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Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy 9mm Pistols: Full Review

The Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy 9mm pistols in full- and Commander-length configurations mark the company's entry into the high-performance, high-cap, hammer-fired market.

Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy 9mm Pistols: Full Review

(Mark Fingar photo)

Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Springfield Armory’s new Prodigy guns are not for everyone. When compared to small, lightweight, concealable compacts such as the Hellcat, the Prodigy pistols are bigger, heavier and more expensive. (They are also a helluva lot of fun to shoot.)

Priced at $1,499 (MSRP), the Prodigy pistols are absolutely packed with features. Despite what you might think, they are significantly less expensive than competitive double-stack 1911 and 2011 offerings — ahem, Stacatto — and cost thousands less. (A Stacatto P starts at $2,600.) Within this increasingly popular market of high-end, high-cap, hammer-fired blasters, the Prodigy seems downright cheap! I’ve found them to be match accurate, and they run like scalded dogs. You will furiously tear through plate racks and multi-target arrays.

If what I’ve described is not for you, no problem. As I said, these pistols are not for everyone. Like four-door sedans, there are more “practical” options. If forged steel, burnt powder and ragged holes are your speed, by all means, read on.

Springfield 1911 DS Prodigy Interchangeable Plate System
A collaboration with Agency Arms produced the interchangeable plate system for the 1911 DS. It allows for optic mounting on the forged carbon-steel slide. (Mark Fingar photo)

The Stakes

Without getting bogged as to why 9mm Model 1911s and their high-capacity 2011 kin are all the rage, let’s simply bow our heads briefly to the memory of John Moses Browning and acknowledge that the man knew how to design a hand tool. The way the M1911 platform interfaces with the user is the standard against, which all other pistols are measured, particularly the straight-pull single-action trigger. The added heft of mostly ­metal guns also helps to soak up recoil and reduce muzzle flip. In 9x19mm, the impulse is negated almost entirely.

For these reasons, and the overall improvement in ammunition, the 9mm 1911 has surged to prominence. And the quest for more capacity, aided by a long list of pioneers and innovators, mostly from the competition realm, has finally yielded double-column magazines that both work and are capable of reliably feeding ramped 1911 barrels. So, where’s the rub? Why do we need another entrant in this niche category? In a word: price. The most notable players in the category include Wilson Combat’s EDC X9 ($3,145) and SFX9 ($2,995), Staccato’s 2011s and Nighthawk Custom’s TRS ($4,399) pistols and double-stack-upgraded 1911s. Wilson’s utilize a modified rendition of Walther’s PPQ magazine; the others use dual-column magazines that taper sharply to a single-stack funnel at the top.

Enter Springfield Armory’s all-new 1911 DS platform, where the “DS” stands for “double stack.” First out of the gate for this new family of pistols is the Prodigy, a 9mm hammer-fired semiauto available as a full-size model with a 5-inch barrel or a 41/4-inch variation with a shorter barrel and slide assembly.

Springfield 1911 DS Prodigy Includes Hex Dragonfly Plate
Co-witnessing is possible with a dot sight. A Hex Dragonfly plate is included from the factory for mounting, which shares the footprint of the Vortex Venom and Burris Fastfire series. (Mark Fingar photo)

Under the Hood

When I first opened the box, I was immediately taken by the Prodigy’s blacked-out aesthetic. For a shooter that loves pairing raw performance with pure utility, the black Cerakote-finished metal and black polymer grip ticked the box for a business-like exterior. It’s simple, sleek and sexy. The only pops of color are the stainless barrel and the green fiber-optic front sight. Included with each gun were two magazines, a 17- and a 20-rounder, as well as an optic mounting plate.

Starting with the sights, the green pipe up front is paired with a black serrated U-notch rear. Both units are taller than standard iron sights, but not as tall as many suppressor-height sets. I’d call these a “mid-height” arrangement. In fact, the elevated sighting system is tied into what Springfield has termed its “AOS” configuration, or “Agency Optic System.”

Springfield Prodigy Fills the Hand and Barrel Weight Reduces Recoil
As a larger pistol compared to contemporary compacts, such as Springfield’s Hellcat, the Prodigy fills more of the hand. The weight of forged-steel barrel reduces felt recoil further. The result is a rugged gun that is fun to shoot. (Mark Fingar photo)

The “Armory” teamed up with the custom slide cutters at Agency Arms (agencyarms.com) to develop a new interchangeable plate system that would allow 1911 DS pistols — and presumably single-stack 1911s — to accept slide-mounted optics and maintain co-witnessing irons as backup. The result is a series of optic-specific mounts that include integral rear sights. The guns ship with a Hex Dragonfly plate included, which is the Springfield Standard footprint. At writing, plates were available for the Trijicon RMR and Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and others are in development.

