Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical review


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WardenWolf
January 11, 2011, 02:49 PM
Well, I just got my new Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical. I chose the matte nickel finish. I got to shoot it on Saturday, and here's my impressions:

(1) Fit and finish:

The fit and finish on this firearm are excellent. All parts fit tightly, and the exterior metal finish is smooth and clean. The black parts have such smooth finish and consistent color that they are all but indistinguishable from plastic, except by temperature. There is no rattle at all when the firearm is shaken.

(2) Build quality:

Overall, excellent build quality. Very well built, rock-solid construction. You can see some minor milling marks internally, but nothing rough. All-metal parts, EXCEPT the mainspring housing. I'm not entirely sure why this one individual part is plastic, but it is. The included magazine is a high quality ACT-MAG.

(3) Performance:

The gun ran flawlessly, with no jams of any kind, both with the included magazine and the magazines from my father's 1972 Colt Combat Commander. The gun shoots a little to the left, but the rear sight can be easily drifted to compensate. Accuracy is good. It's not as accurate as my father's modified Colt, but it's much better than the Colt was before I worked on it. The Colt was upgraded with a Wilson match-grade bushing and a Wilson full-length guide rod, which fixed the horrible accuracy that had plagued it. I plan to do the same with my new Rock Island gun.

Overall I think I got an excellent gun for the money. I paid $515 shipped for it. I plan on upgrading it and making it mine, and turning most of the blued parts into stainless. I already have a stainless Wilson V-Grip mainspring housing on order, along with 2 Colt magazines. I prefer the low-profile all-metal Colt magazines to the large plastic bases found on most other magazines. Given the initial build quality of this gun, in the end I should wind up with a very nice gun that equals much more expensive models out there.

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EyeBallChief
January 11, 2011, 04:06 PM
Thanks for your post about your new Rock Island 45 ACP WanderWolf. I have been researching this particular brand myself. Having grown up in the Philippoines, where Rock Island firearms are made and seeing the improvisations and shortcuts people did to make a quick profit, I have but many reservations about the quality of these guns. I have read several people's reviews and they all seem to admire the workmanship that the Filipinos put into these guns. I still have several friends in that country who would rather have the "imported" brands like Kimber, Colt, etc. That has been my way of thinking as well until I have read the reviews. I am slowly changing my attitude about their guns and will definitely get me one in the near future to compliment my Kimber, glock CZs that I already own :D. Please keep us updated about your new toy. Again, thanks for the info.

rondog
January 11, 2011, 04:30 PM
Congrats! I like RIA's too, have three of them. But stand by for the haters, they'll be around. They're busy bashing High Points at the moment.

ThePunisher'sArmory
January 11, 2011, 04:54 PM
But stand by for the haters, they'll be around. They're busy bashing High Points at the moment.


Thats about right.......But Hi point pistols do suck :D. Anyway I love my RIA Tactical. I got the all black model. The only thing I changed so far is the Grip. I put on the Hogue wrap around and that helps me control recoil alot. The only problem I have noticed so far is a common problem among 1911s. It does not like hollow points. It will eat Ball all day long but I have not found a hollow point it likes yet. Fail to feed every time. Should also mention I only have about 200 rounds through it so maybe thats a break in problem.

brandon_mcg
January 11, 2011, 05:18 PM
glad you like the pistol. i have 2 1911's. one is a GI expert by para ordnance and it hates hollow points. the other is a springer ultra compact that eats all hollow points so i would not generalize that problem to all 1911's.

the two feed ramps on my weapons are completely different which i am sure has something to do with it.

dont really mind though. the GI is a range gun so i feed it ball anyway and ultra compact is my ccw.

