Hilton Yam is in my opinion one of the best builders of working 1911′s. Notice I said working. These aren’t competition guns these are built to be working guns for the CCW holder, Police Officer etc. In other words those looking for an ultra reliable piece of gun art meant to save your life. Hilton just released a new video on You Tube which is a video presentation of the printed version on the 10-8 Performance website. Check the 10-8 Performance website for many articles on the 1911 and how to run it right!

This would be a good one to download from You Tube and keep for reference. I use 10-8 sights and other parts for my 1911′s and S&W M&P. I hope you enjoy the video!

Click the picture for a larger view

Hum my Rock Island 38 Super looks a lot like his. I guess so since it has 10-8 sights and Ed Brown grip safety, 10-8 trigger, Tripp Research magazines etc. Yep I did the build:-)

(May 10, 1920 – September 25, 2006)

Since my blog has a big emphasis on the 1911 it wouldn’t be right not to celebrate the birthday of the father of the “Modern technique” of pistol shooting John Dean “Jeff” Cooper. Anyone who is a fan of the 1911 probably knows who the Colonel is or has at least heard of him.

These are some of his writings concerning the combat mindset:

Combat Mindset—The Cooper Color Code

The most important means of surviving a lethal confrontation, according to Cooper, is neither the weapon nor the martial skills. The primary tool is the combat mindset, set forth in his book, Principles of Personal Defense. In the chapter on awareness, Cooper presents an adaptation of the Marine Corps system to differentiate states of readiness:

The color code, as originally introduced by Jeff Cooper, had nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one’s state of mind. As taught by Cooper, it relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation. Cooper did not claim to have invented anything in particular with the color code, but he was apparently the first to use it as an indication of mental state.

  • White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be “Oh my God! This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that “today could be the day I may have to defend myself”. You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and realize that “I may have to shoot today”. You don’t have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don’t know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to “Watch your six.” (In aviation 12 o’clock refers to the direction in front of the aircraft’s nose. Six o’clock is the blind spot behind the pilot.) In Yellow, you are “taking in” surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep. As Cooper put it, “I might have to shoot.”
  • Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six). Your mindset shifts to “I may have to shoot that person today”, focusing on the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: “If that person does “X”, I will need to stop them”. Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state. Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.
  • Red: Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped. “If ‘X’ happens I will shoot that person”.

The USMC uses condition Black, although it was not originally part of Cooper’s Color Code. Condition Black: Catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance. Usually over 175 heartbeats per minute, increased heart rate becomes counter productive. May have stopped thinking correctly. This can happen when going from Condition White or Yellow immediately to Condition Red.

In short, the Color Code helps you “think” in a fight. As the level of danger increases, your willingness to take certain actions increases. If you ever do go to Condition Red, the decision to use lethal force has already been made (your “mental trigger” has been tripped).

The following are some of Cooper’s additional comments on the subject.

Considering the principles of personal defense, we have long since come up with the Color Code. This has met with surprising success in debriefings throughout the world. The Color Code, as we preach it, runs white, yellow, orange, and red, and is a means of setting one’s mind into the proper condition when exercising lethal violence, and is not as easy as I had thought at first. There is a problem in that some students insist upon confusing the appropriate color with the amount of danger evident in the situation. As I have long taught, you are not in any color state because of the specific amount of danger you may be in, but rather in a mental state which enables you to take a difficult psychological step. Now, however, the government has gone into this and is handing out color codes nationwide based upon the apparent nature of a peril. It has always been difficult to teach the Gunsite Color Code, and now it is more so. We cannot say that the government’s ideas about colors are wrong, but that they are different from what we have long taught here. The problem is this: your combat mind-set is not dictated by the amount of danger to which you are exposed at the time. Your combat mind-set is properly dictated by the state of mind you think appropriate to the situation. You may be in deadly danger at all times, regardless of what the Defense Department tells you. The color code which influences you does depend upon the willingness you have to jump a psychological barrier against taking irrevocable action. That decision is less hard to make since the jihadis have already made it.

He further simplified things in Vol. 13 #7 of his Commentaries.

