Tag Archives: 9mm

How to make a Stribog’s cocking handle more comfortable? Easy – Get an HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit

I’ve really enjoyed my Stribog SP9A1 but one of my small complaints is that the cocking handle is uncomfortable. When the Stribog was first released, it had a reciprocating charging handle – meaning it would go back and forth with the slide carrier. They listened to customer (fortunately) and introduced a non-reciprocating charging handle. Somewhere along the line, the made the charging handle it could be installed on either the left or right side depending on the shooter’s preference. Now here’s my gripe – the stock handle – it’s a knob really – has a fairly narrow diameter in the middle. It’s tapered from both ends to the middle so your finger finds the middle real fast for a positive grip but it’s just too small. I decided to look into options and fix it because I really liked the Stribog otherwise.

Thanks to a zoom lens, the charging handle/knob looks big in this photo but the middle narrow part is just a bit too small to be comfortable in my honest opinion – I just don’t care for the feeling.

HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit

When I research parts, I tend to do some searching with Google plus I know certain websites that have products of the type I want – Global Ordnance is my first “go-to” site for Stribog accessories. Two options caught my eye – a folding charging handle that seemed a bit more than I wanted for some reason – or I could go with the HB Industries “Ambi Charging Handle Kit” and that was what I had in mind – a bigger knob to grab a hold of and it happened to come with a slightly smaller knob for the other side. All I really wanted was the bigger knob – having a backup knob on the other side was just a bit of a perk. Having started pistol caliber carbines (PCCs) with MP5s back in day, I actually prefer the left side charging handle as I am right handed and I never have to let go of the Stribog when racking the slide.

This is the HB Industries Ambi Charging Handle Kit. Notice how there is a larger 23mm knob and a smaller 16mm knob. You can decide how you want to use them. Notice the center is nice and wide and has knurling.

Installation

Basically, you remove the bolt group, slide the non-reciprocating charging handle block to where the big circular opening is and the pull the charging handle right out!

Push the lower takedown pin out of the way so you can remove the end cap, brace, stock or whatever you have back there. In my case, it’s an F5 modular brace that I think is fantastic.
That lower pin is captured so don’t try to drive out out. You will feel it stop on the other end and you can then pivot the lower portion out of the way.
So you swing the lower out the way so you can remove the end cap, brace or whatever. I tend to find I need to do a light downward tap on top of the brace and then it pulls straight back and out. The bolt carrier group then is pulled straight out the rear and set out of the way.
With the bolt carrier out of the way, you then slide the charging handle carrier all of the way to the rear where the big “O” is at because the narrower part of the channel is what actually retains the charging handle. It’s a nice tool-less design.
The charging handle is pulled out. See the groove in the charging handle’s pin portion? That is what goes back and forth in the channel. The inner and outer parts of the pin are too big and it effectively keeps the charging handle right where you want it. It’s also a good reason to put just a bit of oil on the body before you install a new pin or re-install the old one for that matter.
HB Industries did some elegant design work here – the original pin is at the top. Note how it is longer and needs to reach both sides of the channel but is only actually retained on the left because that is all that is needed. The HBI part has two halves – the larger one and the smaller one that sits inside the larger pin’s housing. They both have the grooves to ride in the charging handle channel and, both grooves serve to capture and hold each half in place in the channel. I love stuff like this – simple and does the job.
I started using Kentuckiana Gun Works Enhanced Reliability Gun Oil this year. I actually just had an issue that made me use it even more that I will do another post on. I used to use Super Lube quite a bit but when my shop was 32F and two of my RIA 9mm pistols that are in there all the time also were that cold, I went to do magazine work and the slides were sluggish. It would appear the Super Lube thickened up some at that temperature. I did not have the same problem with the KGW product — so I’m using KGW on all firearms going forward and have stopped SuperLube all together except for when I need a grease.
Once you install the two handles and slide them forward out of the way, the rest of the installation is the reverse – install the bolt carrier group, install the brace or whatever you have, swing the lower back up, push the pin back in and then test the weapon.

Summary

I really like the feel and am glad I made the change. If you are considering changing the handle, it’s very straight forward and 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.


Are Rock Island Armory Double Stack 9mm 1911-Style A2 HC-series Pistols Any Good?

