Range Reports

Rock Island 1911A1 and Tactical .45—Range Report

Fans of Rock Island Armory’s 1911 handguns affectionately refer to their pistol of choice as ‘The Rock.’  This nickname is appropriate and valid. These are reliable handguns and if they do not win a beauty contest, well, we don’t call the 1911 ‘Old Ugly’ for nothing.

Another rock is the Rock Island in the Philippines. The Rock is also a popular tourist spot where folks swim and surf, and etched onto each and every Rock Island Armory slide. Located in Siargao Bay, the Rock is a fitting inspiration for a 1911 handgun.

Our Filipino allies are among a very few in the world with a respectable handgun tradition comparable to our own. Several Japanese invaders recalled their last sight was a Filipino guerilla with a 1911 .45 automatic pistol. Thus, a fitting place to build a 1911 clone is the Philippines. Armscor produces the Rock Island Armory 1911 handguns.

The Arms Corporation of the Philippines traces its history appropriately to about 1911 and a gun shop known as Squires Bingham and Company. The present company has manufactured firearms since about 1952. When I was a young man, Squires Bingham .22 rifles were common and regarded as inexpensive but serviceable rifles.

A copy of the AR-15 in .22 caliber was arguably a rifle before its time. The 1911A1 pistols presently produced by Armscor are regarded as entry-level handguns well suited to all around use. However, quite a few individuals rely upon Rock Island Armory handguns for personal defense. I have noted more than a few in competition. They work well, and the 1911 is after all the Mr. Potato Head of handguns, so do not let anyone dissuade you from upgrading your Rock.

Aftermarket grips, beavertail safeties and other additions including match grade barrels are readily fitted to the 1911 RIA pistol. But that is beside the point to most users. Some of us like the looks and feel of a GI pistol and that is why the Rock is popular. It isn’t all about price. After all, good men and the GI pistol with hardball ammunition—not a target grade pistol and hollow point ammunition—accomplished the great feats of the 1911. The GI 1911 should be good enough for most of us.

Those who follow the dictum KISS—keep it simple stupid—feel that they are being pretty smart in adopting the pistol used by doughboys, the greatest generation and veterans of many battles. The 1911A1 isn’t likely to give trouble. There are no extraneous features. The pistol is easily and quickly field stripped.

Many favoring the GI pistol point out that in a worst case scenario you may rack the slide by catching the sights on the belt and racking with one hand. I am probably not going to be in that situation, but experienced trainers point out that the GI .45 a superlative combat piece without any further trappings. Accessories are sometimes nice to have, but the only thing really worth paying for is superior barrel fitting. This is the only proven enhancement for accuracy. The tighter the pistol the less tolerant it will be of foreign material in the action.

So, the GI .45 makes a great choice for all around personal defense use. The sights are small, true, but precise once properly lined up. The RIA 1911A1 is feed reliable with modern JHP ammunition so it isn’t limited in that regard. But personal defense isn’t the only reason to own a 1911. A sense of history, nostalgia, wanderlust or whatever you call it, the 1911 has it in spades. An as example my personal 1911A1 is often carried in a Tanker Holster . It looks right and works great at the range. This M 3 shoulder holster sets you back about $30. That is a lot of pride of ownership for a modest price.

Manufacturer: Armscor 51421
Item: GUN-421

Accuracy Results

Five-shot groups from a solid braced bench rest at 25 yards.

Load Group Size
Black Hills 230-grain FMJ 3.75 inches
Black Hills 185-grain TAC +P 3.5 inches
Wolf (WPA) 230-grain FMJ 3.9 inches
Oregon Trail 200 gr. SWC/WW 231
(Handload) 860 fps
3.8 inches

While the GI .45 is a great pistol some like to have more features. These features include high visibility sights, extended controls and perhaps an ambidextrous safety . A pistol with a few improvements could be considered a consensus gun. The consensus was the general agreement of what was desired on a combat .45. Colonel Jeff Cooper noted that the 1911 needed good sights, a speed safety and perhaps a barrel/throat polish (the latter if you were going to experiment with ‘exotic’ bullet styles). That’s it and the 1911 is good to go for personal defense and most competition.

