About a week ago, Springfield Armory (SA) announced their newest addition to their pistol offerings, the 1911 DS Prodigy. Since then, it seems like every major social media gun personality, magazine, and industry related news outlet can’t stop singing praises about it. Not all the buzz has been perfectly positive, but for the most part the reviews have been glowing. Needless to day, it piqued my interest, but I’m also a bit skeptical. While I doubt I will get my hands on one in the near future to put through its paces, I still want to share a bit of what I’ve been pondering because I’m excited about the potential market disruption this gun might create.
Again, this post isn’t a review. I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on a Prodigy. The thing is the number of positive reviews that have been published over this past week smells of a well orchestrated and funded marketing campaign. That leaves a funny smell that calls for a critical eye in my opinion.
Taking a close look at the press release I found a couple of interesting things. First off the Prodigy is referred to as a double stack 1911. To me that just seems like a long winded way of describing a 2011 pistol, but whatever. There are other 1911 makers who offer a “double stack 1911” model or a “double stack” upgrade. It’s just a name, but it also smells of intentional marketing tactics to draw more interest from folks as the 1911 is a very well known style of pistol whereas the 2011 is better known among folks who participate in competitive matches. I don’t know if there is anything inherently right or wrong about this label. On one hand, marketing it as a 2011 might have helped increase market familiarity with the platform. On the other, marketing it as a double stack 1911 might catch the eye of more folks unfamiliar with the 2011 platform. Either way, both approaches are likely to help proliferate the 2011 in the market which overall I think is a good thing.
Another thing about the press release that caught my eye is the claim that the Prodigy is “configured for today’s most demanding applications”. Yet the applications aren’t specified. I suspect this might be because SA isn’t certain whether it will be picked up by folks for either defensive or competitive applications. Or perhaps they didn’t want to pigeon hole the Prodigy into a single market space. This is an interesting move. Albeit, a potentially dangerous one in my opinion. On the defensive market side of the equation, reliable operation is going to be (or at least should be) the primary characteristic folks will be interested in. This means it needs to reliably feed and fire everything from low cost practice ammunition to premium hollow-point defensive loads. In addition, it will need to run well in high round count defensive pistol courses. Some of the less than stellar reviews and comments suggest the first few of the Prodigy pistols to hit the market have had some reliability issues with budget practice ammo already, but this is likely something SA will debug and address as they continue to manufacture them. The competition market side of the equation will be more tolerant of reliability issues, but will be looking for compatibility with 2011 accessories like grip modules and magazine wells. I’ve also heard grumbles that there may be some compatibility issues with such accessories, but have been able to confirm the rumors. If the rumors are true, then the pistol’s potential success in this market space will be largely driven by the support provided by aftermarket accessory manufacturers. That’s a fine line to walk given the marketing claim.
The thing I am most interested in about the Prodigy is its price point. While an MSRP of $1,499 (or $1,699 equipped with a HEX Dragonfly red dot sight) might seem high to the average buyer, it is among the lowest MSRP for a 2011 pistol. There are a few exceptions. For example, Rock Island Armory has been producing double stack 1911 for quite some time that have an MSRP in the $900 range. However, they also have a reputation for requiring some tuning to get them running just right. Nevertheless, the Prodigy’s MSRP, assuming it is ready to go from the factory, is quite an attractive proposition. I say this because, given the Prodigy’s specifications and SA’s marketing claims, it seems to me that SA is intending to compete directly with the family of 2011 pistols offered by Staccato (like the Staccato P I recently reviewed). I think a comparison might shed some light as to why I’m seeing things that way.
|Prodigy 4.25″ AOS||Staccato P||Prodigy AOS|
|Barrel||4.25″ Stainless Steel Bull||4.4″ Stainless Steel Bull||5″ Stainless Steel Bull|
|Sights||Fiber Optic Front, |
AOS Black Serrated Rear
|Fiber Optic Front, |
DPO System Black Serrated Rear
|Fiber Optic Front, |
AOS Black Serrated Rear
Perhaps it’s just me, but these specs look pretty darn similar with the exception ofthe flared magazine well the Staccato P includes and is missing from the initial Prodigy offerings. Nevertheless, the $900 price difference significantly lowers the barrier of entry to this platform for folks curious about getting into the 2011 platform and that is what has me most excited about the debut of the Prodigy. Some readers will notice that the specifications of the Prodigy (and the Staccato) aren’t very different from just about any other 2011 available in the market. While this is true, as far as I am aware the Staccato line up is the only 2011 family of pistols that has variants that are ready from the factory for defensive and duty use. Furthermore, the vast majority of 2011 pistols are semi-custom or custom builds with starting prices that begin around the $3,500 mark and go up from there quite rapidly. This leads me to believe that the $1,499 Prodigy, assuming it proves itself to be reliable and durable out of the factory, could very well lead to the proliferation of 2011 pistols among armed citizens for defensive use. Additionally, the proliferation of this platform in one of the largest firearm market segments could lead to more offerings being introduced by other big players in the pistol manufacturing industry. In turn, market competition could further drive down the entry point price for this platform. The prospects here make me giddy.
I admit I am speculating quite a bit about how the Prodigy might shake up the pistol market, but I would really like to see Prodigy pistols showing up at defensive firearm classes and local matches as the 2011 is a remarkable platform. While market proliferation may not happen the way I would like it to, there is another side effect that is possible as a result of the Prodigy. This side effect is the potential of driving down the market price of quality 2011 magazines which are astronomically high. At the time of writing, the MSRP for Springfield’s 1911 DS magazines (which as far as I know are 2011 compatible) are $60 each for the 17-round, 20-round, and 26-round magazines. Like the price of the Prodigy, this might seem expensive to some on the surface. However, compare that to the Staccato branded magazines with a price range of $70 to $120 each (depending on size and options). Take that a step further and compare that with the price of the notorious 2011 MBX magazines that range from $125 to $170 each (also depending on size and options). Assuming the SA magazines prove to be reliable and durable, I expect to start seeing a lot more of them at local matches. Yeah, this prospect also makes me giddy. In fact, I think I will pick up a few now since it looks like GunMag Warehouse is already stocking them.
While I’m reluctant to buy into the hype, I am truly excited about the debut of the Springfield Armory 1911 DS Prodigy pistol. I honestly think this pistol has a good chance of shaking up the defensive pistol market and making some secondary waves in the competitive pistol market as well. Even though I don’t think I will likely get my hands on one in the near future, I sure am going to try.
Having said what I’ve said, I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on this pistol. I’d also like to hear your experiences with this pistol (or magazines) if you’ve had a chance to get your hands on one. Chime in the comments section below.