Category Archives: 1911 / 2011

How Magazines Affect Reliability in Rock Island FS A2 9mm Pistols

This post reflects a journey I’ve been on regarding making and selling magazines for the 9mm Rock Island Armory (RIA) FS A2 pistols. These pistols are based on Para Ordnance designs that use a staggered magazine that can accomodate 15+ rounds in a fattened 1911 grip. Think of them as 1911 pistols on steroids with a fat grip the holds more rounds they hold more rounds so sometimes RIA calls them “HC” for high capacity.

These are my two 9mm test platforms. The top pistol is the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC (you can see the checkering on the front strap of the grip) and the bottom is 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC.

For over a year now, I’ve been making magazines for the FS A2 pistols chambered in 10mm and .40 S&W. The interesting thing is that 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W and 10mm all use the same frame. You’d think making the 9mm mags would be an easy jump – I did at least — maybe it was just me.

The 10mm round is bigger than 9mm – it is fatter and longer. You don’t think about that a lot until you are trying to get the ejecting case to hit the ejector – the 10mm round is a hell of a lot easier to make hit the ejector than the 9mm. Also, the relatively short 9mm round has a long way to travel before it goes into the chamber. I found myself having to kick out some assumptions I had for magazines in order to get the 9mm round to reliably work.

In general, I now understand why the 1911 community is so fast to cast suspicion on the magazines when feed and ejection problems are happening. John Browning was an absolute genius and the 1911 design shows it but it does need all of the parts to be working together correctly to deliver a reliabile pistol.

Oh yeah, the magazines can make or break reliability. Let me share with you some observations I’ve made so far about the magazine after making a few hundred of the 9mm models either modifying P18 magazines (.38/9mm) or P16 mags (10/.40).

What about feed lip length?

The feed lips are the part of the magazine that hold the top round down and at the right angle. If they are too short, the round tends to be presented at too high of an angle and if they are too long, the front gap may not be adjustable enough to support the feed angle needed.

The blue rounds are A-Zoom Snap Caps. I use them during magazine prototyping and testing rather than live ammo The magazine lips are long pieces of rounded sheet metal that are going up the sides of the cartridge and are both positioning and retaining the round. Note the plastic “shelf” of the follower that is on the left bottom edge of each magazine that is level with the metal body. When the last round is fed from the magazine, the follower rises and that shelf is what engages the slide lock lever to put upwards pressure on it. When the slides travels rearword with the extraction and ejection of the last round, the slide lock level pushes up and locks the slide open ready for the next magazine to be fired.

The original 1911 was designed for .45 ACP but we are feeding a little short round from the back of the magazine towards the chamber a mile away. How can we maintain control? The short answer is have longer feed lips on the magazine. These longer lips are what get the relatively small 9mm round from the back of the magazine all the way into the chamber.

“We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there” were the famous words in “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed in the movie classic Smokey and the Bandit. The feed lips need to control the feeding of the cartridge all the way from the back of the magazine to the point the bullet engages the feed ramp and then starts to go into chamber. A 9mm Luger cartrdge is 1.169″ long. In comparison, 10mm Auto is 1.260″ overall. and .45 ACP is 1.275″. You might thing those differences are small but they definitely impact the design and operation of the pistol – they need to be planned for if you want reliability.

The reason I listed this section is that the length of the feed lips can vary depending on the model of pistol so if you are trying to use a magazine from another type of pistol you may find you need to trim the feed lips back. I didn’t have to change the P16 or P18 mags for the 9mm but I did need to modify the P16 Para mags to feed reliability in RIA 10mm and .40 S&W pistols.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too wide? You tend to get a Failure to Eject (FTE) or the Slide locks open prematurely

The feed lip gap at the front of the magazine controls where the cartridge is going vertically – the angle towards the chamber. Increase the gap and the front of cartridge rises and decrease it and the angle goes down. But wait, there’s more.

If the front of the round pushes up too much, it will cause the extracting case to slide up the breech face and out of position thus missing the ejector bar you can see just above the rear of the cartidge. The tell tale is that you have the new round and the old case in the back of the slide at the same time.

Now here’s the first gotcha. The feed lip gap still controls the rise of the bullet in the front but if it goes too far, the bullet is going to interfere with extraction, pushing the extracted case upwards on the breach face of the slide and out of position to correctly engage the ejector and all of a sudden you have the old case in the slide, a new round trying to feed and you have a jam. If you go for a front feed lips gap of .305-.308″ you will be fine. Once you cross .310″, you are going to cause the ejection problem I just mentioned

There’s an interesting design issue with all 1911 breech faces – they are flat. The extractor pushes the case to the right in this photo. The ejector bar is exiting its cut out from the breech face in the lower right but there is nothing to truly limit upwards travel.