If you like the GI gun and you wish to own a pistol similar to the ones that stormed the beaches at Anzio, Guadalcanal and Inchon then the original Rock has much merit. If you are interested in a handgun with greater practical accuracy and more features, then the RIA Tactical model is a bargain. This is the pistol we are firing in this review:

Manufacturer: Armscor 51431
Item: 7-G51431

The pistol lists for a few more dollars than the GI pistol. It would cost hundreds of dollars to mill the slide and fit improved sights and to obtain and fit an ambidextrous safety to a GI pistol, not to mention the adjustable trigger, so the Tactical pistol is well worth its modest price. Let’s look at the Rock/Tactical pistol and see if the performance meets certain base standards for accuracy and reliability.

The pistol is a Government Model length handgun with a five-inch barrel weighing 39 ounces, standard for a steel frame 1911. The frame is cast, but then so are a couple of others from pretty big names. That’s fine if it is done right. Steel is expensive to forge. The fit and finish are surprisingly good with no visible tool marks. The finish is a dull finish similar to World War Two Parkerizing.

The slide features a scalloped or lowered ejection port. This is an advantage in administrative handling. The GI slide window ejects spent cartridge cases well enough, but the lowered ejection port gives us more leeway when an unfired cartridge is removed during administrative handling. The pistol features high-visibility Novak-type sights that are properly blended into the slide. There are no white outlines or white dots. The front sight is dovetailed into place.

The original GI staked on front sight would sometimes take flight after hard use. The Tactical Model sights are a major improvement over GI sights. As good as they are, these sights do not affect intrinsic accuracy. If slapped into a machine rest the GI and the Tactical pistols would be about equally accurate with the usual deviation between pistols of the same type from the same maker. Practical accuracy is improved because the sight picture is better and the sights may be picked up more quickly in rapid fire shooting.

Moving to the frame, the pistol features an ambidextrous safety. Obviously a 1911 isn’t useful to a left-handed person unless an ambi safety is fitted. This one is more robust than most. The ambidextrous safety is held in place by an extended sear pin. A groove in the safety runs into a slot in the sear pin. It was once the bane of ambidextrous safeties to work loose or even fly off.

Some 1911 pistols feature safeties with a component that runs under the stock for greater stability. Many more expensive 1911 handguns do not feature an ambidextrous safety at all. The RIA Tactical pistol gets high marks for including this safety and a strong recommendation based upon the design of the safety.

This component is well fitted and crisp in operation. The edge of the safety is sharper than I would like, but this is easily sanded if the safety doesn’t work well with your grip style. It isn’t going to cut your knuckles; it is simply noticeable during firing strings.

The frame ramp meets the barrel portion of the feed ramp properly with the requisite 1/32-inch gap between the two to ensure proper feeding. The pistol features a full-length guide rod. While the FLGR complicates field stripping some believe that the FLGR prevents the recoil spring from kinking up under heavy recoil. There is equal belief the FLGR does nothing.

Trigger compression is smooth with little creep and no backlash. The trigger breaks at five pounds. This isn’t a trigger you are likely to clutch during speed drills. The action is smoother than expected. Most important the trigger is consistent and useful for a trained shooter. While some trigger actions break at a little less, the RIA’s five-pound trigger action is ideal for a personal defense handgun.

The combination of a smooth trigger action and good sights add up to good practical accuracy. The proof is in the firing. The pistol was delivered in a hard case along with two, eight-round magazines. These are quality Novak magazines. The pistol was lubricated along the long bearing surfaces, the barrel hood and the cocking block. Any 1911 handgun should feed lead-bullet handloads properly, and the RIA Tactical was first fired with a combination of the Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC and enough WW 231 powder for 860 fps. In firing 100 rounds of these loads, there were no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The pistol was fired primarily in combat type shooting at 7, 10 and 12 yards.

