Ruger SR1911 Commander

Ruger SR1911 Commander Hands-On Review

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Ruger is the largest firearms manufacturer in the United States. Bill Ruger and Alexander Sturm established the corporation in 1949. From 2009 to 2012, the corporation dominated the market for handguns, and they were second only to Remington in the rifle industry. However, with Remington out of the picture, that will likely change. Still, looking at the total number of firearms produced, Ruger comes out on top. That’s for a good reason, trust me.

As a longtime Ruger gun owner, I can summarize the brand in three words: solid construction, reliable operation, and excellent customer support. The Ruger SR1911 Commander is no exception. First, let’s go back in time and learn a little bit about Ruger’s history, and then we’ll take a closer look at this firearm.

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A Quick History

The Ruger Company

Bill Ruger and Alexander Sturm got together in 1949 with the express purpose of building one gun — a .22LR semi-auto pistol. Ruger had gotten hold of a Japanese Nambu WWII pistol or two and had successfully duplicated them into a new design. After teaming with Sturm, they set up shop in a rented machine shop in Southport, Connecticut. He liked the Nambu’s looks, as he did those of the German Luger and Colt Woodsman pistols.

In an effort to combine all three guns into one, they came up with the Ruger Standard — the gun that launched the company. That .22 pistol was so popular that Sturm, Ruger was placed firmly on the firearm manufacturer map. You need to understand that this occurred just four years after the close of WWII. Thousands of men and women came home from the various military branches.

At the height of the war, we had 16 million in uniform, and many of them brought their love of shooting home with them. They did not want to go to war again. They just wanted to do some hunting or informal plinking. Some got into the competition.

Unfortunately, many of them discovered themselves back in uniform when the Korean conflict turned into a full-blown war in June of 1950. But I digress — there weren’t enough civilian fun guns around then. It took a while for manufacturers to gear back up for the civilian market. By designing and selling his Standard pistol, Ruger saw this situation and got a jump on the market.

The Ruger Pistol

The Ruger Standard pistol became known as the Mk I. I owned one of those pistols when I was a band director at a small one-building school corporation and had been there for three years. After I left, my high school band got together as a going-away present and bought me a Ruger Mk I. It was solid, right down to the fixed sights. Here’s what the Mk I looked like.

Ruger Mk 1

When Alex Sturm died in 1951, the red in the Ruger logo was changed to black. It remained black until it came “out of mourning” in 1999, the 50th year of the company. Original red-logo guns from Ruger’s first couple of years command a premium to collectors.

The .22 pistol was followed by more handguns and rifles, and eventually shotguns were added to the mix. Here are a few tidbits about the company.

  • From 1949 to 2004, the company produced over 20 million firearms
  • Ruger became a publicly traded company in 1969
  • Ruger’s 10/22 rifle has sold more than 6 million since its inception in 1964
  • Ruger also makes golf club castings for several brands of clubs, and gun parts for some manufacturers
  • Ruger has expanded its manufacturing sites from its headquarter in Connecticut into #North Carolina, New Hampshire and Arizona
  • In 2020 Ruger bought Marlin from the Remington Outdoor Company

I have owned several Ruger guns over the years. Those I once (or currently) own(ed) include the above-mentioned Mk. I Standard pistol, a 7.5-inch .45 Colt Blackhawk, a 5.5-inch .45 Colt/ .45 ACP Blackhawk, a 7.5-inch Super Blackhawk, a 4.62″ Single Six .22LR, two 10/ 22 rifles, a Mk. II 22/ 45 (the updated Standard, but with adjustable sights and the grip angle of the 1911, not like the Luger’s grip angle that the Mk. I emulates), and a Ruger American .45 ACP pistol.

These are the ones I remember-there may have been others that faded into the misty recesses of what I used to call my brain. (I could look up old inventories, but you get the point). I have owned enough Rugers from the mid-70’s to now to feel like I know a thing or two about the company and its products.