I’ve spent a lot of time chasing this dimension because you tend to get better feeding the more the bullet is oriented towards the chamber but with the 9mm you have to be mindful of the impacts on the the ejecting cartridge.

By the way, in addition to interfering with ejection, a feed lip gap that is too wide can allow the follower to travel too far upwards and prematurely lock the slide open with one cartridge remaining in the magazine.

I should point out that the most likely cause of a failure to eject (FTE) is a faulty magazine. The second most likely is a worn or failing extractor. It probably is not the ejector bar.

What happens if the front feed lip gap is too narrow? You tend to get a failure to feed (FTF)

If you move the feed lips to close together, the new round that needs to be fed into the chamber comes in at too flat of an angle and smashes straight into the feed ramp. On one hand the 9mm bullet is rounded abruptly but the feed ramp is quite abrupt. I tend to find that somewhere under .302″ this happens but I haven’t done a lot of testing on this dimension because I have been more focused on wanting the cartridge angled up vs. down.

The round travels up the feed ramp but it needs have enough of an upward angle to ride the ramp up. If it is too shallow it will slam the bullet into the ramp and stop. Note that RIA did polish the ramp – that was an unexpected nice touch. In general, I’d recommend polishing the ramp smooth to aid in feeding. Also, look at the shape of the snap cap – it mimics a classic full metal jacket 115gr bullet. The curvature of the bullet will aid in feeding. Different bullet shapes can affect feeding in some pistols and you may need to tweak certain mags for certain rounds – it’s next to impossible to guess so test your pistol with certain combinations of cartrdiges and magazines to ensure they are reliable. You may find your pistol likes some and hates others. I’d probably just move to another cartridge if it were me and my pistol had issues with a given round.

Yeah, the lips have a memory

So the magazines are made of high carbon steel that is heat treated. The feed lip gap falls within a certain tolerance. If it changed either wider or narrower, the lips are going to move back towards their original positing anywhere from .002-.004″ so plan accordingly.

This is where experience matters with the mags you are working with. Once you have your dimensions figured out, you may find you need to bend further than the nominal dimension so when the sheet metal starts to relax it will stop in the range you want.

You may also find that the metal does most of its movement in some number of minutes after you do the initial tune and need to do it one more time. Some guys will wait overnight to do the final tuning. I wait at least 30 minutes.

What about left and right bends to the feed lips?

The more you bend the feed lips in one direction too much, the round will point that way and either glance the chamber wall or actually slam into the chamber and stop depending on how off you are. Try and get the cartridge to point into the center of the chamber in terms of left to right.

This is an 80% RIA frame that I used during prototyping. I’m not enough of a machinist to actually complete it but it really helps you see what is going on. If the right feed lip is bent too much to the right then the round will go in that directton – same for the left lip. You want to point the round into the center of chamber.

What about the follower?

It’s really interesting how important the follower is. On one hand it is pushing the rounds up againt the feed lips properly and on the other, there is a small “shelf” on the front left edge that pushes the slide stop lever up and locks the slide open on empty (unless you are using competition followers such as the Arredondos that purposefully do not lock the slide open).

The walls at the top of the 9mm mag really need to taper inward to properly channel the staggered round into the single exit position at the top. The follower’s sides need to be appropriately tapered and rounded as well less they drag on the walls. The original Mec-Gar followers have significant drag that you can feel when loading the mgazine so revising them made the most sense.

The Arredondo follower is on the left. It is more angled and rounded on the right side in this photo than the Mec-Gar on the right. The Arredondo was desined for competition is when you look at the bottom right edge of each you will see the Arredondo slopes down fast so it will not raise the slide stop lever. The Mec-Gar has a more elevated edge that will lock the slide open. Our modified Mec-Gar followers improve reliability by having more rounded edges but still can lock the slide open.

By the way, to make life more colorful, when you install the follower the spring tension will spread the feed lips wider by about 0.002-0.004″.

How about the spring?

The Mec-Gar springs are okay. How much spring is enough or to little really depends on how well it can keep constant upwards pressure on the follower to move the rounds up fast enough and keep them in position. With the drag on the follower reduced, the spring can do its job.

There is an exception though – if you add a magazine extension or base plate that adds capacity, the spring really ought to be longer so get a Wolff or Arredondo spring that can supply the pressure over a longer distance.

The top assembly has the a easy to identify blue Arredondo follower and longer spring. The spring is made by Wolff but is bent to properly hold the Arredondo follower. The black follower and shorter spring are the original Mec-Gar units.

Yes, springs can and do wear our so if you feel the follower is being pushed up sufficiently or is sluggish *and* the walls do not appear bent then you probably need a new spring.

What about lubricant?

Mec-Gar mags come with some lubricant all over the insides of the mags, follower, spring, floor plate and base plate. On one hand it protects against corrosion but on the other it can attract dirt.

