Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

Archive for December, 2008

Ruger, Uberti & Marlin Rifle Cowboy Fun

Posted by Gunner on December 29, 2008

Ruger Vaquero 357 Magnum Stainless Hi Polish

   Being a child who grew up in the 1950’s I was like every other little boy. I loved Cowboys and Cowboy movies. Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger on TV then all the old greats at the movies. That love affair with all things Cowboy stayed with me into adulthood in the form of rifles and single action revolvers.
   When I was about 7 years old my dad taught me how to shoot a revolver with a second generation Colt single action army revolver in 45 Colt. That was the first handgun I ever shot. That’s a memory I’ll always keep close. My dad had several single action army revolvers he kept at my uncles house for a couple of years. My uncles home burned down and the old Colts were gone. Only years later I realized what a loss that was.

No it’s not pushed all the way into the holster:-)

   The first revolver to cover is the Ruger Vaquero. This gun is safe to carry six rounds in the cylinder since it uses a transfer bar instead of the old type with the firing pin in the hammer. Mine is the 5 1/2 inch barrel version which is a good barrel length for just having a fun afternoon of shooting or with your local SASS group dressing up and playing the part with all the other old guys from the baby boom generation:-) This Ruger is the hi gloss stainless which is about the most durable finish you can buy and very easy to clean. These old guns point naturally no matter who makes them. They just feel right in your hand. They are also surprisingly accurate considering all they have is the notch in the rear and a thin blade front sight. The Ruger is also a very durable revolver and can handle about any reasonable handload you can come up with and keep going through a lifetime of shooting.
   The trigger as it comes from the factory isn’t bad at all but can be improved with a little judicious buffing. One handed shooting from a holster draw will give you groups of about 4 inches at 10 to 12 yards shooting like you would in competition. If you slow down and use a handload 38 special with just the right amount of Bullseye powder you can squeeze a group of about an inch at 10 yards. One note here I don’t advise anyone get carried away and fan the hammer like in the old movies. One thing is unless someone who knows how teaches you it can be dangerous and the other consideration is it’s hard on the internals even the rugged Ruger.
   The holster rig pictured above my wife bought me on a trip we made to San Antonio Texas back in the early 90’s. An old Mexican gentleman made it by hand and had a bunch of rigs to choose from at crazy low prices like $30 for this rig. I dyed it black and added the conchos to dress it up a bit. The loops fit 38/357 rounds. It was a heck of a deal and has served well for all these years.

Uberti Cattleman

   The next revolver is the Uberti Italian made single action that is pretty faithful to the old Colt in design with the firing pin in the hammer. Again this requires you carry only 5 rounds in the cylinder with an empty under the firing pin. If you drop it and a round is under the firing pin it will fire! This one has a fairly matte blue finish. I ordered a set of the faux Ivory grips from Uberti which they didn’t even charge me for. I did have to fit them but it didn’t take very long and only required a minor bit of material be removed to fit well. This one is chambered in 45 Colt. Not as sturdy as the Ruger I use mainly Magtech “Cowboy” loads which are very mild and run about 700 fps. The trigger on this one is a little better than the Ruger which I would guess is just the difference in the old action and the Ruger transfer bar action. It’s not as accurate as the Ruger but it’s no slouch either. For those that may not be aware of it Beretta purchased Uberti after years of the company making the Stampede for Beretta. I undertsand that eventually the Uberti name will be gone and they will all be Berettas. All of the machinery is being or has been moved to Berettas facility. The action on this revolver is smoother than the Ruger with less effort to cock it and has less trigger pull distance. The trigger is also lighter by just a hair. It also handles well and points just as good as the Ruger. The Uberti is also a bit lighter than the Ruger which makes for a bit faster handling. The price of the Uberti is also about $100 less than the Ruger.

Marlin 1894 “Cowboy” Competition 38 Special Rifle

   I saved the best for last:-) This is the Marlin 1894 “Cowboy” competition model rifle which came in 38 special only and had a 20 inch barrel. It has a deep blue octagon barrel and a color case hardened reciever and an American Walnut high grade stock. It has the traditional Buckhorn sights with a gold bead Marble front sight. You’ll also note the holster rig I mentioned earlier. At least you can see it all in this picture. I do love this rifle and in my opinion it’s in the top two of the best looking rifles ever made!
   Marlin made this rifle for a few years for those who compete in the Single Action Shooting Society matches (SASS). Marlin put a lot of hand fitting into this rifle by hand smoothing and fitting the action. The cost was higher than the other Cowboy rifles in Marlins line. It ran close to $650 to $700 at most shops. Marlin discontinued this rifle much to the consternation of many a Marlin rifle enthusiast. Apparently Marlin listened to the customers since it has been re-released
chambered in 38 special and 45 Colt.

One Of The New Models. Note the bolt is not case hardened as they were on the old ones and mine.

Barrel Markings and the beautiful deep blueing

   The action on this rifle is as smooth as butter. In fact the first time you work the action you have to just pause and wonder at how they got it this smooth all the way through the stroke. Normally when the round is about to go into the chamber there is a little feeling of the round hanging a bit but not with this rifle. The balance and feel with this straight stock is fantastic. It handles like a dream and has such little recoil it’s back on target in an instant. From a distance of about 15 yards you prettty much put all your rounds into one hole of about an inch and a half. There are few if any rifles that are more pleasurable to shoot than a quality lever action like this one and the other Marlin lever actions made in the Cowboy configuration.
   I once owned a Winchester model 1892 that had been converted to 38/357 in the 1950’s when that was a popular thing to do with the old rifle. The size of the “92” and the Marlin are pretty close and light in weight. One of the first things I thought of was the old model “92” when I picked up the Marlin.

