“This isn’t a two thousand dollar gun but it shoots like one!” Attention hard-hitting 1911 fans, here’s a 10mm Commander to check out. READ WHY
Some time ago the 10mm cartridge hit the ground running and enjoyed a flash of popularity. Soon after the 10mm was eclipsed by the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. The 10mm was kept going by a small but loyal base. But the 10mm is enjoying a credible comeback. I think that a learned appraisal of the cartridge is part of the reason. The 10mm isn’t a .41 Magnum but with modern loads it nips at the heels of the .357 Magnum with certain offerings. There are 10mm loads with modest recoil that are easily handled and others that breathe fire and recoil like a drum roll. We have rapidly expanding frangible loads, jacketed hollow point bullets with an excellent balance of expansion and penetration, and hard cast bullets that feature deep penetration for game hunting.
I recently tested a very expensive handgun called “The Gun With No Name.” That three thousand dollar 1911 was stylish with no scroll work to distract from the beautifully machined slide. It inspired the handgun reviewed here, the Rock Island Commander 10mm — yep, a Commander-length 10mm — has had the slide “wiped” of the markings some of us find distracting (although this pistol still has ‘RIA’ in the serial number). It’s the Tac Ultra MS.
The Philippine produced Armscor pistols are affordable but workmanlike handguns that enjoy a deserved good reputation. The company produces bare-bone bones GI guns and also target pistols. The ‘Rock’ is offered in 9mm, .38 Super, 10mm, .45 ACP, and .22 Magnum, as well as the .22 TCM caliber. The pistol illustrated is a Commander type with 4.25 inch barrel. The kicker is this is a 10mm Commander, a relative rarity in the 1911 world.
While the slide treatment and refinish are aftermarket and custom grade, the best things about the handgun were already in place. The pistol features a bushingless bull barrel. This means that the barrel dispenses with the typical 1911 barrel bushing but uses a belled barrel to lock up with the slide. This makes the full-length guide rod necessary. The pistol features a bold front post sight with fiber optic insert. The rear sight is a compact but fully adjustable version. The ejection port is nicely scalloped with a unique and attractive treatment. The beavertail grip safety is an aid in insuring the grip safety is properly pressed to release its hold on the trigger. Those that use the thumbs forward grip sometimes form a hollow in the palm and fail to properly depress the grip safety. The RIA beavertail eliminates this concern. The extended slide lock safety is an ambidextrous design. The indent is clean and sharp. Trigger compression is a tight 5.2 pounds on my Lyman Electronic Trigger Gauge. The grips are checkered G10. The pistol is supplied with two magazines, and I added several additional MecGar magazines into the mix for testing.
For the test fire the magazines were loaded with SIG Sauer Elite FMJ 10mm. This load is clean burning, affordable, and accurate enough for meaningful practice. The pistol comes on target quickly and handles like a 1911. The low bore axis, straight to the rear trigger compression and hand fitting grip make for excellent handling. The pistol proved capable of center punching the target time and again at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The pistol is controllable but this isn’t a 9mm that you may punch holes in the target with at will. The much higher recoiling 10mm demands a firm grip and focused concentration. The mantra here isn’t a nicely centered group on target but a few solid hits with plenty of horsepower. Be certain you understand this before trying the 10mm. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. If you choose the 10mm you have a cartridge with excellent penetration, good wound potential, and, if need be, the ability to protect the owner against dangerous animals.
I also fired a number of first-rate defense loads. These included the SIG Sauer V Crown hollow point, the Buffalo Bore 155 grain Barnes X bullet, Hornady 180 grain XTP, and the Federal 200 grain HST. I fired a magazine full of each. No failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Even firing these loads the pistol remained controllable. I fired, allowed the trigger to reset in recoil, and fired again as the sights were returned to target. To test absolute accuracy I fired the pistol from a solid bench rest position at 20 yards. I used the Hornady 180 grain XTP and the SIG Sauer 180 grain FMJ loading. The results were good, with the average group at 2.5 inches. The Rock Island 10mm pistol is clearly accurate enough for personal defense and perhaps even hunting thin-skinned game or wild boar out to 35 yards or so.
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