The Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm and .45: Same But Different

The Springfield Armory XD-S is currently offered in .45 ACP (left) and 9mm (right). We’re betting a .40 S&W version will appear at some point. Both current models are available in all black or two-tone finish.

The Springfield Armory XD-S is currently offered in .45 ACP (left) and 9mm (right). We’re betting a .40 S&W version will appear at some point. Both current models are available in all black or two-tone finish.

Since the early 12th century, gun writers and internet ninja commandos have been arguing about which handgun cartridge is better – the 9mm or the .45 ACP.

Guess what?

There is no right answer to that question!

While the magazines have the same “thickness, front to back dimensions are different.

While the magazines have the same “thickness, front to back dimensions are different.

I love them both! You see, with the Springfield Armory XD-S you can choose your favorite caliber, 9mm or .45 ACP, and get the same compact size and great features. They’re essentially the same gun. If you believe in the “.45 ACP is king” theory, great! If you prefer more 9mm rounds in the same size gun, great! The Springfield Armory XD-S can please both.

When I say same gun, I pretty much mean same gun. There are internal parts differences of course, but the exterior dimensions are identical in the .45 ACP and 9mm versions. Just last month, Springfield Armory announced the 9mm XD-S 4.0 model, which is still the same gun, except that it features a longer barrel – 4.0 inches instead of 3.3 inches.

Even key interior dimensions are the same between the two models. The magazine wells, and even the exterior of the magazines are the same width. The length (front to back) of the .45 ACP magazine is a bit longer due to the longer cartridge size, so you may need to account for that depending on what type of magazine carrier you use. Some are adjustable, others not so much.

I measure the thickness of the magazines at just about .558 inches. How’s that you say? The .45 ACP is much thicker than the 9mm! If you take a close look at the magazines, you’ll see that they are shaped to create interior differences. The 9mm magazines have ridges pressed into the sides that account for the narrower diameter of the 9mm cartridge. Clever eh?

Can you tell which is which?

Can you tell which is which?

The only observable difference between the two, excepting the caliber marking, is the thickness of the barrel. We’ll get to that in a minute.

For now, just know that any holsters and accessories you have for one work equally well on the other. The only possible exception is the new 9mm XD-S 4.0 model, which has a longer slide and barrel than the original.

Now that I’ve gone on and on about how similar these guns are, let’s point out the differences.

The primary difference is capacity, and that’s simply a result of the 9mm cartridge being skinnier than that big fat .45 ACP. You can fit more skinny clowns into a Volkswagen Beetle than fat ones. It’s the same with cartridges and magazines.

The standard magazine of the 9mm model holds seven rounds while the .45 ACP model holds five. Including a cartridge in the chamber, that’s eight and six respectively. Both pistols have an optional extended magazine that adds additional grip length. The longer magazine brings 9mm capacity to nine plus one in the chamber and .45 ACP model capacity to seven plus one.

You might wonder why the 9mm version is 1 ½ ounces heavier than the .45 ACP model. That seems a little backwards doesn’t it? From my observations, the exterior barrel diameter is the same for both calibers, but of course the interior diameter of the 9mm model is smaller. Therefore, the barrel of the 9mm model is “thicker” and a bit heavier.

Here’s why the 9mm model is a bit heavier. The exterior dimension of the barrels of the .45 ACP and 9mm are the same. The 9mm has a smaller bore, so the barrel walls are thicker. That extra metal is heavy, hence the difference!

Here’s why the 9mm model is a bit heavier. The exterior dimension of the barrels of the .45 ACP and 9mm are the same. The 9mm has a smaller bore, so the barrel walls are thicker. That extra metal is heavy, hence the difference!

The bottom-line takeaway is that most accesories are common between the two guns. With the (sometimes) exception of magazine carriers, pick the caliber you want. Holsters, lasers and other accessories will work on either model.


Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

The Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S

The Automatic, Systematic, Hydromatic M3 “Grease Gun”

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

The M3 Grease Gun. Photo courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum. Go there. Really.

This week, rather than talk about “This Goofy Gun” we’re going to change things up a little and take a look at “This Greasy Gun.”

Most folks think that the M3 “Grease Gun” submachine gun of World War II fame was created in response to the success of the German MP38, MP40 and British Sten machine guns. While partly true, that’s not the whole story. Here’s the rest of the storied, and musical, history of the M3 Grease Gun.

Many people know that the M3 was produced by General Motors’ Guide Lamp Division. What they don’t know is that the design was envisioned much, much earlier, or so I hear. By 1940, GM was getting a little worried about competitive pressure from AMC’s Gremlin impacting sales of their Cadillac LaSalle. That Gremlin was a beast of a car wasn’t it? Anyway, to add some kick to the planned 1941 model, GM hired long lost brother of the infamous Edward Hyde of Dr. Jekyll fame, George Hyde, to design some killa’ glovebox accessories for ’41 model sales incentives. Having the same family wild hair as crazy man Mr. Hyde, George took to designing prototypes of the M3. “Heck, I just wanted to amp up the “Boom!” factor for our customers. Most companies were putting a flashlight mount in the glovebox, but I figured a .45 ACP submachine gun would be way more spiffy,” commented GM Engineer George Hyde.

Alas, GM discontinued the Cadillac LaSalle in 1941 and the M3 Glovebox Submachine Gun was never marketed. But the story did not end there. In 1941, the Ordnance Department asked the Army to submit requirements for a new submachine gun. In addition to specification of .45 ACP caliber, inexpensive stamped-metal construction and  automatic fire control, the new gun must have a really catchy theme song.

Seeing opportunity to resurrect Hyde’s previous project, and do a little contract work with a very young John Travolta, GM’s Guide Lamp Division started stamping out prototypes of the M2 and finally M3. As for the theme song? That was Travolta’s job. And now you know the real story behind that catchy jingle from the movie GreaseYou’re the One That I Want. Not having been born yet, Olivia Newton John was not available for promotional campaigns. Besides, those skin-tight pants were way too risque for pre-war America.

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10 Things I Like About the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Much has been said about the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield. A true pocket-sized 9mm, it’s smaller in almost all dimensions (except height) than a Glock 26 and can easily be concealed in a milliondy-seven different ways. Pocket, inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, ankle, purse, fanny pack, crotch carry holster, you name it. The less-than-one-inch width goes a long way to making this handgun exceptionally portable.

Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1963 Even with the Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser installed, it weighs almost exactly the same as my morning cup of coffee. Coincidence? I think not. Both are life-saving devices and daily necessities.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1935 I like that it’s a 9mm. Of course you can now get the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in .40 Smith & Wesson. Although 9mm and .380 ACP have lot’s of similarities on paper, I see a noticeable performance difference when each load is shot through tough clothing barriers. The extra velocity of the 9mm helps it expand more reliably than most of the .380 loads I’ve tested. I’ve found the Shield to be a very controllable gun, even with its small size and light weight. It’s a gun that’s enjoyable to shoot just for fun, unlike many other pocket cannons.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1960 The Shield has a positive safety. Without getting into the debate of whether or not you need one on a striker-fired pistol, I will say that it’s comforting on a gun that may be carried in a pocket holster. The safety lever is inset to the frame and unlikely to move without deliberate action, so you can choose to carry with the safety engaged or not. Moving from safe to fire position is very easy with the shooting hand thumb, assuming you’re right handed. The safety is not ambidextrous, so lefties have a little more work to do.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1933 I like that the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield will fire with its magazine removed. I don’t really appreciate that the lawyers at Smith & Wesson chose to print “CAUTION – CAPABLE OF FIRING WITH MAGAZINE REMOVED” right on the slide of an otherwise very attractive pistol. Can someone please put the lawyers back in their aquarium?
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1928 I like the capacity options. The more concealable standard magazine gives the Shield 8 (7+1) rounds of 9mm while the extended magazine adds one more for a total of 9 rounds. This is a great compromise of capacity versus size.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1940 Both front and rear sights are dovetail mounted and easily adjustable for windage. I found elevation on the test gun to be right on target. Notice how the rear sight surface is grooved to reduce glare around the sighting dots.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1937 The trigger on the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield simply rocks. For a striker-fired pistol, it’s exceptionally smooth and crisp. It’s got just about 1/4 inch of take-up prior to a 6.5 pound crisp break. If you like to keep your finger in place until reset, you can count on just about 1/4 inch forward travel before a positive reset click. The Shield has one of the best striker design triggers on the market.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1936 The flush magazine configuration with 7+1 capacity makes this a true pocket gun. Try it with a Galco Pocket Pro holster! I like this configuration with the extended magazine stowed elsewhere as a backup.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1931 I dig the grip texture. It’s sure, even with sweaty hands, but you don’t lose traction during shots. Even more importantly, when using an Inside the waistband holster like the Galco Stow-N-Go, it won’t abrade your insides nearly as much as Gilbert Godfried’s voice abrades your ears.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1962 How about a grip-activated laser? The Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield mounts just in front of the trigger guard. Just grip the pistol and the laser is on. Couldn’t be simpler.