The Marlin and Uberti before I added the Ivory grips

   I don’t know why Marlin did away with the case hardened finish on the bolt. I much prefer the entire reciever,lever and bolt color case hardened since Marlin did such a beautiful job of creating this finish. Marlin has always made quality rifles. In fact my next favorite rifle is the Golden 39A in 22LR. One interesting tidbit of information on this 100 plus year old rifle is that back in the late 1950’s when the Rifleman TV series was so popular Marlin added a feature to the 39A that would have lawyers today licking their chops. Just behind the trigger attached to the lever was a flat piece of metal that could be swiveled forward so that when you worked the lever the metal piece engaged the trigger firing a round each time you worked the lever. This type was my first 39A and man was it fun! It’s the first and last one I’ve ever seen and command a big price these days if you can find one.
   If you have any interest in the old west or getting into the Cowboy action shooting scene you would do well to seriously consider the marlin 1894 “Cowboy” for your long gun and the Ruger Vaquero for your sidearm. Check the Ruger website at LINK
  Marlins lever action webpage can be found at LINK


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Bersa Thunder .380

Posted by Gunner on December 20, 2008

In these days of economic recession and rising prices of both guns and ammunition an economical alternative to the standard priced $600 and up guns is good idea especially if it’s a very good gun which the Bersa is at $279.
This is written by Stephen Camp of Hi-Powers and Handguns. Thanks Steve!

Bersa Thunder .380 with Corbon 80-gr. DPX Ammunition

The .380 ACP continues to fill pockets or holsters among private citizens lawfully carrying during the turbulent crime-filled times in which we live. Though “ballistically challenged” when compared to the delivery of full-power 9x19mm or even .40 S&W in similar size handguns, the 9mm Short still has a fairly significant cadre within the shooting community. If not a primary weapon, it is frequently on duty as a back up gun or “BUG”.
I suspect that it remains a popular handgun because at .380 ACP pressures, the pistols chambered for it are straight blow back. The combination of forces from the recoil and mainspring must be overcome by momentum imparted to the slide when the weapon is fired, and the bullet and gases begin forcing their way out the barrel. There is no other mechanical locking system as on more powerful weapons such as the 9mm, .38 Super, or .45 ACP. This makes it possible to produce and sell 380-caliber pistols a bit cheaper than for an equivalent quality 9mm.
Anyway, the little things are still popular, but some see a problem with the 9x17mm, a.k.a. .380 ACP, and that is expansion versus penetration. Folks fearing too little penetration to reach the vitals from any angle at which the body might be struck, use FMJ. They get penetration, but at the cost of expansion. It is generally accepted that traditional 95-gr. FMJ @ 950 ft/sec or so yields about 14 to 16″ in 10% ballistic gelatin. This exceeds the 12″ minimum set forth by the FBI for effective handgun penetration. The problem is that tissue collapses on what is already a small wound channel. If shots are accurately delivered, the 380 ball might very well suffice, but it is also generally accepted that the cartridge is not a ballistic powerhouse compared to many other defensive rounds.
On the other side of the issue, we find people who use frangible rounds. These can vary from pre-fragmented loads such as the Glaser Safety Slug to other exotics designed to either completely disintegrate within the target to JHP bullets, which expand and tear a wider permanent wound cavity. The problem is that when these bullets expand, penetration is frequently in the 7 to 9″ range…and this bothers some people.
Evidently, the good folks at Corbon were listening and have completed work on their .380 DPX. This standard pressure load uses a solid copper alloy bullet with a large hollow cavity. It has been tweaked by Corbon to provide both expansion and still meet the FBI’s 12″ minimum. The term “DPX” means Deep Penetrating X-bullet; the bullet is made by Barnes of rifle X-bullet fame.

Here we see the 80-gr. Corbon DPX flanked by Federal 90-gr. JHP (left) and the same company’s 95-gr. FMJ (right). FMJ is considered the most reliable ammunition in some semiautomatics and hollow points having a rounded ogive that mimics ball can aid in reliable feeding. The Federal Classic JHP shown is such a round, but notice that the DPX is also shaped such that in most guns, it should feed without problems. Always test any defense gun with ammo to be used for “serious purposes.” The DPX round has a LOA of 0.949″.

It is well known that bullets with sharp edges can dig into aluminum frames if the magazine doesn’t position them at an upward angle. The Bersa had no problems with the Corbon DPX. There was no gouging of the frame that constitutes the lower portion of the gun’s feedway. This can be as much a function of magazine as ammunition shape, but with two separate magazines, this Bersa suffered no dings or gouges from 40 shots using this new ammunition. For those interested the hollow point measures 0.169″ wide at the mouth and 0.206″ deep.

I opted to test this ammunition using the Bersa Thunder .380 ACP pistol. The gun is completely stock. It was chosen because it seems to be an up-and-coming favorite for people opting for its caliber and can usually be had at around $200.00. In my limited experience with the gun, it is well worth the tariff and apparently others feel the same way. I also picked it as this gun has the shortest barrel length of my very limited .380 collection. The motivation for this is to test the Corbon ammunition at the lower end of the velocity envelope with what I had access to. My particular Bersa usually runs about 30 to 50 ft/sec slower than my Walther PP or FEG PMK 380 handgun.

