Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

Rock Island Armory Vs. Kimber

Posted by Gunner on May 30, 2011

“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.

110 Responses to “Rock Island Armory Vs. Kimber”

  1. dboy said

    Nice article! I love Rock Island Armory..but I was under the impression that all the steel was investment cast (nothing wrong with that), unless forged is a feature for Tactical models only. Either way, both good shooters. I also thought RIA had lifetime warranties..hmm

  2. Gunner said

    Thank you sir. You are correct they do have a lifetime warranty. I made the correction—thanks! I asked my buddy in the Philippines and they are all forged. That makes the price even better!

    Thanks for your comments!


  3. Charlie Jm said

    I’m glad that you put this in writing. Several people have looked at me strangely since I traded off my Kimber and kept my RIA Tactical as my preferred 1911. As for estectics, my “Rock” really looks great after I did a two tone Duracoat that mimics Wilson Combat.

  4. Gunner said


    I tell you what I’d rather have three RIA’s than one Kimber any day of the week. It’s about 50/50 chance you’ll get a good one without problems. Rock Islands always work.
    You made the right choice!


  5. Jerry said

    Awesome review, Phil. I’ve drilled into my children over the years the difference between need and want. My oldest son may want a Kimber, but I think he needs a Rock Island!

  6. Gunner said


    Your 100% right there Dad he does need a Rock. Honestly I had to bite my tongue not to say buy the Rock forget the Kimber—LOL!


  7. Jordan said

    Great article, I bought a Rock because of all the great reviews I have read, I actually bought two of them- A full-sized tactical and a Compact tactical. I’d much rather have two durable, great functioning guns that I can use over a shiny, pretty one that I’d be too afraid to pull out of the safe. Maybe one day I’ll own a beautiful 1911 just to look at, but until then i’m sold on the Rocks! Pass on the word to your pals!

  8. Gunner said


    I’m probably one of the biggest backers of Rock Island pistols! I spread the word whenever I can. I’ve done reviews for Guns For, The Firearm Blog and of course my blog.
    They are just the best 1911 to ever come along for the price they charge. You sure have many models to choose from and more on the way.
    There is a full sized rail match model on the horizon for this summer as well.


  9. alex r. said

    Thanks a lot for the info, just want it to know if the parts such as firing-pin, firing pin spring, recoil spr., and extractor can be replace w/out any modefication. Does it need to be G.I. parts?


  10. Gunner said


    All parts interchange with any other 1911. The extractor as with some all parts almost always need some adjustment. Generally you shouldn’t have any problem changing them out.

    Happy Shooting!


  11. Steve Gibson II said

    A friend of mind bought an RIA a while back and we both love it. I am glad I found your website,and your review on RIA. Have you shot an A2 version. If so what are your thoughts on that firearm. thank you

  12. Gunner said


    I really like all of the Rock Islands. I guess I’ve shot about every one they make at one time or another. The A2 is a nice one. They are accurate with good sights. The extended safety is nice and easy to manipulate. They don’t require breakin firing like many others.
    I’d recommend them without reservation:-)


  13. Joshua said

    I am a retired FFL dealer. I have dealt with Springfield Armory and Rock Island Armory. Springfield Armory, you are paying for the name and history of a company that stole the M1 Garand contracts. Arnelle, the pistol smith of RIA, a good friend, personally adds the final touches and oversees the production of these pistols. I have sister a sister pair, consecutive serial number, M1911A1, without alterations. I would put my girls up against any manufacturer. At tweny-five yards, I averaged 4.136″ with open sights, shooting 8 rounds. Spend your money wisely, forget the $1000 Kimber, buy two of Arnelle’s pieces, plus ammo.

  14. Gunner said


    Thanks very much for your comment. I couldn’t agree more with your observations. When I bought my first “Rock” tactical I was super impressed and still am.
    Arnelle is a great guy who tries his best to make your RIA run like a top!. Three “Rocks” for one high dollar pistol—that’s a no brainer!


  15. Jin said

    Reading reviews and comments like these are the reasons why I’m a RIA/Armscor pistol owner.
    Many thanks Sir Phil!


  16. Gunner said

    You are very welcome Jin!

    Thank you!

  17. Grindstone said


    I was curious if you have any side-by-side comparison between the RIA 1911 and Glock 21? (both .45 ACP)
    I’m looking for details on reliability, ease of use, and long-term durability.
    Thank you,

