Tag Archives: 9mm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about feed lip length?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, the lips have a memory

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

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

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

What about left and right bends to the feed lips?

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

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

What about the follower?

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

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

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

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

How about the spring?

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

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

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

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

What about lubricant?

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

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

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

Number your magazines

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

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

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

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

I’m still learning

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


My Adventures With Rock Island Armory 9mm Extractors

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

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

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

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

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

The Initial Magazine Prototyping Didn’t Make Sense

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

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

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

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

Testing The First Pistol

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

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

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

No, I’m Not Incredibly Patient

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

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

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

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

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

Metal Injection Molding For Extractors Isn’t The Best Choice

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

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

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

I Decided To Replace the Extractor Myself

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Tools

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

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

Polish the Extractor

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

How to Install

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

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

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

More Details

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

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

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

Adjusting The Extractor Landing Pad

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

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

Was The Match Pistol Higher End?

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stunningly Good 1911 Reference Book Recommendation

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

I hope this post helps you out!


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

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



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.


The PSA AK-V Pistols and Carbines Are Good To Go

I’ve had a few guys ask me about my experience with the Palmetto State Armory AK-V and if I thought it was worth it. Well, I bought mine on July 20, 2019 and it was solid right out of the box. Although I did do a bunch of customizations, none of those changes were to improve reliability – they were all cosmetic.

An AK-V is basically an AK that has a blow back operating system to handle the little 9×19 (or 9mm Luger) cartridge. They did have some initial problems with the design such as cartridges getting stuck under the dust cover, they had fixed them by the time I bought mine.

This is my AK-V right out of the box still sporting the Magpul MOE grip, handguard and SBA-3 brace.

The biggest problem I had was finding one. There were a bunch of us watching the PSA website trying to snag any model we could. Finally, on July 1, 2019, I snagged one of their MOE SBA3 models and proceeded to change it to my liking – first with an SBA4 brace and then to look more like a Vintorez. [Click here for a listing of all of my posts on the AK-V].

This was my AK-V after my first round of modifications – I move to the stiffer SBA-4 brace, added one of our quick takedown rings so I could get the dust cover out of the way when cleaning the pistol and one of the Vortex Crossfire red dots.
This is my current confiruation – a CNC Warrior/Bonesteel Arms side folding brace (they are way beefier than the side folding triangles PSA sells), K-Var handguards and one of our Molot Gen 2 grips.

To be very clear, I bought it so I can saw whatever I want about my experience.

I really had fun with the little braced pistol and found it reliable, accurate and just an all around fun little gun to shoot. The good news is that for people looking for AK-Vs now, PSA production has finally caught up and you can hop right over to their website and buy one.

I do want to give you a tip for breaking in the AK-V before your first range trip:

  1. Field strip the rifle
  2. Clean the bore and make sure the action doesn’t have any junk in it.
  3. Oil the fire control group
  4. Use a light grease on the frame rails, where the bolt goes into the bolt carrier and on the bottom. You can switch to oil but the grease really helps lubricate things druing the wear in period — If you are in cold weather, say below 30F, then use oil as the grease will be too thick.
  5. Reassemble the AK-V
  6. Without a magazine in the AK-V, rack the slide (meaning move it back and forth) a couple hundred times to help the wear in process get started. You do not need to use anything abrasive to wear things in – I’ve heard of folks using valve compound to accelerate wear in but it’s just not needed 99.9% of the time.
  7. I would also recommend using a stout/strong/stiff load initially. Rather than 115gr FMJ ball ammo, I will use 124gr FMJ as it generates more of a recoil impulse. I use 124gr Sellier & Bellot (S&B) FMJ 9mm a lot for this.
  8. After a few hundred rounds you can shoot anything you want and it will cycle.

I kid, you not, this can make a world of difference when you go to the range the first time. What I find frequently happens is that a new gun owner gets excited and takes his/her brand new purchase right out of the box at the range, loads it and then gets upset at the weapon and labels it as an unreliable POS, which isn’t fair. I always tell new owners to do the above for any semi-automatic firearm.

Another view
Here it is with the brace folded. I would have preferred a left-folding brace but CNC Warrior was sold ouut so I opted for the rifle-folding model. Regardless of the model, this is the best in class folding triangle brace and I highly recommend it.

