Tag Archives: 1911

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.



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. Depending on your pistol once you get somewhere around .320″, 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 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.

We do have a new post about how to load our v2 9mm magazines to get reliable feeding. Click here for it.

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 Re-Assemble A 1911 or 2011 Full Length Guide Rod, Spring and Reverse Plug Using A Small Engine Valve Compressor

If you’re reading this then I am assuming you know how much a bear it is to re-assemble the full length guide rod, spring and reverse plug group that many 1911 and 2011 pistols are using. When a takedown paper clip or pin slips during disassembly or re-assembly of the pistol, life gets interesting fast.

Well, if you want to get into an argument with a 1911 guru, ask if the full length guide rods make a difference. The answer tends to be “no” and I am not arguing for them. What I am finding is that bull barrel 10mm pistol makers as of late aren’t using bushings – the slide and barrel mate together directly and the guide rod assembly is captured in the slide, not by the bushing.

This is a Desert Eagle 10mm by Bul Armory with a full length guide rod (the solid circle in the middle).
Rock Island Ultra FS HC – also with a full length guide rod. The silver circle is the end of the guide rod.

To disassemble these types of pistols, you usually need to insert a pin in the guide rod to capture the reverse plug. Some guys bend a paper clip. I got so annoyed by how tacky that looked that I had a ton of takedown pins made from 1mm stainless wire [click here to go to our website].

With the slide locked open, you insert the pin in the hole machined for this purposed, release the slide and move it forward against the pin. I’d recommend against letting the plug slam forward into the pin as it isn’t going to do either piece of steel any favors over time. That’s our takedown pin by the way.
Once the pin has limited the travel of the reverse plug and basically stopped the spring from applying pressure, takedown is a breeze.
With the tension removed, it all comes apart real nice in theory.
Boy, that sure is nice and neat isn’t it?

And Then Reality Hits

Folks, there are a million and one reasons why that pin can get knocked out of the hole and the reverse plus is going to come flying off at the speed of light. This kind of stuff happens to me way more than I care to admit. I can’t tell you how many parts I have lost control of and heard a faint “tick” sound as said part lands on the other side of my shop never to be seen again. Well, that’s not exact true, I did find an AR buffer detent in the tool caddy of my ShopVac last week. I vaguely remember losing one at point.

Big word of advice, if you are working on a spring loaded part, do it in a place were you can find the parts if you lose control. Yeah, you may be laughing now but wait until you hear that “tick” sound of a part landing on the other side of a congested (fancy way of saying “messy”) shop.

In my case, I haven’t launched the reverse plug yet but I did release the tension to see how it was made. Ok, big mistake. The recoil springs for a 10mm start at 16 pounds and are more likely to be 20-24 pounds. With my carpal tunnel, I could not compress the spring enough to reinsert the pin. I had a serious WTF do I do moment? Under no circumstance was I going to ask my wife to come help me 🙂 A second set of hands would have done the trick for sure but I needed to figure out a quick and dirty way to do it myself.

This is the full length guide rod, reverse tube and spring from by Desert Eagle 10mm 1911.

In this case, I carefully inserted the parts in a bench vise and very carefully compressed them until I could get the pin back in. I was really nervous because if either the plug or the rod shifted, I was going to launch parts. It worked, but there had to be a better way.

Solution: Use A Small Engine Valve Compressor

I’ve read, watched and worked on a ton of stuff over the years. I knew there were valve spring compressors for small engines that might work perfect for this so I did some research. The Stens 750-174 looked like it would work perfect and it did.

Here is my new Stens 750-174 that worked perfectly You can adjust the width of the tips and the big screw allows you to very easily compress the spring.
With the two little thumbscrews you can independently adjust the width of the holders.
There’s a trick to getting started – first rotate your guide rod so you will have access to the pin hole once the plug is compressed past it. Now what I did was to start with the base inserted in the tool and it was resting on the table. I then inserted the reverse plug, pushed down and tipped/pivoted the assembly into place so the other tip could grab the plug.
So I adjusted one tend to hold the base of the guide rod and the other to cradle the reverse plug and turned the big crank to compress the spring, reinserted the pin – done!

Conclusion

If you have a pistol with a full length guide rod for whatever reason, I would honestly recommend our takedown pin and also keep a Stens 750-174 spring compressor around if you may need to put it back together solo.


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.




Range Report For The Desert Eagle 1911, RIA Rock Ultra FS HC, and Springfield Armory 6″ TRP Operator 10mm Pistols

Well folks, at one point I had three 1911-style 10mm pistols. A Magnum Research Desert Eagle (model DE1911G10), a Rock Island Armory (RIA) Rock Ultra FS HC (model 52009) and a Springfield Armory TRP Operator (model PC9610L18). While I like the 10mm cartridge, I didn’t really need three pistols so I decided to take them to the range to decide what I would keep and what I would sell.

