Tag Archives: 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.


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

This post was updated April 27, 2022

I’m a fan of Armscor’s Rock Island Armory (RIA) 2011-style pistols – the A2 HC series. They took the ParaOrdnance design of the 1911 that uses a staggered magazine to hold more ammo and made it their own. In a staggered design, the rounds offset left and right but come up to a common single feeding point at the top of the magazine. This enables round counts that are almost double the original single stack design but requires a fatter grip to hold these thicker magazines.

This is my 51679 with the original 17 round mag on the left. Note the wedge shaped base plate – it’s what enables one more round. To the right is a nickel finished Mec-Gar P18 magazine with a Dawson +200 base plate. By the way, we don’t have any spare limited P18 mags – they all had their dimples removed.

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

All of our mags are tested for 9mm Luger / Parabellum / 9×19. At this time we do not have a way to test .38 Super or .22 TCM. .22 TCM requires shorter feed lips so I know the P18 mags will not work.

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

We have two magazine offerings. One that is ready today based on P18 mags with limited availability and a second (we call it the second generation) that is based on P16 that I can readily get. They should work in any 9mm RIA pistol that uses RIA magazine 54180 or 54180B.

Option 1: Mec-Gar 9mm/.38 Super P18 Based Magazines

The first new mag is based on the Para P18 magazine that Mec-Gar offers. On one hand these are ready to go for 9mm and .38 Super but on the other they are a bear to find.

Okay, so you can see a RIA frame there on the left, the pistol on the right is the 51678 Tac Ultra and the magazine is a Mec-Gar P18 magazine with the original follower, spring and a Dawson +200 base plate. Note this magazine does not have a window in the magazine body.

With the P18 magazines, the feed lips are long and work fine for 9mm and .38 Super but they will not feed .22 TCM just so you know. We do remove the dimples (which is why there are windows in the mags) so they can hold 15 rounds, add a ceramic dry lubricant inside the magazine and Dawson base plates. I really like Dawson’s plates – they lock in place and work very well.

Close up view of the P18 feed lips.

Please note that these are 15 round magazines due to the base plate. If you want 17 rounds, then you could order a RIA A2 base plate from Greg Cote LLC or elsewhere or you could get one of the aftermarket P18 magazine extensions from Taylor or Arredondo – both will require fitting.

We do retain the Mec-Gar factory spring and follower. By doing this, the slide can still lock open on empty.

That top right edge of the black follower is the “shelf” that comes up as rounds are fed and when the magazine is empty, it is high enough to then lift the slide lock lever and lock the slide open.

So, we do have these magazines on the website for sale right now. Click here for the 9mm magazine section of our store.

Again, I could only find a few of these mags so I needed to come up with another plan as well and that involves modifying P16 mags.

Modified P16 Magazines

While the P18 mags are virtually impossible to track down right now (I bought every one I could find), I can readily source P16 magazines for 10mm and .40 S&W – notably the ones with 10 round limits. These require a fair amount of modification to work in the 9mm RIA pistols and we are doing the heavy lifting to make the P16 tubes work. We remove the dimples to allow for 15 rounds and create the “windows” plus we modify the feed lips to properly handle 9mm rounds. As a last step, we apply a ceramic dry lubricant inside the tube to aid with feeding.

The original magazine supplied by RIA is in the pistol. Three P16 derived mags are to the left and you can see the windows cut in their sides.

To improve the feeding we custom modifying the followers and retaining the existing spring. This enables the magazines to lock open on empty as shooters are accustomed to. For people wanting competition followers that do not lock open, we offer Arredondo spring and follower combinations.

A second generation 9mm mag is on the top right. The long spring and blue follower assembly are the Arredondo units. The short spring and black follower are what Mec-Gar used originally.
Look at the black follower on the right – see how there is a black plastic shelf molded into the follower just above the top left edge of the magazine body? That is what lifts the slide stop lever up and locks the slide open. The blue Arredondo follower was made for competition and it does not have that shelf – in fact, the follower dips down to purposefully not lock the slide open.