Gun Review: Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC CAR Rifle

The Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC CAR. Shown here with a 5 round magazine and a Hawke Optics Panorama EV scope.

The Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC CAR. Shown here with a 5 round magazine and a Hawke Optics Panorama EV scope.

When .223 just isn’t enough…

Contrary to that provocative opening line, I’m not going to embark on a “nyah, nyah, nyha, this caliber is more betterer or less betterer” than some other. Instead, I’m going to take this opportunity to celebrate diversity. You know, like hippies.

Attention to detail is excellent. Note the double-staked gas key. The bolt / carrier fit was very snug.

Attention to detail is excellent. Note the double-staked gas key. The bolt / carrier fit was very snug.

One of the reasons that the AR or MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) platform is so insanely popular is because it’s so darn flexible. More so than White House Spokesperson Jay Carney at an Obamacare press conference. It’s not only flexible in terms of fit (with adjustable stock options) and accessorizing (with everything from tactical lights to chainsaws), it’s flexible in terms of caliber.

Somehow or another, I got a bug up my backside to try out an AR rifle in 6.8 Remington SPC caliber. Why? Well, no good reason other than why not. That and the fact that I live in ‘Murrica.

What’s the 6.8 Remington SPC you ask? It’s a proposed solution to stopping power complaints of 5.56mm military round. It’s not as heavy and bulky as the 7.62 (.308) cartridge so one can carry plenty of ammo. It was designed for improved short-barrel performance via a joint effort between US Special Forces, the Army Marksmanship Unit and Remington. Splitting the difference between 5.56mm and 7.62×51 NATO, it’s easily adaptable to AR rifles by swapping bolt, barrel and magazine. As it shares the same overall length as the 5.56mm and .223 Remington, no changes to the AR lower receiver are required. The cartridge case is derived from the .30 Remington, so unfortunately you can’t make your own brass from scrounged-up .223 casings. As a side note, unlike the .223 / 5.56mm, it uses a large rifle primer.

Features of the Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC CAR

Rock River Arms makes a fine AR rifle. A few years back, the DEA ordered 3.2 truckloads of them and some units of the FBI and US Marshalls piggybacked onto that contract. Since that time, the RRA models have earned a solid reputation.

If you order direct, you can have a rifle customized to your specs. The Badger Tactical latch handle shown here was an option I'm glad I added.

If you order direct, you can have a rifle customized to your specs. The Badger Tactical latch handle shown here was an option I’m glad I added.

If you order your rifle in advance instead of buying one off the shelf, you can customize to your hearts content and a rifle will be built according to your specifications. Some of the options available include:

A2 or A4 upper receiver.

Chrome moly or chrome-lined barrel.

Flash hiders: Want a Smith Enterprise Vortex or muzzle brake? No problem.

Gas block / sight base: choose standard, low-profile or flip up ready versions are all available.

Standard or ambidextrous safety levers and magazine catches.

Handguards, grips and buttstocks: too many options to list here.

Trigger guards and bolt handles are also customizeable for normal or gloved use.

For this review, I ordered the 6.8 SPC CAR with an A4 upper receiver, the Rock River Arms Quad Rail Free Float hand guard, chrome-lined barrel, gas block sight base, Smith Enterprise Vortex flash hider and Badger Tactical Bolt Latch. Designed as an optics-ready rifle, this version is a bit of a Cadillac.

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This Goofy Gun: The Vampire Hunter’s Colt Detective Special

Thanks to the miracle of Blu-ray, we know a lot about vampires. They kill with good looks, are notoriously hard to make re-dead, and they never seem to know when to stop making sequels. With vrykolakas outbreaks on the rise, how does one prepare to defend self and family? The Robert E. Peterson Gallery of the NRA’s National Firearms Museum just might have the perfect solution.

The Vampire Hunter's Colt Detective Special includes everything you need to make the undead more dead.

The Vampire Hunter’s Colt Detective Special includes everything you need to make the undead more dead. Image: National Firearms Museum

The Vampire Hunter’s Colt Detective Special would make Buffy proud. It’s hard to argue with the .38 Special six-shot revolver choice when supernatural reliability is required. Used by law enforcement and enthusiasts since its introduction in 1927, the classic wheel gun has a proven track record that’s hard to match—against humans that is. When it comes to fighting the undead, certain upgrades are required, unless the user wants to obtain a thirst for blood and unwanted immortality. Let’s take a look at what the Vampire Hunter’s Colt ensemble includes. We’ll evaluate and score each feature for real-world vampire stopping effectiveness, so you an make an informed evaluation. You’re not just betting your life on this gun, but your afterlife as well.

Do you really need hand-carved silver bullets to kill a vampire? Well, yes.

Do you really need hand-carved silver bullets to kill a vampire? Well, yes. Image: National Firearms Museum

Since all the really bad vampires were killed off in the last Twilight saga movie, we weren’t able to complete field trials for this article. You’ll just have to settle for our expert opinion. No worries though, our qualifications are beyond reproach—we watched Twilight, New Moon, and The Lost Boys in preparation for this project.

The entire gun is plated with silver. All of it. Even the inside of the chambers. I like this design decision as the revolver can be used as a club for last-ditch defense. While that won’t re-kill a dedicated vampire, the silver-coated beating will provide a level of aggravation. Nine out of 10.

Since a silver-lined barrel won’t stay silver-lined for very many shots, sterling silver bullets are included. But these are nothing so tame as the Lone Ranger, round-nose variety. Each one is carved with a vampire head. You’ll notice the jaws are open, so when your slug impacts that really good-looking bloodsucker, the bullet will compress, close the jaws, and bite him back! We’re giving the bullets high marks for creativity, even though they cost their weight in…silver. Another nine out of 10.

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This Goofy Gun: The Winchester 9410

Today’s pop quiz! What do the following have in common?

  1. Ben Cartwright
  2. John Moses Browning
  3. Saiga-12 Auto Shotguns

Give up?

It’s the Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

No, the goofball who took this photo was not high on black powder residue. Why, that's a Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

No, the goofball who took this photo was not high on black powder residue. Why, that’s a Winchester 9410 lever-action shotgun!

Admittedly, the Cartwright clan had access to guns from the future, as they shot an awful lot of Winchester 1892’s, which is only two different than the 1894 design we’re talking about here. Close enough. For this pop quiz anyway.

Continuing to refine his lever-action designs, John Browning designed the Winchester 1894 in, you guessed it, 1894. It’s one of the most popular rifles in history with over seven million produced between 1894 and 2006, with those made between 1980 and 2006 technically being made by the U.S. Repeating Arms Company under the Winchester brand.

While there’s a lot of hoopla about the Saiga “assault shotguns”, one can consider the Winchester 9410 as a predecessor – a manually operated “assault shotgun.” Unlike the Saiga, the biggest thing it’s going to assault is rabbits or clay targets, as long as they’re not too far away. And you can only assault things as fast as you can work the lever- up to ten times without reloading.

As you’ve figured out, the Winchester 9410 is closely modeled after the Winchester 1894 rifle, with a few necessary differences. Slender, slick and a natural pointer, the 9410 acts a lot like its ancestor. It’s pure joy to handle and shoot. A couple of the major differences (besides the fact that is’t a freakin’ shotgun!) are a specially designed extractor/ejector for controlled ejection of .410 hulls and a tang-mounted safety added to the ’94 family in 2003.

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Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard model is the civilian version of the battle classic M14

This rifle is beast. Not a beast. Just beast. If you have teenage kids, you might have already heard things like video games, high school athletes and cars described as “beast.” Apparently it’s a subtle, yet cool, form of praise. Kids these days don’t generally describe praise-worthy things as “richly robust with just the proper hint of panache.”

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle is beast because of its homage (another non-teen word) to military history. The M1A is the Springfield Armory produced civilian version of the battle-tested M14 rifle. The M14 was introduced to field use during the Korean war and is (roughly speaking) the next generation of the famous M1 Garand that had such a dramatic impact during World War II. In fact, the famous World War II general, George S. Patton, called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” We’re not exactly sure what actor George C. Scott had to say about it, but he did play Patton on TV.

After the war, The M14 brought a few changes to the M1 Garand era. Fully automatic capability, 7.62mm / .308 ammo chambering and a detachable box magazine – to name a few. The M1A as a civilian rifle does not offer fully automatic capability, but maintains the detachable box magazine feature and chambers the .308 round. One other notable difference is the lack of a bayonet lug on the M1A. I know, it’s tragic, but it keeps the politicians from hemorrhaging bio-diesel. If you’re hell-bent on mounting an infantry charge down your street, you’ll just have to improvise with duct tape and a Ka-Bar knife.