  18. Gunner said

    Well let me say first off I’m not a Glock fan. Regardless I’ll keep this honest and the answers may surprise you.
    If you look at one of the newer post you’ll see the Spec Ops community has changed from the 1911 to Glocks in 40 cal. In fact this article will answer many of your questions.
    Now if I compare the two pistols I’ll have to say the reliability of the Glock is very good and probably superior to most 1911’s that have not been tuned.
    Durability is an easy one and the nod goes to the Glock without a doubt. Ease of use is a harder question to answer. I’m of the opinion that the Glock is not a very safe pistol unless the owner practices a good deal. This practice should be on the range as well as dry firing and practicing your draw and re-holster ensuring you develop muscle memory to keep your finger away from the trigger until the proper time.
    Glocks have a high number of accidental discharges. The reason for this is the only safety is the little bar in the middle of the trigger. It’s all to easy to pull the trigger when drawing or re-holstering your pistol. A Glock owner should be very particular in choosing a holster. The main consideration is a holster that won’t catch the trigger in re-holstering.In fact Safariland had to redesign a holster because it caught the trigger causing AD’s.This company sells a manual safety for Glocks.
    The 1911 is easier to conceal since the Glock, especially the 45acp, is a very wide pistol. I’d advise the buyer to purchase the narrower model of the 45.
    While the 1911 is a natural pointer the Glock is not. With the Glock having a 102 degree grip angle it tends to point high which is another reason for plenty of practice. The new generation 4 has interchangeable grips straps which may help with this.
    The Glock in general is not as accurate as a 1911. It is plenty accurate for defensive purposes though.
    I hope this helps you make an informed decision. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

    Happy Shooting!

  19. Travis said

    I recently won a Rock Island 1911 at a Gun Bash in Pennsylvania (on a $8 ticket). I have yet to take it to the range due to the fact that I just won it yesterday. But after reading all the reviews and blogs I am certain I will love it. If there are any suggestions on what I should or shouldn’t do would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Gunner said

    Well sir if this is your first 1911 I would take a look at the disassembly videos on my blog. There is a link to them at the top of each page. The only thing I would do is purchase 230 grain ball ammo to break it in a bit before relying on it for CCW. I recommend using Militec or Slip 2000 EWL as a lubricant. I would clean it before going to the range.
    Apply lube to the slide. The points are the inside slide cuts on both sides, the notches the barrel lugs fit into, a little on the barrel bushing then finally the center of the slide at the rear where it’s flat. With the frame lube the rails on top of the frame, one drop of lube at the base of the hammer and one drop on the ejector which is the black piece on the left side of the frame and finally lube the slide release. A drop or two unless otherwise indicated is plenty of lube.
    Only disassemble to the point of removing the slide from the frame as well as removing the barrel and bushing. Stop at that point. There is no need to go further. Also remember the grip safety must be fully depressed before it will fire. Other than that take your time and learn the gun and maybe watch a few videos on You Tube on handling a 1911. Look for videos from reputable sources such as some of the larger training schools like Gunsite, Larry Vickers etc.
    If you have any problems or questions at all please contact me at this email address. One last thing if you purchase extra magazines I use mags from Tripp Research. They are on the Internet and can be ordered direct.

    Have fun!

  21. Sbev said

    The Wikipedia report on the RIA states the 1911s have a cast steel frame. Not forged, as stated in this article. I couldn’t tell from the RIA website.

  22. Gunner said

    Rock Island verified at this point anyway they are forged. I have a contact at the factory in the Philippines who gives me the straight story of the manufacturing process.A lot of what you read on some Wiki’s have to be taken with a grain of salt since anyone can post whatever they believe correct or not. Most are pretty good but some just don’t get it right.

    Take care,

  23. Sbev said

    Thanks for your response for clarification. I am looking at a compact RIA in a local store and noticed the OD of the barrel is flared at the muzzle and without a bushing. (Like a bull barrel, but just at the end of the muzzle.)
    Is this common for all their 1911s or just the compact version? Also does this improve accuracy?

  24. Gunner said

    Well sir it’s common to have this “Bull” barrel configuration on compacts especially those with 3 1/2 inch barrels. It really doesn’t increase accuracy but does make for better reliability in these short barrels. Almost every company that makes a short barrel of 3 1/2 inches has this. In fact I’m writing an article for a publication now on a Kimber with a 3 1/2 barrel and it also lacks a bushing.

    Happy Shooting,

  25. Tim said

    I own a Kimber. I have had misfire issues with it. It will hit the primer but not fire. Does not matter what type of ammo is used. Has been to a gun smith, (twice).This is the second Kimber I have owned. The first one had a bent front sight on it and the dove tail was cut at an angle. I think the sight was bent in an attempt to fix the off set machining. The Kimber customer service is nothing to be desired. With that said, i will not purchase anothe Kimber.

  26. Ben Wong said

    I am a tactile buyer and somewhat Brand Myopic and tend to look down on “lower brands” like Rock Island, Taurus 1911..etc.. but I can never get my hands on the model I wanted and always it has to be ordered with months of waiting (STI, Kimber, S&W and Para Ord) so I ended buying what they have on hand that I can finger fuck (my last pistol I bought is a Kimber HD Pro Carry I wanted Springfield Champion) then came the RIA M2011 thats the one with full length dust cover with rails last one that made one was Springfield Operator MC. So I handled it at the pawn store it was new and was tepid about it, but the price on it was so attractive like RIA was doing the Jedi Mind Trick on me and I bought it.
    BAMM !! talk about bang for ur buck.. it has nightsights !! and shoot … well freaking amazing .. no hiccups I mean right out of the box all I did was wipe the excess oil out of it and 500 rounds… man I never handled a gun like that since… well thats another story in itself .. folks I highly recommend this pistol for what ever utility u need it for and the looks of a full rail dust cover certainly made alot of “oohs and ahhs” at the range

  27. Gunner said


    They are no doubt the best buy in a 1911 bar none! I’m always glad to hear about another satisfied shooter. I’m up to 5 of them now and they all were 100% right out of the box with very good accuracy. That and the prices have changed very little over the last few years.


