John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Well, it’s time for me not to miss the future.
Being a die-hard fan of Colt 1911s as well as an owner of a Colt 1911 Combat Commander, I like many Colt owners have a pretty harsh attitude when it comes to other 1911s. It’s either a Colt or it’s not a 1911.
Having that attitude may seem a little harsh but it comes from having looked at and having fired many other 1911s over the years.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some really amazing 1911s available out there by other manufacturers besides Colt. Browning, Remington, Springfield, Kimber, and Wilson to name a few. The common denominator among all of the above mentioned is the price. If you want to get a well-made, accurate, not to mention any of the extras on a 1911 by any of what I refer to as the “big boys”, you’re going to spend well over $1,000.
I, like many other gun owners and enthusiasts, am always looking to add to my collection. But the cost of a decent 1911 is not something that many people can justify. This is where the less known 1911s come in.
As I said, over the years I’ve looked at and fired many other 1911s. I had yet to find one that was anything I would want to purchase that was less than that thousand-dollar range. The ones under that $1000 mark are poorly made, don’t fit together correctly, tend to jam, are not accurate and overall really aren’t worth the money.
So, when Rock Island Armory sent me their Rock Ultra CS 45 ACP For a T&E (Trial and Evaluation) I have to admit I was rather skeptical yet also a little excited. I’ve read many reviews on The Rock Island Armory 1911s and I have to admit I was intrigued.
I had seen many video reviews as well as read quite a few articles on the Rock Island Armory 1911 line. Unlike others that I had mentioned above the Rock Island Armory 1911 has won praises from many across the gun world. So I went about my review with an open mind.
First, a little background on Rock Island Armory. RIA is just one part of the larger Arms Corporation of the Philippines or Armscor. The company started as a sporting goods store in 1905 as Squires Bingham and company, they became known for selling long guns and ammunition, they survived the invasion and occupation by Japan during World War II. After World War II they expanded and began the manufacture of firearms and ammunition. Armscor has manufactured rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and semi-automatic pistols, But I think what surprised me the most when researching their history was the fact that they manufacture more 1911s than any other company worldwide.
Upon receiving the Rock Ultra CS 45 I Immediately did an out of the Box review video and went out back to my range with 200 rounds of Armscor 230 grain full metal jacket ammunition. I encourage you to watch the short video to see the Rock Ultra CS 45 in action.
The Rock Ultra CS is part of the Rock series and built in the traditional 70 series design which to me is the best of the 1911 designs made over the years.
Right out of the box The Rock Island Armory line is not what I expected. First off it comes in a hard case rather than a cardboard box and although that may seem minuscule, anyone who has bought a firearm lately knows what a pain it is if you want to store or carry the weapon and all you get is a cardboard box.
The second thing you’ll notice is the fact that it comes with two magazines, that is one small extra that you would pay more for if buying a 1911 from one of the so-called big boys.
But, what’s more than the extra magazine are the extra’s that come standard on the Ultra CS 45.
The entire Ultra CS is a smooth angled for EDC (every day carry). This is no ‘boat anchor’, the lines not only look great but allow for easy concealment without an obvious print, as well as a snag-free design that allows for a quick draw. It comes standard with a low profile adjustable rear sight and a high visibility fiber optic front sight. Also standard are the skeletonized hammer and trigger and ambidextrous safety.
The 3.50” button rifled barrel is supported by a full-length guide rod, which is a little unusual for those of us that are familiar with other 1911s that have a shorter guide rod and bushing. The Ultra CS is bushingless, but the way that the barrel bells out to meet the end of the slide and is a tight fit allowing for better accuracy.
As stated on the RIA website, “Like all Rock Island 1911s, each is built using 4140 ordnance steel on the industry’s best CNC machines while being hand-fitted and tested to strict tolerance guidelines for unmatched quality and value. I have to agree on the “hand-fitted and tested to strict tolerance guidelines”, this gun is tight and you can feel it from the slide action to the minimal recoil.
Like all the Rock Island 1911s, the Rock Ultra CS comes with a factory 4- to 6-pound trigger pull that’s crisp and smooth with a clean break.
Another standard extra is that the magazine well is beveled, to say loading the magazine is easy would be an understatement. Again, this is something else that you would pay a lot more for on any of the big named 1911s.
The Rock Ultra is finished with a tough parkerzied matte coating, but for me, I think I was most impressed with the battle-ready G10 tactical grips. The first thing you’ll say is, “I like these grips.”
The G10 grips have flush-mounted Torx screws and the thumb groove is not only comfortable, but it’s also ergonomically perfect. When grabbing the weapon there is no question of thumb placement. Regardless of hand size, your thumb immediately slides into place, both my girlfriend and I found the thumb groove to be an added feature that made us both say, “why doesn’t this come standard on all guns?”
I especially like the extended beavertail so there is no chance of any slide bite. When you push the magazine release, the magazine doesn’t just drop out clean, it shoots out of the gun, no pun intended. All the actions worked smoothly with no hangups from loading the magazines, to racking the slide, the slide release and the cocking/locking of the hammer.
Shooting the Rock Ultra CS was a pleasant surprise. Being a short barrel 1911 I was expecting a much harsher recoil. You can tell it’s a 45, but the recoil isn’t much more than any of my short barrel 9mm’s.
I loaded up both magazines and was going to check out the feel, recoil, and accuracy when I had a jamming issue. I quickly narrowed down the problem to being the magazine and not the weapon. One of the two magazines jammed on the third and or fifth round each time I used it. The other magazine fed 200 rounds flawlessly without any issues at all.
I spoke with RIA and was informed that all the weapons have a limited lifetime warranty that ‘follows’ the weapon and not the owner. This means that if you sell the weapon the warranty continues on to the new owner. As far as the magazines, all the magazines come with a one year warranty so any magazine problems would be covered and the magazine would be replaced.
The accuracy of the Rock Ultra CS is amazing straight out of the box. I never adjusted the sights or for that matter did I have to re-adjust the way I sight in. At 12 yards after the first shot, every round was consistently in the black.
The Ultra CS is all metal and therefore on the heavy side weighing in at 2.35 lbs unloaded. But anyone used to any 1911 would expect nothing less. If you plan on using it as an EDC it will feel heavier as the day goes on, but again, it’s a 1911. They do make a lightweight version of the same gun, the Rock Ultra CS-L which weighs in at about 28 ounces.
The Rock Island Arms family has seven different 1911 series to choose from, the TCM series, TAC series, ROCK series, GI series, BBR series, XT series, and the PRO series.
Now for the price… Get ready for ‘sticker shock’, but not what you’re thinking. The Ultra CS is listed on the RIA website with a manufacturer suggested retail of $731.00 and even though any of the ‘big boys’ would easily be double that price, you can find the Ultra CS from various dealers at only $549.00. That price is easily 1/3 less than you would pay for any of the ‘big boy’ manufacturers and when you start adding in the extras that come standard on the Ultra CS you could easily pay in the thousands for any of the previously mentioned ‘brand’ name 1911s.
The RIA Rock Ultra 45, like all the other RIA 1911’s are available at a price point that is not found with any other manufacturer of this caliber.
As a die-hard Colt fan, I have been converted. I haven’t missed the future and the future is inexpensive 1911s by Rock Island Armory. If you want to add a 1911 to your collection or you’re a first time 1911 buyer, try one and you won’t be disappointed.