This is a full review of the Rock Island Armory (RIA) Tac Ultra FS HC 9mm 1911 (or 2011).
The first question you’re already asking is “what the heck all those letters mean? Surely they’re not important!”
Well actually they kinda are:
Tac is rock island’s designation for their “tactical” line of firearms. Ultra means it has a fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sights (or sight upgrade). FS means full size. HC means high capacity. And 1911 means…well you know what that means or else you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
It’s important because rock island makes a 1911 for everyone under the sun. Yes it makes a non ultra tactical 1911, commander and mid size tac ultras, single stack and double stack variations, and a range of calibers including 9mm .40 S&W 45acp and 10mm for any of those styles of 1911.
Here are the specs:
Double stack 9mm 17+1, though I can easily fit 18+1 in the factory magazine and it still feeds reliably, more on that later.
Full length guide rod
Full length dust cover with tactical rail
4-6lb trigger pull
Adjustable rear sight
Bright red fiber optic front sight
Weighs in at 3lbs unloaded (holy cow)
And 3.62lbs when it’s full of beans (or bullets)
But look at this thing. yup. It just looks flipping cool.
Out of the box the slide fit the frame perfectly: no slop, no rough burrs, no break in necessary.
I handled this firearm in several gun shops and the fit and finish of every gun I handled was top notch. Now knowing that they all feel this good, I did what any capitalism loving American would do, and went home and ordered it online for cheaper. When it showed up at my ffl, he inspected it and even he too was extremely impressed with how well the slide and frame met together. No slop, no burs, tightly spec’ed and ready to rock. Rock island boasts that they have a proprietary method for fitting their 1911’s effectively, and you can’t argue with results.
The factory 17rd mag loaded up easy enough with 18 rounds surprisingly, and functioned flawlessly with a steady diet of round nose, hollow point, brass cased, steel cased, 115gr, 124 gr, and 147gr ammo…come to think of it…there was nothing steady about that diet. But it fed and shot everything I gave it…like…really well. Not only was it reliable (no failures of any kind), it was accurate, and with low recoil (probably because it weighs as much as a B-17 Flying fortress. I hear those have low recoil too).
This thing can be found for as low as $659 for the 9mm only version, or $766 for the 9mm/22TCM combo (at the time of this writing). But lets be honest, there is no practical use for a 22TCM handgun, so don’t bother with it. You can always buy a .22 TCM barrel directly from Armscor later if you REALLY feel like you’re missing out.
A big selling point for this gun is that it uses para 18 magazines, Which means magazines are cheap and plentiful…WRONG… factory para p-18 9mm mags are out of production and as rare as a gun loving liberal. They are currently going for nearly $100 each on gun broker! After reading some online forums I thought I’d try using a factory para p-18 .38 super magazine that I grabbed on gun broker for $23. The magazine works, but not at full capacity. Anything over 10 rounds and the bullets start to nose dive worse than a kamakazi.
Good thing mecgar stepped up to the plate and started manufacturing p-18 9mm/.38 super mags that appear to be the same as the factory mag that came with the gun. These mags work flawlessly, but two things you should know: they are backordered everywhere that’s sells them at a reasonable price, and they don’t come with the base pad that the factory mag comes with, as a result, they take a sharp tap to fully seat into gun’s magwell.
Something else you may want to know is that mecgar makes a non combo p-18 magazine that is specific to .38 super. These mags also perform flawlessly in this gun and can be found on gun broker for $20-25.
So to summarize:
Factory mag = best
Mecgar mags = great
Para 38 super mags = trash
Para 9mm mags = rare
So what practical application does this gun have in your arsenal? Can you use it to shoot competitions? Due to the full length dust cover, this gun doesn’t qualify for any category in IDPA. For USPSA you can compete in the open division, limited, or limited-10 which of course limits you to loading 10 rounds in your magazine. But if you really want to compete with this gun, take it to a 3 gun match, because I’m pretty sure that’s what they had in mind when they designed this thing. As far as I know, this gun is good for any 3 gun match, and in my opinion will serve you as good as any gun costing twice as much.
If you’re not into competing, this gun would still make an excellent home defense gun. It’s reliable, high capacity, and you scuba ninjas are gonna love that full length tac rail:
Plus, in the event that you’re a really bad shot and missed your home invader with all 18+1 shots…or if you’re a really good shot and shot 18+1 invaders and there is a 20th home invader, well, this guns heavy weight and blunt squared edges make this an excellent mele weapon.
Now you may be saying to me “Dan, what can this gun do that a glock 17 can’t?”
Well…a glock 17 can’t be a 1911…(cricket chirping)
What do you want me to say? Yes a glock 17 can do anything this gun can do and more…like compete in IDPA. And do it for about $100 less and half the weight. If you’re a “glock guy” then buy the glock. But glocks are ugly…
So, if you’re a 1911 guy and want a reliable high capacity 9mm, then you really don’t have a ton of options under $1,000…and thankfully, this gun is a really good option. Now you might be asking yourself: “self, how do I know if I’m a 1911 guy or a glock guy?”
Well, ask yourself, am I a 1911 guy? If the answer is no, or “I don’t know”, then you’re not a 1911 guy. Buy the glock. Because if you were a 1911 guy, you would certainly know it.
Watch the YouTube review here: