RIA BBR 3.10: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Rock Island Armory is a company many have become familiar with over the past few months, as they have reliably partnered with TKB to present some exciting reviews to our readers. For those not familiar with Rock Island Armory they’re best known for producing a variety of affordable 1911’s ranging from .380, to the more obscure 10mm, and of course handguns chambered in .45 ACP. I was provided with an upcoming release of the BBR 3.10, which looks a lot like the Baby Rock chambered in .380 ACP. The difference however is the BBR 3.10 comes loaded in .45 ACP, offering a 10+1 capacity in an incredibly short package. However this isn’t the perfect gun, it has some downfalls. Some folks might have a problem with the overall size, affecting their ability to handle the weapon itself, and its reliability.
The BBR 3.10 comes in with an interesting finish, using a gray lower, and a sleek black slide. The contrast is pleasant on the eyes, and the finish seems quite durable during use. The only wear I experience was on the barrel, which is normal with most handguns. Three dot sights are highlighted with a blaze orange front post, and two bright white dots on the rear sights. I can reliably acquire my sights while lining up for a shot on target any any given point. The grip is short lending itself to being concealed in a variety of positions, and with the shortened slide the draw from a holster is much quicker than longer competitors. The trigger pull is what I expect from a 1911 light and with a rather short reset for follow-up shots. The safety clicks into place firmly and stays put during operation of the weapon, I never felt like I might accidentally switch the firearm into safe while operating it.
The handgun itself arrived packaged in a Rock Island Armory case, padded with grey foam, two magazines in the box, and a red gun lock. The two magazines were the most exciting part, as I don’t exactly have a lot of double stacked 1911 magazines lying around. Out of the box this pistol is set up to be carried with 10+1, and an extra magazine wherever you can fit it on your person. Overall the package for this gun is solid, and knowing Rock Island Armory will come in priced competitively for the market. So the outside aesthetics on this gun are a plus. Sleek and sturdy in appearance and overall feel. However not every story is perfect.
Solid external quality, great sights, and controls that can be easily manipulated do not in fact make a perfect gun. This gun is let down by a few factors. Namely the size of the handgun. It’s small, too small even. I’m 6’4, wear an extra large glove, and pretty much have been in love with full size handguns my entire life. However in the sake of fairness I brought a friend along to shoot with me they are 5’6, wearing a medium set of gloves, and generally look like a battle gnome next to me. Both of us found the grip itself too short, I personally had to modify my usual shooting grip just to prevent myself from dropping the thing during shooting, and my friend found it uncomfortable at best to hold onto. The shortness of the grip is not at all complemented by the girth. I struggled to get my fingers to wrap around the frame itself, and this issue only became more pronounced for someone with smaller hands. For reference I’ve included a photo of myself trying to hold this behemoth.
.45 ACP is not by any means a weak cartridge, and this is really noticeable when trying to fire it out of a compact frame. Even bracing for the recoil of the handgun I struggled to keep it under control. A few magazines helped get me adjusted to the recoil, however it’s not by any means pleasant to shoot. The gun is violent with its kick, throwing itself up and I was left scrambling to find my sights for a follow up shoot. I’ve included a photo of the best group I was able to shoot during the day, at around 25-30ft. I had intended to do a 5 shot group, however my inability to count left us with a 6 shot group for the day. I can’t reliably say I was able to keep every shot on paper either, especially when trying to fire shots in rapid succession.
Holsters, magazines, and accessories in general are something that I cannot currently find for this firearm. While its new to market, I can comfortably say a holster will need to be custom fitted for this short handgun. Hunting down double stacked 1911 magazines will likely get easier as time goes on, and Rock Island begins selling them to the market. Without a lower rail, mounting a light or laser will be a challenge, so for those with a lust for tacticool it won’t be easy if you choose to buy this firearm.
Ignoring the awkward size of the gun, and the struggle with keeping the recoil in check the reliability of the gun is something else entirely. I experienced five separate malfunctions with firearm during my use. The first 100 rounds were fired with three separate failures to feed. Initially I thought this was apart of the break in period, and decided to apply a little extra lubricant. After this extra lubricant I experienced another two failures within 50 rounds. The failure left the slide locked back in an awkward position, not fully locked to the rear. To clear the failure I had to pull the slide a bit further back, and insure it was locked with the slide stop. Dropped the magazine, pushed the round back into the magazine after being pushed partially out by the handgun itself. Each time I was able to finish the magazine after stripping the magazine, and reinserting.
Although a neat offering to the range toy market, this is not a handgun I would trust my life to. The malfunctions can’t be cleared very quickly and could easily result in losing a gunfight. Perhaps a different lubricant, or putting more rounds through would eventually reduce the chance of a malfunction. Unreliable, uncomfortable, and with an obnoxious amount of recoil. This little 1911 tried very hard to offer a lot of firepower in a compact package perfect for the concealed carry market, and while ambitious it would serve you better to look into a smaller caliber in an equally compact package.