“In White you are unprepared and unready to take lethal action. If you are attacked in White you will probably die unless your adversary is totally inept.
In Yellow you bring yourself to the understanding that your life may be in danger and that you may have to do something about it.
In Orange you have determined upon a specific adversary and are prepared to take action which may result in his death, but you are not in a lethal mode.
In Red you are in a lethal mode and will shoot if circumstances warrant.
I was fortunate enough to attend Gunsite back in the 1980′s when the Colonel was still teachings classes. Believe me it was not only an education in pistol craft but an education in how to survive.
Check this web page for a complete biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Cooper
There is a DVD set of the original VHS training videos done in 1987. It’s still relevant and enjoyable to watch and I guarantee you’ll learn something! You can purchase the set from Gun Digest.  http://www.gundigeststore.com/jeff-coopers-defensive-pistolcraft-tape-series-on-dvd-w5277

Rock Island Tactical 9MM

September 24, 2011

If you want to save money on ammunition without sacrificing your beloved 1911, then this is the pistol you need! The Rock Island Armory Tactical 1911, one of the most popular 1911s on the market, is now available in 9mm. Compared to the more expensive .45 ACP model, you can feed it for much less money and keep the same number of rounds going down range.

I have always been very fond of Rock Island 1911 pistols. First and foremost they are well made with all, they have the features I like and the price is great at roughly $450 for all Tactical models. Don’t let the price fool you into thinking that it is cheaply made because it surely is not. I own several in 45 ACP, including both the full size and compact version. I received this sample Tactical in 9mm directly from Rock Island.

Now a number of you will say “but it’s a 9mm”! Well yes it is, but over the last few years the 9mm has gone through some serious improvements. Loads like the Buffalo Bore 9mm +P+ (115 gr. at 1,400 fps / 500 ft/lbs) and the Cor-Bon DPX (115 gr at 1250fps / 399 ft/lbs) will not leave you underarmed. Another advantage of a 9mm version of the 1911 is capacity. The Rock Island Tactical 9mm holds ten rounds with eleven rounds using a new magazine from Metalform. Of course, if you want to keep the 45 .ACP for defense you can always use the 9mm for practice.

Affectionately referred to as “The Rock” among owners, the Tactical has all of the features desired by most shooters. The pistol is made from forged 4120 steel with a hammer forged barrel. Its safety is an extended ambidextrous with Novak type low mount black sights. The grip safety has the beavertail configuration. A full length guiderod is also included. The barrel has a nice feature with an 11 degree muzzle crown to protect it from damage should the pistol be dropped. It also has a lowered and flared ejection port. The hammer is skeletonized. A durable parkerized finish is standard.

Rock Island packs each pistol in a hard black plastic case with one magazine. The Rock Island warranty is lifetime for the original owner.

Trigger pull on this example is 5 pounds with little takeup. This was a bit of a surprise because the trigger didn’t really feel like 5 pounds. Let’s just say the trigger is certainly a good one.

The stats are standard for a full size 1911 and weighs in at 38.5 ounces.

**Range Time**

I spent about two hours in this session firing 250 rounds total of Armscor 115 .grn 9mm. Testing distances were 7, 10 and 15 yards. I used the standard 5 inch targets from Birchwood Casey.

The first rounds fired were some older Winchester Silvertips I had laying around. If anything will test a new pistol for reliability it is hollowpoints. I fired all 50 rounds at various distances and speed to check more for reliability than accuracy. The magazine was a bit stiff to load 9 rounds. After fifty rounds it eased up a bit. Even so there were no failures of any kind.

After loading up with the Armscorp ammo I set my target up at 7 yards and started working on accuracy testing.

Moving back to 10 yards I fired this string again measuring right at 1 inch. Pretty darn good for a new pistol right out of the box. Many times when a new pistol is taken to the range the first time some adjustment of the sights is needed. Rock Island sights these pistols in at the factory. I’ve never had to adjust the sights on one yet.

This range session was no surprise. I’ve spent enough time with these pistols to know them pretty well. As I said earlier they are 100% reliable and this one was no exception. There were no failures of any type during the entire session of 300 rounds.

I mentioned earlier the magazine was rather stiff and difficult to load. After using one magazine for all 300 rounds it was no longer difficult to load that ninth round. Aftermarket 10 round high quality Metalform are available from MidwayUSA [for $27.99](http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=582914.)

Recoil in a 9mm 1911 is very soft allowing the shooter to get back on target easily. It makes a range session firing 300 rounds easy on the shooting hand.

**Conclusion**

The Rock Island Armory 1911 have been very successful since they began being imported from the Philippines about five years ago. This is a 1911 with a large following that just keeps growing. New models are released fairly often.

What you get is a 1911 that is accurate, reliable and well made. The price sure is hard to beat. Honestly it handles and shoots as well as my much more expensive Springfield Armory with the same features.


“Rock” or Kimber?