Rock Island Armory (RIA) is a brand name that is owned by Armscor Global Defense located in Marakina, Philippines. Armscor obtained a license from the Philippine government in 1952 to begin making firearms. In 1980 it became Arms Corporation of the Philippines (ArmsCor) and in the mid-80s they bought the US brand “Rock Island Armory” and began exporting firearms to the US. They have invested in quality improvement and automation to create their wide variety of firearms offered today. They also have opened plants in the US – one in Stevensville, MT, and the other in Pahrumo, NV.

In March 2022, a Philippine TV crew visited the Armscor factory in Marakina and produced this nice video that focuses mainly on their 1911 production area:

The reason I wanted to share this with you is that RIA pistols do have a long history and Armscor is not some fly by night company. This is my opinion – I would describe RIA 1911 pistols as being designed, built and sold to shooters who want an acceptable 1911 without spending a fortune. They are not claiming to turn out semi-custom pistols – instead, good enough pistols at an affordable price point.

In marketing, when you are trying to hit a certain price point to attract the buyers you are after, you have to figure out the features, the materials, and process combination to get you there. Now reliability and accuracy are features also so this needs to be factored in – the pistols need to be good enough but not necessarily over the top – even though we wish they were.

Ok, but are the 9mm HC 17 round pistols “good”?

So let’s go back to the question – are they good? For the price, yes. You can’t compare them to far higher end pistols such as Stacatto or Bul – it’s simply not fair. It would be like comparing a daily-driver economy model Ford or GM car to a BMW. Yes, they are all cars but the engineering and attention to detail during manufacturing in the BMW are going to be very different. They are for different markets comprised on people with different disposable income levels and tastes – and have different price points.

The two pistols I am discussing to be clear are the 9mm RIA A2 HC pistols – the 51679 Tac Ultra FS HC and the 56645 Pro Ultra Match HC – by the way, FS means “Full Size” and HC means “high capacity” because they hold 17 rounds in staggered magazines.

The frames and slides are made from 4140 alloy steel via CNC and they do have QA steps. The barrel seems to be pretty decent but then the price point issue begins to creap in.

I bought four of the A2 HC 80% frames back when I was doing R&D on magazines for the 10mm/..40 S&W calibers (they use the same magazine design) and also the 9mm magazines. What not everyone knows is that these pistols also share a common frame. I installed the RIA magazine catch and ejector but they milled all of the holes and applied, as you can see, a very decent parkerized finish.
Here are two 80% frames with the top one holding a 10mm magazine and dummy red A-Zoom round. The bottom one has a 9mm magazine. The blue round is an A-zoom snap cap and I don’t use or recommend them any longer as the bullet is shaped very differently than a 115gr or 124gr FMJ round so you may think feeding will work when it doesn’t. I sure found that out the hard way.ĵ

For example, to keep costs down, Armscor uses metal injection molded (MIM) parts. I know through first hand experience, the extractors are MIM and they will not have the longevity of a forged part made from tool steel such as one from Wilson Combat *but* the extractors can be replaced if you ever have a problem so it’s not like you suddenly have a boat anchor and that’s one of the beauties of 1911-style pistols – there is a huge aftermarket parts industry and tons of websites/forums out there to help you sort out what is going on not to mention 1911 gunsmiths and that Armscor has good warranty service – I’ve had to avail on it twice – one on a 6″ 10mm Big Rock and also on a 9mm Tac Ultra that had failure to extract issues … and on that one, there was something seriously wrong because just replacing the extractor didn’t work. [Click here for a post I wrote about my extractor journeys with RIA 9mms].

The top is the original Armscor extractor and the claw snapped off. The bottom is a forged tool steel Wilscon Combat. If you run into an issue, read the post I wrote and upgrade to a Wilson.

They also use a parkerized finish and its applied very nicely. There is a but coming – but parkerizing leaves a rough finish and means they need to wear in more compared to other brands that use a different finish and/or have careful polishing and tuning while parts are assembled.

Every parkerized RIA pistol that I have seen has a very nice consistent finish on it. The left pistol is the TAC and you can tell due to the bushing, normal barrel and no checkering on the grip. The right pistol is the Match. It has a bull barrel, full length guide rod and checkering on the front of the grip. The rear sights differ but you can’t see them in this photo.
That’s an 80% frame with no modifications right next to it’s finished cousin – a 51679 Tac Ultra. Under the pistol is one of our tuned Mec-Gar P18 magazines with a Dawon +200 base plate. Click here for our 9mm RIA magazine offerings.

