We have had the pleasure of performing an extensive test and evaluation of the Rock Island Armory 1911 for the last few months and we learned a lot about it. I will admit that before the full-sized RIA 1911 showed up I knew very little about them or their parent company Armscor International. When I was told by my editor that a full-sized Rock Island 1911 was coming chambered in both 9mm Luger and the new .22 TCM cartridge I wasn’t sure about what to expect. In hindsight I was glad I knew nothing about the round or the company, it left me with a clean slate and no preconceived ideas or opinions.
The .22 TCM and the Rock Island 1911 have been featured by several past and present writers here at the site, but no one has done and extensive testing session until now, that I am aware of anyway. This past summer I did just that when I documented and fired just over 2500 rounds through the pistol, the results were really impressive by anyones standards. When the pistol arrived Armscor was nice enough to send a healthy supply of both .22 TCM and 9mm full mental jacket with it to start the testing cycle. We started with 500 rounds of 40 grain .22 TCM and 250 rounds of 124 grain full metal jacket 9mm, after quickly burning that up we went out and got more ammo, but with a twist.
We chose a variety of the cheapest 9mm we could find on sale, we came back with a selection of Aguila, Independence Brand ammo, Union Metallic Cartridge, some Fiocchi for good measure. All the ammunition we purchased was 9mm full metal jacket, we did this because as much as we love the .22 TCM we assumed 9mm is cheaper and the more popular caliber. We also assumed most of our readers would be shooting 9mm for this very reason. This testing was done in both climate controlled indoor ranges and outdoor ranges exposed to all the natural elements summer in Alaska can bring.
Impressions after 2500 Rounds ?
The Rock Island Armory 1911 full size that we tested is a large pistol, it uses a wide double stacked magazine as opposed to traditional single stack 1911’s. This makes it ideal for people with large hands but even with my hobbit sized hands I found the gun easy to use. Now doing speed drills which I am not at all accustomed to was difficult for me and even when our skilled shooter Mr Don Adams ran the gun he had a few hangs ups with manipulation. Nothing terrible that would banish the gun to the land of Lorcin but it’s something to note if you are thinking on competition shooting with this.
Fit and finish from the Rock Island is what you would expect after 2500 rounds and hundreds of reloads, drills, and magazine changes. Some small scrapes and wear but nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it’s finish is better than my Browning Hi Power which has almost the same amount of rounds through it but without the “Run and Gun” style we used during the 1911 trials. The slide showed no signs of abnormal wear and tear and no detectable play was noticed between the slide and frame. High marks to the folks at Armscor for the quality of the build so far its holding up wonderfully.
The trigger and safeties on the 1911 were wonderful out of the box and continue to operate flawlessly. The only thing I have noticed is that the thumb safety has really become a lot easier to engage and disengage. It’s not wobbly at all it just seems to engage with less force than it did when it first arrived here at The Arms Guide. The trigger is just as crisp as it was the day it arrived and just as fun to shoot. This pistol really has one of the nicest triggers I have ever used on a single action automatic and that says a lot when you look at some of the pistols I have owned and had the chance to shoot.
Since I am looking for defects or problems in the Rock Island 1911 and I am hard pressed to find any I looked and looked and found something close to a “problem” and I use that term loosely. The magazine well and chute after 2500 rounds showed a faint amount of scratches and wear. Nothing that I would consider abnormal for the amount of times magazines had been inserted and removed from the pistol. The overall finish suffered a few minor scrapes and abrasions along the way, but if you actually use a gun like it is designed, these things tend to happen. Overall I would rate the overall finish of the pistol after 2500 round as “Average”.
Two areas where this pistol really shined was the serrations on the slide and the sight combination. The sights used a combination white two dot rear and a single fiber optic front dot sight. This is the first time I have used a pistol with a fiber optic front sight and it was a very different experience for me as a shooter. I had traditionally used pistols with a three white dot set up (two rear one front), and with the red fiber optic It was much easier for me to pick up the front sight when engaging multiple targets. This maybe common sense to some shooters out there but to me it was a learning experience.
The front and rear serrations on the slide are sharp and provide the shooter with a positive gripping surface in order to actuate the slide when needed. When we say sharp we mean it, I have seen the chunks of skin and scrapes that those wide sharp serrations caused to one of our test shooters. While the positive gripping surface is great the loss of skin was not exactly appreciated. If we would have performed these drills with gloves, it is our feeling that there would be zero issues at all.
Some people will notice the specs of rust on the pistol and comment on it, this in my opinion is my fault entirely. You see I never cleaned the exterior of the pistol the whole time I had it. I ran it in the sun, the dirt, the rain and the wind. I purposely exposed the exterior to all that I could include salty water to see how it would hold up. We did clean the action and the barrel with Slip 2000, but we purposely neglected the outside entirely. This was used as a very unscientific “Elements Test”, if this was my pistol and not a test and evaluation pistol I would’ve cleaned the exterior after exposure to the elements.
Shortcomings and Problems ?
In 2500 plus rounds fired we had exactly two problems. The first was within the first few magazines and it was while firing Armscor 124 grain 9mm full metal jacket. The round stove piped and hung the action open, after clearing the casing we ran the pistol the rest of the day with zero problems. The second problem was a failure to go fully into battery and that was last week when we were wrapping up testing. The round was an Independence Brand 1115 grain full metal jacket also, in our opinion 2500 rounds and two problems was well within the scope of acceptable operation. We have included a list of the brand, weight and type of ammunition we used during this test and evaluation cycle.
I was sad to see the 1911 have to go back to the Armscor / Rock Island Armory factory in Pahrump, Nevada. If I wasn’t in the middle of so many gun projects myself I would have asked to purchase the 1911 from them since I ran it as hard as I could and experienced very little problems with it. Overall after everything we threw at this pistol it passed with flying colors and we give it an A+ Rating. If you are in the market for a 1911 I would defiantly look at Rock Island’s line of 1911’s. They feature models in 9mm and .45 ACP with traditional single stack magazines. Stop by their website and look around.
Thanks for stopping by The Arms Guide, if there is a gun or piece of shooting related gear you want to know about drop us a line in the comments section or on Facebook. Someone from our team should be able to help you or direct you to who can.
Rounds Used in Test 7 Evaluation
- 250 Rounds Armscor 124 grain FMJ
- 250 Rounds Union Metallic Cartridge 115 grain FMJ
- 250 Rounds Fiocchi 115 grain FMJ
- 500 Rounds Aguila 115 grain FMJ
- 750 Rounds Independence Brand 115 grain FMJ
- 500 Rounds Armscor 40 grain Jacketed Hollow Point