Over the years I’ve owned and reviewed many Kimbers and Rock Island Armory 1911′s. I was thinking the other day about the values of each brand and how they compare to each other. This may seem a bit one sided since the Kimber is much more expensive than the Rock Island Tactical. At least from my viewpoint price doesn’t always mean one pistol is better than another.
I wouldn’t presume to tell you which 1911 is better, rather I’ll present some observations and facts and let the reader decide. As far as price is concerned you can buy three Rock Island’s for the price of one Kimber. The question for the buyer is the Kimber’s price worth it compared to the value of the RIA?
From an aesthetic viewpoint the Kimber 1911′s are very desirable while the Rock Island 1911 is more utilitarian but certainly attractive in it’s own way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say.
In the last few months I’ve had a sample of each 1911 for review purposes. One is the Kimber Aegis II the other a RIA Tactical both in 9MM. Having fired well over 500 rounds from each pistol I surely have a basis for comparison.
The Kimber has a steel slide with an alloy frame. The entire pistol has a carry melt treatment with the frame front strap checkered at 30 LPI. The top of the slide is also milled flat. The Kimber also has Meprolight nightsights. The trigger, barrel and bushing are all advertised as match quality. This model is from the Kimber Custom Shop. Even so there are MIM parts.Trigger pull is between 4 and 5 pounds. The Kimber is a series 80. Retail is $1159.00.
The Rock Island Armory Tactical is almost universally respected. This is not my opinion necessarily rather information taken from many of the gun forums and feedback from friends. The pistol is forged steel and made in the Philippines. It has ambi thumb safeties, beavertail grip safety, full length guiderod and Novak type sights. I’ve spoken with a friend, who is a plant manager, who told me that the slides are hand fitted. Some hand fitting is also performed on the internals so that they all have a trigger pull between 4 and 5 pounds. The Tactical is a series 70. Pretty impressive for a pistol that retails for $450.00.
Most models have a parkerized finish. In recent months the number of models has increased. Some of these new models are two tone with a parked slide and stainless color frame. Rock Island pays attention to customer feedback with several models on the market as a direct result of this feedback.
What about accuracy and reliability? Well you be the judge. The first 165 rounds fired from the Kimber resulted in eight assorted malfunctions. After the initial problems a total of 900 rounds have been fired with no additional problems. The Rock Island Tactical was reliable out of the box with only one malfunction which was a faulty alloy cased round with a ding on the lip of the case.
The picture below shows a target fired with the Kimber and Rock Island Tactical.

I believe the photo is self explanatory. The “R” stands for Rock Island and the “K” of course stands for Kimber. The rounds fired are an equal number from both pistols. Distance was 10 yards. You be the judge:-)
The Kimber has a one year warranty. Rock Island LIFETIME warranty. Repairs on the Rock Island are seldom needed. Turnaround time for warranty repair is one week to ten days. Kimber warranty work has a turnaround time of one month from what I’ve read in the 1911 forums. Rock Island normally adds an extra magazine when returning a warranty repair gun to the owner.
Would I carry the Kimber while going in harms way? Yes after breaking it in and it having shown itself reliable after the initial problems. Would I carry the Rock Island? Yes without a second thought.
I believe this provides enough information for anyone in the market for a 1911 to make an informed decision to choose between the two brands. I welcome your comments, experiences and opinions.

I wrote a review on the Kimber Aegis II for The Firearm Blog. This is a 9mm made for those with smaller hands.I hope you enjoy it!
Here’s the LINK

Rafter “L” Gunleather

My reviews for GFS have been moved to “The Firearm Blog”

Hello all I wanted to announce I will be writing gun reviews weekly for the online gun shop and accessories dealer Guns for Sale.com. These reviews will be posted from now on at “The Firearm Blog”—link above:-) I will still post on Gunners Journal.
My ethics that apply to the blog will be in place as always so the reviews you read on Guns for Sale.com will be 100% correct and honest to the best of my ability.
Your questions and comments can be posted on their website and I will respond as quickly as possible as has always been the case here. They are good folks and I encourage you to look over the guns they stock at very fair prices.
The first article should be out in the next week or so.

