By Michael Irwin Collins

The Savage 1911 finally arrived at my FFL after waiting quite a few months. Some of the big guys got theirs first and that’s ok. I have mine now, and I have given the pistol a good workout. Savage may not be best known for their handguns, but I have to say, this is a credible addition to the 1911 world, and there are certainly plenty of 1911 types to compare this piece to.  It doesn’t come off badly at all and seems worth the money. There isn’t anything you cannot get anywhere else, but for Savage fans now you have a good handgun to go along with your Savage Scout Rifle or Impulse straight-pull bolt-action.

Savage also introduced a compact 9mm version of the old Honor Guard handgun. I tested several Honor Guard pistols with good results. But this is a 1911!

I have been a Savage fan for many years and own a number of good quality Savage rifles and shotguns. Some are utilitarian and quite a few are very nice firearms comparable to many other great guns on the market.

The Savage 1911 is a government-model size that comes in a steel frame with a 5-inch barrel, putting the whole package right at the 40-ounce mark unloaded. The initial run includes pistols in 9mm and .45 ACP.

My version is a black nitride finished .45 ACP. Other than my black Melonite model and the stainless-steel pistol, a two-tone pistol should soon be available. Both slick dust cover and picatinny rail guns are offered. My example is a rail gun. The pistol is feature rich as the media types tell us, and in this case they are correct.

First Impressions

The barrel bushing is snug but not so tight that a busing tool is needed to adjust it. The recoil system consists of a standard recoil plug without a full-length guide rod. When using heavy loads in a pin gun, maybe you need a full-length guide rod. In this case, the system is uncomplicated. The seams are all well fitted.

As I rack the slide, the locking lugs slide out of battery smoothly. The barrel features a well-polished feed ramp. The slide boasts a nicely tooled indentation between the sights. There is some lateral play in the slide but only a little. The slide treatment is interesting, however. When SIG went with a unique slide, they also caused holster makers to design holsters to fit this SIG type slide. The sights on my Savage are a Novak Lo Mount design. They remain the standard by which all combat sights are compared and feature one of my favorite configurations. The front sight is a tritium post surrounded by a glowing green roundel. The rear sight is adjustable. To adjust windage unscrew the set screw and bump the sight. There are notches to help calibrate windage. I almost did not notice the sight is adjustable for elevation by a small set screw. A tritium bar rides in the rear sight making for the Bar Dot sight picture. I favor this sight picture over the three-dot pattern, but I suppose I am in the minority. The front and rear cocking serrations are well done.

The hammer is a roundel type and is easily manipulated. The safety is an ambidextrous type, and while it indents well, it is not as sharp as I would like. But it works well. The grip safety maintains its hold on the trigger until the beavertail type grip safety is depressed just past half of its travel. The V 10 grips are nicely checkered. As for the trigger, compression is smooth enough but heavier than expected at 6 pounds even. This didn’t keep me from turning in good firing results, however.

The pistol came supplied with two eight-round magazines. I found one of them was difficult to load to full capacity, but that could simply be because it is new. Giving the gun one last look before taking it to the range, I noticed the barrel crown is nice but not necessarily the 45-degree cut of a custom barrel I’m used to seeing, but that said, all of the parts fit together quit well.

I lubricated the pistol well beginning with the muzzle near the bushing and then lubricating the barrel hood and cocking block as well as letting oil run into the slide rails. That is what keeps a 1911 running along with good ammunition and good quality magazines. It was time for the range.

Shooting the Savage

I first tested the gun primarily using Black Hills Ammunition. I used their clean-burning 230 grain FMJ loads for most runs, firing combat-style at 5, 7 and 10 yards. The pistol handled quite well.

The trigger reset is at least as important as the smoothness of the trigger and the Savage has a good reset. You don’t really need or want a target trigger for combat shooting and this firing session proved just that.

Firing of the gun has gone well, and I really like the pistol. My only complaint is one of the Savage magazines balked and short cycled on me, and I don’t feel like they were break-in short cycles. I think the one mag glitched. This isn’t unheard of but neither was it a welcome discovery.

In addition to the Savage mags, I had Cobra, Wilson Combat and my carry Springfield along with its mags, so I was not short on magazines. All of them locked in and fed well. With regards to magazines, I find Wilson Combat, D&L Sports and Cobra Mags are all a great investment in reliability no matter what 1911 you are shooting. MecGar is also a good magazine that I have used extensively in my shooting.

To date, after three range sessions, I have run at least 430 rounds of ammunition through the gun, and there have been no malfunctions once I ditched the one bad magazine. The other worked just fine.

The pistol was fired with the hot Black Hills Ammunition 135-grain Honey Badger and both 185- and 230-grain JHP loadings. The pistol shoots where it looks with the 230-grain loads so I left the sights right where they were. The Honey Badger shoots low by about 3 inches at 25 yards, but loads aren’t going to shoot the same as others so if I was going to go to shooting that more regularly from the gun, I’d make an adjustment.

Recoil seemed slightly lower than most Government Model 1911 handguns when I was shooting repeat shots. Perhaps it is courtesy of the springs. I fired the pistol for accuracy testing twice, once at 15 yards and later at 25 yards. I am a precision accuracy crank although it doesn’t necessarily apply to personal defense, where shots are practiced fast and at center of mass.

But then what about in a situation with an active shooter or a coyote attacking my goats? For these important reasons, I like to know exactly what the pistol—and I–can accomplish out to at least 25 yards. I used the MTM K Zone shooting rest because it is more stable than firing against a fence post. I also used the 230-grain FMJ loads for this test. While the 15-yard group was on top of itself and very tight, I was satisfied with the 2-inch groups from five shots fired at 25 yards. I was under no time limit; I braced the gun solidly and the results were good.

The 185-grain JHP was nearly as accurate. A handload using three 200-grain Hornady XTP bullets over enough Titegroup powder for 900 fps went into a 1.8-inch group for five shots. Ultimately, the pistol is clearly accurate enough for any chore we would put a handgun to. I like the Savage 1911 and looking at the price—between $1,350 and $1,500 depending on the configuration—compared to other 1911s out there, it’s a great deal. Check one out yourself and you will probably agree.

Range Notes

Reliability ******

Remarks: Other than one issue with one of the mags, everything else worked great.

Accuracy  *****

Remarks: The accuracy of the Savage 1911 grouped shots with the solid accuracy I’d expect from a 1911.

Fit and Finish  ****

Remarks: Good but some wear on the moving parts after the firing test.

Concealed carry ****

Remarks: A bit heavy, but as easily concealed as any 1911

Value                        ****

Remarks: 1911s are not cheap. Maybe the pistol will sell under MSRP in a few months.



Action: Semi-Auto

Caliber: .45 ACP

Ejection Port: Right

Pistol Size: Government

Frame: forged stainless steel

Barrel: black with a Nitride finish, stainless steel construction

Receiver: stainless steel, black with Nitride finish

Slide: stainless steel, black with Nitride finish

Grips: G10 grips in black/gray color

Trigger: single action

Sights: Novak Tritium Mega Dot front, Novak Tritium Bar rear

Magazines: comes with 2 single stack mags, ambidextrous release controls

Safety: external grip and thumb safeties

Capacity: 8+1

Barrel Length: 5 in.

Overall Length: 8.45 in.

Weight: 2.54 lbs.

MSRP: $1,350-$1,500


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