The only pistol used in these informal tests was this bone stock Bersa Thunder. Two factory magazines were used and both worked fine.

Shooting: The pistol was shot for function and groups at two distances. At 10-yards, the gun was first fired with Winchester 95-gr. FMJ to establish POI vs. POA. Five rounds of the 80-gr. DPX were then fired at the same target.

These groups were fired using a two-hand hold from a standing position at ten yards. Holes that are circled were made with DPX. The Winchester 95-gr. ball made those that are marked with straight lines. At this distance, it is apparent that with this gun, the two loads’ points of impacts overlap. Each group consists of 5 shots.

This 5-shot group was fired at 15 yards using a two-hand hold and a rest. It was fired from a seated position. It is evident that the DPX load groups plenty well, striking just a tiny bit high for a dead-on sight picture. Most would agree that this is plenty close enough for the purpose that this ammunition is intended.

Ten rounds were chronographed. They were fired 10′ from the chronograph screens and figures obtained are listed below:

Low Velocity (ft/sec): 1055

High Velocity: 1084

Average Velocity: 1067

Extreme Spread: 28

Std. Deviation: 9
I do have neither the money nor the temperature-controlled setting to use 10% ballistic gelatin. For that reason, I used two other mediums. These were water and “wet pack”. The latter was plain newsprint that was soaked for 24 hours until super-saturated and allowed to drain for 30 minutes before firing. Both of these will stop bullets more rapidly than the gold standard gelatin, but some inferences can be made, I think.

Here are two .380 ACP 80-gr. DPX bullets that were fired from the Bersa. The one on the left was fired into water. The one on the right impacted the soaked newsprint. Expanded diameters are quite similar, but the one fired into the wet pack is slightly smaller. This appears not to be due to less expansion, but because of the denser medium forcing the petals slightly more rearward. Notice each of the expanded bullets has not attempted to turn nearly inside out, as can some rapid expanders. I believe that this aids in the bullet’s penetration capabilities. The bullet that impacted water measures 0.724 x 0.734 x 0.354″ tall and weighs 79.9 grains. The DPX that was fired into the wet pack measures 0.708 x 0.715 x 0.332″ tall and weighs 80 grains. This is very consistent performance, something for which DPX bullets are noted.

Some other ammunition was fired into the wet pack as well for purposes of comparison. Penetration depths are listed below. The wet pack was 10″ thick.

Winchester 95-gr. FMJ: 10″ + (It completely penetrated the stack and went into the ground.)

Federal 90-gr. JHP: 5 3/4″

Corbon 80-gr. DPX: 5″

Remington 102-gr. Golden Saber: 4 ”

Corbon 90-gr. JHP +P*: 4″

Remington 88-gr. JHP: 3 1/2″

*The Corbon .380 JHP currently sold is not rated +P. This is some older Corbon that I had on hand and it clearly is so marked, both on the 50-round box and on the cartridge case. Chronographed against newer 90-gr. Corbon JHP, I find no difference in chronographed speeds from the Bersa. I have no hard facts on why the earlier ammunition was given the +P rating.
I am going to go out on a limb here and anticipate that the DPX will penetrate approximately 12″ of calibrated 10% ballistic gelatin. Note that the Federal 90-gr. Classic JHP penetrated a bit deeper. Checking the works of several researchers, I found that this expanding bullet often penetrated roughly 14″ of ballistic gelatin. I think that part of this can be found in the bullet’s inconsistent expansion, at least from the Bersa. That load only averages 969 ft/sec from my Bersa while it gets 1033 ft/sec from my FEG. I like the load, but I never got two to expand quite the same, regardless of the test medium …when using the Bersa.

On the left is the Federal Classic 90-gr. JHP. This is a standard pressure load that has been around for years. Averaging about 969 ft/sec from my Bersa, the expansion was irregular and erratic. No two recovered bullets were the same. Often, expansion was not nearly to this degree. On the right is Corbon’s 90-gr. JHP +P. It expanded consistently in the wet pack and usually shed its jacket. The DPX cannot shed its jacket, as there is none. From the Bersa, the Corbon averaged 1050 ft/sec on the nose.

Of the ammunition fired in my informal tests, the most consistent was the Corbon 80-gr. DPX and Remington’s 102-gr. Golden Saber. The lighter DPX did penetrate deeper. In ballistic gelatin, the heavier Golden Saber usually penetrates between 9 and 10 inches. The 1″ deeper penetration in the same medium by the DPX probably means it will get another couple of inches in the gelatin tissue simulant. Time will tell. From my gun, the 102-gr. bullet averages 855 ft/sec. I was disappointed not to have any Hornady XTP ammunition in my meager stash of .380 ACP ammunition. It would probably give it a good run for the money with regard to penetration, but normally does not reach nearly the same expanded diameter. The XTP usually goes to about 1.5 times its original diameter. I like the XTP quite a lot, but I do think that the DPX is probably going to do a bit more damage.

From the Bersa, this load was accurate and reliable. Note that Corbon lists its velocity at 1050 ft/sec. Even the lowest measured velocity exceeded it by 5 ft/sec. It has been my experience that Corbon ammunition almost always exceeds nominal listed speeds.

Observations: Corbon DPX ran smoothly through the Bersa with no hesitation whatsoever. It did not ding or gouge the frame portion of the feed ramp and ejection was positive and fairly uniform. Edges of the fired primers were rounded and there were no overt signs of high pressure. Though only forty shots were fired in today’s testing, the ammunition seemed quite reliable with the two magazines used.

