By Trampas Swanson

Perhaps one of the best perks of working in the firearms industry are the people you come to personally know. Almost daily, I am surrounded by amazing people who share my passion for the Second Amendment lifestyle. Not only are they patriots, they also make a living working for firearms related manufacturers or as NRA and USCCA Instructors. Tons of great information gets shared and fun new products are discovered with folks that are not only considered my contemporaries but good friends as well.

This week’s article is a product of this sort of personal information sharing within our community. A few weeks ago, fellow NRA Instructor and good friend Jerry Moody called to see how my family and I were settling into our new home in Middleburg, FL. Jerry had recently moved to the area as well and shared jokes about how we hated the laborious task of moving and living out of boxes.

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Like all our conversations, the topic of firearms quickly came up. Jerry was excited to let me know he had just purchased an awesome new pistol from Springfield Armory. Being a huge fan of their 1911 series, I was quick to ask “Please don’t tell me it’s a polymer XD or XDM.” Jerry laughed and said: “Of course not, it’s a 1911, but better!” According to Jerry, he purchased the new 10mm version of the Springfield Armory 1911 Tactical Response Pistol or TRP. I was very familiar with the TRP version of the traditional 1911 design, and I was interested in Jerry’s impressions. Over the past few years, fellow Swanson Media Group writer Craig Reinolds has carried one chambered in .45 ACP as his daily concealed carry pistol. I have always enjoyed of the updated design incorporating a full Picatinny rail underneath the barrel for mounting lights or lasers to the pistol.

Jerry generously volunteered to let me test out his pistol and even offered for another fellow gun writer, Clint Steele and I to come out to his property for a private test session. I can’t imagine who would ever turn down an invitation such as that. 

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Why 10mm?

For those who aren’t familiar with the history of the 10mm, you may wonder why Springfield Armory would choose to produce their 1911 series in 10mm today? After all, isn’t it a pretty much dead cartridge from the 80’s? To answer these questions, let’s quickly look at why the market went away from the 10mm in the first place. The round was developed in the early 1980’s to give the FBI’s agents a powerful auto loading pistol as agencies moved away from revolvers. The clear advantage of the semi-auto pistol would be the high capacity factor, which ruled out the .45 ACP and the tried and true 1911 design. Of course as agencies moved on from the revolver, they also lost the power of the standard issue .357 Magnum.

In the 1980s, the 9mm round was grossly underpowered and did not produce the more impressive ballistics we are finally seeing in today’s loads. The newly developed 10mm was everything the FBI asked for and more. At 1240 FPS pushing a 180 grain hollow point projectile, the 10mm clearly out preformed the old .357 revolvers and even firmly pushed the bottom spectrum of the .41 Magnum range.

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The only drawback the 10mm faced was timing. During its development process, a new era in law enforcement occurred. Gone were the height / weight restrictions and never admitted gender exclusions. Waves of smaller framed men and now women were joining the FBI’s ranks, and they would be the first generation to start their careers equipped with semi auto handguns. Given the all metal construction of the test guns the FBI had chambered in 10mm, the recoil was hard to manage and intimidated agents with very little shooting experience in their backgrounds. This was a clear-cut case of a round simply ahead of its time being used in a platform that was an era too late.

Developers looked at all the requirements and eventually decided to cut the casing down and use less powder. This ended up giving birth to the .40 S&W. Over the next 15 to 20 years, this so-called “wonder round” spread like wild fire through the law enforcement community on what has recently been discovered as false marketing. Given a long look at actual in the line of duty shootings involving the .40 S&W round, it has clearly not lived up to the hype. During this time, the 10mm all but faded away.

Luckily, a few firearm manufacturers, such as Colt and Glock, saw the potential of the 10mm and kept working on perfecting the system. With the way the Glock is designed, the polymer frame is built to “flex” slightly during recoil. This “flex” motion acts as a camming action to redirect energy, thus reducing the felt recoil of the shot. For many shooters, firing the same round through an all-metal pistol such as the Colt Delta Elite, results in 100% of the recoil absorbed into the hands, wrists and arms. Colt diehards loved the 10mm in the 1911 platform while others gave way to its felt recoil. I was excited to see how Springfield Armory took on the challenge of the 10mm chambering.

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First Impressions

A couple of weeks after our conversation, Clint Steele and I went to visit with Jerry. As we followed the directions given via GPS, I turned off onto a long dirt road. As we rounded a long sweeping turn, a flag pole proudly displaying the U.S. Marine Corps flag signaled we had arrived. Since Clint had started his military career in the Corps, and he too is a true Devil Dog through and through. 

After some introductions and catching up, I finally got my hands on the new Springfield TRP 10mm. The attractive muted black finish and clean lines gave it a sleek and deadly appearance. To be honest, aside from a slightly smaller bore at the end, you’d never guess it was a 10mm. The heft of the 1911 was like shaking hands with an old friend.

When I gripped the pistol and took a shooting stance to squeeze off a couple of dry fire trigger pulls, the grips caught my attention. The uniquely aggressive checked olive-green G-10 grips seemed to sink into my hands and bite down as I tightened my grip. Originally, this made me wonder if they would chew my hands up during the stiff recoil of the 10mm round. I took solace in knowing if it got too bad, I did have my operator gloves in my range bag (more on this later).

