Firearms

Review: Rock Island Armory 10mm 1911 FS Pistol

Rock Island Armory 10mm 1911 on table

From basic budget models to high-end custom pistols, there’s no shortage of options in the 1911 handgun world. I’m a huge fan of the 1911 platform and have owned and shot many examples in different makes and models. Though I love Wilson Combat and Nighthawk Custom, perhaps the manufacturer that offers the most value for your money is Rock Island Armory. Bump that up to a Rock Island Armory 10mm, and you’ll really have something worth talking about.

Rock Island Armory’s Backstory

Many budget 1911 pistols are made in the Philippines, but the RIA examples from Armscor seem to be made the best. No, they’re not Wilson Combat, or even Springfield Armory, level quality, but they offer a plethora of features at a fraction of the cost.

RIA’s parts aren’t fitted as well, but the pistols function reliably and provide good accuracy, which is most important. The pistols feature the Series 70 design — meaning they don’t have a firing pin block — and they come in a number of different configurations.

1911 pistol G10 grips
The Rock Ultra 10mm comes with excellent G10 grips that provide great traction.

RIA 1911 FS Features

One of the main selling points of the RIA 1911 is the number of features you get for the price. “FS” is Rock Island’s designation for a full-size Government Model. In other words, a five-inch barrel and full-length grip frame. Rock Island Armory has a few lines of 1911s, but the Rock Ultra series seems to provide the best value.

Rock Island Armory’s “Rock Ultra” series of guns are packed with the upgrades most shooters want in a 1911s. For example, the extended, ambidextrous thumb safety is easy to manipulate and positive in operation. The checkered mainspring housing and G10 grip panels provided excellent traction and made the pistol easy to control — even with full-power 10mm recoil.

The most notable upgrade to the handgun was the adjustable rear and fiber-optic front sight. This is a great combination for target shooting or personal defense.

The pistol incorporates additional upgrades to the modern 1911, such as an improved beavertail grip safety, skeletonized hammer and trigger with adjustable overtravel, and magwell. Additionally, the Rock Ultra incorporates a full-length guide rod and heavy bull barrel that help tame recoil and improve long-term durability.

Specifications

Action: Single-Action
Caliber: 10mm Auto
Finish: Parkerized
Capacity: 8+1
Sights: Three dot
Grips: G10
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Weight: 2.49 pounds (Unloaded)

Rock Island 1911 safety and hammer
The manual thumb safety was positive in operation and easy to manipulate.

Rock Island Armory 10mm Benefits

So, why choose a 10mm Auto 1911 over one chambered in 9mm Luger or .45 ACP? The simple answer is power. 10mm Auto offers a lot more power than many other handgun cartridges — especially those designed for semi-auto pistols. This makes the 10mm a great choice for handgun hunting, outdoor protection, and home defense.

The increased power of the 10mm also provides greater penetration. This is good for defeating barriers such as glass and wood, as well as taking larger game animals. Additionally, firearms chambered in 10mm Auto have an increase in capacity compared to similar firearms chambered in .45 ACP (these tend to be the most comparable due to the size constraints of the cartridge).

Unfortunately, with the pros of the 10mm, there comes a few cons. The 10mm Auto has noticeably more recoil than 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, or even .45 ACP. It’s more in the .357 Magnum range. It’s not uncontrollable — with proper grip and technique — but it will take more practice to get fast, accurate follow-up shots.

The needed practice will come with a jump up in ammo cost because 10mm isn’t cheap — especially if you want full-power loads. However, this increased cost seems to be coming down as more and more shooters take a liking to the 10mm, and more ammunition manufacturers and responding to consumer demand.

Rock Island Armory 10mm 1911 fitment rear view
Rock Island Armory pistols exhibit good fit and finish for the price.

Accuracy and Handling

A good all-steel pistol helps to tame the recoil of the 10mm Auto, but they’ll still produce noticeably more than a standard .45. This makes rapid follow-up shots more difficult, but not impossible. With proper grip, stance, and shooting technique, the Rock Island 10mm 1911 displayed excellent accuracy. I fired close to 150 rounds of BVAC 180-grain FMJ. Standing at 15 yards, I was able to put a mag (eight shots) into a little over the size of my fist. A better shot than me could likely close that up a bit. As I fired more and became acclimated to the recoil, follow-up shots became easier. This would make a great firearm for personal defense.

two 1911 pistol muzzles
The RIA 1911 features a bull barrel (top), while the Wilson Combat features a more traditional barrel bushing (bottom).

Conclusion: Rock Ultra 10mm

Rock Island Armory 1911 pistols provide some of the most value on the market. They’re known for being rugged, reliable, and affordable. Rock Island’s 10mm options provide more power with the same overall footprint. If you’re looking for a feature-packed powerhouse that won’t break the bank, the Rock Island Rock Ultra 10mm 1911 is sure to fit the bill.

What do you think of Rock Island Armory 10mm 1911s? How do you like the 10mm in general? Let us know in the comment section!

  • Rock Island Armory 10mm 1911 on table
  • Rock Island 1911 fit and finish rear view
  • 1911 10mm chamber
  • muzzle view of 1911 pistol
  • 1911 pistol manual thumb safety
  • G10 1911 grips
  • Slide retracted on muzzle of 1911 pistol
  • two 1911 pistol muzzles

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a relatively young firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting consistently for around seven years. Though he is fairly new to the industry, he loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related.

Alex tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills. He also enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and to keep them properly cleaned and maintained. He installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn.