Ruger SR1911 Commander Specs

Length:7.75"
Height:5.45"
Width:1.34"
Capacity:7+1 (according to the website. It came with two 8-round magazines)
Weight:34.4 oz. With empty magazine, on my digital scale
Barrel:4.25"
Trigger:Adjustable overtravel screw. Pull weight averaged 4 pounds, 11.4 ounces
Sights:Drift Adjustable Novak 3-Dot
Safeties:See Other Features
Recoil Spring and Rod:Standard-length rod (not full-length); 16-pound spring
Frame and Slide Material:Stainless steel
Grip Panels:Checkered hardwood, with Allen-head screws
MSRP:$939
Real-World Price:~$750 (accurate at the time of writing)

Other Features of the Ruger SR1911 Commander

  • Original 1911 fire control — no Series 80 trigger. A titanium firing pin and heavy firing pin spring negate the use of the Series 80 construction, which in essence means the gun functions like a 1911A1.
  • Safeties include grip, thumb, sear disconnect, slide stop and half-cock position. A visual inspection port lets you see if the chamber is loaded.
  • The barrel and its bushing are both produced from the same bar stock on the same machine.
  • 1911A1 modifications (mostly) except the flat mainspring housing.
  • An oversize ejection port and mag release button help improve function.
  • Skeltonized hammer and trigger add to functionality and aesthetics.
  • Integral plunger tube for slide release and thumb safety is part of the frame and will not come loose. (I had that happen on an inexpensive imported 1911 I once owned).
  • Extended thumb safety (not ambidextrous) and slide release levers aid in functionality and ergonomics.

What is the Ruger SR1911 Commander?

Before we delve into the rest of this opus, let’s see what, exactly, the term “Commander” means in the world of 1911s.

1911s tend to come in one of three basic lengths. By lengths, I’m talking overall length (including barrel length). If the OAL is long, the barrel needs to be long as well. The converse is also true. At any rate, 1911 models have evolved into three different main lengths, with some variation built in. But, the main sub-set sizes are the following.

  • GI or Government: Full-sized, 5-inch barrel. Sometimes you will see guns for sale built to original 1911 or 1911A1 specifications. But, by and large, any 5-inch barreled 1911 will be called a full-size or GI model.
  • Commander: In 1949, Colt brought out the 4.25-inch Commander 1911. That was a gun with a shorter barrel/slide but still having an 8-round capacity. The 4.25-inch barrel tends to be just a bit easier to carry concealed.
  • Officer’s or General’s: These are usually shorty guns with a three- or three-and-a-half-inch barrel, with a matching, bobbed frame that holds six (usually) rounds. These were originally made to give to General officers to be worn for mostly ceremonial events. But, they have gained in popularity with the concealed-carry crowd.

For a quick, more complete history of the 1911 and the .45 ACP, read my review here.

Ruger SR1911 Commander Photos

Ruger SR1911 box
First, the box. I like Ruger’s new design. It catches the eye, for sure.
Ruger SR1911 left side
Gun profile left
Ruger SR1911 Commander right side
Gun profile right
Ruger SR1911 field stripped
Field-stripped
Ruger SR1911 barrel slidestop plug spring
Recoil spring, rod, bushing, plug, barrel.
Ruger SR1911 bushing spring plug
Ruger SR1911 Commander barrel feed ramp
Nicely-polished feed ramp.
Ruger SR1911 Commander rear sight
Rear sight, hammer, beavertail.
Ruger SR1911 front sight
Front sight.
Ruger SR1911 Commander sight picture
Sight picture — both sights are drift-adjustable.
slide left side of the Ruger SR1911
right side of Ruger SR1911 slide
Ruger SR1911 slide underneath
Slide engraving and underneath — very clean, no machining marks.
beavertail of the Ruger SR1911 Commander
Grip safety, with memory pad.
Ruger SR1911 Commander hammer
Hammer up close.
Ruger SR1911 trigger
Trigger with overtravel adjustment screw. The trigger is made of aluminum.
Ruger SR1911 Commander frame top
Frame, up top. Again, very clean.
Ruger SR1911 Commander grip panel
Nicely-executed hardwood grip panel — the checkering is sharp.
Ruger SR1911 magazine
Eight-round magazine. The website says it comes with two 7-rounders but this gun came with two 8-round mags.
Ruger SR1911 with cleaning kit
And, something everyone needs — a portable cleaning kit. This one is the Tactical handgun kit by Tipton.