The Rock is all 1911 with a low bore axis allowing little leverage for recoil. The bore axis is simply the height of the centerline of the bore above the hand. The pistol came onto the target quickly and the trigger and sights ensured good results. A good feature I particularly welcomed was the front grip striations. This feature adds to the shooter’s purchase on the handgun without going to the expense of checkering the front strap. Many 1911 handguns have no type of roughening of the front strap at all.

(The GI gun was improved with a Wilson Combat checkered front strap  that neatly solved any problems with adhesion for about $10.)

The original grips are adequate for the task, but after all, the 1911 begs to be personalized. With a quick swap, the pistol felt better in the hand. As testing continued, I moved to heavier loads including a number of my favorite all around loadings. These are personal defense loads well suited to general outdoors work in a go anywhere do anything handgun.

The Black Hills 185-grain JHP is faster than the original 230-grain ball or GI hardball. This loading shows a good balance of expansion and penetration and shoots flatter to 50 yards than the heavy bullet loads. For dusting off coyotes and the occasional feral dog, this load gets the nod. A heavier bullet often demonstrates an ideal balance of expansion and penetration. The Black Hills 230-grain JHP is among these. Accurate and demonstrating a full powder burn, this is an excellent go anywhere do anything loading—the Mack truck of .45 loads.

As the accuracy charts show, the Rock is more than accurate enough for all around use. Accuracy standards for the GI pistol were 5- and 10-inch groups, respectively, at 25 and 50 yards. It would be unfair to expect a clone of the GI .45 to beat this standard by much but the Rock Island Tactical pistol is more accurate than most GI .45s.

After firing some 320 rounds of mixed, lead-bullet handloads and jacketed factory ammunition, the Rock Island Tactical pistol did not exhibit eccentric wear and never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject.

The pistol is fast on target like all 1911 handguns. That means there is nothing faster than an accurate first shot hit. There always seems to be someone with little to no experience in the field downplaying the effectiveness of the .45 ACP cartridge. I cannot comprehend the reasoning.  Simple mathematics and observation, without confusion, clearly illustrate the obvious.

Unreliable sources, invalid studies and unrepeatable tests are not something I care to discuss or place stock in. The only gauge of confidence is scientific, repeatable testing. The test of science, however simple the experiment, is that it is repeatable and verifiable. The bottom line—the .45 ACP exhibits 60% more frontal area than the 9mm. If you prefer another caliber then choose it on the merit of control, velocity or accuracy. If you downgrade the .45 with junk science you will only look foolish.

The .45 ACP cartridge combines low pressure, a full powder burn, good accuracy and excellent wound ballistics in a relatively flat and compact platform. If you have a genuine need for greater penetration, the 10mm will do things at 50 yards the .45 cannot. Otherwise the .45 ACP is an excellent go anywhere do anything handgun. The pistol is controllable and if a fast and accurate second shot is needed the .45 is up to it. A steel frame 1911 is particularly controllable.

After living with the RIA Tactical pistol for several months I find a durable reliable handgun that will save your life.  I had rather have it than any non-1911 handgun. 1911 handguns are individuals and be certain to proof your individual Rock. This is not an inexpensive handgun it is a GI gun and that means a working gun. My example is good enough for who it is for.

Accuracy Results

Five-shot groups from a solid braced bench rest at 25 yards.

Load Group Size
Oregon Trail 200-grain, SCW WW 231
(Handload) 860 fps
3.6 inches
Oregon Trail 230-grain. RNL Titegroup
(Handload) 770 fps
3.25 inches
Black Hills 185-gr. JHP 3.8 inches
Black Hills 230-gr. JHP 2.9 inches
Wolf 185-gr. JHP 3.5 inches
Wolf 230-gr. FMJ 4.1 inches

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (35)

  1. I recently purchased the RIA 1911 51431 and absolutely love it. I have not had any issues with it once so ever. No FTFs or FTEs. This was my first 1911 and I researched the RIA 1911 and the positive reviews far outweighed the negative reviews. Breaking it down with the full-length guide rod takes some getting used to, but after a while it because of second nature. This is a very nice firearm that has a lot of features of the more expensive 1911s.