  28. ron bellville said


  29. Gunner said


    Most of the Kimber custom shop guns are about $1100. If you found a new one for that price grab it:-)


  30. drew said

    I’ve only ever owned striker fired pistols and revolvers and am looking into my first 1911. I read many forum debates however, on these pistols being “broken in”. With pro 1911 people saying this is common while anti saying “you don’t have to break in Glocks, XD’s etc…” Is this common in your opinion? Just curious your feedback and am NOT trying to turn this into a polymer vs metal debate.

  31. Gunner said


    There is really no break in for any of the striker fired pistols. Some 1911’s do require some break in time. In fact the companies themselves have that in the owners manual. Kimber for instance advises because of the snug parts fit and subsequent increased accuracy you should fire about 250 rounds prior to relying on it for protection.
    Now you buy a Rock Island and break in is not needed. It’s still an accurate pistol but mine and those I’ve shot have been fine out of the box. Most 1911’s don’t need a break in. It seems only the semi custom ones do.
    A Springfield Armory loaded would be a great choice for a first 1911. No break-in, very reliable just a great 1911 all around.

    I believe there are good choices in both types of guns. I never understood why people have to be for one and against the other:-)


  32. drew said

    Thanks for the info and totally agree. Glock vs Kimber = Both better than a tennis racket.

  33. Gunner said

    Yep, that’s for sure:-)

  34. Rob J said

    Great article..I too am a fan of RIA’s…with that said I can not locate the new 2011 Tactical Full Rail Hi-Cap model…do you happen to know who may be carrying these/who can order them?

  35. Gunner said


    The company who consistently has most models in stock is called Centerfire Systems. They normally have that in stock.

  36. Phil said

    I too am looking for the RIA 2011 Tactical Full Rail model but I am looking for the 9mm version and no one seems to have them yet. I have not even seen an actual retail price for them.

  37. Gunner said

    If memory serves that model will come out in May from what I’ve been told. I imagine retail will be close to the 45 acp version.

  38. Vic said

    Almost thou persuadest me to become a Rocker, to borrow a phrase. Thank you for your column and your enthusiasm. I will give the Rocks a second and very close look. I hope to get to the NRA next month in St. Louis and engage in some self-inflicted sensory overload. I am anxious to meet the Rhino and will spend some serious time on Rock Island. Thanks.

  39. Gunner said


    Enjoy the show! I know you’ll like the “Rock” models especially the Tacticals.

  40. James Green said

    I bought a used ria 1911 9mm from a local gun shop here in arizona it had been shot maybe three times, was manufactured last summer just in incredible condition out the door paid 375 bucks… since january of this year ive put 1000 rounds through the thing and have not had a single problm what so ever. not a jamb misfire poor ejection nothing… some of the ammo i was using was some blazers and pmc from 20 years ago my father in law gave me. still not a damn problem…. ive always been a big fan of 1911, lways wanted a nice colt or kimber something fancy and sexy… but i tell ya what i wouldnt trade this one for anything… when i do buy my 45 acp ts gunna be a rock island tactical without a doubt!!

  41. Gunner said

    That’s great to hear James! That’s a pretty normal experience for a “Rock” owner. They are just super guns at a fantastic price!


  42. Charlie Jones said

    And the education goes on! I will have to admit that my 9mm CZ75 single action has taking my heart! When RIA comes out with their compact in 9mm, I will be faced with a delima!

  43. Gunner said

    I hear ya Charlie! That CZ is a fine pistol!

  44. I recently bought the RIA 1911 CS withe GI Sights have fired 200 rnds of federal with no problems! Just got my CT laser grips from for $179 and cannot wait to try them out

  45. Gunner said

    Well sir if you’ve read the blog you know how much I like RIA pistols. You sure have a good one. Enjoy that laser it’s a great edition for home defense!

  46. matt said

    Thanks brother, im in the market for a 1911 and I found a rock island I liked but wasn’t sure of the name in the reason i hadn’t heard of them but, you article really made this decision a no brainer

  47. Gunner said


    That’s great, I’m glad it helped. Enjoy that “Rock”! Hey a great place to buy one is Centerfire Systems. They sell about every model at good prices.

  48. Dave said

    Great read Sir.I am in the market for a RIA Tactical with VZ Grip’s but it seems like all the shop’s are out of stock. Like most folks I try to get the most bang for my buck wich is why I own a Taurus PT 1911 in Duo Tone. It seems that RIA and Taurus are pretty even when it comes to features and value.

