1974 was when the current Springfield Armory acquired rights to the name:
Springfield Armory:About US
I have a Springfield 1911 A-1, parkerized, that I have had for 2-3 years. I was looking it over tonight and saw something I have never noticed before. I am familiar with the Springfield crossed-cannon logo that one commonly sees, which says "Since 1794" around the bottom of the circle. On the right side of this pistol, on the slide in front of the SPRINGFIELD ARMORY stamp, is another Springfield Armory stamp, very similar to the regular common logo, but instead of "Since 1794", it is simply stamped Springfield Armory 1974. My Springfield Champion has the same stamp with the same logo in the same spot. Does anyone know what the 1974 date refers to? I really doubt it is a 1794 typo in the stamp, but that was my initial thought. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
Thanks, VAMarine. My curiosity is satisfied. Figured it might be something like that.