Conclusion

This is my way of saying they are good enough. You are buying an entry level pistol that has been on the market for many years and word would get around quickly if they were utter junk. Does the gun need wear in? Yes. Might there be issues? Yes. Do they have warranty support? Yes and they do stand behind and repair their pistols.

Would I recommend these RIA Tac Ultra FS and Pro Match Ultra HC pistols to someone looking for an entry level 17 round 9mm 1911 style pistol? You may find it odd but yes and I would and I’d explain the above.

I hope this helps you out.


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

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


Stribog SP9A1 Range Results And My Observations – Why I like it!

In the last post, I told you a little bit about the Stribog and the modifications I made [click here if you missed it]. I took it to the range twice over the summer and ran about 400-500 rounds through it flawlessly – really. So let’s talk about the details.

Prepping to go to the range

One thing I have learned over the years is that most semi-automatic weapons need to break in and that includes the Stribog. Never take a weapon out of the box and expect it to work. Instead, field strip the weapon, clean and oil it. After that, cycle the slide manually a few hundred times (literally) to get a jump start on the break in process.

What happens during wear-in or break-in is that surfaces that rub together – either by sliding or rotating start to have the surface smooth down. Despite what you may see, most surfaces have thousands of tiny ridges and spikes sticking up that cause friction and screw up operation. As the weapon cycles, these little edges are worn down. A decent oil or light grease can help with this as it fills in these areas and the luibricity enables the parts to slide or rotate while they are wearing in.

This is to be expected of most weapons unless you are buying a custom firearm where the builder has probably meticulously polished everything. By the way, firearms with parkerized parts need wearing in the most. On the other hand, other finishes, such as Nickel Boron, may need it less.

What’s my tip for you? If you want to have an enjoyable first range visit, clean, lube and cycle your weapon at least 200 times.

Function tested the Stribog

Just to be safe, I function tested the Stribog to make sure the fire control system was working right:

  1. Make sure the weapon is clear
  2. Try pulling the bolt back and let go. The spring should forefully return the bolt to the home position. If it doesn’t, take the weapon apart then clean, lube and try this again. If it still doesn’t then something is wrong and you should talk to who sold it to you, Grand Power or do some searching online – just be cautious because not everyone posting advice knows what they are talking about so be a healthy skeptic.
  3. Cycle the bolt, pull the trigger and you should hear a click. If not, you have a problem.
  4. Make sure the hammer is not cocked (pull the trigger if you need to – See #1). Now, pull the trigger and hold it down and cycle the bolt – you may hear or feel a light click as you release the trigger – that should be the disconnector catching the hammer so it doesn’t follow the bolt back. When you squeeze the trigger you should hear the normal click of the hammer hittin the firing pin. If the hammer isn’t getting caught, you have a problem.
  5. Cycle the bolt, turn the safety to on and try to pull the trigger – it should have little to no movement and you should not hear the hammer hit the firing pin. If you do hear the hammer hit the firing pin – make sure you did turn the safety lever the corrrect direction and all of the way to safe. If it still fires, you have an unsafe weapon that needs to be serviced / returned for warranty repair.

Range Trips

The Stribog has been to the range twice as of my writing this. The first visit was with my friend Jim and we used 124 grain S&B FMJ ammo. I like to use the 124 grain ammo during initial break in of 9mm firearms as there is a bit more recoil impulse to overcome remaining friction.

Jim putting 124gr FMJ rounds down range through the Stribog. We were both vey impressed. Ok, about the pink hat – Jim forgot his hat and it was a bright sunny day. The only spare hat in my truck was my wife’s. Sooo… Jim wore that hat and has endured good natured ribbing ever since. He’s a very good friend and a great shooter … even with a pink hat on – Hi Jim 🙂
Niko is cutting loose. You can see some smoke rising from the muzzle. It was toasty from all the rounds. Niko is about 6′ 2″ tall and I’m only 5′ 8″. The adjustable brace worked really well for both of us as a result. By the way, that F5 modular brace system is incredible. I am running it on both my Stribog and CZ Scorpion Micro.