  2. Handguns, Rock Island Armory, Tactical, M1911-A1 FS Tactical 2011 Std.45 ACP. Had this weapon less than 3 years and numerous problems with the slide staying open with rounds left in the mag, round came up and couldn’t fire weapon, and last time fired round slide came back and locked the safety in positon still rounds in the mag. I use this weapon for my quarterlies with a range master timing. I did try different ammo and still same. This weapon has gone back 3 times and they told me it was been fixed. However, not so true. They ask that the weapon be sent to the facility at Pahrump, NV. I asked to have a refund for weapon but a lot of hesitation and they want to send out another. The staff is very helpful but the management doesn’t call you back and you have to do online chat. I hope this will help you make a decision on this model. Good price not sure about the product.

  3. I have a RIA 1911, not the A1, and it has only jammed on the second round ever fired and when using Gold Dot rounds. My pistol just doesn’t like Gold Dot ammunition. No other failures of any kind with any other ammunition. It likes Federal Hydra-Shok and gives better accuracy with them than I can see to shoot anymore. I will need to upgrade to a new slide with bigger sights soon. I did do a fluff n buff on the ramp and the chamber after about 3,000 rounds. That was due to the failures with Gold Dot ammunition. I hadn’t had any failures up to that point, and thought slicking up the contact points might help. It still doesn’t like Gold Dot, but it feels a little bit faster cycling now to me. I also buffed the contact point on the slide where it meets the hammer to cock it. I used a felt wheel on a Dremel tool and some jewelers rouge. Since I am not a gunsmith, I forced myself to take it easy and just go slow with a bunch of times of putting it back together and checking for function. It took me about 30 tries to get it as slick as I wanted, but I didn’t overdo anything. A gunsmith would have done it in probably one-tenth of the time. I like my RIA, and for what I paid for it 13 years ago, it has been a great bargain. If I don’t count the Gold Dot, then it is only 1 jam ever. That was a FTE stovepipe on the second round ever fired in it.

  4. I have four 1911s and one Luger plus 26 other rifles and hand guns, but these 5 are my favorites.They are the most reconizable weapons in the world!

  5. I won a Rock Island in a raffle not long ago and took it out with my 80 Series Colt. The Rock out shot my Colt. I had done nothing to the Rock, it shot straight out of the box and I was very pleased with it’s performance. I would recommend one to anyone who likes dependability and accuracy.

  6. I was in the Security Police as a K-9 handler with the U.S.A.F. in Vietnam in 1968-69 and our only issue weapon was the XM177 E-2, which was at the time called the XM177A-2 Submachine gun with a 10 in. barrel., but no sidearm. I wanted all the fire and knock down power I could get so I traded with an Army 82nd Airborne guy and got a 1911-A1. His story was he could write it off as a “combat loss” after the last patrol and get issued another one. I took the pistol to the firing range and found that it shot very decent for an old “war horse”. I carried it in a shoulder holster and never felt more secure when on post.

  7. Well, I have three of these pistols and the only complaint I have, I need another one. The best shooting 1911 I have ever had. I hold right there with friends shooting the high dollar brands and all the bells and whistles. Wow, what a great pistol, no jams, no stove pipes and no miss fires. I use 230 FMJ only.

    Blind fold yourself and feel the standard Rock Island 45 and the WWII same. Good luck telling the difference and no one I know condemns the GOOD OL 1911.