I noted no unusual problems in cleaning the gun’s bore, something I have not been able to say when using Barnes X-bullets in certain rifles. At normal handgun speeds I do not think this will present any concerns whatsoever.

Frankly, I was surprised to see that this light 80-gr. bullet penetrated as much as it did. I expected about 3 1/2 to 4″ penetration. Perhaps the spaces between the sharp, stiff “petals” enhance its ability to drive deeper while still causing a wider permanent wound channel that ball for sure and many hollow points in this caliber. I think the fact that the expanded bullet doesn’t flatten out might help in this regard as well. Whatever the reasons are, the ammunition penetrated better than I expected. Hopefully, those with more sophisticated testing methods will be reporting soon. If their results show that the .380 DPX gets 12″ or more penetration, I’d probably go with this load over any other in this caliber.
Sounds like the “magic bullet” thing doesn’t it? Nope! I don’t think the .380 can be made into a “stomper” caliber that can compete toe-to-toe with considerably more potent rounds, but I absolutely do believe that this load enhances its ballistic capability. To my layman mind, it appears that trying to use the “best” ammunition one can in a given caliber is a good thing, but rather than trying to make that caliber something it is not, accept its limitations, but learn to use it quickly and accurately.

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Rock Island Armory Match 1911

Posted by Gunner on December 13, 2008

Everyone who has read my blog knows how much I love Rock Island Armory 1911’s. As I have said before they are the best buy bar none in a 1911. The newer “Rock” Match version is just another example of a company that listens to the customer base and produces a fine pistol at an unbelieveable price!
I was at our police department range a week or so ago and ran into a friend who had just purchased a Rock Island Armory Match grade pistol. Yep, I was drooling to get my hands on this one. I’ve been looking for one for a month or so without much luck but at least I got to shoot one.
I told him I would let him shoot my Sig if he would let me play with his new toy:-) He had already fired about 200 rounds through it with no problems at all. I happened to have 150 rounds of 45 ball so off I went to give this fine looking pistol a workout.
This pistol has the fiber optic front sight which I find very useful and easy to pickup as well as being fast. The rear sight is the Millett type that adjust for both windage and elevation and is very precise in it’s adjustment. The perfect setup if you compete in stock class competition. The pistol felt the same as the Rock Tactical I’m so fond of so it was a no brainer getting used to. The controls were very smooth. The action was something I noticed right off as being smoother than the Tactical was when it was new. There was definately some hand fitting with this pistol.
Shooting held no surprises. It was very accurate and produced a ragged hole at 10 yards and at 15 was more accurate than my Tactical again giving excellent results. At 25 yards the pistol really shined and once again produced a group measuring roughly 3 inches with 4 magazines fired. Again, very obvious a bit of extra work went into this pistol. I completely enjoyed shooting this pistol and it just renewed my desire to find one of my own. The way it is equiped is very similar to the S&W Doug Koenig but at a far lower price. It’s every bit as good a pistol as the S&W even if it is a bit more utilitarian in looks. That is not to say it’s an ugly gun by any means. I find the fit and finish of these pistols to be very appealing.
Steve Clark is a man I’m glad to call a friend wrote a fine review for the website and graciously allowed me to publish his review of the Rock Island Armory Match 1911. A thorough job as always and I’m sure you’ll enjoy his contributed review.

Recently, I tested a target-style pistol from STI, called the Spartan. This pistol was unique in that STI International chose to use major components (frame, slide, and barrel) manufactured by Arms Corporation of the Philippines (better known as Armscor). During the time I was waiting for the STI Spartan to arrive for testing, I learned that Rock Island Armory was planning to release a target grade pistol too. My imagination began to run wild!

I fully expected the Rock Island Armory Match pistol to be at least a fraternal twin of the STI gun. Initial inspection of the RIA Match revealed a great many similarities, such as a fully adjustable rear sight, orange fiber-optic front sight, parkerized finish, etc. However, closer inspection disclosed some features that instantly got my attention. These not-so-subtle additions had me “itching” to inspect the pistol further, take some photographs, and give it a thorough work-out on my personal firing range. I live in a rural part of Texas, where such facilities are normal.

The Rock Island Armory Match (per the label FS Match) comes packaged in RIA’s black plastic clam-shell case. The interior of the case is lined in egg crate foam, and the pistol was double wrapped in a plastic bag and bubble-wrap bag. Two black 8-round Novak magazines were included in my package (although the pistol will ship with one 8-round magazine). Under the foam lining, one will find a fired cartridge casing, the owner’s manual, a warranty card, a firearms safety pamphlet, and a card entitling the pistol’s owner to buy Armscor ammunition at a 10% discount, if he or she joins (or is already a member of) M1911.ORG. I would also like to stress that this is the first review of the RIA FS Match. No other printed or electronic publication has reviewed this pistol, so this is another first for M1911.ORG.

