Category Archives: 1911 / 2011

How to Load Our Old Second Generation 9mm RIA Mags For Reliable Shooting

7/25/22 Update: This only applies to our second generation magazines. With our current mags, we are using Mec-Gar P18 tubes that were designed to stabilize 9mm rounds so no extra work is needed. We now have 10, 15 and 17 round mags available.

To maximize reliable feeding from our second generation 9mm magazines, there is a process you need to follow. We start with a 10mm magazine and both narrow down the feed lips and reshape the top. This angles the cartridge correctly but we also need to ensure the cartridge is seated to the back of the magazine. Why? Well, let me explain a bit.

The RIA A2 HC pistols use an enlarged mag well to hold a staggered magazine – it’s not a true double stack because the rounds alternate going into the magazine and feed from a single position at the top. An important detail that not many realize is that the 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto chambered pistols all use the same frame.

The same frame is used for a number of chambers including 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm auto. Notice the bulged mag wells and that the grip panel bushings are integral with the frame.

Even though the frame is the same, there is a huge difference in the size of a 9mm vs. a 10mm round so the mags are subtly different as well. The magazine dimensions in terms of width and height are the same but the feed lips differ slightly plus the follower stabilizing guides that are pressed into the body differ as well.

These are A-Zoom snap caps that are made from solid machined aluminum. They are made to the dimensions specified by SAAMI for the 10mm Auto round (at the top in red) and the 9×19 Luger round at the bottom in blue. You can immediately see the difference in size.
Look at the difference in sizes in the mag well. The 10mm (Red on the right) is far longer than the 9mm (Blue on the left).
Here they are from a different angle – 10mm at the top and 9mm at the bottom
Left is a 10mm mag and on the right is a 9mm mag. In terms of stabilizing the follower look at the large diamond shaped depression at the top of the front magazine groove. The 9mm mag’s depression is deeper and longer.

A 10mm magazine body can stabilize the follower when feeding 9mm rounds but it takes a couple of tricks to do it. First, the magazine has a 10% stronger Wolff spring that is pushing the follower upward. Next, the cartridges must be loaded evenly and pushed to the back. Do you remember the old AR15/M16 magazines with the tipsy followers? These are very much the same. If you load the rounds by hand and push down too much on the front, weird things can happen with the rounds further down in the mag.

To compensate for the follower, use a good magazine loader so the rounds go into the mag relatively level and consistently. I prefer the MagLula Universal loader (sometimes called the UpLula). You can get into a quick rhythm where you load a round and keep it seated to the back with your index finger as your withdraw the ramp/tongue of the MagLula. If you don’t keep your finger there, the retracting ramp may pull the round forward out of position.

This is the MagLula universal loader.
When you go to load a round, you squeeze the loader shut so the steel ramp is closed as shown, you push down so the rounds below are pushed down as well and you then insert the new round.
Before you release the loader and the ramp retracts, use your finger to hold the round in place so it stays seated at the back of the mag.

The very last step is the tap the base of the mag on the table. You might need to push the first round back a hair with your finger but you will notice the top round is now firmly held in place and will not “tip” down when you push on the bullet. This is where the 10% stronger Wolff spring really factors in – it is pushing the follower upwards and in turn all of the rounds are held in position by the feed lips.

Once the mag is loaded properly, the cartridge should be held firmly in place and not want to “tip” down.
The Wolff spring and follower are pushing the rounds up against the feed lips thus holding them in place.

Yes, there are a couple of extra steps here – use a loader, push to the back and then tap the mag’s base on the table. It may feel awkward at first because you don’t normally do these extra steps but they get easier and faster the more you do them. If you do them, the mags are very reliable.

Click here to go to our 9mm RIA A2 HC magazine page.

If you have a new RIA A2 HC pistol, be sure to field strip, clean and lubricate your pistol. Then rack the slide back and forth a couple hundred times before your first range visit. If you do this, you are helping the pistol wear in and will have a much better range visit. If you don’t, you are going to get frustrated fast. Note, you need to shoot 200-500 rounds to wear, or break your pistol in. The need for the parts to smooth out and get to know each other is very common – just bear in mind the RIA pistols do not work smoothly right out of the box.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



PSA Has A Great Deal On RIA 52009 HC 16 Round 10mm Pistols Going On – You Better Not Wait If You Want One

I haven’t seen these at this price in the last few years – PSA has them for $649.99. I suspect they will sell fast at that price.

I have one of these 52009 Ultra HC pistols and it is rock solid. Magazine customers tell me the same thing. If you’re looking for a double stack 10mm on the 1911 platform, this is a really good deal:

This is from a range visit last year. My RIA 52009 is at the bottom. The pistol on the top right is a 10mm TRP Operator. I still have the 52009 and like it but sold the TRP.

Do You Need 10mm or .40 S&W Magazines

We make custom high reliability magazines for the 10mm and .40 S&W RIA A2 HC pistols if you are interested. Click here for our store page.

This is one of our 3rd generation magazines. We start with a Mec-Gar P14 .45 magazine tube and modify it to hold both the 10mm and .40 S&W rounds. We have tons of satisfied clients using both calibers.

