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Garrison vs. Garrison: Which One Is Right For You?

Springfield Armory’s 1911 Garrison has become a fan favorite among 1911 owners. The 1911 Garrison embodies a traditional design and feature set approach to the 1911, but also has modern upgrades that today’s shooters find attractive. It’s safe to say the Garrison line offers a 1911 pistol to fit both the tastes of the traditionalist as well as the modern shooter.

In this head-to-head competition, the author puts two of Springfield’s finest 1911s to the test.

Prior to January 2024, the 1911 Garrison was only available with a 5” barrel in 9mm or .45 ACP. Springfield Armory now offers a 1911 Garrison with a 4.25” barrel in both chamberings.

The addition of the 1911 Garrison with a 4.25” barrel expands the Garrison line of 1911 pistols to eight total models from which to choose. They are available in a sharp-looking “hot salt blue” or stainless steel.

[Be sure to read Paul Carlson’s review of the Springfield Armory Garrison.]

To be honest, I have trouble trying to figure out which model is more beautiful. One thing is for certain, one would be hard-pressed to find a 1911 as stunning as the Garrison line of pistols with such a budget-friendly price tag.

“Finish” the Story

With this comparison, I will feature my 1911 Garrison 9mm with a 5” barrel versus my 1911 Garrison .45 ACP with a 4.25” barrel. Both of the 1911’s are stainless steel. The stainless steel Garrisons are extremely attractive with a highly polished mirror-like slide with a matte silver finished top of the slide.


In this photograph, we see the three dot sights that the company installs standard on the Garrison 1911 pistols. They are significantly more visible than the GIs had back in the Great War.
Against the polish flats of the slide and frame, the stainless Garrisons have a matte finish applied to the rear as well as the rounds of the top of the slide and the bottom of the frame. Note the white dot sights.

The frame is also polished with a few matte silver accents on the rounded areas of the frame and grip. It is truly a beautiful-looking pistol. The hot salt blued 1911 Garrisons have the same finishing touches, but with a gorgeous blued finish that is just as eye-catching.

Similarities

Every 1911 pistol that Springfield Armory produces has the strongest and most durable parts in my experience. They have forged steel slides and frames as well as match-grade barrels. You can expect a Springfield Armory 1911 lifespan to last decades, offering a pistol that can be handed down to a younger generation of shooters. That is impressive.


In this photograph, we see both of the Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 pistols — one in 9x19mm Parabellum and the other in .45 ACP.
Match grade barrels and forged steel slides are standard on both guns. So is the classic 1911 styling and feel.

The 1911 Garrison pistols ship with thinline wood grips. The thin wood grips feel great in the hand and give a traditional 1911 appearance. The Garrisons, along with all Springfields, do not have a trigger safety plunger design that can negatively affect the quality of the trigger pull. This equates to a smoother and crisper trigger that is still drop-safe.

Additionally, the Garrisons use a traditional GI-style guide rod. There is not a great shooting difference between a full-length guide rod and a GI-style guide. However, most 1911 “purists” prefer the original parts that John Browning created.

The sights are a low-profile, three-dot design, and the thumb safety is slightly extended without adding “bulk” to the thumb safety. Most notably, the shooting impressions with both the 1911 Garrison in 9mm and the 1911 Garrison in .45 ACP are first class. I truly enjoy owning each and I am yet to have a failure with a 1911 Garrison.

Differences

The greatest differences, and most obvious, are the caliber and the barrel/slide lengths. Shooters who prefer low recoil, soft shooting and quick target engagement when transitioning may opt for the 1911 Garrison in 9mm. For those who enjoy a little pushback with more lead headed down range would surely choose the 1911 Garrison in .45 ACP.


In this photograph, the author is shooting one of the Springfield Armory Garrison 1911 handguns on the shooting range. The range is covered in snow and it very cold.
The author spent time with both pistols on the range when working on this 1911 showdown.

It’s also important to note that the 1911 Garrison in 9mm has a nine-round magazine while the 1911 Garrison in .45 ACP has a seven-round magazine. If higher capacity is most important, then the 9mm is the choice. However, if stopping power like the .45 ACP offers is a major priority, then there is no doubt the .45 ACP would be the choice for that shooter. 

The other noted difference is the barrel length. Now that the 4.25” barrel is available, shooters and carriers have more options to consider. Either is great for range time or EDC, but I suspect those who are looking to carry a 1911 would choose the 1911 Garrison with a 4.25” barrel.

Price Matters

The 1911 Garrison line of pistols are priced to sell. I consider them “budget” priced without skimping on quality. All of the stainless steel Garrisons, 9mm or .45 ACP, have an MSRP of $917. The only Springfield 1911 that costs less is the 1911 Mil-Spec.


In this photograph, we see a parting shot of the two semi-automatic handguns tested by the author for this article.
In this Garrison vs Garrison match up, there is no loser. You get your pick of finishes and calibers at a very affordable price.

The 1911 Garrison price really shines with the hot salt blue models. The MSRP on those is $868 across the board. Now, that it is a price that fits the working man’s budget even more. One would be hard-pressed to get a 1911 of equal quality and beauty for that price.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, the 1911 Garrisons are excellent pistols. They perform reliably, are aesthetically pleasing, and are very accurate. They are loaded with features and options that will give 1911 fans much to consider when choosing a pistol. The advice I would give is to do what I did. Pick up a 1911 Garrison in 9mm and another in .45 ACP to get the best of both worlds.

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