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Rock Island Armory M1911A1

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by E.L., Feb 16, 2008.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I still think these are the best value, Syd seems to agree.


    <table style="border-collapse: collapse;" border="0" bordercolor="#111111" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr> <td width="100%"> [​IMG]Rock Island Armory M1911A1
    By Syd
    I was determined not to like this gun – Colt/Kimber/Springfield snobbery at work, I guess. I went at it with the intention of finding fault. At the same time, I love M1911A1’s, and precious few gun makers are building true M1911A1’s these days. They may look like them on the outside, but inside, they’re polluted with a bunch of lawyer-friendly, California suck-up perversions of the design, like Swartz safety firing pin blocks, external extractors, integrated locking systems and other “answers in search of a question” devices that degrade the trigger and add unnecessary complexity to the design. Personally, I really like the M1911A1 design, which is sometimes referred to as the “Series 70” format (even though “Series 70” and “M1911A1” are really two different pistols). People use “Series 70” to mean 1911’s that don’t have firing pin blocks (or in Kimber parlance, Series 1). (Go here to get a complete description of the Series 70 Colt.) Kimber had taken to adding these “improvements” with an external extractor and a Swartz-type firing pin block, but the Marines rang their bells when they ordered a batch of 1911’s from Kimber, but specified that they should have no firing pin blocks or full length guide rods, and they should have internal extractors – in other words, they should be real M1911’s and not the lawyer friendly crap that has developed recently. So, even though my Colt/Kimber/Springfield snobbery was blazing bright, there was some serious sympathy for an outfit that is still willing to build a true M1911A1, and RIA (actually Armscor of the Philippines through their subsidiary, Twin Pines) is doing that.
    The RIA guns are being sold at extremely attractive prices. The “M1911A1” is selling for about $350-$370 and that price point is generating a lot of interest, especially when guns like the Springfield Mil-Spec are commanding $560 and most Kimber and Colt models are going for $800+.
    There are some ways that the RIA M1911A1 is not a true M1911A1. The most obvious is that it has a flat mainspring housing. The G.I. M1911A1 has a curved mainspring housing. Contemporary 1911 shooters seem to prefer the flat mainspring housing which was characteristic of the older M1911 over the curved housing of the WW II era guns. The RIA pistol, like most modern production 1911’s, has a lowered ejection port with the scallop relief to the rear which is a good idea for reliability, but is not characteristic of the G.I. gun. It has a beveled magazine well and a somewhat enlarged thumb safety flange – again, modern modifications that make sense, but which were not found on the G.I. gun. It also has smooth wood grips rather than checkered bakelite. The RIA is like the M1911A1 in that it is parkerized, has the short trigger of the M1911A1, has authentic sights, short guide rod and spring plug, no firing pin block, and a mil-spec trigger of about 5.5-6 lbs.
    [​IMG]First Test
    It shot really well close. At seven yards I got a ragged hole. At 25 yards I got a pattern the size of a cantaloupe 8" low at 8 o'clock. (By way of comparison, I shoot a baseball-sized pattern at point of aim at 25 yards with the SA XD 9mm at this same range under similar lighting conditions). It could have been my eyes and those tiny sights in the indoor range. I’m not ready to blame that totally on the gun yet. Probably a bit more testing is in order. I did the "magazine from hell" test (running every weird old magazine in my collection through it for reliability testing) and it only had one problem – a no-name Chinese knock-off magazine failed to lock back on the last round. There were no failures to feed (FTF). I did nothing to prep this gun for the test. I just took it out of the box, wiped the packing oil off of the outside and fired it – no lube, cleaning or "fluff & buff." The only real problem was that I got some bitchin' hammer bite. I don't usually get hammer bite with M1911A1's but this one sure did. When I got home, there was blood on the hammer flange and beavertail. All in all, it was a pretty decent performance for a $350 pistol. It was better than I expected it to be.
    Second Test
    Without cleaning it, I took it to a training session. For this session the RIA performed in the second gun role, with the trusty Combat Commander as the primary. I shot about half of the session with it, around 50 rounds or so. Again, the RIA performed flawlessly; again there was bitchin’ hammer bite.
    [​IMG]Third Test
    I remembered to grind off the sharp end of the hammer this time, but aside from a bit of wipe off when I took the hammer out of the gun, I still had not cleaned or lubed it. This session was at an indoor range and I ran 100 rounds of Winchester White Box through the gun. Again, it performed without a single bobble or hiccough. That made approximately 250 rounds of hardball through a new gun, without any cleaning or maintenance. All ammo was Winchester “White Box.” I have to admit that I’m warming up to the gun at this point.
    There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you would expect that certain corners might be cut in order to keep the pistol in the $350 range when most other M1911’s are bringing $800 and up. If you want to find nits to pick, you can. The sights are very authentic narrow blade sights like those used on the G.I. guns. In the dim light of the indoor range, they were hard to pick up. The smooth wood grips strike me as a little chintzy. Like many guns these days, the RIA has a number of MIM (metal injection molding) parts. If you look at the MIM parts with a 10x loupe, you will notice tiny surface imperfections like pits that appear to be the result of not quite enough polishing after the part came out of the mold. Also, a gun billed as an “M1911A1” should have an arched mainspring housing rather than a flat one. There seems to be a collective decision in the 1911 universe that we all prefer flat mainspring housings over arched ones. It really depends on an individual’s hand shape and geometry. Flat MSH’s aren’t perfect for everyone. The slide and frame are castings rather than bar-stock milling. I know for a lot of folks this is a negative, but you have to keep reminding yourself, “$350.” Last, if you look at a real government issue M1911A1, you will notice that the finish is dark gray with green and brownish tints. Like most “mil-spec” 1911 clones, the parkerization on the Rock Island Armory gun is black. Personally I like the black, but it’s not completely authentic.
    What’s to Like?
    Well, there’s price, price and did I mention price? For the money, I think this gun is an excellent value. The Rock Island Armory M1911A1 would be an excellent “first gun” for someone who wants to try out the M1911 platform without over-committing resources. Based on my testing so far, it has the reliability and accuracy to serve in the personal defense role. It might be able to go places with you where you wouldn’t want to take the “safe queens.” And, by the way, I still haven’t cleaned and lubed it, and it’s still running fine.
    </td> </tr> </tbody></table> <hr>
  2. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    What's neat about a gun like that is it's easy to make it even better when you get more money. My Mil-Spec was $399 when I bought it and I wound up doing a bunch of things to it because it shot so well. I'd like to get a hole of one of those and do some mods!
  3. BigO01