The Ammo

I took with me about 200 rounds of Ammo Inc’s 180gr TMC load that I had purchased from Palmetto State Armory during one of their daily deals. TMC stands for “total metal case” – meaning the lead is fully encapsulated by the copper jacket. With full metal jacket (FMC) ammo, the base often has the lead core exposed. Ammo Inc is interesting in that they decided to go the public company route and we’ll have to wait and see how they fare when the panic buying dies down.

I also took about 200 rounds of Sellier & Bellot (S&B) 180gr FMJ ammo as well. It’s been my “go to ” 100 range ammo for years. If you don’t know S&B, they are an excellent ammunition producer located in the Czech Republic dating back to 1825.

That is some of the Ammo Inc 180gr TMC ammo in the bag and S&B 180gr FMJ in the tray.

To round out the test ammo, I took some Underwood 155gr XTP and 200gr XTP jacketed hollow points (JHP). I only had about 50 rounds of this and I wanted to save it for the final round of testing.

For the past six months, finding ammo has been a bear but suppliers are starting to build up inventory. Judging by my inbox, more and more emails are being sent saying “we have ammo in stock” and even a few sales. These tend to come shortly before prices start to drop based on past panic buying ammo shortages [click here for my blog post on the economics of ammo during a panic].

The Range

It was a beautiful March day when I arrived at the Berrien County Sportsman’s Club to use the pistol plate range. The plates are about 30-35′ feet back from the firing line and I had it all to myself.

BCSC is my favorite range hands down and I have been a member there for many years. Definitely a cool place for a variety of sportsman and family activities.

The 10″ steel plates are located about 30-35 feet from the firing line. I really enjoy these for testing pistols. Note the pull cord to reset the plates.

First, the 6″ TRP Operator

As I have written in the past, the TRP Operator was not reliable out of the box and this was a do or die outing for the pistol in terms of whether I would keep or sell it. The TRP Operator is basically a 6″ 1911 and the marketing would lead you to expect that it would have been stunning out of the box but it wasn’t to be perfectly blunt.

Thankfully, after work both myself and Springfield Armory’s repair groups did, it finally handled the way it should have when I first got it. This time around, functioning was reliable and the recoil was handled nicely by the heavy pistol with it’s 6″ bull barrel.

The TRP put in a good showing this time around. All the kinks had been worked out and it ran great.

I was able to fire round after round at the plates at 30-35 feet and hit them. I really wasn’t shooting for benchrest accuracy – just shooting at plates to decide what to do.

Honestly, I had a take-it-or-leave it mentality on front serrations on a slide until I got into 10mm 1911s. Their recoil spring is stout. All of a sudden, those front serrations are really handy. My RIA 52009 does not have them and is way harder for me to hold when racking the slide from the front that the TRP or the Bul.
I was running both Wilson Combat ,and Tripp Cobra mags in both the TRP and the Bul. Both brands are excellent. You can see a Cobra 9-round magazine peaking out of the mag well in this photo. Their beveled base plate is an immediate give away.

In summary for the TRP, it ran just fine but it did nothing to wow me.

Next – The Magnum Research Desert Eagle (model DE1911G10) by Bul Armory

Okay, next up on the testing list for the first time was my new Desert Eagle 10mm that is actually made by Bul Armory of Israel. Out of the box it had the best trigger of any 1911 I have owned and the action was very smooth.

Now I have written about this particular pistol going to the range before – it’s just that I am finally sitting down to write this bigger post about all three pistols just under two months after the range trip. Here are a few pictures for you:

Here’s the Bul with some of the Ammo Inc 180gr TMC ammo and a collection of Wilson and Cobra mags – it ran through everything I brought including the Underwood JHPs with no problems.

Here’s the 6″ TRP on top and the 5″ Bul on the bottom. Those front slide serrations make racking their slides a lot easier.

Let me sum it up and say – I really, really like this pistol. It functioned flawlessly and felt great. With the TRP, I was not impressed by the time it finally worked right. The Bul’s performance was nothing short of fantastic.

Last But Not Least: The Rock Island Armory (RIA) Rock Ultra FS HC (model 52009)

This was the first trip for the RIA Rock Ultra FS HC – let’s just call it the 52009. I wrote a blog post about my first takes and things were looking good so far. At any rate, I knew with the RIA pistols that you needed to clean and lube them plus I slightly beveled the chamber edges and polished the ramp.