As with the P18 mags, these P16-based mags will hold 15 rounds. If you want 17 rounds, then you could order a RIA A2 base plate from Greg Cote LLC or elsewhere or you could get one of the P18 magazine extensions.

These magazines are ready. The only difference between the second generation windowed mag and the P18 magazine are the windows, the tube is stamped “P16-.40” on the side so we add a “9mm” label on the bottom and the second generation mags come with the Arredondo spring and follower. Like I said though, once I am out of the P18 mags then the only ones I will have to sell are the second generation P16 mags.

Options

With both magazine offerings you now have options when it comes to the base plate and for the P18 mag, whether you want to upgrade to the Arredondo spring and follower or not.

Conclusion

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

Please email me if you have any questions or suggestions.


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

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


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.


Introducing Our New Third Generation 16 Round 10mm Magazines for Rock Island Armory High Capacity FS A2 Pistols

This is our third generation of magazine for the Rock Island High Capacity FS A2 10mm and .40 S&W pistols that use the 16 round magazines – not the single stack 7-8 round mags.

This is one of the new mags. You can see a dummy 10mm round poking out from during testing.

These are converted Mec-Gar Para P14-45 magazines that have the feedlips adjusted and fine tuned to properly retain and feed 10mm rounds.  Note, a normal P14 mag can’t securely retain a 10mm round.  These tuned mags will only work with 10mm and .40 S&W.  They will not work on any other calibers or in a pistol that requires P14 mags.

To properly retain a 10mm round, the feed lips must be properly spaced plus this must be done correctly or the feed angle will be wrong.

The adjustment process and tooling took some work because Mec-Gar uses surprisingly resilient hardened steel magazine bodies and feed lips.  I had to develop a means to convert the magazines using a forming jig I developed.

Here’s a closer look at the mag lips. The finish wear is from the adjustment process.

Compatibility

These custom mags should work with RIA pistols that use the OEMP164015B magazine including the following pistols:

  • 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 – note, I tune for 10mm as I don’t have a .40 so some minor adjustments might be needed.

Observations

Based on my past experience and some research, there are some really cool benefits from the new Mec-Gar P14 design:

  • Hardened steel bodies and feed lips will hold up very well with extreme use
  • Mec-Gar developed an anti-friction coating that aids in feeding
  • The magazine spring is made from type “D” music wire and holds up nicely
  • They developed a polymer base plate that fits very nicely in the large RIA mag well funnels
  • The slightly taller magazine body clears the RIA mag-well funnel very easily.  It’s longer than our previous generations of magazines and is even slightly longer than the original RIA/Act-Mag magazine
  • The magazine’s capacity is 16 rounds of 10mm. I was able to get 17 rounds in during testing but I feel that last round is just too tight. Thus, I am listing it as 16 rounds.

The polymer base plates work very nicely with the RIA pistols. You don’t need to change them unless you prefer longer plates. We do sell Dawson base plates if you wish to have one that extends further than the included Mec-Gar plate – The Dawson +100 plate is about the same height so if you do want the mags to be taller, you’d need either a +200 or +300 to see a difference. Please click here if you are interested in the Dawson plates.

These are all P14 mag bodies but with the different base plates installed so you can see the difference in thicknesses. The plates just change how tall the magazine is – they do not add capacity.
The OEM Mec-Gar base plate fits the RIA mag well funnel just fine. I set aside four mags for myself and am using the original base plate for them.

The Mec-Gar spring seems pretty robust.  If you want an even stiffer spring, we do sell Wolff magazine springs that are 10% stronger than the originals.  Please click here if you are interested.

The top mag is the Wolff +10% model. The middle is an OEM Mec-Gar without the floor plate and follower and the bottom is one with the floor plate and follower. Note, the Wolff Spring does require bending at the top to properly hold the follower.