I would recommend that you use a good dry lubricant film. I used to use Dupont’s Teflon dry lubricant film spray but they discontinued it over environmental and health concerns about Teflon. The company is now producing a dry film using a ceramic technology that I really like and find it does a remarkable job at lubricating magazines.

If you are in a marine environment and you need the corrosion protection the use the oil of your choice – you need to worry about rust, I get it. For me, the Dupont Dry Film Lube aerosol spray does a great job. The new followers and the inside of the magazine tubes coated with this enables remarkably smooth movement of the follower.

Number your magazines

A tip you really ought to consider is to number your magazines so you can keep track of them. I like stickers because you can readily remove them if you put a baseplate on a different magazine tube but there are plenty of guys who use a permanent marker or etcher to uniquely identify each magazine.

The benefit of doing this is that when you are at the range if you find that some magazine is having problems, you can write down or take a photo of the number and know what you need to work on. Face it, if you have a bunch of mags and they all look pretty similar it can be hard to keep track of them otherwise.

By numbering the magazines, I can track dimensions and performance over time.

We do sell the stickers if you are interested – click here.

I’m still learning

I don’t claim to know everything – let me right up front about that. I now know what people mean whey they say “The more I learn, the less I know”. In other words, as I learn more I am increasingly aware that there is a ton of stuff I don’t know.

Hopefully this gives you some insight about why one magazine will work great but then another one doesn’t. The above are things to consider.

My reason for writing this is to give you some idea of what we’ve learned and are building into each 9mm magazine that you buy from us – we aren’t just relabeling Mec-Gar mags and selling them at a heck of a mark up.

What are are doing is ensuring the dimesions, doing the necessary modifications and testing teach magazine in one of our 9mm RIA pistols to ensure you get a reliable mag. If you have problems with a magazine from us, we will definitely make it right.

If you’d like to see our magazines, click here to go to our store.


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.

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.



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.


Rock Island Armory’s 52009 Ultra FS HC 10mm Packs a Punch

Hi folks – this is my second Rock Island Armory (RIA) 15 round 10mm 1911 high cap-style pistol that I have owned. My first one was a 6″ Rock Ultra that I sold years ago because I didn’t really need it. Lately I have gotten back into 10mms for situations where I need to pack a punch such as back country hiking in black bear country.

At this point, I have two 10mm pistols. My 1911-style Desert Eagle and now this 2011-style RIA 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC. FS meaning Full Size – it’s based on a series 70 5″ 1911 in terms of the action. The HC means high-capacity because it uses a staggered 15 round magazine that means the pistol can hold 16 rounds when topped off with one in the chamber.

The following are a couple of listings from PSA and Primary Arms but due to panic buying, you’re probably only going to find the 52009 on GunBroker at this point [click here to search GB – I bought mine off GB]:

In my opinion, Rock Island pistols are work horses. They may have a very plain parkerized finish and be a tad rough but they were made for use – not just sitting in someone’s safe. In terms of the rough action, they do wear in and give you a very good pistol.

In the case of this 52009, the pistol was well assembled and just felt a little rough. Folks, this is just fine in my honest opinion. What happens is that the parts are made and assembled. There isn’t a ton of hand polishing and tuning going on like when you buy a high end pistol but the fundamentals are there.

The way you address this is to clean the brand new pistol, lube it really well and then use it. What happens is that the parts get to know each other – surfaces start to wear together and smooth out. Sure, you could take it apart and do it by hand but just using it can make a world of difference so don’t judge it right out of the box. I use Superlube grease on the parts that slide and their oil/liquid on the parts that rotate.

The only thing RIA honestly did wrong was forget to pack one of the unique 15 round magazines with the pistol. These mags are normally available but with all of the panic buying and COVID screwing up supply chains, they are next to impossible to find. Armscor USA would not even reply to my emails and it wasn’t until Reed Sporting Goods, the Gunbroker seller I dealt with, got a new Armscor/RIA sales rep that I was then able to get a single mag. By the way, Reed is great to deal with if you see them on GB.

The missing mag irked me but I realized there was a business opportunity and made a bunch more for myself and to sell [click here for that story] and click here if you want to buy one. By the way, after hand cycling my slide hundreds and hundreds of times while testing those mags, it is nice and smooth now.

The left magazine is one that I made and it works great. The right mag is an original ACT-Mag. Quick shout out to Dawson Precision for making some great Para base plates!

It came coated in oil to protect the steel more than anything but you always want to take a new pistol apart, clean it and then lube it. The 52009 has been to the range a couple of times now and I definitely like it.

Click here to go to the section of our online store that has all of our current 1911/2011 magazines and related products.