I was really curious to see how it would function not only in general but also with the new magazines I was making for them. I also wanted a higher capacity 10mm 1911 if possible so there was a lot riding on the trip.

It looks familiar until you notice the really thick pistol grip and the big mag well funnel.
The 52009 is the bottom pistol and the TRP is the top right. You can see the collection of custom mags I was testing – what you don’t see is that their mag lips are different lengths. I actually found the 52009 very tolerant of different lengths – reliable feeding was a function of how spread open the lips were to point the cartridge towards the chamber. See the magazine laying with it’s back up in the top row? The magazine to the right was the only original RIA ACT-Mag I had to base my work on the shop.
See how short the lips are? By adjusting the lips, it fed surprisingly fine. I have one mag with even shorter lips and it worked.
The stock of 10mm Ammo Inc rounds was dwindling. Let me tell you something – the Mag-Lula universal pistol magazine filler is worth its weight in gold. I really can’t tell you how many 8, 9 and 10 round mags I filled (and emptied) shooting the TRP and Bul pistols but by the time I got to the 52009, my hands were aching thanks to my carpal tunnel issues. By the way, two months later and that loading “finger” you see in the Mag-Lula is now brass colored from all of the magazine test fitting I have done 🙂

To sum up the 52009 – it was starting to wear in and felt surprisingly good. I sure missed having the front serrations on the slide because by the end my hands were starting to ache and my ability to squeeze hard enough to hold the slide and rack it was dwindling.

Once I identified the good mags and problem mags and focused my efforts, it ran great. I was quite pleased with it and I can tell you now that I have cycled it thousands of times fitting magazines, it is quite smooth. The 52009 and RIA 1911/2011 pistols in general are really good examples of parts need to wear in, or get to know each other, to get rid of tiny burrs/imperfections left over from manufacturing.

Would I buy it again? Yes. Was it my first choice? No, actually it wasn’t. I really wanted a high cap 5″ pistol styled after one of their Tac or Tac Ultra pistols that has the forward serrations and a Picatinny rail on the bottom of the frame. The reason being is that they are lighter and more compact than the 6″ Big Rock that I had years ago. Their 56862 model has a 5.5″ threaded barrel (hence the extra half inch) that I would have preferred but with the panic buying, it is impossible to find. Who knows – I may find one some day.

In the mean time, my only wish was that the 52009 hand front serrations – other than that it is a solid pistol.

Final Decision

As you can probably guess, the TRP Operator was voted off the island and my friend, and FFL, Scott Igert sold it for me. I felt pretty good about the decision too.

What’s interesting is that if you go to the Springfield Armory website today – the 10mm TRP Operator is gone. It could be that the demand just wasn’t there. I talked to a fellow at Dawson Precision awhile back about Stacattos (STI changed their name a few months back) and if they had any 10mm pistols because they used to have a number of models including the “Perfect 10.”) At any rate, he told me the demand just isn’t there – everyone is going for the 9mms these days. That might be the case for Springfield though I notice they are offering their Ronin model in 10mm.

TRP at the top, 52009 in the middle and the Bul is at the bottom.
Bul on the left and the 52009 on the right. Note how the 52009 has an ambidextrous safety and the Bul does not. Since I am right handed, I really don’t use the safety on the other side. Some guys train to shoot with both hands just in case their right hand injured and use the safety on both sides as a result so I can understand why it is a feature that some folks want.

That’s it for now. I hope you found this post useful.


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.



Concealment Express’ 1911 IWB Kydex Holster Is Nice!

Ok folks, I want to be up front about concealed carrying a full size 1911 – in my case a Desert Eagle 1911 in 10mm (DE1911G10) made Bul Armory in Israel. You will never wonder “Did I remember to put my pistol on?” Why? Because it weights 2 pounds 15 oz with 9 rounds of 155gr Underwood HP ammo and no holster is why. There’s no wondering because you can feel the weight and the big pistol pushing into your side.

With that said though, I do like and trust the 1911 design and the 10mm Desert Eagle 1911 has operated flawlessly since I bought it. Seriously, it is a remarkable pistol. Since I do have a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), I wanted a couple of carry options and started with an inside the waistband (IWB) holster.

After doing a bit of digging on affordable options, I bought a Kydex IWB holster made by Concealment Express off Amazon (I’ve since found that if you sign up for their newsletter from their website they will email you a 10% off coupon code for “joining the club” plus they do have good sales from time to time so you ought to check them out). To cut to the chase, I really like it and want to share some information with you about the holster.

