Rock Island 1911 Pistols: Managing Recoil

Rock Island 1911 Pistols: Managing Recoil

Mar 13th 2023

You don’t need us to tell you that Rock Island 1911 pistols are some of the most popular 1911-style pistols in the market. They’ve been that way since they were first developed over 20 years ago.

But, like the real thing, many of these Rock Island Armory 1911-style pistols are chambered in .45 ACP. Sure, you can get Rocks in .380 and 9mm, but plenty of them are in .45, and that’s a hard-kicking cartridge.

So, if you find your Rock kicks a little harder than you anticipated, here are some things you can do to get recoil under control.

Hold It Right

First and most importantly, you need to establish a proper grip on the gun. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to fight recoil.

Ditch the “cup and saucer” approach. That’s archaic anyway. Think “high and tight.” That’s the way to control a handgun, shrink groups, and get recoil under control.

Grip the Rock Island 1911 pistol with your shooting hand so the web between your thumb and index finger comes right up to the base of the slide, then wrap all of your fingers fully around the grip.

The thumb of your shooting hand should extend as far forward on the frame as possible; wrap your support hand around your shooting hand and let the thumb of your support hand rest alongside it, right at the base of the slide on the frame.

This configuration will help you maximize the surface area between your hands and the gun, which will help you control recoil.

Hold It Tight

Another important tip that you should take to heart is to hold the gun tightly. Like, really tightly - as hard as is reasonable without torquing the sights one way or the other.

This should be common sense, but limp-wristing your 1911 is a good way to cause jams. It’ll also make recoil way worse.

Something as simple as holding it with authority will help you slash felt recoil.

Lean Forward

                        Rock Island 1911 pistol

Whether you shoot isosceles or Weaver-style, make sure you aren’t standing bolt upright. That is a good way to get knocked off balance. You need to be ready for the shot.

Instead, bend your knees ever so slightly to bring your center of gravity down just a bit. Then, lean your shoulders and upper body forward by a degree or two.

This will shift your center of gravity forward, which will make it easier for your body to absorb the recoil.

Shoot Lighter Loads

As we said, the .45 ACP is no joke. It kicks and carries a lot of stopping power. But, if you shoot a .45 like a Rock Island 1911 pistol, there are still things you can do without changing the gun or getting a different one in a new chambering.

One thing you can do is shoot lighter loads. A few grains one way or the other on the bullet weight can substantially change how much recoil the round produces.

Another thing you can look at is how hot the load is. Holding bullet weight constant, the lower the muzzle velocity, the lighter the load.

Bring down these two variables and you will square the effect on felt recoil. Shoot lighter bullets with a lighter propellant charge - that will also cut recoil.

                    Rock Island 1911 pistol

Learn to Stop Flinching

This one is huge. When you flinch, you don’t only destroy your chances at an accurate group. You also take your entire body and grip and form out of alignment, just asking for a sucker punch from recoil.

One of the best ways to learn to stop flinching is through the brass on the front sight drill. For this, you’ll need snap caps, a spent cartridge, and a friend.

At the range, clear your Rock Island 1911 pistol and load a snap cap. Assume your stance and aim your pistol, then have a friend balance an empty brass cartridge on the front sight.

Pull the trigger. If the brass falls off the front sight, it’s because you flinched. Keep drilling until you can break the trigger without knocking the brass off the front sight and maybe, just maybe, you will have conquered the habit.

Install a Compensator

Last but not least, modifying the Rock Island 1911 pistol itself with an upgraded gun part is also an option. Heavier guide rods, skeletonized or cut-out slides, heavier frames, and ported barrels can all reduce recoil.

But the most effective recoil reduction upgrade of all is probably to install a compensator. If your Rock can take one and you’re recoil-sensitive, a compensator is probably the best upgrade you can make.

A compensator will change the manner in which gases are ported at the muzzle of the pistol, pushing the muzzle down and keeping your sights on target for faster, more accurate follow-up shots.

Most importantly, compensators do not affect shot power and in some instances, can reduce felt recoil from 25% to 50% - which is huge.

Get a New Rock

Looking for a new Rock Island 1911 pistol, and you’re already aware you need an option that’s suitable for recoil-sensitive shooters? Maybe choose a 9mm version instead of a .45!

We carry tons of them. Check them out on our website via the link above or come visit us in our showroom at 50 Hilton Street in Easton.