The Pistol

The RIA Match is a full size (5-inch barrel) 1911, chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. Inspection of the left side of the manganese phosphate treated slide reveals the company’s logo and Rock Island Armory, roll marked in block letters. The right side of the slide lacks any markings. The ejection port is lowered and flared for improved ejection of spent cartridge casings. There are no front cocking serrations on the slide of the RIA Match. The rear cocking serrations consist of nineteen straight lines, such as those found on G.I. type 1911s. The slide fits snugly on the frame, which has a Parkerized finish applied to its surface. The exterior finish on both the slide and the frame create quite a pleasing visual. There is no movement laterally between these two major components. I was informed that the Rock Island Armory Match is not part of a regular production run at the Armscor factory, but rather the slide and frame are hand-fitted in the Armscor Custom Shop. This extra attention to detail is evident when holding the pistol, as there is no rattle when the gun is shaken. In addition, the entire RIA Match pistol has been moderately de-horned, and the effect of this treatment should be apparent in the photographs. It most assuredly is noticeable when handling the pistol. Hand cycling of the action is effortless, in part aided by the excellent cocking serrations, but mostly because of the fine fitting of the slide to the frame.

The LPA rear sight of the RIA Match is mounted on the top of the slide, and is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. This sight blends in well with the rear of the slide, and its rear face is horizontally serrated to reduce glare. The front sight is dovetailed nicely into the top of the slide, and its edges are rounded into the slide’s contour. This sight features a bright orange fiber-optic tube.

The slide stop/release is checkered, as is the magazine release button. The trigger has a serrated face with two elongated cutouts. There is no externally adjustable over-travel screw on the RIA Match. Trigger pull was characterized by a very small amount of take-up, with a crisp release of 4.25 pounds, from the box. This was a consistent measurement, meaning the sear released at 4.25 pounds, every time that the trigger was squeezed, or activated by the RCBS Trigger Pull Gauge.

The hammer has a true half-cock notch, and is an elongated Commander-style unit. Mated to the hammer is a beaver-tail grip safety utilizing an extended palm swell. The ambidextrous safety has a serrated shelf on both the left and right controls. These shelves are extended, and the right side is secured by a small cut in the sear pin, which corresponds to a small shelf on the bottom of the safety. Operation of all safety devices is positive and reliable. The magazine well is slightly beveled for easier insertion of the magazines. The pistol is easily loaded, as fully charged 8-round magazines slide into place with an authoritative click. When released, empty magazines fall free with no resistance. The flat mainspring housing is serrated, and fitted nicely to the frame of the RIA Match.

The stocks provided with the Rock Island Armory Match pistol are finely grained wood, and compliment the business-like looks of the gun. Sadly, my example had a small crack from the top of the left side grip screw to the top of the stock. This was the only cosmetic problem that I encountered in my inspection of the pistol. This minor defect is covered under Armscor’s Limited Lifetime Warranty.


The field stripping procedure to be followed with the RIA Match .45 ACP is different than for other, full length guide rod equipped full size 1911 type pistols. Field stripping the RIA Match proved to be much easier than was the case with either the previously tested RIA Tactical or the STI Spartan. Make certain that the pistol is unloaded and the magazine has been removed. A non-marring bushing wrench easily depresses the recoil spring plug so that the barrel bushing may be turned clockwise. Carefully allow the plug to exit the muzzle area, relieving all recoil spring tension. The slide can then be moved to align the take-down notch with the slide stop. After the slide stop is removed from the frame, the slide and frame can be separated. After that, it is a simple procedure to remove the recoil spring and full length guide rod. Turning the barrel bushing counter-clockwise will line up the bushing for removal from the slide, and the barrel can be taken out toward the muzzle. There is no firing pin safety on the Match pistol, so firing pin and extractor removal is accomplished following standard procedure.

Reassembly is in reverse order.

While I am admittedly no big fan of full length guide rods, the ability to use a bushing wrench is preferable to lining up the take-down notch with the slide stop while the pistol is still under the tension of the recoil spring. I applaud Rock Island and Armscor for this improvement.

Shooting the RIA Match Pistol

My normal shooting protocol with any new pistol consists of firing enough rounds to determine functional reliability before accuracy and chronograph readings are taken. This initial test was conducted using the two supplied 8-round Novak magazines, and 100 rounds of Armscor Precision 230 gr. FMJ ammunition. The pistol was discharged from a distance of 10 yards, using a modified Weaver stance.

The Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 8″ target shows that most of the shots fired were slightly left of dead center. As I tend to sometimes pull my shots to the left, I decided to forego any sight adjustments until accuracy testing commenced. Ejected casings consistently landed four to five feet to the right of my firing position. All 100 rounds fed and ejected without incident. The RIA Match handles recoil admirably, and is easily brought back on target during rapid fire.

During this phase of the test, I decided to try some Hornady 200gr. TAP FPD +P ammunition was kindly provided to M1911.ORG for use in conducting pistol tests. This is a relatively new type of jacketed hollow point, and I felt that if a problem with feeding JHP rounds was to appear, this would provide a good test.

Twenty rounds into the Shoot-N-C target provided ample proof that the RIA Match will reliably feed this type of JHP ammunition. Subsequent accuracy tests with a variety of factory FMJ and JHP ammo produced no malfunctions. I moved my shooting position to take advantage of a natural tree wind-break, but this forced me to shorten my range to 20 yards. All of the above readings and accuracy tests were made at 25 yards, except the Armscor results. From that point to the end of my shooting session, all firing was done from 20 yards.

The NRA target pictured above was engaged with 5 rounds of Armscor Precision 230 gr. FMJ at a distance of 20 yards. This group represented my best of the day, although later groups were centered on the target much better. A one click adjustment on the LPA rear sight brought everything in line. Memorizing the most ideal setting, I made several adjustments to the rear sight to determine how far a click would affect the impact on the target. Considering the windy conditions, I estimated that one click would account for one inch of impact difference at 60 feet. That is on a par with my previous encounters with adjustable sights on 1911 type pistols.