Additionally, he is very into buying, selling and trading guns to test different firearms and learn more about them. He is not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. I picked up one of the specials in FDE. Pretty nice fit and finish. The barrel had some sort of corrosion in it though. RIA said probably just parkerizing… i ordered another new OEM barrel and fitted it anyway. Then, swapped the red FO FS for green. I love that it came with adjustable rear sights, although one white dot fell off. I degreased the sight and applied my own enamel dots, no issues after that.
    Bought several WC 9 round mags. Sounds like a lot of issues i know, but i only paid $550 NIB.
    The thing is a tackdriver! Very impressed. 50 yard shots on steel are easy. My two main loads are a 155 grain xtp bullet at 1400 fps and a 180 hard cast lead at about 1250 fps. I find the pistol to be very manageable with excellent recoil characteristics.
    Very happy with this piece.

  2. Dan

    I have the same 10 with the same original “40”-marked mags and haven’t had any unreliability. I’ve used a few different brands, from Sellier&B to Underwood and all have been fully, 100% reliable.

    Rockit, the 938 doesn’t have a grip safety.

  3. I had a RIA 1911 45acp which was a few years old but shoot well. I talked with a gunsmith at my local dealer about replacing the fixed sights with Trijicon or TruGlo options for better visability, more aggressive grips and a smoother trigger. After he handed me the Rock 10 Ultra MS, which came stock with all upgrades I wanted in the 45 I sold the 45 and have been delighted with the Rock 10 ever since. Great accuracy and not a FTF in 2 years of regular range use. I’m a FAN!

  4. Rock It, the grip safety accomplishes what you are talking about. As long as it’s not depressed the firearm won’t fire, even if the safety on the frame is off.

  5. Have one of the Fs/ hc Md. double stack I love the gun very controlable not like the LAR grizzly’s that I’ve shot. Very accurate out of the box at 40 yds.too love that. Wish the mags. were cheaper but I will take it.
    Looks alot like a Para hog.

  6. I have the Rock Ultra high-capacity 10mm, which should be a really good firearm, especially for its modest price. Unfortunately, the magazine supplied is actually a .40 S&W mag. It causes nearly constant failures-to-feed. Checking with other owners, I find the same situation. Yes, I purchased another magazine and it is the same .40 with the same problem. I am not asking for a free replacement, just a real 10mm magazine (feed lips are longer) so I can actually use this nicely-featured 1911.

  7. I have 2 different RIA’s in 10mm and absolutely love ’em! They aren’t Kimbers ( also have in 10mm ), they aren’t works of art. But they are tools, absolutely dependable, accurate and manageable tools. I’ve done some trigger polishing and some other general cleanup and, if I had to “head for this hills” and just pick one to take, would have no reservations about taking one of these.

  8. Put around 700 rounds through mine, everything from cheap ball to monometal heavies. HPs are sensitive. Had to break the bank a bit to reach suggested 500 round break in period. Polished feed ramp a bit. Great gun, accurate, and if recoil is scaring you, don’t let it. Comparable to a g27 with stout 40 ammo.

  9. I’ve had one for a couple of years. Wanted a Delta Elite, but alas it wasn’t in the cards. My RIA is a beast. Ejection is a problem. It throws casings 30-35′. First box through I lost half the cases. I reload so that pissed me off to no end. I put Pachmyer Signature wrap around grips on it.Using factory Armscore 180gr it took 40yd before I could get any accuracy at all. At that range I blew through a hot water heater leaving huge exit holes with a 3″ group. Now I reload and got it on the money at 25yd. Gonna set up a way to save brass before I waste anymore. No real complaints now. It likes to hang out with my .45 RIA 1911 and my “Match Grade” Springfield 1911. Being a bit of a 1911 snob I have to admit that RIA really does make a quality product.I set up my RIA .45 for home defense with minimum add-ons.Full length rod, buffer, mag-well and light.The more you put on, the less reliable. Thanks for reviewing this.
    DonC

  10. I have had one of these for a couple of years. It is a great weapon and I use it for home defense and targets. I would not give it up for all the tea in China. I particularly love the double 10 mm stack mag, plenty of pills down range. It is a solid handgun and that helps with recoil and accuracy. I also own a Kimber 10 mm Campguard as I reload and that allows me to keep ammo costs down. I love my Kimber too but when compared to the RIA 10, I would rather deal with the stiff recoil spring and get twice the availability of bullets. Both are great guns.

  11. I have had one of these for 3 yrs. it shoots great, I have taken 2 deer with it. Would not trade it for any other 1911.

  12. Never was a fan, well until I owned one. Was surprised how stiff the slide spring is, but was so accurate out of the box, I didn’t want to change anything, so the 1911 in original form of no solid guide rod, this is the only pistol I know of where one can hook the thumb of the off hand into the trigger guard, then take the index finger, and press check, or even fully cock, load a round in the chamber, and even eject a round, in this manner, and for me is much easier than straining with the heavy slide racking.

    After using a Sig P938 and being able to load and unload with the safety on, well, I sure wish I could do that with the 1911. I understand the original reason for the slide lock safety is because when inserting into a new stiff leather military issue flap holster, it would push the slide out of battery (but wouldn’t it go back into battery when removed from the holster?). I am thinking as probably only an extremely few still use a new leather flap holder today, why not bring the 1911 into the modern world and make it able to load and unload with the safety engaged, especially as most modern firearms, if inserted into a new stiff leather holster with a flap, would probably also move the slide out of battery (only to go back into battery when pulled from the holster). Having the ability to load and unload the chamber with the safety ON, especially on a firearm known to have a somewhat sensitive trigger, is a sensible upgrade, or option,

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