2,074 rounds. That’s how long the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm 1911 has gone without a failure of any type. I’ll get the dull bits out of the way right here & now. The gun passed the 10-8 Function Test, passed the 100 round speed test, gave every single item I could think to throw at it, & became only the second gun to achieve a perfect 100/100 on the Gun Nuts 1911 Evaluation. The only other weapon to make a complete score? Tim’s Wilson Combat.
If you want more boring stats, here’s a full list of the different types of ammo fired through the gun.
- 200 rounds of 124gr American Eagle
- 798 rounds of 115gr American Steel
- 500 rounds of 115gr Armscor FMJ
- 50 rounds of CapArms 147gr Match FMJ
- 77 shots of 115gr Hornady Critical Defense
- 399 rounds of 115gr PMC FMJ
- 50 rounds of Winchester 147gr PDX
Enter the Rock Island Armory 1911A1.
The name rock island 1911 gi itself invokes a sense of nostalgia, though the guns are not the product of the Rock Isl& Arsenal or any of the other subcontractors that were making 1911’s when the Second World War. The gun is an import from the Philippines—a fact several prominently displayed in the price. Around $400.
The Rock Island A1 strives to replicate many of the old Colt’s iconic features. The gun has a stubby little hammer & a slim beavertail. The pistol like the originals (if in a slightly darker color). Maybe the most significant similarity is that the gun doesn’t have a firing pin block, so don’t drop it.
The varieties are practical. Lowered ejector port. Beveled magazine well. The barrel has been raised so hollow things will feed. While these are indeed sound ideas, they detract from the simple replication of the A1. But does that matter?
Many corners are cut in the manufacture. The gun has smooth wooden grips. The frame & the slide are cast instead of milled. While cast metal may never have any impact on the performance of the gun, the reliability of Rock Isl&’s parts instills tiny seeds of doubt. & that is enough to scare any folks away.
Other differences seem r&om. The gun has a flat mainspring housing. The A1s were curved inconsiderably. Purists are discussing right now which is better & why, though it has further to do with feel.
When it gets down to it, the Rock Isl& 1911 does what it is supposed to do. I have gone through numerous boxes of .45 ACP without a hitch. However, like most guns (or every apparatus for that matter), you’ll notice it slow down after extended use. In this case, the slide slows after a while as it gunks up with carbon build up.
The sights are also a bit nubby. They are accurate enough at around 10 yards, but anything, after that was hitting the bull’s eye, becomes a bit difficult. & often I found myself compensating.
However, groups are always consistent at around 1.5 to two inches at 10 yards. It is 1911 after all, & recoil is incredibly mild even for beginner shooters.
But if you do buy this gun, please don’t complain about accuracy. Right, the weapon is built well-enough, but out-of-the-box from the factory, it’s not meant to be a competition model or anything like that. It is what it is.
In the end, the Rock Island 1911’s are all about price without any custom type rock island 1911 gi holster. The A1 isn’t a match grade target pistol. I wouldn’t think that anyone would ever consider carrying it. But I can’t see much that this gun does that other low-end 1911’s don’t do this. A Mil-Spec Springfield will set back a little more. If you’re flush & want to buy American, look at the Colts.
The Rock Island 1911A1 isn’t an heirloom piece. It’s a blue-collar gun & far from pure. But it’s reliable & shoots well. & I’d never been afraid to shoot it. In fact, this is the kind of gun you want to kill until it breaks—just to see how much it can take.
The Rock Islamd1911A1 is a pistol that deserves to get dirty. Toss it in the toolbox. Take it on a river trip. If something breaks, try to fix it. & if you turn it up, if you could manage to wreck it beyond repair, it wouldn’t cost much to replace it.
So here’s the deal. If you want 1911, but you want to spend less than $1,000 you should look hard at the Rock Island Armory models. My recommendation is working to be to skip RIA’s entry-level stuff, their GI guns & whatnot, & go straight for either their Rock Ultra series or their Tac series. Those firearms seem to have a little bit more special something in their build process, & & as a result run exceptionally well. This gun is everything I’d hoped for, & I’m super pleased that it worked out the way it did.
- Rounds fired: 2,074
- Failures of any type: 0
- Armorer repairs: 0
- Broken parts: 0
- 10-8 Performance Test: Pass
- Final Score: 100/100