  49. Gunner said

    Thanks Dave,

    The way Rock Islands distribution works is we will receive a lot of guns. When they are sold more are in the pipeline but sometimes it takes awhile to get them in. I’ve seen us go for a couple of months before others are shipped in.
    It’s a great buy no doubt about that. If I were you I would call Rock Island at 775-537-1444 and request notification when they are back in stock or when they expect them in the warehouse.

  50. Rich D said

    Thanks for a great article, sir. I have been saving up some money for a 1911 for close to a year now (thanks to our economy and my ever vigilant wife, I have to do it slowly and secretly). If you’re married you’ll know what I mean.

    I only learned about RIA last week when my local gunstore put up the weekly ad with two RIA models on sale, which is a shame since they have gone up in price from the $350 range they were in a couple of years ago. Not to mention that I am of Filipino descent and both curious and I guess proud of hearing about a Filipino product with American quality.

    Having said all that, I believe I am getting closer to my goal since the money I’m saving would be much closer to RIA price range now, as opposed to the Colt or Para-ord price range. This might very well be my last handgun purchase though, because I consider the .45 as the “climax to a pistol collecting crescendo,” which started with smaller calibers.

    Yes sir, this will be my first 1911 (most likely my last as well:( ). So I need your two cents on which model to get. Should I get a GI model, an A1 model ($50 difference), or should I save a little more money for an A2 hi-cap. Although, I live in Los Angeles so the hi-cap limit is only 10 rnds. Which brings up another question of where to buy California compliant 1911 double stack mags. Again thanks for a great article.

  51. Gunner said


    I appreciate the comment and I’m sure glad the article helped you out. Tell you what I would skip the double stack especially being in California. They run about $35 a magazine anyway and a standard magazine is a good $10 less. The standard mags are easy to get and cheaper as well as holding 8 rounds with one in the chamber making it 9 rounds. There are also single stack ten round mags from McCormick id you want to keep one of those around.
    Now this company called Centerfire Systems has good prices on Rock Island 1911’s. I really prefer the Tactical model. There is a standard Tactical and the 2011 Tactical which is heavier. If you plan on range use only with no concealed carry you might consider it but the price is higher.
    Here is the link for them and the Rock Island page The standard Tactical is top right on the page. This is the one I’ve used for some years now:-) Let me know if I can help.

    PS all you have to do in ordering online is have the company you purchase it from send it to a local FFL dealer like your gunshop. They charge a fee usually for doing the paperwork at your shop. It’s actually easy to do.

  52. Rich D said

    Thanks for the quick response and the info. I will leave an update reply when I finally buy my RIA.

  53. Trea Payne said

    Wow, what a great article! This article sealed the deal on purchasing an RIA. I do need some help though. I will try to keep it short and sweet.

    My brother in law is getting out of the army this month, after spending 12 yrs as a sniper and in SF. My sister recently came to me, because she wanted to surprise him with a .45 that he has wanted for a very long time. I am now in charge of finding the perfect pistol for not only a great husband, and father, but a great veteran as well.

    He has always wanted a kimber warrior II, but with the addition of a beautiful baby boy to the family, that went out the window, because we just can’t afford it.

    After doing a lot of research I came across RIA. This is probably the only brand I’ve ever done research on that I can’t find a negative post about! After reading your article I am SOLD! I will be buying one for myself eventually too!

    The only problem is the RIA I want to get him, I can’t find any where!! I am looking for the Rock Island M1911-A1 FS tactical 2011 .45acp 5inch 8rd 51485.

    We’re are having a surprise party on September 15th 2012, and this is when we would like to present the pistol to him. I know this is very short notice, but if you or anyone else could point us in the right direction to find this pistol, it would be GREATLY appreciated!! Once again, great article!


    Trea Payne

  54. Gunner said


    They certainly are great 1911’s and the price can’t be beat. They have a hard time keeping up with demand though. A two week window to find one may be a problem. This company has the best prices. They are sold out now but you might call them and see when they will have more coming in. Centerfire Systems

    Also try JG Sales. They have a standard configuration Kimber for $729 if that might be more in the price range you can handle.

    Buds Gun shop has the one like mine which is the older tactical
    Buds also has the 2011 but it’s out of stock also. I’d give them a call as well as far as availability within the time you need it.

    My son spent two tours over there so thank him for his service from me!

    All the best and if you can’t find one within the time you need it let me know and I’ll do some checking for you.

    Glad you enjoyed the article! More people read that one than any other:-)

  55. Gunner said


    I have a couple more ideas for you. Check with the local gun shop where you live and see if any of the sources they have can find one.

    The other idea is check the internet auction websites that sell guns only. The first is and the next would be Guns I couldn’t advise using any of the other gun auction websites. Check feedback and number of guns sold on any seller offering an RIA 2011.

  56. Trea Payne said

    Thank you so much for the help. I will check with the places you mentioned and let you know what I find. Thanks again!