Total round count for the test exceeded 500. More of the full metal jacket ammunition was expended than the jacketed hollow point loads, but that is more a factor of cost per box than what the pistol prefers to digest. The donated ammunition from Armscor and Hornady is greatly appreciated. In addition to the ammunition mentioned in the accuracy and velocity table, I fired the following brands: Winchester SilverTip 185 gr., Speer Gold Dot Hollow Points 185 & 230 gr., Federal Hydra-Shok 165 & 230 gr., Taurus Copper Hollow Points 185 gr., and Remington Golden Saber 230 gr. Twenty rounds of each brand were fired through the RIA Match, with no failures of any kind.


The Rock Island Armory FS Match .45 ACP pistol is assembled and fitted in the Custom Shop at Armscor, in the Philippines. As stated earlier in this review, the slide and frame are hand fitted, and the rest of the components of the gun consist of parts that are made by Armscor. These parts are primarily Metal Injected Moldings, as told to me by Ivan Walcott. The M1911.ORG Forum is full of positive and negative comments concerning the use of MIM in handguns. Correctly manufactured parts that are covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty should cause no denigration of the quality found in a Rock Island pistol. A manufacturing fact of life is represented by the use of MIM parts. They do not require labor intensive fitting, and allow the manufacturer to pass cost savings on to the consumer. I have thus far tested three guns that are either solely a Rock Island product, or that contained major components from Armscor. I have found nothing wrong with the quality of any of those three examples. I might add that I normally put more ammunition through a test pistol in the course of a review, than a majority of handgun owners would fire in a span of months. I have experienced zero failures in my test samples.

The Parkerized finish held up to several hundred rounds of various types of ammunition being discharged. In fact, the finish on the RIA Match is superior, in my estimation, to those of the previous test pistols, and the aforementioned guns had a dandy finish! I don’t keep a test pistol long enough to measure the effects of holster wear on the finish.

From the time the pistol was removed from its box until I cleaned it and re-packaged it, the trigger pull was excellent. The sear released at a consistent 4.25 pounds of pressure. This exceptional trigger pull, coupled with the adjustable sights and the hand fitting of the slide and frame, make for a wonderfully accurate handgun. Although windy conditions forced me to shorten my testing distance to 20 yards, I feel certain that the RIA Match would have delivered the same degree of accuracy at my normal distance of 25 yards. The bright fiber-optic orange front sight is easily picked up through the LPA adjustable rear sight.

Although I had some issues with earlier test guns and their stocks, I find that I grip these pistols in a different manner than my personal 1911s. That different grip allows me to keep my hand stationary throughout my range sessions, which ultimately yields better results on the target. Perhaps too, it is the type of beaver-tail grip safety that is standard on these target models. In either case, the “feel” of the pistols is growing on me, and I cannot find reason to complain.

I am yet to encounter a Rock Island pistol that refuses to eat hollow point ammunition. While the RIA owner’s manual specifically states that the guns are not warranted to reliably feed this type of ammo, it is gratifying to know that these guns are built to shoot a variety of factory loads and configurations.

My déjà vu reference in the opening of this test/review had to do with the similarities between the Rock Island Match pistol and the STI Spartan that was previously tested. Each of these guns is accurate, a pleasure to shoot, and an economical way to buy a target-grade pistol. However, I must be fair and state that I prefer the Rock Island Match because of the ease of disassembly. While my carpel tunneled and arthritic 57 year old hands can still manage quite a bit, anything that provides easier use is appreciated. I also favor the use of straight rear cocking serrations on my personal guns, and the RIA Match delivers on this option. The Rock Island handgun does not have front cocking serrations, a positive omission in my book. Finally, there is the absence of any type of firing pin safety on this weapon. That non-feature alone gets an A+.

Ivan Walcott (Sales Manager for Advanced Tactical Firearms, the importers of RIA pistols to the United States) states that the suggested retail price of the Rock Island Armory FS Match pistol will be in the plus or minus range of 650.00 U.S. dollars. Considering the quality and accuracy of this gun, I would rate this handgun as a “best buy.”


I would like to thank President Martin Tuason and Sales Manager Ivan Walcott of Advanced Tactical Firearms International Corporation, for providing the Rock Island Armory Match .45 ACP pistol used in this test. As soon as the handgun was available to them, it was sent to me for testing. We strive to provide the readers of the M1911.ORG E-zine with the most up-to-date information. In addition, these fine gentlemen also provided me with several boxes of Armscor Precision .45 ACP ammunition. This was my first exposure to this highly accurate, clean burning ammo. I was quite pleased with its performance, and I recommend it to anyone looking for quality in affordable ammunition.

My thanks go out to Hornady Mfg. Company for their donation of several boxes of their new 200 gr. TAP FPD +P .45 ACP ammunition. I have been pleased with the results in my shooting tests with this ammo, and I look forward to conducting some personal ballistic tests with this brand in the future.

As always, my Competitive Edge Dynamics Millennium chronograph performed above and beyond my expectations. Frankly, the chronograph put up with the wind better than I did!

Finally, I am indebted to Bill Lamb at GREAT GUNS in Burleson, Texas. He consistently stays on top of the test pistol situation, as well as providing a variety of factory ammunition, accessories, and gun expertise. I couldn’t do it without you, Bill, and I am obliged. Many thanks are expressed to your daughter, as well, for her assistance last week.

