by B. Gil Horman - Tuesday, January 15, 2013
The Rock Island Armory (RIA) line of pistols is manufactured by Armscor in Marikina City, Philippines, and distributed in America by Armscor USA out of Pahrump, Nev. While many of RIA’s pistols are basic, value-priced clones of the U.S. Military G.I. M1911-A1, its Tactical line includes models that have been fitted with features and upgrades for folks in the market for a pistol with a little more flair. New for this year, Armscor is expanding its line of Tactical II FS pistols to include two versions in 10 mm.
The Tactical II tested for this review is an all-steel 1911 with a black Parkerized finish. The slide and frame profile are of the traditional A1 variety, with a slide catch, straight rear-slide serrations and a magazine release of the same variety. The other version of this new 10 mm has a modified frame with a long tactical rail for lights and lasers. The slide is topped with metallic three-dot sights. The front sight houses a red fiber optic, while the rear white-dot sight is fully adjustable for height and windage. The hammer is a skeletonized combat type that rests above a beavertail grip safety with a grooved memory bump.
The grip frame is fitted with a metallic skeletonized trigger, an extended ambidextrous thumb safety and a checkered straight mainspring housing made of polymer. The front of the grip is smooth with black and grey VZ Grips G10 grip panels attached to the sides with blued standard screws. A steel magazine well has been added, and is held in place by the two lower grip screws. The eight-round blued-steel magazines have bases that are pre-drilled to attach after market rubber base extensions. Rubber bases will be needed for speed reloads since the magazine well extends about a 1/4 inch lower than the magazines when they are fully inserted.
The Tactical II has been designed to handle the increased pressure levels generated by the 10 mm cartridge. Modern .45 ACP cartridges operate at a maximum of 21,000 psi, if they meet SAAMI standards. The 10 mm can run up to 37,500 psi before crossing the SAAMI limits. To keep up with the hot 10 mm round, the A1-style bushing and short guide rod have been replaced by a bushing-less linked barrel and full-length steel guide rod.
The bushing-less barrel configuration requires a slightly different disassembly process than most GI-type 1911s. It's a good idea to wear safety glasses while working on this system since the stout recoil spring remains under pressure until the end of the field stripping process. Start by removing the magazine and lock the slide into the open position. Double check the chamber to verify there is no ammunition in the pistol. With the slide in the open position it's possible to see a small hole drilled in the guide rod, located about 1 3/4-inches back from the muzzle, between the top of the guide rod and the bottom of the barrel. Insert a disassembly tool into the hole (a bent paper clip will do in a pinch) to restrain the recoil assembly.
While holding the slide in place, release the slide catch. Slowly move the slide forward until the notches line up, and then remove the slide catch. Push the slide forward and off of the frame. Remove the captured recoil assembly by pushing it back toward the barrel chamber. Extract the barrel from the slide by pulling it forward out of the slide.
Dismantling the restrained recoil assembly for cleaning is accomplished by using the empty slide as a tool. Re-insert the recoil assembly into the slide in the same position it was in before. Press the assembly forward against the slide to relieve the pressure on the disassembly tool, remove the tool from the rod and then slowly guide the spring and rod out of the slide. When reassembling the pistol, the heavy recoil spring will require a solid and steady application of pressure to press the guide rod back into place so the disassembly tool can be replaced in the hole drilled through the rod. This process is not as difficult as it may sound, but it needs to be done carefully to prevent parts from flying across the room.
Taking the Tactical II to the range for testing was a positive experience indeed. I have been reading about the 10 mm cartridge for ages and have been waiting to give it a try. The Rock Island Armory pistols are universally respected, but I have not worked with one before. I was looking forward to trying both for the first time.
The Tactical II has a utilitarian Parkerized finish, but it was expertly applied. There was no wobble or side-to-side movement in the slide. Instead it was tight and smooth. The magazine release vigorously ejected magazines, and all of the magazines tested locked snuggly into place. The skeletonized trigger had a little take-up before a crisp let off. The trigger is advertized as having a 4- to 6-pound pull, but this sample couldn't convince a Lyman's digital trigger gauge to say it was less than 6 pounds, 8 ounces. As a shooter who blasts away with double-action revolvers and striker-fired pistols on a regular basis, a short-stroke single-action trigger in this weight range was not much of a distraction. As for 1911 competition-trigger aficionados, they may not care for it.
The eye-catching VZ Grips G10 grip panels are aggressively textured. This lends to a very positive grip surface for cold, wet or slick fingers. The down side to this grip configuration is the G10 will abrade bare hands over the course of an extended practice session, especially with peppy 10 mm loads. Just slip on some shooting gloves and enjoy the firm grip.
The Tactical II proved to be reliable with the ammunition tested. The 40 ounces of steel this gun provides helped to tame the recoil produced by the high-performance 10 mm cartridge. There was only one malfunction during the test, which was a single failure to feed in the first 25-rounds fired. For a factory-fresh, all-steel pistol, a single hang-up early in the break-in period is nothing to worry about. The accuracy of this pistol and caliber combination was excellent, especially for an iron-sights-only, out-of-the-box 1911 pistol.
Working from a bench rest set at 25 yards from the target, the best single five-shot group was 2.25 inches, with no single group exceeding 3.25-inches. After completing the traditional accuracy testing, it seemed like this would be a good opportunity to try DoubleTap's multi-projectile defensive Equalizer load. In the 10 mm round, a functional 135-grain jacketed hollow point is loaded over a 95-grain, hard-cast lead ball. The hollow point expands on impact, while the ball provides deep penetration. From the Tactical II pistol, the Equalizer was accurate, with the bullet striking at point of aim and the lead ball landing just above it. Projectile spread was 1 inch at 7 yards, 2 inches at 15 yards, 3 inches at 25 yards and recoil was moderate.
The Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical II FS 10 mm Pistol provided a level of performance one might not expect from a budget-friendly import. It arrives with a set of features that makes it ready to run right out of the box. The fit, finish and accuracy of this pistol were top notch, and it never hurts to have a handgun that's reliable as well. The 10 mm cartridge and Rock Island Armory made a good first impression, and I’m looking forward to working with both of them again in the future.
Manufacturer: Armscor; us.armscor.com
Model: Rock Island Armory 1911 Tactical II FS
Action: Single Action
Caliber: 10 mm
Grips: VZ Grips G10
Sights: Fiber-Optic Front, Click Adjustable Rear
Barrel Length: 5”
Overall Length: 8.75”
Slide Width: 0.94”
Weight: 40 ozs.
Capacity: 8+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two magazines, lockable hard case, lock and manual
Suggested Retail Price: $659.95
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