Review: Springfield Armory’s MC Operator 1911

   08.08.16

Review: Springfield Armory’s MC Operator 1911
I’ve owned and tested just about every 1911 handgun that Springfield Armory has produced, and to the best of my recollection, I’ve only had one that gave me any problems. It was a basic 1911 from the mid-1980s, when Springfield Armory first started turning out 1911 handguns. Since then, I haven’t had one single problem with any of their 1911s.
One SA 1911 that always eluded me was their MC Operator, and I still remember the first one I saw. It was a magic moment in a gun shop in Boise, Idaho around 2007 or 2008. I wanted that pistol in the worst way, but I simply couldn’t afford it and wasn’t writing about guns at the time, so there was no chance of getting a loaner for testing.
For years, I longed for an MC Operator, and finally ordered one for this article. The guys at my local gun shop had never seen an MC Operator. They are a bit hard to come by, and that’s putting it mildly.
Here’s a quick look at the specs of the MC Operator, plus a little history. This is a full-sized 45 ACP 1911 with a steel frame with integral accessory rail under the dust cover. The steel slide is black “Armory Kote” finish, and the steel frame is OD green Armory Kote. The two-tone look is very tactical. The 5-inch barrel is stainless steel and match grade. The mainspring housing is flat, the hammer is a lightweight Delta speed hammer, and it has a beavertail grip safety.
The thumb safety is ambidextrous and extended. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and the guide rod is a one-piece “GI style.” It wears night sights and rubber combat style Pachmayr grips. The long match-grade trigger on my sample had a pull weight of 4.5 pounds, although Springfield’s specs call for 5 to 6 pounds. The mag well is beveled as well.
This pistol comes in a beautiful carrying case, which holds the gun, two 7-round magazines, a holster, and magazine pouch.

The MC Operator was originally designed for the U.S. Marine Corps rapid deployment forces that are housed on aircraft carriers. The MC Operator was spec’d to what the Marines wanted, right down to the Pachmayr grips. So there ya go. The MC stands for Marine Corps, but keep it a secret. Not many folks know this.

As you can see in the pics, the gun is just beautiful. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t in a full-combat ready 1911. Over the years, I’ve changed my thinking on an ambi thumb safety; I can take ’em or leave ’em, but it’s there if you want it. Many folks believe they need it for some reason.
Hands down, right now, if I had to pick a 1911 to do a building search, it would be this MC Operator. There’s just “something” about it that calls out to me.

During my testing, the MC Operator was boring to shoot. It just put every bullet right where I wanted them to go. I used the following ammo:

  • Black Hills 230-grain FMJ
  • Buffalo Bore 160-grain Tac-XP HP +P
  • Buffalo Bore185-grain Tac-XP HP +P
  • Buffalo Bore 230-grain FN FMJ +P
  • Buffalo Bore 230-grain JHP +P

Before accuracy testing, I swapped out the 16-pound factory recoil spring for an 18.5-pound extra power recoil spring and extra-power firing pin spring. Those +P loads from BuffaloBore are pretty hot and can take a toll on a standard recoil spring.

There were no malfunctions of any type in all my shooting. Accuracy testing was from 25 yards over the hood of my SUV, with the gun resting on a sleeping bag. In all, I probably fired more than 300 rounds in my testing. Group size ranged from 2 to 3 inches, depending on the ammo and my abilities that day. I got the best overall accuracy from the Buffalo Bore 200-grain JHP +P load, which is fast becoming a favorite of mine.

The MC Operator retails for close to $1400.00. Is it worth it? To me it is. It’s as close to a custom 1911 as you’ll find in a non-custom model. They are hard to find, so expect to pay close to retail if you find one in a gun shop.

Over the years, I’ve owned some custom 1911s from big name custom builders and I’ve built more than my share of custom 1911s myself, but none impressed me more than the MC Operator did. Yeah, you can pay more for a custom gun or another brand of 1911 with the same or similar features, but I don’t think you’d be getting more gun for your money.

It’s no wonder that you rarely see an MC Operator in a gun shop or at smaller gun shows. When they do become available, they are snapped up in short order. So if you’re in the market for a super 1911, take a close look at the Springfield Armory MC Operator 1911. I think you’ll be impressed.

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