Range Report: Rock Island Armory’s Baby Rock Rocks!

Baby Rock pistol pointing down at 45 degree angle in black

After many years of shooting, training, and carrying the most effective handgun possible, I realized that many of my choices were not practical for the average shooter. There are many demands on their time and mastering a Commander .45, .357 Magnum revolver, or compact .40 is difficult. Compromises are inherent in the game. The happy medium between a service-size pistol and hideout derringer is often a quality self loader. The .380 ACP is a popular choice.

Rock Island Baby Rock pistol right side
This is one clean looking 1911—but it is a .380!

Recently, Rock Island Armory (Armscor) introduced the 1911A1 .380 ACP known simply as the Baby Rock. Rock fans and shooters everywhere are going to love this handgun. Most small 1911s are more 1911-like than true 1911. The Baby Rock features a plunger tube, slide lock safety, beavertail grip safety, low bore axis and straight to the rear trigger compression. This is a true small 1911.

There are differences, made necessary by the Baby Rock’s straight blowback design—such as the lack of a swinging link and barrel lugs—but in operation and field striping this is a 1911 pistol and handles like a dream. The Baby Rock is just over 6.5 inches long and 4.6 inches tall. The pistol’s slide is .75 inch in width. Like the full-size 1911, the grip fits most hands well. Rubber grips provide good adhesion when firing. The mainspring housing is rounded for concealed carry. The barrel is 3.75 inches long—longer than most .380 ACP pistols. As it turned out this barrel length gives the optimum velocity for .380 ACP loads.

The pistol loads, operates, and shoots like a full-size 1911. It also field strips like a 1911, so 1911 shooters will have no problem grooving into this pistol. The sights are good examples of combat sights. Unlike the bumps on the slide of some pistols in this caliber, the Baby Rock’s sights offer good accuracy potential, and accuracy can make up for power, but the reverse is seldom true.

Field stripped Baby Rock .380 ACP pistol
The pistol field strips easily.

The pistol features well designed cocking serrations including forward cocking serrations. It isn’t a GI gun but it has the look of a custom 1911. The slide lock safety is tight and snaps into place smartly—something you want in a pistol that is to be worn close to the body. The magazines are well made. During speed loads the magazines dropped readily when the magazine release was hit—allowing rapid replenishment of the ammunition supply. The Baby Rock comes standard with two magazines.

The Baby Rock was well lubricated before firing and came out of the box running. It never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The pistol has proven reliable with factory loads from Cor Bon, Federal Cartridge, Fiocchi, Gorilla Ammunition, Hornady, Remington, Speer, and Winchester. Most of the practice loads have been ball ammunition and quite a few JHP loads have been fired.

This wasn’t a one day project; the Baby Rock was extensively tested. One reason the pistol has burned so much powder is that it is a joy to use and fire. It is accurate and easy to use well and that means a lot in a defensive handgun. A reason the Baby Rock doesn’t recoil much is that it weighs 22 ounces. An all steel .380 ACP is a joy to fire but weighs almost twice as much as some of the pocket guns. And the Baby Rock isn’t a pocket gun unless you have deep cargo pants.

Remington R1 pistol and Baby Rock .380
The Baby Rock compares well to a Commander size .45.

Firing Impressions

When firing, the Baby Rock wasn’t difficult to get a good firing grip. However, most who fired the pistol found it shoots low in fast shooting unless you pay attention to the front sight and get a good tight grip. Fast follow-up shots were easy. Using the affordable Fiocchi FMJ loading, I enjoyed a clean burn and good accuracy.

The surprising advantage of the Baby Rock is accuracy. The pistol is a tack driver for its size. Considering the weight of the pistol and the rigid fixed recoil barrel (the pistol is blowback operation although the barrel is easily removed) the pistol should be accurate. I settled on the Hornady American Gunner 90-grain XTP as a carry load. Although, if the warehouse is low on that round, I find Hornady Critical Defense loads more than acceptable.

Firing from a solid barricade standing rest at 15 yards, it was no mean feat to put an entire 7-round magazine into less than three inches. Best of all, I quickly gained confidence that the Baby Rock would work every time I pressed the trigger.