According to Springfield, additional plates are set to be priced at $60 each, which is on par with other premium mounting systems. Personally, I value Agency Arms’ metal adapter plate above plastic inserts. Also available for $60 will be additional magazines: 17­, 20­ and 26 ­rounders. This pricing is near or below the current mark for quality offerings. The company has stated that magazines will be compatible with many existing 2011 and double-stack Model 1911 pistols from other makers.

Springfield DS Prodigy Ramped Bull Barrel

The Model 1911A1-pattern bull barrel is ramped. A witness hole in the barrel hood offers status checks of the chamber. (Mark Fingar photo)

Recommended

The Prodigy slide is made from forged carbon steel. Its final form features wide grasping grooves at the front and rear for racking, which were great for performing manipulations such as press checks. The gun has been fully dehorned, so there is little risk of abrading your hands or holsters. The upper assembly includes a 9mm ramped bull barrel, recoil spring, two-piece guiderod and a reverse plug. Other notable highlights include the Prodigy’s titanium firing pin, internal extractor and the use of a 1911-style swinging barrel link, as opposed to the cams and lugs used to facilitate barrel tilt in other modern pistols.

Moving down, the frame is also made from forged carbon steel and provides the rail sections on which the slide reciprocates, as well as housing the various fire-control assemblies. It mates to a single-piece molded polymer grip by way of two bushings and screws, one on each side, and a third screw in the front of the triggerguard. The triggerguard is undercut to facilitate a high grip, and the leading face is stippled to improve purchase for those who like to wrap a finger around the front when shooting. Full-diameter texturing is achieved by molded-in stippling that is inspired by, and similar to, the Hellcat pistol’s adaptive grip texture; the tighter you grip the gun, the harder it grips you back. The magazine well is beveled to make mag changes fast and easy, and the Prodigy utilizes a metal, checkered mainspring housing.

Springfield Prodigy Trigger
Prodigy triggers are tuned to about 5 pounds. Controls are familiar 1911 style, and the triggerguard is undercut for a high grip. (Mark Fingar photo)

For controls, the black skeletonized trigger is tuned to a pull weight between 41/2 and 51/2 pounds. The left-side magazine release is an extended and serrated button for easy activation. Likewise, the slide lock/release is in its usual location on the left. It has a generous serrated face making it easy to drop the slide with a thumb press. Smartly though, the control is recessed within the polymer grip, which greatly reduces the chance of the support hand unintentionally pressuring the lever. Doing so can slow the slide down during cycling or, more commonly, prevent the slide from locking back on an empty magazine — best to avoid it, if possible.

An ambidextrous manual thumb safety is a nice touch and a welcome feature for left- and right-handed shooters, alike. On the backside of the gun, the hammer is a skeletonized delta-style component with raised ridges to provide the thumb more purchase. Finally, the grip safety includes a nice memory pad and an extended beavertail that protects the hand and encourages a high, aggressive shooting grip.

Springfield DS Prodigy Adaptive-Texture Grip
Inspired by the Hellcat’s adaptive texture, the grip feels immovable when more pressure is applied by the user. (Mark Fingar photo)

Wrench Turning

In a lot of ways, the Prodigy’s components and disassembly process will be familiar to 1911 shooters. Still, Springfield’s two-piece, full-length guiderod — standard in the company’s 1911 TRP line — was new to me, so I thought I’d share my takedown experience.

First, with the slide locked to the rear on an empty gun, the guiderod can be loosened half-a-turn, counterclockwise, using the provided 5⁄32 hex wrench. I like that Springfield opted for a common-size tool in case the provided wrench gets lost.

With the guiderod loosened, the slide assembly can be removed from the frame by aligning the slide lock with the takedown notch and pushing it out, right to left. Since it is recessed, you may need a tool to help start the pin. I like to use the plastic tip of a closed ballpoint pen since they are readily available and non-marring.

Springfield Prodigy Stippled Front Triggerguard
A stippled front triggerguard gives shooters the option of planting the support-hand index finger firmly on the guard. (Mark Fingar photo)

With the slide removed, control the recoil spring and, using the hex wrench, finish unscrewing the front of the guiderod and pull it forward out of the assembly. Now, remove the rear guiderod head, recoil spring and reverse spring plug by pulling them rearward. The barrel is now free to be pushed out of the front of the slide, but mind the swinging link as you do so.

Overall, I like the system better than the “lock your slide back and insert paper clip here” approach to full-length guiderods, and it seems more durable than the integral spring locking lever seen on some 2011s. It was quick, repeatable and felt sturdy.

Bottom line: Read and follow the provided instructions the first time you attempt disassembly; see for yourself just how easy it is.

