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Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 8:59 am

Somewhat similar questions to the ones I asked about the Sig 1911's...

I also just purchased two 9mm Rock Island 1911's with target sights, ambidextrous safeties for $417 each brand new.  And online I purchased a Rock Island 38 Super barrel as well thinking I would drop the 38 Super barrel into one of them.  These guns actually get pretty good reviews online...especially for the money.

1)  Anyone have a feel for their accuracy?

2)  What are the chances that I could just drop the 38 Super barrel into the slide and start shooting it.

3)  Can someone stop me from spending so much time trying to figure out how to put together a fun and interesting 1911 38 Super?

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Post by RoyDean Tue Dec 26, 2023 9:55 am

So. Disclaimer first. I have never owned or contemplated owning, a Rock Island Armory 1911. But numerous commentators, I mean almost every time the RIA brand gets a mention on this forum, opinion is very poor. MIM (i.e. cheap and nasty) internal components. poor assembly and fit. But, on the positive side, they are very inexpensive.

I guess that it comes down to what level you are currently at, what are your objectives and are you actually training for competition, or just plinking?

From a big picture perspective. If you don't already own a decent 22 that can hold the 8 ring at 25 yards off a rest, then you are wasting good ammo and time with a 45 or whatever!

As for 9mm vs 38 Super vs whatever. It is all just an academic exercise if you can't keep ten rounds of 45 in the black at 25 yards - one handed, two handed or off a rest first!

Learn to shoot a 22. Then make or find some decent "soft" 45 target ammo and learn to shoot whatever 45 gun you have at 25 yards as best you can.

Only once you have done that is there any point messing with all of the other stuff.

Oh, and if you are over 60 or otherwise have any vision issues - use guns with red dots, at least to start with.

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Post by JRV Tue Dec 26, 2023 10:47 am

I have a Rock Island that I built into a ballgun, starting with a base model .45.

Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River Img_3710

After nearly tripling the cost of the gun to replace every component that was not slide, frame, or barrel, it is reliable and shoots on call. I have never RRed it, but I have tested it off bags at 25 yards during ladder testing.

Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River Img_3711

After all that effort, it’s not worth it at all—save and except a fun project/curiosity. Get a used 9mm RO or Loaded Target as a base gun for bullseye use. For general competition and range use, sure, it’s a fine base gun. At a minimum, replace every part in the fire control group with tool steel parts from a good maker. Fit and test slowly.

I would not expect a barrel from any manufacture to drop in. You might get lucky, but the odds are not in your favor.

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 10:54 am

JRV wrote:I have a Rock Island that I built into a ballgun, starting with a base model .45.  

Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River Img_3710

After nearly tripling the cost of the gun to replace every component that was not slide, frame, or barrel, it is reliable and shoots on call.  I have never RRed it, but I have tested it off bags at 25 yards during ladder testing.  

Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River Img_3711

After all that effort, it’s not worth it at all—save and except a fun project/curiosity.  Get a used 9mm RO or Loaded Target as a base gun for bullseye use.  For general competition and range use, sure, it’s a fine base gun.  At a minimum, replace every part in the fire control group with tool steel parts from a good maker.  Fit and test slowly.

I would not expect a barrel from any manufacture to drop in.  You might get lucky, but the odds are not in your favor.  


Thanks for your response.  But I'm a little unclear as to whether you are pleased with the outcome of the work that was done on the RIA 1911 or disappointed.  When I look at the target...seeing at least 5 shots and perhaps a total of 10 in one nice ragged hole, that looks pretty good.

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Post by sbtzc Tue Dec 26, 2023 11:14 am

Rock Island 9mm - been there, done that. It would not stay on a repair center at 25 yards. Sent it back to Rock Island complaining about poor accuracy. They sent it back with a test target and said it was within specifications. The test target had a five inch group and was marked 7 yards.

Cheap doesn't cut it.
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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 11:19 am

RoyDean wrote:So. Disclaimer first. I have never owned or contemplated owning, a Rock Island Armory 1911. But numerous commentators, I mean almost every time the RIA brand gets a mention on this forum, opinion is very poor. MIM (i.e. cheap and nasty) internal components. poor assembly and fit. But, on the positive side, they are very inexpensive.

I guess that it comes down to what level you are currently at, what are your objectives and are you actually training for competition, or just plinking?