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Ruger SR1911 Commander Performance

I could have gotten this test gun in 9mm, but to me, the 1911 is at least a .45 ACP proposition. (I say at least because the 10mm has found a home in the 1911 family, and welcome it is, too). Every 1911 I’ve owned has felt like an old friend when I’d pick one up. You 1911 fans out there, you understand. There should always be 1911s in gun cabinets.

I do like the 9mm and do own guns in that caliber, as well as reload for it. I just like my 1911s in .45 or 10mm but have only respect for those who want one in 9mm.

Ruger SR1911 Commander Ergonomics

hand on grip of Ruger SR1911 Commander

One thing about shooting a 1911 is the ergonomics. Most 1911s, if they are of traditional design (not double-stack) tend to fit the hand very well. This one was no exception. I have average-size hands, with baloney fingers (although I can reach a major 9th on a piano keyboard). Even so, the gun fit well and the magazine baseplate pad helped even more. I liked the way it felt.

Shooting the Ruger SR1911 Commander

I shot this gun with a (very) few loads. With ammo in non-existent-supply, I went with a couple of handloads and one of factory .45 ACP load, a 230-FMJ from Fiocchi. I only fired a few rounds but that was enough to get the gist of things. As always, the gun will be more accurate than me, especially with the gloomy, cloudy, snowy weather we’ve had.

How did it shoot? Really well. It has two big advantages in its corner. It’s a very-well-built 1911, and it’s a Ruger. Having the barrel and bushing made from the same bar stock on the same machine shows, in the accuracy department.

Even though my targets were average, in the hands of a top shooter, this gun would be amazing. Of course, if you wanted to have an action job done, there are only about four zillion gunsmiths out there who can do magic with a 1911. (Speaking of gunsmiths, this gun has many standard features that gunsmiths would have had to add in bygone days. Things such as extended thumb safety /slide release, Novak sights, adjustable trigger, relieved ejection port, etc. These things, and more, come standard with a Ruger 1911).

As for the trigger, it broke at about 4 ¾ pounds, with no take-up and a tiny amount of creep. With the trigger’s adjustment screw, overtravel would be a thing of the past. Overtravel had been taken out at the factory with this gun.

Here are the targets.

target shot with 230RN
Handload, 230-grain RN over 5.3 grains of Tite Group. Not too bad, I guess. I do like those big fat holes.
target Fiocchi 230ball
Fiocchi factory 230-grain FMJ. A bit spread out, but that was on me.
target shot with 200SWC
Second handload — Lee 200-grain SWC over 5.3 grains of Tite Group, as above.

Three separate groups, but each is tight in and of itself. I say this with tongue firmly in cheek. At least this load would be something to explore.

I do think the handloads could be developed, and a real barn-burner discovered. I also like W231/ HP38 powder in target .45 loads — didn’t have time to experiment but there’s no reason that this 1911 wouldn’t like those powders (same powder, different names). Most 1911s eat cast bullets pushed by 231 with gusto. For more on reloading, bullet casting, powder coating, etc., check out the “ammo” link at the top of this page. Here’s a good place to start.

Cleaning the Ruger SR1911 Commander

After you are done shooting, you need to clean your new Ruger. I won’t go into how to tear a 1911 down, as most of you who own one already know how to do it, and those of you who are new to the 1911 world can find quick instructional videos online. Speaking of that, here’s a really good video below from American Handgunner magazine.

Pay attention to the bushing, and point the muzzle in a safe, covered direction when you attempt to reinstall the recoil spring plug and barrel bushing. Things can slip. Anyway, it’s not hard, and if you do it a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. One last tip — be careful with the slide release when re-inserting it. You can easily scratch the frame if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.

You may also want to take a tiny flat screwdriver (plastic preferred) and push the spring-loaded plunger out of the way without touching the frame. That can save frame scratches from happening.

Ruger SR1911 Accuracy and Reliability

This handgun has superb accuracy.  The Ruger SR1911’s accuracy and effortless firing are my two favorite features. For concealed carry, however, practicality is an entirely different issue.

It’s also noteworthy for how reliable it is. I encountered zero malfunctions. Plus, my pistol was not as choosy in ammo as those of other guns.

