Versatility Defined

The Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP With
Adjustable Sights Takes Full
Advantage Of Today’s Ammo Choices

By Massad Ayoob

Ruger started making 1911’s a few years ago and in late 2016 added an adjustable sight version, the subject of this article. There’s an interesting history on the Ruger side, too. Remember when they came out with their neat Match Champion version of the GP100 .357 Magnum, geared for IDPA shooting, with fixed sights?

Gunwriters and competition shooters alike reminded Ruger they use magnum loads in bowling pin matches, +P .38 Special for defense, light wadcutters for bull’s-eye, 158-grain .38 Special loads for NRA Police Service Revolver competitions, and different power factor loads for IDPA and ICORE. And all those loads shoot to different points of aim/points of impact. Ruger listened, and voilà, today you have an adjustable sight option on the Match Champion GP100 line. The new adjustable sight SR1911 dances to the same tune.

Fire in the hole! SWAT team commander Wayne Musgrove liked the
SR1911 Target and shot it very well. Cycling was 100 percent
whether firing hollowpoints or ball ammo.

The test gun wasn’t the tightest grouping SR1911 Mas ever shot,
but kept a whole 7-round mag in the head at 15 yards rapid fire.

First Look

Classic John Moses Browning 1911 features include the short guide rod and no trendy grasping grooves on the front of the slide (I liked it already). More modern ones include medium-length skeletonized trigger adjustable for backlash, beavertail grip safety with speed bump, well adjusted so the gun still fires even if a high thumb position pulls the web of your hand back from the grip safety. Plus a lightly beveled magazine well.

The ambidextrous thumb safety is a Ruger first, which I applaud. Slide design is old school. Instead of a plunger-type firing pin safety Ruger’s lightweight titanium firing pin can’t gain enough momentum for an “inertia fire event,” rendering the pistol drop-safe (the same approach taken by Dave Williams at Springfield Armory on their 1911A1’s).

Our test sample Ruger, (serial number 672-76002), came with two stainless steel magazines, polished nicely which seemed to aid both insertion and a clean drop. One was a standard 7-rounder with a flush-fitting floorplate for concealment purposes, the other an 8-round with extended floorplate which provided more positive reloads.

Of course, the primary feature distinguishing this SR1911 from others in the line, in addition to the ambi safety, is the sights. The front pays homage to Wayne Novak, the rear to the late, great BoMar. Interestingly, there are horizontal striations on the face of the rear sight to prevent glare, but not on the slightly ramped front sight where the feature is most needed.

The BoMar-style rear sight really gives this Ruger variation its name, SR1911 Target. Do adjustable sights a target pistol make? Brandon Trevino, the product manager at Ruger’s Prescott, Arizona plant, explained it this way to GUNS: “The slide-to-frame fit, barrel, trigger, and bushing are no different than our standard SR1911 but it is about as good as you can get without hand fitting components. We cannot offer an accuracy guarantee, but we are considering shipping them with a test target to show what they are capable of. I think it is a good idea if we can work out the logistics of it.”

The only sharp edges presented to the hands were at the front of the rear sight when racking the slide, and that proved only a minor annoyance. Down below, on the Lyman digital trigger-pull gauge, the pressure to let-off measured a very consistent 5-1/2 pounds.

All on the test team initially noted a bit of creep in the pull, with a tiny “tick” palpable just before the finger “hit the wall” of firm resistance before the break. This was not noticeable in rapid fire, however. Armorer Bill Pfeil expected it was due to contact between the disconnector and the bottom of the slide.

The composite grips, listed as G10, had a triangle of checkering at the front of each panel, with the rest smooth with a wood-like grain. Most of the testers, myself included, would have liked less smooth surface and more traction. The front of the grip-frame was smooth, but the flat magazine housing at the lower rear was comfortably checkered.

The parts were a reasonably tight fit. The pistol came out of the box bone dry, so I applied Rem Oil before the shooting started.

An ambi safety and BoMar-clone adjustable (above) sights are signature features
of SR1911 Target. Corners of rear sight were “planed off,” reducing likelihood
of excessive wear on concealment garments and gentler on hand-working the slide.
A wise, nice touch! The flat, forward slanting surface of the SR1911 front sight
(below) caused it to “gray out” under most light conditions.

Accuracy has a couple of dimensions. One is grouping: how close will the gun/ammo combination put the hits to one another. The other is “POA/POI”: how does point of aim correlate with point of impact. At GUNS, we look at both. The gun came out of the box shooting high left, but that’s what adjustable sights are for. The gentle kiss of the screwdriver brought the BoMar clones to center as the test proceeded. Grouping was another matter.

I went with my usual testing protocol: Caldwell Matrix rest on a concrete bench at 25 yards. Frankly, the groups were a bit of a disappointment. Five shot groups more than once went over 5 inches, though measurements of the best 3 shots were more encouraging. There were constant “uncalled fliers.” Fearing my old eyes were the culprit, I had 6-time national title-holder Bob Houzenga try the Ruger Target from the bench, and he got the same results I did.

The best group we could squeeze out of the SR1911 Target was 5 shots in 2.65 inches with Remington 185-grain JHP .45, its best 3 exactly an inch smaller in 1.65 inches. The original fixed sight SR1911 I tested when it came out half a decade ago was distinctly tighter. I liked that first one so much I bought it, so it was still there to dig out of the safe and compare. Even with the same Remington 185 grain, the older Ruger shot tighter than the newer specimen.

In the hands of multiple shooters, we went through a good deal of .45 ACP hollowpoints and ball ammo, encompassing Remington, Federal, Winchester, and Nosler Match. Once, in initial loading, a wide-mouth Federal 185-grain JHP snagged, but quickly rectified with a gentle tug and jiggle of the slide. In actual firing, there were no malfunctions or stoppages of any kind, as we’ve come to expect from Ruger.

While many don’t see a pistol of this size, weight, and overall configuration for concealed carry, some of us have no problem with it. I was often carrying concealed a Colt with original BoMars set higher on the slide back in the 1970’s. I wore the SR1911 Target loaded for a day of routine shopping and such, and found it perfectly comfortable. The holster was the Mitch Rosen ARG (Ayoob Rear Guard, now the American Rear Guard). No surprises. Once you’re accustomed to the weight of a pistol (39 ounces unloaded), the only problem would be the sharp edges of the rear sights. Ruger sort of “planed off” the corners. No discomfort at all, and all the speed and concealment I needed thanks to inside the waistband carry.

The SR1911 Target is made of stainless steel, is nicely fitted and has the
adjustable rear sights and ambidextrous safety target shooters demand.


Retail on the SR1911 Target is $1,019 compared to $939 for the standard fixed sight model in the same configuration. That’s 80 bucks for adjustable sights and ambidextrous safety, already installed.

I tend to think the somewhat disappointing accuracy is limited to our particular test sample, based on previous experience with the SR1911. I’d like to see Ruger serrate the front sight, and I think the standard stocks give a better grasp than the particular G10 iteration on our test Target model. A checkered or at least serrated front strap on the grip frame would be welcome, too.

SR1911 Target

Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
200 Ruger Road
Prescott, AZ 86301
(336) 949-5200

Action type: Locked breech, semi-auto
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 7+1 or 8+1 (both magazines provided)
Barrel length: 5 inches
Overall length: 8.67 inches
Weight: 39 ounces (unloaded)
Finish: Matte stainless steel
Sights: Fully adjustable rear
Patridge front
Grips: G10
Price: $1,019

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