  57. Gunner said

    Trea by all means keep in touch so I can help locate one if need be—-

  58. Trea Payne said

    As of right now finding one by the 15th is not looking very promising. I reserved one on back order with centerfiresystems, but she couldnt give me any idea when they would be getting more in. Thanks again for the help


  59. Gunner said


    Yea I was afraid of that. It seems when one company is out all of them are. They sell so fast when they come in. One thing you could do is print a color pic of the pistol and put it in a welcome home card saying here’s you welcome home present! Open the link below for a pic you can print out:-)


  60. Gunner said

    I actually like this picture better with the new logo:

  61. Michael Misener said

    I own 27 different 1911’s and some of those are high end 1911’s.9$3800, and $3140. And for the money it will match those shot for shot. The Rock Islands are one of the best kept secrets in the 1911 world. The fellow two stalls away from me at the gun range kept having problems with his High dollar STI while my Rock Just wanting more lead. 3 weeks later I talked with him as he came into the club. He was in a hurry to try out his new Rock Island. After 220 rounds and some site adjustments he came over to me and thanked me for giving me the heads up on the Rock. He now feels as I do. Rock Islands “ROCK”

  62. Gunner said

    I sure couldn’t have said it better! They just got it right all the way around. Like you I have a fair number of 1911’s and if I had to choose one to depend on it would be my “Rock” Tactical hands down!

    I’ve said it many times there is no better buy than a Rock Island!

  63. JR said

    I was having trouble deciding between Rock and Kimber but after reading this post i know exactly which one to buy. This is a great website.

  64. Gunner said

    Thank you JR I’m glad you like the website. Even more I’m glad I was able to help with your decision!

  65. Tim said

    hi i have purchaced 2 rock island 1911 a-1 that a sequencial serial number guns and i do like the way the feel and handle and only fired around 50 rounds throu each gun the have all been factory load but the guns have fixed sights and shooting at 25 yards i only seem to be able to pull 6 to 8 inch groups witch i was ok with for the price of the guns my issue is that one pistol groups left of center about 6 inches and the other groups about 4 or 5 inches low of center they have fixed sights and i’m no ace with a pistol but i can group way better and on target with other pistols. is there a way to alter them with a gunsmith to change the point of impact of the groups? and is there a decent round that could be tryed to achieve a tighter grouping? thanks

  66. Gunner said

    Hello Tim,

    Yes sir a gunsmith can take care of both problems for you. The one shooting left they just move the rear sight in the dovetail to compensate for the left side grouping. The other problem can be taken care of by his taking a little off the front sight to raise the point of aim. It’s a relatively simple task for them.
    As far as tighter groups the gunsmith can have a look while he’s doing the other. Sometimes a tighter fitting barrel bushing will tighten groups up. As far as a specific load it’s trial and error. Every gun has loads it likes and those it doesn’t. Sounds strange I know but they do. What kind of ammo are you using?

  67. Tim said

    yeah i know all bout guns being picky with loads lol, but i was unaware the sight could be moved at all on the gun it looks like it is modled on the slide but will ask my cousin when i get there to his house later today he is a gunsmith and wanted to take a look at them anyways, as for the filing on the front sight i had that idea but won’t that destroy the parkerized coating? is there something that can be put on the exposed metal? the loads i have used in both guns are, fiocchi 230 gr fmj & american eagle 230 gr fmj, i have been trying to get some tite group powder to try some hand loads i have had suggested to me but with everyone who is panicing i can’t find a single pound anywhere around lol. Thanks

  68. Gunner said

    It will remove some finish but he should be able to take care of that pretty easy. You know either of those loads should do ok. Yea the rear one can be moved. It’s hard to tell though. Best of luck and I’m sure he can get it taken care of for you.

  69. Tim said

    hey thanks and i talked with him today and he said to try some 185’s and see what happens with grouping other wise we will change bushings a little, and yes the back sights can be tapped over with a brass punch and hammer, but he said the filing of the front sight can be done but it can be tricky to fix the finish on the gun. thanks for all the help

  70. Gunner said


    Always glad to help. Yes trying a 185 grain bullet will raise the point of impact some. I’m not sure it’s enough but it depends on the bullets speed. It may work though. I usually tape my rear sight with the military green tape which is thicker than duck tape. Then use a brass punch or just a small brass hammer. Best of luck!

  71. Tim said

    Hey good idea with the tape thanks again

  72. Gunner said

    You bet Tim. Feel free to contact me anytime at all

  73. Eurolynn said

    I used to have Springfield envy, and Kimber.

    But after a lot of range time, I have 2 RIA’s (5″ 1911 GI, and Officers 3.5″) and one ATI 4.25″ (not from RIA, but still made in the PI), no regrets anymore, and I don’t even look at over priced Springfields & Kimbers.

    But I have since purchased a Regent 100, and have been comparing them all at the range, I truly don’t know which I like better. But for the price, I would most likely buy a 3rd RIA. Since ammo prices got stupid, I haven’t had a decent shooting session to do an even comparison.

    The 3.5 RIA Compact is my CCW, never a doubt with the reliability. I have just a bit more than 1000 rounds thru both of my RIA’s, and maybe 500 thru the ATI, but only about 150 in the Regent.

  74. Johnny O'Donnell said

    What was the name of the RIA armorer again, please.

  75. Gunner said

    I just went blank on his name. It’s been over a year since I spoke with him. If you call the main Armscor number they can put you through to him.