Happy Shooting,
Phil
Gunner777

Kimber Pro Carry II

October 27, 2007

   I was at Cott firearms last week just taking a look to see what was new and as always checking for any good used gun buys. Well I didn’t see anything that got my attention but out of curiosity I took a look at the Kimber Pro Carry II in 9MM. I’ve been reading more and more about the 1911 platform in 9MM and frankly I was getting pretty curious about this combination of the best handgun ever made chambered in this old caliber.
   As many of you probably know when Colt designed the Commander model for the Army for use by the officer corp as well as those in support positions this is the gun they designed and it was designed for the 9MM from the start. The Colt Commander is 1/4 inch longer than the current trend of CCW 1911′s with 4 inch barrels such as this Kimber Pro Carry II and the Springfield Champion LW and soon (around April 08) the Rock Island Armory Tactical which Armscor calls a midsize gun. I’m sure if anybody else comes out with another 4 inch 1911 in 9MM it will be Rock Island Armory. They are a very inovative company that pays attention to their customers like no other! This is the only 4 inch bull barrel full frame 1911 I know of in 9MM. The Springfield is available only in 45 with the exception of the smaller 1911 designed around the 9MM.
   I know who wants a 1911 in 9MM. Well sir, I do. After succumbing to this little beauty I’m a convert. It does fill a useful nitch. If you’ve read my blog at all you know I’m a 1911 45 ACP devotee in the extreme but lets keep an open mind on this one. No, I’m not getting into the endless 45 ACP vs 9MM debate. I’ll say this–over the last several years ammo makers have come a very long way in making the 9MM a much more effective load than it was even ten years ago. I use the Winchester Ranger “T” series 127 grain +p+ for my Hi Power and now this Kimber. It feeds very well and the ballistics on this round are impressive. I trust this load to do the job simple as that.

   The Kimber holds 9 rounds of 9MM in the magazine with one up the pipe. Weight on this gun with the alloy frame is 28 ounces. So, ten rounds at your disposal in a lightweight highly concealable 1911. What more could you ask for in a daily carry gun that will ride with you eight or ten hours a day. Riding in a Milt Sparks 55BN in winter and a Sparks “Heritage” IWB in warm weather and your’e set.

The Milt Sparks “Heritage”

   These days there is certainly one reason for using a 9MM that has nothing to do with the caliber debate and that is the cost of shooting. At MidwayUsa 500 rounds of 45 ACP cost $126 whereas 9MM is $76 for 500 rounds. That is a substantial savings and allows those of us without unlimited funds to shoot a lot more for the same money or shoot the same amount for a considerable savings. From what I’ve been told ammo prices are going up two more times by February next year. Not good but then there isn’t much we can do about that except adapt by reloading more.
   On to shooting this fine gun. After bringing the Kimber home and giving it a complete cleaning and lube with Militec I put it all back together. There is one thing to let you know about when taking this pistol down for cleaning. The gun comes with a very slim hex wrench that slips into a hole in the guide rod in order to capture the compressed spring so you can remove the guide rod and then the barrel. There is nothing at all hard about it and just adds a small step to disassembly. Incidentally the Kimber uses a single 22 pound spring which changes out like any other 1911so you don’t have to fool with buying two specialized springs.The instructions for taking down the pistol is in the manual. You really need to read this before attempting to disassemble the gun for cleaning. I removed the rubber grips which came with the gun and put on a set of Mil-Tac G10′s with the 1* logo on them. For those not familiar with this it means One Ass To Risk. This is something Gary Paul Johnston came up with many years ago as a uniform patch for the SWAT team he worked with. Mil-Tac is the only company licensed to use this logo. I also picked up two additional magazines made by Metalform with a removable base and pre drilled for a slam pad. These are very good magazines no matter the caliber but I was especially impressed with the way these were made. Quality throughout at $13 from Brownells if you care to order extra mags for your guns. I was lucky enough to get my mags right away. Yes, the 9MM mags are less expensive as well:-)
   I gathered up a few hundred rounds of 9MM in various brands and types of bullets and headed for the local police range. I used a reduced size B27R target. All shooting was done from 10 yards and 25 yards. I started at the 10 yard line as I usually do and tried for the smallest group I could manage without slow firing. I noticed right away that recoil was actually pleasant. Just enough to let you know you were shooting a major caliber. Getting back on target was very fast with this gun in no small measure to the  excellent sights that Kimber uses as well as the reduced amount of recoil compared to the larger calibers. This is the first target after 50 rounds at ten yards. Firing and reloading stopping only to reload the mags.


 

      I don’t shoot slow at all from ten yards. I practice like I would if engaging a real target. As you can see this little gun is an excellent natural pointer as most 19111′s are. These first 50 rounds were all ball ammo from winchester in the white box Wal Mart variety. Next I loaded up the mags mixing Federal 9BP’s with Cor Bon 125 Grain +P’s, Speer Gold Dots and some older plain hollowpoints. Everything feed to perfection with all mags no matter how I mixed up the ammo. I fired a total of 200 rounds with no malfunctions. Next I backed up to 25 yards and did some slow fire. I fired 20 rounds from this distance at the head. All rounds were fired standing without a rest. This is the target.