Conclusion

Just a short post today. That’s such a good price on the 52009 that I figured it warranted it and hope this helps you out.


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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



No, The RIA FS A2 Pistols Are Not 2011s – They Are Oversized 1911s

I posted about 9mm magazines for the Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols and a friend on FB, pointed out they weren’t 2011s. The difference being the 2011 has a modular grip assembly and the RIA pistols are just over-sized 1911s. It dawned on me that I really didn’t know the difference and needed to do some reading.

How “2011” originated

It turns out that Chris was right – there is a difference – a substantial difference.

From what I have read the original 2011 concept was essentially a modular 1911 receiver that could have the mag well / grip sub-frame swapped out to allow for more versatility. The 2011 design and patent was by Virgil Tripp and Sandy Strayer who together formed STI and then went separate ways and shared the patent,.

The design is really cool and the best way to help you learn more is to provide you a link to the original patent application that has written descriptions and drawing — click here to see the orginial patent.

Back to the Rock Islands

The RIA pistols are oversized 1911 pistols. The grip and mag well area are integral parts of the frame and can’t be separated plus they use thin grip panels.

At the top is my RIA 566459mm Pro Match. Below it is an 80% frame for that model. Note now the mag wel/grip area are all part of the receiver and that there are grip panels. It’s not modular in other words. This makes it an over-sized 1911 and not a 2011.

In Closing

So now I know a bit more about the differences between the 2011 and 1911 designs. The RIA pistols are oversized-1911 designs and not true to the original 2011 design concept.


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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



My Adventures With Rock Island Armory 9mm Extractors

Starting in 2021, I started to offer 10mm magazines for the Rock Island Armory A2 HC pistols – “A2” being a marketing opportunity to refer to the next generation 1911A1 pistol prototyping the US Army did starting in 2004 that experimented with different sights, extractors, mainsprings, etc. The “HC” stands for high capacity and reflects the RIA pistols are using a staggered magazine design to hold far more rounds than a single stack could.

At any rate, I had a number of customers ask me to produce mags for the 9mm RIA A2 HC pistols – the 51679 Tac Ultra and the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC. Our 10mm mags had proven to be very successful and after enough requests, I decided to enter the 9mm magazine market.

One thing I learned with making AK grips is that you really need to have the weapon to make a part for it. This allows you to check fitment, reinforce potentially weak areas, etc. So, when I started with the 10mm mags, I bought a 52009 Rock Ultra HC and later a 56862 Tac Ultra Match HC. Why? Because you also find that a given firearm may differ enough that if you build and test only with it, you may not be making something others can use.

There’s an engineering problem called “stacked tolerance”. Every part has a specification that says, for example “9.0mm” and then there is a tolerance specified – for example “+/- .01”. That means the part produced can range from 8.99 to 9.01 in size. Make an assembly and all of those tolerances may combine, or “stack” in such a way that if you build a part to work for that particular unit then another assembly that happens to stack in the other direction may not be able to use that part. Testing on multiple pistols helps with a testing – at least a bit because you are reducing the odds of one pistol having a problem or working and others not.

So, by having both the 52009 and 56862 10mm pistols, I could test magazines to make sure they fed right, dropped free, etc. With the 9mm pistols, I had limited funds and just started with the 51679 – the Tac Ultra. That decision bit me hard.

The Initial Magazine Prototyping Didn’t Make Sense

When I prototype, I buy a bunch of original magazines and then start looking for what is close enough to modify and start tinkering with the feed lips, feed angles, the spring and the follower. To keep track of things, I applied numbered stickers to every magazine and kept track of the dimensions plus performance.

What I also learned with the 10mm mags is that the best dummy rounds are the machined aluminum A-Zoom Snap-Caps. Dummy rounds that are made from a case and a bullet will see the bullet pushed back into the case and/or get deformed after some fairly low number of cycles. The machined aluminum A-Zoom Snap-Caps are dimensionally accurate and can cycle hundreds of times before needing to be replaced. By the way, don’t do this type of work with live rounds – it’s an accident waiting to happen.

Back to the 9mm world, I was working on the mags and things just didn’t make sense. A magazine would work and then it wouldn’t. One set of dimensions would work and then they wouldn’t. Something just wasn’t adding up. The pistol would fail to eject randomly, I’d then have the old round and the new round in the slide at the same time and of course it jammed.

It had to be the mags right? I blew through a bunch of mags and time before it dawned on me that the pistol itself must have issues. I hadn’t questioned it before because the pistol was brand new out of the box. Sure, I had cleaned and lubed it first before cycling hundreds of snap caps through it. The problem was that I assumed it was good to go and the initial testing seemed to show a reliable pistol … but I only tested a few mags worth of snap caps – maybe 34-52 cycles max.

Testing The First Pistol

I loaded a magazine up, racked the slide and loaded a snap cap. I then pulled the slide back slowly and the extractor lost control of the extracted round as I pulled the slide to the rear. That wasn’t supposed to happen. If I went slow, it would either fail to extract completely or lose control of the round.