I am not going to give up my big guns, but the Baby Rock is going to ride with me a lot. When mowing grass, taking a quick run to the stop-and-rob, or during the morning walk, a light but effective handgun is appreciated. And when engaged in more serious pursuits, I think the Baby Rock will back up the Commander .45. Old habits are hard to break.

Primary or backup? How would the Baby Rock fit into your self-defense plan? Share your answers and experiences in the comment section.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (14)

  1. I must admit I love the looks of the 1911 and own several, both 9mm and .45. But for a .380 I’ll stick with my Beretta model 84BB. 13 round mag with 1 in the pipe. It’s designed to be carried cocked and locked, single action or can be carried as a double action for the first shot, it’s up to the user. Barrel length 3.81″, over all length 6.77″, with a height of 4.8″ which allows the user to obtain a full grip, which most .380’s don’t. Thousands of rounds through this treasure and not one problem. Field striping is also simpler than a 1911. You’re going to be hard pressed to find a more shooter friendly firearm.

  2. I have had mine since Dec 2015 waited 5 months for stock to arrive and only available from a local store in my area In Louisana, carry in Truck when I need it.

  3. The word “mean” means average, so if an accomplishment that’s “no mean feat” is not average. This figure of speech is taken to mean above average, or extraordinary, e.g. batting .400 for a season. Sounds like “put[ting] an entire 7-round magazine into less than three inches…” _was_ a mean feat. Which would be good.

  4. Shoots low, eh? Aside from the curved base of the mainspring housing, the .380 housing is of the “flat” design like the Commander shown in the pic. The 1911A1 m/s housing was changed to the “arched” design for this very reason. The Commander probably shoots low also. The “flat” m/s housing points low for me just as it did for most GIs of WWI, hence the -A1 change.

  5. Doesn’t sound like it’s much smaller or lighter than my Springfield Micro 45. So let me think….. Hmmmm carry 380 or 45…. I think a 45. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for 380s and I have a couple of the little polymer framed ones. I also have a couple of 9s that are smaller than the new Rock 380. On the other hand I have a Rock officers model 45 and it has never had a FTF of any sort with any ammo (including a bunch of my cast lead hand loads) so my limited experience with Rocks is very good. And not having previous experience with the brand I’ve given it some very thorough workouts.

  6. They look good from all of the articles I have read about them, however the only problem is finding one at the local gun store. I’ve called quite a few suppliers around the Atlanta area and their vendors don’t even carry them. I guess I’ll keep looking until they start showing up.

  7. I have been waiting and searching for one of these ever since their supposed release months ago.I first read about them on Armscor`s website forum,release dates were to be spring,then I heard new release date of late July,and after touching base with Armscor by e-mail,this week,was told they are increasing production and shipments to the Eastern US! I have several 1911`s of which Rocks are my major contributors……..still waiting…..still wishing…..Rock on….

  8. All mine wants to do is jam. Tried 3 new mags. got the same results. Not for EDC for me or even a go to the stop and rob!

  9. Mr. Roberts: Don’t expect too many Americans to be clamoring to buy this pistol because after all Armscor isn’t an American Company even if it does build 1911s under license from Colt. I have been shooting RIA 1911 A2s for some years now and find them not only inexpensive to purchase thru SARCO, but surprisingly accurate “right out of the box”. Such is life…it’s a little bit like America’s aversion to using any rifle with a metric caliber because “after all it’s not AMERICAN!”

  10. The grip angle looks a bit less than the full-size 1911. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the magazine on the Browning holds 8 rounds, or one more than the Baby Rock.

  11. Well pilgrims, It is true that the Browning Mini 1911 and this Rock Island 1911 .380 are unique innovative products,….. That were pre dated by similar models manufactured by Star (1973 – 1981) and Llama introduced in 1951 and manufactured for about 30 years……..

    I guess that somebody who writes about guns in a blog would have probably have known that and made a mention…….. Just sayin’

  12. Take a look at both at the gun shop and decide The Browning has a lot more plastic including the guide rod and recoil spring cap.

  13. I’m really surprised this wasn’t compared to the Browning 1911/380, since this is a near-clone of that, just not as quite as traditionally styled as the Browning.

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