Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm 1911 review

Rock Ultra FS 9mm

2,074 rounds. That’s how long the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm 1911 has gone without a malfunction of any type. I’ll get the boring bits out of the way right here and now. The gun passed the 10-8 Function Test, passed the 100 round speed test, passed every single thing I could think to throw at it, and became only the second gun to achieve a perfect 100/100 on the Gun Nuts 1911 Evaluation. The only other gun to achieve a perfect score? Tim’s Wilson Combat.

If you want more boring stats, here’s a complete list of the different types of ammo fired through the gun.

  • 200 rounds of 124gr American Eagle
  • 798 rounds of 115gr American Steel
  • 500 rounds of 115gr Armscor FMJ
  • 50 rounds of CapArms 147gr Match FMJ
  • 77 rounds of 115gr Hornady Critical Defense
  • 399 rounds of 115gr PMC FMJ
  • 50 rounds of Winchester 147gr PDX

During the test it was lubricated twice, once at the start with a zero round count, and once again at approximately 1,000 rounds. The Rock Ultra FS 9mm has an MSRP of $722, however a quick check online shows them going for as low as $500 if you shop smart; and averaging around $650. That’s in the same ballpark as the Taurus for a gun that is superior in every single way imaginable, and it’s $150 less than the 9mm Springfield Range Officer.

The RIA isn’t perfect, not by a long stretch. The sights from the factory are fine, but they’re only fine. I blacked out the two rear white dots to improve them a bit, which did help. I’d still only rate them as “serviceable” though. So far of the three guns I’ve tested, the Springfield had the best sights. As I mentioned in the video, there’s kind of an ugly gap between the grips and the magwell, but that’s an aesthetic issue and not a functional one.

In fact, every single criticism I’d level against this gun would be aesthetic – because if we’re talking about pure function, the Rock is well…a rock. In accuracy testing it wasn’t as accurate as the Springfield, but it was reliable, and that counts for a lot. As long as it will hold under 2.5 inches at 25 yards with good ammo, I’m happy with that level of accuracy, and the Rock does that. It does that very well, in fact. It has a good trigger, serviceable sights, a good magwell, good grips, and it’s accurate enough and more than reliable. All for less than $700 at retail.

The Rock ships with two 10-round Metalform magazines, which didn’t cause any issues with this gun, but may not work right in every gun. I primarily used Wilson ETMs and Dawson Precision Tactical, both of which worked like a charm. No issues with mags not dropping free, ever. I recommend if you do get a Rock to upgrade your magazines to Wilsons as soon as possible, but I recommend that for basically every 1911, whether it’s a .45 or a 9mm. Wilson Combat just makes the best, most consistent mags on the planet for 1911s.

So here’s the deal. If you want a 1911, but you want to spend less than $1,000 you should look hard at the Rock Island Armory models. My recommendation is going to be to skip RIA’s entry level stuff, their GI guns and whatnot, and go straight for either their Rock Ultra series or their Tac series. Those guns seem to have a little bit more special something in their build process, and and as result run extremely well. This gun is everything I’d hoped for, and I’m super pleased that it worked out the way it did.

Score

  • Rounds fired: 2,074
  • Failures of any type: 0
  • Armorer repairs: 0
  • Broken parts: 0
  • 10-8 Performance Test: Pass
  • Final Score: 100/100

6 thoughts on “Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9mm 1911 review”

  1. My $550 Officer model RIA 45 1911 has not had any issues that were not operator related. In fact the only issue, was the result of a reassembly problem the first time I took it apart. Since then, there has been no issues with the mags (ACT brand) or anything else. It certainly isn’t tight like an SA TRP or sleek like an S&W E-Series 4.25 w/round heel, doesn’t have the Wow factor of a Wilson/Nightawk etc.; but it is: economical, reliable and as accurate as needed.

  2. Argh….see I really really wanted to hate this series because of how my Rock Island turned out…which is to say a total turd…like failures to extract and failures to feed with every type of magazine, every type of ammunition at least twice per 50 round box. Man that gun was crap. But I guess among 1911’s even among the same manufacturer…there is variation between them. After a detailed look at parts, I realized mine required machinist level work to get to reliable function (severe problems with extractor geometry and length for some stupid reason) and because I don’t like guns that I cannot fix by a simple Brownells spending spree, I ultimately scrapped that idea, sold the gun and went to a Beretta 92…and to veer off topic…Beretta 92’s are totally rad.

    I digress

    This “budget 1911 reviews” deal has been messing with my head because more than anything else it has convinced me that a budget 1911’s reliability is sort of a “luck of the draw” situation for me. The cheapo gun working like a champ and the (I’d say) lackluster performance of the Springfield has surprised me. I’m more and more in Hilton Yam’s boat of “You should only get a 1911 if you’re willing to put up with a lot of crap for a little capacity.” but at least there are a lot more budget options and that don’t all suck out loud.

    I still have a bad taste my mouth from how bad my Rock Island I got was so I’ll probably never buy another one…and honestly 1911’s are sorta burning me out right now.

  3. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID !!!!!! ESPECIALLY THE DAMN THUMB SAFETY & IT’S SHARP EDGES !!!!! I KNOW THE “TUASON BROTHERS” @ A PERSONAL LEVEL & SENT THEM AN EMAIL, ADVISING THEM TO PLEASE DO SOMETHING WITH THOSE SHARP EDGES. EITHER SOME BEVELING ON THE TOP & BOTTOM EDGES, OR MAKE A CHANGE TO THEIR “MIM” MOLDS TO ELIMINATE THOSE PAINFUL EDGES. HOPEFULLY MARTIN & CALOY CAN MAKE THIS PAINFUL ISSUE GO AWAY——-SEMPER FI & OOORAH !!!!!!————GURU

  4. Hey Caleb, how much does it weigh? I want to start shooting a little SS when I’m not in the mood for open, but I want to add a Dawson magwell/msh. I can’t find an accurate weight anywhere on the web.

    Thanks!

      1. Thanks! I will be shooting a classifier match with my dad’s single stack next week just so I can get classified, but after shooting his 45 a lot yesterday I would much rather shoot minor I think.

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