Concealment Express is located in Jacksonville, FL, and makes their own holster. What I think makes them different is that they CNC machine their own aluminum molds so this lets them really pay attention to the details of the firearm and dial in their process for making them.

I used to make Kydex holsters but it was more of a artisan craft approach vs. cranking them out in a manufacturing setting. The reason I mention this is that I like their designs and their attention to detail.

First off, look at the very clean lines of the holster. Both exterior edges and details of the molding are very crisp and distinct.
The clip is made from ABS plastic, will fit up to a 1.5″ tall belt and the cant (the angle of draw) is adjustable from -5 to 20 degrees allowing for you to adjust it to your preferred carry and draw style. I am right handed and use same-side (strong-side) holsters so this is their right hand carry model – they can make left hand models as well.

Boltatron

Kydex is a brand name of thermal plastic that can be heated and shaped. It’s also become a bit of a catch-all term for plastic holders but there are differences including holsters that are actually injection molded.

In the case of this holster, the material is a 0.80″ thick thermal plastic known as “Boltaron” and it has some cool characteristics. Kydex can get brittle when cold and may crack when dropped plus in high heat (for example, when a hot barrel gets inserted into the holster), Kydex might soften and deform. Boltaron does not get brittle when cold and doesn’t form/deform until a higher temperature.

Boltaron has many colors and textures. This is their carbon fiber texture and just to be clear – it’s still the thermal plastic and not carbon fiber. By the way, the white specs are dust on the holster just to be clear. Also, note how corners and edges are rounded.

Safety Details

Okay, when I carry a 1911, it is locked and loaded – there is a round in the chamber and the hammer is cocked. Now the 1911 design has two safeties and I really need to rely on them when I have a loaded 10mm in my pants – yes, I can think of a lot of jokes with that comment too but am not going there 🙂 It has the grip safety and a thumb safety just under the rear of the slide.

These are the two safety mechanisms on a 1911. The most important safety mechanism is you – always remember that.

There’s not much you can do to safeguard the grip safety but I really prefer to have something protecting the the thumb safety to keep it from accidentally getting switched from safe to fire. Concealment Express designed their holster to safeguard the thumb safety.

Note how the Boltaron covers the thumb safety and reduces the odds of it accidentally getting switched off. A nice perk of the Bul design is that it has the traditional single side safety and is not ambidextrous. In many 1911s, there is a thumb catch control on the opposite side as well that could still get accidentally snagged but at least it is not right against your body with you moving up and down right against the safety.
You can see from the rear how the thumb safety is shielded.

Adjustments

They designed in two things you can adjust – the cant of the belt clip and they also have two screws that you can use to adjust the tension to make the pistol easier or harder to draw. When you tighten down the screws, the tension increases by drawing the two sides of the holster together. When you loosen the screws, the Boltaron wants to open back up and it becomes easier to draw the pistol.

You can adjust the cant (angle of carry) and the tension that is holding the pistol in the holster.
In case you are wondering how it works, the holster is formed formed on a mold under a vacuum. There is a filler that keeps the bottom edges of the holster open. The holes are drilled for the tensioning screws and the magic happens thanks to the two thick rubber washers. They compress when you tighten down the screws thus drawing the sides together and increasing tension. You can make it too tight such that the pistol can’t be drawn or holstered by the way so experiment with what works for you.

One important comment – always apply thread locker or the screws will slowly loosen over time. You can assemble with a blue medium strength compound like Blue Loctite or you can use a wicking medium-strength formula that is very then and is drawn back into the threads via capillary action. Never use red or permanent thread locker – those require heat to be removed and heat is not something you really want around thermal formed plastics.

What 1911s Does It Fit?

Concealment Express says it will fit most 5″ Government model 1911s that do not have rails. This would include models such as my Magnum Research /Bul Armory DE1911G10 as well as models from Colt, KImber, Ruger and Springfield.

As an aside, it does not fit my RIA 52009 for example – that is 16-round Para-inspired design that is more like a 2011 with a much wider grip. If I heated the holster up at the top with a heat gun and made it wider at the top, I could probably get it to work. I just point that out for folks wondering if this would work with one of the bigger 2011-style frames.

Conclusion

Plain and simple, the Concealment Express 1911 Government IWB holster is a perfectly decent holster. It’s built nicely and is easy to carry (albeit with a heavy pistol). “Is that a 1911 in your pants or are you just happy to see me?” springs to mind 🙂 At any rate, I’d recommend and will continue to use it myself when I do carry this big pistol.

Concealment Express Makes Many Holster Models

I’m impressed by their approach and plan to buy one for my Glock 29 Gen 4 and will report back on my experiences. Click on the following ad to go to their website:


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.