A Closer Look at the Springfield Armory M1A Standard

 Springfield Armory M1A safety

Safety first! Just like the M1 Garand, the Springfield Armory M1A uses a lever in the front of the trigger guard as the safety. As shown in this picture, the gun is on safe. Nudge the lever forward with the back of your knuckle and it will snap forward, out of the trigger guard, into the firing position. It’s the same basic mechanism used on the M1 Garand. Be careful with this type of safety – to put the rifle on safe, you’re pulling backwards with your trigger finger! Make sure you’re pulling the safety and not the trigger!

 Springfield Armory M1A rear sight

The rear sight on the Springfield Armory M1A has a windage adjustment dial on the right and an elevation adjustment dial on the left. On the M1A Standard rifle, elevation and windage are adjustable in 1 minute of angle (about 1 inch at 100 yards) clicks. The windage dial gives you 16 clicks in either direction and you have sufficient elevation adjustment to compensate to about 1,100 yards. Springfield Armory includes a nifty article by Scott Duff and John Miller that tells you exactly how to properly zero your M1A. The elevation adjustment knob was tight, as to be expected and desired in my opinion. I found the windage elevation knob on the test rifle to be somewhat beyond tight, and I’ve been working out to get in shape for the upcoming Thumb Wars of the Stars special. I tried smothering it with Activia Butt-Modulating Yogurt to “loosen things up” but that didn’t seem to help. Don’t tell the folks at Springfield Armory, but I had to cover it with a cleaning rag and muscle it the first few times. Whatever you do, DON’T use pliers – this will almost certainly crack the adjustment dial. Don’t get me wrong, this adjustment should be firm and very deliberate as you don’t want it moving around on its own. Just be aware that there might be some break-in period required to get things loosened up. And it did loosen up with some use. Before venturing off to any foreign wars, be sure to try the adjustments and break in accordingly.

Springfield Armory M1A mag release

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle ships with a 10 round box magazine. You can order factory 5 or 20 round magazines using the nifty Springfield Loaded Coupon that we’ll talk about in a minute. The magazine release lever is on the back side of the magazine well and releases the magazine when pushed forward. It’s about an inch and a half forward of the safety lever, so you just barely have to adjust your grip to reach it with the firing hand. Seating a magazine in the M1A takes just a bit of practice. The easiest way is to insert it into the magazine well, angled backwards, and rock it into position. It sounds complicated, but is very smooth once you get the hang of it. And the magazine makes a satisfying click when it seats. You won’t be in doubt about it’s locked status.
 Springfield Armory M1A aperture sight The rear aperture sight features fine checkering on the back side to reduce glare. We found this to be a very useful feature! It’s one of those details that no one notices in the store, but really makes a difference on the range. Note the protective wings that help prevent the aperture sight from getting abused.

Springfield Armory M1A stripper clip guide

On the top of the receiver, at the back of the magazine well, you’ll see a stripper clip guide. While the M1A has detachable box magazines, it can still be reloaded with stripper clips from the top. We didn’t use this in testing, but know it’s there. In case you want to get super authentic. The dovetail for the stripper clip guide has a second use as a mounting point for the scope base. We’ll cover that in detail in the next article where we mount a rail base and scope to this M1A.
 Springfield Armory M1A front sling A sturdy sling mount is placed towards the front of the stock on the bottom side. It swivels back and forth, but not side to side. At the rear, just ahead of the rifle butt, is a similar, but fixed, sling mount. Somehow the Springfield Armory M1A Standard just screams for a traditional leather loop sling. No worries, you can get one cheap using the Springfield Loaded Coupon mentioned a little later!

Springfield Armory M1A front sight wings

Like the rear sight, the front post is protected by sturdy steel wings on either side. And the post is not a wimpy little AR type either – it’s a steel blade that tapers like a wedge towards the front. This helps the post look sharp and crisp from the back. And it’s more aerodynamic when charging the trenches at a full run. The sight blade and wings assembly is movable side to side so you can zero the rifle (for windage) and have your windage dial on the receiver exactly centered. A hex locking screw keeps everything in place once you’ve got it set. One other thing to note about the front sight blade. It’s width can be used for rough range estimation. It will exactly cover a 20 inch wide target at about 300 yards.
 Springfield Armory M1A buttplate No, it’s not a collapsible bayonet to protect the rear flank. Nor does it make the M1A more aerodynamic, although you can probably use it while speed walking. But seriously, the fold-out butt plate has a purpose. You can lean it on top of your shoulder for a little extra stability. It’s an interesting feature, especially when shooting from a standing position or moving. It’s one of those things you just have to try to see if it works for you.

Springfield Armory M1A cleaning kit

Unfortunately you can’t quite fit two rolls of Mentos breath mints in the stock storage compartments. However, you can fit the original Springfield Armory cleaning and oiling kit. The top hole is about 10 inches deep while the bottom one is about 6 ½ inches deep. Why waste all that potential storage space in the stock? Later, we’ll mention some factory cleaning and maintenance supplies that will fit perfectly into these two chambers.
 Springfield Armory M1A bolt lock On the left side of the receiver is the bolt lock lever. If the magazine is in place, and empty, the bolt will lock back on it’s own. If you want it locked open while the magazine is out, or full, use the bolt lock lever.

 Springfield Armory M1A gas

About six inches behind the front  sight is the gas port in the barrel and the gas tube below. The nut on the end is removable for cleaning and maintenance. The handy multi-purpose tool (discussed below) will remove this easily. Remember when cleaning that the gas system is supposed to be dry, so no oil or grease in there!


Shooting Performance

As the Springfield Armory M1A Standard comes with iron peep sights and no provision for mounting a scope without accessories, we’re not going to address accuracy in this article. Trying to do so would tell you more about the poor state of our eyesight than performance of this rifle! However, we have a second part of this article coming out shortly which details the process of mounting and using the optional scope mounting base. Once we get a scope mounted, we’ll do some accuracy testing with various .308 loads and report on the results.

We did shoot a variety of ammunition through the M1A for function testing and just plain fun. As you might expect from this design, digesting lots and lots of different ammunition was not a problem!

We shot and choreographed the following loads:

American Eagle 7.62x51mm M1A – 2,637 feet per second

Black Hills Match Hollow Point – 2,565 fps

Nosler Match Grade 168 grain Custom Competition – 2,548 fps

Winchester 120 grain PDX1 Defender – 3,034 fps

In addition to the factory loads, we assembled four different hand loads – all with 168 grain Sierra Matchking projectiles. We developed upper mid-range loads for 2,550 to 2,650 feet per second velocity performance using Hodgdon BL-C(2), IMR 4064, IMR 4895 and Ramshot TAC powders. We experienced no feed or function issues with any of the loads tested.

Felt recoil on this rifle was polite and relatively genteel considering that it has a not very soft steel butt plate. Between the M1A’s 9.3 pound weight and gas-driven semi-automatic action, much of the perceived recoil is dampened.


The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle arrives in a large cardboard box which includes a variety of instruction paperwork and other extra-special surprises.

The nicest surprise was a printed “booklet bound” copy of the  TM 9-1005-223-12 Department of the Army Technical Manual. Subtitled Operator and Organizational Maintenance Manual – 7.62mm Rifle M14 and Rifle Bipod M2, this 76 page booklet, dated January 1963, is the lightly burnt sugar on Creme Brûlée for any self-respecting gun geek.

Another bonus surprise is a reproduced article by Wayne Faatz entitled The Mysterious Slam Fire.

Springfield also includes a reproduced article by Scott A. Duff and John M. Miller. This one, From the Bench – Zeroing M1 and M1A Service Rifles, walks the reader through easy to understand instructions on how to zero either standard or National Match M1A rifles.

And another! As with all Springfield Armory products we’ve received, a M1A Loaded Coupon allows you to order accessories like extra magazines, cheek pieces, tools, cases, and M1A cleaning accessories at deeply discounted prices. The discount depends on the specific item, but most are available at 20% to 70% off retail. As an example, the Springfield Armory factory .308 20 round magazine sells for $37.50 instead of $54.95. Of course, most of the items on the list are available in third party manufactured versions, but if you want genuine factory accessories, take advantage of the one time use coupon. You can order as much as you want of each item – but one time only.

Oh, and a basic instruction book is included that covers operation, ammo information (mil-spec only recommended), cleaning, and basic maintenance.

Stripping and Cleaning

The subtitle of this section got your attention didn’t it?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re talking field stripping here – with the primary intention of cleaning and lubrication.