It ran great – I think we put about 90-120 rounds through it with no problems at all. In the second trip, we ran about 60 rounds of the 124 grain S&B FMJ. We then ran probably 300 rounds of 115 grain CCI Speer FMJ bulk box ammo and wrapped up with about 30 rounds of the IMI 124 grain +P black dot hollow points through it.

The IMI +P 124gr load is decent. The black paint is used to identify it is a +P load. It’s just a paint and not any form of special coating. If you read the reviews, it’s a decent HP load at the end of the day. I wish I’d brought some other HP loads to try as well. We didn’t have any issues but people have reported problems in the past with HP loads,

What was amazing was the we had zero, none, nada failures to feed (FTF) or failures to eject (FTE). I attribute this to how I break in all semi-autos before I go to the range the first time as mentioned above. It should also tell you that the Stribog is pretty well thought out and made.

The Stribog really performed great during both of its range trips. Note, we only used straight 30 round mags and none of the curved ones. I had the curved mags buried in my range bag and we simply didn’t get to them. We used mags both with and without the steel reinforcing lips and did not have anyu issues with either one.

So what else did I notice?

In both cases, we were shooting paper targets and plates at about 10-15 yards from the standing position. The combination of the Stribog, Holosun Optic and F5 modular brace proved to be excellent.

Controlling the Stribog even during rapid fire was easy. The relatively small 9mm cartridge has very little recoil to begin with and fired from the Stribog with a brake, it’s very easy to keep the muzzle on target. I’m sure the brake helped some but givent he weight of the Stribog and an 8″ barrel, it probably would have been ok without it. If nothing else, the brake looks better than the threaded muzzle protector.

The trigger is perfectly decent. It’s not a match trigger but it is one of the better factory triggers I have encountered out of the box in a pistol caliber carbine. I used my Wheeler digital trigger pull gauge to collect some test data – I carefully pulled the trigger 10 times and found that the average pull was 5 pounds 10.8 ounces. The minimum was 4 pounds 10.2 ounces and the maximum pull was 6 pounds 6.8 ounces. Not bad. There is a spring set to reduce the pull that can be bought but I don’t reallly think the pull needs to be changed given close quarter use.

By the way, I always compare triggers mentally to the worst triggers I have felt out of the box. The worst trigger award goes to H&K and clone MP5s. Yuck. I’d described those triggers as pulling a truck with no wheels through the mud. With practice you get used to them – I guess with enough practice you can get used to just about anything and they do wear in a bit – but they suck out of the box.

Moving on, I do wish the charging handle was a tad bigger to spread the load a bit more. It’s jost a tad too narrow for me but that’s just me. There is a folding charging handle option I plan to try at some point.

I do wish the charging handle was a tad thicker. See how it tapers in the middle? I do plan to upgrade to a folding charging handle in the future. The controls overall are well thought out and easy to use. The safety is just above the pistol grip, the magazine reease is above and to the front of the trigger and the slide release is immediately above the magazine release.

Summary

The Stribog really delivered. It was fun, accurate and reliable at the range. I wish I had brought some other hollow points to try but it didn’t cross my mind. I actually bought a case of the IMI +P 124gr HP rounds specifically for my PCCs if self defense was required – I really only shoot FMJ at the range.

To wrap up, I like the SP9A1 Stribog and have no hesitation recommending it to others given my experience. There is a growing aftermarket so you can customize the pistol to fit your needs.

I hope this helps you out!


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

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


What is a Stribog? It’s currently my favorite pistol caliber carbine

I do a lot of reading and a few years ago I read about a new pistol caliber carbine (PCC) called a “Stribog” by Grand Power. It was a blocky looking thing but it was getting good reviews. The more I read, the more positive real-world reviews I encountered. Finally, in a fit of obsessive compulsive behavior, I ordered one in and now it’s my favorite PCC. Well, that would be too short of a post so let me back up a bit and give you some background.

Where did the name “Stribog” come from?

First off, “Stribog” is pronounced “Stry-Bog” and refers to an anicent Slavic diety that can be interpeted as the god of wind or, depending on the translation, the god of annihilation or war. Others say he was the gold of the cold but regardless, that’s what it was in centuries long past. [If you want to read more, click here for a cool post on Wikipedia].

Who makes it?