I’m not a 1911 gunsmithing guru but I had to learn some stuff really fast. I knew if I sent the pistol back to Rock Island/Armscor, it would be at least a month before I would get it back. So I read posts and watched videos that explained the pistol had an extractor problem and how to correct it. I bought a few different brands of 9mm extractors, the Brownells extractor tool, the Jack Weigand extractor gauge and tensioning tool.

Boy, I could not get that thing to work even after trying a few different brand extractors and a Wilson. At this point I was pretty ticked off. My last best guess was that the extractor looked like it was clocked slightly. When I inserted the Weigand 9mm gauge, I could feel initial tension as I inserted it and then it would drop off rapidly as I inserted the gauge the rest of the way (it centers over the firing pin hole). Rather than do a new firing pin stop plate, I decided to stop chasing best guesses mainly because I was blowing time I did not have to spend. The pistol was under warranty so feeling both stupid and defeated, I finally got an RMA to send the pistol back.

No, I’m Not Incredibly Patient

In the meantime, I bought a 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC and it has worked great – no problems at all. I was able to work out the details on the mags. Now, I am not patient so I actually ordered a second 51679 Tac Ultra that I looked at, cycled a few rounds through but really didn’t use a great deal – my primary go-to test platform was the 56862 … until I decided to take some photos about the RIA 9mm A2 HC pistols and looked at the 51679’s extractor.

The second 51679 is at the top and the 56862 Tac Ultra Match is at the bottom. The Match pistol has nice checkering on the front of the grip, the top of the exposed barrel is a grey matte finish and has a target rear sight.

“You’ve got to be kidding me” – I thought to myself. Inserting a choice F bomb of course. The extractor in the brand new 51679 that probably has less than 100 hand cycled Zoom snap caps through it was almost completely broken off other than a little tiny nub on one end. WTF?!?!

I was happily taking photos for a blog post when I saw the silver grain of the busted extractor. Yeah, I was swearing up a storm. Really?

Okay, two 51679s bought from different vendors off Gunbroker about a month apart both having extraction problems …. wow. I’ll be honest – I’m disappointed. RIA 1911s are econobox models but they usually work – so, no, I’m not remotely happy not to mention jumping through hoops waiting for ever for their customer service to respond. I did learn a bunch though and will share with you what I did and what you can do if you want to.

Metal Injection Molding For Extractors Isn’t The Best Choice

The problem is that to keep costs down, Armscor, who owns the Rock Island brand, make the ejector using Metal Injection Molding (MIM). If you search on the web, you will see a ton of guys arguing against the use of MIM in high stress parts. As I just learned with extractors, it’s not the strongest manufacturing approach – making them from forged high-quality steel is a far better idea.

I removed the extractor from the pistol and zoomed in as best I could to get you this photo. You can see the grainy structure that is a signature of metal injection molding. That nub at the top right edge in the photo was just enough to yank the case out of the chamber … sometimes.

Okay, if you get a new RIA 9mm pistol, check the extractor out of the box. Clean and lube it, go to the range and keep your eye on the extractor. If it breaks you have two options – send it back to Rock Island/Armscor for a RMA repair or do it yourself. Heck, you could even just replace the extractor yourself before you have a problem if you want to.

I Decided To Replace the Extractor Myself

I learned a ton on that first pistol plus I had all of the tools and spare Wilson Combat extractors. I just needed to trust in my abilities a bit more and try it again. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am persistent and don’t give up easy. With this in mind, I dove back in again with far better results.

The top is the failed Rock Island 9mm ejector and it is a series 70 design. The lower extractor is a state of the art forged 9mm extractor from Wilson Combat. It is a series 80 design but will work just fine in a series 70 pistol.

First, let me explain why I went with a Wilson “Bullet Proof” .38/9mm extractor. They have an excellent reputation a number of guys posted about throwing away their RIA ejector and installing a Wilson. Instead of being MIM, here’s what Wilson says about their extractors:

  • Fully Machined from S7 shockproof tool steel with a tensile strength of 275,000 PSI
  • Optimized hook design for maximum strength and case rim contact
  • Hook location tolerances held to +/- .001″
  • Radiused corners for extended life and smooth feeding
  • Enhanced design holds tension longer over factory part many times over
  • Heat treated to optimum hardness and cryogenically treated
  • Guaranteed for life against breakage or we will replace at no cost to you

Note I went with a series 80 extractor even though the RIA pistols are based on a series 70 design. You can use a series 80 extractor in a series 70 pistol but not vice versa. You can get them from Brownells, Wilson directly and other places.