  76. uh what? said

    You can get a kimber pro carry II at your local gunshop for 700 out the door last I checked 450 times times three was 1350 and the pro carry is a lot lighter ,better made(in U.S.A.), and has never had a malufunction after 150 rounds so far. I wouldn’t trust my life to something for a 250 bucks less coming from the philipines. A better compairison might be a taurus 1911 or the ruger 1911. Oh ya other manufactors are importing the same pistol under diffent names besides RIA too like Taylor.

  77. uh what? said

    METRO AND AMRSCOR also all the same place

  78. uh what? said

    I guess if your RIA breaks you could through it at them and hurt them really bad too being made from cast iron and all 😉

  79. uh what? said

    Kimber custom II is even cheaper just has the full barrel like the ria in your blog. Is the ria bushingless by the way?

  80. Gunner said

    Five or so are at least based on them. From parts replacement to using the frame and slide to base their gun. The RIA is one of those rare guns some of our master pistolsmiths will use as a base gun for customizing.

    As far as Metro they are not RIA’s. They are made by a different company not associated with Armscor. It’s a common misconception.

  81. Gunner said

    The RIA is one of those rare guns some of our master pistolsmiths will use as a base gun for customizing. They are anything other than cast iron. The steel is very good actually.

  82. Gunner said

    The RIA is bushingless. The custom II has gone up considerably in price but each area of the country has different prices to some degree. There’s no knock on Kimbers. You have the wrong impression if that’s the case. I carry a Kimber Royal II everyday.

  83. Tim said

    Hi, i spoke to ya a couple months ago and i do appriciate you advise ya gave me and been nothing but happy with the 2 ria i have but was looking at doing a little custom work on them and was interested what all parts will interchange from other gun makes? Barrels, sheer spring, triggers, rear sights?? not sure what all i really want to change on them because they were very nice right out of the box but wanted to see just to keep my options open any info would be greatly apriciated, thanks

  84. Gunner said

    Tim you gave me an easy question this time. The answer is all common 1911 parts will fit no matter the brand. As far as sights are concerned if you have a Tactical they use a Novak sight cut so changing them out is fairly simple. If it has a GI type sight you’ll need a company such as Novak to cut the slide and install the sights. Turnaround is about one week. Sight cost depends on type chosen. Cost is average of $100 with about $50 for install.
    Now as far as parts for the internals. A trigger improvement can be installed by using a Cylinder and Slide Tactical kit which runs $150. That includes a new match hammer, sear, sear spring, main spring. A trigger purchased from 10-8 Performance or Wilson Combat is a good choice. A new extended thumb safety from the same two companies will work well. Just remember that Rock’s use series 70 parts not series 80.
    If you need anything else just let me know.


  85. Tim said

    hey thanks a lot, and last time i stopped at my cousins shop he let me know they were series 70 and he said that in his opinion is better than a series 80 but idk, now as far as the kit that replaces the hammer, sear, sear spring i have looked at those but do you have to use the new hammer with that kit or can the old hammer still be used with that kit? i just like the look of the g.i. hammer better. i also know they are the 1911 a1 modle but the paper work says they are novak notch sight, will they still need to be cut to install different sights?

  86. Gunner said

    Hi Tim,

    No need for a last question ask whenever you want:-) Anyway, the rear sight cut of a GI model is only about 3/8th of an inch and will not fit a Novak sight so yes they would have to mill that out. When Novak is done you’ll never know they touched it. That brings up something else which is the front sight. If it is in fact a GI rear then the front sight will need to changed as well. It’s to short for the Novak rear.
    As far as the hammer yes you have to use it. The hammer sear engagement surfaces are set at the factory for the best possible release. In fact the fit between the sear and hammer are the most important factors in getting a good trigger pull.

  87. Pete said

    I too recently purchased the Rock Island Compact Officers 1911. This has been the best decisions in hand guns I’ve made and other should seriously consider making. As a former police officer, I have carried various weapons including the Kimber, Colt and Springfield 1911’s. I have fired the Para Ordnance Slim Hawg and all I can say is… Rock Island has them beat. I have fired over 500 rounds through my RIA with zero failures to feed. You also cannot beat the “Lifetime Warranty” with Rock Island. Friends of mine who may have had minor issues with their RIA have received excellent customer service. The high end guns in my opinion are basically for show and tell. I have yet to find a “Pretty” gun that will stop the action any better than one that is less attractive. Make a few changes to the RIA such as a pair of Hogue Grips with finger grooves or “Pretty It Up” with a nice pair of Rosewood Grips and you have yourself a GREAT gun. Those that have fired my RIA are in the process of buying one and selling their “Pretty” guns to someone willing to throw their hard earned money away.

    Thanks, Pete

  88. Gunner said

    Certainly is the best deal in a 1911.

  89. greg dennis said

    my slide is very hard to get off the frame is that normal…..