From a big picture perspective. If you don't already own a decent 22 that can hold the 8 ring at 25 yards off a rest, then you are wasting good ammo and time with a 45 or whatever!

As for 9mm vs 38 Super vs whatever. It is all just an academic exercise if you can't keep ten rounds of 45 in the black at 25 yards - one handed, two handed or off a rest first!

Learn to shoot a 22. Then make or find some decent "soft" 45 target ammo and learn to shoot whatever 45 gun you have at 25 yards as best you can.

Only once you have done that is there any point messing with all of the other stuff.

Oh, and if you are over 60 or otherwise have any vision issues - use guns with red dots, at least to start with.


Thanks so much for your thoughts...

A little more background...I started shooting Bullseye competitions in the late '90's at a great little club in Boise, ID and also shot some over in the Eugene, OR area.  Roddy Toyota was just across town and, fortunately for me, an outstanding gunsmith and a really nice (and patient) guy.  My favorite gunsmith back then.  In Boise, Jerry Hansen, George Sinclair and Steve Neilsen taught me so much about shooting and kept me from hurting myself.  And I once scored Doc Young's targets at a match in Boise but all I could find was one hole in the X ring.  A very big hole but still just one hole.  I got to Expert Level and was within spittin' distance of Master when life changed with moves and other circumstances.  So I haven't competed consistently in years.  I shot a match last year just for the heck of it and was at Sharpshooter score levels.

I have two Bob Marvel guns...one he made for me around 2001 or 2002 and one, a 38 Super, that I bought online back about the same time.  At last count I think I have probably six or seven other bullseye guns of one sort or another...my original customized Essex that got me close to Expert, a couple of Clark 1911's, four Kimbers, a Springfield Trophy Match (being so much more than I expected, it is perhaps my favorite gun of all), two other accurized Springfields (one hardball one with an Ultra Dot), a Colt God Cup (after Steve Neilsen passed away), two Baikal IZH-35's, two Sig Trailsides, four Marvel conversions, a Colt built in 1919 for the Marine Corps, later accurized for bullseye (a gun that I bought 15 years ago from someone on the old Bullseye List), two Ruger Mark II's, two Ruger 22-45's and...I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.

What can I say...I like guns and messing around with guns.  I like projects that keep my mind busy.  And I really like the idea of a firearm at a modest cost that shoots that ends up shooting surprisingly well.

I've never owned a 1911 in 9mm and never particularly wanted to own one but it looks like the USPSA crowd has put them to good use.  But this all got started when I dusted off my Marvel in 38 Super, dug out some ammo for it and shot it.  

Wow!  

That's what got me started down this particular rabbit trail.

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 11:22 am

sbtzc wrote:Rock Island 9mm - been there, done that. It would not stay on a repair center at 25 yards. Sent it back to Rock Island complaining about poor accuracy. They sent it back with a test target and said it was within specifications. The test target had a five inch group and was marked 7 yards.

Cheap doesn't cut it.

I have indeed heard that a lot.  But more recently I'm hearing chatter that they have upgraded their manufacturing and that both the quality and the accuracty has gone up quite a bit.

But I'll know more in a couple of days.

I might be selling the two Rock Island 9mm's that I just bought for $417 each for...let's say...$395 each!

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Post by RoyDean Tue Dec 26, 2023 11:29 am

Dear Boisepaw,

Sorry, I "preached to the converted" without knowing your background. My bad!

As for inexpensive 1911's that might have potential, take look at TISAS, made in Turkey. I do not yet have a definitive conclusion, but looking quite interesting.

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 12:20 pm

RoyDean wrote:Dear Boisepaw,

Sorry, I "preached to the converted" without knowing your background. My bad!

As for inexpensive 1911's that might have potential, take look at TISAS, made in Turkey. I do not yet have a definitive conclusion, but looking quite interesting.

I think that I've been the pompous ass in this exchange.  Which takes a lot of nerve since my shooting ability never gave me the right to be a pompous ass!  Smile

I got started writing about my bullseye experience and I couldn't stop.  So many great people.  So many fun experiences.  For awhile I couldn't get through a week without getting to the Boise range at least three times a week.  SO much fun shooting.

And then the firearms...so many great options.  

Seriously however...your thoughts are very much appreciated.  All information is helpful information.

Next time you are on the eastern shore in Maryland...let's get together and go shooting!