After the mag lips are tuned, each magazine is tested in both my 10mm RIA 52009 Rock Ultra FS HC and 10mm 56862 Tac Ultra pistols to ensure proper fit and feeding.  You may find some final tuning is needed on your particular pistol and it is easy to do – please click here for more information.

This is my 56862. You can see one of the new mags peaking out of the bottom of the big flared mag well.
Here, one of the new magazines is in my 52009 that is locked open.

One small detail, since these were originally for .45 rounds, the mag round indicator counts doesn’t match since you will be loading either 10mm or .40 – usually you have one or two more rounds of 10mm/.40 compared to what the round count hole label says.

These holes were calibrated to .45 ACP rounds so the slightly thinner 10mm / .40 rounds don’t quite match up. You can fit 16 rounds of 10mm in here – not just 14.
Ok, this is pretty interesting. The magazine that Rock Island ships with the high cap pistols is made by Act-Mag and is in the middle. Notice that the original Mec-Gar P16 is a bit shorter and the P14 is just a tad taller. For anyone who found our earlier mags to be a tight fit, I’d bet the new ones will fit a lot better.

Conclusion

I feel like we’ve come a long way since the first P16 conversions. This mag is solid and comes in at a far more affordable price point than the P16s that needed the Dawson base plates also.

Click here to order if you are interested!


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.



We Now Have Windowed 15 Round .40/10mm Magazines for Rock Island Armory High Cap FS A2 Pistols

I’ve written in the past how I have a new RIA 52009 High Cap 10mm and it’s virtually impossible to find the original OEMP164015B mags right now. Seizing on this business opportunity, I started converting Mec-Gar MGP164015B for use in the RIA double stack/staggered .40 & 10mm pistols (they share the same magazine). Things were going great until all sources of the Mec-Gar MGP164015B dried up too (thank you panic buying). So what to do?

1/21/2022 we once again have the 15 round windowed mags in stock. We also have10 and 16 round models available – click here to visit our website.

I started digging and found out that the Mec-Gar MGP164010B is the exact same magazine except Mec-Gar used a hydraulic press to form dimples in the tube to stop the follower at 10 rounds for folks with Para 16 pistols in areas that had a 10-round limit.

I brought in a bunch of the 10 round mags and converted them for use in the RIA pistols. Then, the supply of the MGP164015B mags dried up and I decided to figure out how to convert the MGP164010B magazines for use in 16 round RIA .40 and 10mm pistols.

To make a long story short, you drill out the dimples, remove the burrs from the inside of the tube and then sand it down. That’s why the mags have 3/8″ windows drilled in them. The fact the magazine bodies were tempered steel definitely made life interesting when it came to the drilling and deburring operations.

Here’s a Mec-Gar 20 round magazine that is about to get the dimple drilled out. I made the jig to securely hold the magazines during the drilling operations.
Folks, I have gone through a ton of dummy rounds prototyping and now testing the magazines. I also use a MagLula to help me load every magazine and with 15 rounds. I am testing that the load and feed smoothly. If they do not then that would tell me something needs more work in the tube.

Bottom line, I was able to make more of the RIA high cap (HC) 15 round magazines. They all have a Teflon dry lube internally and Dawson Precision +100 black base plates. These are really nice and extend just a hair below the funnel allowing you to positively seat the magazine in the weapon.

The Dawson +100 base plate fits very nicely. They make other lengths that you can buy directly from them if you are interested.
Here’s one side.|
Here’s the other side.
Here’s a close up of the top nose.
Here’s a close up of the Dawson +100 base plate. Note, these are Para magazine style base plates.

In Conclusion

Now you know why we have windowed magazines for sale (I had to drill out the dimples). If you are interested, click here to go to our online store and you can see what magazines we have in stock right now.

1/21/2022: We once again have the 15 round windowed mags in stock. We also have10 and 16 round models available – click here to visit our 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.



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.