Let me start off with some disclaimers. I am not a 1911 guy. Nor am I a competition shooter or an ultra high speed door kicking pipehitter. When it comes to weapons I am pretty representative of the average joe. I’ve been shooting for the better part of 40 years, both as a hunter, and as a responsible daily CCW for most of my adult life. During that entire time however, I have been a 9mm guy, alternating between a well-known design from 1935 (my issue weapon in the CIA, so I have a sweet spot for it), to a common plastic striker fired model out of Georgia and another option. In fact, I only own one other 45 and it isn’t a 1911.
I have always been interested in the 1911 platform however, and wanted to give one a try. The idea of a CCW sized 1911 was attractive, as long as I didn’t have to further sacrifice magazine capacity. I am not getting in to the stopping power vs carrying capacity debate though simply speaking, I sit in the camp of shot placement and shoot until the threat is stopped. I don’t care what you carry as a long as you train with it and can put the rounds where you need to.
Armscor gave me a few choices and I selected the Rock Island Armory Ultra CS-L 45, model # 51585 along with 250 rounds of ammo for T&E. Winter in New England on my home outdoor range is probably not the best time to take a new gun out and put it through it’s paces.
From the manufacturer
According to RIA, they built the Rock Ultra CS Lightweight pistol in a traditional 70 series design on an aluminum frame. This pistol is chambered in 45ACP with 3.5” button rifled barrel supported by a full length guide rod. The magazine capacity is 7 rounds. Also includes skeletonized hammer and 4- to 6-pound trigger with adjustable over travel stop. The Rock Ultra CS-L is finished with a tough parkerized coating and adds battle ready G10 tactical grips. Overall length is 7.13 inches and unloaded it weighs about 28 ounces.
To put this in perspective, a traditional full size model 70 model typically has 5” barrel, overall length of 8.5” and weighs around 3 pounds. All while still only delivering 7+1 rounds capacity in the single stack magazine. Likewise, the leading composite/plastic 9mm carry gun out of Georgia weighs in at about 22 ounces and roughly the same overall length.
The slide and frame are forged and well made (in the Philippines where Armscor is headquartered). Some of the components appear to be MIM but the fit and finish out of the box was good. The factory magazine is Italian made. The hard plastic case included one mag, a lock, bore flag, and Instruction Manual.
Styling and ergonomics
It looks like a traditional 1911 with some modern features and will be familiar to most 1911 users. It does come standard with Grey G10 “tactical” grip panels in a very aggressive cut. The skeletonized trigger and combat hammer also add a nice touch to the look. Magazine release and thumb safety are both set up for right-handed shooters (no ambidextrous controls here despite the literature claiming it came with an ambidextrous safety). The finish on the slide matched the frame with the RIA logo small but visible just in front of the hammer on the slide.
I have medium size hands and the pistol fit me well. All the controls were easy to reach. The extended beavertail made it very easy to get a good reliable grip on the pistol. The fine serrations on the back strap and vertically machined serrations all add to the solid grip.
The pistol carries well, I didn’t really notice the weight difference over my traditional EDC option. My only issue with carrying it were the aggressive grips. Carrying it IWB, both appendix and on my side, the grips rubbed my belly and waist raw in short order. I discovered quickly that I needed an undershirt to protect my skin if I was going to conceal carry this pistol.
The pistol comes with a white dot LPA MPS1-type adjustable rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. The dots on the rear sight are smallish. The front sight is an orange fiber optic sight inset into a dovetail. Visibility is good and sight picture is fast and easy to acquire. I had no need to adjust the sights as they were good out of the box.
I found the pistol shoots well. I was initially concerned about recoil management given the lightweight frame in a .45. It ended up being manageable with minimal muzzle rise and less felt recoil transitioned to arm joints than some of the 9mm pocket pistols on the market that I have shot.
Accuracy out of the box was good, with no sight adjustments necessary. At all the distances I shot, from 3 yards to 20 yards, I was able to keep decent groups (from 2” to just over 4” at 20 yards slow fire). The pistol can shoot better than I can.
The trigger press felt a little heavy, though I didn’t measure it and the trigger seemed smooth.
I had a couple of failure to feeds in the 250 rounds I fired. This ammo was graciously provided by Armscor as well and I did not run any other brands through the gun. Those had more to do with my limp wristing the gun at the end of a strong of fire than the pistol itself. There was one weird instance that I only noticed as I was policing brass after a range session. I found a partial shell casing that had clearly come apart after firing. I had noticed no malfunction while firing and, I was shooting in fresh snow so the casing was clearly from this days’s shooting. When I showed the cartridge to a number of folks, none could figure out what the cause may have been.
For a lightweight small frame 1911, I appreciated the relative ease of recoil management and the out of the box accuracy. If you are a 1911 fan, this is a viable CCW option for you. It is not a competition gun however.
The fact that it includes as standard features sold as upgrades elsewhere, including adjustable sights, combat hammer, skeletonized trigger etc. is just icing on the cake. While I appreciated the stock grips it comes with and how well you can maintain positive grip on the pistol, the hard plastic does abrade your skin when carried IWB, so some consideration to mitigating that must be considered. Overall though, I would recommend folks consider buying this pistol.
I received this product from the manufacturer so I could test it, return it, and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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