Viper
January 11, 2011, 06:50 PM
I bought the exact same pistol two weeks ago from Bud's for $496. Their shipping was much slower than usual, so I didn't pick it up at my LGS until Friday. I agree with your description, and was going to shoot it yesterday, but I got snowed in. I was busy last week shooting a SA Loaded Ultra Compact that I ordered at the same time. The good news is that the Springfield was perfect for 250 rounds of bulk FMJ 230's and Remington JHP's. I'm expecting the RI to do the same.

kayak-man
January 11, 2011, 07:37 PM
Thanks for the review! I've been looking at the RIA's for a long time, and am reading all the info on them I can get. Soon as I decide between the GI and the Tactical, I'll look into ordering one.

Are you planning on carrying it all, or is it strictly a range gun?


Chris "the Kayak-Man" Johnson

WardenWolf
January 11, 2011, 08:00 PM
Here's a picture:

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s279/WardenWolf_1982/RIA1911.jpg

I may carry it, but it's mostly going to be a range gun. If I do, I'll get a Don Hume holster for it. I also bought mine from Bud's, but paid with credit card so it was $515. I've yet to hear a single bad thing about the RIA guns. I feel that it will be an excellent platform for customization, as the build quality is impeccable. In the end I'm expecting it to outshoot my father's Colt. While it IS a Colt, it's still a 40 year old gun. I feel the newer Rock Island gun will have much higher potential. Tighter tolerances, etc. And I don't have to worry about negatively affecting the value of a genuine Colt by customizing it.

wally
January 11, 2011, 09:33 PM
Soon as I decide between the GI and the Tactical, I'll look into ordering one

Unless you really want he "GI" look get the Tactical model. The upgrades are more than worth the modest price premium.

Change the grips on the Tactical (that is where they skimp to make the price point) and you basically have Springfield "Loaded" features at a Springfield "GI" price.

My oldest RIA has about 15000 rounds through it. These guns are shooters not safe queens!


If you are having problems with HP ammo in your 1911 try a stronger magazine spring from Wolf. The 1911 is a controlled feed design where the mag spring pushes the round up into position. Its not so much a "feed ramp" as a clearance cut to let the round move forward to the magazines release point and then up and in powered by the mag spring.

WardenWolf
January 11, 2011, 10:15 PM
Change the grips on the Tactical (that is where they skimp to make the price point) and you basically have Springfield "Loaded" features at a Springfield "GI" price.

Agreed. Going to get some black wood grips for it. That's not my top priority, though. The stock grips are okay. Yes, they're plastic, but they look fine and I'd rather wait and make a few other changes first. First thing I'm changing is the mainspring housing and the magazine. After that I'll probably change the grips and then start working on replacing the trigger and other components with stainless.

Fieldstone
January 11, 2011, 10:21 PM
Funny, just fired the same gun myself on Saturday past and loved it. Shot it with prospective buyers and they all loved it. Nice fit, very basic, no frills, and accurate out of the box. I have a new respect for RIA.

ttraylor
January 11, 2011, 10:25 PM
I appreciate the info from Viper, as I just purchased the same gun from Bud's a week ago and it is still in processing. If they are always this slow, then this will be my last purchase from them.

I read a lot of good reviews on the RIA Tactical before the purchase, and it is nice to hear good reports after they took my money, BUT HAVE NOT SHIPPED MY PISTOL!:fire: Deep breath, exhale, be patient my little grasshopper.

To ThePunisher, my first pistol was a HiPoint and it was a nice little gun for the money. The quality of my XD, of course not but for a $139 it shot well and went boom every time I pulled the trigger. I had a friend who wanted a pistol but had little money so I sold it to him and he has no complaints.

WardenWolf
January 11, 2011, 10:37 PM
Don't worry, ttraylor. They got a ton of orders just before and after Christmas and are swamped. They'll get your gun to you. Their prices are worth the wait. They took a while to ship mine, too, but it was worth it.

My father has a Springfield XD. He offered to buy me one for myself, but I wanted a 1911 instead. This is what I chose. As much as I like his XD, I prefer cold steel, whether it be a 1911 or a Tokarev.