As to the sheer stupidity of moving from Idaho to Maryland...one word.  "Grandsons."


Last edited by boisepaw on Tue Dec 26, 2023 12:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 12:25 pm

RoyDean wrote:Dear Boisepaw,

Sorry, I "preached to the converted" without knowing your background. My bad!

As for inexpensive 1911's that might have potential, take look at TISAS, made in Turkey. I do not yet have a definitive conclusion, but looking quite interesting.
Oh yeah, as to the TISAS...I had one probably ten years ago and I think I remember being kinda pleasantly surprised at the level of accuracy.  But I think the trigger was awful and I had too many other projects and didn't see myself committing lots of money at that time to trying to make something interesting out of it.

This Rock Island project and the Sig 1911 project...IF I go anywhere with them...is because having recently learned how to change a light bulb and unclog the toilet...I think I'm ready to accurize a 1911!  Doncha think?

And I'm interested in figuring out if I can carry a full size 1911 in 38 Super and I can't find a holster for my Marvel with the Ultra Dot mounted on it.

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Post by JRV Tue Dec 26, 2023 12:51 pm

boisepaw wrote:
Thanks for your response.  But I'm a little unclear as to whether you are pleased with the outcome of the work that was done on the RIA 1911 or disappointed.  When I look at the target...seeing at least 5 shots and perhaps a total of 10 in one nice ragged hole, that looks pretty good.

I’m pleased with the outcome but only to the extent that I acknowledge it was a combination of disproportionate effort/cost and some dumb luck.  

The gun—presumably the barrel—is load sensitive.  It will not group with any loads using Bullseye or W231 powder.  It only groups with one load using Clays powder.  I spent more time, money, and effort making this gun shoot acceptably (the 4:30 flyers are consistent—not super far out, but nevertheless there every couple mags) than I did with my primary match pistol.  My SARO with an EGW bushing will perform with this gun using more loads, and cost less to do so.

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Post by boisepaw Tue Dec 26, 2023 2:20 pm

JRV wrote:
boisepaw wrote:
Thanks for your response.  But I'm a little unclear as to whether you are pleased with the outcome of the work that was done on the RIA 1911 or disappointed.  When I look at the target...seeing at least 5 shots and perhaps a total of 10 in one nice ragged hole, that looks pretty good.

I’m pleased with the outcome but only to the extent that I acknowledge it was a combination of disproportionate effort/cost and some dumb luck.  

The gun—presumably the barrel—is load sensitive.  It will not group with any loads using Bullseye or W231 powder.  It only groups with one load using Clays powder.  I spent more time, money, and effort making this gun shoot acceptably (the 4:30 flyers are consistent—not super far out, but nevertheless there every couple mags) than I did with my primary match pistol.  My SARO with an EGW bushing will perform with this gun using more loads, and cost less to do so.

So a couple more questions if you don't mind...

Do I understand that you are still shooting the factory barrel rather than getting a match barrel?  And that is giving you some nice groups with those cursed flyers?

Did you spend much time fitting that barrel or on slide to frame fit?  Did you change the whole firing system...springs, trigger etc. (Sorry but I can't write AND see all that you had written earlier.)

What would you say was the most important modification that  you made?

You talked about an EGW bushing on your SARO.  What did you do on the bushing on the RIA and did that have any positive accuracy effect?  Seems like that would be a great place...not terribly expensive...to start.  Might a good bushing be a big help to the accuracy?

My very best bullseye pistols have bushings that I simply cannot turn far enough to get the spring out.  One of them...at a gunsmith a couple of weeks ago...frustrated the smith so badly that after 20 minutes he gave up and just put together all the slide parts before reassembling the gun.  He couldn't move the bushing far enough.  

So I've thought about going to all full length or two piece guide rods.  Maybe helpful?

Then on to the ammo...I'm still shooting some of the handloads that Jerry made up for me 15 years ago before life changed so much.  But I just got a used Dillon 550 specifically to start reloading for the 38 Super.  I've shot some factory flat ended bullets from the 38 Super that shot great!

But I thought, the one and only time that I went to Camp Perry over 20 years ago, that most of the top competitors were shooting hollow point bullets?  But it doesn't seem like I'm seeing that now?