So, with that said, get an AK-V, do the above to break it in and have fun. There is a huge parts aftermarket for the AK rifles and pistol and I am sure you’ll enjoy 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.


The Bond Roughneck Derringer – Bigger Than I Assumed

Folks, I have a legal concealed carry permit . My normal carry pistol is a SIG P365. It is quite a bit of firepower in a compact package with magazines that can carry 10, 12 or even 15 rounds. The challenges are two fold – it is still relatively large and heavy. Sure, compared to a full size 1911 or Glock 17/1 9 it is smaller but I have been wanting an even smaller pistol that could slide in my pant pocket and not weigh as much. So, when Palmettos State Armory had the 9mm 2.5″ Bond Arms Roughneck on sale, I jumped and bought one.

Bond Arms makes some beautiful derringers and their high end models are over $1,000 and well regarded. The Roughneck is not as polished and finished as the higher end models and they will tell you they can make four Roughnecks in the time it takes to make one of their other models.

Bond Arms is known for their quality, they have a rebounding hammer to improve safety and have a ton of interchangeable barrels with different calibers and lengths supported. Please note that I am very complimentary of the design and the construction. It’s a beautifully made derringer and I could readily see why they have such a good reputation.

One safety feature of the Bond derringers is the use of a rebounding hammer. Traditional derringers had the hammer/pin right against the primer. Dropping the derringer or hitting the hammer often resulted in an accidental discharge. To guard against unnecessary wear on the cross-bar, I kept snap caps in the pistol for dry firing. Don’t dry fire a Bond is the important message.

The Problem Was Me

Okay, so in my rush to get the Roughneck I assumed some things. Ever heard that old saying “When you assume you make and ASS out of U and ME?” Well, that was me. I assumed it was going to be small and light and never checked the dimensions. Bond Arms builds these things like tanks out of steel. Seriously folks, we are talking about an incredibly beefy derringer that will last and last and last.

When I picked it up at Michigan Gun Exchange, my FFL, I immediatey noticed my oversight. Boy, it filled my hand and weighed 19oz (1.18 pounds) empty and 4.5″ overall. Not what I had in mind at all.

Okay, to be honest, I thought about it overnight and decided to sell it the next day. The reason is simple, my SIG P365 weighs 17.8 oz (1.11 pounds) empty. and is about 4.9″ long. Yeah….. sticking with the SIG made way more sense because of the increased firepower – the 10 round magazine is flush fitting. Of course the SIG will weigh more than the Roughneck when loaded but that’s life.

So here are some pictures so you can decide for yourself:

Here’s the SIG P365 on Top and the Roughneck Below. To get an idea of scale, they are sitting on a 2×4 board.
The Roughneck is decidedly shorter.
They are about the same thickness.
This photo really sums up why I am keeping the SIG and selling the Roughneck. The size is similar but the SIG has that amazing 10 round flush fitting magazine.
Here’s the Roughneck in my hand. I have stubby fingers but wear and XL-size glove.
Here’s me holding the SIG P365.
SIG makes 10-, 12- and even 15-round magazines for the P365 and I’ve found them all to be reliable.

Conclusion

Buyers should select pistols based on how they feel and their intended use. My jumping the gun and buying the Roughneck sight unseen was totally my fault and my decision to sell the Roughneck is not a negative against the design – it’s just not what I am looking for in terms of a really small last-ditch self-defense pistol. For now, I’ll keep my SIG but also keep an eye out for something smaller that still chambers 9mm.

I hope this post helps you out!


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.


Yes, Sellier & Bellot (S&B) Makes Good Ammo

Many folks are new to firearms these days or they are experienced and scrambling to find ammo. This means they are encountering brands they may never of heard of and Sellier & Bellot (S&B) is one such example. I get asked regularly if they make good ammo and if I would recommend their pistol or rifle and the answer is a definite YES.

First off, S&B is a Czech company that was founded in 1825. The Czechs produce some excellent small arms, such as the cz.75 pistol, and S&B turns out some great ammo. My point is that they know their stuff.

