The US Marine Corps has long been a fan of John Browning\'s Model 1911 pistol. Colt made early models while WWII era guns were largely made by Remington, Ithaca and others. Those long serving guns remained in the arsenals of the Marine Corps for decades after, being modified, and improved to stay the best combat handgun the corps could offer those at the tip of the spear. Springfield based its MC Operator on these Marine special operations style 1911s.
The Marines .45
For over a hundred years, the Marines have stuck with the tried and true 1911 longslide .45ACP pistol. Even when the rest of the military went with the 9mm Beretta Model 92, some elements, specifically special operations and deep reconnaissance troops attached to the MEU (SOC) units, still carried these old WWII issue guns. Reworked sometimes fifty times or more in their lifetime, by 2003 some of these guns had as many as 500,000 rounds through their sixty-year-old frames.
(Take a good look at the slide and tell me what you see...)
The Marines needed some new .45s. For this they placed an urgent call for Springfield Armory to make them 150 Custom Shop PC9111MC Professional Model 1911-A1 .45ACR pistols for $284,000. These guns were a modification of the PC1911, which was a series of 2500 guns made for the FBI\'s Special Response Teams prior to the Marine contract.
It is from these guns, with the addition of a rail, that the MC Operator series sprang.
Design of the MC Operator
In their \'Loaded\' series of guns that debuted in 2005, Springfield introduced the MC Operator. Very similar to the TRP series, this gun was the first one ever offered by a major 1911 manufacturer to have a MilStd 1913 Picatinny rail forged directly along the bottom of the frame. Other makers including Colt, SIG, etc. soon copied this \'rail gun\', but SA got there first.
This rail allowed the fast mounting of either light devices or lasers, which made for a huge bonus over legacy 1911 platforms. They were heavy, at 42-ounces, about a quarter pound beefier than their older brothers were, but they were meant for harsh use. With a standard 5-inch long barrel these guns were also the very embodiment of a long slide .45 at 8.5-inches overall. Two-tone with a black coated slide and olive lower frame, they had Pachmayr Wraparound grips and low profile sights. Instead of having a full-length guiderod like a Kimber Grand Raptor, the MC Operator had the classic GI-style.
A few years ago the Long Beach, CA police department ordered a specially modded Marine Corps operator with a few changes to it for their specs. This included an all-over black Armory Cote finish rather than the two-tone green/black, an Ed Brown mag well, 10-8 style grips flat cut to mag well, an absence of front strap checkering, Novak night sights and Wilson mags rather than Springfield factory models. These \'Long Beach Operators\' have proved an interesting mod of these 1911s.
(The Long Beach Mod)
- Specifications Caliber .45 ACP
- Capacity 7 rounds
- Finish Olive Drab/Black Armory Kote
- Frame / Slide Forged Steel
- Grip Pachmayr Wraparound
- Barrel 5\" Stainless Steel Match Grade and Bushing
- Overall Length 8.5″ Weight 42 oz. (empty magazine)
- Sights Fixed Low Profile Combat Rear, Dovetail
- Trigger Long Aluminum Match Grade, 5 6 lbs.
- Recoil System GI Style Guide Rod
- MSRP is POR but we usually see new guns running around $1300 and used models just slightly less, sometimes under $1000.
Nutnfancy\'s thoughts and extended review of the Operator Model. (18mins)
Our thoughts on the MC Operator
This gun is one of the best Springfield 1911s on the market and, when compared with other guns in its class, is very attractive. While you can get a Custom Shop SA 1911 for twice as much, and TRP models run slightly higher, the MC Operator can get the job done day in and day out.
SIG Sauer\'s Nitron Rail 1911 is about the most comprehensive threat to the MC Operator we can think of, as it offers most of the same features for a MSRP of about $200 less. Kimber\'s Tactical Entry II, their standard low-viz rail gun, has a MSRP of about $100 more on the other hand. Smith\'s SW1911 E-Series Tactical is their dead ringer and it coincidentally has a price point of nearly the same as the MC.
So competition is fierce. However SA has been in the 1911 business longer than any of those other guys, so the proof may be in the pudding.