Imported from the Philippines, this Rocky Island Armory 1911 CS FDE is one hot-selling, Officers-style 1911 handgun. And, it is a a bargain to be had.
More Than a Little Familiar With 1911s
Long-time readers will know that I’m a real sucker for a good 1911-style handgun. They also know that if a gun isn’t a bargain, a real bargain, I’ll pass it up. I’ve owned more than a few custom 1911s over the years, and they were fine pieces of work. They were super-accurate, with more accuracy than I could begin to squeeze out of them, and just a genuine work of art and a work of love. I’ve also owned more factory-made 1911s than I can begin to remember. Most were really good guns and well worth the money. So, I’m more than a little familiar with 1911s of just about every make and model. Additionally, the 1911 is one of my all-time favorite handguns to work on– gunsmith.
Policy to Think On A Purchase For a Day or Two
A trip to my local gun shop in Albany, OR revealed something new: a 1911 CS FDE Officers-sized pistol, in .45 ACP, of course. The price was just oh-so-right, too, but I had to think on this one for a couple of days, though. I asked the counter person if they had more than one in stock. I was told “yes”. So, there was a good chance I’d be able to get one, if I thought on this for a few days. It’s sort of a new “policy” with me as of late to do this.
I don’t really “need” any more guns, so unless there is something I can’t absolutely live without, I’ll think on a purchase for a day or two. This usually works out for me. However, I’ve lost out on a few guns that I wanted, though I didn’t need, with this policy.
A couple of days went by. I’d thought about it, and I made the purchase of this Philippine-made 1911.
Several Philippine 1911 Companies
In case some of you didn’t know, there are several 1911 companies in the Philippines that are turning out some outstanding 1911s and at great prices to boot. I’m not saying all the 1911s that come out of the Philippines are top-notch. Some are just plain ol’ shooters with a tolerable trigger pull, but they make for a dandy truck gun– one you can toss in your glove box and not worry about it getting used and abused. A gun like this will still go “bang” when you pull the trigger. However, many of the 1911s I’m seeing out of the Philippines are really great guns, in most respects. Yet, for some reason, many of these companies are installing steel triggers instead of aluminum or even “plastic” triggers. That doesn’t make for the best trigger pull, but this is easily taken care of in short order by installing a match-grade, light-weight aluminum trigger.
Rock Island Armory
The Rock Island Armory– imported by Armscorp Precision International in Nevada– are bringing in some great 1911s that are really affordable and great shooters. Yeah, if you look around, you’ll find some of their earlier imported 1911s that while fully functional didn’t have the best finish and had heavy trigger pulls. They were just “so-so” overall, but they still went “bang”, and that’s what counts.
The current crop of 1911s coming into the USA from Rock Island Armory are very fine handguns, period!
Specs of the Model 1911 CS FDE
A look at the specs on the model 1911 CS FDE is in order. First of all, as already mentioned, it is an Officers-sized 191. It has a barrel/slide length of 3.5 inches. The frame is shorter, too, by an inch, so it takes officers-sized magazines, which can be had in six or seven shot capacity. The gun comes with one 7-rd mag that worked flawlessly. Being a genuine series 70 1911, there is no firing pin safety to contend with. Yes! This makes the trigger pull all that much better. On my sample, the plastic trigger had a very crisp 4-lb pull, which is outstanding and about perfect for street-carry or self-defense. You don’t want too light of a trigger pull on a gun meant for these purposes. Of course, the trigger pull is single-action only!
The gun came with a Cerakote Flat Dark Earth coating, which is a dark sand in color. This color is what first drew my attention to this gun at the gun shop.
The sights, at least the rear sight, is a Novak-style combat number– one of the best. Many companies are copying Wayne Novak’s design, without paying him any royalties. It is the best rear sight, in my opinion. There are two small indentations in the rear sight. I would have thought that Rock Island Armory would have installed two white dots in those tiny indentations, but they didn’t. It’s strange. The front sight is a plain, serrated job, but there’s no indentation for painting a white dot on it. My aged eyes don’t see black-on-black sights very well these days. I painted the front sight with some orange nail polish, and using a paper clip I put some white paint in those two little indentations on the rear sight. It worked out better than I thought it would. This makes for a fast sight picture for me. Go figure.