Recommended Tools

You don’t need specialized tools but if you can afford them, I would highly recommend the following:

The long angled tool is the 1911 Extractor Tool from Brownells and totally worth it in my opinion. The long angled end lets you reach into the slide and push extractor back and then down into the hole for removal. The other end is perfect sized for pushing down the firing pin to aid with the removal and installation of the firing pin stop. Note the blue A-Zoom snap cap – that is the color of their volume packs of rounds. Exact same material and tolerances – just a different color.
The silver block with the red handle is Weigand’s tool for adjusting extractor tension. The big orange thing is the Lyman mechanical trigger pull gauge. The brass plate is the gauge with a brass S-hook that I added. The gauge is sold as a set and each end is for a different caliber. The hole you see is actually for lining up on the firing pin hole – I just added the S-hook on the .38 end because I don’t have any plans to shoot .38 Super. Note, the small blade screw driver makes it real easy to nudge the firing pin up or down so the firing pin stop plate can be pushed into position.

Polish the Extractor

From what I read and saw, the Wilson extractor is practically ready out of the box other than setting the tension. Some guys recommended polishing the surfaces where the cartridge will come in contact and I did that with one of the small rubberized abrasive polishing bits in my Dremel.

How to Install

Make sure your pistol is unloaded – that the chamber is empty and a loaded magazine is not inserted. In short, work safe. Also, do not use live ammo for testing – I highly recommend A-Zoom Snap Caps.

Let me give you an overview and then a couple of videos to watch:

  1. Remove the slide
  2. Remove the firing pin stop plate by pushing down with the straight short end of the extractor tool and then slide the plate off. Be CAREFUL that the firing pin and/or spring don’t come flying out as you remove the plate.
  3. Push the extractor backwards by pushing the head of extractor backwards down the hole out the rear of the slide
  4. Insert the new extractor and line it up so the stop plate can be re-inserted. It needs to line up with the top and bottom of the stop plate groove and it needs to be straight up and down parallel to the sides. You don’t need to install the firing pin and spring until you are done.
  5. Insert the Weigand gauge and pull it out using the trigger pull gauge to find out how many ounces it takes.
  6. Use the Weigand tensioning tool to increase or decrease the tension. I dialed mine in to 28 ounces (1.75 pounds).
  7. You can try testing feeding and extracting dummy rounds to see how it performs. The extractor should maintain control until the extracted dummy round hits the ejector.
  8. Once it is dialed in, you can then re-install the firing pin return spring, lube the firing pin and reinstall it also.
  9. There’s a trick to the plate – wiggle it in and push down the firing pin enough to get the plate to sit on the “shelf” at the rear. You can then maintain pressure on the plate and use the other hand to use the extractor tool to push the firing pin down far enough and hold it there while you push the plate back into place.

More Details

Wilson has a video on how to change to their extractor and a bit about setting the tension:

Now, I also read the Brownell’s blog post about extractors plus a more detailed Wilson Combat instructional PDF file.

The following is a video of Jack Weigand explaining how to use his extractor gauges and tensioning tool:

Adjusting The Extractor Landing Pad

The most detailed post and guidance in general about extractors that I read is here – and if you read down, you will get to sections/replies about 9mm extractors. One thing you will notice discussed is reprofiling the “fitting pad” to better fit the radius of the extractor hole. I stoned and polished the fitting pad to be more rounded but that was it. I put more emphasis on getting a weight in the 25-28oz range and did do that after may 3-4 tries.

Pulling the gauge out the final time was about 1-3/4 pounds which is 28 oz. In testing the pistol, extraction was just fine.

Was The Match Pistol Higher End?

I wondered if maybe more care was put into the match pistol. There are some nice perks in terms of features but the trigger feels about the same between the two pistols. I’ll write up something more detailed down the road – for now let me just say they pistols are not night and day different in terms of how they feel with cycling the slide or pulling the trigger.

In terms of pricing, there’s not a huge difference on Gunbroker. The first 51679 was bought on 3/5/22 for $819.99, the Match pistol was $899.00 on 3/25/22 and the second 51679 was bought on 4/3/22 for $899.00 also. In writing this, it’s surprising that the Match wasn’t $100-200 more on the street but it wasn’t. If you look at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) – Armscor did set the 51679 at $899 and the Match 56645 at $1099. In other words, Armscor was hoping the Match would command a premium.

You can find the 51679 pistols right now with a bit of hunting. The 56645 match pistol is challenging to find as it seems to be a bit more rare now but it is out there too. I’d tell you to get the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC if you can find it. As you can imagine, I’m not too thrilled with my 51679 experience right now and there is little to no price difference *if* you can find one.

Conclusion

I’m not sure what to tell you about what happened – I only have data from two 51679 pistols and one 56645 pistol. It could just be really bad luck – neither of my current 10mm pistols have given me any trouble and the 56645 Pro Ultra Match has been fine so far as well although I have only cycled maybe 500-600 snap caps through it so far.

The first 51679 had something going on that I can’t explain and am waiting on Armscor to fix it under warranty. It certainly was not a broken extractor. For the second one to have a snapped extractor claw with so very few rounds – I guess that highlights the limitation of MIM and that forged extractors are better – there’s a reason why Wilson’s Bullet Proof extractors have such a good reputation.

6/22/22 Update: RIA did a warranty repair after about 4-5 weeks. All they told me was that they confirmed the extraction problem, fixed it and the pistol was fully operational now. So, I still don’t know exactly what happened but at least Armscor/RIA stood behind it and made things right.

