July 18, 2017
The Model 1911 might be America's favorite pistol because you can do so much with it. The venerable pistol is great for duty and defense, competition shooting, hunting, and plain old fun shooting. And believe it or not, a lot of people legally carry full-size 1911s concealed in inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters for personal protection. Springfield Armory's TRP Operator, Tactical Gray, which has a new-for-2017 gray-colored frame, is perfect for all those tasks.
The TRP Operator, Tactical Gray weighs 45 ounces unloaded and is 8.6 inches long, 5.7 inches tall, and 1.43 inches thick at the ambidextrous thumb safety. The slide is 0.92 inch thick, and the grip is 1.34 inches thick. The pistol's defining features are the 5.0-inch bushingless barrel (outside diameter of 0.699 inch at the muzzle), the recessed fully adjustable rear sight, and the integral accessories rail on the frame. By the way, TRP stands for Tactical Response Pistol.
The TRP Operator, Tactical Gray 1911's forged, National Match steel slide has 11 forward-angled cocking serrations at the rear and nine up front. The Commander-style hammer, grip and thumb safeties, slide lock, flat mainspring housing, and magazine catch button are matte black Armory Kote finish.
Armory Kote is a baked-on, Teflon-impregnated polymer coating, and it has a saltwater corrosion resistance of 40 hours. It is a smooth, self-lubricating finish, and it is scratch-resistant, although it can be marred under extremely rough use.
The fully adjustable rear sight has a 0.125-inch notch that's flanked by two tritium dots. And as I said earlier, it's recessed into the slide. The serrated front sight is 0.119 inch thick and 0.181 inch tall, and it has a single tritium dot. The rear surface is forward-angled for a snag-free draw.
The match-grade, stainless-steel, heavy barrel is bushingless with an oversized muzzle. The chamber is throated and polished. A notch at the rear of the barrel hood serves as a visual loaded chamber indicator.
The TRP Operator, Tactical Gray pistol's forged steel frame is finished in matte gray Armory Kote, which I think contrasts nicely with the black Armory Kote slide. The frame's integral accessories rail has three cross-slots, and I attached a Crimson Trace Rail Master Universal laser to it for this review.
The Rail Master Universal laser is offered in red or green. I chose red. Green lasers have received a lot of attention in the recent past because green seems to be easier to see in certain light conditions, but red lasers are still the most widely used by consumers.
The Rail Master Universal laser fits on a wide range of pistols, rifles, and shotguns with accessory rails, hence the "Universal" name. The unit is powered by one 1/3N 3-volt lithium battery, and it has CTC's "instant activation" tap on/tap off operation. The beam is a 5mW peak, 620nm to 670nm, Class 3R laser, and the dot covers approximately 0.5 inch at 50 feet. It's covered by a three-year full warranty.
The pistol's textured, black-and-gray G10 grip panels are held in place by hex-head screws. The grips, the grip frame's frontstrap, and the flat mainspring housing are checkered 20 lines per inch, and the bottom of the grip frame has a flared magwell that's bolted to the mainspring housing.
The skeletonized trigger is lightweight aluminum with a serrated surface, and it has an overtravel adjustment screw. The finger piece is 0.21 inch wide. The trigger pull of my pistol averaged 4.75 pounds over 10 measurements with an RCBS trigger pull scale. There is a slight amount of take-up, which is expected with any Model 1911, but it breaks crisply and consistently.
The pistol's high-sweep beavertail-style grip safety has a smooth memory bump (some call it a speedbump) that helps ensure a positive grip for proper function every time it's gripped. The beavertail prevents hammerbite.
All parts of the TRP Operator, Tactical Gray 1911 are precision fitted, and fit and finish of my test gun are nicely done. There's absolutely no detectable wiggle between the slide and the frame of my sample, there's no slop between the barrel hood and the slide, and the barrel doesn't move at all when pressed on while in battery.
The TRP Operator, Tactical Gray comes in a compact, sturdy, lockable hard polymer case that measures 12x10x3.5 inches. Included inside that case are a gun padlock, a cleaning rod with a built-in bore brush, two Allen wrenches, and two magazines. The magazines have flat steel followers and removable polymer baseplates. They hold seven rounds of .45 ACP ammunition.
Because it does not have a barrel bushing, disassembling the TRP Operator, Tactical Gray is slightly different than a standard Model 1911 with a barrel bushing; however, the procedure is simple. Simply lock back the slide, insert the bent end of the small Allen wrench that comes with the pistol (or a bent paperclip) into the hole in the full-length steel guide rod, and ease the slide forward. The recoil spring is held in its compressed position for takedown, and the recoil spring and guide rod are retained up front by a reverse plug.
Now that you've read about all the great features of the TRP Operator, Tactical Gray, you're probably wondering how it shoots. I fired the new 1911 with 10 different .45 ACP factory loads, ranging in bullet weight from 185 to 230 grains. All loads produced five-shot group averages less than 2.75 inches at 25 yards. That's for three, five-shot groups with each load with the pistol mounted in a Ransom Rest.
The pistol's tightest group average was 1.35 inches, and it came with Barnes 185-grain TAC-XP +P ammo. That load produced an average velocity of 898 fps, with an extreme spread of 31 fps and a standard deviation of 15 fps. The load with the smallest extreme spread (15 fps) and standard deviation (5 fps) was the Aeris 185-grain JHP. And at 1.88 inches, its average group accuracy was very good, too. The shooting results are listed in the accompanying chart.
I also fired the TRP Operator, Tactical Gray offhand at steel plates and bouncing ball targets, and it proved to be comfortable to shoot and fast to put into action. Taking a page from Layne Simpson's playbook, I fired the pistol right-side up, right-side down, and upside down, and it functioned perfectly. During my shooting session I fired a total of 500 rounds, including the rounds fired for accuracy and velocity, without cleaning the TRP Operator, Tactical Gray, and it proved to be 100 percent reliable.
Springfield calls the TRP pistols "serious tools" and says, "When your requirements dictate that you use the best tools available, reach for the Tactical Response Pistol." Based on my shooting of the new-for-2017 TRP Operator, Tactical Gray, I'd have no problem reaching for it if things get western.