Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator .45

Remington’s 185-grain Express load is a classic cup-and-core jacketed hollow point with a long history of feeding in any 1911 .45 that will work with hardball, and in the RO Elite it plunked five shots into 2.35 inches, with the best three in barely more than half of that, 1.20 inches. All measurements were taken center to center between the farthest-flung of the hits being measured, to the nearest 0.05”.

RO Elite comes with two flush-bottom, seven-round .45 magazines and ships in a nice, much-more-useable padded soft case (compared to the typical plastic pistol case). Slim G10 grip panels help to get more finger on the Elite’s trigger for more leverage and control.

Let’s analyze that a bit. The 230-grain is by far the most popular bullet weight in .45 ACP, and the two such loads tested were within a tenth of an inch of each other in five-shot measurements, and identical in “best three” measurements. That is consistency. Best-three measurements with all three rounds in both bullet weights averaged 1.07”. 

Springfield Armory advertises the Range Officer Elite Operator as having a match grade barrel. The gun proved to this writer’s satisfaction that it lived up to its advertising. By the way, that “best three” measurement is done because we’ve found over the decades that hand-held from a bench, it eliminates enough unnoticed shooter error to furnish a very good approximation of what the gun and load will do for all five from a machine rest. Most readers don’t have access to a machine rest, but are a lot more likely to be able to find a solid bench rest to compare their sample of the gun and load to ours.

On the Hip

The pistol’s 41-ounce (unloaded) weight helps tame recoil in general—especially in non-dominant-hand-only shooting.

I carried the Range Officer Elite for a couple of days in a fast, comfortable Green Force Tactical scabbard  (http://www.greenforcetactical.com/). I couldn’t detect any difference due to the couple of ounces of extra weight created by the rail configuration, and there were no sharp edges that snagged gun or holster or dug into the wearer’s body. If you’re comfortable carrying an all-steel Government-size 1911, you should be equally comfortable carrying this one.

On the Timer

With a defense gun suitable for “combat competition” you want to find some way to shoot it under stress and time pressure to really get an idea of its ergonomics relevant to its intended task. No suitable matches intersected with my schedule, so I ran it on the “Five-Yard Roundup” drill created by retired Marine combat vet and rising star in tactical writing circles, Justin Dyal. I was introduced to it at Tom Givens’ Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Little Rock in early 2018. You are allowed only 2.5 seconds for each of four tasks, all done from five yards on the NRA B8 Timed and Rapid Fire Bulls-eye target. First, you draw from concealment and fire one shot. The next three stages are all done from low ready: four shots free style, three shots dominant hand only, and finally two shots non-dominant hand only. A good discussion of the drill can be found at http://www.greenforcetactical.com/

The RO Elite Operator gave amazingly-consistent performance load-to-load, but Speer Blazer Brass delivered the best performance during testing with this 1.55-inch five-shot group.

I got off to a crappy start by going too fast on the draw-to-the-shot, and pulled the bullet down to 7 o’clock just outside the black, losing two points off the bat. That was a wake-up call, and I was able to tighten up from there on, only putting my last weak-hand shot into the “9” ring (rushing again, dammit). The rest of the ten rounds were in the roughly 3-inch diameter “10” ring for a 97 out of 100. A new gun that lets an old fart score 97% on a deceptively tough drill cold is a gun that has some awfully good ergonomics. The red fiber optic up front was a big help in getting a fast sight picture on an all-black mark.

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