So, at this point, magazine production is in full swing and we offer a number of magazines based on Mec-Gar P16 and P18 designs for owners of 9mm RIA A2 HC pistols.

We’ll see what Armscor comes back with regarding the first pistol and I’ll report it here. I guess the big thing I want folks to know is that changing an extractor is not an arcane black magic endeavor. There are tons and tons of videos and posts that you can read. At some point you just need to wade in, give it a go and learn.

My other lesson learned is that don’t replace a busted Armscor extractor (MIM) with the same thing. Upgrade. I decided to go with Wilson Combat due to all the good reviews I read and would recommend that.

I still have a lot to learn about 1911s and don’t claim to know much. I’m really focused just on the mags but I hope this helps out anyone who reads it.

A Stunningly Good 1911 Reference Book Recommendation

By the way, If you want a really good book with tons of dimensions, drawings and photos, then get Jerry Kuhnhausen’s “The Colt .45 Automatic – A Shop Manual”. What I bought off Amazon is the “New Expanded 10th Edition” published in 2015. It gave me a better understanding about the extractor and the firing pin stop.

I hope this post helps you out!


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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.




Are you having a hard time finding 9mm magazines for your Rock Island Armory A2 HC Pistol? We have them.

This post was updated July 23, 2022

July 25, 2022 Update: Our third generation tuned Mec-Gar 9mm mags for the RIA A2 HC pistols are now available. We offer 10, 15 and 17 round versions Click here if you are interested.


I’m a fan of Armscor’s Rock Island Armory (RIA) staggered magazine pistols – the A2 HC series. They took the ParaOrdnance design of the 1911 that uses a staggered magazine to hold more ammo and made it their own. In a staggered design, the rounds offset left and right but come up to a common single feeding point at the top of the magazine. This enables round counts that are almost double the original single stack design but requires a fatter grip to hold these thicker magazines.

P18 mag with a +200 Dawson base plate.

It can be a challenge to find quality magazines for these pistols as Rock Island and Mec-Gar struggle with COVID and supply chain issues. We entered the market in 2021 with magazines for the 10mm & .40 S&W pistols and now we are introducing magazines for the 9mm pistols.

In case you are wondering, I own both a RIA 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC and a 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC 9mm so that is what I am using for design and testing. By the way, “FS” means it is a full size 1911/2011 vs. something more compact like a Commander. The “HC” means it is the higher capacity. Some times you’ll see RIA refer to “A2” and that is a marketing opportunity for them because there was testing and consideration by the Army of what would could come after the M1911A1 in 2004 and they were bantering around the designation M1911A2 but they did not go far down that path.

Our current magazine offering is based on a Mec-Gar P18 mag that we then ensure the feed lips are gapped to line up on the feed ramp correctly, add a ceramic dry lube, use Dawson base plates (the sizes vary) and holds 17 rounds. The result is a very reliable magazine and we test each one. For folks with the v2 mags, this new v3 mag fixes the stabilization challenges we had trying to run a 9mm round in a 10mm mag tube. By using the P18 9mm mag tube, the rounds are properly stabilized by the follower so no more dipping and extra loading steps that our second generation required.

By the way, I am really happy to return to using Mec-Gar magazines as the base that I build on. The bodies, heat treating, and springs are all excellent.

SteelWorx Dummy Rounds For Testing Now

Also of important note: When it comes to testing, we have stopped using A-Zoom snap caps. Unfortunately, their machined “bullet” does not match the profile of a real world 115gr FMJ round. This caused us to “pass” mags that we would not have had the correct shape of bullet been used. We now test with dummy rounds that do match the 115gr bullet.

As of July 21st, we are no longer use Zoom 9mm snap caps in our QA testing. Note the difference in the snap cap (left in blue) and a real CCI Speer 115gr 9mm round (on the right). That difference in shape can be problematic when verifying mags are good to go.
On the left is a CCI Speer 115 gr FMJ live round. In the middle is a SteelWorx dummy round made from machined stainless steel and on the right is a Zoom snap cap that is different. We are now using SteelWorx for magazine feed, extraction and ejection quality testing.

Taylor Freelance Mag Extensions Work!

Many have asked if the Taylor Freelance magazine extensions will fit these mags and the answer is “yes”. Act-Mag is the OEM supplier of the .40 & 10mm mags to RIA and that is what our 9mm mags are based on. Note, these are the longer mags they mention so adding a Taylor extension to one of our mags will probably be too long for competition use.

July 25, 2022 Update: Our third generation tune Mec-Gar 9mm mags for the RIA A2 HC pistols are now available. We have a 17 round model plus now have limited mags for people in regulated locales – both 10 and 15 round versions that are riveted shut – Click here if you are interested.

Click here to go to our store that has the 9mm mags.

Conclusion

We now have mags for a number of the RIA 9mm high cap (HC) pistols. If you are concerned about whether they will function in your pistol, we will stand behind them if you run into any problems — customer service is something we take very seriously.

Please email me if you have any questions or suggestions.


