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Old May 28, 2010, 11:07 PM   #1
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Rock Island 1911 review/range report

Picked up my new Rock Island Armory 1911/A1-GI a few days ago. After reading a LOT of good reviews over the last month or two of both the product and customer service, then stumbling onto one NIB and on sale at my local shop (and having mad money to cover it, LOL) it wasn’t hard to seal the deal. I own a Colt Defender and a Springfield EMP, I trade them off as my EDC's. Shooting these shorties, I just had to know if I was missing something not having a full sized 1911 & since I don’t plan on carrying it, I could “take a chance” on a “cheap” one.

I know, someone will come along and say “for $100 more, you coulda had a Springer or a nice used Colt”. Not in my neck of the country, LOL.

Out of the box, finish was flawless & fit was a lot tighter than my Colt or Springfield were when NIB. There was a noticeable creep in the trigger, but I knew that’s not a big problem to correct. After hearing people talk (gripe) about the “tiny sights” I was expecting a knife blade front & knife slot rear. Was pleased that they are square post and square notch, just like I’m used to shooting, albeit about ½ the size. There is more than enough meat to them to get on target with. Got it home, stripped it down, cleaned & lubed. It was now glass smooth, and the trigger creep was almost unnoticeable. Extractor tension seemed just a tad on the tight side.

It was almost dark outside, but I had to shoot it. Only thing I had on hand (without digging to the bottom of the ammo locker) was a box of Remington bulk HP’s. What the heck, load’em up and see if they run. At 18 feet, I thought that the first shot hit exactly point of aim (I didn’t mark a bullseye on my piece of cardboard). The next shot was an inch low, but I continued aiming at the first hole. Shots 2-5 produced a cloverleaf that can be covered with a nickel. So small of a group that I had to stop shooting, go to the target and make sure that I was hitting it. When I went back to the firing line, the next shot dropped ½” from the group. I changed my grip and fired the two outsiders (watching my sights as the trigger broke, I knew they were going to land there). For a quickie range session, being in a hurry cuz it was getting dark I was quite pleased.

Today I took just a little more time (marked a 3/8” dot on a paper plate with a sharpie, dug out some ball ammo & moved back to 25 feet). First shot punched the dot out cleanly. I mean, the dot was gone, replaced by a hole! I was tempted to replace the target and start again, but the plates were in the house, school bus was due in ten minutes and I needed to be done before then (now that I think about it, the dot was gone, nobody would have believed that it was once there). Next three shots once again produced a near perfect 4 leaf clover that can be covered with a quarter, at point of aim this time. I was getting pretty excited, so round #5 went ½” left, then #6 almost an inch high (called it before I saw it). Buggers, had a good target going too. Changed my grip & shot the last 2 rounds almost 2” low (called them too), just like I did on the first target a few days ago.

Hey, I’m not as young as I used to be (are any of us, LOL?). My aim is not as steady as it once was, my glasses are out of focus & I have cataracts that will have to be removed soon. But WOW, I’m thrilled with how this gun shoots. The slide to frame fit did loosen up just a tad, it had zero “rock” when NIB and now I can barely feel movement. Zero malfunctions, dumped all of the brass at 3 o’clock, about 8 feet away in a 2 foot circle in the dirt. For a $40 barrel in a $400 1911 there isn’t much room to complain. The grips are nicely finished, no barnwood hack job by any means but they just don’t look right to me, gotta replace them with something more traditional. Oh yeah, no hammer bite either, glad I won’t have to have a beavertail put on it cuz I wanted to keep it stock GI. The targets show what I can do in a hurry, gonna hafta shoot this thing off of a sandbag & see what she is really capable of.
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Last edited by fastforty; May 28, 2010 at 11:11 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 28, 2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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Nice gun and report....
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Old May 29, 2010, 07:15 AM   #3
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I started shooting 1911's almost 40 years ago.

I own 2 now, both made by ARMSCOR (They make RIA and used to make Charles Daly). They are very reliable and the most accurate 1911's I have ever shot. Both mine were made in 2003, and I plan to keep them till I am too old to rack the slide. I also have compared them side by side with "better" 1911's and saw no reason to spend more money
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Great choice - enjoy it.

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Old May 29, 2010, 08:15 AM   #4
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Good review and good shooting, I plan on getting a RIA at some point, LGS has a couple in stock right now, so tempting
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Old May 29, 2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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I've got a RIA GI in .38 Super and it's a great gun. Excellent fit and finish for the price, and after good cleaning, proper lubrication, and lots of dry firing the trigger pull is excellent. I replaced the little GI sights with a set of Fusion 3-Dots, made a big difference.

Armscor/RIA has really carved themselves a nice niche with these guns. I'm impressed that they've kept the prices low even with the popularity of their guns. It's good that there's a decent quality 1911 out their for people that need a rugged fun or working gun at a reasonable price.
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Old May 29, 2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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Excellent report. Thanks for the time and thanks for the pics!
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Old May 29, 2010, 12:28 PM   #7
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Good buy! The new Tacticals look nice too.
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Old May 29, 2010, 01:19 PM   #8
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Thanks for the report. I bought my RIA for $400. It is accurate, reliable, and shoots anything I feed it. Like you, I immediately disliked the grips. Problem solved as I put some Fusion Firearms grips on another 1911 and took the set that was taken off that gun and put on the RIA 1911. Gun looks better and in my opinion, is a winner for the princely sum of only $400. The question begs to be asked, whats the difference between the tight grouping with your target and RIA as compared to a tight grouping with a gun costing 6 to 8 times as much money? Same hole, same tight grouping.
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Old May 29, 2010, 04:05 PM   #9
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Great guns for the money, esp. the Tactical.
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Old May 29, 2010, 04:35 PM   #10
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yeah, the grips are the only thing I don't like about mine too.
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Old May 29, 2010, 04:50 PM   #11
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I've always loved these things. I've played around with them in stores whenever I could and I always thought they were well built 1911's with a decent finish. I've never liked the grips or the lack of the back strap (is that the word?), but my understanding is that you can pop just about whatever you want on it from the 1911 stable, right?
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Old May 29, 2010, 11:10 PM   #12
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yeah, the grips are the only thing I don't like about mine too.
I put a pair of the brown GI plastic/bakelite or whatever folks want to call them on my RIA GI and a nice pair of double diamonds on the tactical fullsize. The compact tactical had some fairly decent checkered grips on them so they stayed.
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