Springfield Prodigy — the 1911 that Acts Like a 2011 By: David Workman

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One big criticism of the gun industry in recent years has been a lack of originality. If you’re a fan of polymer pistols, you know the drill: they all look and function alike. There’s nothing new. Some of them even share the same magazines. Unfortunately, even the 1911 market has fallen victim to the “stick with what we know” mentality regarding new products.

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However, not many companies have tried competing against the 2011, Staccato’s signature masterpiece. A few have. Wilson Combat and a few others come to mind. So there are some good options out there. But the 2011 marketing has been largely dominated by Staccato. In all fairness, they should be the biggest name out there. After all, they invented the 2011 category.

But there is a new competitor out there, one that should have had a 2011 lookalike long ago: Springfield Armory.

Springfield Prodigy
The new Springfield Prodigy is truly a Staccato killer in many ways. It looks like a 2011, acts like a 2011, and feels like a 2011. But it’s not priced like a 2011.

Before we get too far into the review, let’s lay out the basics of the new Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy:

  • Style: 1911
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Color: Black
  • Barrel: 4.25” & 5” Forged Stainless Steel, Match Grade, Bull, 1:16
  • Slide: Forged Carbon Steel, Black Cerakote, Optics-Ready
  • Frame: Forged Carbon Steel, Black Cerakote
  • Sights: Fiber Optic Front, Black Serrated Rear
  • Recoil System: 2-Piece Full-Length Guide Rod
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Magazines: (1) 17-Round, (1) 20-Round
  • Weight: 32.5 oz
  • Length: 7.8”
  • Height: 5.5”
  • MSRP: $1,499

Initial Impressions

Unboxing is one of the most exciting parts of receiving a new gun, especially one the public has never seen before. It’s like learning a super secret. Springfield did not tell me what they were sending, only that it was a new gun. Was it going to be another polymer? The latest Hellcat? A 1911? Something completely unlike anything else? It was Christmas morning in August.

The new Prodigy is not just another 1911, although that wouldn’t be bad since 1911s are so popular. It carries many traditional Browning-esque features such as the single action trigger and hammer, fixed barrel, manual thumb safety, and style cues taken directly from the original design. But it “departs the text” drastically with many updated features typically found on the newer 2011 models.

Springfield Prodigy

When I opened the box, I was immediately struck by the clean lines of the 1911 profile. As I picked it up, the grip stood out—thicker than a single stack model. The grip texture was immediately recognizable as the one shared by the Hellcat Pro, a gun I reviewed several months ago. The sandpaper feel was not too rough but rough enough that it seemed like it would be solid with sweaty hands under stress.

Shooting the Prodigy

Naturally, I had to take the Prodigy to the range—for science, of course. The very first thing I noticed was how easy it was to load. Normally, putting ammo into a new magazine is the first challenge, with a stiff spring that isn’t very accommodating. This spring, however, was a lot lighter than I expected. They had sent me the 20-rounder, and I figured I’d have to pull out the speed loader about halfway through. Nope. Instead, I loaded all 20 rounds without mechanical assistance. Take the small victories where you can get them, right?

Racking the slide was a breeze thanks to deep serrations in front and back, allowing for a sure-handed initial rack and a non-slip press check to confirm.

The first magazine went by way too quickly, as the Prodigy is way too fun to shoot. Thanks to the smaller 9mm vs. the traditional .45 ACP and a steel frame, the recoil was super manageable through an array of grains, from 100 up to 148. As a result, the Prodigy shot flat and returned quickly to target with minimal effort.

Springfield Prodigy

As you might expect from a modern 1911, the trigger was exceptional. Unfortunately, Springfield does not list the trigger pull weight on their website, but judging from my experience with similar firearms, I would place it in the 3-to-3.5-pound range, with a firm and clean reset.

A few days later, I let my 14-year-old son put a few rounds downrange, and he was amazed at how well it shot. He has shot polymer strikers since he was nine, but this was his first time shooting a 1911 platform. I had to teach him the sequence with the manual safety, but he caught on quickly. Within a few shots, he had it down.

