Welcome to M1911.ORG
The M1911 Pistols Organization Forums Site


Sponsors Panel
Ruger
If you intend to buy something from Brownells, Cabela's, Blue Ridge Firerarms or Field Supply, please use their banners in our sites. Whatever you buy from them, gives us a small commission, which helps us keep these sites alive. You still pay the normal price, our commission comes from their profit, so you have nothing to lose, while we have something to gain. Also, don't forget to visit our other sponsors sites, click-throughs are appreciated by our advertisers. Your help is appreciated.
If you want to become a sponsor and see your banner in the above panel, click here to contact us.

Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 52

Thread: A review of the RIA 1911 .38 Super

THREAD CLOSED
This is an old thread. You can't post a reply in it. It is left here for historical reasons.Why don't you create a new thread instead?
  1. #1

    A review of the RIA 1911 .38 Super

    I have decided to retroactively review guns that I own or have owned to see how they stack up to use and carry.

    I do this because for too long we have been subjected to reviews of guns right out of the box. Well that's all well and fine for a first impression, but how well is it holding up after 6000 rounds? I have had just about everything happen to my guns, especially my 1911's as I shoot them a tremendous amount. So I want to review those guns that I have thoroughly wrung out.

    This is a review of the Rock Island Armory 1911
    Caliber: .38 Super/9mm
    Time owned prior to review: 3 years
    Round count: approx 150 .38 Super, 480 9mm
    Condition at purchase: New
    Carry Gun: No
    Custom work: Yes

    This is a gun I really want to like. I purchased it three years ago for a comparison test I was doing for my internet gun forum of .38 super vs a .357 sig. Retrospectively I realize I should buy a .357 sig barrel and put it in one of my Delta Elites so I may re run this test.

    The gun had problems out of the box, it had trouble feeding two types of ball ammo and forget about hollow point. I swapped mags and lightly polished the ramp and no joy. Stymied in running my test I brought it to my gunsmith and asked him while he was at it to drop in a 9mm barrel so I had a cheaper plinker in the 1911 platform that I could use and my girlfriend could shoot, as she likes that combo. I ended up getting her a Kimber 9mm which I will review in a bit.

    This is where the going got expensive. He polished it up and got it working with .38 Super, but he didn't like the look of the internals. He routinely fixes guns that don't meet his standards and I am fine with that, he has always been fair in his pricing as well, if not a little under for me. He tried to swap out the internals for the gun and after taking them all out he could never get any parts working right, the gun was pretty far out of spec. With a super human effort he could have got them running he told me, but why bother? It worked ok with the parts it had and if it broke just send it off under warranty.

    Now, never casually tell your smith to just drop in a barrel if he is a master 1911 smith and persnickety, I escaped the cost of the fiddling to get it right but not the cost of the conversion. With a Clark Custom barrel, new bushing and new sear I have the most accurate 9mm 1911 ever made. Which throws brass right into your face. Or down your shirt, which is why I bought a Kimber for my lady as an apology. No matter what he did or I did could get the gun throwing brass to the right, and the solution was going to cost as much as I had in the gun.

    Speaking of which, the conversion and reliability and feeding issue was $600! Ouch. Should have used the warranty, especially as how much good stuff I have heard about customer service. It probably would have kept me from adding the 9mm barrel which was the majority of the cost. It's not the guns fault totally, It is now throwing just a hair over now, and it runs both ammo types but I am just disappointed that is was so far out of spec. Perhaps I ought to send it in and get the slide replaced or something, but then my 9mm might need to be refitted.

