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Best Upgrades for the Springfield Armory DS Prodigy 1911

Out of the box, the Springfield Armory DS Prodigy offers a lot of features at an affordable price for a double-stack 1911. You can take it to the next level, though, with a few easy upgrades.

Best Upgrades for the Springfield Armory DS Prodigy 1911

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Over the past several years, double-stack 1911s have exploded in popularity. Known generically as 2011s, these handguns range from high-dollar raceguns to more budget-minded models. Among the lesser-expensive but well-built variants out there is the Springfield Armory Prodigy. These guns, which are available in either 5- or 4.25-inch barrel lengths, have gained lots of market share due to their balance of quality and affordability. Thanks to that popularity, aftermarket accessories are popping up quickly. We decided to try out some of these parts to build a DIY custom Prodigy.

When the Prodigy was released, there were some early reliability complaints by end-users. I had two of the pre-production guns myself — one of them ran fine while the other had a few hiccups. Most of the problems seemed to be related to the disconnector’s relationship with the slide, and Springfield Armory quickly addressed that issue. Our base gun for this project worked with 100 percent reliability, had a pretty decent trigger and was plenty accurate. The extractor tension was perfect, so I didn’t touch it. The point is that there was no real reason to modify this gun other than the desire to do so. This is America. I wanted this to be a true DIY project, so despite having a machine shop at my disposal, all of the modifications that I performed were ones that a reasonably skilled hobbyist could accomplish with hand tools. All you need is a Brownells catalog and a credit card. To see what this handgun was truly capable of, I addressed a few key areas of the Prodigy: the grip, the ignition system, the control parts, the recoil system and the magazine well.

DS Prodigy Grip

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The Prodigy uses a polymer grip module that attaches to the steel sub-frame, making it easy to modify. Aftermarket grip modules are available, but most of them are fairly pricey. I decided to try my hand at texturing the polymer grip myself. I bought a cheap wood-burning kit on Amazon, watched a couple of YouTube videos and was off to the races. You know those cheap magazine loaders that come with Glocks? They are great for practicing on.

I burned large scallops into the grip which left a sort of snakeskin pattern. It only took a few minutes and I was reasonably pleased with the results. Another element of the grip is the mainspring housing which, along with the grip safety, forms the backstrap. Evolution Gun Works (EGW) makes a host of parts designed specifically for the Prodigy, including a checkered mainspring housing machined from a steel billet. I bought a stainless-steel housing since that what was in-stock. Though I’d intended to have it black Nitrided down the road, I actually like the two-tone look that matches some of the other parts that I added. Along with the aggressive grip pattern, the 30-line-per-inch checkering on the EGW part added plenty of purchase.

Ignition

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EGW makes a drop-in ignition kit specifically for the Prodigy. The kit contains a lightened hammer, a sear and a disconnector, all of which are machined instead of being MIM or cast parts. It also contains a sear spring and a 19-pound mainspring. I added a pin kit from EGW to ensure that everything fit with the best tolerances possible. Other than polishing the sides of the hammer to slick up the engagement with the frame, I did nothing to alter the parts during the installation.

Controls

There aren’t a huge variety of triggers on the market made specifically for the Prodigy. I chose the Red Dirt ST with a black aluminum shoe. This trigger installed easily and the overtravel adjustment instructions were simple to follow. I replaced the polymer factory mag catch with a machined and checkered part from 10-8 Performance. I also used a machined slide stop from 10-8, replacing the cast component included with the pistol. 

Recoil System

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The Prodigy uses a two-piece recoil spring guide rod system that requires a hex wrench to disassemble. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never been a fan of this setup. I like the simplicity of the GI-style recoil system, so I replaced the factory parts with a recoil spring guide and reverse spring plug, both from 10-8. I also ordered a few different recoil springs of varying power to experiment with.

Magazine Well

My full-size Prodigy is set up as sort of a gamer gun, so an extended magazine well was a natural choice. Though some of the 2011 mag wells will work, EGW has designed one specifically for the Prodigy, and it is contoured to match the mainspring housing that I chose. This part slides right on and was an easy fit. To get a smooth transition between the extended mag well and the internal polymer surface, I taped-off the aluminum part and spent a few minutes with a rotary tool and sanding blocks until magazines could slide in effortlessly.  

Final Results

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After a few hours on the bench, my factory Prodigy had been transformed into a DIY custom handgun. The gripping surfaces are rock-solid without being abusive. The trigger pull improved in both pull weight and reset length and was smoothed-out significantly. The controls were easier to manipulate and are made from materials that will hold up to serious use. I’m able to balance recoil reduction and reliability by tuning the recoil springs and, thanks to the standard guide rod, can do so without having tools on the range. Finally, the oversized magazine well makes mag changes difficult to mess up. I spent about $450 on parts which, combined with an MSRP of $1,499 for the handgun, put me at a total of around $1,950. Two grand is a lot of money but with some of the higher-end 2011-style handguns retailing at $2,500, I still saved enough for a case of ammo and a decent holster. Speaking of holsters, I’m using Blackpoint Tactical’s mu OWB holster that is designed specifically for the Prodigy series of handguns. This is a slick, well-built holster than provides excellent retention along with a fast draw. It is available with various attachment methods and can be molded for use with or without a weapon-mounted light.  




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