Basic takedown is simple. But first, remove the magazine, then check the chamber to make sure there is no cartridge there. Now check it again. Now flip on the safety just for good measure.

Springfield Armory M1A trigger housing removal

The barrel and receiver assembly is locked into the stock by the trigger assembly. To remove the trigger assembly, pull the rear base of the trigger guard (where it meets the stock) towards the butt of the rifle. It will take some muscle!

Springfield Armory M1A trigger system removal

Pulling the trigger guard backwards will release it from a catch, allowing it to pivot towards the muzzle of the rifle. Pull it up all the way and the trigger assembly will come out in one piece.

Springfield Armory M1A field strip

Now the barreled receiver will lift out of the stock. It may need a gentle nudge to get it moving.

There you have it! This simple, no-tools, field strip procedure will give you pretty good access for basic cleaning and lubrication of the main parts.

Accessories and Upgrades

Original Cleaning Kit

M1A cleaning kit

The M1A multi-purpose tool and cleaning kit are accessories that fit in two hollowed-out stock tubes

You can order an original military style maintenance and cleaning kit and store just about all of it in the stock. Shown in the photo is a four-piece cleaning rod, M1A multi-purpose tool, ratcheted chamber cleaning brush, bore cleaning brush and lubricant container. Pack that stuff into the stock compartments and you’ll have it when you need it!


The rifle includes a single ten round magazine, but you can order  additional magazines from Springfield Armory in 5, 10, 15 and 20 round capacities. The 5 round magazine comes in a standard box configuration or a low-profile sporter configuration. Perhaps you want to hunt with your M1A? Check your state laws before trying to order different magazines!

Scope Mounts

Springfield Armory offers two different receiver scope mounts for the M1A – one constructed of solid steel and the other aluminum. Both are custom designed to attach to the receiver on the left side and via the stripper clip guide dovetail at the rear. We obtained a steel scope mount and installed it with a Hawke Optics Sidewinder 30 10x scope. We’ll cover that in a follow up article. Springfield Armory also offers a Scout Scope forward mount.


Given the history of the M14 platform and Springfield Armory’s adherence to the core original design, a number of other accessories are readily available from Springfield and third party vendors. Cheek rests, replacement match sights, tritium night sight posts, muzzle brakes and more can all be found at

Springfield Armory M1A Hawke Optics Sidewinder IR

In part 2 of this article, we’ll mount a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical using the Springfield Armory steel receiver mount

Closing Arguments

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle is, well, kind of nostalgic. True to the basic M1 Garand and M14 military rifle design, it’s a sturdy and reliable war horse. The iron sights feel natural and are quite effective. A good rifleman is expected to hit targets out to 500 yards with them. We’re going to add a scope for fun and some accuracy testing, but odds are, the scope will come off as soon as we’re finished. Somehow, adding optics to this gun just seems wrong and unnecessary.

We loved the Springfield Armory M1A Standard. From it’s walnut stock to iron sights to classic action design, it’s a natural combination of form, function and fun.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! We’re not sure if this is a 4 Nun product because of the history of the design, Springfield Armory’s adherence to that design (mostly) or it’s construction and operation. Probably some of each. Like a Ruger 1022, every household needs one of these rifles.

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Gun Review: Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Pistol

Suggested Retail Price: $1,345.00

The Springfield Armory EMP – What’s in a name?

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Enhanced Micro Pistol gold dot ammo

The Springfield Armory EMP 9mm Pistol

Contrary to popular belief, the Springfield Armory EMP will not generate a burst of Electro-Magnetic Pulse radiation, thereby knocking out any still-operational Chevy Volts on the eastern seaboard.

Nor is it named after the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, originally conceived to recognize the mind-blowing music of Jimi Hendrix.

It’s not related to the Emporia Municipal Airport (EMP) in Lyon Country, Kansas.

Some think that the EMP was named in reference to the Earth Microbiome Project, whose mission is to identify and catalog all microbial life on planet earth. Including those elusive cooties.

And no, the original Springfield Armory EMP design was not sketched out on a cocktail napkin at New York’s swanky Eleven Madison Park Restaurant.

While closer to home, it’s not an homage to the Erma EMP-35 submachine gun manufactured by Germany from 1930 to 1938. While it’s a 9mm also, the Springfield Armory EMP has no full auto selector. Nor does it have a 32 round magazine like the EMP-35.

Give up?

It’s the Springfield Armory EMPEnhanced Micro Pistol – chambered in 9mm or .40 S&W.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm features

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm ambidextrous safety

The Springfield Armory EMP features ambidextrous safety levers

Like the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP we recently reviewed, the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm is loaded with custom features and extras. A dollar store handgun this is not. You will get what you pay for in feature set and quality of construction.

The Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol was designed from the ground up to function reliably with the shorter cartridge size of the 9mm and .40 S&W rounds. With a wide variety of 9mm ammo we tested (outlined in more detail below) we did not experience any function problems from the first round on. The Enhanced Micro Pistol demonstrated no ammunition preference in terms of reliability. Other small 9mm pistols have been known to require certain projectile weights or weight / power combinations in order to function, so we found the ammunition indifference to be a big plus with the Springfield Armory EMP.

Like the Springfield Armory TRP, the Springfield Armory EMP, or Enhanced Micro Pistol, features fully ambidextrous safety levers. Both are extended, but the right hand lever is ever-so-slightly narrower. Most likely to favor the majority of shooters who are right-handed. In our testing, we did not find the right hand lever to get in the way of holsters, nor did it hang up on clothing when carrying concealed.

Springfield Armory EMP does not use a barrel bushing

The EMP design does not use a barrel bushing. Barrel to frame fit is tight with no discernible movement.

The sights are steel and mounted front and back via dovetail cuts, so they are easily adjustable for windage. No adjustment was necessary on our test gun – with all ammo tested, windage was dead on comparing point of aim and point of impact. Like the TRP, the sights are manufactured by Springfield Armory, but are supplied with Trijicon tritium inserts. The ramped rear sight has two tritium dots while the front sight features a single tritium dot.

The magazine release button is checkered, and due to the reduced grip size, we found it easy to activate without changing our firing grip. Magazines drop freely from the EMP to facilitate rapid mag changes.

The trigger is aluminum and features three hole cutouts for a bit of weight reduction, but mainly to add to its sexy appearance. There is an adjustable over-travel screw. The EMP came from the factory with no detectable over-travel, but if you like a little, feel free to adjust.

Springfield Armory EMP accessories and case

The Springfield Armory EMP includes 3 magazines, holster, dual magazine carrier, a lockable hard case, and more.

The frame and slide are well-rounded and optimized for carry. The back strap is checkered, while the front strap is smooth. The EMP features and extended beavertail and the grip safety offers a memory bump that makes safety disengagement positive. During our testing, we had no issues getting reliable and consistent grip safety disengagement, regardless of grip style.

Springfield Armory does a swell job of providing lots of goodies in the box. You’ll get the pistol of course, You’ll also get 3 magazines manufactured by Mec-Gar for Springfield Armory. These are embossed with a large EMP logo to help you keep them straight from any other 1911 magazines you may have lying around. You’ll also find a kydex paddle-style belt holster and dual magazine carrier. And of course a cleaning brush, instructions, a coupon sheet for lot’s of discounted accessories like extra factory magazines, a couple of keys for the integral lock, and allen wrenches for sight adjustment and grip removal. All of this comes packaged in a custom foam-lined and lockable hard plastic case.

You look marvelous darling!

One of the things that drew us to the Springfield EMP 9mm for a full evaluation is it’s appearance. Yes, we’re that shallow. We’ll test just about any gun if it looks hot at the range.

Springfield Armory EMP frame front strap cocobolo grips

The Springfield Armory EMP 9mm is one great looking pistol. The cocobolo grip panels really complement the matte black frame and satin stainless steel frame.

The grips are a thing of beauty. We’ve always been suckers for nice wooden grips. The Springfield Armory EMP features Cocobolo hardwood grips. As everyone know, Cocobolo is a tropical hardwood derived from the heart of the dalbergia retusa tree. In fact, if you hold the grips up to your ear, you can hear the ocean and smell pina coladas. More importantly, Cocobolo is not only beautiful and sexy, it’s hard, durable and loaded with oils. The oils serve to protect the wood from water, sweat, cleaning solvents, and other abuses. The grips are checkered, except for smooth diamond-shaped areas around the mounting screws. There is also a really sooper dooper Springfield Armory logo embossed into each grip. Did I mention that these grips look marvelous?

The frame is constructed from forged aluminum alloy with a black-anodized hard-coat finish. With the 1,000 or so rounds we’ve shot and plenty of daily carry, we’ve not had any issues with scratching or chips.

