2012 SHOT Show Special Report: Rock River Arms Polymer 1911

Picture shows a close-up of a black polymer-framed 1911 stamped "MODEL 1911-A1"

It’s been done before, but Rock River Arms decided to roll out a polymer 1911 for the world to see at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whether or not you think it is blasphemy to make a polymer 1911 is beside the point, because they are doing it, and there seems to be a fair amount of support for this big plastic handgun.

To be fair, the entire gun isn’t plastic, just the frame. Like any run of the mill Glock or Kahr, Rock River made the gun with a polymer mainspring housing and a polymer shoed trigger. There is a 4140 steel billet frame insert and the slide is of 4140 steel as well. While there are plenty of choices on the market for polymer .45s, one has to wonder what Rock River was thinking. Walk into almost any gun store and you can have your hands on a XD-45, a Glock 21, or an M&P45 and be out the door without spending a fortune. You would also have greater magazine capacity, and you wouldn’t be sacrificing quality with any of the above choices either. The argument that stands in place however, is the same argument that 1911 owners have used for decades. There are indeed plenty of other pistols in the world, but none of them are 1911s. No other pistol holds the historical clout, or overall aesthetic value of the 1911. It is just something about holding that gun that just works. When a person thinks about a pistol, the 1911 is usually the first gun they picture in their mind. That panache comes with the owners of the guns knowing full well that there are more advanced designs available, and often for a cheaper price. The owners of these guns still rally around their pistols with a fervor that hasn’t died down in over 100 years. One has to wonder though, does adding a polymer frame to a 1911 detract from the historical and aesthetic value of this gun. Time will tell, but I have a feeling that if Rock River can sell this gun at a competitive price, we will all be seeing more and more plastic 1911 pistols at the range.

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Comments (12)

  1. Well, an update to my earlier post is in order. I emailed the folks at Rock River and at present there are no plans to market anything other than the full size 1911 pistol or part thereof (sad face!). Well, I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that somewhere down the line they change their mind…As I said in my email, I think it would be cool if they could offer the Officer’s ACP frame in gray polymer so that someone with a fair amount of gunsmithing skill could piece together a nice carry piece with a stainless steel slide and a set of complementing grips. My choice for a slide would have to be the Caspian Stainless Officer’s slide.

  2. While I am normally a purist where the 1911 is concerned, it raises a point of interest with me in that I would be interested if they were to market an Officers ACP sized polymer frame(just the frame)for those of us who would like to build a custom carry piece. The lighter frame combined with the familiarity of the feel of a 1911 and the plethora of custom parts would allow the user to build a piece that he could be proud to own, carry and shoot. Now, having said all that….they would have to offer it in a price range that would lend itself to the project (namely keeping costs down). I for one would be interested in knowing what the folks at Rock River Arms think about my idea.

  3. I would agree with mchgnmike- if you’re going to go polymer, go all out, mold in a light rail and do away with the grip panels completely.

  4. Strange that while “upgrading” the 1911 by manufacturing it with a polymer frame that they missed the boat and did not include an accessory rail to the dust cover. Also, since the frame is made of polymer it appears that the grip is using regular 1911 grip panels which probably makes the grip extremely big. The bigger grip is not a problem for me and my “Fat Meaty Palms” but with all the pistol manufactures looking to slim down this pitol looks fat.

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