Making the Selection

‘Carry rotation’ means different
things to different people
; .

Mas’ test came down to these two Commander-format 9mm
finalists — Springfield above, Ruger on right.

My primary job is that of firearms and deadly force instructor so I habitually carry a handgun for work as well as normal personal protection. I also compete when I can, partly as a hobby and partly just for skill maintenance. While John Bianchi’s rule — same type of gun, same type of holster, all the time — is absolutely valid for personal defense, an instructor has to stay familiar with the different guns his students bring. This has led me to change primary carry guns frequently over the years. Another factor is gun tests for magazines like this one: One metric of carry gun testing is to carry it for a while, to see if it’s going to dig into the body or snag on clothing or print.

I used to change guns every training tour. In the last few years, I’ve gotten a bit lazy and the changes are more seasonal. Because one of my “user parameters” is competition shooting, it makes sense for the gun I’ll be carrying, handling and demonstrating in class to be as similar as possible to what I’ll be competing with. It builds a symbiotic relationship.

The first quarter of the year is when my schedule synchronizes best with that of GSSF, the GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation, so my carry gun then is usually the Pre-eminent Polymer Pistol in one flavor or another. For 2022, as the first quarter flowed into the second, I knew my next match would be my all-time favorite, The Pin Shoot in Central Lake, Mich. in June. I usually shoot 1911s there, so it was time to switch. The Gen5 GLOCK 19 that had been my companion most of the early part of the year went into the safe.


Three rounds each, three different stances, 15 yards, PPC speed. The low shot
ruining a 3" group for Ruger was Mas’ fault, not the pistol’s.

Sights broke the tie: factory furnished on Springfield Ronin (above) and Ruger SR1911.

Selection Parameters

Light weight was one parameter of selection due to sciatica, which set in mercilessly in 2020. There are a couple each of lightweight Colt Commanders and CCOs in the safe, chambered for .45 ACP. However, arthritis has set in along with everything else and a day of shooting with a lightweight .45 auto and full-power ammo leaves hand and wrist aching reminding me by evening I’m not 35 anymore. I decided to go 9mm.

I am sure the very concept of a 9mm 1911 makes Jeff Cooper roll over in his mausoleum but today’s 9mm ammo isn’t what it was when Jeff bonded with the .45 and pushed for the 10mm. My carry load in a 1911 9mm is Winchester’s Ranger-T 127-grain +P+ jacketed hollow point. It has earned an enviable reputation for “stopping power” in the 4.25″ barrels of SIG P226s in Orlando and in the 4.5″ barrels of GLOCK 17s carried by Miami-Dade and Jacksonville cops. Rated for 1,250 foot-seconds from a service-size gun, it has about the ballistics of a 125-grain .357 Magnum from a snub-nose revolver, with much less kick, blast and flash. It’s the kind of ballistics to inspire confidence. I fly to some of my teaching venues and can carry about twice as much 115-grain 9mm training ammo as 230-grain .45 hardball within the airlines’ 11-lb. ammo limit in checked baggage. Ten-round states were also on the schedule and with Wilson Combat magazines I could carry the maximum allowed.


Fiber optic front sight may have given the Springfield an edge on Bianchi plates.


The gun safe yielded four aluminum-frame candidates, all two-tone. Three were Springfield Armory brand — the original EMP, the new Ronin EMP and a Ronin Operator in standard Commander size. Rounding out the quartet was a Ruger SR1911 Commander. All had triggers in the 4- to 5-lb. pull range. I threw in a 5″ all-steel Springfield match grade 1911 as a control gun.

I started with offhand shooting at 15 yards, running three shots each from the three two-handed stances I share with students: Classic Weaver, Chapman-modified Weaver and Isosceles. All of them gave 3″ to 4″ groups. It was pretty much a tie there. The full-size control gun, with BoMar-like sights, went a little tighter but was heavier than I wanted to carry.

I actually prefer the feel of the EMPs. Dave Williams scaled down these Enhanced Micro Pistols for the 9mm cartridge, allowing me to get more hand around the gun and more finger on the trigger. But, since the purpose of going 1911 was to re-acclimate to the full-size 1911s I’d be using at the Pin Shoot, I reluctantly set them aside.

It came down to the Ruger and the Ronin. Both are excellent pistols in the sub-$1,000 price range. The Ruger had been a prize for winning a pistol match in Texas in 2017, so it had a little emotional attachment to it and carried some confidence with it, if you know what I mean.

In the end, it was the sights that made the difference. The SR1911 came with fixed white dot Novak clones, while the Ronin had a ledged rear and red fiber optic front. My final test on the Bianchi plates from 11 yards showed me about a second faster with the big red ball on the front of the Springfield. Its ledged rear sight would also allow me to demonstrate working the slide one-handed in an emergency with the edge of it against the belt, while the streamlined Novak would have slipped off. “Feelz” have to give way to performance. For those particular needs, at that particular time, the Springfield 9mm Ronin Operator won the selection process.

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