    The gun is ok, it has great reviews, but I am not entirely happy about it, partly because I spent more than the gun on it, and partly that a renowned gunsmith gave up on it in disgust. That and the brass issue keeps me from having that warm and fuzzy feeling I have for many of my guns.
    Like so many who undertake arduous journeys, I left a city of wise men and came back to a polis of fools. Ignorance, like time, brooks no returns.
    Last edited by Combat Controller; 20th July 2009 at 15:30.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    10th February 2008
    Location
    Coffeyville, Ks.
    Posts
    1,423
    Yep you should hve used the warrenty. There have been a few ( Very Few) that advanced Tachical ended up replacing the whole gun, because of it being out of spec. I suppose this can happen with any mass produced product.
    There are 6,475 bolts and screws in a car, It takes 1 nut to spread them all over the road.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Location
    Athens, Greece, Earth
    Posts
    27,394
    Blog Entries
    2
    If you allow me:

    1. It didn't feed well, but your gunsmith fixed it. That was obvious your choice, RIA could have fix it for free.
    2. The pistol worked OK, but your gunsmith didn't like the look of the internals, so he calls it "junk". Ever heard of "if it works don't fix it"?
    3. You replaced the barrel with a 9mm one, added a new bushing and a new sear and you blame the gun for the cost? If your gunsmith charged you 600$ for a trigger job, a reliability job and a barrel installation, it's hardly the gun's fault, especially if the gun was working OK with its existing internals. If you had send the gun to RIA, you would have paid only 50$ and have a working pistol. Who's to be blamed??
    4. Reliability job with erroneous ejection? There are home-gunsmiths who solve unreliable ejection issues and your gunsmith couldn't?
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  4. #4
    John,

    1. Yup
    2. Err... I am an engineer, there are parts and there are parts. I have had MIM parts fail and if I shoot his gun enough one of them probably will. At that point replacing them would be difficult, I suppose I find the whole situation inelegant overall.
    2. I don't like the look of the internals either, but he is the one who tried to mess with them.
    3. I don't blame the gun for the cost, I clearly stated that one needs to beware of offhand comments to zealous gunsmiths.
    4. He fixed the ejection issue, I suppose I was not clear in my language. I will go back and edit that.

    Overall I hate when a gun does not work out of the box, but since I have had four Kimbers go back for IE conversions it does not completely rule out my buying another of the same brand. The out of spec internals does worry me, if I want to use it for a base gun then I am out of luck. Will Armscor replace my gun if I want to monkey with it at that level? Are we sure the new gun does not come from the same mold and is equally out of spec? I think these are legitimate concerns from someone who buys and shoots 1911's. I may be a piker compared to some on this forum but I own around 20 1911's right now, and at least 5 of them are custom builds.

    I have been disappointed by 1911's before, I have not gotten around to posting those reviews yet. This review has a little more grousing but it is my experience with this product to date. I guess I am also let down by hearing such great things from this forum about them and then having the reality be at odds with that. I know it is an inexpensive gun with entry level features but the immediate feeding issues and the larger questionable state of the internals for possible upgrades leaves me flat.
    Like so many who undertake arduous journeys, I left a city of wise men and came back to a polis of fools. Ignorance, like time, brooks no returns.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    2nd June 2004
    Location
    Terra
    Posts
    19,255
    RIA/Armscor pistols are not built or marketed as a base for creating a high-end, custom gun. They ARE CNC machined, so they should be pretty much to spec but any comapny can have one slip through that's a bit off. That doesn't mean they all are.

    The bottom line, though, is that it seems unwise to consider a $400 pistol as a base for a $1,000 build, and I think even Ivan would agree with that. As to the use of MIM parts, I believe every one of the mass manufacturers uses at least a few MIM parts. Criticizing a company who sells working firearms that are at the very low end of the price structure while still providing stellar customer support because they use the same manufacturing process used by many makers whose guns sell for two, three and four times as much strikes me as a bit unrealistic, not to mention unfair. You pay more for a Taurus, you get very rough machine work inside their guns, and "customer service" from Taurus is an oxymoron.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Last edited by Hawkmoon; 20th July 2009 at 14:19.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    29th February 2008
    Location
    Arizona until I scram
    Posts
    275
    For $385 my .38 Super GI model RIA has gone through a couple hundred rounds of S&B with zero issues, since round 1. It's pretty accurate too.

