“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.