The slide is forged stainless steel. It’s got a satin finish. In average Joe’s English, satin finish translates to not shiny.  We observed at least two practical benefits from the satin stainless finish. First, the top of the slide does not produce glare in sunny conditions. The front and rear sights are a black matte finish, so visibility in bright conditions is great. A second benefit is that the satin finish hides things that might detract from the EMP’s marvelous appearance. Fingerprints don’t show, holster wear will be nearly invisible, and micro-abuses will be subdued in appearance.

The aluminum trigger finish matches that of the slide, so it makes for a nice visual complement.

What can we say? The EMP looks marvelous!

Note: The Springfield Armory EMP is also available with the same frame and slide finish, but with grey-toned G10 grips for extra durability. The G10 model is also a fantastic looking gun – just a tad more tactical in appearance.

9+1 capacity

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm magazines

The Springfield Armory EMP ships with 3 magazines.

There are at least two benefits to having a 1911 platform gun chambered in 9mm. First, you can make it smaller, as evidenced by the Springfield Armory EMP. The smaller diameter and shorter overall length of the 9mm cartridge allows for a grip that is both shorter front to back and narrower side to side. The second bennie is that you can fit more bullets into the same amount of space, all other things being equal.

One thing to note, if you’re topping off the full 9 in the mag plus 1 in the chamber load, don’t be a sissy when you seat the magazine. Inserting a magazine full with 9 rounds into the EMP with a loaded chamber requires a vigorous spank. This is a good habit with any gun as many undesirable malfunctions are caused by improperly seated magazines. If your smack a full magazine into an EMP, it will seat with a satisfying and positive click, so no worries there. Just don’t coddle it. It’s a gun after all and designed to be handled with authority and confidence.

The EMP’s three included magazines are manufactured in Italy by Mec-Gar especially of the Springfield Armory EMP. One side is stamped accordingly while the other features a large EMP logo. One minor frustration with the EMP magazines is the lack of witnessing holes to see how many rounds are loaded in the magazine. Even one hole towards the bottom that allowed a quick visual confirmation of full magazine status would be nice to have.

Shooting the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm pistol

We headed to the range on several occasions to run the EMP through its paces. The velocity testing was done after two previous range trips where we had put about 200 rounds through the Springfield Armory EMP. As a side note, no cleaning has been done to date. Just because we’re curious to see how long it will go without getting finicky.

Here are the results:


Springfield Armory EMP
(3” barrel)

Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ TAC-XP 95 grain 1,360
CorBon 9mm +P JHP 115 grain  1,228
Federal 9mm FMJ Round Nose 115 grain  1,097
Federal Hydra-Shock 9mm +P+ 124 grain  1,094
Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 grain 1,041
Hornady Critical Duty 9mm +P 135 grain 1,120
Remington UMC 9mm 115 grain 1,108
Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P Short Barrel 124 grain 1,159
TulAmmo 9mm FMJ 115 grain  1,106
Winchester PDX1 9mm +P 124 grain 1,147
Winchester Target 9mm 115 grain 1,069

We really like the handling of the Springfield Armory EMP chambered in 9mm. While we did a lot of general target shooting and good old-fashioned plinking, what was most enlightening was running through some simple practice drills. We shot the Dot Torture drill a number of times to get a more subjective indication of how the Springfield Armory EMP feels.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm ammo left side

We tried a wide variety of 9mm self defense and practice ammo with the Springfield Armory EMP

If you’re not already familiar, the Dot Torture drill is a series of 50 shots at small targets placed 3-5 yards downrange. The sequence of shooting requires the shooter to fire two-handed, strong hand only, weak hand only, perform target transitions with single and double-tap shots, and perform reloads between targets. In other words, it’s kind of like a complete practice session in a box. Shoot a Dot Torture drill and you’ll spend a bit of time on a number of different shooting fundamentals. You’ll also get a good feel of how a handgun “feels” with several different shooting scenarios. We found it easy to complete the Dot Torture drill with the EMP.

Here’s why.

The 9mm chambering helps a lot, but what really makes the EMP a pussycat to shoot is the ability to get a full and comfortable grip. It’s a compact pistol, but none of our shooters had any trouble getting all fingers placed firmly on the grip. The result is a pistol that is very gentle to shoot and this made a noticeable difference with the Dot Torture double tap shot strings. It was easy to place multiple rounds virtually on top of each other at high-speed and with relative ease.

Springfield Armory EMP 9mm trigger

The EMP’s aluminum trigger features and overtravel adjustment screw.

The sight picture is excellent. The sharp cuts of the rear notch and front sight make for a crisp and fast to acquire sight picture. The tritium filled tubes are outlined in either white or metal (hard to tell) and stand out fine in daylight.

Just as a side observation, the beavertail grip safety allows for high hand placement. We found that one can shoot the EMP with the strong hand thumb either riding on top of the frame safety lever or below. If you choose to place your thumb below, you won’t risk advertently bumping the safety upwards. We’ve seen this on some 1911′s, but the contour of the Springfield Armory EMP seems to prevent this.

The checkering and grip surfaces are designed with carry in mind. While the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP we recently reviewed was clearly designed for tactical use with sharp checkering and heavily textured G10 grip panels, the Springfield Armory EMP achieves more of a balance between comfort and grip. The back of the mainspring housing is checkered while the front of the grip is smooth. The Cocobolo wood grips have mildly aggressive checkering, so you can carry the EMP using an inside the waistband holster without rubbing any nearby love handles raw. Even with the toned-down textures, we had no problem keeping a firm and stable grip through fast strings of fire.

How to field strip and clean a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm pistol

With a couple of minor exceptions, field stripping a Springfield is like field stripping any other 1911 design pistol. The Springfield Armory EMP uses a dual spring, captive mechanism which adds a bit of a trick to fully field stripping the pistol.  To relieve spring tension and make things a lot easier on the fingers, Springfield Armory includes a plastic takedown assist bushing piece that greatly facilitates ease of takedown. You can remove the slide with or without the takedown assist piece, but it will be hard on the fingers to remove the spring assembly and barrel from the slide without it.

Here’s how you do it.

Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece

First, after making double-secret sure that the gun is fully unloaded (chamber too!), pull the slide back to expose some of the guide rod. When enough is exposed, snap the takedown assist piece into place. That’s shown in the next photo.

Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece step one

The takedown assist bushing is designed to hold the spring in the right position for takedown, while being small enough in diameter to pull back through the slide opening. Now remove the slide just like you would with any standard 1911. Pull the slide backward until the round takedown notch is directly above the slide lock tab. Remove the slide lock lever and slide the slide off the front of the pistol.

 Springfield Armory EMP takedown piece spring

Since you used the takedown assist bushing piece in step one, it will be easy to pull the spring assembly out.

Springfield Armory EMP remove spring assembly

Pull the spring assembly out towards the back of the slide.
 Springfield Armory EMP takedown remove barrel Now the barrel can be removed through the front of the slide. As the Springfield Armory EMP has no barrel bushing, you don’t need to worry about that.

There you have it!

To put things back together, simply reverse the order. When you’ve got the slide back on and slide stop lever replaced, snap the takedown assist piece off and store it in a safe place for next time.

Closing arguments

Here’s the quick summary.

Springfield Armory EMP size with Springfield Armory TRP 1911

The Springfield Armory EMP is designed for the smaller 9mm and .40 S&W cartridge length. Shown here next to a full sized 1911.

If we could wave a magic feature enhancement wand, there are only two things we would change on the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. First, it would be great to simplify field stripping. It’s not hard when you use the included takedown assist bushing, but chances are that thing is going to get lost at some point. Is this a big deal? Not really, as the EMP is not a finicky gun. We didn’t clean it at all until it had about 1,000 rounds through it – and we had no problems whatsoever with function. So it’s not a high maintenance gun that will have to be cleaned after every range outing. Second, we would love to have one or more holes in the magazines to easily check round count. The magazines are well made and solid as a rock, but you can’t easily verify that they are filled to maximum capacity.

The form factor is a great tradeoff between size and self-defense capacity. Overall size is smaller than a compact Glock 19, but it still provides 9+1 rounds of 9mm. It’s thin, well-rounded where it needs to be, and therefore exceptionally easy to carry. We used it a lot with various inside the waistband holsters and it virtually disappears.

Where the Springfield Armory EMP 9mm shines is with its handling. Simply put, it’s a joy to shoot. The combination of smooth grip panel checkering, backstrap checkering, and a smooth front strap provides for a firm grip, but without sacrifice of concealed carry comfort with inside the waistband holsters. The trigger is fantastic. Adjustable for over travel and crisp, it’s easy to hit things with the EMP. The ambidextrous safety levers are crisp and easy to reach. While we wouldn’t classify the EMP as a heavy pistol, it does a great job of soaking up recoil from full powered 9mm self-defense loads. Clearly the dual spring design has a lot to do with that, as does the near perfect contour of the frame.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! This gun carries, shoots, and handles like a dream. The grip, trigger, and sights achieve a balance that it makes it easy to hit your intended target. For all of its beautiful handling attributes, the real value of the Springfield Armory EMP is the confidence it inspires.
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Gun Review: Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig – Glock 357 Sauce Anyone?

