The Ruger SR1911 CMD Commander Review

Ruger1911I have been sitting on 800 rounds of .45 ACP that I had bought for my old XDs .45 which I no longer own. No fun to shoot and you had to have a perfect grip on the gun to avoid a jam. If I relaxed my hand a little, it would do all the things people post about. Now with the recall, I am doubly glad I sold it. To me, there is only one gun that you should use to shoot a .45 ACP, a 1911. For me, the best 1911 I have shot in the last few years is the new Ruger SR1911 CMD Commander. There is no doubt that after 4 decades, a 1911 fits my hand the best. It is the gun I see when I form a mental picture of a gun. Much of that is due to the fact that my toy handguns and water pistols were all shaped like 1911′s, they were in all the gangster and war movies that I saw growing up and more importantly, it was the gun I fought with in Nam. Actually using a gun in combat gives you tremendous confidence in both the gun and your ability to effectively prevail with it. Everyone else just “thinks” they can.

Sure a Sig P220 handles .45′s very well and is accurate to boot but that first double action trigger is not something I prefer despite having competed with on for many years.  In the last 3 years I have bought a few 1911′s; a full size S&W 1911E, Colt Defender and New Agent with 3″ barrel and ended up selling them all. For me a 4″ barrel gun balances the best and that means I do not have to strain my aging hands to hold a muzzle heavy gun upright.

The full sized S&W and the Kimber I owned before it, were just too big for me. The small Colt’s were lightweight due to their aluminum bodies and after shooting 25 rounds through them my hands were shaking from the pounding. I am no stranger to big calibers but my big  caliber guns are all heavy and absorb the recoil. The Colt’s and XDs .45 were just no fun to shoot and I like my guns to be bought for carry and range use. I am old fashioned in my belief that you should shoot a lot and often to be good with your gun and if you shoot your carry gun only once a year or two, as so many do around here, you are not going to be very proficient or confident with it.

So here I was with all this ammo for a .45 and nothing to shoot it with. My previous 1911′s all cost about a thousand dollars or more and I really did not want to spend that much again only to find that I did not like the gun and sell it at a loss. My past experience has been that you need to spend about a grand to get a good 1911 that you do not have to send to a gunsmith to make it reliable and have a good trigger.

I watched with interest when most of the gun manufacturers jumped on the 1911 bandwagon but I pretty much limit my gun purchases to Ruger, S&W, Colt, Sig and Glock. My local gun store owner knows that and will not offer me a gun made by anyone else. Just my personal preference after 4 decades of shooting guns from a lot of manufacturers. My ears perked up when I saw the new Ruger SR1911. Ruger makes strong and reliable guns, despite a bump or two recently. However, it was a 5″ full sized model and I knew that if I bought it, I would not be happy with it after the new gun smell wore off. :-) As I said, I greatly prefer guns with 4″ barrels which is why the only Glock I kept after buying a half dozen of them is the Glock 19.

Although I followed the posts about the Ruger SR1911, I was not moved to buy one. Saw a few in the local gun stores but interested. One of the great things about living in Florida is that there are guns stores all over the place. Every Pawn shop is also a gun store. I have about 8 within a 45 minute drive of my home. Surprisingly, gun ranges and clubs are harder to find as there is no place to shoot a rifle or shotgun within a reasonable distance from my house.

I stopped looking for a 1911, figuring that I would wait until Christmas before deciding which one to get. A few weeks ago one of my gun rags had an article about the Ruger 1911 in Commander size. That got my interest. Although it was only an inch shorter and 2 ounces lighter than the full sized model, I felt that it would feel better in my hand. At first the weight at 36 ounces, turned me off. That was a heavy gun to carry but did I want a 1911 to carry when I have a Glock 19 and many pocket guns in 9mm and .357 magnum? I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the lighter 1911′s had too much felt recoil for my taste and less than 4″ barrels proved unreliable for me. Your mileage may vary.

I remembered that I carried a full size 1911 for a few months and with an OWB high rise holster made by Wilson Combat and a Wilderness Tactical Instructor belt with a polymer insert. I just love the instructor belts although I actually buy the Frequent Flyer model which has two polymer rings rather than the metal belt buckle to attack a rope to. I have not rappelled from a helicopter since my Vietnam days and have not plans to do so again at my age. The gun carried well with this arrangement but not something I would like for a full day. Then again, I rarely go out for more than a few hours.

After nagging my wife and texting her pictures of the gun and acting like a spoiled child who wants a new toy, she finally told me to buy it even if it means that we will have to eat dog food when I retire. My dogs seem to like it so I figured it was a fair trade off in order to buy another gun. For someone who only carries once or twice a week, I have enough carry guns to carry a different one every day for two weeks.