Stringfellow
January 12, 2011, 02:05 AM
I got the tactical for Christmas. I plan to do a few upgrades, but am pretty happy with it as is. My expectations for the finish were pretty low, as that is their weak point. But the fit is tight, and the parkerized finish is perfect for a "shooting gun". Clearly you could get a prettier finish, and Swiss watch tolerances, but the pistol fit my point of diminishing returns perfectly.

I went in with a few preconceptions that have now since changed:
1) I thought I liked the feel of an arched mainspring, so I bought one. I quickly switched it back.

2) I thought full-length guide rods were a gimmick and tricky to disassemble, so I bought a standard GI rod. I quickly switched it back because I found the pistol easier to disassemble with the FLGR, and the action felt much smoother.

3) I'd always hated finger groove grips, but the one I handled at the gun shop felt good. I bought a Hogue grip, and now I can't imagine shooting with out it.

http://i783.photobucket.com/albums/yy117/Mr_Stringfellow_Hawke/DSC_0080lo.jpg

dogngun
January 12, 2011, 11:18 AM
use it as my home/night time gun for years now. FWIW, I use only GSGI/Colt 7 round mags with it and have not had any failures in all the time I have owned it. It is more accurate than I can hold it.
I have 2 ARMSCOR made 1911's and they are both that good.

They also carry a lifetime warantee, even if bought used...and the company is GREAT to deal with...


mark

Viper
January 12, 2011, 01:47 PM
I appreciate the info from Viper, as I just purchased the same gun from Bud's a week ago and it is still in processing. If they are always this slow, then this will be my last purchase from them.

I read a lot of good reviews on the RIA Tactical before the purchase, and it is nice to hear good reports after they took my money, BUT HAVE NOT SHIPPED MY PISTOL!:fire: Deep breath, exhale, be patient my little grasshopper.

To ThePunisher, my first pistol was a HiPoint and it was a nice little gun for the money. The quality of my XD, of course not but for a $139 it shot well and went boom every time I pulled the trigger. I had a friend who wanted a pistol but had little money so I sold it to him and he has no complaints.
Hi ttraylor. This is the 7th gun I've bought from Bud's and every other one shipped the next day. This one shipped after 8 days, but they apologized via E-Mail and said they were swamped over the holidays. I always try to buy locally, but sometimes it's hard to pass on Bud's prices. I got an new HK45 compact for $800 and a perfect used S&W 4586 for $259.

At any rate, if yours is like mine, it's worth the wait. The nickel finish is perfect and the fit and finish is as good as my SIG 1911 C3 or my Loaded SA Ultra Compact.

I managed to slip and slide to the range this morning, and although I was time limited, I shot 100 rounds of WWB and 30 rounds of Remington JHP's. I had one incident. On the last round of the first factory mag, it failed to completely go into battery. After that not one problem even with the HP's. The spare Kimber mag was perfect.

The accuracy was amazing. I had two flyers on the first mag learning the sights [both 1 inch high], but after that EVERYTHING was in 1 1/2 inch groups right on POA at 30 feet. I couldn't be happier. I have eleven 45's, several in the $1000 - $1500 range, and none shoot this well for me.

franco45
January 12, 2011, 03:51 PM
I have the two tone tactical and my experience with the RIA has been as good as the other posters. I have a couple of 8 round Kimber magazines that have worked flawlessly in the RIA. :D $459 from Centerfire Systems, $13.50 shipping and $20 ffl fee for a grand total of $492.50

FLAvalanche
January 12, 2011, 04:33 PM
3) I'd always hated finger groove grips, but the one I handled at the gun shop felt good. I bought a Hogue grip, and now I can't imagine shooting with out it.

Pachmyer makes a set for 1911s that are wood with rubber finger grooves. They look awesome on the RIA tactical and you get the best of both worlds. Comfort and control of the rubber finger grooves and the sexiness of wood.

I have them on my RIA and it always gets compliments.