Wrap Up

You can get this Commander in stainless steel (like this one), in two-tone, in a lighter-weight version or in 9mm. If you are looking for a platform 1911 to customize, here you go. Or, if you just want to add a medium-expensive (around $1000) 1911 to your collection, this would be a good choice. This would also be a good gun to compete with, in certain classes of competition.

Unfortunately, the SR1911 is far too bulky to carry.  However, I like its timeless and elegant design. It is also fun to shoot and won’t break the bank. It is a blast to take to the range thanks to its smooth operation and pinpoint accuracy.

If you’re a 1911 fan, please chime in below (or if you’re not, for that matter). As always, keep them in the black and stay safe.

Other readings you might enjoy:

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27 comments
  1. Thanks Mike another interesting article, I bought my first 1911 2 years ago I got into the game late i was 55. My first 1911 is a Springfield Armory range officer in 45acp, last year I bought a Springfield Armory TRP 10mm long slide. Both firearms shoot great way better then me, the feel and the balance feel so natural to me I wished I would have gotten into 1911s earlier in my shooting endeavors. Oh buy the way I do have the idiot scratch on my 45.Have a great week.

  2. I briefly owned a 1911 Import in the early 80’s that was a hunk of junk. It was inaccurate, and would only handle Winchester Whitebox 230 gr FMJ’s. Any other ammo, and the gun was a Jam-O-Matic. I don’t remember who the manufacturer was, and digging that far back in receipts would mean a trip to the storage unit. Within 6 months I was selling it. That experience turned me off the platform. I’ve debated on trying another, but that memory has prevented me from taking the plunge. I know my next purchase will be a DA revolver, so unless an unknown rich relative decides to bequeath me an inheritance, the next gun will be in 2022 (if President Dipsh*t hasn’t banned them all). But I will look into the Ruger. If I decide, it will be 10mm, as I never set up to reload .45ACP, and I already have .40/10mm RCBS dies.
    How does the Ruger do with Hollow Points Mike? The SR1911 price point is all right, especially for an American made gun.

    1. Bemused, it fed whatever I put through it, any bullet. I’ve not had issues with Ruger 1911s not liking any certain type of bullet – they are very reliable. This one may be a way for you to get back into the 1911 game – it’s a nice gun. And, dies are fairly cheap… 🙂 Thanks for writing again!

  3. I’ve had my Commander for a couple of years …. love it! Initially had a slight burr on the safety. My local gunsmith looked at it and said it would go away with use …. gone after first 100 rounds.I, like others, noticed that the spent cartridges had a slight scratch going across the rear of the cartridge initially., but went away after around 300 rounds ….recoil spring tension some say … don’t know. It works great, always has, and I love the trigger for target shooting, but too light for a carry gun for me.

    1. Rick, you raise an interesting point. Sometimes a trigger is just too light for a carry gun – it can get you in trouble. You are wise to understand that. Sounds like you have a great gun, at any rate. Thanks for writing!

  4. I have to admit that to me, one reliably functioning & reasonably accurate 1911 is as good as the next one (mine’s a Springfield).
    Where Ruger really wins is with my 6″ barrel 38/357 GP100 & .45 Colt/.45 ACP Blackhawk.
    Both are 100% reliable, well balanced & good to look at.

    1. Mike, I agree – their revolvers are truly great guns. I’ll be reviewing a GP-100 soon – talk about a strong gun! I appreciate your comments-thanks for writing.

    2. I have been looking for a 1911 4” EDC.
      Of course the prices are out of control. I need to have a ambidextrous safety.

      1. Jack, yeah, I’m with you on both counts. Prices are high, when you can find guns but hopefully that will change. What most likely won’t change is my need for an ambi safety, being a lefty! Thanks for writing again.