Add some zest to your shooting with Glock 357 sauce

I used to be a lousy shot. Until I tried Glock 357 sauce with the Glock 31 Gen 4 chambered in .357 Sig. I’m still a lousy shot, but I shoot with a lot more zest!

Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 sig handgun review

We found the Glock 31 Gen 4 surprisingly comfortable to shoot – even with full power self defense ammunition.

As you may know, we kind of have a thing for the .357 Sig cartridge – as evidenced by some our our previous work including our review on the Glock 32, CorBon .357 Sig DPX ammo, Federal Premium .357 Sig ammo, and a less serious work with Hornady’s Critical Defense .357 Sig ammo tested head-to-head with a big jar of grape jelly. That one worked out pretty well for all involved, except for the grape jelly.

While our obsession for the .357 Sig round may not be completely rational, one valid reason we like it is the cartridge design itself. Being a bottle-necked pistol cartridge. It just wants to feed easily – like Rosie O’Donnell. The tapered profile of the cartridge, regardless of the shape of the projectile – round nose or hollow point – allows the cartridge to feed into the chamber very, very easily.

We’ve never had any reliability trouble with either the Glock 32 or Glock 31 chambered in .357 Sig. We’ve also found it amazingly insensitive to quality of grip. You can shoot it with a firm grip or the most dramatic limp wrist you can muster and it will work.

With all that said, we were just about as anxious as Lindsay Lohan at a Policeman’s Ball to get our hands on a full-size Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig model.

But first, let’s consider some interesting and useful facts about the Glock 31.

Pop Quiz on the Glock 31

Circle all true statements below.

  1. A number of state highway patrol agencies, including Tennessee and Mississippi rely on the Glock 31 for duty use.
  2. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg secretly carries a Glock 31 in his Kenneth Cole man bag. He calls it a satchel, but let’s face it – it’s a murse. (Tweet This)
  3. .357 Sig rounds launched from a Glock 31 are capable of Mach 17, but can be completely silenced by shooting through a Walmart Premium chuck steak. (Tweet This)
  4. The “SIG” in .357 Sig stands for “Shooting Is Great!”

If you circled number 1 only, you win the prize, the nature of which will be determined as soon as Congress votes itself a pay decrease.

What’s in Glock 357 Sauce? A Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig review

The Glock 31 is a full size model, identical in exterior dimensions to the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm. It’s 7.95″ long, 5.43″ high, and 1.18″ wide. It features a 4.49″ barrel with 6.5″ between the front and rear sights. The relatively long sight radius is one of the features that makes the Glock 31 Gen 4 easy to shoot well. One notable difference between the Glock 31 and Glock 17 models is the weight. As the .357 Sig round operates at very high pressure, the Glock 31 Gen 4 is just a bit heavier, weighing in at 23.28 ounces unloaded and 33.09 ounces loaded with 15 rounds of .357 Sig ammunition. The Glock 17 is only a tad over one ounce heavier in loaded or unloaded configuration, and compared side by side, we couldn’t tell the difference.

Like the ubiquitous Glock 22, the Glock 31 holds 15 rounds in the magazine. Ubiquitous is a very important word that means ‘it’s all over the place’, kind of like how armor-piercing sand gnats are here in the lowcountry (swamps!) of South Carolina. Add a round to the chamber and you’ve got 16 total rounds in the Glock 31.

Like the other Glock Generation 4 models, the Glock 31 offers a number of enhancements to the Glock 31 Generation 3:

  • As we noted in our Glock 17 Gen 4 review, the magazine release button is significantly enlarged. While a seemingly minor change, it makes a big difference in usability. Ease of dropping a magazine is much improved. The magazine release button is also reversible.
  • The Glock 31 Gen 4 also features interchangeable grip backstraps with 3 size options, allowing the owner to customize fit to their specific hand size.
  • The recoil spring assembly is now a two-part spring. While we did not notice any difference in function from the single spring Glock Gen 3 models, Glock claims that the new spring assemblies will offer longer life cycle and reduced felt recoil. The Glock 31 is certainly a soft shooting gun, but we were only able to compare felt recoil to a Glock 32 Gen 3, which is not an apples to apples comparison given the smaller size and lighter weight of the Glock 32.
  • Also like other Gen 4 models, the Glock 31 Gen 4 features a new and improved grip texture. We really, really like the new feel. While personal preference rules and your opinion may vary, ours is that no grip tape, stippling, or other type of grip enhancement is necessary on the Gen 4 models. It’s solid in the hand and offers a positive feel even when the palms get sweaty.

Our evaluation model was equipped with upgraded Glock night sights. While the standard Glock sites are constructed of polymer with a single dot on the front, and notched rear sight surrounded by a white “U” shaped outline, the Glock night sights are steel construction front and rear. They are also of the 3 dot design, with a single tritium dot in the front and tritium dots on either side of the rear notch. With all the Glock carrying and shooting we’ve done, we’ve never had an issue with the standard polymer sights, but there is a certain, and probably irrational, level of comfort present with the upgraded steel models. Plus you can see them in the dark.

Our evaluation Glock 31 Gen 4 came with standard Glock packaging. You’ll get (3) 15 round magazines, a cleaning rod with brush, two additional grip backstraps for size adjustment, and the obligatory gun lock. This all comes neatly packaged in a Glock hard plastic case.

A serious moment – .357 Sig bullet setback

If you’re to become a .357 Sig cartridge aficionado, then you also need to understand the concept of bullet setback. This issue has nothing to do with the Glock 31 or any other handgun chambered in .357 Sig, but rather the .357 Sig cartridge design itself.

Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig Ammunition expansion

One of the benefits of .357 Sig velocity with the Glock 31 is very reliable expansion

The .357 Sig cartridge is a bottleneck design, much like many rifle cartridges. Bottleneck is a fancy Latin word that translates loosely to looks like a bottle.  (Tweet This)

We mention this because the .357 Sig is a pistol cartridge, and therefore much shorter than a bottle-necked rifle cartridge in all measurements. This becomes important as the straight walls of the top of the cartridge offer less gripping surface area than a traditional straight walled cartridge.

Why should you care about this?

Other than accumulating obscure knowledge of pistol cartridge design, if you’re going to use a gun chambered in .357 Sig, you need to be aware of the potential for bullet setback. If your daily carry and storage method leads to a lot of chamberings and un-chamberings of the same cartridge, i.e. the one at the top of your magazine, there is potential for the bullet to become pushed back in to the cartridge casing itself over time. I say potential because with most quality factory ammunition this is not a serious concern. With cheap stuff, reloaded ammunition, or ammunition that has been cycled repeatedly, you want to keep an eye out for bullet setback.

If you do notice a cartridge where the bullet is compressed into the casing, do not shoot it! Instead, dispose of it safely. Most shooting ranges have a disposal container for live ammunition. The reason you should not shoot it is that as a bullet gets pushed into the casing, the volume of that casing is decreased. The same powder charge is still present, so that careful balance of interior cartridge volume and powder charge is now out of whack – and dangerously high pressure spikes can result. Abnormally high pressure is not healthy for you or your gun.

We only mention this as something that all .357 Sig shooters should be aware of. In all our shooting of .357 Sig ammunition, we’ve only spotted one mild case of bullet setback in years and years. Nonetheless, it’s always a good habit to visually inspect your ammunition whenever you load your gun. Keep an eye out for bullet setback and you’ll have no worries.

Feel the need for speed

Some time ago, we tested the Glock 32 Gen 3 and did some velocity testing with several different loads. So how much difference does the extra 1/2” barrel in the Glock 31 make? Here are the some of the results as measured by our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range.


Glock 32 Gen 3
(4.02” barrel)

Glock 31 Gen 4
(4.49” barrel)

Hornady Critical Defense 125 grain 1,231 1,257
Winchester PDX1 Defender 125 grain N/A 1,389
Speer Gold Dot 125 grain N/A 1,404
Federal Premium JHP 125 grain N/A 1,354
CorBon DPX 125 grain N/A 1,313
CorBon JHP 125 grain N/A 1,469
CorBon Pow’RBall 100 grain 1,623 1,620
Georgia Arms 125 grain Gold Dot 1,362 1,395
Remington UMC 125 grain 1,359 1,405

With the exception of the CorBon Pow’RBall, which showed an unexpected anomaly in velocity differences, we found that the slightly longer barrel in the Glock 31 increased velocity by about 30-35 feet per second on average.