Here are a few more pictures:

Like I said earlier – it’s definitely well made. The parts all fit together nicely without any slop. The set screw in the trigger allows you to adjust over-travel if you wish. It’s factory set and some folks either remove it or put more thread locker on it. I added wicking thread locker and called it even.
It comes with a huge funnel. Folks, I like funnels and you’ll see them on many of my pistols. They help guide your magazine into place when you are in a rush. In my opinion, any funnel, even a beveled mag well opening, is better than no funnel. I also prefer steel or aluminum funnels to plastic.
Here’s the business end – you can see the big bull barrel and because of this, it does not have a bushing. Takedown is accomplished by putting a pin in a drilled hole in the silver guide rod you see when the slide is locked open. In this photo you can also see the fiber optics collecting the light and send it out the end – the sights worked real nice at the range when I was shooting steel plates.

Conclusion

I definitely like the pistol and we are still getting to know each other. I did polish the ramp and chamber. In the next blog post, I’ll tell you about my range trip with my three 1911/2011 10mm pistols and the one that got sold after – which is why I said I now have two at the start of the post.


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.


We Make Custom 10 Round Magazines for Rock Island FS A2 10mm and .40S&W High Cap Pistols

It was brought to my attention that there are owners of high capacity (HC) Rock Island Armory (RIA) Full Size A2 pistols who are in a jam because where they live limits their magazine capacity to 10 rounds (California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York state to name a few. The problem is that nobody is making 10 round magazines for these “high cap” RIA pistols — until now.

The following are the 15-round 10mm and .40 high cap RIA pistol models that I am aware of:

  • 51994 TAC Ultra MS 10mm
  • 51914 TAC Ultra FS 10mm
  • 56862 TAC Ultra Threaded 10mm
  • 52000 PRO Match Ultra 6″ HC 10mm
  • 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC 10mm
  • 51738 Pro Match Ultra H – 40S&W

How did we make a 10-round magazines?

Okay, good question. The RIA pistols are related to Para Ordnance pistols (Paras) so magazines for those pistols can be adapted. Mec-Gar is a large players in the magazine market and it just so happens they make a number of magazines for the Paras including ones with 10-round limits – the MGP164010B – “B” meaning blued and MGP164010N – “N” meaning nickel plated.

This is the Mec-Gar MGP164010B magazine – the feed lips need to be trimmed and opened up and the baseplate needs to be replaced as the long front tab will not fit in the big mag well funnels that RIA puts on their pistols plus they really need to be longer to allow you to effectively smack that mag into position in a rush. Last comment – that dimple is pressed in with a die and limits the follower from going down to far such that only 10 rounds can be limited.

The above magazines are essentially Mec-Gar’s 15-round Para P16 MGP164015B magazine but with the dimples pressed into each size of the magazine limited the capacity to 10 rounds. So everything I learned about converting the Para 16 mags over for RIA HC use applied here not to mention the jigs I had worked out to do the work.

Click here to go to the section of our online store that has all of our current 1911/2011 magazines and related products.

I’m not going to re-invent the wheel – click here for blog post on the MGP164015B conversion. It’ll give you a good idea of what was done and is the same work that needs to be done with these 10-round magazines.

These are three examples of the converted 10-round magazines ready for RIA HC pistol use. The thicker Dawson Precision +200 base plates protrude just a bit from the big RIA funnel and allow for positive seating of the mags (that’s a fancy way to say “slap them in so they seat fully”).
This is a better view of the modified feed lips. The magazines retain their original followers that lock the slides open.
The +200 base plate extends just a bit below the funnel.

Because of pistol and magazine variations, you may find that you need to adjust the feed lips just a bit for your pistol. This sounds daunting but it is actually quite easy. Click here for the blog post on that.

I have an initial batch of magazines ready for sale and have more if the Para mags coming in. I don’t know how secure the supply will be of the Mec-Gar 10 round magazines but I will try to keep them in stock.

Click here for the listing in our online store for these mags.

I 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.


How To Convert Para P16 Magazines For Your High Capacity Rock Island 2011 10mm Pistol

In the first post, I outlined the problem that high cap Rock Island Armory 10mm magazines (OEMP164015B) are next to impossible to find right and and shared some of the research I did. I also let the cat out of the bag that I figured out a way to successfully convert Mec-Gar Para P16 magazines (MGP164015B) for use in the RIA pistols.

Safety Comment – Use Dummy Cartridges / Snap Caps

I said this in the first post and it is so important that I want to reinforce the message – I knew I was going to need to do a ton of cycling of rounds. Using live ammo is risky because you have the very real risk of a negligent discharge. To avoid this, order yourself in a bunch of dummy cartridges. There are sellers on eBay that will sell you 10+ at time. Order yourself in 10-20 rounds. You are going to smash the crap out of them due to the heavy recoil spring a 10mm uses. I trashed at least 10-15 of them. Most were due to the bullet being smashed back into the case, one dented the case pretty bad and one deformed the case right at the mouth.