  90. greg dennis said

    it seems to get hung

  91. Gunner said


    Are we talking about a Rock Island or a Kimber? The two are very different in that one is a series 70 while the Kimber uses a Schwartz safety system. That system can cause a slide to hang. With a Kimber you never depress the grip safety while taking the slide off or back on. It will hangup and can break a part.

  92. Roy creiglow said

    Just bought my first 1911, being a Rock in the compact version, and have not had a chance to get to the range yet. Showed it to a friend today, and we compared it to his new Glock, and he wanted to trade me on the spot. I like the feel of my Rock, and am anxious to throw some lead downrange. Thanks for re-enforcing my decision to buy a Rock.

  93. Gunner said

    My pleasure Roy! I hope you enjoy for years to come:-)

  94. dalton said

    Just got a rock put rap around houge grips made a world of difference in placement i use to have a springfield and hated the feel and shot placement well lets say less than desireable but on my rock want an openion on should i compensate it change giderod and spring im an avid shooter who wants the top accu on all my weapons lookin for feedback thanks

  95. Gunner said

    Having a new barrel bushing fitted will give you a little extra accuracy. That’s about all without really spending a lot to have a gunsmith work on it.

  96. Gunner, Greetings from a former Coastie in Colorado. Today, I just bought a RIA 1911 A1 TAC II VZ Grip in .45 ACP. It doesn’t have the rail, but DOES have an unusual recoil spring configuration in that the gun does not have a barrel bushing. The manual that came with the gun appears to be outdated since it calls for the turning of and removing of the barrel bushing. Hence my question. HOW do you disassemble this gun. It’ s different than a “conventional” 1911.

    Thanks, and always Semper Paratus

  97. John Tekstar said


  98. John Tekstar said

    Excellent Ria 45acp Tactical compact 70 series is going to be the new edc for me

  99. Joe B. said

    Thanks for the great article. I was at a local gunshow today and a dealer had an RIA 1911A1 tactical for sale. The show was closing and I passed, wanting to do some research on the brand. After reading your article and many others about the RIA 1911’s, I am heading back to the gunshow tomorrow to purchase the “ROCK” ! I only hope it is still there, the show is over an hours drive away. I will give you my first impressions in a follow-up later. Thanks again.

  100. Joe B. said

    Gunner…Here is a follow-up to my post on October 19, 2013.

    I did buy the RIA 1911A1 Tactical,thanks to you and many other reviews about this gun. I took it to the range today and what a nice surprise. This gun shoots nice, right out of the box.
    I loaded up 5 rounds of 230 fmj in the mag and at 25ft three in the 2inch center and two just outside in the 9 ring. First time shooting this gun and other than removing it from the plastic bag and wiping the excess oil off the gun, nothing else. After almost 75 rounds and not a single hiccup, shooting 16 rounds rapid fire, two full mags of double tap, and then just having fun shooting….what a nice gun at a reasonable price.

    Now for the simple up-grades to come…some sights that are more visible, either fibre-optics or night sights, or just some glow paint on the sights for a temporary fix, an extended mag release, and a wrap around grip. That’s it !

    Thanks again for your insight into these well built, economical handguns.

  101. Tim said

    Hi Gunner I last talked to ya around January 2013 about the two RIA 45’s that I bought. I am still happy with those two guns how ever I put custom grip on them and my fiancé does not like my to leave the house with the pistols and those grips on them. I am looking for a good all around packing pistol but in my pref I dislike compact and subcompact pistol frames I try to stick with full size. Well I am very interested in the 10mm round. I was contacting you cause I notice not to many makes of this caliber are avalible the RIA, EES, Colt, Glock and a few others offer it. I was just looking if you have any experience with a RIA or any other wepons in this clambering? Any thoughts, opinions, and info would be much appreciated thanks again

  102. Tim said

    Hi Gunner I talked to ya last January about the 2 R.I.A.’s I bought and am still very happy with them. I have a small issue and was seeking any knowledge and opinion you have on it. My fiancé does not like me to pack those 2 pistols with me on the fact of the disapproval of the custom grip pics on them so I am force dang the luck to find another day to day packing gun. I’m not a fan of compact of subcompact pistol frames I prefer full size. I am looking in to a 10mm but don’t know much about it and I know R.I.A. makes a few models in it along with EEA, Colt, and glock and few others. I was seeking any info, personal experience, and opinion on that caliber and thoughts on the gun choice it’s self. Any thoughts, opinions would be greatly appreciated thanks again Gunner