I don't know that I EVER want to get into reloading 9mm.  And I have probably 2000 rounds of 45 ACP reloads to still shoot through.  But I'm all ears about any thoughts about types of bullets and particular manufacturers and models of bullets.

Bummer about the powder.  I have 7 pounds of Bullseye I've been carrying around for 20 years thinking that any day I was going to become a Dillon master and start loading my own handgun rounds.

Anything more on the subject that anyone would want to share would be welcome...guns, parts, fitting work, ammo...I'm all ears.

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Post by troystaten Tue Dec 26, 2023 7:45 pm

I don't know about the 9mm Rock Islands but a now deceased pistol smith I knew would build both 45's and 38 special conversions on RI frames and Slides both would shoot lights out.  This smith told me that barrel/bushing and slide stop fit made all the difference.  For the 38 special conversions he would use the RI 38 special frames that had the non ramped barrels and would fit one of the old Colt Kit gun barrels.  For the 45's he would use a match grade barrel of the buyers choice.  Since I don't build guns myself what I have to say will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you have 5 dollars.  Good luck with your pursuits.

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Post by spursnguns Tue Dec 26, 2023 8:38 pm

M1911's are like sportscars....

1.  Don't buy cheap ones for they are cheap for a reason.
2.  Own one and you better know how to use your tools.

Jim
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Post by spursnguns Tue Dec 26, 2023 8:42 pm

spursnguns wrote:M1911's are like sportscars....

1.  Don't buy cheap ones for they are cheap for a reason.
2.  Own one and you better know how to use your tools.

Jim

I have to add that my favorite gun is a M1911.

Jim
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Post by JRV Tue Dec 26, 2023 9:52 pm

boisepaw wrote:So a couple more questions if you don't mind...

Do I understand that you are still shooting the factory barrel rather than getting a match barrel?  And that is giving you some nice groups with those cursed flyers?

Did you spend much time fitting that barrel or on slide to frame fit?  Did you change the whole firing system...springs, trigger etc. (Sorry but I can't write AND see all that you had written earlier.)

What would you say was the most important modification that  you made?

You talked about an EGW bushing on your SARO.  What did you do on the bushing on the RIA and did that have any positive accuracy effect?  Seems like that would be a great place...not terribly expensive...to start.  Might a good bushing be a big help to the accuracy?

My very best bullseye pistols have bushings that I simply cannot turn far enough to get the spring out.  One of them...at a gunsmith a couple of weeks ago...frustrated the smith so badly that after 20 minutes he gave up and just put together all the slide parts before reassembling the gun.  He couldn't move the bushing far enough.  

So I've thought about going to all full length or two piece guide rods.  Maybe helpful?

Then on to the ammo...I'm still shooting some of the handloads that Jerry made up for me 15 years ago before life changed so much.  But I just got a used Dillon 550 specifically to start reloading for the 38 Super.  I've shot some factory flat ended bullets from the 38 Super that shot great!

But I thought, the one and only time that I went to Camp Perry over 20 years ago, that most of the top competitors were shooting hollow point bullets?  But it doesn't seem like I'm seeing that now?

I don't know that I EVER want to get into reloading 9mm.  And I have probably 2000 rounds of 45 ACP reloads to still shoot through.  But I'm all ears about any thoughts about types of bullets and particular manufacturers and models of bullets.

Bummer about the powder.  I have 7 pounds of Bullseye I've been carrying around for 20 years thinking that any day I was going to become a Dillon master and start loading my own handgun rounds.

Anything more on the subject that anyone would want to share would be welcome...guns, parts, fitting work, ammo...I'm all ears.

Here’s the whole build:

- RIA GI 45 - Novak cut for front, Cerakote
- Kensight Compact Adjustable Rear
- Dawson .330 x .115” Patridge Front
- EGW Angle Bore Bushing
- C&S Videcki Trigger - Solid Long
- C&S Tactical Hammer and Ultramatch Disconnect
- C&S Sear Spring 
- Chuck Warner True Radius Sear
- WC Thumb Safety, Grip Safety, and Slide Stop
- Herrett’s Stocks checkered rosewood grips
- EGW 2-piece FLGR 
- Wolff springs (18.5# recoil, 19# mainspring)


It’s an extremely tight bushing. I can only rotate it with a wrench and when the pistol is out of battery.  I haven’t run the flyer issue into the ground, because it’s not going to cost very points. 