The Stribog is made by Grand Power, a relatively new company located in Banská Bystrica – Slovenská Ľupča (Slovakia). Mr. Jaroslav Kuracina started the company just before 2012 when he then got funding from friends and the rest is history. They now are producing 2,000 firearms per month on CNC machines based on Jaroslav’s designs.

By the way, Jaroslav’s patented design is how the barrel locks into the slide by rotating. This matters for two reasons – first, it reduces barrel rise meaning you can get back on target faster. Second, it reduces felt recoil – enabling the shooter to better stay on target also.

In 2008 they started exporting to the US and today, Global Ordnance of Sarasota, FL, is their US distributor. In a relatively short amount of time, they have not only entered the US market but created a good reputation in the process. You can now find the Stribog being sold by many different vendors including Global Ordnance directly, Palmetto State Armory, GrabAGun and many others.

Which model did I get?

I bought a SP9A1 with a folding SB Tactical brace in November 2021. It is my understanding that at some time prior to that the charging handle was of the reciprocating type – meaning it would travel forward and backward as the bolt cycled. One thing I made sure of was that it did have a non-reciprocating handle and it did. I would bet by the time you read this you will only find new firearms for sale with the non-reciprocating handle but buying one used might be a different story.

Chambered for 9×19 NATO (9mm Luger) and fire +P loads. 9mm NATO tends to be hotter than 9mm Luger so +P ammo is not a challenge for it.

8″ barrel with 1/2″x28 threads – this thread is commonly used for 9mm muzzle devices so you can readily add compensators, suppressors, etc.

The Stribog arrived nicely packed in a hard case.
Here;s looking at it from another angle. Honestly, I can do without the screen printed white text and graphics.
It took me a minute before I looked at the lid and noticed the three magazines tucked in there.

In looking the pistol over, there were a few areas for improvement. First, I do not like the trangular SB Tactical brace. It works but doesn’t suit my taste. I also wanted to do something with that 8″ barrel poking out the front of the handguard, install a muzzle brake and a reflect optic.

Installing the F5 Manufacturing Modular Brace

Folks, I’ll tell you up front that F5 Modular Brace System is my favorite brace. It really is well done plus they make a number of Stribog related products if you are interested.

Pop out the back lower pin and you can then change the rear plate in the top half. The pin is captive meaning it will push through but will not exit the other side so don’t force it.
This is as far as the pin will push out. You do need to push it until it stops so you can remove the back plate but don’t force it out.
Push the plate down slightly and then it will pull out.
The F5 literally slides right back in place of the plate. It’s very nicely done – my unit did not require any fitting.
For the brace, I switched over to the cool F5 Manufacturing’s modular brace system that then holds a Tailhook brace. I like the modular system because it is adjustable and reminds me of a SCAR.
The GearHeadWorks Tailhook is one of the slickest braces in my opinion. It’s made from aluminum and the hook is deployed by pushing a button and folding the it outwards.

The Dragon Snout

There is actually a neat 3D printed angled forearm extension made for the Stribog known as “the Dragon Snout”. It’s made by 3D Experiment and sold by Global Ordnance among others. It fits and feels great plus aesthetically I like covering up the approximate 3″ of barrel that stick out of the factory handguard.

First off, it’s a great name! It’s also very well done.
The Dragon Snout mounts by sliding it onto the existing 1913 Picatinny Rail on the bottom of the pistol’s handguard. One minor detqail – the Dragon Snout will likely need to go on before your muzzle device. For the Grand Power S9 shown, it did need to be mounted after the Dragon Snout.

Grand Power S9 Muzzle Brake

I went with a Grand Power 9mm brake that has an integral locking nut. Unfortunately, I do not see it for sale right now anywhere so I can’t link to it. Here are some photos of it.

The S9 brake is seems to work quite well and it was easy to install.
The threads are protected by a barrel nut so you remove it and thread on the new brake. It’s interesting to note the proof mark on the barrel 9×19 CIP – CIP is a European standards group that does the work of SAAMI there. CIP and SAAMI standards are often close but not exactly the same due to differences in where they collect pressure data. SAAMI also has +P and +P+ whereas CIP does not.
When installing a brake, thread it on as far as you can and then back it off only as much as you need to “clock” it (align it) and then tighted the locking nut.
Here’s a good photo of the brake and how it is larger than the Dragon Snout’s front hole. You can also see the integral iron front sight and charging handle.
The Stribog was really shaping up and I liked both the balance and the way it felt when I brought it up.

