Armscor has come a long way in the nearly 100 years since its inception. Today, the company produces a wide range of small arms for recreational sporting and defensive applications.
As wide as its catalog is, few if any would gainsay the popularity and influence of Rock Island’s 1911 pistols, which are some of the best 1911 clones ever made. They even make double-stack models (one of which is featured here).
With that said, here are four of the best (in our estimation) Rock Island 1911 pistols for defensive applications, not just concealed carry but home defense.
Rock Ultra CS .45
We’re starting out small but this is a heavy hitter nonetheless. There are few handguns on the market that offer the performance, low price, and overall value of the Rock Ultra CS in .45 ACP.
This compact handgun has a 3.5” barrel and is only 7.32” overall, with a height of 5.11” and an overall width of just over an inch at 1.3”. It’s light, too, at 2.16 lbs.
The small dimensions and light weight of this Rock Island 1911 pistol make it a great option for concealed carry because it is comfortable to carry, easy to conceal, and easy to handle.
It doesn’t lack firepower, either, chambered in .45 ACP and with a 7-round capacity. Rock Island itself recommends it for personal protection and concealed carry - though it is also a great handgun for sport shooting.
In terms of features, it might lag behind a few other Rock Island models, but it’s no slouch. It comes with button rifled barrel and full-length guide rod, a dovetail fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight, black and gray G10 grips, and a black parkerized finish.
TAC Ultra CS .45
The TAC Ultra CS .45 is like the Rock Ultra CS .45 in most ways, but differs in a few key ones that make it the preferred model for those that like a little extra expandability.
Like the Rock Ultra CS in .45, the TAC Ultra CS is also chambered in .45 ACP and has a 7-round capacity. This one, however, has slightly smaller dimensions. It’s 7.13” overall, with a 1.3” width and a height of just 5”. While it is slightly heavier (2.25 lbs), its smaller dimensions make it equally suitable for concealed carry because it is light, easy to handle, easy to conceal, and comfortable to carry, even for extended periods of time.
Like the Rock Ultra, the TAC Ultra has a full-length guide rod and button-rifled barrel, as well as a fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight, black and gray G10 grips, and a black parkerized finish to protect against wear and corrosion.
In these respects, it is nearly identical. But there is one key difference that sets these two Rock Island 1911 pistols apart. The TAC Ultra has a section of rail mounted under the barrel, making this the preferable model if you intend to expand it.
Most 1911 pistols (Rock Islands aside) are not particularly expandable and lack suitable attachment points. Not this one; that section of rail gives you free rein to mount lights, lasers, and other shooting accessories that you might want to pair with your concealed carry or home defense handgun.
Rock Ultra FS 10mm
Stepping up to a larger platform, the Rock Ultra FS in 10mm Auto also makes a great personal defense weapon, although you’re going to have to carry a lot more weight if you intend to conceal it.
This 10mm handgun is substantially larger than the other two Rock Island 1911 pistols here named. It has a 5” barrel and is 8.74” overall, with a 5.51” total height. Like most 1911-style pistols, though, it’s still slim, at 1.3”, just like the other two mentioned here.
It’s heavier, too, tipping the scales at 2.5 lbs, although, surprisingly, not by too much. With that said, and despite the fact that it would be more weight to carry, it can still be comfortably concealed, in part due to its slim profile.
Like the other 1911 pistols mentioned here, the Rock UItra FS in 10mm has a button-rifled barrel, a full-length guide rod, a parkerized finish, and black and gray G10 scales. This one lacks the underbarrel rail, but it does have one big advantage.
It’s chambered in 10mm Auto and offers an 8-round capacity. This cartridge has both a flatter trajectory and more stopping power than the .45 ACP, so if you can handle the recoil (some can’t) it’s a much more powerful gun. Just be ready for the kick.
TAC Ultra HC Threaded 10mm (16rd)
While it might be a little large for some to carry concealed, the TAC Ultra HC Threaded 10mm with a 16-round capacity is about as good as they come for home defense.
By far the biggest Rock Island 1911 pistol on this list, the TAC Ultra HC in 10mm has a 5.5” barrel, and is 9.25” overall, with a 5.5” height. It’s also wide, thanks to its double stack design, with a total width of 1.56”. At nearly 3 lbs (2.7) it’s also comfortably the heaviest gun on this list.
If what you need are capacity, power, and expandability, though, these tradeoffs are more than worth it.
Not only is this TAC Ultra chambered in the powerful 10mm Auto, but it has a double stack design that enables it to carry 16 rounds - twice the firepower of the former model.
It’s also expandable, thanks to a section of rail under the barrel which gives you the flexibility to mound lights, lasers and other shooting accessories. Perhaps even more importantly, this Rock Island 1911 pistol has a threaded barrel so you can add muzzle devices, like (namely) a compensator that might be able to help you wrangle the recoil of this powerful cartridge.
You could hardly hope for a more versatile home defense handgun, or more with greater power, capacity, or expandability. It’s even the sort of gun you could carry in the woods in bear country.
Rock Island 1911 Pistols and 1911 Parts
Manufactured to strict tolerances and hand-fitted, the 1911-style pistols produced by Rock Island Armory are some of the best in the world, and the models mentioned here are some of the best of all for defensive applications.
While they are all excellent, stock from the factory, the addition of a few selectively chosen 1911 parts can customize them to your favor. A heavier guide rod, a set of new grips with integrated laser sights, or a match-grade barrel, for instance, can make all the difference in the world.
If you have any questions about these Rock Island firearms or how to make customizations with specific 1911 parts, get in touch with us at 610-250-3960 and we would be happy to help.