Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

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:

24 Responses to “Rock Island Armory Match 1911”

  1. Ryan said

    I am very intrigued by all of your shining Rock Island reviews. The only caveat to me ordering one outright is the grip size. I was interested in the new Para Ordnance Expert GI but I’ve heard the grips are on the large size. My hands are apparently the product of a small “girlish” mold, unfortunately. How to the grips on the Rock Islands size up with some other 1911s?


  2. Gunner said

    Well sir all the single stack 1911’s have the same size grip frame. The only difference is the choice of wood, G-10 synthetic and other types of changeable grip panels. The cost of changing the grips can be as low as $20 or so off of ebay or you can invest in the G-10 grip panels that are pretty much indestructible and a god choice. Like the Mil-Tac panels on mine. You can also order slimline grip panels which reduce the grip circumference by a good deal. You can find these for a fairly reasonable price but you do have to use shorter grip screws which add about $10 to the cost of changing grips.
    I hope this helps you:-) I certainly have been and continue to be sold on the RIA 1911. They are without a doubt the best but in a 1911 especially with the ever increasing prices these days.

  3. 1911 grips said

    Beautiful pistol! Do you plan on changing the grips? If so, what grips do you plan on using?

  4. Gunner said


    Well sir that is a contributed review done by my friend Steve Rios that write some reviews for the 1911 forum and sometimes forwards them to me for the blog. I just about always put either Mil-Tac G10 grips on mine of those beauties that Craig Spegel makes from several types of wood. Craigs grips can be purchased at and the G-10 grips at
    I have shot this beuty and it’s a lot of gun for the money as all Rock Island Armory pistols are!

  5. Richard D. Allis said

    Well, didn’t make it to the gun show… Bought mine from a dealer down the road! Met my every expectation. Sights are a little dark in a indoor range, but , a little spot of highlight in the right areas and viola!
    At close range and full extent of my bay, center mass hits. Bay approximately 25 yrd.’s. Smooth trigger, minor recoil, comfortable shooter all around. With propper grip and sight control, I would highly recomend this weapon to anyone. Even my wife could rack this one!
    I guess the one thing I was most satisfied with is the classic lines of this 1911. Though I confess I am a dufuss in the qualities that have made this style of weapon a sought after piece, I know what I like.
    The Novak magazine (8 round) works every time as to the after market standard Colt .45 mag. not so much. I guess it pay’s to count? A couple of my aftermarkets did lock back empty, but, not all.
    Hope this helps convince some other skeptic. For the money and quality… Great buy!
    Dick allis…

  6. Gunner said


    Thanks for writing this! It really is the best nag for the buck in a 1911 and matches the quality of many 1911’s costing a lot more. Just a great gun!

  7. Robert Ator said

    I have a chance to buy from a local gun shop – I do not know the model, but it is a RIA 1911 with Pachmayer grips. It is used but never fired. They want $458. Don’t know if that is a good price or not, but it sure is less than a Colt or the STI Spartan for $700. Any thoughts?

  8. Gunner said


    That is actually not a bad price even if it’s the standard GI model. The tactical has better sights and some hand fitting and other assorted add ons. With the crazy prices these days the RIA is still the best buy in a 1911 you’ll find. In this area prices on 1911’s have gone up to the $1000 mark for new ones and used models at $800 to even as high as $900.
    If it were me I’d buy it and then try to find as much 45acp ammo as I could. Ammo right now in any caliber is hard to find and getting more expensive everyday.
    Bottom line buy it you won’t be sorry!

  9. TheGunGeek said

    I’m a new owner of a RIA standard 1911A1, my first 1911. Thanks for the great article.

    So, what do you recommend I go out and get for it? The bushing wrench sounds like a definite item for the list. What else? I’m really only interested in things that are basic improvements, not cosmetic or strictly competition items.

    TIA for any help you can give.

  10. Gunner said

    Congrats! You just bought the best buy you can get in a 1911. I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I hope it helped you out. Well as far as additions are concerned a bushing wrench is a pretty much a needed item but the Rock should have come with one. If you check underneath the egg shell liner in the case you should find the paperwork and bushing wrench.
    Honestly the only thing you really want are sights you can see and a decent trigger. Novak makes some great sights. You can send the slide only to Novak and they will return it within a week. The reason for sending the slide only is you don’t have to go through all the FFL stuff and it can be sent via USPS insured and save some money on shipping. to see all of the types and prices. As far as the trigger is concerned most RIA’s have a decent trigger but if you feel you need a little less pull most any local gunsmith can do a trigger job for about $50.
    Those are really the only things anyone needs the rest is fluff for the most part unless your are in competition.


  11. riafan said

    I have a problem with the slide stop in my ria but other than that the weapon is a dream and was wondering if you had a contact number for ria or for Ivan?