  103. nick said

    I enjoyed this post and definitely drove me in the direction of buying a rock. I own a couple other higher end 1911(Baer premier II, cold gold cup, and the new SW e series) now um far from being a 1911 expert or a shooting expert for that matter but I do enjoy things that go bang. I was in the market for another toy to play with and was looking to buy a kimber and spend a little to customize it I was looking on the net to see what people think of the kimber and I spoke to a few guys at the range I go to and they seem to like it but the rock almost always comes up during these conversation so I decided to look more into the rock and found this article. After reading it went down to my closest ffl wanting the 2011 railed versiin but to my dismay its not on the ca doj list (yes I do live in california…dont hold that against me) and I didnt have the patience to wait to get it delivered and get it SSE’d l. Not to mention theyre pretty hard to come by and the only ones they had were the gi model and the mil spec. So I opted for the mil spec waited my 10 days and ordered the parts I wanted to swap out. It was all black ajd I wanted a little contrast so I droped in stainless steel hammer, trigger, slide stop, main spring housing and beaver taip safety also for the look I swapped the barrel bushing for a stainless “punisher” barrel bushing compensator. Went to the range and though mentioned in the article that no break in was needed I was ready for it brought along some cheap .45 I got at walmart some federal red box and to my suprise I got some really good groupings at 10, 15, 25, and 50 fired about 200 rds the first day came back the next day and threw anither 500 down range and man was I satisfied. Im just a little bummed I didnt try it out before changing all the parts but besides that the decision to go with the rock over the kimber was definitely not something I would regret.

  104. David said

    I have a ria 1911 tac in 45 I’ve put close to 600 down the tube had one failure to lead with a pro mag high capacity other than that the gun has been remarkable

  105. Ron Cannon said

    I am a gunsmith.A good friend gave me a new GI compact as a gift.The gun was tight out if the box,but needed a little TLC.I milled a front dovetail and installed a gold bead sight from 10-8 performance,and a rear sight with a huge “U” notch also from 10-8. I replaced the fire control components with Wilson parts for a nice,crisp 4 pound trigger pull. Lastly,I replaced the stock smooth wood grips with G10 grips from Hogue. I now have a EDC gun that is equal to my Les Baer Premier that I carried for years. The Rock is fitted just as tight as the LB, and that is TIGHT! I love to carry the Rock as it is not as heavy on my old back as the full size 1911. I have never carried anything but a 1911 and never will. I trust my life to the Rock. It eats everything i feed it,even before polishing the feed ramp and chamber. It is just an incredible gun at a great price. I still love my LB,but the Rock is my constant companion now. As a gunsmith,I recommend this gun. It doesn’t get any better than that! Thanks for a great article!!

  106. Stefan said

    After 2 months of research, handling different 1911’s and reading reviews, I started to eyeball the RIA (#50485) Tactical .45ACP VZ w/ the full rail, dust cover, and VZ grips. At first, my hesitation was due to a few friends telling me to buy a Sig Sauer or a Kimber over the RIA, but after handing those brands, I just wasn’t impressed enough to spend $1k.

    I pulled the trigger and ordered my fully-decked out 1911 from Tombstone Tactical in Phoenix for $585 shipped and insured. Here in Texas a week later, I paid the $35 FFL transfer fee and it was mine. All in for $620, I am a very happy camper.

    While I haven’t had time to get to the range just yet, the overall fit and finish are exquisite. I disassembled it on Day 1 and wiped the excess lubricant from the gun, reassembling it and observing what my dollars had bought me:

    A forged steel frame.
    A hand-fitted forged steel slide.
    The NEW Rock Island Armory logo at the left-tail of the slide.
    A full length rail and dust cover.
    A fiber optic front sight.
    An elevation and windage adjustable rear sight.
    A skeletonized hammer and trigger.
    An extended beaver-tail
    A precision milled Magwell
    An Italian-made Mec-Gar 8rd magazine with RIA engravings.
    A textured flat mainspring housing.
    A set of G10 composite VZ grips.
    From a company with an incredible record for customer service.

    Most impressive, is that all of this was direct from the Armscor factory in the Phillipines. This gun, visually, knocks my friend’s Sig Sauer Scorpion out of the park…but after reading this article, when I let him know the RIA will out-shoot a Kimber and also cost nearly half the price of a Sig, he just about threw the Sig over the fence.

    Needless to say, he has one on order now and his Sig will probably go up for sale soon to cover the cost of a second RIA in 10mm.

    By the way, Rock Island 1911’s are now offered in 22TCM, .38 Super, 9mm, 40S&W, .45ACP, and 10mm. There’s really no excuse not to own one.

    Lord knows, this won’t be my last.

  107. Michael said

    I own a RIA 51567. It’s been nothing but a pleasure to shoot. It’s also my 1st and only 1911 with nothing to compare it too. I have about 500 rounds through it.

    I do have experience with warranted repairs. I took the ambidextrous safety off shortly after purchasing it to see how it breaks down and goes back together. I didn’t get passed the Ambidextrous safety and broke it while putting it back together. (I was banging it with a plastic hammer) . I decided to call RIA for repairs. They emailed me a shipping label . They quoted me 3-4 weeks and had it back in to me in about 4 weeks give or take a couple days. It arrived 2 day Fedex, no extra magazine. But the gun never malfunctioned. My only complaints are that the trigger rattles in all directions and I’m not a huge fan of the finish. It’s a nice finish, don’t get me wrong. I’d just like a blue or stainless or gun metal color.

  108. Ronald R Haight said

    Thanks for a real life anti bias review. I love my rockisland 10 mm tactical II MS

  109. Kalibrekwarentaysingko said

    I can’t wait for pro Match ultra RIA

  110. my ria ultra fs only shoots pcm 185 grain without any problems why?

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