A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Springfield's GI 45

Back in late 2002, and early 2003, 1911 shooters eagerly awaited a new pistol from Springfield Armory. Expected to be the most accurate rendition of a USGI pistol in years, 1911 shooters had long yearned for this gun. Click to enlarge1911 manufacturers had ignored the yearning in a sea of Kimber wannabes. for several months this advertisement was speculated about on internet gun forums while we waited.

I was one of the first people to place an order, and I received one of the first 300 pistols. When my GI style pistol arrived, it came in an olive drab cardboard box with a dry parkerized finish. The first grips were black plastic, and the frame was one of the previous blocky frames. Springfield had rushed to get these guns to salivating shooters in time. Springfield later shipped free brown plastic GI style grips to those who bought first and received guns with black plastic grips.

The lack of historical accuracy did not bother me much. The ejection port was high like it should be, the slide serrations were vertical, and the sights were military. As a bonus, the barrel was blued rather than polished as some had feared. After the initial offerings, the internet reviews were favorable. Others were similarly pleased, comparing it to late-war Ithaca M1911A1 pistols. The gun buying masses came clamoring for this basic 1911 pistol.

Like all Springfield 1911s the pistol had the integrated locking system in the mainspring housing. That was the first item to go on mine. The ILS mainspring housing was traded for a serrated GI unit with a lanyard loop. Next, the serrated trigger was swapped out for a GI trigger, and the thumb safety exchanged for a GI unit. Click to enlargeA wide spur hammer found it's way on the back of the gun, just because I liked them. I found that an oversized Ed Brown checkered slide stop helped tighten things up a bit, so I left it in place rather than the original serrated slide stop.

I treated the dry porous parkerized finish to prevent rusting and enhance the wear properties. As a result, the pistol's finish started to look a bit more "GI." Finally, after five years of wearing walnut double diamonds, I opted to screw some genuine Keyes Fiber Co. USGI grips to the Springfield.

As can be seen in the advertisement, the original MSRP for this gun (PW9108L) was $467. I paid an even $400 for mine new in the Spring of 2003. A few folks saved even more with prices between $360 and $400. Today, this pistol typically sells for between $450 and $500. Now known as the "GI45" to prevent confusion with the "Mil-Spec," the simple, basic GI style pistol remains a top seller for Springfield five years later.



Blogger Will said...

The way the 1911 was meant to look. Beautiful.

12:35 PM  
Blogger the pistolero said...

I got one of those first 300 as well; it was my very first 1911. I was out for the Mil-Spec with the bigger sights, but my dealer couldn't find one. But I've been very happy with mine. The only modification I've made from its original condition was a set of Hogue rubber grips with the finger grooves. A lot of people think they detract from the look, but I think they look good with that parkerized finish.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any idea how hard (read: how much $$$) it would be to stick an ambidextrous safety on that gun?

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got 1 of 300 too with the black grips, OD box.

It was my first 1911, if at the almost the lowest end 1911, I was hooked. Purchased one 'extra' GI version, then less then a year got a highend Kimber. Looking for another one soon. :)

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My only 1911, and now my favorite pistol. I'm not so much a WWII buff, but rather wanted a good quality basic 1911 that did not have all the fancy dodads. I never liked forward cocking seration and I prefer the plain jane look of vertical serations. I did add King's Tappan sights, and basic double diamond panels. I may replace the slide stop as well. I've read and re-read your old posts regarding these pistols. Maybe a Colt down the line, till then the GI45 will do.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

The difficulty level would not be any different than any other 1911. The cost to have a gunsmith do it should run between $30 and $50 depending on the 'smith, plus the cost of the part, so $80-$120 or so total.

I recommend Ed Brown parts. Their tactical ambi safety is my preference. Good solid part. I always fitted my own. Make certain the 'smith you hire isn't learning on your gun.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice! I remember waiting for these guns.......

12:58 AM  
Blogger JAFO said...

Very nice weapon. I recently bought a Rock Island Armory GI 1911and could not be happier. I paid $330, including the fees to get it into my hand from the vendor in North Carolina. It shoots extremely well, the only problem I've had with it is that the finish tends to get easily marked up by way of picking up silver from my ring on my left thumb when I rack the slide. I'll see if soaking the finish in grease offers more of a barrier to that, if not it'll get some Duracoat love.

I'm looking at a PT1911 here shortly, and may have to see about picking up one of these as a way to celebrate McCain's assumption of the Presidency come January!

1:50 AM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

While you were buying the Springfield "1911" I was buying the STI "Edge" -- in exactly the configuration I wished.

DId I pay more money? darn right I did, and it was worth the $1600 I paid for it.

Historic authenticity? Not an issue.

Functionality? I got what I paid for ... and more.

Our priorities differ, but I already have my 'authentic 1911 (not '1911A1'), so I wasn't in the market for a wannabe/

You get what you pay for.

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please post a REALLY hi-res image of your GI 1911 online? I am looking to get a background image for my desktop (Mac) that is 1600x1050.

I too have (more than one!) GI 1911A1 in my arsenal.

I took a cue from yours and added the spur hammer, old style safety, and a checkered mag release, recoil spring plug, slide stop, and an original WWII trigger. ;)

4:57 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I still have that ad saved on my computer from way back when. I didn't get one of the first ones; I waited until I could find one that came with the proper Colt-contour frame and the brown plastic grip panels. I think I paid right around $400 for mine, and I've been very happy with it.

I also managed to wreck the grip screw bushings on it. I had them replaced by a local smith, but wasn't happy with the work. Springfield replaced them again with factory parts, and only charged me for return shipping.

To say that I'm a satisfied Springfield customer would be a gross understatement!

4:55 PM  
Blogger DarwinOSX said...

Looks an awful lot like the 1911's I was issued in the Marine Corps from late 70's to 90's.

8:37 AM  

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