Springfield Prodigy

I mention this because we experienced the only malfunction during testing while he was shooting. At the risk of sounding like I’m throwing him under the bus, let’s establish that while the malfunction was officially his fault, it can happen to anyone—which is why I bring it up.

He made it stop running by accidentally letting the top knuckle on his trigger finger push the ambidextrous safety up on the right side. This caused the slide not to reset correctly, putting the gun out of battery. If you aren’t careful, a right-handed shooter can push the safety lever up, stopping the gun from shooting. Once we fixed his grip, the gun ran smoothly again with no more issues. The 1911 platform, in general, may be much maligned for its spotty reliability, but the Prodigy proved that’s not always the case.

Pros

The Springfield Prodigy has a lot to offer. It’s not perfect (see the Cons section below), but it is quite an impressive firearm and should sell well despite its hefty price tag. I guess hefty guns come with hefty prices.

In signature 2011 style, this gun shoots 9mm rather than the venerable .45 ACP of the original. Not only does this make the gun easier to shoot, but with just a little engineering, capacity can be more than double. In this case, it was way more than double at 20 rounds. In addition, putting a 9mm barrel in a platform designed to shoot the heavier and oomphier (today, that’s a word) .45 makes the shooting experience much better.

The gun feels solid. Tolerances are tight, and the fit is excellent. Nothing rattles or feels cheap. The grip safety has a positive feel but does not hinder the shooting grip. The manual slide safety has plenty of real estate for righties, not as much for lefties, which might be a con, except that most 1911s don’t have left-side controls at all, so I don’t want to sound too whiny.

Springfield Prodigy magazines
Capacity is top-notch, with 20 rounds in the primary magazine and 17 in the backup. And the magazines are compatible with Staccato 2011s, so there’s that. A 26-rounder is also available as an option.

Sights are large and in charge, with a green fiber optic front and blacked-out rear that are tall enough to co-witness with Springfield’s partner Hex Dragonfly red dot, which fits on the optic-ready slide.

There’s a Picatinny rail under the nose, but it’s not a great one, with only one slot. While that may accommodate a few accessories, it would be good to have more slots. Sure, that would mess with the aesthetics. However, the functionality would be better, in my opinion.

Cons

Of course, nobody has ever made the perfect gun, the Springfield Prodigy being no exception. The first and most obvious flaw is it’s not a great gun for concealed carry. It’s heavy, which makes for great recoil management, but lugging it around inside your belt all day, even with a great holster, is a bit of a challenge in comfort. It can be done, but there are better choices out there.

Also, the 20-round magazine sticks out about an inch below the grip, so the secondary 17-rounder makes concealing easier. But, of course, that’s if you even want to conceal it.

SA 2011 with 20 round magazine

As mentioned above, the right-side thumb safety is narrower than the left side. It is nice to have controls on both sides, but it would be better if they were the same size. Again, this is only sort of a con, as most 1911s don’t have right-side controls at all, but Springfield could have done better by making it fully ambidextrous with equal controls.

SA 2011

My biggest concern is a potential reliability issue in the recoil spring. After fewer than 100 rounds, the slide started slowing down on reloads on the gun they sent me. Cycling during shooting was fine. It kicked out the spent shell, jammed a new round into the chamber, and slid back into battery. But as I reloaded and sent the slide home, it started to slow down just a bit. The slide never stopped or failed to go forward, but there was a noticeable speed reduction over time.

At first, I thought it might be due to gunk buildup, but I had shot fewer than 100 rounds. Issues like this shouldn’t appear so soon. The Prodigy you buy might not behave this way. Maybe it will be fine. None of the other reviews I’ve seen or watched bring up this issue. But its performance is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Overall

The Springfield Prodigy 1911 is certainly poised to be a Staccato killer. Performance is very similar. The look is very similar. But the price is way less. At an MSRP of $1,499, the Prodigy is less than half of the typical Staccato and Wilson Combats. Disciples of those brands will likely claim you get what you pay for, and perhaps you do. But if you want fancy performance without the caviar price, the Springfield Prodigy is most definitely worth a gander.

SA 2011 with 20-round magazine