Rubber grips come standard. I will be replacing those with some wood grips. If you’ve ever carried concealed with your handgun having rubber grips, you know that if your covering garment wants your handgun more than you do those rubber grips and the covering garment will rip the handgun out of your hand in short order. So, I replace any rubber grips, especially those on a 1911.
The plastic main spring housing is serrated too, for a sure grip. The thumb safety snicked on/off with authority, perfectly fitted. The only “bad” thing is, it is not an extended combat-style safety. Well, that’s no big deal. I might replace it later on. By the way, the thumb safety is single-side only. I like that, as I don’t need an ambidextrous thumb safety.
The mag release is standard length and not extended, and it also is black in color. The slide stop/release is standard size and it too is black in color.
The trigger has an overtravel screw for adjustment; however, my sample didn’t need it. The trigger was crisp, and as mentioned it was dead-on at 4 lbs. I’d have to work hard to give a 1911 a trigger pull this nice.
The barrel is coated in something black. However, in short order, whatever the coating is, it started to wear off. It’s no big deal in my mind. We also have a bushingless bull barrel that is, once again, fitted perfectly to the slide. And, a full-length guide rod, which takes three hands to install a bent paper clip into the tiny hole that is required to field strip the gun for cleaning and a good lube. This is not a deal breaker in my book. Just be advised that it is difficult to get that paper clip installed in the tiny hole in the guide rod in order to take the gun apart. I’ve never had to break-down any gun in a fire-fight! LOL!
The rear of the slide has forward angled serrations that make pulling the slide back easy. These serrations are not fine; they are large. Once again, I commend the great job by Rock Island Armory.
The only change I did to this gun is one I do with many 1911s. I installed some skate board friction tape to the plain front strap of the frame. This gives me a much better grip/hold on the gun. It is easily done. Just remove the grips, cut the tape to size, remove the backing on the tape, and press it in place, and then re-install the grips. It takes less than five minutes to do, and you’ll really feel the difference.
My one “complaint” with this gun is that it has an all-steel frame, making it heavy, instead of an aluminum frame. On the other hand, this steel frame will sure make the gun last a long, long time. It weighs in at 2.16 lb, unloaded. With the right holster, it’s not overly heavy to pack this gun. I have a favorite 1911 concealed carry holster from Safariland. It’s their belt slide model 527-53. This holds any 1911 high and tight to my side. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing this particular 1911 with an aluminum frame in the future. I’ll buy one. That’s for sure.
How Did It Shoot?
So, with all the great features on this little 1911, how did it shoot? Outstanding, once I got broken-in. I had several feeding issues during my first 75 rounds through the gun. This is just one of those “things” with some 1911s; they need a break-in period. No matter what ammo I fed it, it had some feeding issues. And, then like magic, the gun started perking along and fed, fired, and ejected everything I fed it. In all, more than 350 rounds went down range.
Ammo for Testing
From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had the following ammo: 160-gr TAC XP Low Recoil Standard Pressure load, which is an all-copper hollow point; 185-gr FMJ; also a Low Recoil, Standard Pressure load; 255-gr Outdoorsman, and this is a +P, Hard Cast FN load; 230-gr FMJ FN +P; and 200-gr JHP +P.
From the folks at Black Hills Ammuniton, I had their 200-gr Match Semi Wadcutter load; 230-gr FMJ; 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P; and their new 135-gr HoneyBadger load, which is an all-copper bullet that has flutes cut into it and is a very nasty round for self-defense. The HoneyBadger load will get the job done.
Once the Rock Island Armory 1911 was broken-in, there were zero malfunctions of any kind. I restricted my accuracy testing to 15 yards, because of the shorter barrel on this 1911. All the above ammo shot about the same. If I did my part, I was getting groups about 2.75 inches, and that is outstanding. The overall winner, however, was the Buffalo Bore 200-gr JHP +P load. It cut several groups right at 2.25 inches. This is outstanding accuracy for a bargain-priced 1911, or for any 1911, if you ask me. I shot several groups with this Buffalo Bore load, because I couldn’t believe how well I was shooting. Usually, when I get a good group, I put the gun down! The barrel to slide to frame fit was impeccable. There was only a hint of movement between them. We are talking tightly fitted, and I’m sure that contributed to the great accuracy.
The asking price on this particular 1911 was $450; however, I got it for $20 less, and it was a bargain at the asking price. Check one out. I think you’ll be impressed.