I am a massive fan of the 10mm Auto. Sure, my go-to, all-time favorite handgun cartridge is the 9x19mm, because it’s so versatile. But my pet round– which I am required to have in my line of work as a gun magazine editor– is the 10mm, hands down.
I believe the 9x19mm is a better all-around fighting round. The recoil is mild, which makes for fast follow-up shots. And while that’s a very true statement, and I agree with it, many of us gun scribes love to write and talk about “the low recoil and fast follow-up shots of the 9mm.” However, not all situations allow for multiple shots; sometimes, you might get time for only one, maybe two.
Case in point: I have a cabin in the Wisconsin Northwoods. I have captured on my game cameras nine different bears on my property. Have you ever startled a bear? Have you seen how fast those suckers move? If you haven’t, go to youtube.com and search for “bear charge.” Under optimal conditions—at the range, staring at your target, ready to draw at the beep—a trained shooter can draw a gun from an open-carry holster in about one second, getting one shot off. A charging bear can cover 16 yards in one second … except not everyone is a trained shooter, staring at their target and waiting for the beep to draw from an open-carry holster. That doesn’t leave very much time for a whole lot of shooting.
This is where the 10mm Auto comes in. To many, the be-all and end-all is the .45 ACP. Standard factory .45 ACP loads of 230-grain FMJ are going to have around 360 to 370 footpounds of energy, and JHP self-defense loads are going to be around 360 to 395. Plus-P loads are going to bump it up to about 520 to 540 foot-pounds. Full-power 10mm loads approach 690—a substantial increase.
The SR1911 10mm
The SR1911 is listed on Ruger’s website as being based on the Colt Series 70 design, but in this instance, that only means it does not have a firing pin block, as do the Colt Series 80-based 1911s, giving it a better trigger pull. It doesn’t have much else in common with the Colt Series 70.
It’s CNC-machined, which gives it a precise slide-to-frame fit. Out of the box, it had no play between slide and frame, just like all of Ruger’s SR1911s I’ve gotten my hands on; and it feels very smooth when working the slide. Barrel lockup is also very tight, which aids in accuracy.
The 10mm version has the same upgrades as all SR1911s, such as a skeletonized hammer and trigger, oversized beavertail grip safety, extended thumb safety, visual inspection port, extended slide stop and magazine release, titanium firing pin and a swaged link pin (so it doesn’t work its way loose). It also has an integral plunger tube so you don’t have to worry about it becoming loose—ensuring that the safety and slide stop will always have a secure manipulation.
The skeletonized, lightweight aluminum trigger has an adjustable overtravel stop. It has almost no takeup and a smooth, crisp break. The trigger pull averages 4 pounds, 7.2 ounces in five-pulls, and it also has a very short reset.
The rubberized grip panels are manufactured by Hogue and make for sure-gripped control—even with wet hands— especially when coupled with the grip texture found on the flat mainspring housing. That’s no small feat, given the 10mm’s substantial recoil increase over the .45 ACP. As far as rubberized grips go, the Hogue grips look nice but aren’t as nice looking as the wood grips Ruger offers on other models. Nevertheless, they do have the edge on improved grip performance.
One of the engineering problems Ruger had to overcome was the 10mm recoil, which, over time, caused damage to the 1911 barrel bushing. The company found that the best solution was a bull barrel, which provides a secure, tight lockup without the need for a bushing. In addition, the standard 1911 guide rod and spring couldn’t be used in conjunction with the bull barrel, so Ruger went with a full-length, solid stainless steel guide rod and spring. Operationally, the configuration works well.
However, due to this bull barrel and guide rod configuration, it requires the use of a tiny wire disassembly tool to field strip the pistol. Ruger is thoughtful enough to include one with the handgun. But be cautious: During assembly, mine sheared off and got launched somewhere in my rug-covered family room. Fortunately, the guide rod was almost in place, so the guide rod spring didn’t launch as well.
Unless you’re going to carry the little paperclip-sized tool with you whenever carrying the handgun, this means you won’t be able to field strip it completely. You can remove the slide from the frame, and that’s as far as you’ll get. Still, the wire tool is a better alternative than the Allen wrench some other makes require. My recommendation is to carry and use a paperclip or small wire for disassembly, because the included tool seems to be a bit fragile.