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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Adjusting the the feed lip gap on our 3rd Generation RIA 10mm and .40 S&W Magazines

As you may know, we offer a third generation staggered 16 round magazine for Rock Island Armory (RIA) pistols chambered in either 10mm for .40 S&W. Having the correct front feed lip gap is critical for reliable feeding and I want to update you on some changes.

S&B 180gr FMJ round. The black “flaps” over the back of the cartride are known as the “feed lips”. They serve to limit how far the cartridge sticks up, the vertical angle as well as the left-to-right angle. On our magazines, it is the front of the lips, or right right edge of the lips in this photo, that are key for proper positioning of the round.

When I first started the magazines, I was setting the front edge of the feed lips between 0.36 and 0.375. In talking with customers who have bought the mags and were having feeding problems (notably stovepiping) , when the magazine lips were down at the lower end of 0.360″. I’d walk them through setting the gap for their pistol and at the end, I would have them measure the final front lip gap that worked. It was usually between 0.370 and 0.390″ and averaged 0.380″.

Here is a photo with labels.
There are a lot of different 10mm cartrdiges on the market. Look at the different bullet shapes – the different angles can all affect reliable feeding which is one of many reasons why you may find one pistol likes one ammo and can cycle it all day long but not another.

Adjusting the Feed Lips Isn’t Hard

I’d recommend the following tools for the adjustments:

  • 1/2-3/4 pound non-marring mallet – or even both. A lighter one for fine adjustments and a heavier one for coarse adjustments. It doesn’t take much to bend the lips.
  • A pair of snap ring or malleable chandalier pliers that can spread the lips open
  • A pair of straight plastic jawed pliers come in hand if you need to tweak the lips left or right.
  • A vise with non-marring jaws or some means to hold the mag without crushing or excessive scratching
  • A pair of measurement calipers can help you with consistency and recording what gap your pistol works the best with give a particular type of ammo.
  • Use Zoom Snap Caps to test cycling vs live ammo. In general, snap caps or action proving rounds are a good idea to avoid misfires. There’s also a second reason – the recoil springs in the RIA pistols are robust and if the bullet from a live round or dummy round (a bullet loaded into a case that does not have powder or a primer) smacks hard into something, it will get pushed back further and further into the case plus they deform easily. All of my testing is done with solid aluminum snap caps now.
From left to right bottom row: Vaughan 3/4 pound NT-125 mallet, Vaughan 1/2 pound NT-100 mallet and Westinghouse 7009900 lighting fixture chain pliers. The Vaughan mallets hold up great – the plastic is both pretty solid and robust so tapping in the feed lips goes very smoothly.
The Westinghouse pliers make opening the feed lips wider a very easy job. You could also use snap ring pliers but they will not distribute the pressure the same or be as easy to use.
The Westinghouse pliers have wide jaws – meaning left to right in the photo above. I’ve bought a number of chain pliers and the cheaper ones do not have as wide of jaws and have a tendency to want to roll when you are applying pressure. They work – but take a bit more control on your part.

Procedure to follow

Ensure your pistol is unloaded and no ammo is immediately nearby that might get accidentally loaded during testing.

Okay, let’s walk through the steps:

Checking Cartridge Alignment

  1. Lock the slide open
  2. Put a snap cap in the magazine
  3. Insert the magazine into the pistol
  4. From different angles, look at where the catridge is pointing in the chamber. Imagine a line from the center of the bullet going straight forward – where is it hitting? You will want to make small adjustments and test over and over until you get that bullet pointing into the center of the chamber (no, it does not need to be perfect).
The front edge of the feed lips are adjusted such that the cartridge is aiming into the middle of the chamber vertically and horiztontally.

Adjusting The Vertical Angle

On most mags, including our’s, the angle the bullet sits at is adjusted by the gap of the front mag lips. The back can’t really be adjusted because it will buckle or crack. What happens is that by opening the front of the mag lips, the front of cartridge sits higher (meaning it is a steeper angle). Correspondingly, by narrowing the front of the mag lips, the cartridge can’t rise up as far and the bullet sits lower.

The circle representing a cartridgeis the same size in both figures. By making the gap wider on the right, the circle rises up higher before it contacts the black feed lips.

The angle is often the biggest problem. If the bullet isn’t angled enough, it gets stripped from the magazine by the slide and will either slam straight into the feed ramp and stop or it will hit, shoot up at a 45 degree angle jamming the pistol open – this is known as “stovepiping”. In both of these cases, you would want to open the lips up until there is proper feeding.

There is such a thing as the lips being too wide and hitting the top of the chamber or literally falling out. The feed lips need to be narrower than the case diameter of 0.421″ for sure otherwise the case will literally fall right through the lips.

To open the front of the lips, use the chain pliers shown above on the front of the feed lips. It doesn’t take much pressure to open (or close) the feed lips so you will need to get the “feel” for how much to squeeze.

To close the front of the lips, tap the left feed lip in and then the right feed lip in equal amounts using the mallet. If you aren’t careful then you are liable to have the bullet pointing too far left or right even though the gap is the same.

