The Springfield GI Model 1911
For less than a decade Springfield Armory made a budget .45 that saluted the old-school Colt 1911s carried by servicemen and women across most of the 20th Century. This model, appropriately enough, was the GI Model and it was a hidden gem.
To salute the plain Jane, no-frills GI guns that were stamped out in the millions during World War 2 to defend the country from the forces of Hitler and Imperial Japan, in 2004 Springfield Armory decided to introduce a gun that was much the same.
Springfield has always been able to keep costs low but on the GI Model, they pulled out all of the stops. By using MIM (Metal injection molding) parts, low profile fixed sights, and walnut grips with a 'US' pressed into them, they came up with a gun that retailed in the low $500s. The finish was either parkerized olive drab, black Armory Kote or bright stainless steel.
(These guns are interchangeble with most Mil STD parts. Of note is the model's titanium firing pin)
The gun spec'd out as all typical 1911A1 longslides with an 8-inch overall length, 5-inch barrel, 36-ounce weight, and a standard 7-shot flush fit magazine (although some did ship with optional 13-round extended jobs)
They did not have all of the bells and whistles as the TRP or Bureau Models. Some of these were made in Brazil by Imbel, and some assembled in the US from foreign parts (if yours only says Gensco, Ill on it, you have the latter). Most of these only shipped with a single magazine. Since the sites were staked, replacing them would require cutting the slide to make improvements.
(OD green was an option on this series)
But you know what, they worked. Moreover, in an improvement over their main competitors in the $400 .45 market, the Springer GI models had a forged frame whereas most of the Philippine Rock Island/Armscor/Charles Daly/Iver Johnson, etc. guns have a cast one.
Basic 7-minute review of the GI running various rounds proving itself with aluminum-cased ammo.
Getting your own
Springfield introduced the Mil Spec Model 1911 in 2005 and in its add (still) its clearly says that it was the 'step up from the GI' model. This gun evidently proved popular enough that it eliminated the GI in 2011. For many, it was a tragic if quiet end to a gun that was the best deal on the market.
(As was stainless)
New back then these guns ran anywhere from $399-$550 depending on which retailer you were able to get ahold of and whether you got a green parkerized model or stainless, which is a stellar deal on anything that said Springfield on it. These guns came in a green foam-filled plastic box. Note that if you have the box, hold on to it!
Today these guns, generally all in used condition, can still be had for that magical $400-ish price range, but are climbing as inflation increases their value.
Our tip, if you can find one for a good price that doesn't sound like a baby rattle, buy it.