A muzzle shot of two SR1911s—the bushingless bull-barreled 10mm (right) and the .45 ACP with bushing. Note the barrel thickness; the bull barrel (left) can easily handle the 10mm.
I got the shiny, new SR1911 in before any of the test ammo. Bursting at the seams with anticipation, I gathered about 40 rounds of various makes and headed to the range.
The very first magazine through it didn’t lock the slide to the rear on the last round. The next magazine didn’t have that problem. Ironically, the second magazine wasn’t even the right magazine (I was also testing a Ruger SR1911 Night Watchman, and one of the empty .45 magazines somehow got mixed in with the 10mm magazines). It worked perfectly, though, despite the different follower and lack of side wall channels. After that first magazine, I never had another issue with last-round lock-open. It could possibly have been me resting my finger on the slide catch.
Later that day, I talked via e-mail with Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore ammunition, who recommended that with 1911s chambered in 10mm, I run at least 100 rounds of low-power loads through it for a gentle break-in. “Putting our full-power 10mm ammo in a brand-spanking-new 1911 and shooting it repeatedly is like breaking in an expensive engine by running it at red line all day,” he noted.
Therefore, on my subsequent trip to the range, I started with 100 rounds of Buffalo Bore Tactical Low Recoil, Low Flash 155-grain JHP. It ran like a charm; I was impressed. From there, I commenced performance testing.
This was the first non-Glock I’ve fired; and, in recent months, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the G29. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a 10mm 1911, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Recoil wasn’t bad at all. The Glock’s polymer frame is supposed to provide a degree of “shock absorption” for the recoil, but in comparing the two, this was mitigated somewhat by the heavier weight of the 1911 (nearly 10 ounces, which is roughly 25 percent heavier than a G20) and the fact that I could wrap my hand all the way around the grip.
As anyone familiar with 10mm Auto cartridges can tell you, there’s a wide disparity in the strength of power that’s available in commercial loads—from very weak to very strong—and probably more so than any other caliber. The SR1911 can safely shoot any SAAMI spec 10mm load; and, according to Ruger’s Brandon Trevino, “We have not found any commercially loaded ammo that is beyond the capability of the pistol.”
According to Trevino, it’s been 100 percent proof-tested, and with the nitride-coated bull barrel, “the gun is tough.”
For sake of full disclosure, I did have two failures to eject, but it was not the fault of the handgun or the ammo. I was concurrently testing a brand of dry lubricant, and to be straight to the point, it failed. In retrospect, it was a bad idea to mix the two tests (gun and lube), but I’ve never had a gun lube fail like this. I started to notice the slide getting sluggish, and after a couple of magazines, it didn’t cycle enough to eject the spent case. The same thing happened again a magazine later. Realizing the issue, I squirted some Breakfree into both of the slide/frame rail channels and cycled the action. It worked perfectly after that.
||Velocity (fps)||Accuracy (Inches)|
|Buffalo Bore Heavy 180-grain JHP||
|Underwood 180-grain XTP JHP||
|G2 Research R.I.P. 115 grain||
|SIG Sauer V-Crown 180-grain JHP||
NOTE: Average of five shots using a Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2 placed 5 feet from muzzle (Buffalo Bore moved to 15 feet due to false readings from muzzle blast). For accuracy, five five-shot groups were fired at 15-yard targets.
The SR1911 10mm carries just like any other full-sized 1911, which I believe is pretty well. It doesn’t have the width that polymer 10mm handguns have, so it can be hugged closer to the body with OWB carry and makes for great IWB carry. The full-length grip will have to be accounted for; and, with improper cant, it could print in the back of your shirt.
I don’t have any experience carrying appendix with a 1911. I have a fairly lean build and don’t have any issues carrying OWB with a carry-friendly shirt. I can even carry IWB with an untucked T-shirt. A few years back, I was a little chubbier but still didn’t have any issues carrying either way.
Any holster for a full-sized 1911 can be used; in particular, I’ve used the Ruger branded OWB holster made by Mitch Rosen, and the Double Clip IWB holster from Side Guard Holsters. Both are excellent choices.