Springfield Prodigy Generously Funneled Magwell
Matching the reliability of the magazines, the magwell is funneled generously. Reloading quickly couldn’t be easier. (Mark Fingar photo)

Drop the Hammer

For testing, I had both a full-size 5-inch Prodigy and a 41/4-inch model. To get a feel for the versatility of the platform, I left the 5-inch gun as-is but equipped the 41/4-inch with a Trijicon RMR and a Surefire X300U rail-mounted light. A quick point of distinction, both guns feature an accessory rail on the dustcover for lights or lasers, but the 41/4-incher has just one mounting slot whereas the 5-incher has five. Kitted out, the iron-sighted full-size model weighed 38 ounces with an empty magazine. The tricked-out Commander weighed 41 ounces; sans light and laser, the shorter gun comes in around 37 ounces.

Hands on, I was immediately impressed with how tight the slide-to-frame fit was, and how smoothly the slide reciprocated. Of course, Springfield Armory has always delivered well-fit guns at every tier, and tight 1911s in its higher-end models. These guns are priced in the middle range of the company’s metal handguns, but I would put their fitment up against anything in the Springfield catalog. These pistols were righteous.

The triggers were also pretty darn good. Both gauged around the 41/2- to ­51/2-pound spec. The shorter gun’s break was even a touch lighter at 4 pounds, 5 ounces, and was everything a shooter could wish for from a stock gun with little take-up or overtravel. The other controls were also easy to access and activate.

Shooting the Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy Pistol
(Mark Fingar photo)

The grip safety was well timed and released with minimal pressure. The thumb safeties positively snicked up and down, and I found the extended mag release was well within reach. The slide release, despite being recessed below the grip, was easy to find and manipulate for quick reloads.

On the range, the Prodigy pistols beg to be run fast. The balance is good, slide cycle is flat, and the weight of each devours most of the recoil. With 17 or 20 rounds per magazine, you can shoot these guns a lot — and you’re going to want to. The pistols not only blaze through target arrays, they are also capable of one-ragged-hole accuracy. A normal 25-yard five-shot group with Guns & Ammo’s test pistols looked like a three-leaf clover with two other holes in close orbit. During my evaluation, the 41/4-inch Prodigy posted slightly better accuracy results, but remember that mine wore the Trijicon optic — a big advantage for benchrest accuracy, in my opinion. Still, the 5-incher with its iron sights was right behind the red-dot-equipped model in terms of the accuracy displayed. The total average for the platform — two guns, three loads of ammo, 30 five-round groups — was 2.15 inches at 25 yards. That’s absolutely unreal, and well beyond my expectation. I’ll give extra credit to the sighting systems, great trigger and the Prodigy’s overall ergonomics. I was feeling these guns and they did not disappoint.

After my first range session with the Prodigy pistols, I told my colleagues that the 41/4-inch version might be my favorite gun Springfield Armory has ever built. I’m a sucker for Commander-style guns and I loved this version for its feel and balance. Now having passed the 2,000-round mark without a single issue — feed, function, or otherwise — I can say that I firmly stand by that statement. The Prodigy brings to the table everything that makes double-stack, 9mm 1911s so much fun to shoot — and shoot a lot. Springfield is offering the guns for about half the price of its primary competitors. Value, accuracy, versatility and capacity; what’s not to like? If you are in the market, it’s time to step up and make ready. The Prodigy from Springfield Armory is bringing the noise.

Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy (5 in.)

Springfield Armory DS Prodigy 1911 9mm Pistol Right View
(Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1 rds., 20+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 5 in., 1:16-in. twist
  • Overall Length: 8.5 in.
  • Width: 1.4 in.
  • Height: 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 6 oz.
  • Materials: Forged carbon steel (slide, frame); forged stainless steel (barrel); polymer (grip)
  • Finish: Cerakote, black
  • Sights: Fiber optic, green (front); U-notch, black (rear); optic ready
  • Trigger: 5 lbs., 4 oz. (tested)
  • MSRP: $1,499
  • Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, 800-680-6866, springfield-armory.com
Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy 5-inch Performance Chart

Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy (4.25 in.)

Springfield Armory DS Prodigy 1911 9mm Pistol Left View
(Mark Fingar photo)
  • Type: Recoil operated, semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 17+1 rds., 20+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 4.25 in., 1:16-in. twist
  • Overall Length: 7.75 in.
  • Width: 1.4 in.
  • Height: 5.5 in.
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 4 oz.
  • Materials: Forged carbon steel (slide, frame); forged stainless steel (barrel); polymer (grip)
  • Finish: Cerakote, black
  • Sights: Fiber-optic, green (front); U-notch, black (rear); optic ready
  • Trigger: 4 lbs., 5 oz. (tested)
  • MSRP: $1,499
  • Manufacturer: Springfield Armory, 800-680-6866, springfield-armory.com
Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy 4.25-inch Performance Chart
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