The word Defender brings to mind two distinct, but different images. First is a large dog with lips curled and dinosaur sized teeth exposed clear down to the gums daring someone to enter his space. The second image, slightly more benign, but no less intimidating and deadly, is the classic 1911 whose mere presence is a clear warning against unauthorized entry. Springfield Armory has successfully brought that second image to life in an attractive, two-toned package with some thoroughly modern features.
Despite the current popularity of action shooting games using smaller calibers, 90 years of history and legend dictate that the 1911 is a 45. Springfield appropriately stayed with that basic caliber but added some selective features, the most obvious being the hard chrome frame topped with a blue slide. (Newer guns will have stainless steel rather than hard chrome frames.)
The second biggest eye-catcher is the twin-port compensator, and rather than just putting the comp on the end of the existing slide, Springfield almost maintained original overall dimensions by chopping enough from the barrel and slide so that the comp adds less than one quarter of an inch in length.
The gun has a Patridge front sight with white dot and a large, fixed rear sight with twin white dots. The front sight blade is secured by a screw which came loose during one of the range sessions causing havoc with group sizes. Some mild Loctite eliminated that problem.
The gun is equipped with a Videcki speed trigger, and while you might debate how essential such a feature is on a defense gun, trigger pull was excellent being crisp, free of creep, and neither too light nor too heavy. The feed ramp was polished and the ejection port lowered and flared for improved reliability.
In the several hundred rounds fired, the only difficulties encountered weren’t gun problems.
First, one of the magazines (the gun comes with two) was difficult to insert; you either had to smack it vigorously or push the magazine release button. Apparently just a clearance problem, because once in. it functioned reliably. The other Springfield mag plus a couple of Colt mags slid in easily and fed ammo with no malfunctions. Second, while the gun functioned perfectly with all bullets tested that weighed 185 grains or more, it would not handle the lightweight 150 grain semi-wadcutters; A concern for the gamesman, perhaps, but not for home defense.
Third, the gun, like other automatics I’ve fired, was sensitive to a soft grip and/or limp wrists.
So what about down-range performance? Skipping to the bottom line, the Defender is remarkably consistent. Five shot groups ran from about 1.5″ to less than 3″ at 25 yards using AA #2 and #5. Hogdon’s “Clays” and HS 6, and Winchester 231. Even the 150 grain SWC bullets that caused functioning problems grouped under 3″ with these powders.
I’m impressed! The Defender appears fully capable of living up to its name and then some. At a suggested retail price of $965 for the new stainless frame model, the gun includes a number of worthwhile, well executed options that would probably cost much more for the individual shooter to add.
It’s certainly not a racegun, but then it isn’t priced like one either.
Published: American Handgunner November/December 1992