    Well, there is one issue: I only have the one mag that came with the gun and it's annoying to have to take a break to reload every time. I really should pick up a few more mags.

    Any RIA is what it is. An inexpensive 1911. I have no illusions that it could somehow compete on the level of any mid-range factory gun, a semi-custom, or a fully-house custom gun.

  7. #7
    It strikes me that there is an awful lot of defensiveness surrounding RIA, I understand that they are great folks, I have never said otherwise.

    Let me clarify.

    First, any product that is inexpensive will have flaws, natch. This product, of which there are millions made, is out of spec. Unknown if this is just mine or a bad lot. That happens.

    Second, the product did not work at all when I bought it. That is also just one of those things. But it is a fact, just like my first statement.

    I had no intention of building an expensive custom gun out of it, I bought it because of two reasons. One, the caliber. I needed a .38 Super. It was this or a used Colt for $250 more. Two, I gave it a shot based on it's reputation. The gun failed me and I reported this. If you take a look at the other four reviews I have posted to date I talk about the positive and the negative. My two Taurus review for example.

    I am not comparing it to any high end gun. It is what it is, and I bought it as such. It just didn't work.

    These are my experiences, the gun I bought did not work. Upon further examination it proved to be problematical to do anything to it. I gather the impression that I am not allowed to make a negative comment about this gun without my character being questioned.

    I bought something, it didn't work. One of the worlds most common auto pistols is also out of spec. I don't know if this is an aberration or a trend. I posted this review in case someone was thinking of buying a cheap gun and building it up. Buyer beware and all that.

    How is this unfair?
    Like so many who undertake arduous journeys, I left a city of wise men and came back to a polis of fools. Ignorance, like time, brooks no returns.
    Last edited by Combat Controller; 20th July 2009 at 15:25.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Location
    Athens, Greece, Earth
    Posts
    27,394
    Blog Entries
    2
    OK, can we get a little more specific? Like what is out of spec? Dimensions please, details.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by John
    OK, can we get a little more specific? Like what is out of spec? Dimensions please, details.
    Sure, was going to anyway once the replies started coming. Been a while since I got it back I will check with the smith and see if he remembers and I will take it out and strip it down when I get a little time free and mike the sucker to boot if that helps.
    Like so many who undertake arduous journeys, I left a city of wise men and came back to a polis of fools. Ignorance, like time, brooks no returns.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    2nd June 2004
    Location
    Terra
    Posts
    19,255
    Quote Originally Posted by Combat Controller
    Sure, was going to anyway once the replies started coming. Been a while since I got it back I will check with the smith and see if he remembers and I will take it out and strip it down when I get a little time free and mike the sucker to boot if that helps.
    Considering that I have built pistols on Armscor frames and found only one aspect (which I doubt any gunsmith would have noticed) to be out of spec ... and it didn't affect loading, chambering, firing or extracting in any way ... I think if you are going to make a categorical statement that your gun was out of spec you should at the very least be prepared to document where it was out of spec, and by how much.

    Especially as I used all third-party (meaning "not Armscor") small parts, and they all pretty much dropped right in without needing any more fitting than I would normally anticipate. I certainly didn't find that "standard" parts couldn't be made to work.
    Hawkmoon
    On a good day, can hit the broad side of a barn ... from the inside
    Last edited by Hawkmoon; 20th July 2009 at 15:48.


Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  



Sponsors Panel
If you intend to buy something from Brownells, Sinclair or Police Store, please use their banners above. Whatever you buy from them, gives us a small commission, which helps us keep these sites alive. You still pay the normal price, our commission comes from their profit, so you have nothing to lose, while we have something to gain. Your help is appreciated.
If you want to become a sponsor and see your banner in the above panel, click here to contact us.

Non-gun-related supporters.
Thank you for visiting our supporters.