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Discussion Starter #1
I've been carrying a Walther PPS for deep concealment the past two years, alternating with a S&W M&P Compact. Both are fine shooting polymer-framed 9mm that have withstood the abuse of true daily carry in all sorts of conditions (including 30-40 mile bicycle rides holstered in a belly band).

But I've immensely enjoyed getting reacquainted with a 1911 .45 after a 30 year lapse (service issue .45 for qualification). My Springfield Armory Range Officer .45 full size has been a revelation, both in shooting and reloading (everything is easier in .45 compared to 9mm).

So I decided to keep a standard Manual of Arms and add a Commander-size 1911 to my EDC roster. After plenty of research for size, weight, cost, reputation, capacity, and overall impression the short list included a Kimber Pro Carry, Dan Wesson Guardian, Sig Nightmare Carry, and SA RO Elite Champion (I see a Wilson Combat in my future -- eventually).

My excellent experience with the Springfield tipped the balance in favor of the RO Champion (since I simply can't miss with my SA Range Officer 1911A1 5"
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View attachment 201261

I ordered the RO Champ from Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore (Heath, OH) on a Friday. A week later it arrived at my preferred local FFL (and bone fide hero) Charlie Smithgall's pharmacy Friday. I dutifully picked it up, cleaned it, function-checked, and replaced the stock greyish grips with more muted black Magpul G10s with the large thumb relief.

I packed up a couple hundred 200 grain LSWC Blue Bullet reloads and headed to my local club indoor range.

First, I was surprised by the force required to rack the slide. This thing is tight -- the recoil spring is serious and I was glad for the serrations (although my winter-dried hand slipped a few times during the range session).

But it was smooth, and tight will loosen up in time. The ambidextrous safety is also tight, with a satisfying click either up or down. The surface is treated and except for the "RO Elite" logo, understated and stealthy (my preference for this gun's ultimate mission).

After a few shots with my full size 1911, I loaded the RO Champ. It felt considerably lighter than the full size Range Officer. Enough that I wondered if I would enjoy shooting it much.

I drew a clear bead on the 10 yard target, focused on the front sight and squeezed. Hard. A bit harder than I expected, actually. I had done about 50 dry fire trigger presses after the cleanup and function check but the pull-weight difference was still a bit surprising after shooting the standard Range Officer.

The gun finally went blam and I was delighted to see the front sight snap back in view. I aimed low (6 o'clock) then point of aim and was happy to see it shot spot-on POA. I fired 6 more times (all freestyle, no rest) then walked downrange to inspect -- after the first low shot a single, ragged hole.
13JAN19SAROElite4inch2.JPG


I blasted a few more index cards at 10 and then 20 yards using a mix of techniques.

It kept shooting just fine -- a large hole where several rounds passed through:

13JAN19SAROElite4inchTarget.JPG


Then I had a few FTE, but I chalk those up to fairly light loads and a brand new firearm with a pretty hefty --and new -- recoil spring.

I'll give it 500 rounds before I consider it "broken in." Any FTE after that will warrant a trip to the gunsmith.

I'm planning on trying some different combinations of projectile and powders as well as powder weight to see what feeds best (I'm guessing a slightly faster burning powder would help).

After a few more magazines through both firearms I called it a night and headed home for field strip and clean. While the FS 1911 was apart in seconds, the RO Champ stumped me. SA had not included either takedown tool in the box. After figuring out I had the type guide rod with a hole I made a tool from a heavy paper clip and finally figured out what to do to disassemble my new pistol for cleaning:

After clearing the firearm, rack the slide to slide lock, find the small hole in the protruding part of the guide rod, place the short end of the tool in the hole, and then gently release the slide, allowing it to go forward. The recoil spring will no longer be compressed. Remove slide from frame, turn slide over, and remove recoil guide rod and spring from the slide.

(I recommend Springfield Armory replace the current instructions in the manual with those words and save new RO Champion owners some wasted time.)

Once disassembled, cleaning was straightforward. Re-Assembly was easy also.

This is my initial range report of the SA RO Elite Champion in .45 ACP. More to follow.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Second trip to the range today. Every other round was FTE (reloads with Bullseye and 200 LWSC). I switched to same load with HP38 instead. Not a single FTE.

HP38 is slightly slower burning (See Hogdon Burn Rate Chart) -- perhaps some experts care to chime in if the speed difference is enough to change the ejection cycle?
 