There are a couple of differences between the disassembly procedure of the standard 1911 and this 10mm. To disassemble, remove the magazine, lock the slide to the rear, and visually and physically inspect the chamber to make sure it is safe. With the slide still locked to the rear, insert the takedown wire tool (or an appropriately sized paperclip) into the guide rod hole located at the end of the dustcover. Then, slowly ease the slide forward to align the slide stop with the notch in the slide. Remove the slide stop. Ease the slide forward and remove it. Once the slide is removed, the recoil spring will be compressed. To remove it, lift it away from the barrel and pull toward the rear of the slide. Pull the barrel out of the front of the slide.
To disassemble the recoil assembly, insert it into the slide from the front, with the curved lip on the plug positioned toward the barrel hole. Press down on the recoil assembly until the takedown wire tool is visible, and remove it. Carefully ease the recoil assembly so the spring is uncompressed and remove it from slide. Use caution: it’s under a lot of tension.
Reverse the procedure to reassemble the recoil assembly. Once done, align the curved area on the guide rod with that on the plunger. Note that when inserting the recoil assembly into position, make sure the barrel link is in the “up” position.
Place the slide on the frame rails and continue assembly just as on a standard 1911. However, once the slide stop pin is fully positioned, lock the slide to the rear and remove the takedown wire tool.
Once the slide is removed, the recoil spring will be compressed. To remove it, lift it away from the barrel and pull toward the rear of the slide.
The Final Analysis
Ruger got another one right. It’s a very shootable 10mm, plus it carries well and is well made. In addition, Ruger did a great job with fit and finish. The upgrades offered from a standard, run-of-the-mill 1911 are a definite plus, and I think at this price point, Ruger offers a great package: As of this writing, I’m finding online retail prices of $820—and even as low as $776— with free shipping. For what Ruger offers, I’d pay the full MSRP for this gun, but for the much lower retail price, it’s a definite go.
The SR191110mm makes for a great home- or self-defense weapon, especially when teamed up with Crimson Trace. This manufacturer’s Master Series grips add the “grip the gun, and it’s on” capability that Crimson Trace is known for. It allows the user to shoot from unorthodox positions, as well as under visually impaired situations (make sure you still adhere to the gun safety “commandment”: Know your target and what’s behind it). They’re not only functional, they also look good (the rosewood ones I tested). Plus, the rosewood grips now come in green laser, making it even more visible in daylight.
As much as I like Ruger’s new 10mm, I didn’t find it without fault—specifically, the disassembly/assembly procedure using the takedown wire tool. It’s a better system than what other makers incorporate, but I’ve never been fond of situations where guns require a tool for basic field-stripping, especially one this small and prone to get lost or broken. Fortunately, in this instance, a paperclip can be fashioned into an improvised tool for disassembly.
Even so, factoring in the positive traits of this handgun, this is definitely not a deal-breaker. And honestly, the 1911 platform isn’t exactly a quick, simple fi eld-strip anyway, so if someone is counting on being able to field-strip a broken 1911 to fix it and get it back into the fight, they are probably screwed. This is just a minor inconvenience, compared to all the positives. The bottom line? I’ll be buying one.
NOTE: I’d like to give a special thanks to MJ Gun Shop (www. MJGunshop.com;  628-4200) for getting this gun into my hands for testing. This shop offers quality gunsmithing work and friendly service. Without Matt Bogues and crew, my job of writing reviews and editing this publication would be much tougher.
Ruger SR1911 10mm Specifications
Caliber: 10mm Auto
Action Type: Semiauto; single action
Frame: Stainless steel; low glare
Slide: Stainless steel
Barrel: 5 inches, bull, nitride coated, 1:16 inch RH.
Trigger: 4 pounds, 7.2 ounces
Sights: Bomar-style adjustable target
Grips: Rubberized, black
Weight: 2 pounds, 6.13 ounces
Overall Length: 8.67 inches
Height: 5.45 inches
Accessories: Two magazines
Buffalo Bore Ammunition
Underwood Ammunition, LLC
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the September 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine