The Rock Island Midsize 1911 .45

The Rock Island “Compact” 1911 .45

 The Rock Island Armory (RIA) line of 1911’s is certainly not the first bargain-priced Colt knock-offs to come down the line. It’s sad to say, but an awful lot of them simply haven’t been all that good. Add to this with the fact that I’ve always been a GI Colt/Ithaca fan, and you’ll probably understand why I was a tad leery of these guns they first appeared. My brother Jim provided me with my first opportunity to shoot one in Berryville, Arkansas on Independence Day weekend. He had just purchased one of the mid-sized 4″ guns, and we were both anxious to run some rounds through it.

The previous evening I tore the gun down, polished the feed ramp & throat, tweaked the extractor tension a tad and polished the breech face. This gave me a opportunity to get a good look inside the gun- and the execution and assembly was better than I expected. The fit of the barrel hood was just right. The trigger wasn’t half-bad, either. We eventually ran about 100 rounds of my favorite .45 ACP reloads through it; these consisted of 200 grain H&G 68’s (SWC) over 5.4 grains of 231, and some Sierra 230 JHC’s over 5.8 of Universal. It was just a tad a little sluggish chambering the first round, (factory magazine, I think) but it never faltered throughout the shoot. It was pouring down rain so we only shot at about ten yards- but neither of us had any trouble keeping a full magazine in a two-to-three inch group. I’m sure that on a calm, sunny day, off the sandbags, that this little gun would shoot at least that well out to 25 yards. The gun shot a tad high for both of us, probably because of that teeny little front sight.

After the shooting session, I tore the gun down and checked the hood & barrel lugs for tell-tale signs of peening. I am pleased to report that there was absolutely no wear evident in either location. I do believe they got the heat-treating right on this gun, too.

Brother Jim is duly proud of his little 1911, and he has shot it some more since our little “monsoon range exercise.” He reports that it is still running like a champ. Considering that the gun has never had a single round of 230 grain hardball through it, that saying a heck of a lot! It will be even better once we get him some decent (spelled METALFORM) magazines for it. My end take on the RIA .45, is that it’s a surprisingly good gun for the money.


7 Responses to The Rock Island Midsize 1911 .45

  1. Bob Baker says:

    Thanks for the review. I bought this gun and absolutely love it. I did my range time for my NRA basic pistol training and it performed flawlessly. It does get a little heavy after a couple of hours of shooting but for under $500 you can’t go wrong.

  2. Jake Davisi says:

    I have 4 ria 1911 compact 3.5 barrel all the way up to the full sized tach models and have had no issues with any of them. I like to shoot and have several of high dollar pistols that love. The rias are just good as any of my safe queen the customer service is also great sorry about spelling

  3. I plan to buy a RIA Compact 1911 this weekend.
    I already have a RIA fullsize 1911 in 9 mm and really like the pistol.
    It shoots well, as accurate as I am, and has not given me any problems in about 1000 rounds through it. I do want to change the sights, but will look into that when I get the Compact and do them both at the same time.

  4. Billy Wagster says:

    I piked up my 1911 compact on 13 Aug 2014 and went to the range. I will mention that I cleaned it up and it performed like a champ. I have the RIA 1911 5″ which I thought was the best gun I had. I was wrong! I range had a 7.5 yard target available. Really, right out of the box after a quick clean this pistol shot as well as my 5″. This compact makes pistol number 6 for me and I am very happy with it. I wish I had found it about 3 or 4 pistols ago. Good gun, good price and fun to shoot!

  5. Mike Lombardi says:

    im planning to get one as soon as i sell my guitar. what im trying to find out, is wether it has a series 80 fireing pin block.

    • Sarge says:

      To my knowledge, current production Rock Islands still follow the 70 Series format. But to be sure, you should call RIA and ask.

      • James legere jr says:

        This is way off the topic but the guy in the picture looks just like my dad. Almost to the point that at first glance I thought it was him.

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