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Specs

  • CALIBER: 10mm
  • RECOIL SYSTEM: GI Style, 18.5 lb. Recoil Spring
  • SIGHTS: SA Tactical Rack Rear, 3-Dot Tritium
  • WEIGHT: 40 oz.
  • HEIGHT: 5.5″
  • SLIDE: Forged Steel w Ball Cut & Front Serrations, Black-T® Finish
  • BARREL: 5″ Stainless Steel Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp w/ Bushings
  • LENGTH: 8.6″
  • GRIP TYPE: VZ® Alien, Dirty Olive G-10
  • FRAME: Forged Steel, Integral Accessory Rail, Octo-Grip™ Front Strap, Ambidextrous Thumb Safety & Black-T® Finish
  • MAGAZINES: 2 – 8 Round, Stainless Steel
  • MSRP: $1,790.00

Range Time

As Clint and I set up cameras, Jerry positioned targets for us to work with. Jerry mentioned the gun had only about 30 to 40 rounds previously through it, so it was still in the “breaking in” phase. The gun had performed flawlessly for his wife but seemed to malfunction regularly on the last round each time he fired it. With this in mind, we started the test session using Buffalo Bore 180 grain hard case lead rounds. Normally, I am not a fan of lead rounds, but the Buffalo Bore ammunition is hard cast and leaves less residue in my experience.

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Right from the start, the TRP ran perfectly for Clint. As I took my first series of shots with the pistol, it again preformed accurately and flawlessly. As we speed up our shots and increased our distance from the target with each string of fire, the TRP 10mm continued to impress. After approximately 30 rounds or so, a slight low, left trend was noticed starting to form on my targets until I adjusted my support hand thumb placement. Afterwards, my shots were back on center and continuing to eat a large hole in the middle. After approximately 60 additional rounds combined between each shooter, Clint and I started to notice the last round from each magazine not going into full battery just like Jerry had mentioned.

I decided to switch to the Hornady 180 grain Jacketed Hollow Points for our next round of testing. For daily carry, this would be my load of choice due to its proven performance in my Glock model 40. During this stage in the testing, I also loaded up my Glock to compare felt recoil between the two pistols. The first three magazines through both the TRP and G40 were all flawless. However compared to the TRP, the Glock felt blocky and snappy during fire. This was surprising due to my previous experience with the Colt Delta Elite 1911 in 10mm. I was one of the many who rushed to purchase a Colt only to be disappointed in what I ended up with. The steel frame and aggressive checkering of the Colt caused my hands to ache after a half day of shooting it. As mentioned before, the TRP’s aggressively textured grips and metal frame gave me a good bit of concern, as Baseball Hall of Fame Yankees catcher, Yogi Berra once said, “Deja Vu all over again.” 

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Thankfully, this was NOT the case. The more I shot the Tactical Response Pistol, the more I liked it. The gun started to feel comfortable in my hands and the recoil was very manageable. Clint and I continued to wear out the center out of each target. Unfortunately, after 50 – 60 rounds, the same failure to feed issues started to arise. Through working the action and inspecting the malfunctions Clint and I experienced, I felt like the issue was not in the pistol but rather the magazines. In the days after this range session, I spoke with a few owners of the 10mm TRP in the Springfield Armory forums online and discovered several of them experienced this issue. From what I learned from speaking with these groups, switching over to quality aftermarket magazines cleared up the feed issues 100%.

Jerry immediately ordered a pair of Wilson Combat 9 round magazines to test this new information before I closed on the review. Within a week, the new magazines arrived and we had a second range test set up to go. After a few test runs which expended around 60 rounds of assorted ammunition, it was clear to say the new magazines were definitely the answer to the malfunction issues. The following days, Jerry continued to hammer rounds down range with his new pistol. After 200+ rounds fired, Jerry was happy to report the TRP is still running flawlessly!

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Final Thoughts

For those new to the 10mm platform, I feel the TRP really is an excellent place to start. The 1911 frame is user friendly for a wide range of different size hands, and the safety is easy to reach regardless if you are left or right handed. The accessory rail offers a great location for a pistol mounted light such as a TLR from Streamlight, which maintains the pistols clean, snag-free lines and easy to reach controls. The sights were quick to get on target and easy to track for follow up shots.

If there was a key learning point from the test sessions, it was the shock I discovered in enjoying the TRP more than my own pistol, the Glock model 40. Since testing the TRP, I have decided to have my Glock recontoured to emulate more of the Springfield’s grip angle and ease of natural point of aim. There is a good reason John Browning’s design has lasted over a century relatively unchanged, because it just feels “right” and consistently performs well.

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To wrap up, I would give this pistol a firm 8 on a scale from 1 – 10, due to a couple of clear reasons. First, there are the issues with the factory supplied magazines. After making an investment in a quality 1911, no one should have to purchase new magazines in order for it to run correctly. Secondly, while I came to rather enjoy the aggressive texture of the G-10 grips, I can easily see where others may feel they bite too hard into the hand or become too uncomfortable over time. With my personal 1911 pistols, I run smooth bone / antler grips with far less front and back checkering, and I encounter no issues even through strings of rapid fire.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience shooting the Springfield Tactical Response Pistol. The 10mm delivers power, accuracy and reliability in a comfortable and controllable package. I believe what Springfield has done in terms of the recoil spring and recoil management system played a huge difference in my shooting experience compared to the Colt Delta Elite. In conjunction with the new Wilson Combat 9 round magazines, this pistol will serve Jerry (or anyone) well as a daily carry pistol with plenty of stopping force. If he prefers much more accessible power, he will have to mount a cannon in the back of his truck.

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