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I picked up a Rock Island 1911A2 today and had a chance to take it straight to the range for a break in. I only got 100 rounds of .22TCM and a box of 50 9mm through the gun, but it was enough to get some initial impressions on the weapon.

First, the look of the pistol is very nice. Unlike the usual natty RIA finish (very practical for a workaday gun), the TCM is beautiful with a nice black to the receiver, the underside and the flat top of the slide. The sides are polished and look a lot like the Kimber Eclipse, giving it a nice black on silvery gray two-tone. The fit and finish are premium quality — easily on par with much more expensive guns. It is a wide-frame, double-stack 1911. More on that in a moment. There are adjustable sights that work well, but a white or red dot on the front sight would have been a plus.



leftThe grips. I know a lot of people like the wrap-around finger groove thing — I think it sucks. And blows. At the same time. Some complain about the look, but the fit was fine — they just make the gun a bit too wide for me, and the finger groove crap always messes with my natural hold on a 1911. There are almost no options for the pistol because the grip screws are just a smidge different from the Para-Ordinance A2. You can use the P-14 grips, but you have to dremel a bit on the screw holes, apparently. There are VZ Grips for the pistol, but they are available only in black through Armscor. I consider this a bit of a “lose” for the gun, but not enough to naysay buying one.

The upside to the double stack 1911: 17 rounds of 9mm or 18 rounds of .22TCM. The pistol is heavy — it’s not a great choice for concealed carry, but it isn’t a bad choice for backpacking, open carry, or the like. The magazines fit well, and mine functioned flawlessly. Another downside — it doesn’t seem to fit in a standard 1911 holster, or at least not the SERPA I have. Weight is about 41 oz., so about a quarter again heavier than, say, the Kimber Pro Carry II’s 35ish oz.

Function: Oh, but this is a great gun. For the $600 or so you’ll shell out for the TCM, you get one of the single best triggers I’ve used on a 1911, which means better than just about anything not costing you $2000+ (and even on par with some of those.) It broke at 3.5 lbs. nice a crisply with no creep at all. Reset is quick and loud enough that if you watch some video, you will hear it. The trigger and hammer are skeletonized, and there is a nice beavertall grip safety. The weapon ran all of the 150 through it with no malfunctions, save for me accidentally putting the safety on while shooting. (Lefty…)

Accuracy: 2 inches at 15 yards, free hand, taking my time in 9mm and .22. Better at 10 yards. The groups were amazing, but I consistently shot a bit low due to the finger groove grips. (Seriously…hate these things.) I suspect I can do better in another trip or two.

Ammunition: Armscor’s the only people doing .22TCM, just like FN was humping their customers on 5.7x28mm for the longest time. Seriously, Armscor, here’s your winning friggin’ proposition — do an AR in .22TCM. Yesterday. Why, you ask? Because you get the same performance as the 5.7mm out of a standard-size grip handgun. The rounds I shot were chronographed at 2000-2060fps by one of the other shooters who frequents the range. With a 40 gr. bullet, that’s about 350 ft lbs of energy, or the low end of 9mm. With almost zero recoil — the 1911A2 weighs enough you get less recoil than the FiveSeven, and more accuracy because the weight actually make your hand move less and the trigger is lightyears better than the FN’s. (And I love the FiveSeven — carried one for a decade.)

Even better, if you can’t find .22TCM (as low as $17/box online, usually $22-25 in town), you can swap the barrel and recoil spring with ease in about a minute, and shoot 9mm. I did not try hollowpoints this time out, just crappy Federal 115 gr. white box stuff. No issues. It shot well with little recoil. Armscor — make some kind of AR or carbine that uses the pistol mags and a swappable barrel and you have a winner. Just do it. Yesterday!

The two big complaints I have are the obvious grip screw, hard to find alternate grips thing, and the lack of an indicator dot on the front sight. Otherwise, this is a better functioning 1911 than the two Rock Island .45s my ex-wife had, better than the CDP 9mm and the Stainless Pro Carry II from Kimber, better than the Springfield Armory 1911s I’ve shot (with the exception of a friend’s Yost-Bnitz modified Springfield.) It’s got a superb stock trigger, good sights that a bit of paint on the front post would make great, CZ levels of ammunition in the magazine, and comparable accuracy to my CZ-85 (which is excellent.) Fit, finish, and frills are all high quality for budget 1911 prices. And you can shoot two different calibers.

So is it worth it? Not just yes, but hell yes.