You may discuss about this pistol, ask questions or in general discuss about this review, in this thread in our Forums Site:

Posted in 1911 45's, AR15, Blade Page, Contributed Gun Reviews, Hi Powers, Rock Island Armory | Tagged: , , , | 24 Comments »

The Smith & Wesson Model 25-5

Posted by Gunner on December 13, 2008

The S&W model 25-5 is one of those revolvers that has gained classic status along with most of the other “N” frame S&W’s made before the lawyer proofing started with those darn framelocks that everyone loves to hate myself included.
A couple of years ago you could buy about any older S&W revolver for very little money but these days people have come to realize that these wonderful revolvers are something special and prices have increased accordingly. Most any S&W “K” frame will sell in the $450 to $500 range with “N” frames at $600 plus depending on how rare they are. I recently saw a nickel 6 inch 41 magnum marked at just under $1000! A word to the wise if you have one keep it!
My journey with the S&W “N” frame started in 1976. At that time the model 29 was the revolver to buy. Barrel length was no barrier to the price at that time. The guns were in short supply and were selling for the sum of $400 which was a lot of money at that time. In fact more than is being asked for them now. Of course there is nothing new under the sun and as soon as the supply caught up with demand the prices dropped as dealers found themselves with a lot of unsold guns on the shelf. Being a young officer at the time we didn’t make much money so I had to wait until the prices came down. My first was a blue steel beauty with a 4 inch barrel. Yea I wish I had held onto that one but as with most folks if you want something new you have to do some trading and that Colt 1911 sure looked good:-) Regardless my love of S&W revolvers was in full bloom and has never really left me in spite of the overwhelming trend toward new semi autos.
I picked up my first 25-5 with a 4 inch barrel in 1980 and I loved it! I found I could shoot this big old revolver for a long time without beating myself to death with the recoil of the 44 magnum. That and handloads were a pleasure to shoot using some of the old Kieth type lead bullets going about 750 to 800 fps.

I even carried that big boy as a duty gun for awhile until the weight finally made me change back to the model 19 which is a wonderful revolver in the “K” frame. You wear 45 ounces(depending on barrel length) on your hip for 8 to 10 hours and you’ll know what I mean. After that I relegated it to off duty carry in a cross draw holster from Bianchi. In winter it worked just fine. Back then the Winchester Silvertip was the round to use and I carried my 25-5 loaded up with the big Silvertips.
After a few years we all followed the trend and carried the wonder nines on duty. I still found myself carrying the 25-5 off duty a good bit. I decided it was time to qualify with it since it had been a while since I had taken it to the range to qualify with it. We used an indoor range at a PD close by since it was winter. I got some funny looks since I had one of those obsolete revolvers but I didn’t really care then or now. The first round fired was in dim light and the flash and boom stopped all activity on the line. I stopped firing to because I thought somebody jammed or something had gone haywire. Nope, just new guys not used to a large revolver being fired next to them:-) After clearing the line some of the young guys wanted to know what in the heck I was shooting. Of course now I’m one of the old guys so I explained what it was etc.
That gun served me very well for a good number of years. The affect it had on suspects was something to behold. You’d think I pointed a cannon at them. I eventually traded it for a Colt Delta Elite 10mm when they came out. I’ve regretted that trade more than any other after some years had gone by.
Is the revolver a viable duty or carry gun now? In my opinion yes it is. In fact there is really nothing better as a backup gun than a snubbie S&W. I prefer the S&W 642 that I can just drop in a pocket and go. I’ll probably always have a revolver of some type close by. I have confidence in them and have used them so many years they feel like an extension of my body when I point one downrange.
I haven’t made a solid conclusion yet but it seems to me that the revolver is making a comeback in popularity. Only time will tell.
By now you know this isn’t a review like I normally do but a bit of nostalgia and some personal history with a gun that I truely enjoyed shooting and trusted to save me if I needed it. So, next time you are looking over the shelves in your local gun shop and see an old S&W revolver stop and take a look. It may call out to you like they have to me.

Posted in S&W Revolvers | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

NRA Alert

Posted by Gunner on December 11, 2008

Now that we’ve had a laugh over the Royal Marines testing a new Ford it’s time to be serious with this new release from the NRA. It’s self explanatory so I’ll just post it for your review.

**** Alert *** Alert *** Alert ****

Dear Fellow NRA Member,

In the next few days, you’ll receive your new NRA membership card.

The moment you receive it, I urge you to validate your new membership card as soon as possible. More than ever, we need you to stand with NRA and fight to save our Second Amendment freedoms.
Because Barack Obama’s campaign promise
not to take away our guns is a lie.

He’s not even in office, yet he’s fired the opening salvos in a war against the future of the Second Amendment, our hunting and shooting traditions, and YOU.

Obama’s FIRST attack on YOU: Appointing Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to be White House Chief of Staff. In Congress, Emanuel earned an “F” rating from NRA, and while working in the Clinton Administration, he was known as the “point man on gun control.” He is an avowed enemy of the Second Amendment and will wield enormous power in the battle for the future of our firearm freedoms.

Obama’s SECOND attack on YOU: If Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State, she’ll rip the Second Amendment right out of the Bill of Rights. She’ll be our nation’s top diplomat with the power to determine whether the United Nations will pass, and Obama will sign, a global gun ban treaty that will surrender our Second Amendment rights and our national sovereignty.

Obama’s THIRD attack on YOU: Nominating ex-Senator and former Majority Leader Tom Daschle-an avowed enemy of NRA-to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. NRA was responsible for defeating Daschle when he ran in South Dakota for re-election to the Senate. If Daschle is confirmed, he could hold the ultimate power to declare guns a “public health menace” and regulate away our essential liberties.

