Added Browne Works Wood Grips to My New RIA 52000 Big Rock

Back in May 2023, I posted how I put Browne Works wood grips on my 9mm RIA 51679 Tac Ultra. I was honest when I said I did not like wood Grips before I saw what Mark Browne produces and actually had them on a pistol.

In early March 2023, I picked up my second RIA 52000 Pro Ultra Match 6″ HC 10mm pistol – more affectionately known as “The Big Rock”, which is exactly what it is. I sold my first Big Rock many years ago because I needed the funds and regretted it once I started making custom 10mm mags for whole family of high-cap 10mm and .40 S&W RIA pistols. I couldn’t buy a new one at the time because Armscor, who owns RIA, only seems to make them periodically. Maybe 2-3 years later after I wished I had it and was looking, 52000s started popping up on my saved searches – Gunbroker alerted me first and I bought one about a week later. [A number of places have them now including GrabAGun – click here]

I should add that as soon as I ordered the pistol, the next thing I did was to order another set of grip panels from Mark Browne. His grips just look and feel great compared to the rather boring but durable G10 composite grip panels that come with the pistols.

Bottom left is the new Big Rock with its factory grip Panels. Above it and to the right is the 51679 with Mark’s wood panels. The lighting doesn’t do the wood justice.
Here is a better view of the wood on the 51679 plus you can always go to the blog post about it and see more.

The new panels for the Big Rock arrived

I emailed Mark and told him how much I liked the first set and he said he’d look for one with plenty of grain and contrast. What showed up was awesome.


Fitting them to the Big Rock

While RIA does use modern CNC machines to make the frames, the funnel fitment can vary – I know this based on clients that have fitment issues with the relatively shorter 9mm mags using Dawson Base Plates. Either they do not use a jig or it moves and wheter the funnel sits exactly can very. Why this matters is that you may find the panels go right on or you may need to fit them. DO NOT FORCE THEM! So let’s step through this.

Each OEM grip panel is held in place with two unique Allen head screws. Remove the screws and the panel lifts right off. Note in this photo how very little material is between the grip screws hole and the funnel – that’s tight.
The pistols are made in the Philippines and then need to travel across the Pacific. They liberally coat these pistols in preservative oil and this is one example of how much they use. Have a towel or rag handy to wipe this stuff off before you start installing the wood panels. By the way, this is typical of all the RIA 1911 pistols and again highlights why you need to clean them.
This side went right on without adjustments being needed. That was an unexpected pleasant surprise. They panels need to seat fully without pressure being needed. If you try to force them in, something will snap.
Everything is nice and flat and the screws went in without forcing them. The screws are installed until they are firm – not so tight the wood snaps – they just have to keep the grip panel in position, You do need to use a dab of medium-strength screw threadlocker such as Loc-Tite Blue to keep the screws from backing out.
The other side had issues. Teh funnel was riding high here and the panel would not even seat fully. To adjust the wood, take a single cut file and remove a bit of wood from the bottom and try over and over.
Fitting is slow work with wood. It is better to be able to take more off than wish you could put it back on. After maybe 5-10 minutes I thought I had the panel good to go but it was still riding too high and the screw could not seat properly. So, more fiiling and testing until it fit completely.
Take your time and you will get a nice fit without a gap. This is a great example of time, patience and handwork can generate a far better end result than being in a rush with a sander and taking off too much. The bottom is the new Big Rock.
The top is the new Big Rock with it’s 6″ barrel and slide. I really like the gloss finish. It really brings out the contrast in the wood.


I can’t stress it enough – I really like the grip panels from BrowneWorks. The quality, fit, feel, finish … they are all there. If you are even remotely considering new wood panels for your RIA A2 High Cap pistol, you really ought to check out their website. Look for the menu button in the top left of the screen, click on it and then look for Rock Island grips.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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