   Practically speaking you wouldn’t be making head shots at 25 yards but for the sake of testing accuracy it works. I was really impressed with the results. I had two flyers with one a little high and the other a little low left as you can see from the picture. Eleven rounds of the twenty went into the center hole. This is a better result than normal for most 1911′s I shoot at that range regardless of caliber. It just proves if you do your job this little gun will shoot up to a high standard. It is fitted with a match barrel and trigger. I loaned out my trigger pull gauge so I can’t tell you the exact trigger pull but it is crisp with little takeup. Since the first time through with the excellent results at the ten yard line I loaded up one mag to capacity and moved back to the ten yard line intending to fire the entire mag as fast as possible. All ten rounds went into the same large hole from the first time through. This really got my attention. To say I was surprised would be an understatement!
   I’ve shot my Springfield Champion a lot but I have never equaled this accuracy at 25 yards with it. Whether it’s the quality construction of the gun or the 9MM round from a 1911 platform is something to be answered by additional evaluation. One thing I’m sure of is this is a very good carry combination that deserves your consideration.

Update: 11/03/07

I’m up to 550 rounds on the Kimber this week with only one problem which has nothing to do with the gun. I felt like I should pass this along so you won’t have the same problem. I was cleaning the Pro Carry and ran out of Wilson gun grease. I made a WalMart run and picked up some “Shooters Choice” all weather high tech gun grease and applied it like I would the Wilson grease. When I went to the range I immediately had malfunction after malfunction of every type you can imagine. I was using the same ammo as before and the same mags. Nothing had changed except I used that shooters choice grease.
I tore the gun down and wiped it down removing the grease. I got it pretty dry then just lubed the gun as usual with Militec only. After that there were no more problems of any kind. The problem was obviously the grease. The question now is why? There are two reasons I can think of. The recoil impulse for a 9mm in this gun is not sufficient to overcome the extra drag from the grease. The second would be the grease formulation is just to thick to work well with any gun. No matter—I would stay away from this brand of gun grease period!

UPDATE 11/17/07

At somewhere just over 550 rounds the gun started failing to eject empties. The empty brass would stay in the barrel as well as jamming of various types. I was not a happy camper! I realize this can happen to the best of guns but it is very aggravating especially when you buy a gun that’s pretty expensive. I knew it was not a magazine issue since the Kimber mags and the Metalform mags are some of the best mags available and showed no signs of defects. I contacted Kimber and got an employee who was less than helpful. It’s probably the same person I have heard of on the forums as being a real—well you fill in the blanks:-) After a day or two I called back and talked with another person who was very helpful and an all around nice guy. I asked for a new extractor since I had determined that was the problem. I explained the extractor hook appeared to be partially broken off. They didn’t have any extractors in stock but he offered to pull one from the assembly area after I explained this was my carry gun. This is exactly what he did and I received the new extractor in four days which I thought was very good. The service from this employee was excellent. All he asked was that I send the old extractor back so they could examine it.
When I received the new extractor I got right to work and replaced it. It did need some minor tuning but very very little. I hand cycled the gun until it was tossing out every round. This is only an indicator so you have to go to the range and fire a 100 rounds or so to make sure you have it right. I did take the Kimber to the range this morning and fired 100 rounds and the gun functioned flawlessly. The rounds ejected better than when it was new and put the empties directly to my right about 5 feet in a circle about 4 feet around. I also tried several other brands of ammo other than ball ammo. I used some Cor-Bon as well as Remington and Federal JHP’s. They all functioned without any problem. Problem solved! I really love this gun for several reasons I’ve mentioned before. The more I shoot it the more I enjoy it. The cost of 9MM is almost half that of 45acp and as I’ve said with Winchester Ranger “T” 127 grn +P+ it’s very effective. Of course Speer Gold Dots are also fine rounds to use. To sum things up it was an unexpected malfunction but it happens and was taken care of in a timely manner by Kimber and I’m happy with this gun!

One other item you might be interested in is the Tactical Pro. This is the same gun as the Pro Carry II but has extra features. Most apparent is the gray frame. It also has an ambidextrous safety, night sights, 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, a magwell and a different trigger. The increase in cost is on average $250 more than the Pro Carry II.
   As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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