Note, it doesn’t take much force with the mallet to move the lips. If you go crazy and crush the lips such that the gap dips below 0.33″, you may find that the throat of the magazine bent and the follower will not longer be able to pass. You don’t want this to happen so make small adjustments, measure and test over and over.

Adjusting the Horizontal Angle

You have a few ways to adjust the left to right horizontal angle. The first is to tap the lips in the direction you need. You can hit in the outside edge of the lip to close it or the right side to open it. I don’t use this because I find it takes too long.

I like to use parallel plastic jawed pliers that fit right inside the lip and let me easily adjust the angle with a good deal of control.

Here’s another look at the lips without a cartridge present.
Here’s a magazine with a 180 grain FMJ round by S&B loaded.

Summary

Each pistol can vary slightly so each magazine may need different feed lip gaps. Going forward, the feed lip gap on our 10mm and .40 S&W magazines will vary between 0.370 and 0.390″. This gives you a starting point but you may find a bit of final tweaking of the feed lips beneficial.

I hope this helps you out.

Click here to go to our store page with our various RIA pistol magazines loaded.

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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Seeing The Different Dawson Precision Base Plates For Para P16 and RIA A2 HC 9mm and 10mm Double Stack Pistols

I genuinely like the Rock Island Armory (RIA) double stack 10mm pistols. I jumped into the deep end of the pool and started converting some really cool Mec-Gar Para P16 mags for use in the 10mm and .40 S&W pistols for folks who need either 10 or 15 round limited pistols due to unfortunate magazine limit laws where they live. The feed lips must be shortened and reprofiled to work reliably in RIA double stack pistols.

I’ve written about the conversion and you can click here to learn more but I didn’t really show a lot of photos of the different Dawson Precision base plate options. In addition to changing the feed lips, you have to replace the plate because it literally will not fit in the funnel – it’s a show stopper plus it really does need to be longer to allow for positive seating of the mag in the pistol. You could grind the OEM plate down but then you would need to glue/add material so you can fully set it – note, if you do that, leave a hole so you can unlock the plate in the future.

This post also applies to folks who own the RIA A2 HC double stack 9mm pistols. The same base plates are used on the magazines for your pistols as well and the magazine capacity is limited to 15 rounds as a result.

At any rate, here are a number of photos showing the Dawson Precision base plates and get a better idea of their different thicknesses relative to each other as well as when fully seated in the pistol:

The Dawson plates are machined from aluminum and their sizes are how much thicker they are than the original Para P16 base plate shown on the right. The bottom left Dawson plate is their +200 model and the one above it is the +300.
Here are the three Dawson plates next to each other on our converted P16 magazines. The +100 is on the left, +200 in the middle and +300 on the right. They increase the height and weight of the mag but do not increase the capacity.
With our 3rd Gen mags, Mec-Gar started using the left polymer plate and it works great in the RIA pistols. Both it and the +100 Dawson plate sit flush in the RIA mag funnel.
These 15 round windowed mags all have +100 Dawson plates.
This is a +100 Dawson plate in my RIA 52009 Ultra HC 10mm pistol.
This is the +200 base plate.
This is a +300.
This is the 3rd gen polymer Mec-Gar plate that comes on the 10mm/.40 S&W mags for reference. It fits the RIA funnel just fine.

I do need to note something – out of the two to three hundred converted P16 mags I sold, two buyers had pistols where the distance from the mag catch to the bottom of the funnel would not allow the mags with the Dawson plates to fully seat. I gave them full refunds and don’t know if the issue was the mag catch or the fitment of the funnel to the pistol. Again, only two gentlemen out of hundreds. I really do not think it was an issue with the base plates just to be clear – just stacked tolerances going in the wrong direction.

Summary

Dawson Precision makes great base plates for Para P116 and P18 magazines that enable them to fit in the funnel of most RIA high cap 9mm, 10mm and .40 S&W pistols. They come in three sizes and you can choose based on your preference.

If you would like to purchase base plates or a magazine, please click here to go to the section of our website that has them.

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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Why Our Tuned 10mm / .40S&W 16-Round High Cap Magazines for Rock Island Armory Pistols Are The Best

If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are either the owner of a Rock Island Armory (RIA) high capacity 10mm or .40 S&W 1911 pistol – sometimes called a 2011 – or you are thinking about buying one. The RIA pistols are workhorses and I honestly have no reservation recommending them. What I really want to cover in this is post is to tell you about our magazines for these pistols and why I think they are the best.

Yes, I Really Own And Shoot Them

I currently own two of the high cap 2011s, a 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC in 10mm and a 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC also in 10mm. My point is that I actually own and shoot the pistols – I’m not just some guy designing to specification who doesn’t actually shoot — I actually do shoot them and I’ve developed some insights as to what makes a good reliable magazine for the RIA FS A2 series of pistols.

What Got Me Started?

What got me into the mags originally was that I bought my current 52009 during the pandemic panic and there weren’t magazines to be found anywhere. Tons of websites said they were out of stock and then ones that did claim to have them turned out to be scams or backordered them. This drove me to do some research, that I’ve documented in the past, and resulted in a series of generations of magazines starting with base Para P16 magazines and evolving to our current third generation.

