The Rock Island Armory 1911 is something of an upstart in the firearms world, although it has been around for decades.
The parent company, Armscor, has a long history with firearms, including the famed Squires Bingham shop.
The Armscor Rock Island Armory line has expanded greatly since they first introduced an affordable GI-type 1911 a few decades ago. The Rock has earned a good reputation and some affection among shooters.
It is arguably the least expensive 1911 in the world that offers good reliability. There are higher-grade versions with Novak-type sights, an extended beavertail safety and ambidextrous thumb safety.
The pistol has given working men and women a way to get into the 1911 world. While the Rock Island 1911 isn’t the most accurate or nicely-finished pistol, it serves a real purpose.
As a carry gun or formidable home defender, the Rock Island has many merits. It isn’t a competition pistol or high-end showpiece, but then neither was the original 1911 pistol.
The Rock is a dependable pistol much like the original GI gun.
Rock Island 1911 Features
The Rock, as it is affectionately known, features a manual thumb safety, grip safety, and straight-to-the-rear trigger compression.
The proper way to carry the pistol is with the hammer fully cocked and the thumb safety on. As the pistol is brought to bear on the target, the safety is moved to the off position.
I do not manipulate the safety in the holster or as the pistol is moving, but as the barrel points toward the target.
The pistol is so fast into action and handles so well it isn’t difficult at all to thumb the safety off — and then back on if needed.
If the pistol was to be dropped or the shooter releases his grip, it will not fire because there is a grip safety. This safety springs into action to block the trigger.
Merely holding the pistol in a normal firing grip presses the safety in, activating the trigger. Trigger compression is straight to the rear at about six pounds and is smooth.
There are several departures from the GI-type pistol. The hammer is a modern skeleton type. The ejection port is enlarged, commonly referred to as lowered or scalloped.
The trigger is a target type. The pistol uses the original recoil spring guide rod, without the full-length guide rod. I like the original best, as it makes field stripping much easier.
The grips are checkered rubber. The pistol is supplied with a single magazine. I included several Wilson Combat magazines in this review. A few spares make the going much easier.
The pistol’s grip is like an old friend. I like the handling of the Government Model .45 with its 38-ounce weight and five-inch barrel. I like the .45 ACP cartridge as well.
Despite revisionist history, fuzzy math and a misunderstanding of wound ballistics, the .45 ACP remains among the finest defensive cartridges ever designed. The .45 ACP is a low-pressure number.
The powder charge usually burns completely in the barrel, resulting in little muzzle signature and usually only a warm glow or a few sparks.
A modern loading such as the Remington Golder Saber offers good wound ballistics and excellent practical accuracy. Once mastered, this is a formidable firearm.
When I arm myself, I am well aware of the abrasions, lacerations and scarring I have suffered dealing with criminal sociopaths.
The force they use isn’t proportionate to the need, it is the force that makes them feel better, and that can be very violent. The mindset of personal defense is important.
You must have a good mental attitude. Mental sparring with an aggressive felon isn’t like having tea with Aunt Lucy, it will not make much sense to you.
In this world, addicts, serial killers and prostitutes live in a world of violence. The average American doesn’t. When violence comes, it is unexpected.
If you are willing to engage in training for personal defense, do so all of the way, not halfway. Don’t be the windup monkey that cannot get its cymbals together!
Once learned, there is nothing faster to a first-shot hit than the 1911 pistol.
Firing the Rock Island 1911
Good old 230-grain ball is accurate, feeds reliably and is accurate enough for most chores. The Rock comes on-target quickly.
Get the sights lined up, squeeze the trigger, control recoil, line the sights up and fire again. At five and seven yards, center hits were easy to come by with real speed.
The Silvertip is a 185-grain load at 1,000 fps. By lowering the bullet weight, recoil is decreased and the increased velocity results in excellent expansion.
A magazine full of these loads gave good results. For felons behind cover or institutional use, the Remington Golden Saber is a good choice.
During some of the testing, I drew from concealed carry using a Galco Stow-N-Go inside-the-waistband holster. The Rock and Galco make a good combination.
Absolute accuracy is always interesting. Most 230-grain ball loads will go into four inches at 25 yards for a five-shot group. The easily-controlled Silvertip load is slightly more accurate.
The Golden Saber load was the star of the show, with a five-shot group of 2.9 inches for the best effort at a long 25 yards, with the average on the order of 3.25 inches.
That is more than enough accuracy for a handgun likely to be used at seven yards. The Rock Island Armory 1911 is a pistol that you can afford, but may also save your life.
It is a good buy and one that many Americans trust.
Have you ever tried a Rock Island 1911? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!