Considering the real world velocities we measured out of a real world Glock 31, it’s apparent that the .357 Sig round combined with this Glock, meets the original cartridge design goal of approximating the velocity of a 125 grain .357 magnum round from a 4 inch barreled revolver. Three different loads we tested clocked over 1,400 feet per second – and that measurement was taken 15 feet down range. Not too shabby!


We took the Glock 31 Gen 4 to the range – a lot – to get a good feel for its handling qualities. While cornering was good, it really excelled in the straightaways.

But seriously, in addition to quite a bit of informal plinking, we ran through some drills with it to get a feel for the admittedly subjective measure of ‘shootability.’ We ran it through some Dot Torture drills and found the Glock 31 easy to control in all three dot torture scenarios: two-handed, strong hand only, and weak hand only. We found it easy to control this gun even when shooting full power self-defense loads.

We also shot the Glock 31 Gen 4 in a side by side comparison with a Glock 32 Gen 3 and a Glock 17 Gen 4. While the 31 was noticeably less snappy than the Glock 32, we weren’t sure if this was a result of the larger gun size and weight, new recoil spring design, or combination of both. We also did some side by side shooting with a Glock 17 and the Glock 31. With full power defense loads in each, it was hard to tell the difference in felt recoil between the 9mm Glock 17 9mm and the more powerful .357 Sig Glock 31 .357 Sig.

What if you want .40 S&W flavors?

One of the neat things about the Glock 31 in .357 Sig is that you can easily modify the gun to shoot .40 S&W. Simply swap out the barrel for a Glock 22 Gen 4 factory barrel, or get an aftermarket one from companies like Lone Wolf, and you’re good to go. The existing .357 Sig magazines will work fine. Depending on the loads you shoot, you may want or need to replace the recoil spring. Be sure to check with the experts at Lone Wolf Distributors or another reputable supplier before venturing off on your own!

Bedside bling

Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips LG-850 and Lightguard LTG-736

We “geared up” the evaluation Glock 31 with both Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips and Crimson Trace LTG-736 Lightguard. That made for a great nightstand package.

One of the benefits of the Glock’s ubiquity (there’s that word again) is the availability of aftermarket accessories like lights, lasers, fixed sights, and performance parts. The Glock 31 Gen 4 features an accessory rail that allows attachment of lights, lasers, and even bayonets. Why anyone would seriously want to put a bayonet on a pistol is beyond us, but you have to admit it sounds amusing. Maybe it would be handy for opening stubborn ammo boxes.

We went all out, but practical, in outfitting the evaluation Glock 31. For a laser, we added the Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact models. For a tactical light, we mounted the Crimson Trace Lightguard LTG-736 for Glock full size and compact models. Both laser and light operate by instinctive pressure activation with the laser being activated from the rear of the grip and the light from the front. On other words, simply pick up your gun with a proper grip and both laser and light are on and ready to go. We wrote about this combination with a Glock 17 Gen 4 as Nightstand Perfection a while back, but we may have to reconsider in favor of the more powerful Glock 31 Gen 4.

Closing with authority

The really compelling thing about the Glock 31 Gen 4 is velocity. Arguments over the relative effectiveness of large and slow rounds compared to small and fast rounds will likely go on until the end of time, or until our Congress manages to pass a budget, whichever comes first.

If you’re a fan of velocity, then take a serious look at the Glock 31 Gen 4 in .357 Sig. With it’s 4.49″ barrel, you’re going to get fantastic velocity out of self defense ammunition – and at the same time, the pistol will be easy to control. It’s not an untamed beast, but rather a tamed one.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Like every other Glock we’ve owned or tested, reliability was not a question. It works – clean or dirty. We have yet to clean this one just to see. We’re giving the Glock 31 Gen 4 Four Nuns because of it’s combination of power with controllability. It’s easy – and pleasant – to shoot.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!


Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote 1911 .45 ACP

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote shown with Galco Miami Classic II

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote shown with Galco Miami Classic II

1911’s have a lot to live up to. Designed by John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) they have been known to take down both a Japanese Zero fighter  and German Storch observation plane in World War II.

In fact, some believe that a stray 1911 .45 ACP round inadvertently destroyed the city of Dresden. (Tweet This)

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote™ is modeled after the famous FBI contract Professional Model 1911. Given that the FBI contract model comes from the Springfield Armory Custom Shop, imitation is a tall order for a production gun to meet. If the Springfield Armory TRP was designed to capture the most important features and benefits of the Professional Model at a much more affordable price point, the TRP succeeded in the mission. It’s the nicest 1911 platform we’ve shot to date.

The model we tested is the Armory Kote™ version with a black Teflon finish. The TRP is also available in a stainless steel finish and a second Armory Kote™ model with an integrated accessory rail.

Let’s take a closer look.

Just the specs ma’am

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote Case, Holster, Magazine holder

The TRP comes with lockable hard case, kydex holster, and dual magazine carrier

The Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote™ 1911 is loaded in terms of custom features.

  • Full size 1911-A1 platform
  • 5 inch match grade barrel and bushing
  • 8.5 inch overall length. 5.7 inch overall height.
  • Armory Kote™ Teflon finish (as tested)
  • Weight: 42 ounces. Unloaded. Yes, it’s a full size, steel 1911.
  • Aluminum match grade trigger
  • Checked front strap and mainspring housing
  • Wide mouth magazine well. 2 included magazines with slam pads.
  • G10 grip panels
  • Low profile Trijicon combat night sights

Something old, something new

While the Springfield Armory TRP is not so radical as to make John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) scream ‘UNCLE!’ from his grave, it does offer some improvements over the original design. Some obvious, and some controversial and sure to cause fists to fly among 1911 aficionados. We don’t really care whether a 1911 design is true to John Moses Browning’s (may he rest in peace) original design or not. We care if it works. All the time. And then some.

With all that said, we found that the Springfield Armory TRP 1911 offers an interesting combination of traditional 1911 features and new innovations.

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP Armory Kote ambidextrous safety

True ambidextrous safeties

Tight like a tiger

World War I and II era GI complaints about shaky actions and resulting accuracy challenges do not apply here. The TRP is fit like Ronnie from Jersey Shore. ‘Tight like a tiger’ to quote the famous Dutch philosopher Goldmember. When we took it out of the box, the slide was, ummm, slightly challenging to rack. The fit was tight, tight, tight. Like a tiger.

For the first 50 to 100 rounds, we noticed that the TRP had pretty aggressive slide rack resistance. Then it became smooth like butter, but without the excess cholesterol. You heard that right, it’s not a typo for ‘better’, the action became like butter. Smooth with no detectable movement whatsoever – vertical or horizontal. Even now, approximately 1,000 rounds later, the slide feels as if it’s welded to the frame rails until you apply a little muscle to rack it. Obviously the fit is excellent, but we suspect the Teflon finish has something to do with it also.

The Guiding Rod

We’re staying out of the full length guide rod versus original John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) design crusade. Our criteria for success is simple. Does it work? Every time? Are there any observable, not theoretical, advantages or disadvantages to a specific gun design? Some claim that full length guide rods, whether one or two piece, improve accuracy, but we’ve never seen any hard data on this. Others claim that the full length rod makes the recoil spring behave a bit better as it can’t kink. Whatever.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 two piece guide rod

The two piece guide rod is removed with an included hex wrench

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 features a two piece, full length guide rod. From a take-down point of view, this means two things:

  1. You can remove the slide assembly from the frame with no tools. You’ll end up with two assemblies – the frame and the slide with recoil spring and guide rod firmly attached to the slide until you disassemble the guide rod.
  2. You can unscrew and remove half of the guide rod using a hex tool (our Real Avid Gun Tool worked perfectly for this) and then you have a standard 1911 take down for field strip completion. Realistically, we found that the take down process worked out to about a 3 second difference between the Springfield Armory TRP with its two piece guide rod versus a standard 1911.
Bottom line? We don’t really care. The TRP functioned flawlessly with over 20 different types of ammo. We tried ultra-budget steel cased stuff to $2 per round premium self defense rounds to a dozen different handload recipes with various lead, plated, and jacketed projectiles.

90/90 grippy-ness

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP G10 grip panels

Gloves or no gloves, the TRP is solid in the hand

The frame offers sharp checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing. In average Joe’s English, that means the front and back of the grip have really rough textures. We found the checkering on the TRP to be very sharp, and very grippy. Clearly one of the design goals was to be tactical glove friendly. And it is.

While casually fondling holding the TRP, we thought the aggressive texturing would wreak havoc on bare hands with any significant shooting session. Strangely, this was not the case. The grippy checkering offered a solid, no slip grip, even in 90/90 weather conditions. For those of you who don’t live in a swamp, 90/90 refers to 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Paradise found.