I can’t even guess how many cycles I did – especially starting out. I’m going to hazard a guess and say I averaged about three cycles per dummy before something failed on the dummy as I worked out the kinks and I would load three rounds per magazine to do the testing.

I can’t stress it enough – get dummies to tune your magazines.

Comparing the RIA and Para Mags

Per the first post, Armscor’s RIA mags are actually made my ACT-Mag. Since my pistol did not come with a mag, the seller was able to get Armscor to send me a OEM mag so I had a baseline to compare to. I definitely made sure it function tested properly before doing anything else. Never assume something works until you test it – I can’t stress that enough.

To let you see the differences, here are photos with comments in teh captions of the two mags:.

The RIA model has a plastic baseplate and the the Para model (right) has a steel base plate. Look at the top – the feed lips are much longer on the Para. The magazine locking slot is the same.
RIA on the left – see how the baseplate is stepped. This clears the big mag well funnel on the RIA pistols. The longer flat metal base plate runs right into the funnel and prevents the mag from seating. The RIA model has “40 SW Made in Italy” – the 10mm uses the same mag. Now the Para mag has more marking. On the left edge of the mag in the photo you can see “-A-” and on the right lower-edge in says “MG P16 .40-15”. The followers are a tad different and again the different length feed lips are apparent.
From left to right: Para, RIA, empty Para tube. The RIA follower is slightly different. I found that they work okay but I wasn’t sure at first.
Top is the RIA base plate and the bottom is the Para. The Para’s metal plate is too long but can easily have the front ground down to fit the mag well. The tapered top of the RIA base plate can clear the funnel. The Para’s plate is more like an immediate shelf or duck’s bill that hits the front of the funnel. The other three sides of the Para base plate are fine.

What Needed To Change?

There were two things that needed to change for sure and one maybe:

  1. The feed lips on the Para were too long thus preventing the round from pivoting up to align with the chamber. Fortunately the Para lips need to be trimmed. It would be far harder, if not impossible, to lengthen the lips if they were too short.
  2. The base plate needed to either be trimmed or replaced to fit in the mag well funnel
  3. This was the “maybe”: The followers were slightly different and I didn’t know if the original Para follower would work or not. I figured that I would address the first two points and then decide the next steps. Let’s start with the easy one – what to do with the base plate.

Changing The Base Plate

You have two options here and either one works – it’s up to you. When you remove the Para base plate you will notice that the tube of the magazine’s body rests in a cup. You can remove that front tab off just shy of the depression. I left about a 1/4″ in front. This serves to stop the plate and located it properly on the plate. Seriously – just file, sand, or otherwise cut the extra material off. I used my big 2×72 Esteem grinder to remove the extra material and round the edges.

On the left is a modified base plate and on the right is an original. I reprofiled the plate on my grinder but you could use any tool you are comfortable with. Just remove material until the magazine seats fully. The above modified plate has about a 1/4″ or a tad more of material on it. You just need to leave enough for the plate to be positioned appropriately on the magazine. Yes, the mags do drop free.

The pro of the above is that it is fast, easy and cheap to do. The con is that the bottom of the magazine sits further into the mag well than I would like. You could easily add .100-.200 of material on the bottom using somethign like Kydex or G10 and some quality epoxy or a stiff rubber with an adhesive tape. In all cases be sure to drill or punh the hole out so you can remove the plate in the future – I had that mistake many year ago and learned a lesson – it is way easier to make the hole before you install it and need to remove the baseplate!

Your second option is to buy an aftermarket base plate. I bought some plates from Dawson Precision that I really like. Their +100 plates sit flush with the mag well, the +200 extends just below/outside of the mag well and the +300 sits further yet. All three work and it comes down to preference.

Here are two Dawson extended base plates on the left. The top left is their +300 model and below it is the +200. My modified plate is in the magazine. The Dawson plates are CNC machined and fit perfectly. I like both.

Changing The Feed Lips

This step is slightly more involved than the baseplate. In this step we need to shorten the longer Para feed lips. Again, I was really happy they just needed to be shortened. I was expecting to need to change the angle but shortening them isn’t as bad as you may think.

This is where having an original RIA mag to compare to the Para mag was invaluable. I needed to remove the same amount of material from the front of both feed lips. After watching the pistol load the mag and feed dummy rounds as closely as I could, I decided to use my grinder to remove material in a straight line from the front top edge to where I wanted the new front of the feed lips to be.

Rather than measure and transcribe, I used a steel divider (compass) that was my grandfather’s. I like doing stuff like that when the occasion suits. A divider wants to spring open and a small thumbscrew allows you to adjust the gap between the two points. In the case of the feed lips, I could use it to duplicate the length of the feed lips to each new magazine I needed to cut down using the back of the feed lips as the reference point.