    Thanks for a great firearm

  8. Well I called armascot about the 1911 10mm I bought that shot so badly the cus to me service person was helpful emailed FedEx labels to ship it back to rock island for repairs whike I think it shouldn’t have left the factory in that condition hopefully the problem will get taken care of ducks to spend money on something and still not have one

  9. I recently bought a rock island m 1911 A 10mm go tactical 11 took it to the range to sight in shooting 20 yds.with a good rest it groups well over a foot nothing consistent at all shot about a half a box of ammo stove piped about five times worst acuracy of any handgun I’ve ever fired test done shooting arms or 180 gr.fmj. ammo hopefully the armor company will step up and do something liked it till I shot it

  10. Since 1969 when I entered the Navy I got trained on my my first 1911A1. Me a raw kid from the Ozarks of MO had never fired any kind of Auto Pistol. After the first round down range my instructor (A Marine Staff SGT.) said “Swabby are you sure you’ve NEVER fired a pistol like this?” The thing was a natural balance and fit for my hand and aiming was so simple just point and shoot. When I left Vietnam I ordered my first GI type and never looked at anything else.This pistol is an all purpose tool for the public, it comes in many sizes, and the powerful .45ACP speaks for itself.

  11. i have had one now for three years put more than 5000 rounds through it not a miss fire or a jam very reliable and a fun gun to shoot

    1. 5000 huh? I like the sound of that. Whats the most common ammunition you put through it? Name, specs, I’d like to know! Thanks.

  12. I fell in love with the 1911 about fity years back when I was in the Cops. And I carry one now for personal protection. It’just a fun gun to shoot!

  13. The Rock Island Armory’s 1911 .45 ACP is by far the most accurate, easy to handle, pistol in my collection, handling better than my .40 Taurus or my .32 Beretta Tomcat. A higher caliber doesn’t mean harder to handle. I was totally surprised how easy to fire and how accurate the 1911 is.

  14. I have owned a 1911 since I was only ten years old. I purchased that gun with money I had earned helping out on the farm. My uncles and some friends bought seven or eight of the old military surplus back when they could be bought, sold and shipped without any back ground checks or paper work of any kind. I am 62 now and still have this gun along with several others I have collected all these years. Looking to buy another and this might just be the ticket. I am one of those guys that can’t leave well enough alone and love doing mods to them..so many things you can do to a 1911 and even stock can’t be beat in a defensive role..

  15. Not sure why anyone would call this weapon “ugly”, I think they are beautiful and always have! I have owned several 1911’s over the years, but as bills came due, the first things to go were my guns….sadly, I haven’t had another 1911 since…prices kept going up and just couldn’t manage it…I miss it, always liked the 1911’s!

  16. I will always keep .45 ACP 1911 as my protector. No other caliber can dupe me to change model except this US caliber handgun. Strong and reliable every hit I made.

  17. I bought my RIA compact about 6 years ago and it has been a flawless performer ever since. Easily concealable, accurate and reliable. All of that and in a under 400.00 1911. What could be better?

  18. I fell in love with the 1911 in 1973 while in the Navy, we were all taken to base armory to fire the Colt .45 these guns were worn out from being used for years, but it was so much fun, and after that day I was a regular at the armory after I found out that we could go any time..I would go every time I could finely qulified expert with the 1911…ever since it has been my favorite weapon ….

  19. Bought my 1st 1911 about 5 weeks ago. A Rock Island a1 GI series. I cldn’t pass up the price. I doubt if it will ever replace my Glock 19 for everyday carry, but I am quickly becoming a 1911 fan. It is a joy to shoot.

  20. Great article, Bob. I bought an RIA Tactical II MS (4.25″ barrel) last spring, the first time I’ve touched a 1911 since I retired from the navy in 1989. Nice upgrades include grips like the ones in the left and right photos prior to the comments section of this article, an adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight. I keep it in the drawer of the table next to my recliner in our family room, which is exactly 30 feet from the front door. The first trip to the range, I sighted it in at 10 yards, resting it on the hood of my car. The paper target was downloaded from Midway with 10 rings and a 5/8″ bullseye. First two shots were 2″ low and less than an inch apart. One click on the rear sight, and the third shot missed dead center by about 1/8″. Not bad for an out-of-the-box weapon regardless of price. I qualified annually in the navy during most of the 70’s and 80’s with standard issue 1911, usually either Colt or Remington, and I had forgotten what a fun gun it is to shoot.

