July 2009

Two Affordable 1911s: Rock Island Armory Beats Firestorm

The RIA Tactical is an affordable performer. The Firestorm 45 has promise, but a simple flaw gave us enough trouble that we graded it down and wouldn’t buy it. You might, however.

There are many renditions of the Government Model 1911 45. Some have every feature and improvement known to man. Others are more utilitarian. You pay your money and you take your choice. There is certainly a market for a workingman’s 45 with good features above those of the GI pistol, but which remains affordable. After all, many top-quality 1911 pistols start around $1000. There are a number of good GI pistols for under $500, but few 1911s below $500 also feature good sights and other advanced features.

However, we found two such affordable upgraded 1911s: The Rock Island Armory Tactical 45 ACP, $499, and the Firestorm DLX 45 ACP, $482. Each features Novak sights, or an approximation. Each features a custom beavertail grip safety and extended slide-lock safety. Beyond that, there are individual features and detail differences that may appeal to one shooter more than another.

We tested the two handguns with three types of ammunition, Black Hills 230-grain jacketed hollowpoint +P, Fiocchi 230-grain ball, and Winchester 230-grain Personal Defense jacketed hollowpoints. The results were interesting and conclusive.

Here’s what we found:

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