Firearm & Gear Reviews

Quick Review: Rock Island Armory M1911-A1 FS Tac II

I finally cleaned my 9mm RIA M1911-A1 FS Tac II pistol. That’s a lot of numbers and letters for you! I have put 626 rounds out of this pistol straight out of the box before finally deciding I better clean it. Granted it came out of the box soaking wet. I mean seriously, it was wrapped in a plastic bag and covered in oil. I thought I was buying a milsurp gun. After over 600 rounds it was dirty, but still well lubed internally. When re-assembling I erred on over lubing but still don’t think I came close to putting as much oil back into it as I took out. It feels good though. Slide racks back silky smooth. Perhaps better than ever. This is a good looking gun. I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it. Especially at the price they were going for at the time and especially in the soft shooting 9mm. I bought the gun on GunBroker for $419.

Presumably this pistol was manufactured in the Philippines at Armscor’s facory in Marikina and than distributed in the United States through Armscor USA. I bought this pistol when I found out my wife was pregnant with my youngest daughter, using my wife’s (and unborn daughter’s) Filipino heritage as an excuse to make the purchase. I will use any excuse to buy an new gun. No shame…

RIA GripsThe gun of course is modeled after the US G.I. M1911-A1 and is a 70-series design. It has an all steel frame with a durable parkerized matte coating. The pistol weighs about 2.5 lbs unloaded which is about the same as my Glock 17 with a fully loaded magazine. That weight may seem unwieldy but I can assure you, the gun points and shoots with ease. The tactical model does have some additional features including a fiber optic front sight and tactical style adjustable rear sight, a skeletonized trigger and combat hammer. It has a full length guide rod and an ambidextrous safety and comes stock with very nice G10 tactical grips.

I have always been more enamored by how the RIA looks than operates. I just don’t think I’m an 1911 guy. I have nothing to complain about. It’s the most accurate gun I own and the trigger is outstanding. You often here it recommended to think in terms of manipulating a trigger not by squeezing it but rather by pressing it as if it were a button. That’s exactly what the RIA trigger feels like: a button. There is about 1/8″ of take up then a firm wall. The trigger breaks with roughly 4 lbs of pressure and there is no over travel whatsoever. I gather this can be adjusted on this pistol but I’m not sure why you would want to. The reset is exactly the same length as the take up at 1/8 of an inch and you are back at that firm wall ready to break your shot again. When putting it back together today and doing a function check I thought for a moment that there was something wrong with the trigger reset. Nothing was wrong. I had just forgotten had ridiculously short the reset is. It could be a little more tactile if I was looking for something to complain about I suppose. I haven’t had a single failure to feed, fire or eject in this pistol yet. It does however very rarely lock back on the last round. I only have a single magazine that came with the pistol and suspect this is the culprit. I’m just not a cocked and locked kind of guy so I just can’t imagine carrying this kind of gun or using it for self defense. Not that I am actually allowed to carry in the People’s Republic of Maryland but I still try to train with what I imagine I would feel most comfortable with. I do enjoy shooting it though and when I want to feel good about how I’m shooting I pull it out.

I don’t really have a favorite handgun. I’m still looking. I find myself though using the RIA as the yard stick more often than not. That probably isn’t a fair comparison because of how different it is in comparison to my other polymer framed or striker fired hand guns. They are just so fundamentally different guns. My newly acquired Grand Power K100 probably comes the closest. The RIA M1911-A1 FS Tac II is my one and only 1911 style gun and a budget model at that. I really can’t imagine what a 1911 twice its cost or more gives back in quality. I simply don’t have enough perspective. I can say that the RIA is an absolutely outstanding pistol in terms of function and value. I’m still looking though for that favorite. Perhaps what I’m looking for is right under my nose, already sitting on my bench.



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