  5. Great article as usual, Mike. However, I must educate you on your command of Commander history (see what I did there?). The original Colt Commander was the lightweight aluminum-framed model. The COMBAT Commander was the steel frame like this fine Ruger you reviewed. I have both a Colt Commander and a Ruger SR-1911 Commander in .45 ACP. It pains me to say it but the Ruger is much better than the original Colt. Shooting hollowpoints out of the Colt can result in deformities on the feed ramp where the hollowpoint can gouge the aluminum. Ruger fixed this by placing a titanium insert into the feed ramp. They did such a fine job that you could never find it if you didn’t know it was there. Mine is a TALO model with a black nitride finish on the frame and the SS slide. It came with Trijicon night sights and has the sweetest out of the box trigger of any M1911 I have ever owned. I used it to qualify for my concealed carry permit and have the target from that day taped to my man cave door which is one jagged hole where the X-ring used to be. The Ruger is now my EDC piece and the old Colt (which used to have that position) is relegated to gun safe queen. Why anyone would want a M1911 in 9mm is beyond me when there are so many more choices available in high capacity tupperware guns. As for me, I’ll stick to .45ACP because I know it won’t shrink from .451 to .355!

    1. My Unkle Tim carried a colt commander as a Pennsylvania fish commission deputy from the late 70’s through the 80’s into the 90’s. It was a joy to shoot and lead me to buy a Springfield loaded gov which with my lefty bianchi retention holster has been my winter gun for 15 years now.
      I have been through a half a dozen striker tupperware guns to try and size down but I just get a wonky feeling when I shoot them unlike revolvers or 1911’s so I am in the market (bad timing) for a commander size and I will get a ruger when and if things settle down.

      1. Douglas, good plan. Sometimes a gun just feels right in your hand while others don’t. Stick with what works for you – sounds like that’s what you’re doing. Thanks again for writing!

    2. Kaniksu, yep, you’re right – I had it backwards. I knew that the aluminum frame came first, but somehow what I wrote slipped past my mental guard dog – thanks for the correction! Sounds like you have a peach of a 1911 now in your Talo Ruger – would love to see that one! And, I didn’t know about the titanium insert – interesting. As always, I appreciate your comments!

  6. Having over 2 dozen Rugers you might say that I am a huge Ruger fan. Rugers do not disappoint me, as some makes have. Unfortunately do not have a SR1911, but every time I pick one up I wish I did. Ruger just does everything right.

    1. Just Me, I strongly agree. Ruger seems to have it down – they figure out what shooters want, and then they build it like an M1 Abrams, with a great customer service as back-up. They do make good stuff. I also will add that they are very nice to work with on my end of things…a great company. Thanks again for writing!

  7. Love my SR1911 Commander. Given lack of checkered front strap, I swapped out the grips to the elegant yet functional grips by Pachmayr (wood with rubber finger grooves). Other than that, love the Series 70 firing system, the finish, and the size. Can’t say it’s my favorite 1911, because I’m blessed with several nice 1911’s, but it’s up there.

    Oh, and it swallows ANY ammo I put in it.

    1. Marc, glad it works so well for you. A checkered frontstrap does help my grip, too. Glad you figured it out. As for ammo, I’ve always found it the same – the Ruger eats anything! Thanks for writing again.

  8. .45 ACP Federal or CCI primer, Alliant Bullseye powder, 4.2-4.5gr with 200gn SWC lead bullet. Used to use the Unique pistol powder and it was good too.

    1. Richard, that’s a good combination. I used to use Bullseye and Unique but haven’t had Alliant powders around here for 15 years. We do have Hodgdon – a good sub for those two are HP38 (same as Win 231) or TiteGroup for Bullseye, and Universal for Unique. At least, they’ve worked for me. Thanks for writing!

  9. Mike,
    I enjoyed another of your great articles. Ruger once again taking a great and proven design and makes it one step above beyond better.

    Years ago I bought an AMT .45 ACP Government Model NIB and took it to a Very wise Gun dealer and close personal friend. He was disappointed I did not buy it from him and I told him it was on sale for around $275.00 and then he didn’t blame me because he couldn’t beat the price. But I did spend
    a lot of $$$ in his shop and sent a lot of business his way. we stayed friends. He told me the best thing one could do with such semi auto pistols was to put 500-1000 rounds of Hardball through it to break it in and then try various other type rounds such as Hollow points , wadcutters, etc.

    He also told me use White Fingernail polish dab on the front sight. The one thing I don’t care for is I cannot change the sights to Tritium Night Sights. But I can live with that.

