Anyone who has read my various gun reviews knows I am a self-proclaimed 1911 maven. While I, like many shooters, have had a long-standing long affair with the old warhorse in .45 ACP, my affliction is in no way limited to a single chambering. Name the cartridge, if it can fire from John Browning's 100-year-old creation, I'm interested—especially if the cartridge is as versatile as the 1911 platform.
More than just a derivative of 1911, the Springfield Armory Omega provides an extra degree of flexibility to Browning's venerable design. Designed by Joe Peters of Peters Stahl in Germany (then West Germany in the late '80s), the Omega barrel and slide possessed a number of innovative features for its time. Unlike a standard 1911 barrel, the Omega was devoid of the standard Colt-style barrel link or locking lugs. Instead, its barrel contained a modified Browning cam-lock (referred to as a linkless system) also eliminating the need for a barrel bushing. In addition, the system included a large, rectangular-shaped barrel hood—similar to those found on Glock and SIG Sauer barrels—to lock everything into battery.
Although originally chambered in 10 mm, the Omega was designed as a convertible pistol where changing calibers only required swapping out barrels and possibly the recoil spring. Additional caliber offerings included .38 Super and .45 ACP. Later variants were also offered in 9 mm. (Springfield Armory also sold interchangeable conversion kits, featuring a second complete slide assembly in an alternate chambering—along with single corresponding magazine.)
To accommodate for different case-head dimensions the Omega's slide featured dual extractors, which also provided enhanced reliability. Pistols were sold with either 5- or 6-inch polygonal-rifled barrels that were offered with or without porting. The two oval-shaped slots cut through the slide and barrel flanked the front sight blade offer a noticeable reduction in muzzle flip when shooting full-house 10 mm loads.
While many shooters and gunscribes (myself included) consider the 1911 the perfect pistol, the Springfield Armory Omega 1911 is a prime example of how a slight change can make something even better.