I like getting the most bang for my buck — and as such really like my 1911 handguns from Rock Island Armory. I own both the 5″ barreled Government model (my review), and the 3.5″ barreled Officer’s model (my review). I like the Officer’s model so much that it replaced my trusty Glock 27 as my routine concealed carry piece.
It’s been a little over ten months since I bought the Government model, and I bought the Officer’s model seven months ago. While not a long term test by any means, I thought you’d like to know how the Rock Islands have been holding up.
Rock Island Armory 1911 Government model
The Government is doing duty as a “nightstand canon” after I decide the full-sized frame 1911 was too big for my daily carry. I take the Gubbermint out of the gun safe when I get home from work and put it back when I get out of bed the next morning. As such, it has seen the least external wear and tear even though I have fired it the most (probably around 500 rounds).
That being said, the Duracoat finish isn’t holding up very well given the light duty the pistol has seen.
There is some surface scratching around the front of the pistol from moving it from the safe to the night stand and back:
The breech is worn something fierce; I didn’t see this type of wear until I fired several thousand rounds through my Glock 27:
Lastly, you can see some of the finish removed from the grip area. It’s a little harder to see in these photos; look between my thumb and middle finger:
Side note: the Rock Island finish doesn’t do well with “personal lubricant.”
Mechanically, the Government has been rock solid. I did have some failures to feed with reloaded ammunition sold by my local shooting range. Switching to factory ammunition (and even factory reloaded ammunition) was no problem. Despite some grumblings on the Internet, the Government fires Federal Hydroshock hollow point ammunition flawlessly. After five hundred rounds, the inside of the firearm performs just like it did when I fired the first round. The Government is a beast.
Rock Island Armory 1911 Officer model
I carry my Officer model “appendix style,” which means that it is carried in the front of my body inside of my waistband. I keep it in the same Blackhawk inside the waistband holster I use for my Glock 27 (my review). The Blackhawk is made out of a soft neoprene-type material. I was still worried that sweat would hurt the finish, especially in the hot and humid Virginia summers.
I was surprised to find that the wear and tear on the Duracoat finish of the pistol doesn’t seem to be moisture related at all. The Officer’s finish exhibits the same weaknesses as the Government, except that my regular carry routine has caused even more cosmetic stress on the exterior.
There are two inexplicable scratches on the frame near the recoil guide rod. I have no idea how these got here; if I used a slide-style holster I might expect this from banging the nose of my pistol against something.
The breech is worn, just like on the Government model. Estimated rounds fired from the Officer: 300.
It is really difficult to tell in this picture, but I have all kinds of tiny scratches and wear on the front grip of the pistol. I also have a deeper wear spot on the frame near the grip. I think it’s from the 1911 rubbing on the neoprene top of the Blackhawk holster.
Mechanically, the Officer’s model has never disappointed me. I mentioned earlier that the Government had problems feeding some reloaded ammunition my local gun range tried to sell me. The Officer’s model was even worse, and at one point I had a really nasty failure to feed. I switched out to professionally reloaded ammo and never saw another problem. The Officer also shoots Federal hollow point ammunition without difficulty.
My only complaint about the Officer is how hard it is to put the slide release lever back into the pistol during reassembly. However, it’s not nearly as bad as a Kimber and the crazy paper clip-like tool necessary to field strip their compact 1911.
In short, I don’t think the Rock Island Armory 1911 finish is going to last nearly as long as the finish on my Glock 27 that I carried for over a decade. This is the downside to shopping in the economy end of the firearm spectrum. I expected to give up some things like trigger crispness, grip quality, and sights. I am disappointed with how rapidly the finish has worn on my 1911s.
However, the Government model can be purchased for as little as $380 on Gunbroker.com from fantastic seller Bellshire Guns (see their auctions). The Officer’s model runs from between $420 – $500 depending on who you buy it from and if you opt for the Tactical model upgrade (I didn’t).
I think the Rock Island Armory pistols are the best value 1911s available, even with the soft Duracoat finish. I don’t expect my Officer’s model to look showroom quality in another nine years, but you don’t buy a workhorse to be pretty. You buy a workhorse to be dependable and get the job done.
Still strongly recommended.