Here’s a sibling photo: The 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC is on the top and the 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC is on the bottom. The only two differences I have noticed is that the 51679 has a threaded barrel, serrated slide and a Picatinny rail on the bottom of the frame. Otherwise, they seem to be the same pistol.

Two Questions I Get Over And Over In Email

There are two things I constantly have to answer in emails – are we a real business or another scam? Yes, we are a real business and got our start making AK grips and handguards back around 2006-ish. We’ve since slowly grown our small family owned business since. Yes, if the website says we have them in stock then we have them in stock.

Second, people ask why they should buy our magazines and not the ACT-Mags sold by RIA (they are the OEM supplier to RIA by the way) and other resellers? For months we were the only supplier actually shipping magazines and people bought about 500-600 mags without ever asking “why you folks?” Well, now that there are options again between us and the ACT-Mag and tons of sellers selling them, that’s an honest question that I need to try and answer because I really do think we offer the best magazine for these specific pistols.

Here’s one of my personal magazines loaded with Underwood 200gr bonded hollow points. They function great in the pistol. I actually have not found a round yet that the 52009 pistol in the background can’t feed or eject properly.

Why Our Magazine’s Are The Best

First, we start with an Italian Mec-Gar P14-45 magazine. Mec-Gar makes tons of magazines and they know their stuff. In fact, they are a family owned business founded by Mr. Edoardo Racheli in 1965 in Italy for the sole purpose of making firearms magazines.

Rather than reinvent the wheel and learning from scratch, the base magazine I start with is Mec-Gar’s P14-45. That magazine reflects a ton of lessons learned that Mec-Gar has incorporated over the years and let me give you the big ones:

Second, unlike some mags that just have a blued finish on the steel, our Mec-Gar mags have a very cool advanced anti-friction coating that makes loading easier and far smoother feeding. The coating also reduces the risk of corrosion and does not require a lubricant – some magazines use a liquid lubricant that can attract dirt and lead to feeding problems.

The left magazine is made by ACT-Mag and it is what comes with RIA pistols. The right magazine is one of our’s – note the anti-friction coating on it vs. regular bluing on the OEM mag.

Third, we use a variable geometry spring that enables easier loading and reliable feeding regardless of the number of rounds in the magazine plus they can be stored loaded. The whole design of the follower, spring, floor and baseplates is very well thought out.

The ACT-Mag spring is on the left and does not use a floor plate. The Mec-Gar’s variable geometry spring and floor plate retainer are on the right. The tab on the right side of the floor plate rests in a notch in the magazine body to orient the plate and spring accordingly.

Fourth, our magazine’s spring, floor plate and base plate are all captured / locked in place and aid with easy disassembly and re-assembly for cleaning. The ACT-Mag use a tool-less design and while that makes closing the base plate a bit of a challenge because the bottom of the spring wants to escape plus the base plate can be shoved off the magazine accidentally as well.

The ACT-Mag tube, tool-less base plate and magazine spring assembly are to the left. To the right of the middle are the Mec-Gar variable geometry spring, locking base plate and tube — all based on years and years of experience and innovation at Mec-Gar. The tool in the photo is something I made to speed up the disassembly of the magazines in bulk.
An OEM ACT-Mag is to the left and one of our Mec-Gars is to the right. The notch in the front of the magazine body’s base is where a tab from the base plate on the spring sits. Everything is nicely locked in place by this elegant design.
Here’s a view of one of the magazines fully seated in the pistol. You have the big flared mag well around it and the button in the middle locks the base plate to the floor plate. It needs to be depressed for the base plate to come off.

Fifth and most important – every single magazine we sell has the feed lips adjusted specifically for the RIA pistols. I use tooling that I developed to change the feed lips for optimal feeding and retetion.

For testing, I use dummy 10mm rounds and insert them by hand to feel if anything is wrong during loading. I also cycle them by hand through either my 52009 or 51679 to ensure proper feeding, retention and slide lock on empty. I’ve found tons of things that can go wrong and have refined my tooling, processes and testing to produce a magazine you can count on. This RIA-specific tuning is where we add the value and I will stand behind them if you run into a problem and need help.

Every magazine is tuned and tested to confirm it will load a 10mm round directly in the chamber. Testing is done with dummy rounds but for the sake of the photo, this is an Underwood 155 grain HP round.
If you would like to purchase a magazine, please click here to go to the section of our website that has them.

A Few More Photos

Some oddball rounds left from range visits.
Underwood 220 grain hard cast – One of my bear defense loads. I carry Buffalo Bore also. Note how the front of the feed lips are securely holding the round in place. The lips are not just about feeding but retention also or the rounds would be popping out from under them at the wrong time.
One last photo 🙂

Summary

We pride ourselves on our customer service and small town family owned business values. We only sell stuff that we actually use as well. I really do think our magazines are solid and reliable and are worth it. I wouldn’t be using or selling them if I thought otherwise.

If you would like to purchase a magazine, please click here to go to the section of our website that has them.

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.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.