  21. When I saw who the author of the article was, I had to read it. I have his book on the 1911, its a keeper. I recently bought the RIA tac in .45, looking forward to testing it myself:-)

  22. Great article. I have carried a compact Rock for about 5 years. After several thousand rounds down range it is just as accurate and reliable as it was on day one. As long as I use decent ammo, I have never had a single failure of any kind. I had an issue once with some cheap reloads not feeding well, but that was it. I love my piece of the Rock. AND, BTW, the price on the new guns is about what I paid 5 years ago. Great gun for a great price.

  23. I enjoy modifying anything in the quest for better utility, personal accommodation and sometimes aesthetics but the 1911A1 in its original form with the exception of better sights for aging eyes and possibly a laser/flashlight for defense at night is near simple perfection.

    Yes, I have Glocks, Rugers, Springfields, Colts and other modern handguns and find them all worthy, but the ability of a simple single action in 45 ACP to do exactly what it was intended to do still makes sense.

    I think I was fortunate in one way to have had no gun experience before the military as I had no preconceived notions or habits to overcome. Everything I knew about firearms in the early years was learned in the Marines and after decades of learning everything I could about every type of firearm I can, I still find the basics they taught me more than adequate. Constant application of basics such as sight alignment, sight picture and BRASS got me from novice to team shooter and finally combat shooter in service and decades later they still form the foundation of marksmanship at thursday night matches.

    The same is true for my choice in handguns. I have both basic and tricked out handguns in several calibers but when the adrenalin rockets and motor skills narrow a simple intuitive combat accurate handgun is what I feel comfortable with. My first handgun, a Springfield 1911A1 unchanged except for better sights, stickier grips and stiffer magazines comes naturally to hand and eye with the sure knowledge that it can do the job reliably and accurately, every time.

  24. I am a now full on Rock Island Fan! After firing my brother-In-laws full size RIA 1911 GI, I was hooked. I decided to treat myself this past year to a new Rock Island 1911, my conundrum was that I desired a more CCW designed model 1911 typically that would have carried a much higher price commitment, this was Not a problem once I learned of Rock Island’s 1911 CSP tactical edition pistol with a 4.25″ barrel length and overall all size was surprisingly compact. The pistol features all the full size features we love but includes an adjustable trigger from 3-5lb pull, a much simpler takedown procedure, and despite the small sacrifice in total mag capacity, it is very comfortable to carry and provides maximum concealability . It maintained better than expected accuracy as compared to the full size version, had absolutely no problems feeding, ejecting both ball ammo and JHP or grouping 8rnds within 4.5″ consistantly at 50 yards tested with 280gr ball ammo and 230gr hollow point Winchester and PMC brand ammo. Using a 50gallon empty oil drum as a shooting rest. I love the accuracy, versatility, unmatched recoil compensation and most of all the $419 before tax price tag.

  25. I have two RIA 1911’s. Both work superbly. Oddly enough, I find that I shoot better with the 3.5″Barreled compact one.

  26. I have seen evidence that convinces me that leaving a magazine loaded over long periods of time does degrade the follower spring. Having stood duty as an OOD (officer of the day) or CDO (command duty officer) at numerous units I frequently received a loaded magazine (15 rounds) with the duty pistol that had a follower spring so weak I would not have trusted it at all. These magazines were handed off day after day between duty officers and almost never fired or returned to the armory and switched out (a bad practice to be sure). It is certainly possible that the daily routine of performing a sight-count by loading and unloading the magazine was what wore out the springs but in any case a magazine that is loaded and unloaded once a day and remains loaded for a year or more at a time is going to be worn out very quickly.