Furncliff
January 12, 2011, 04:41 PM
I have those Pachmyer's on my RIA Tactial . They really make a difference in control. I received my pistol as a Christmas present from my wife a few years ago. It goes shooting with me every time.

harmon rabb
January 12, 2011, 07:25 PM
I have a RIA Tactical as well, and my assessment of it is the same as yours. Very nice gun for the price. God damn are the grips ugly though. I mean, I know they have to cut prices somewhere, but they're not even trying by putting those grips on there :o

JohnFritz
January 12, 2011, 07:33 PM
For those of you who own a RIA finished in nickle, how has this finish held up for you in real-world usage?

I love the look of that finish but I've read some complaints here and there about it. Not that that means much. Also, are there certain LCP's that might damage a nickle finish?

WardenWolf
January 12, 2011, 08:49 PM
The finish looks very durable to me. I don't see why it wouldn't hold up. Very uniform.

bannockburn
January 12, 2011, 08:53 PM
WardenWolf

Great review; very informative and a great looking pistol too. A friend of mine had a bright nickel RIA M1911 that he wanted modified to make it more comfortable for him to shoot. Overall I was very impressed by the overall tightness of the gun, the even thickness of the nickel plate, and how well the internal parts were fitted.

He bought a stainless beavertail safety which he polished up to make it look like it was nickel plated. I fitted that to the frame, replaced the mainspring housing with one that had a built-in mag chute, added an extended thumb safety, and did a basic trigger job to smooth out the pull. Sometime after that, he had a set of Meprolight night sights installed. The gun was amazingly accurate and totally reliable, with factory ammo as well as with a number of different reloads that my friend had put together.

WardenWolf
January 12, 2011, 09:02 PM
It's a nice gun. I feel their frames and slides are as good as any for building a gun off of. You probably could build a true match-grade gun off one of these things easily, though it would, of course, cost you.

ttraylor
January 12, 2011, 11:15 PM
Hi ttraylor. This is the 7th gun I've bought from Bud's and every other one shipped the next day. This one shipped after 8 days, but they apologized via E-Mail and said they were swamped over the holidays. I always try to buy locally, but sometimes it's hard to pass on Bud's prices. I got an new HK45 compact for $800 and a perfect used S&W 4586 for $259.

At any rate, if yours is like mine, it's worth the wait. The nickel finish is perfect and the fit and finish is as good as my SIG 1911 C3 or my Loaded SA Ultra Compact.

I managed to slip and slide to the range this morning, and although I was time limited, I shot 100 rounds of WWB and 30 rounds of Remington JHP's. I had one incident. On the last round of the first factory mag, it failed to completely go into battery. After that not one problem even with the HP's. The spare Kimber mag was perfect.

The accuracy was amazing. I had two flyers on the first mag learning the sights [both 1 inch high], but after that EVERYTHING was in 1 1/2 inch groups right on POA at 30 feet. I couldn't be happier. I have eleven 45's, several in the $1000 - $1500 range, and none shoot this well for me.
Mine finally shipped today. That is 8 calendar days and 6 working days so I guess that was within their 3 to 7 working day shipping time. I just figured that if I ordered on a Tuesday that it would ship that week, but I guess I was wrong. No matter, it is on its way, I am just going to miss a nice warm Saturday after a very cold spell. I have my shells, I have extra mags and finger grooves to add to my grip and all I need is a 1911 Tact.

Viper
January 13, 2011, 03:16 AM
For those of you who own a RIA finished in nickle, how has this finish held up for you in real-world usage?

I love the look of that finish but I've read some complaints here and there about it. Not that that means much. Also, are there certain LCP's that might damage a nickle finish?
I just got mine, but the finish is uniform, so I don't anticipate any problems. I have a nickel plated SIG P220 that was built in 1991. It was a police carry for years before I bought it, so it got hard use, and the finish is still almost perfect.

kyletx1911
January 13, 2011, 06:10 AM
shhhhhhhh dont tell any one about the rocks i own two and want more 1 fs 1 4in both are in my edc rotation the fs 4k in the pipe the 4in 3.5k, and both used and flawless

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