Adjust the divider so the points are at both ends of the RIA magazine’s feed lips. This makes it extremely easy to scribe the mark for where the feed lips will be trimmed to on the Para mags. Yeah, these dividers are old. They belonged to my grandfather, then my dad and now me. Using tools reminds me of projects with my dad and the importance of family.

I would then use a scribe with a carbide tip to etch the distance and a small steel rule served as a straight edge from which I scribed a line at an angle from the front top edge of the magazine tube back to the length I just scribed.

Two things – first you can see the line I will grind down to marked on the magazine body. Second, the scribe has a carbide tip that cuts right through the finish and makes a real easy line to see. The first scribe I tried had a hardened steel tip and it didn’t make a very clear line. The carbide tipped one bit right in and easily scored the finish. Get a carbide tipped scribe if you can. I tried varying the angle it didn’t seem to make a big difference. I tried to more closely follow the original edge of the magazine with latter magazines.

Everything above that line needed to be removed. Again, I used my big 2×72 belt sander, or “grinder” as knife makers call them. I squared my work table to the belt, used a 80 grit belt and removed the offending steel by carefully pushing my scribed line towards the belt in a parallel manner. In English, I sanded off the metal above the scribed line 😉 Any kind of sander would make short work of this but it will be way easier if it has a flat table that will enable to you feed the magazine towards the sanding belt or sanding disc in a controlled manner. I would not do it free hand – same goes with a file but I’ve also seen guys wield a pile of files to do work I only thought could be done by a mill so to each their own. By the way, take care not to overheat the lips when sanding.

This is my 2×72 Esteem grinder (belt sander) and it’s simply wicked. I bought it after my dad passed away and it whipped the extra material of the mags with speed and ease. Because the work platform is trued to the belt’s backing plate, I found I could trim the mags in one pass by putting the flat edge on the platform and feeding the magazine into the belt to remove material. I think it’s an 80-ish grit belt and it left a burred edge that definitely needed cleaning up. Note, these big grinders run cool due to the long belt and a variable speed drive that let’s me dial down the speed so I don’t burn the metal. You don’t want to hurt the heat treat so an easy gauge for novices is to not let your work piece get hotter than you can touch. You can let it air cool or have a dunk tank – just be sure to spray it with WD40 later to displace the water.

Slow down removing material as you get close to the line. Double check all of your measures and scribed lines. It is way easier to take more metal off than to remove too much.

With the coarse cut made, you need to go in and remove all of the burrs and round the sharp steel edges over. I used a specialty flap sander known as a “sanding mop” at 180 grit and then a rubber polishing cone in my Dremel.

I used a type of flap sander known as a sanding mop to do the initial deburring but you could use small files, stones, or whatever you are comfortable with. Here, I am using a rubber polishing bit to clean things up and ensure there are rounded edges on all of the newly trimmed steel.

Last, blow out the tub, wipe it out and clean the body too. You don’t want abrasive materials jamming up the magazine or the pistol. After that, reassemble the magazine and check the action of the follower and that everything seems ok.

After blowing out the tubes. I used a purpose built Arredondo HiCap Mag Brush to ensure the insides of the tubes were clean.

Las step was to function test the magazine with at least three dummy rounds. Four would be even better because you will test feed from both directions as the follower pushes the rounds up from the bottom of the magazine.

Feed Lip Measures

I measured the first few magazines I converted and they were fine so I stopped checking every mag unless I ran into a problem during function testing.

Feed LipRIA MagMGP164015BModified
Length0.482″0.599″0.436-.438″
Front Gap0.356″0.354″0.362-0.364″
Back Gap0.340″0.364″0.336-0.370″
Measures are approximates. I had one RIA mag and measured two MGP164015B mags and averaged the measures. The length was a challenge as I had to make a judgement call as to where the actual front part of the lip was at given the angle. The length was measured from the back forward. I measured three modified mags after fine tuning. Each mag was tuned until it reliably fed.

Fine Tuning

Trimming the lips gets you in the ballpark but more work needs to be done. Every magazine was deburred and had all top surfaces deburred and polished. The inside of the magazine was treated with Dupont Teflon. The feed lips were adjusted until four rounds fed reliably into my RIA 52009 10mm pistol. The final round was tested four times.

To tune the feed lips, use snap ring pliers or chandelier chain pliers to open the feed lips ever so slightly and test. In general, it does not take much. Your goal is to get the bullet pointed towards the chamber as much as possible. Go slow and test – it really does not take much to spread the lips and change the angle.

This fine tuning gets you in the ballpark – you then need to actually go to the range and shoot them to see if any final tuning is needed and then brings us up to the last topic – you need to number your mags so you can keep track of what mags are having problems so you can work on them.

