P30 and your current performance with the M1911?

    By Redchrome on Sep 9, 2013

  22. Redchrome — Sorry if my post was unclear. The numbers for the other guns were based on the tests of those guns in past years. So it’s a fairly apples-to-apples comparison.

    By ToddG on Sep 9, 2013

  23. Todd, what I think Redchrome was referring to is that you are a more accomplished/experienced marksman for the 1911 test than you were for the previous tests. You have approx. 150,000 more rounds down range since the P30 test. Could the improvement or consistency be from the increased experience rather than the platform? That if you went back to the P30 for a few months maybe your P30 results would be similar to the 1911 results due to that add’l 150,000 rounds down range. I might be an interesting test all by it’s self.

    By rsa-otc (scott) on Sep 9, 2013

  24. rsa-otc understood me correctly. Sorry if I was unclear in my original message. I’m wondering how much of a difference the additional years and rounds fired have on your shooting skill. I presume that’s why you continue practicing so assiduously — to get better, not just to maintain your skill at the level you were at in 2009.

    I do realize you can’t just pick up a P30 or the like, try the test with that pistol, and expect it to be a fair test (tho it may be informative if you did better with it than the 1911). You’d need to spend some time re-learning the finest details of how to work that pistol. How long that re-learning takes is also an interesting topic for study. :)

    By Redchrome on Sep 10, 2013

  25. Redchrome — I’m tracking now. It’s hard to determine for sure but I’d certainly expect that sticking with one guy all this time would have turned in better scores by now.

    By ToddG on Sep 10, 2013

  26. I really would like to see you test a Sig 226 or 229 next.

    By RodB on Sep 25, 2013

  27. Endurance test that is.

    By RodB on Sep 25, 2013

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