  27. In reference to leaving your magazines loaded for prolong periods the info you received is incorrect.
    Leaving a magazine will not weaken the spring inside the magazine. What does weaken them is the constant loading and unloading of them or in other words lots of use. competitive shooters that load the same magazines many, many times during the shooting season change out the magazine main spring sometimes twice a year.
    As a 25 yr now retired police officer and a former firearms instructor I can tell you that many officers never changed out the springs in their issued magazines in the 45s we carried and they also never ran around on duty or off with the magazines empty.
    Magazines found in old Vietnam era baggage of veterans who brought theirs home, both rifle and pistol mags were still loaded and still worked perfectly decades later of laying quietly in a duffle bag fully loaded to capacity. So load up your mags and use that 1911 without a fear of the magazines not working.

  28. I bought my Rock Island Tactical last Christmas and took it to the range the day the waiting period was over. First round…click. Chamber another round…click. No firing pin marks. Apparently the firing pin floats. It was stuck even with the face of the slide. After messing with it on the firing line I freed up the firing pin and it shot flawlessly. Perhaps there was a small burr holding the pin forward but it went away right away.

    I put a case of 500 rounds of fmj through it using 6 magazines and there was never a misfeed or hang fire. The standard grips were fine but my son got me some that have a chain link fence pattern on them. They feel great and I could probably fire it with a hand full of Vaseline an still hold on. He has a Springfield 1911 that jammed every so often until an Army armorer tricked it out. This is my first 1911. The fit and finish are great especially considering it was a real bargain on the closing day of the gun show.

    I shot it enough to get very comfortable with the handling, the sight picture, and get most of the rounds in the black at 25 yards. This will be for home use and plinking. I am completely happy with the Rock Island.

  29. An excellent and accurate review of the Rock Island full-sized 1911’s. I was the reasonably happy owner of a popular brand of polymer pistol in .40 S&W when I decided to see what all the chatter about 1911’s was about. After deciding I didn’t want to invest too much in something I might not like, I went with my LGS’s recommendation and bought a Rock Island Full Sized Tactical…and promptly fell in love with the thing! It’s more accurate than I am and, other than one stovepipe during the second magazine I shot through it, utterly reliable. It has since been joined by a Rock Officers-Sized Tactical for concealed-carry and a .22TCM/9mm for purely recreational shooting. All three have proven to be solid, well-made and dependable though they lack the flash of some higher-priced brands. It is my belief that you can spend more for a gun to shoot but you can’t shoot more gun than a Rock!

  30. I bought mine after firing a friend’s at the Magnum Range in Riverside, Ca and this would be my recommendation to anyone who wants an affordable piece of history that’s fun to shoot but won’t break the bank. I’ve let a couple of friends fire my Rock Island at the range and they were so impressed that they bought one.
    I’ve had my GI version Rock Island 1911 for a couple of years now and I’ve probably shot over a couple of hundred rounds through it without a problem. It feeds, fires and ejects perfectly and I can fire tighter groups with it than I expected or did as a young Marine.
    I’m half blind now so I couldn’t focus on the original sights but they have great customer service with skillful gunsmiths at their Nevada facility. They installed bigger dotted adjustable sights that I can see and now I love mine.
    I would recommend the wrap around Hogue rubber grips over the original hardwood for more comfortable handling and combined with a recoil buffer from Midway it really tamed the beast and made it fun to shoot.
    It was our original home defense weapon for a few months but I was warned by a more knowledgeable friend not to leave a full loaded magazine in it or it would eventually weaken the magazine spring. We replaced it in that job with a Tarus 357 magnum revolver and a short barrel Stevens 12 ga pump shotgun but when those two run out I’ll load up my Rock Island 1911 and go to work. Hank

  31. Way to go! Great article! Most people are stuck on those overpriced ‘Name-brand’ custom jobs. I started with the basic, and learned how to shoot a pistol. Had money left over on good ammo. My skill level hasn’t exceeded the gun yet. Trijicon’s, EFK Firedragon recoil assembly and Pachmeyer grips, and it can run with the best of them. I now see what people mean when they say “my favorite gun”.

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