1,000 rounds later we have no new callouses and have not yet bled all over the TRP.

Back to the well

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 beveled magazine well

The TRP features a generous magazine well

The Springfield Armory TRP offers a beveled magazine well to facilitate fast magazine changes. It’s also finished with the Teflon-based Armory Kote™ finish. While not a necessity for a solid 1911, we really liked it. You’ll notice from the close up photo that we did a fair number of mag changes throughout this evaluation.

With the magazine well extension, magazines with slam pads are required practically speaking. Springfield includes two of their 7 round magazines with the TRP – both equipped with slam pads. Both magazines operated flawlessly throughout our testing.


The TRP we tested came with Trijicon combat sights – we thought. We thought we knew this because they say ‘Trijicon’ right on them. Well, actually, the metal housings are manufactured by Springfield Armory with the inserts supplied by Trijicon. The rear sight is a dovetail design with two tritium inserts. While the rear sight is a ramped design, there is a small ledge at the front base which can be used to rack the slide with one hand and a nearby belt, table, or other unofficial slide-racking object. The front sight is also fitted via dovetail and has a single tritium dot.


The TRP features ambidextrous safeties, meaning they are on both sides of the gun. So you can shoot righty or lefty with equal aplomb. Unlike some other models, the safety levers are extended and of equal width on either side of the pistol.


The G10 grip panels are also aggressive in texture – like the front and backstrap checkering. The texture is a combination of raised diamond and reptile skin pattern. Please note, this is our description, not the official Springfield Armory version. And yes, they are awesome in both appearance and function. You will NOT lose your grip on this gun. Again, we have to think the grip panels were designed with gloved use in mind.

One very nice touch on the grip panels is the thumb cutout on the left panel. As you can see in the included photograph, this cutout makes it a tad easier to access the magazine release button. We found that it really makes a difference. Depending on your hand size, you may be able to drop a magazine without altering your strong hand grip.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 beavertail grip safety

The beavertail memory bump easily engages the grip safety


The beavertail on the Springfield Armory TRP has a pronounced memory bump to aid with sure and repeatable disengagement of the grip safety. At risk of starting another 1911 aficionado fist fight, we prefer to shoot the 1911 with thumbs high – meaning the strong hand thumb rides on top of the safety lever. Others feel that this grip results in possibility of the grip safety not being properly activated as the thumbs high grip tends to pull the web of your hand away from the backstrap. So we elected to give it the thumb test to see just how positive it was. No worries here. Between the significant memory bump and limited amount of grip safety travel required to disengage the trigger, we had no problems with grip safety engagement.

Although an inexact science, we did some eyeball testing to see at what point of grip safety depression the trigger is released. Using highly scientific eyeballing, we found that the trigger would release when the grip safety was depressed somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of its full length of travel.


Springfield Armory TRP 1911 front cocking serrations

Front cocking serrations are handy for chamber checks

Like most modern 1911’s, the Springfield Armory TRP features an enlarged ejection port. Unlike many 1911’s however, the TRP offers front cocking serrations on the slide. These exactly match the primary rear cocking serrations in texture and angle. While the need for front serrations invites yet another bar fight, we grew to like having them – especially for checking the chamber loaded condition of the pistol. Although the physics are exactly the same, it somehow feels easier to partially retract the slide to check the chamber using the front serrations. There must be some type of leverage difference resulting from hand placement.


The trigger is match grade aluminum, factory set for a 4.5 to 5 pound pull. It includes an adjustable over travel screw. Out of the box, we needed to make no adjustments. Take-up was minimal and there was no detectable over travel after the break. Nice.

Internal Lock

Freakin’ lawyers. We’re blaming My Cousin Vinny for the integral safety lock on the Springfield Armory TRP. Schlocky lawyers are absolutely responsible for adding needless parts to a perfectly functioning gun. We would prefer not to introduce any additional variables or things that could break or malfunction into this proven and reliable design. Fortunately we are still able to buy hammers and butter knives without integral safety locks. But those are probably next.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 thumb cutout

The thumb cutout on the left grip panel facilitates access to the magazine release

All griping aside, here’s how it works. The lock is intended to be used with the hammer down. Period. In this condition, using one of the two supplied keys, you can rotate the lock 90 degrees clockwise. This jams up the entire system. The slide won’t rack, the hammer won’t cock, and the gun won’t go bang. The lock will not function if the hammer is already cocked, so it appears this feature is really intended for cold storage rather than securing a loaded and ready gun. The only gripe we have with the TRP is this lock. Arrghhh!

Accuracy testing

Here on My Gun Culture, accuracy testing is a bait and switch tactic. You see, we’re not really going to talk about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other. Within reason, most quality guns on the market today can shoot far more accurately than their handlers.

We’ve got a pet peeve about gun writers who talk about the accuracy of a given gun by holding it, setting it on sandbags, and so on. We don’t buy it, Unless a gun is in a mechanical rest, we don’t want to hear about mechanical accuracy. As long as human eyes, human trigger fingers, and human brains are involved, we’re not learning a darned thing about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other.

With that said, we would like to talk about ease of shooting accurately. Yes, this is a subjective measure, but an important one.

In short, the Springfield Armory TRP is easy to shoot. Accurately. Part of that is the weight of the pistol. It’s heavy (we like that) and doesn’t flop around as much as a pocket rocket. The trigger is crisp. And the tolerances are tight. Shoot this gun in a half decent two-hand hold and you’ll be hitting baseball size targets at 25 yards with no problem. Yes, it’s designed as a tactical defense pistol, but it sure is a fun plinker!

Ammo digestion

We tried 2.4 boatloads of ammunition in the Springfield Armory TRP. If you’re not up on your redneck conversion rates, that’s about 25 different varieties. We shot budget steel cased ammo. We shot moderately priced, brass cased practice ammo. We shot numerous premium defense brands. We cobbled up handload after handload and shot them all. Lead bullets, plated bullets, jacketed bullets. Weights ranging from 165 grains to 230 grains. Semi-wadcutters, hollowpoints, and round nose profiles. It handled them all. Over 1,000 rounds into testing, we’re still waiting on the first malfunction. No failures to feed, no failures to eject, no failures to fire. There was no detectable break in period with the TRP.

Here’s a look at some of the factory rounds we tested:



Black Hills JHP +P 230 grain 927 fps
CCI Blazer FMJ 230 grain 853 fps
Federal FMJ 230 grain 866 fps
Federal FMJ white box 230 grain 803 fps
Federal Guard Dog EFMJ 165 grain 1,053 fps
Federal Hydra-Shock 230 grain 883 fps
Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain 1,002 fps
Magtech First Defense +P SCHP 165 grain 1,076 fps
Remington Golden Saber +P 185 grain 1,165 fps
Remington UMC 230 grain 844 fps
Sellier & Bellot 230 grain FMJ 804 fps
Winchester PDX1 230 grain 911 fps


Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911

Just for kicks we tried the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911s

We tried over a dozen different handloads with the TRP, but by far the most fun was a true plinker load. We loaded 185 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullets from Missouri Bullet Company over 4.6 grains of Trail Boss powder for a fun load that clocked in at just over 814 feet per second. This load was enough to cycle the TRP reliably, but gentle enough to expose a couple of pre-teen shooters to the joys of shooting a nice 1911.

The other surprise load in the TRP was the Federal Guard Dog Expanding Full Metal Jacket load. At 165 grains and standard pressure, it clocked in with plenty of velocity but was surprisingly gentle to shoot. Expansion results were quite dramatic.


While not one of the evaluation criteria, we happened to have a Crimson Trace Lightguard on hand and decided to try it out on the TRP. Crimson Trace only guarantees the 1911 Lightguard to fit Kimber, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson 1911 frames, but we had no problem using it with the TRP.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 in Galco King Tuk Holster

Fit was excellent in the Galco King Tuk holster

A variety of standard holsters were tested including the Blackhawk Serpa, Blackhawk Sportster Standard Concealment, Galco Miami Classic II, Blackhawk Leather Pancake, and Galco King Tuk to name a few. We didn’t expect or experience any fit issues.

Closing arguments

The TRP is one fine pistol – the best we’ve evaluated to date. And it’s a production gun. The model we tested can be acquired new for about $1,500 street price and it’s worth every penny. Can you buy a 1911 for half that sum? Yes. Will it work? Most likely. Will it give you that special joy that a finely made handgun does? Probably not.

We highly recommend this one.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Well made with plenty of attention to detail. More importantly, reliability was 100% through the first 1,000 rounds.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!


Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!


You can find Accessories for the Springfield Armory TRP at Brownells

Galco International Miami Classic Shoulder System


Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

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