Note: I purposefully fit the mags to use the supplied Mec-Gar followers that can lock the slide open. There are aftermarket Arredondo followers that are really nice and are angled to point the round more at the chamber. The downside is that they don’t lock the slide open – while a person in competition doesn’t need that, I do like to know when I fired the last round.

Click here to go to the section of our online store that has all of our current 1911/2011 magazines and related products.

Number Your Mags

A lot of feeding problems are actually caused by the magazine – notably the feed angle and that is controlled by the feed lips and the follower. The feed lips can get bent when they are dropped, sat on, or whatever. The follower is plastic and will wear over time – not fast, but it will wear.

You need to put a unique number on each magazine so you can track the ones that are having problems and need some tweaking. I’ve seen guys use engravers, paint pins and stickers. What you use is up to you. I’m currently using waterproof stickers on my mags.

I am using waterproof stickers to track my mags. You could use an engraver or paint pen. I find that permanent markers rub off way to easy. The paint pens are a bit better. The method that holds up best is an engraver if you are good enough at it.

Conclusion

I now have my original RIA magazines and a nice back up selection of mags for hunting, going to the range, bear protection, etc. How did they turn out? So far, so good at the bench. I expect most will do really well at the range as well and I am waiting for a chance to go.

Left is the original RIA mag, in the middle is a converted mag with a Dawson +200 base plate and the mag on the right is also a converted unit but with a +300 base plate.
This is the mag well on the high cap pistols. It’s big and I really like it but it really does mean that you need to have a longer baseplate and just a piece of metal like the Para P16 originally had. You can make your own by adding something to the Para plate or buy an extended plate such as the ones from Dawson Precision that I use.
Pistol with the original RIA mag fully inserted. It is almost flush with the bottom of the mag well.
This is the +200 Dawson base plate. It stick out far enough that I can firmly seat / smack / beat the mag into place if I need to. Not much to grab onto though but all of the mags easily drop free – at least during bench testing they do.
The .300 base plat stick out a tad further. Dawson’s number is the length in tenths of an inch – 0.100, 0.200 and 0.300. I ordered some 0.100 plates but they haven’t arrived yet. They will likely be very close to the polymer plate that RIA has on their mags.

I figure there must be guys like me who have one of the RIA high cap .40 or 10mm pistols who want spare mags and hope this will help them out.

After I worked out the process, I converted a bunch of mags for useClick here to go to the section of our online store that has all of our current 1911/2011 magazines and related products.

6/29/2021 Update: Folks, I have converted a ton of mags now so if you order, I want you to know I have the process working smoothly. My biggest problem right now is finding mags – everyone and their brother is sold out of mags – it’s crazy.

4/1/2021 Update: Added dimensions for the modified mags and info on fine tuning.

3/22/2021 Update: I took them to the range and they worked great with both Ammo Inc 180gr TMC ammo and a variety of Underwood HPs.


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.


PSA Has 10mm Range and Hollow Point Ammo In Stock!

FYI: Palmetto State Armory (PSA) has a fair amount of 10mm ammo in stock. The Ammo Inc brand 1q0mm ammo is getting good reviews. Click here or on the photo.

Are You Having A Hard Time Finding OEMP164015B FS A2 Rock Island 10mm Pistol Magazines?

Ok, so I wanted to get back into the high capacity 10mm 1911 game. Generically, these are often referred to as 2011 pistols. The first maker I know who used that label was STI back when they offered both 1911 single-stack and 2011 pistols. At some point, the Philippine firearms company Armscor entered the fray with higher capacity Rock Island Armor (RIA) models based on the Para design. Notice how I say “based on” because not everything interchanges. So with a bit of history, let’s skip forward to my 52009 pistol. It’s a nice solidly made pistol and you can usually say that for their pistols. However, I ran into a snag – there are no spare magazines anywhere in the US. I kid you not.

Folks, I seriously scoured the WWW for the magazine the high-cap RIA 10mms use — the FS A2 part # OEMP164015B. Nobody has them – not even the Armscor parts website or Gunbroker.

7/9/2021 Update: We released our third generation magazines for the RIA pistols today and we have plenty of them 🙂 Click here for the listing in our store.

Back when I had my 52000 Rock Ultra, you could get aftermarket ACT magazines that worked great and I bought a bunch. Unfortunately, when I sold my Rock Ultra, I sold the magazines. So, in trying to find mags for my new pistol, I literally visited probably 25-50 vendor web pages that were all out of stock. Argh!