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I don't reload, but personally I'd shoot the first 500-2k rounds of a new gun with factory ammo to make sure it works the way it should. It'd be much harder to send it back to the manufacturer if you've only ever shot reloads. Plus, it allows for a baseline to work off of.
 

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I shoot reloads. If I have a problem I use a box of factory to prove it.
I Just got done loading 3500 45s. Mostly for competition. I have guns that have never shot a factory round.

We all have our ways. None are bad.

When I called about springs, they give a power factor for each one. It’s easy if you know the velocity.

David
 

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Welcome back to the sweet side! Thanks for the report and that's some good shooting!!
 

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Congrats on the new SA! I have the elite RO target and it is a nice shooter. I remember the first time breaking down my TRP with a paper clip, it was like trying to get a bra off a girl for the first time...The Dawson guide rod solves this. In terms of the trigger, this model should have a cleaner break than your RO as it is a second gen. You may want to contact them regarding that, the trigger on mine is pretty darn clean for a <1k production gun
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Congrats on the new SA! I have the elite RO target and it is a nice shooter. I remember the first time breaking down my TRP with a paper clip, it was like trying to get a bra off a girl for the first time...The Dawson guide rod solves this. In terms of the trigger, this model should have a cleaner break than your RO as it is a second gen. You may want to contact them regarding that, the trigger on mine is pretty darn clean for a <1k production gun
I plan on contacting them about the disassembly instruction. Good suggestion about the trigger. It's not as smooth as my SA 5" 1911A1 RO.

I don't see a listing for a Dawson Guide Rod for the 4" Commander sized Champion model.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Agree that's likely the case. I shoot primarily indoors this time of year in an older facility so my lead-only ammo is on the lighter side. No FMJ until I get to shoot outside -- which seems unlikely anytime soon!
My local club has some fairly strict rules after a genius decided to launch a few rifle rounds over every berm on the range into a neighboring farm building. RSO required to open the outdoor range --and you can't be your own RSO, no holster draw, no "rapid fire," paper targets only.
I'm a member at another more enlightened club but it's a drive. Work and other responsibilities keep crowding out time for real shooting!
:(
 

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Try the ultimate tool for disassembly. I think it’s a time saver and more reliable than paper clip.
IMG_4132.jpg



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Follow up to initial report:

After a couple more trips to the indoor range and I'm much happier with the function of the RO Champion.

At this point I have about 200 rounds through the gun with no more FTE. But there's a consistent failure to lock the slide to the rear once the magazine is empty. I'm loading some slightly hotter loads to test this function next trip (6.0gr BE-86, 200gr LSWC).

I alternated the Champion and the full-size 1911A1. The weight difference is surprising, and yet the perception of recoil is nearly the same.
The shorter barrel doesn't affect accuracy to 20 yards (50 yard test will need the outdoor range).

The fiber optic front sight really pops out. This particular gun was set up well, as it hits just above point of aim at 20 yards (using the very top edge of the front sight post).

Post-range cleanup was far easier this time, now that I figured out the sequence (hold the slide back at slide lock, insert paper clip tool into guide rod, push slide back, push slide stop out, slowly push slide off the front, remove guide rod assembly, slide barrel out, etc).

I tested IWB carry for a few hours in a low threat environment (no ammo, just empty gun and holster) and found it comfortable to the point it was indistinguishable from my S&W M&P 9c.

Once functional consistency is tested and proven, the SA RO Champion will enter the EDC rotation.

Unfortunately, surfing posts and pics of Wilsons, Les Baers, Guncrafters, et al has made the SA RO's place in the rotation tenuous. Envy stinks (and is expensive!).

:grin:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Another trip to the range and another hour enjoying my new SA Range Officer Elite Champion. .

This Trip there was no malfunction over 100 rounds fired. Changed variables since last trip:
  • Evolution Gun Works recoil spring asssembly
  • Reloads with 200 gr LSWC over 6.0 grains Alliant BE-86
  • Mags are all mec-gar or Wilson Combat
I’m very happy with this gun. I’ve carried it (empty) several times now in a IWB holster and in casual winter clothes this 1911 disappears.

The trigger has smoothed a bit, and riding recoil to full trigger reset is a breeze. I had a couple “surprise breaks” when front sight touched the center of the target. That was a good feeling.
 
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