Happiness is Best Measured by the Centimeter
I’m not a big fan of 1911s. I mean, they’re cool and they’re classic, but I only own one because they typically don’t hold my attention. I would blame it on being raised on gun magazines that only ever seemed to showcase AR 15s and 1911s. The overexposure made me a little jaded. But when you say you have a 10mm 1911, you acquire my curiosity. And when you tell me it holds 16 rounds you capture my attention. That’s exactly why I jumped on the opportunity to receive a T&E gun from Rock Island Armory chambered in 10mm, this particular model being the Rock Ultra FS HC.
The legend of the 10mm is long and varied so keep things short: the FBI lost a gunfight, and lost it badly. They decided to start replacing their 9mm and .38 Special handguns with something that had a little more oomph. It turns out that Gun God and 1911 aficionado Jeff Cooper was already working on something with Norma to develop a more powerful fighting cartridge.
The FBI absolutely loved the 10mm! That is, until the paper pushers decided recoil was too sharp and the guns were too big, hurting their precious little palms. So they dumped it. This nearly killed the round but it turned out to still have some fight in it, for good reason.
The 10mm (When properly loaded) rides the line between a 357 Magnum and a 41 Magnum. The 10mm is one of the more powerful defensive cartridges that is realistically easy to handle, and easy to fit in an automatic.
The Rock Ultra FS HC
The Rock Ultra FS HC is a mouthful admittedly, but it does describe the gun. The full name is the Rock Ultra Full-size High capacity. It’s named that way because it’s a full sized 1911 with a 5-inch barrel and it’s a double stack gun that holds 16 rounds plus one in the pipe. That’s a lot of power in your hand.
This makes it a heavy lady; the thing already comes in at 3 pounds unloaded. It’s also a fat bottom girl. The grip is wide, even for my XXL hands, and the addition of a flared magwell makes it a literal handful. And on that topic on my first day with the gun I found it pretty easy to pinch the skin on the index finger of my offhand trying to do reloads. That being said, reloading is easy, and the flared magwell makes it so the mags flow right into the gun.
The rear sight is an LPA adjustable model, which is nice, and the front sight is a high vis red fiber optic. The hammer and trigger are both skeletonized, and you get G10 grips. The chamber fully supports the round so you can load the gun nice and hot.
The gun has an ambi safety, and an extended beavertail. Overall it’s a well put together gun with some flare to it. One of the best features is the fact Rock Island doesn’t feel the need to shove a billboard with their logo across the slide of the gun. There is a simple small Rock Island logo at the end of the slide.
Range Time, Pain Time
As someone who has basically converted to nothing but 9mm I was excited to shoot something with some actual authority behind it. The power and recoil behind the 10mm isn’t difficult to control, but it lets you know you’re firing a man gun. This is dependent on the load since 10mm has a wide spectrum of power levels.
The majority of shooting was done with Armscor’s 10mm loads. It’s a 180 grain round at about 1150 feet per second. This is an average 10mm load, although a bit on the light side. It’s also affordable and reliable. That’s one of the bad parts about owning a 10mm handgun. The ammo isn’t cheap. I’m paying 34 cents per round for Armscor and that’s as cheap as I’ve found without buying reloads from some guy named Jim Bob in a Wal Mart parking lot.
Shooting these loads is pleasant, and not really something to write home about. The gun’s large size and weight eats up any kind of discomfort you’d get. Now if you move up to a hot 10mm load, like the Underwood 180 FMJ rounds, that hit 1,300 feet per second you start to feel that 10mm recoil.
Shooting it feels like a 357 magnum K frame. In such a large gun it’s not painful, or hard to hang onto. If you have a little time behind some magnum calibers its nothing to be intimidated by. Even if you haven’t fired magnum calibers much or at all, this still shouldn’t intimidate you.
When you switch over to hotter rounds the recoil is best described as “stout.” You feel it, but rapid accurate fire is possible, as is accurate one-handed shooting.
The Rock Ultra FS HC 10mm is fun to shoot. The stout, but manageable recoil makes it a little more challenging, and also a lot more rewarding.
The downside is that Underwood costs almost double Armscor so I didn’t fire a whole lot of it. (Because no one pays me for this, and I don’t like you that much.)
Accuracy is top notch thanks to the bull barrel and tight configuration. In terms of mechanical accuracy, half is the trigger, a quarter is the barrel and sights. The trigger is about four and a half pounds and breaks nice and clean. The trigger itself has always been one of the high points to any 1911 style pistol.
The LPA rear sight is easy to adjust, and the front sight is easy to see. Combined that with the bull barrel and long sight radius and you get some outstanding accuracy. From 50 yards I can ring a small steel popper pretty easily.
Reliability so far has been outstanding. 250 rounds or Armscor 10mm has been fired without issue, plus 50 rounds of Underwood, and another 100 rounds of Sellier and Bellot. It’s all been fired without a hiccup. None of that bullshit ‘breaking in’ period so many 1911s claim to have.
The Rock Island 10mm has been an outstanding gun. Its purpose would probably best be suited for hunting, home defense, or just turning money into noise. It’s a bit big for concealed carry, but if you can pack an extra 3 pounds of steel to you, it’s a solid choice.