    If the weapon still had problems after that then one could have work done on it such as polishing the ramp, throating, ect.
    My AMT has functioned reliably with a couple of exceptions with reloads. Both were Stove Pipes/

    I have been considering a Commander Model off and on over the years. Years ago I bought an Officer’s Model from a friend and I really did not care for it. It was A BEAST to shoot with such a short barrel and it really did not fit my hand well. I forget the make, but someone asked me if I would sell it and I said make me an offer and I would think about it. They offered me a little over twice what I paid for it. HE had the cash and he walked away with the Officers Model and I was extremely happy with the cash.
    I probably should have held for a second offer BUT the cash in Hand was too hard to turn down. Especially since I really did not like the weapon..

    I do not care for the aluminum frames but that is personal preference,

    The 1911 when properly built is not only a creature of Beauty and Functionality,!

    When it does have internal problems, One can usually be repaired by the owner with minimal skills and tools.. . I cannot speak for the Glocks and other such type firearms being so easily
    to resolve in such simple matters. I don’t have any experience with them.

    One thing I would like to see on the Ruger is a rail to attach a Green Laser and a Flashlight.
    I do understand the Pros and Cons of such devices….BUT that option would be very nice.

    One can look around on Amazon and find a kit that attaches to a full size 1911 made out of some sort of hard polymer that will fit on the 1911 and provides rails to attach whatever Gizmos and gadgets.
    I am not sure if they make it for the smaller versions of the 1911s.
    Normally I am not a big fan of the Gizmos and gadgets because MISTER MURPHY Factor has more opportunity to visit and batteries do die. Keeping that in mind and keeping a good supply of batteries become a necessity and need to be checked and replaced regularly when questionable.

    Mike, like you and many numerous others my peepers are not what they use to be, and need all the help they can get as all the miles catch up with my body or vice versa.

    Thanks again for writing and providing Good Scoop for us!

    Special Thanks to Ruger for continuing to add another Great Item for all of us to choose from at Reasonable Prices.

    Something else to keep in mind if you own a Government Model 1911 is to consider getting a .22LR Conversion kit for it. Just something to consider.

    1. Bingo, great comment, as usual. Sounds like you know your 1911s! I agree with you about the Officer’s model – too short for my taste. Also, good idea on the .22 conversion kit – that basically doubles your enjoyment. Again, thanks for writing!

      1. Mike,
        I only know a little that I was granted and Blessed to have the opportunity to meet and be friends with and learn from people that knew the 1911 inside and out. They have probably forgotten more than I will ever know, and learned from them about the 1911 and its variants.

        I think I mentioned before, but maybe not….I was on a range and shooting a 1911 model, I won’t mention the name lest someone takes it as a slur or put down on the particular Model as it can and does happen rarely or from time to time with any a 1911 or other semi auto. I had 3 rounds in the magazine and it went Rogue. Meaning it went dull auto. It was all I could do to hang on to it. The last round as I hung onto it was nearly straight up from the top of my head. Long story short the sear was worn and bad,

        Pucker factor was off the scale. I would Highly Hope No one ever has to go through such event!. I admit I was awful close to needing a new change of underwear and trousers./ Somehow they managed to remain clean.

        The 1911 models have something close to or a few more than 40 parts total. While seemingly a complex design it is very easy for people with basic tools to replace parts and keep it functioning and going BANG reliably. Some new models/versions may have issues that could be the magazine or could be parts that need a bit polishing or some such. But when broken in ….well the History of the 1911 speaks for itself through several Wars and over 100 years in service around the World.

        It also depends if they want to shoot a National Match type gun or other IPSC or they want it for general purpose and self defense.

        Here are a couple links that MIGHT BE of interest about the 1911 .45 ACP..
        Granted the links are just general information and do not deal with the Commander or Officer’s models.

        The Officer’s Models may be loved by loved by some but I am not one of them!
        NOR would or do I have any issues with those that do.
        If it works for them and they can handle it proficiently more power to them.
        There is something for everyone when it comes to 1911s.

        Please let me know your thoughts

        ############################################################
        .
        1911 parts for .45 vs. 9mm – interchangeable?

        https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/1911-parts-for-45-vs-9mm-interchangeable.723935/

        U.S. M1911 and M1911A1 Colt Automatic Pistol, .45 A.C.P. Caliber

        https://www.nps.gov/stri/upload/M1911-M1911A1-45-Manual_2018.pdf

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