Adding a Holosun HEC-510GR Green Reflex Sight

My opinion of Holosun optics has improved quite a bit over the last two years – mainly because I started using the versus just reading about them. My go-to holographic sight is the Vortex UH-1 when I can afford it. When I can’t, I have found the Holosun optics to be very decent affordable choices. I especially like the HEC-510GR and bought mine at EuroOptic.

In general, I like Holosun’s use of two power sources – battery and solar plus you can either manually shut off the optic or use the shake awake feature that turns the unit and then off after a period of inactivity.

I find the green colored reticle super easy to find. Bringing the Stribog up and acquiring the target is both very straight forward and fast.

The HE510C-GR arrives well protected in its box ready for you to install the battery and mount it.
The unit has a quick release lever so you can remove the optic quickly either for cleaning or if you need to get it out of the way. I really prefer optics with quick release levers because there are any number of reasons why you may need to get it out of the way in a hurry. For example, if this Holosun were to fail, I’d remove it and quickly fail over to using the integral backup iron sights that are built into the Stribog’s top rail. Those sights flip up but are too short to use with the Holosun so I just leave them folded down.

The Final Result

I was very happy with the weapon – it all came together in a nice package:

Here’s the finished unit – A Stribog SP9A1 with the F5 modular brace, Dragon Snout forearm, S9 brake and a Holosun 510C-GR optic on top. That is one of the straight 30 round magazines,

Quick Comment on Magazines

The magazine design is unique. While there are now options for the lowers that let you use Glock mags, the native magazine is a proprietary double stack design.

You have a number of options for magazines – 20 and 30 round plus there are ones that are straight, with and without metal reinforced tops and a curved model. Right now, I have a combination of straight 30 round magazines both with and without the reinforced metal feed lips.

I’d recommend you have 4-8 magazines at least for your Stribog. Why? It’s so much fun to shoot you will go through 30 rounds fast. A number of places sell Stribog magazines and I bought a few of my spares from GunMag Warehouse. I bought a couple of the steel reinforced lipped models from Global Ordnance but everyone seems to be sold out of them at the moment. I haven’t had any problems with the all polymer units but if we make a broad generalization, steel reinforced mag lips of any design tend to last longer.

Summary

Ok, the Stribog was assembled and ready for the range! For a change, I am writing this after taking it to the range twice, having a blast and will talk about my experiences with the weapon in my next post.

Here’s one view of the completed Stribog.
And another.

I hope this post gives you some ideas and I definitely like the Stribog.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about feed lip length?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now here’s the first gotcha: The feed lip gap still controls the rise of the bullet in the front but if it goes too far, the bullet is going to interfere with extraction, pushing the extracted case upwards on the breach face of the slide and out of position to correctly engage the ejector and all of a sudden you have the old case in the slide, a new round trying to feed and you have a jam. If you go for a front feed lips gap of .305-.308″ you will be fine. Depending on your pistol once you get somewhere around .320″, you are going to cause the ejection problem I just mentioned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, the lips have a memory

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

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

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

What about left and right bends to the feed lips?

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

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

What about the follower?

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

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

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

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

How about the spring?

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

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

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

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

What about lubricant?

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

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

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

Number your magazines

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

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

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

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

I’m still learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



My Adventures With Rock Island Armory 9mm Extractors

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

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

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

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

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

The Initial Magazine Prototyping Didn’t Make Sense

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

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

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

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

Testing The First Pistol

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

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

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

No, I’m Not Incredibly Patient

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

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

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

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

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

Metal Injection Molding For Extractors Isn’t The Best Choice

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

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

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

I Decided To Replace the Extractor Myself

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Tools

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

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

Polish the Extractor

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

How to Install

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

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

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

More Details

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

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

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

Adjusting The Extractor Landing Pad

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

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

Was The Match Pistol Higher End?

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stunningly Good 1911 Reference Book Recommendation

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

I hope this post helps you out!


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

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




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

This post was updated July 23, 2022

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


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

P18 mag with a +200 Dawson base plate.

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

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

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

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

SteelWorx Dummy Rounds For Testing Now

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

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

Taylor Freelance Mag Extensions Work!

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Please email me if you have any questions or suggestions.


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

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