  12. Darryl H said

    I got to see one of the Rock Armory 1911 at a memorial meeting of vietnam vets up in Meneral Wells Texas. I live in Montgomery Texas. I would like to know where it is possible in Houston or somewhere near Montgomery Texas where I can purchase a Rock Armory 1911 45. If you know where please advise me.
    Thanks for your report on the pistol and best regards

  13. vinny miranda said

    Want a .38 super from Rock Island Armory, but can’t find their website. Can you help???

  14. Gunner said

    Here ya go. They have two websites but this one has the contact phone number which is all you need. They can tell you if any are in stock or when more will be in.

    Good luck,

  15. The Rock Island 1911 look great expect for the grips but you can always replace them.
    I would like to by a Rock Island or a Charles Daly
    what every I can find first.

  16. Gunner said


    Most any gunshop can order one for you. The one I use can order one and ship it to your gun dealer. The link is on the first page of the blog at the top.

    Good luck!

  17. Otto Gomey said

    Outstanding site, I genuinely discovered it to be good. I am looking forward to coming back once more to determine what’s current.

  18. Gunner said


    Thank you very much sir I certainly appreciate it!


  19. Old Soldier said

    I just bought a Rock Island Tactical. Fifty Rounds to break it in. Fired four 230gr Hydro shock and four 230gr ball (Federal). July at Fort Hood Tx. Hot and windy. Three of the Hydro shock went thru the same hole forth opened it up to .5 inches. Ball put two into the frist hole, two opened it upto 1.2 verticle 2.0 horizontal. More wind than shooter are pistol. No malfunctions. I say its a great gun for any price.

  20. […] Here’s an exceptional report on the Rock Island Armory 1911: […]

  21. The 1911 was the first weapon I fired when I went into the Army and is my favorite weapon. The Rock Island 1911 is the worst 1911 I have ever held in my hand. To field strip this piece of crap requires special tools you should not have to carry into the field. I have researched how to field this thing and really no one can tell me how to break this thing down. I went on line to download the instructions at , YouTube, went to various gun smith to include a special forces sergeant and no one can get the damn thing field striped. I will sale this to anyone for what I paid for it, anytime and anywhere.

  22. Gunner said


    I’m not sure what to say about your comment. I’ve never had anyone comment that they were having trouble with disassembly. If you look at the top of my home page i have a video on disassembly. It amazes me a gunsmith worth his salt can’t do something like a takedown of this 1911.
    What you need to do is remove the slide then use the standard takedown wrench and turn the bushing to the left if your facing the end of the swlide. The plug will come out. Then turn the bushing to the right and remove. Turn the slide over and remove the guiderod. That’s really all there is to it. You may not even need the wrench. In most cases you won’t.
    All 1911’s with full length guiderods are the same way no matter the brand. You can remove the guiderod and replace it with a GI version.

  23. Jeff said

    I need some help. Have just bought RIA 1911 GI and love it. Spartan but have ordered several upgrades. Put 100 rds through brand new with no hiccups. Only issue after cleaning was with sear and disconnector during reassmebly. Youtube vids helped…all seemed to go together well, safety, dry fire, slide action…all good. But cocking to the battery position didnt catch every time. Took apart reassmebled, ect. all worked …took to range and fired adn teh gun fired fine but the hammer did not reset to the cocked position. Has to be something with the sear, disconnecter…. Any help would be appreciated.

  24. Gunner said


    This is going to be a challenge to figure it over the Internet. One thing to keep in mind for future reference is never take the pistol all the way down for routine cleaning. I very seldom do this myself, rather use Birchwood Casey Bore Cleaner spray to blast out the frame internals about every 1000 rounds. Then just allow an hour to dry out. Then just drop a few small drops of lube between hammer and frame, mag release then drop the hammer manually and put a drop of lube in the space behind the hammer.Otherwise just clean the barrel, inside the visible parts of the slide and frame.Use a nylon brush to scrub under the extractor.You’ll find Q-tips very helpful in soaking up extra lube as well as spreading it out on interior slide surfaces. That’s all that’s needed.I advise using Militec lube or Slip 2000 EWL for standard lubrication. Slip 2000 also makes an excellent carbon cleaner for cleaning the barrel and all other parts.
    Now is the hammer following the frame when it goes back into battery after a round is fired? It sounds like the hammer is not engaging the sear at first thought—at least when the slide goes forward. I would start by taking it back down to the engagement between the hammer and sear and make sure they are connecting with the hammer and sear hooks on the front of each part. I would watch the videos on the blog a couple of times and pause them as you complete each step. Just got slow to ensure it all goes back together as it should.The three pronged sear spring can also cause this problem your having. It has to be placed just as shown when re-assembly.
    Try this then if you still have problems we may need to have you take pics of the internals as you go so I can get an idea of how the assembly is being done. Don’t hesitate to contact me through my email I’ll send you.
    Not to worry it’s nothing big I’m sure.

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