I have been using S&B ammo for years including 12ga shot shells, 8mm Mauser, .308, 9mm 115 grain and 124 grain full metal jacket (FMJ) plus 10mm 180 grain FMJ rounds. I use it for firearm testing and shooting at the range and have shot thousands of rounds with not one failure that I could attribute to the ammo – bear in mind I am using it often to test and break in guns. For example, the recoil impulse of the 9mm 124 grain ammo is great for breaking in pistol caliber carbines (PCCs) as well as newly built Polymer80 pistols.

I’ll keep this post short, S&B ammo is good to go. Below are some vendors with S&B offerings:


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.


A review Of my Swenson Glock 17 Slide – It’s Solid

I bought a basic Swenson slide almost two years ago and it’s been solid. Part of what attracted me to it was the beveled nose that allows for easier insertion into a holster. At any rate, I’ve had guys ask me if Swenson slides are any good and my experience has been positive plus from what I have read, most guys find them good. Let me put it this way, if I found a good deal on one to host a RMR optic today, I’d buy it.

The Slide You See

When I first installed it on my first Polymer80 PF940V2 G17, no fitting was needed. However, when I built the PF940CL that it is on now, I did need to use Goodson 400 and then 800 grit lapping compound to get a good fit. Initially there as some binding and now it is just nice and smooth. [Click here if you want to read more tips]

That is the only tuning I’ve need to do. The channel spring liner and all slide parts went in easily and I’ve not had any problems. It’s hosted both it’s current Storm Lake barrel as well as a threaded barrel that I bought from 80P builder with no problem. All in all, it’s worked just fine.

View of the ejection port side. Just a solid basic slide.
Here’s the other side.
Here’s the bottom. Other than the Storm Lake barrel, I think all of the other parts are OEM Glock.
I really like the beveled nose and prefer it for carry pistols. Also, Streamlights are my go to brand for light and laser combos. The TLR-4 works great here and any of the TLR series would since this is a full size pistol. The CL just has the shorter G19 grip to aid with concealment.


So, if you are hunting for a slide for your Glock or Polymer80 build, take a look at Swenson models. They have quite a few designs to select from now including fancy windows and various optics cuts. Just remember, if you are doing a Polymer80 build, look at slides meant for Glock Gen3 models.

The problem these days is finding them. The whole market is in pandemic shock – either hit with supply chain problems or unprecedented demand for guns, ammp and parts. With that said, I did some searching and see Swenson slides either at Midway USA or on eBay and the following is a real time search of eBay for themL


I hope this helps you out!


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.



Storm lake Glock Barrels Are Good To Go – I sure Like Mine

I recently built a Polymer80 PF940CL – their compact long model. This is an interesting variant because it is a their Glock 19 grip but built to use the longer Glock 17 barrel. I had a threaded barrel I could have used but opted to get one of the Storm Lake model 34000 barrels after doing some digging around on their quality. I’m impressed and figured it made since to share a quick review with you.

Storm Lake barrels are made in Tennessee. While not everyone may know their name, they’ve been around since 1983 and sell barrels for 1911s, Glock, Springfield XLs and S&W M&Ps.

Their barrels are made from 416 stainless steel, are hardened to 40-42 HRC and rifling is 1:16LH. The rifling is broach cut to support both jacketed and lead bullets.

My Glock 17 Barrel

The 34000 is a 9mm 4.49″ long barrel with no ports that weights 0.30 pounds. I don’t plan on running a suppressor or a compensator so there was no real reason to have threading especially if I ever carry it.

Here’s my 4.49″ 9mm barrel.
The black stuff is carbon from shooting. It’s an accurate and reliable barrel.
The feed ramp is nicely done. I don’t shoot unjacketed bullets but it worked great with S&B 124gr FMJ , 115 grain FMJ – not sure of the maker – and 124gr Hornady Critical Defense HP rounds.
There is a slight crown to protect the muzzle and rifling.
Here it is in the PF940CL

All in all, I have nothing negative to say. I am not some super duper target shooter. It’s accurate enough for me under 25 yards and I’ve not had any problems. Now part of that is the build and the magazines too but again, no problems!

I have no hesitation recommending Stormlake barrels. Best of all, I think they are very affordable and show that you don’t always have to spend a fortune to get good quality.

The best selection and prices are actually on eBay. The following are items live on eBay for the G17, 19 and 34 plus other models so just scroll down:





Conclusion

I hope this helps you out!


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.