Time to Research

I had the 52009 pistol inbound from Reed Sports – great group by the way, the threat of new gun control regulations and wanting more than one mag all were pushing me to find an alternative source of magazines. I read tons of forum posts, had to sort through a lot of useless data and came away with some important nuggets:

  1. The RIA pistols are based on the Para design so if you own one of the following 10mm models, read on:
    • 51994 TAC Ultra MS 10mm
    • 51914 TAC Ultra FS 10mm
    • 56862 TAC Ultra Threaded 10mm
    • 52000 PRO Match Ultra 6″ HC 10mm
    • 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC 10mm
  2. All RIA high capacity 10mm (and .40 S&W) pistols use the same magazines – the 1911 – FS – A2 series, part number OEMP164015B.
  3. ACT-Mag makes the OEMP164015B magazines for RIA.
  4. Mec-Gar, another magazine manufacturer, sells aftermarket Para P16 Magazines that are for both the .40 & 10mm – MGP164015B
  5. It seems like there were some older P16 magazines from Mec-Gar that had some problems and guys posting in blogs mentioned to look for the newer ones that are made in Italy.
  6. The Para P16 Mec-Gar magazine MGP164015B is not the same as the RIA OEMP164015B made by ACT-Mag — but boy is that numbering similar. It made me wonder about the design relationship – what changed?
  7. There were some very vague comments of guys modifying the P16 magazine to work in their RIA pistol.

My conclusion after a ton of reading: I was betting the P16 design was close to what I needed and hopefully I could make it work with some tinkering. It was time to order in some of the Mec-Gar P16 magazines and see just what the differences were.

The good news – there were a number of website with Mec-Gar MGP164015B Para P16 magazines in stock. I went ahead and ordered in some from Numrich Arms to do my experimenting.

Keep reading – it takes modification to get the mags to work. The P16 mags will not work in a RIA high cap without some changes. You can read to the bottom of this post or jump to the post with the modifications by clicking here.

Small Delays

The pandemic, winter weather and gun regulation fears have all created a bizarre environment to operate in these days. For me and Ronin’s Grips, we’ve been crazy busy for a number of months and that is why you haven’t seen me post much – I haven’t had the time to tinker or write!

In terms of this project, Winter weather in Memphis screwed up all FedEx over night shipments for almost two weeks. Then when the pistol arrived, there was no magazine in the case. I found Armscor to be completely unresponsive for whatever reason whereas Reed Sports got a hold of their new Armscor rep and were able to get me one magazine. Kudos to Reed Sportsthey are a big seller on Gunbroker in addition to their own stores – I would do business with them again and certainly recommend them as well.

Numrich was fast to ship – I had their mags even before the pistol arrived. I did try one out of the box and it absolutely would not feed. The bullet wasn’t remotely pointing at the chamber if would smash into the feed ramp or shoot up at a 45 degree angle and get seriously stuck. I couldn’t do anything until the RIA OEMP164015B magazine arrived.

Do You Really Care About The Finish?

If you are striking out on the blued version of the magazine – MGP164015B – and don’t care about the finish, you do have another option – there is a nickel version that is identical other than the finish and its part number is MGP164015N. Note how all that changes is the last character of the part number from “B” for blue to “N” for nickel.

I don’t know about you but if I needed a spare mag and my choices were no mag or shiny nickel, I’d rather have a spare mag! You could either just live with it or refinish it. Seriously, I’d opt for anything other than just having one mag.

One other option is to get a 10 round version of the magazine. What Mec-Gar did for those was to use a press to press in dimples that prevent the follower from going down all the way. You can drill out those dimples and the magazines will then hold their full capacity.

Safety Comment

I knew I was going to need to do a ton of cycling of rounds. Using live ammo is risky because you have the very real risk of a negligent discharge. To avoid this, order yourself in a bunch of dummy cartridges. There are sellers on eBay that will sell you 10+ at time. Order yourself in 10-20 rounds. You are going to smash the crap out of them due to the heavy recoil spring a 10mm uses. I trashed at least 10-15 of them. Most were due to the bullet being smashed back into the case, one dented the case pretty bad and one deformed the case right at the mouth.

I can’t even guess how many cycles I did – especially starting out. I’m going to hazard a guess and say I averaged about three cycles per dummy before something failed on the dummy as I worked out the kinks and I would load three rounds per magazine to do the testing.

I can’t stress it enough – get dummies to tune your magazines. If you can find them, get the 10mm A-Zoom Snap Caps – they last way longer. The dummies get their bullets smashed back into the case sooner or later.

Next Post – Making the Modifications

In the next post, I’ll go through the details and what you need to do to modify the Para P16 mags to work – yeah, I let that surprise out. They do work but you need to alter them. Click here for the next post.

By the way, if you go to buy the Mec-Gar Para 16 mags, make sure the vendor has them in stock or you are comfortable with how long they say you will need to wait.

After I worked out the process, I converted a bunch of mags for use on the RIA 10mm pistols. Click here to go to the section of our online store that has all of our current 1911/2011 magazines and related products.

7/9/2021: We released our third generation magazines for the RIA pistols today and we have plenty of them 🙂 Click here for the listing in our store.

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.