On the other hand, my Springfield needed… a bushing. I had a SF target during the state match that was eight 10s in a row.  It needed the bushing, but that was it. 

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Post by rich.tullo Wed Dec 27, 2023 11:31 am

IMHO, if you have the gun already it is good enough to give it a try. Out of the box I had one that held under 4 inches at 50 yards tested by Clark at the time , I knew Jim and I had asked him to re barrel but he talked me out of if. I had fitted and EGW bushing to that gun and he did a trigger job and fitted a scope rail. That was one of my first Wad Guns. I latter sold it to a junior and as far as I am aware they still shooting it. 

Today, I would get a TISAS before a Rock Island because the frame is forged and they seem pretty tight. 
9mm to 38Special conversion is pretty easy so I heard just change the Mags and the bushing and make sure you get the right feed ramp that matches your frame.
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Post by JRV Wed Dec 27, 2023 12:58 pm

rich.tullo wrote:
Today, I would get a TISAS before a Rock Island because the frame is forged and they seem pretty tight. 

I agree with this recommendation, but I would still keep expectations low.  

I have a Tisas that I received NIB in a trade.  The bore looks quite roughly machined, but the gun shoots really well on the short line with my match loads.  

Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River F5fc4110
Rock Island 1911...NOT Rock River Img_3712

Big caveats, though, besides the bore.  It is still a cheap gun built cheaply. 

It shoots really well with my Clays/Zero 185 JHP loads (as seen above), but faster factory defensive and ball ammo shoot appreciably worse—around 3” at 25 yards.  Like the RIA I built, it is very load sensitive.  My SA TRP (of which this gun has morphed into a “rainy day” clone) shoots every quality factory load and handload I have tried, at worst, into 1.5” at 25 yards.  

Also, the hammer strut was hitting the relief cut inside the beavertail, so the beavertail would “pop” every time the hammer fell.  I had to relieve the inside of the beavertail and polish some material off the strut to get proper clearance. 

Finally, I had consistent issues with this gun doubling. The factory sear spring and trigger shoe were the right combination of “too light” and ”too heavy,” and it was extremely easy to bump fire at speed.  This was rectified by a heavier sear spring and lighter aluminum trigger.  The trigger pull is now heavier, but there is zero trigger bounce.  

As a base gun, the Tisas examples I have shot seem consistently more accurate with their favored loads than stock RIAs (or, heck, most Colts), but they still need extensive modifications to be suitable for matches.  I haven’t built one out as a bullseye gun, but I can’t imagine it would be much more cost effective than a used SA.

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Post by PMcfall Wed Dec 27, 2023 1:32 pm

Ya'll might be a little hard on Rock Island.  I read somewhere that in the beginning the frames were a little soft but in recent years that has all been straightened out and now they are just fine.  Keep in mind, I just shoot 'em, I don't work on 'em.  

Last summer a friend bought a Rock Island Pro Match Ultra 45 acp and sent me his 50 yd Ransom Rest results.  Nice targets, well under 3".  I couldn't stand it for the price so I bought one also.  Here are a couple 50 yd Ransom Rest targets mine shot.  One with Federal Gold Medal Match and one with my reloads, 3.5 gr BE and 185 Zero SWCHP.  Say what you will, but not bad for a sub $500 pistol!
Phil
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Post by ES350 Thu Jan 04, 2024 12:23 pm

I have a couple of the RIA HC and another 9mm on the way..... I'm hoping one on the way shoots pretty good like the 40 and 45 did out of box. The first 9mm shot 7-9 INCH groups @ 25 yds out of box. A call to RIA was told 4" @ 15 yds was all they guaranteed..... I said I wouldn't be happy with 4" @ 50 yds ..I'll fix it myself and hung up!
After threading barrel and fitting a cone, welding and refitting factory barrel and machining a new slidestop pin it shoots very good  under 1.5" @ 50 from sandbags as long as I do my job. Not sure  how much one would have in all the machine work needed but if you can do work yourself they are more than worth the lower initial cost and may get a "good" one from get go .
As to the so called soft MIM parts ...... last week I tried to mill/drill a RIA slide stop for my machined oversize pin ... not happening with high speed steel center drill or end mills! Harder than any other name brand slide stops I have used for same purpose.

I have 6" slides with Kart barrels for all of them also they all shoot very good as well.

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