    BigO01 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Well guys these were the best buy in 1911's but as the quality of Phlipino made weapons has become know the prices on the Armscors have been climbing to and beyond the $400 mark .

    There is a less known Company called Shooters Arms Manufacturing or SAM for short .

    They presently offer a few models the full sized 1911A1 , an actual Commander clone with a 4 1/4 inch barrel called The Commadore "both sell for $339 at Centerfire Systems , http://www.centerfiresystems.com/ as does the standard RIA if they have the RIA's in stock" They also sell HiCapacity versions called the Raven and Falcon if you can find them .

    I have handled 3 of the full sized ones and they seem just as solid as the Armscor weapons and there is a review of a Commadore from a new owner on 1911.org and he seems to love it .

    The only downside to owning a SAM is this , I have spoken to the company President via email and they haven't set up any kind of warranty agreement with anyone here in the states but, he told me they supplied their importers with parts should a customer need them .

    So if you familar with the 1911 and are capable of making minor repairs yourself or willing to send it off to Smith you can indeed find a true "Commander" sized weapon for under $400 .
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    The last gun show that I went to I did not see the RIA 1911A1, but I did see some of the tactical models for $425. Since I have been bitten more than a few times by my Argentine Colt, I really like the extended beavertail.

    <table style="border-collapse: collapse;" id="AutoNumber2" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" height="46" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td colspan="2" height="14" width="813">
    </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan="2" align="center" width="100%">
    [​IMG]<input value="ProductImages/handguns/AC-RI1911TAC-B.jpg" name="txtMainOrigImgSrc" id="txtMainOrigImgSrc" type="hidden"> ​
    </td> </tr> </tbody></table> 1911 45 ACP Tactical Handgun Rock Island
    Part #AC-RI1911TAC
  5. c45man

    c45man Monkey++

    New to forum and thinking about purchasing either a rock island tactical of Taurus Gov. Model. Read good things about RI anyone had experience with the Taurus model.
  6. Pitdog

    Pitdog Dark Lord

    I built my custom 1911 for school off of a RI GI, and it does famously well. Of course very little is original, even worked the frame and slide, but my friend's GI all original does very well and he is now a devout 1911 fan.
  7. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I don't think you can go wrong with either. I have shot the RIA, and the Taurus. The Taurus is nice, but a little more expensive. I have a friend that shoots in in IDPA and he loves it. If you can get the Taurus for close to the same money, then I would go that route. If not I would buy the RIA and never look back. Last time I looked it seemed like the Taurus was about $125-150 more.
  8. c45man

    c45man Monkey++

    Went ahead and made an online purchase of a Rock Island Tactical via gunbroker. $425 and the tenn. dealer paid shipping. I usually don't buy any firearm unless I handle it and make sure it is what I want. The 1911 forums have had little negative to say about the R.I. Even the Kimber Owners are kind in their posts toward the product.
    One question which I suppose I will find out for myself when the gun arrives, but here it goes anyway. As far as the grips are concerned and the ambidex. safety, if the grips are replaced, is the right side safety lever going to interfere with the right grip panel?
  9. Pitdog

    Pitdog Dark Lord

    I think you can inlet the grip so the left hand side of the ambi safety will go BEHIND the grip. Will have to look though.
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