I called my local gun store to make sure that they still had the gun in stock, which they did. I think the recent flood of 1911′s in the marketplace provided enough so that everyone who wanted one, bought one recently. So I loaded up my range bag just in case I did in fact buy it and off I went. I arrived at the combination gun store and range and entered. I asked to hold the gun. It felt good and the trigger was exactly to my liking. I bought it and immediately proceeded to the range to test it out with 100 rounds of .45 and a box of my Golden Saber carry rounds.

Normally I take the gun home, strip it and grease/oil it but this time I just squirted some oil on the rails and was good to go. Too much oil as it turned out because it kept dripping on my hands as I was shooting. :-) The 3rd round jammed but after that all the others had no problems, even the 25 Golden Saber jacketed hollow points. My impression after the range session was that this is the best shooting gun I own. More likely the gun I shoot the best but then again I always was partial to a 1911.

The Ruger 1911CMD or Commander (I am guessing that ‘Commander’ is a Colt trademark) and my hand were made for each other. It put my trigger finger on the trigger exactly where it should be. The trigger had a slight take up and then a crisp break. Just relaxed my finger a tiny bit and I could feel the trigger reset. I was shooting pretty fast and knocking out big holes in the center of the target. For laughs I moved the target out to 15 yards and still was hitting the 5″ circle good. Out to 25 yards I was putting 4 out of 7 into the 5″ circle with the rest just below it. However, in my defense, by then my hands were getting a little shaky from the recoil and there is no way to shoot other than off hand standing up in a 100 degree indoor shooting range with sweat dripping into my eyes.

You can see the specs below in the Gunblast video and written review below. No need for me to repeat them. My impression of the gun is that for the money it is a great value. It feels good in the hand. The grips hold your hand in place. The grip safety was not intrusive and the trigger is just like I like it. I think it breaks at about 4-5 lbs but all SA triggers feel light to me after shooting revolvers for so long. I like the low mount Novak 3 dot sights and was able to hit where the sights pointed to. I did not have to adjust them as I normally do with new guns. I paid $700 for it, less than I could find one in stock online after you add shipping and FFL fees. It comes in a cardboard box but I am not one of those guys who gets off on plastic gun cases because they are either too cheap or unaware of the existence of range bags to carry their guns back and forth from the range. I have even bought used guns that came in a paper bag. Who cares as it does nothing to make the gun better.

The grips are the standard double diamond design in Walnut. They feel good and grip my hand well . The safety is narrow but long. Sort of like my competition 1911 safety but narrower. It locks with a very audible click that you can also easily feel. Not wide enough to place my thumb on top of it as some like to do but easy enough to use without worrying about it snagging on anything. The hammer is the standard commander style hammer with some pretty sharp groves cut into it so that if you thumbed back the hammer you would not let it go unless it took a good amount of skin with it.

The front strap is smooth. That has it pros and cons. Smooth does not tear up my hand like some guns do after extended range sessions. On the other hand, it does not give your hand a good purchase in the front although I am not so sure that you need that as long as your hand is firmly attacked to both sides and the rear. When I used to compete I used skateboard tape for the front strap and I may do the same now. It works well for me and is cheap to do.

The gun is all steel. No aluminum to make it lightweight. No plastic parts either. It does not have an ambidextrous safety but you can order one from Brownells. Although it has a bushing, you can remove it the way we did in the Army, just using your thumb to depress the spring. Ruger uses a short guide rod and plunger which I prefer as it makes disassembling the gun easier and is very reliable. The barrel is highly polished so that it works well with a wide assortment of ammunition.

The gun has a stainless steel matte finish, one of my favorites. While the gun is not melted, neither does it have any sharp corners to interfere with concealed carry. It sports a metal skeleton trigger and the slide stop, slide and grip safety are black, giving the gun a pleasing two tone look. All the rest of my guns are either solid black or stainless steel making this my fanciest gun. To me they are tools so as long as they work it is all I ask. If they happen to look nice too, that is a bonus.

I also like that the magazine release is large and easy to reach and use. The trigger is perfect as it is and I would not do anything to it. It even has an adjustment for over travel but I was shooting it better than any other gun I own out of the box. I should mention that the Ruger 1911 Commander has an internal extractor just like in the good old days. Honestly, for $400 less than I paid for another 1911, I like the Ruger better and it has all of the same useful features. It may not be as pretty with un-needed cosmetic features but it has what counts when it comes to rapid and accurate shooting. This is the gun I would enter a gun fight with unless I was going against a gang in which case I would take my Glock 19. But I am not a young testosterone filled young man with illusions of taking on multiple gun wielding opponents who are all worse shots than me and know even less tactics than I do despite their having more practical experience at these sort of affairs than me. :-). If I shot as well as I did in competition, I know that I can hit 5 chests in under 3 seconds from the draw. However, that was with an OWB holster with no covering garment and knowing where the targets were and how I was going to shoot them. Real life is not like that and I rationally and maturely accept that fact that if I am beset by a gang of gun carrying miscreants who want to shoot it out, I will be dead and it really will not matter what gun I use and how many bullets it holds. :-) When I was 25, I felt differently and could take on an army of bad guys. Time changes our thinking.

