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Review: Ruger SR1911 Lightweight Commander .45 ACP

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Article first appeared at Cheaper than Dirt.

Ruger hit the nail on the head for .45 ACP 1911 owners. Lustful, full-sized 1911 desires aside, the next gun on every .45 ACP owner’s list is the easier to carry, lighter weight, Commander-length pistol and again Ruger has answered the call with the all-stainless SR1911 Commander and now a Lightweight alloy-framed version of its hugely popular SR1911. At nearly 10 ounces lighter than the all-stainless version, the reduced weight is a welcome option.

Ruger SR1911 left on bed of rocks

I wish I could highlight something different in a review between the full-sized SR1911 and the shorter barreled Commander length, however essentially the two guns are identical with the exception of a .75 inch shorter barrel. Really, they are identical. Sure, the spring, slide, and barrel are shorter, and an aluminum alloy frame versus stainless steel, however that is about it. Every other part between Commander and the full-sized gun are theoretically interchangeable beyond the factory hand fitting. Of note, the magazines are completely cross compatible between the Government and Commander size.

Let’s re-explore the finer points of the SR1911 platform. The Ruger Commander is a base-priced 1911 in stainless with the basic “must do” upgrades covered—all for under $979. No need to spend a fortune for parts and gunsmithing services for the basic upgrades… Just plop down your cash on the Ruger SR1911 and go have fun shooting or start carrying it concealed.

Finish, Fit, Feel, Features, Functioning & Accuracy

Overall, the Ruger SR1911 is a good fit for a production 1911—the aluminum alloy lower receiver and milled stainless upper receiver. Perfect, buttery, custom gun feel? No, but it was tighter and smoother than many other production guns I have shot. Many will say, “Milled lowers are better,” however keep in mind Ruger’s high-precision foundry has been delivering some of the most precise castings to manufacturers across the industry for decades. I would challenge you to notice, from a fit perspective, that it is a cast lower versus milled. All the parts are tight and have that solid Ruger feel about them. Most will find the fit and finish as good or better than most other production 1911s—note I said production, not custom.

Grip face of the Ruger SR1911 pistol

Ruger is CNC machining everything including the front textured grip face.

The SR1911 Model 6711 feels solid, beefy, and is comfortable in the hand. This lightweight version is a pleasure to carry at only 28 ounces. The shorter-barreled SR1911 Commander moves the pivot point of the balance back for a less muzzle heavy feel. The gun is very comfortable and the grooved rosewood grips and rear checkering provide a perfect grip without being too aggressive on the hands. Ruger did groove the front strap on the alloy Commander.

Ruger skipped the problematic newer generation firing pin safeties that leave many 1911 owners swearing about higher manufacturing costs, failures to fire, and harsher trigger pulls. Ruger just made the older simpler problem-free 70-series design just as safe by using a stronger firing pin spring and lightweight titanium firing pin. This allows the gun to survive drop tests without accidental discharge when the gun hits the concrete, provides nice upgrade, a less complex and less expensive design all while maximizing a great trigger feel.

The trigger is skeletonized aluminum with overtravel adjustment is probably one of the better triggers I have tried on a production 1911. This particular Lightweight Ruger Commander has just a little bit of snag in the trigger, which pushed the feel out of match quality range. However, for its intended purpose, it is a good trigger.

Alloy frame Ruger SR1911 pistol

All the same right handed controls are carried through on the Alloy Framed model.

The stainless barrel and bushings are made from the same piece of bar stock. Why? Because every piece of bar stock is just unique enough that one piece will be marginally harder or softer than another. By using the same bar stock for both barrel and bushings, the chance for wear over the long term is greatly minimized, and a better fit equals tighter groups now and into the future. Nice detail.

Features – Standard Upgrades

The Ruger SR1911 includes an oversized mag release, thumb safety, beavertail safety with a nice palm swell for positive safety dis-engagement, and a skeletonized and bobbed hammer. The beavertail safety and thumb safety are not hugely oversized, so the Ruger should be a good, comfortable, carry option. The hammer is nicely stylized and deeply serrated and can be cocked single handed with the grip hand. The magwell is more of a standard type with a decent magazine flaring and good enough for a carry gun.

Caliber .45 Auto
Slide Material Stainless Steel
Sights Fixed Novak 3-Dot
Length 7.75″
Height 5.45 inches
Width 1.34 inches
Weight 28 ounces
Grooves 6
Barrel Length 4.25 inches
Twist 1:16″ RH

The Ruger SR1911 magazines are some of the most gorgeous magazines I have ever seen on any production gun. The Commander included just one 7-shot magazine instead of a 7 and 8 rounder like the full sized. The magazines are mirror polished, stainless steel with anti-tilt followers. The 7-shot provides a flush fit with the lightly beveled mag-well, while the optional extended 8-shot includes a hard plastic bumper. These magazines are a work of art all unto themselves. Just a note, my Kimber .45 magazines functioned perfectly as well for those looking for possible compatibility options.

Disassembled Ruger SR1911 pistol

Like the previous models, the Ruger is easy to disassemble.

The sights are Novak three-dot dovetail sights and provide plenty of function with the rear being adjustable for windage via a setscrew. Unless you are a target shooter, these are all you will ever need. It should be noted that the top rear of the slide is milled to accept other Novak equivalent extended combat and adjustable sights. However, should you want other non-Novak compatible target sights, you may need to have the top of the slide milled to provide clearance. Grips are beautiful cocobolo with deep aggressive checkering for plenty of grip.

Included in the, now standard, cardboard box was the gun, a lock, one magazine, plastic takedown wrench, and zippered pistol pouch.

Testing included 300 rounds of five types of ammo ranging from the inexpensive steel case Herters & Wolf, and various standard and premium Winchester rounds in hollow point and FMJ. Everything fed, fired, and ejected without a single issue. Based on the fact the gun could feed anything I threw at it, I would not hesitate to recommend this 1911 for anyone intending to utilize the SR-1911 as a defensive pistol.

Rear Novak sight

Low profiles Novak sights are durable and easy to use.

Accuracy Testing

For me, the lightweight version of this Commander was actually a bit more accurate than the all-stainless model. I wanted to replicate my testing of the full-sized SR1911 and dug through the ammo box to find the same boxes and brands of ammo. The shorter sight radius marginally decreased accuracy, however, if placed in a Ransom rest, I am sure the groups would be nearly identical. Almost all of my groups were solidly just over 2.5 inches for 5-shot groups, and about the same size as my full-sized Ruger 1911. Again, the Federal HST and Winchester 230-Grain FMJ rounds delivered my best groups. All around, the SR1911 proved to be a very accurate 1911 pistol for the price.

Final Thoughts

The Ruger SR1911 is an outstanding value for a feature-loaded production 1911 that you can just buy and have the confidence to pull it out and shoot. The Commander version offers a carry option, which is a ¾ inch shorter, and a few ounces lighter to increase all day carry comfort.

Like the full-sized version, the grips are a bit big for my hands. I would swap them for a set of VZ slim custom grips. Highly recommended.

Are you a 1911 fan? Which do you prefer Government- or Commander-sized 1911s? Share you answers and thoughts about Ruger and 1911s in general in the comment section.


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