(Article originally published on Spotter Up)
I want to start this off by saying I have shot a lot of 1911s but have never been in love with them. I can see why many carry and love them, but they have never filled my needs. Now in my experience there are bad and good 1911s. The bad ones usually cost less, have fewer features, and are well-known. The good ones are usually custom and cost a bit closer to a nice European vacation. Luckily these days we have companies that offer a mid-range option that are much more affordable.
Armscor/Rock Island Armory has been around for a while, its heritage can be traced back to 1905 in the Philippines. In 1985, Armscor Precision International opened its first United States office in Pahrump, Nevada. A short while later, Armscor acquired the Rock Island Armory brand, a M1911 manufacturer and developer. Needless to say they have been doing this for a while. They were nice enough to send me two 1911s to test and review. They sent me a TAC Ultra CS a 9mm single stack and a TAC Ultra FS HC a 9mm double stack and 250 Rounds of Armscor 124gr 9mm FMJ (No where near enough ammo for me).
Pictured: Top: RIA TAC Ultra FS, Bottom: RIA TAC Ultra CS with a G-Code Bang Box Full of Armscor 124gr 9mm FMJ
TAC Ultra CS Features:
To start off this is a really nice size to carry. It is very similar to the grip and slide length to a Glock 19. The second thing I noticed was how smooth the action was when manipulating the slide. “Really smooth” was what anyone who I handed it to said. It is nice! Being the TAC series it has a weapon light 1913 rail which for me is a plus and I personally think all of them should have. Yes, it is a 9mm and a lot of 1911 guys are having aneurysms over it, but I think it’s awesome.
It has an interesting sight set up, Red fiber optic front and two white dot adjustable rear. It was a little too much stuff for me, personally I prefer a blacked out rear sight. It has a 3.5” barrel supported by a full length guide rod. As almost all metal guns it is a little heavy at 2.25 lbs. but very manageable. It is fitted with skeletonized hammer and trigger with adjustable over travel stop, which I saw no reason to adjust. The trigger is as expected, crisp and short. It has a parkerized matte coating and G10 grip panels. It was sent with two 8 round Rock Island Armory magazines which are proprietary.
TAC Ultra FS HC Features:
The TAC Ultra FS is much larger than the CS. It is a double stack, 17rd, 3lb monster of a 1911. It is fantastically smooth like the CS. It sports a 5 in barrel. It comes with a similar sight set up as the CS. It also has a 1913 rail that is an awesome and dwarfs any weapon mounted light you mount to it. It has a weight that matches the size and certainly helps control any muzzle rise whether shooting factory or +P ammunition.
It comes with skeletonized hammer and trigger with adjustable over travel stop, which I again saw no reason to adjust. The trigger is competition worthy. It comes with a parkerized matte coating and G10 grip panels similar but larger than the CS with a magwell that could park a Fiat. It was sent with two 17 round Rock Island Armory magazines which are also proprietary as well.
The way I test firearms is not out of the ordinary. First I clean and inspect them, then I shoot..a lot. I bring it home letting the carbon build up wait for the next range day. Then as expected I go shoot it some more. Simple and realistic to how others will be using the firearms. Others like to throw them on the ground, in mud, sand, and all sorts of media, but I don’t, unless it happens naturally. I like to shoot, so I shot them a lot, rain or shine. Between the 2 firearms I fired 4800 rounds. Some may see that as a lot and others as too little. I found it to be a nice median.
Both performed well within the scope of performance I expect out 1911s. The CS shot very smooth and because of the weight made any felt recoil control child’s play. The only malfunctions I had with the CS were stove pipes with the final round in one of the magazines. I inspected the mag but I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.
After a few more mags it never happened again so it may have been a break in or ammo situation. No malfunctions came from shooting the FS even with low velocity T1 competition ammo. A feature I really liked that not many that haven’t used many 1911s were the slide lock/release levers. They are checkered both horizontal and vertical. Giving it an awesome feel and texture.
Although I liked shooting them there were a few things I disliked about both firearms. One was the fact that they both came with sharp edges on the ambi-safety. If they were mine, I would have sanded them down a bit. The safety also came slightly too stiff for my liking but after a bit of wearing it in it became more my flavor. When getting used to gripping any of the 1911s and manipulating the safeties I would get slightly pinched by the lever.
It was annoying but after a while I naturally found the proper hand placement on the grip that relieved the pinching. Your mileage may vary depending on hand size. To continue on hand size, the CS will most likely work for hand sizes smaller than mine but be aware that you will probably have to manipulate the slide lock/release lever and magazine release by breaking your grip or using you support hand. For reference, I wear large gloves. The FS I wouldn’t recommend for smaller hands. It will be uncomfortably large and hard to manipulate.
Something else I disliked about both the CS and FS was the coating on the slides. I found rusting around the front sight of the CS and a little on the slide of the FS. Nothing a little CLP can’t fix, but in a world with all sorts of coatings they should have used a stronger one. Both the CS and FS where very accurate and I really enjoyed shooting them. The CS was a great concealed carry companion, but lacks in capacity.
Wish its capacity was higher. It did fit perfectly in my Armordillo Concealment Lux holster which made switching from Glock to 1911 easy, due to the way the holster is made. The FS was a little harder to find a holster for but most competition rigs will accommodate it. Lastly, I hated that I couldn’t try different mags in the CS due to them only working with the factory mags and any extras having to come from Rock Island / Armscor.
The CS was a perfect size for carry and I enjoyed shooting it a lot. If its capacity was twice as many rounds I would consider purchasing one for carry. The FS was HUGE and I was very happy with it performance. Over all I like what Rock Island/Armscor is producing. I am impressed with how both of these 1911s performed and if they do a little more on the coating side of things I think these are winners. For someone looking to get into the 1911 game and can’t afford the overly expensive competitors and don’t want to settle for the cheaper less reliable competitors, these are great 1911s at an affordable price.
TAC Ultra CS MSRP: $786 each via Armscor.com
TAC Ultra FS HC MSRP: $906 each via Armscor.com
Overall Total: 19/25
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Armscor/Rock Island Armory 1911s via Spotter Up. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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