The guns comes with two well made magazines. Chip McCormick? perhaps. They are 7 round magazines but I do not know why Ruger chose not to include an 8 rounder like they did with their full sized 1911 since the grips are the same size. Why a Commander size you may ask. Does a 3/4 inch difference matter much. To me it does. It makes the gun balance better, look better and shoot as good as the full sized version. Smaller is better when it performs like the larger version in my book. For me it is all about the feel of a gun in my hand and as I mentioned previously, a 4″ gun feels the best in my hands and I know this after buying so many guns that I lost count a long time ago. Bought almost 40 in just the last 3 years to give you some idea. :-)

Another point to make is that the 1911CMD uses a series 70 firing pin safety which many prefer. It basically uses a titanium firing pin that is so light so that if the gun is dropped it would not have enough inertia to fire a round. Coupled with a heavy firing pin spring, it is pretty safe. The series 80 safety had a firing pin plunger that blocked the firing pin and also affected the trigger pull according to some. I agree and like the series 70 better.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Ruger 1911 Commander to anyone who wants a good reliable 1911 at an affordable price. What I especially liked about it is that it was very easy to bring back on target. I was able to rapid fire it with little effort as the muzzle rise was not great; probably due to the weight of the gun. Whether I will carry it or not has yet to be determined as my Glock 19 with 15 +1 rounds is lighter and easier to carry with an un-tucked shirt. However, as I do with all my guns, no matter how big, I will buy a belt holster for it. The gun feels good, shoots good and absorbs recoil well enough that I was able to shoot 125 rounds through it without my hands twitching so much that I could not aim properly. Click on the link below for more information and a video of the gun being shot.

Gunblast video and review of the Ruger 1911 Commander

Shotgun News review, history and pictures

7 thoughts on “The Ruger SR1911 CMD Commander Review

  1. Outstanding review! I read a review by J. Guthrie of Guns and Ammo that go me interested in this gun initially. I went and purchased the gun 2 days ago and am awaiting the 3 day waiting period. I have been reading review after review but, ( a case of buyers remorse) however, yours is very thorough and answered all my questions. Picking the gun up tomorrow night and can’t wait to get to the range….This is my first 1911!! I own a Glock 26 as my concealed gun. That could change. Haa

    • I have a Glock 26 as one of my carry guns although I mostly carry a SigP938 in my pocket during the hot and humid summers of Florida. I did carry my 1911 and as always, despite its size and weight, it carried more comfortably than many of my small and lighter guns. What most do not consider is that when you carry a gun IWB, the whole weight of the gun is not pulling down. It is pressed against your side which also supports it and with a 1911, you have some nice surface area to distribute the weight. I carry my Ruger 1911 CMD in an MTAC holster IWB and for OWB I use a Wilson high rider holster. It prevents the muzzle from hitting a chair when you sit down and holds the gun close to your body. This has been my combination for every 1911 I have carried. I grew up playing with 1911 toy guns, carried one in NAM and competed with one. To me, it is the only gun, other than a revolver, that feels like a real gun and not a plastic toy. :)

  2. Great review I just recently became a owner of the commander and your review was one of the ones I read to make the jump on the purchase. But I think the purpose of one round less of the magazine is to make a little lighter for conceal. I have sent a inquiry to ruger about it waiting a reply.
    Thanks and God bless!

    • The 1911 was designed for a 7 round magazine. 8 rounders were not considered to be as reliable. These days high quality 8 round mags are available but more costly to buy. No secret as to why your gun came with 7 rounders. All of my 1911′s did.

  3. Wow, thanks for the great review. I had pretty much settled on this being my next gun, and you did nothing to change my mind. I’m a striker-fired, polymer gun guy mostly, but it’s about time I picked up a 1911, and this one looks like the perfect value.

  4. Thank you very much for your review. It makes my post purchase twitters go away because I have not had a chance to soot the gun. I love the feel, look and apparent quality of the gun. I am now glad that I did not buy the 5″ barrel model – I was debating.

    Thanks again

  5. Pingback: Ruger 1911 Commander - Review and Range report | The Gun Feed

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