I love my Glocks. However, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the 1911 series of handguns, chambered in .45 ACP. Over the past 50+ years, I’ve owned hundreds of different 1911s from many different gun makers. Used to be, I thought that the only 1911s worth owning were those made by Colt. My thinking on this changed a long, long time ago, when I laid my hands on my first Kimber 1911. They were and still are a real game changer.
Today we’re looking at a 1911 manufactured in the Philippines and marketed by Rock Island Armory (RIA). There are some outstanding 1911s of all sorts made in the Philippines. I’ve owned many different makes and models. There are presently two major 1911 makers in the Philippines and they produce more 1911s than any other country.
Today we’re looking at the Rock Island Armory full-sized 1911 with a Picatinny rail for mounting a light and/or laser on the front This gun has a 5-inch barrel – stainless steel and the rest of the gun is made out of carbon steel. This is a heavy gun to be sure, weighing in at over 40 ounces.
Starting at the top, the slide has combat sights and my only complaint is they don’t have white dots so in my case with my aged eyes, they are hard to pick up. I painted the front sight with some bright orange nail polish and the rear sight was finished with two white dots – once again nail polish, so they are easier to shoot with, for my old eyes.
The slide has the ejection port flared and opened up, for a sure ejection, and the rear of the slide on both sides has serration. The gun is nicely finished in a Parkerized dark gray finish. The gun came with a long recoil spring guide rod. I swapped it out for a short mil-spec set-up. The longer set-up just makes it more difficult to disassemble for cleaning. I should mention that I used to love the longer guide rod set-up, but in my old age, I prefer things simple.
Moving down on the frame, we have an extended dust cover, with a Picatinny rail on it…it has 5 grooves for mounting a light or laser. This extended dust cover does add more weight to the gun. However, that also tames recoil a little bit. The trigger is all steel, and I normally would swap it out for an Aluminum trigger. However, the trigger pull broke at a solid 4.5 pounds. So I’m not gonna mess with it. And it has no over-travel – nice. So, for the time being, the steel trigger stays put.
The hammer is an oval design and once again, I’m keeping it as-is. We also have an ambidextrous safety and I used to love that set-up. Nowadays I can take or leave an ambi manual safety. I’m leaving it in place – for now. The ambi safety snicks on/off with authority – expertly fitted, too. Plus, this safety set-up isn’t overly oversized. We have a nice and perfectly fitted grip safety that is perfectly fitted – no slop at all, and it has a nice memory bump on it, as well.
The mainspring housing is all steel and perfectly checkered…whereas most mainspring housings on contemporary M1911s from competing brands — even those made by Colt — are made out of plastic. The front strap has serrations, running top to bottom – I prefer checkering, but this is a better set-up than a smooth front strap.
The slide release is all steel and works without fail. The magazine release is normal size and works great, The magazine well is slightly beveled for a faster reload. The grips are made out of G1- and nicely configured for a sure grip, and relieved for a better access to the mag release. The grips are sand colored and black stripes – very good looking if you ask me. This particular gun came to me used through the local FFL I haunt and it was a hard-fought trade/deal.
I hadn’t gone into any gun shop or any stores during the Covid mess, and it was hard for me to stay out of gun shops – but I did so. A lot of good it did me, as my wife and I still managed to catch Covid in August 2022…I was down for the count for three weeks. However my wife did much better. I did pay a visit to the eye doctor at Walmart. However, I did not go in any other stores – and I still don’t. I just can’t risk picking up any new bugs.
I managed to have another stroke in September of 2022, though…the doctor said it was between a major stroke and a mini-stroke…I recovered fairly quickly after that. Until November, at which time I experienced massive bleeding from the colon. I lost track of the number of times I was in one ER or another. Plus several admissions to two various hospitals. It was a never-ending battery of tests – over and over again, but they eventually found the cause. To top it all off, I now have Bell’s Palsy – it is getting better, but still hard to chew on one side of my mouth, and I have to drink through a straw. It’s getting better – I think.
In the meantime, I’m backed-up on products to test and write about. I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up. My typing skills have dropped from 100+ words per minute to only about 35-words per minute. I keep practicing, but thusfar, no improvement.
My Shooting Tests
Back to the testing of this 1911…Over the course of several shooting sessions, I put more than 500 rounds of Black Hills Ammunition .45 ACP ammo through the gun…and there were zero malfunctions of any sort. Most of the shooting was done with 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) “ball” ammo, and a little bit more of the rest of their .45 ACP line-up. Believe it or not, we are going into another ammo shortage right now…so whenever Black Hills sends me any ammo, I cherish it. They have managed to keep me shooting through several ammo droughts.
All shooting was done resting the RIA 1911 pistol over a rolled-up sleeping bag on a large boulder. Distance was 25 yards. My shooting skills have fallen off a bit over the months, but they are recovering. I have some pretty expensive 1911s in my stable and all are great shooters. However, this RIA is the least expensive 1911 I own. It is not a “cheap” gun but it is rock solid – tight. I managed a few groups of two inches and a few a little bit smaller than that. That is great shooting from a used, non-match grade gun.
This 1911 wouldn’t be my first choice in a CCW handgun, I would pick one of my lightweight 1911s over it – just because of the weight. However, if it were my only 1911 – I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it.
A Long Legacy
There’s a lot to be said about a gun that has been produced for well over 110 years. And, I can’t begin to count how many 1911 makers there are these days. So, that says something about the design. And, to be sure, a good 1911 is still the first choice of a lot of hi-tech military and police these days. The knockdown power of the .45 ACP round itself speaks volumes.
In the past, when I was doing security work, a lot of it involved searching buildings, and on many occasions, I had a Model 1911 strapped on my side and I didn’t feel the least bit handicapped with “only” that gun on my hip and a couple spare magazines. I also worked with quite a few Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers when they arrived at the scene of a break-in, who carried a 1911 as their spare gun, and they reached for that 1911 over their duty gun – and that was usually a revolver. I don’t know if the CPD still allows a 1911 as a backup gun. I hope that they do.
As I stated at the start of this article, I love my Glocks, and would probably carry one as my duty gun if I were back in law enforcement. Be assured I’d still have a 1911 as a back-up gun, especially if I were patrolling alone – and in the past most of my law enforcement and private security work – I worked alone – or with back-up that was a long way off.
While I’m mostly retired from writing these days, I’d like to thank all our readers who have kept me in their prayers – I honestly don’t think I would have made it through all the dark times I went through the past 11 months – your prayers made a real difference. I should have died several times over, if not for the great medical care I received. I had 21 pints of blood poured through me because I was bleeding so badly internally…and no matter how you look at it, that is a lot of blood – several times they had two IV bags of blood going into me – scary to say the least. And, I know our senior editor Jim Rawles and his family are still praying for me daily. He’s a great friend. Thanks, Jim and Family, that is appreciated.