Obama’s FOURTH attack on YOU: Nominating Eric Holder to be Attorney General. As former Assistant Attorney General, Holder was a key architect and vocal advocate for the Clinton era’s sweeping gun ban agenda. He supported national handgun licensing, mandatory trigger locks, and ending gun shows as we know them.

Just recently, Holder opposed the District of Columbia’s Heller decision that declared the Second Amendment an individual right. Holder also called for reviving the Clinton gun bans and, as Attorney General, would fight in court to prevent the landmark Heller decision from being made applicable to state and local governments.

Worst of all, if Holder is confirmed as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, he would control BATFE and wield enormous power to harass gun owners and sue America’s arms makers out of existence.

Obama’s FIFTH attack on YOU: In the job application for the Obama Administration, he made it clear that gun owners are second-class citizens and told 80 million gun owners not to even bother applying for a job. In the “White House Personnel Data Questionnaire” he asked:

“Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide
complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever
lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has
been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.”

This chilling notice to gun owners-that they are not welcome to serve in his Administration-shows the deep hostility for Americans’ Second Amendment Freedoms that Obama and his Administration have in their hearts.

On its face, that question endorses gun registration-a mandate in only five states in our nation-and buys into the anti-gun premise that firearms are inherently dangerous and gun owners are prone to misusing them.

That’s an outrageous mindset, especially for the President-elect whose sworn duty will be to uphold the U.S. Constitution, including our right to keep and bear arms.

Obama CLEARLY wants to make gun registration the law of the land.

First for employees under his control…AND THEN FOR YOU.

Working with a Congress dominated by gun haters like Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, and Charles Schumer!!!

Rubbing salt in gun owner wounds is the Brady Campaign, which just issued a completely bogus poll claiming that two-thirds of the Americans-including 60% of all gun owners-favor gun registration, licensing of firearm owners, and other sweeping restrictions on our firearm freedoms!
Add it all up and you have the potential
for a Second Amendment disaster that’s unlike
any other NRA members have ever battled.

That’s why we need the strongest possible commitment from EVERY NRA member, starting today. That’s why I’m hoping you’ll validate your new NRA membership card the moment you receive it.

Because our greatest strength is you.

Only by working with you can NRA hold the line against these threats from every quarter. We are the one force that has the strength to keep Americans free and our rights intact for future generations. With you at our side, we will fight and we will prevail against all odds.

Thank you for your loyalty to NRA and the cause of Freedom.
Forward this E-Mail to Friends
and Urge Them to Join NRA Today!

Posted in 1911 45's | 4 Comments »

Royal Marines and TOP Gear Funny!

Posted by Gunner on December 9, 2008

Posted in 1911 45's | Leave a Comment »

Interesting New Revolvers From Charter Arms

Posted by Gunner on December 1, 2008

New Charter Arms Rinless Revolvers

I’ve never been a huge fan of Charter arms revolvers but this new line of revolvers peaks my interest.On the other hand I’ve always liked rimless revolvers that use moon clips. They are certainly fast to reload in fact faster than using a speed loader. The choice of calibers gives the shooter a wide range of options. From .380 to 45 ACP there something for everyone. Another consideration is the rising cost of not only ammunition but firearms as well. With Charter arms you do get a pretty good revolver a for a decent price. I certainly want to give the 45 ACP a try. Or maybe the 40 hum tough decision there:-)

Here is the partial press release with the relavent details of these new revolvers due out in 2009.
Available Calibers: Charter Arms will first offer the .40 S&W chambering, followed quickly by the .45ACP and 9×19 mm Parabellum (the 9mm Parabellum revolver will also chamber factory .380ACP). All three of Charter Arms’ Rimless Revolvers (9mm, .40 and .45) are rated for higher velocity +P loadings.
The advantage is now the average gun owner can own an affordable, trouble-free revolver chambered in these popular semi-auto rounds without the need for specialized ammunition clips and a specialized gun.
Back up and self-defense: For law enforcement work the always ready-to-fire, fiddle-factor-free revolver is the back up to have; especially if is the same caliber as the officer’s carry gun. As a primary self-defense carry gun, these three calibers mean reliable protection in popular semi-auto self defense-calibers.
If more power is needed, step up to +P ammo. The advantage with Charter Arms Rimless Revolvers is they will fire any mix of cartridges while maintaining 100% reliability. For plinking with .45ACP or 9mm surplus and discounted military type ammo, the affordable Charter Arms Rimless Revolver will prove to be very economical and it’s also a .380 revolver.
The secret is the patent-pending Charter Arms Rimless Revolver Round System. Basically, when a round is loaded into the chamber a specialized spring engages the cartridge’s ejector groove. When the cylinder is opened and the ejector rod operated, it extracts and ejects the fired cases.
Models: Initially snub barrels (2″ 9mm and 2.2″ .40 and .45ACP) as these revolvers are designed for self- defense and back up. The 9mm is built on Charter Arms’ compact and lightweight undercover platform featuring an aluminum frame and weighing only 12 ounces. The .40 and .45ACP built on the popular and robust Bulldog frame due to the larger diameter of these cartridges while maintaining a compact profile.
Availability: First quarter of 2009.
MSRP Prices: 9mm $399.00, .40 $449.00, .45ACP $449.00

Posted in Charter Arms Revolvers | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »