Rock Island Armory's "Baby Rock" M 1911 380 review

joepistol

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When I went to pick up my Baby Rock.. aka "Rock Island Armory M1911A 380 " ( as is stamped on the frame)

I examined it closely for any manufacturing defects, before accepting its delivery . I found no visible flaws, it has a even, black parkerized (?) finish,

it has a plain but business-like appearance.

Has Vertical serrations at front & rear of the slide, I noticed the edges are sharp. (more on this later)

I was curious, so actually removed the slide to check out the frame, slide, barrel, & disassembly procedure.

Breaks down just like full sized 1911's, it has a short "G.I." style guide rod for the recoil spring, a short/small dia. recoil spring (surprisingly strong)

and the familiar spring plug, that is held in place with a typical 1911 barrel bushing. Bushing fits easily in slide & around barrel ( not tightly fitted)

Internal parts seem tiny, comparing them to a normal 1911.

I noticed several differences:

1 ) slide uses an external extractor.. as does some other brands of 1911's (like my Sig Sauer).

2) No barrel link / swivel beneath the barrel, just a metal protrusion on the bottom of the barrel that passes snugly thu a channel in the frame.

3) No locking lugs on top of the barrel, this 1911 is a blowback design.

Those are the only visibly noted differences.

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Controls are std.1911 / familiar : slide lock,safety lever, grip safety,mag release button.

Hammer is lightened / hollow, is bobbed, had serrations for cocking. Grip safety has duckbill, keeping web of hand away from slide.

Black blade front sight, rear sight is also black, has a distinct square frame notch. Front sight held in place by tiny screw..using magnifying glass,

appears to be an allenhead. Rear sight is in a machined channel on the slide, looks drift adjustable.

Front sight needs a touch of white or red paint to increase visibility. Back strap has a slight arch (not flat) with vertical lines machined in the surface.

Front strap is smooth. Trigger has 2 holes ( style ? lightness, ?) and more vertical serrations on the front surface..also sorta sharp.

Your finger won't slip off this trigger. Pistol comes with 1 -7rnd ss magazine, it has a Metalform logo stamp on the bottom.

Went to the Metalform website to see if I could order another mag or 2, no mags listed there for this pistol ???

( Wonder if the Colt Mustang or Sig 238 mag will work ? ) Must research this..

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My Observations: this feels small in hand, but has some heft..it has a "real steel" feel that I prefer to plastic.

I'm able to get my 3rd,4th, & 5th fingers all on the grip frame. A tight fit, but better than having my pinky fall off / hang underneath the frame.

Index finger rests comfortably on side of slide,until ready to slip into trigger housing. Finger on trigger & dry firing, pull is heavier than I'd like

( aren't they all ?) but in repeated dry firing , I notice the sharp edges of the trigger face. Hum..might need to do something about that.

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Rack the slide, note..strong spring for its small size. This is not an EZ pistol to rack. Have to have a good grip on the slide & frame to rack the slide.

Now, the sharp edges of the slide serrations are much more noticeable. Frame fit feels a bit rough, when racking the slide..definitely not a smooth action.

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I disassembled the pistol, then sprayed all parts with WD-40 to wash off the heavy coat of rust preventive that RIA uses to cover all their guns.

Wiped it dry, ran a brush with Hoppes thru the bore a few times, then coated all sliding / moving parts with FP-10..my favorite gun oil.

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Started working the slide, repeatedly , to see if it smoothed out a bit. After several hundred racks, it did started feeling a bit smoother.

Same with the trigger. Multiple dry-fires, to see if it improves. Holding the pistol with the grip safety depressed, at times the trigger when pulled,

wouldn't drop the hammer, unless I re positioned my hand. Happened enough times that I noticed it. Humm..

Also notice fingers are getting sore, from slide serrations & serrations on trigger face.

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Reading owners manual, it states that slide is supposed to lock back after last shot fired.

My other 1911's lock the slide back, when an empty mag is installed in the frame & the slide is retracted.

Slide doesn't lock back on an empty magazine on this Baby Rock...it does have the notch in the slide to lock the slide back in that manner.

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Finally, headed to my club's indoor range with about 125 rds of 380, 50 rds w/ TC shaped bullets, 50rds w/ RN bullets.+ an asst of a few FMJ &JHP's I found in my 380 ammo stash. The 2 boxes of 50 rds were polymer coated bullets , Bayou I think, maybe Falcon. Had a few failure to feed rds the 1st 10-15 shots, mag didn't want to hold 7 rds, initially either, so just loaded 5 @ a time. After firing some rds, the mag spring relaxed, now holds all 7 rds, & feeding issues have mostly vanished.

Noticed all 50 of the rn bullets fed w/o issue. The cone shaped bullets had a few feed issues, but did fire all 50 rds. when reloaded in the magazine.

I fired the cone shaped bullets first, so whether it was the bullet shape, or just a need to break in a bit, is debatable.

I have 3 other 380's, all my loads, regardless of bullet shape have had no feeding issues. May be a "past problem" with the Baby Rock now as well.

.

Accuracy is difficult for me accurately assess. I shot @ 7 yds ( so I can see where bullets hit the target) but despite a combination of it's heavier trigger pull,

my sore trigger finger, and my general inability to shoot 380's all that accurately, I will say it's at least satisfactory.

All my shots stayed on my small sized targets ( measuring 7.5" X 8.5")

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Recognizing this is not a Bullseye pistol or even Target pistol, I consider the accuracy acceptable.

A healed ( or at least less sore) trigger finger, some white paint on the front sight, and maybe a little practice ,

I'm sure it's accuracy will improve from what was shown on it's first outing.

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I did notice after shooting the 100+ rds., both the slide and trigger felt much smoother.

Cleaned it after the range trip, used FP-10 & added a little Superlube (grease) to the slide, & it's greatly improved over when it 1st came out of the box.

The manual states the pistol needs 500 rds to "break in".. something that may be true, but shouldn't be, IMO.

I'm pretty satisfied with the Baby Rock. I will ad a drop of white paint to the front sight, maybe use my dremel to knock down some of the sharp edges on the trigger face,
& shoot it some more I will attach a few pics of it broken bown, I used a 308 & 223 case for size comparison
 
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joepistol

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Messages
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Location
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UPDATE : Took it to the range again Wed., ran another 100 rds...no failure to feeds, mag worked well. I put a streak of white paint on the front sight & it was a big improvement for the sight picture. I believe the sharp edges on the slide serrations are so you can grip the slide easier, as I stated earlier, it has a strong slide spring, despite its small size. Small pistol +, strong spring = takes some effort to rack the slide. Didn't mention in the above post, but when firing the pistol, the slide DID lock back after the last shot in the mag was fired, ,just as expected to work..don't understand why racking the slide on a empty mag doesn't lock the slide back. ?

I did notice, after shooting the 100rds., my trigger finger was sore..too heavy trigger pull ? or having vertical serrations on the trigger face that are too sharp ?
A combination of both ? I use the 1st pad of my index finger for contact with the trigger, it felt raw after shooting..something needs to change!
Decided to go visit my gun guru / gunsmith, Doug and use his trigger pull gauge to see just how heavy the trigger pull tests.
Discovered the pull was > 6 #., . as that's as high as his mechanical gauge goes..tried several times, exceeded the limit every time, before the trigger broke.

Doug quickly removed the safety, and mainspring housing, to get to the flat leaf spring beneath. Did some tweaking on the spring, reinstalled it, tested trigger pull. Removed spring again, more tweaking, etc.. until it felt right. Reassembled parts & now the trigger feels much better. The pull now measures 5 # on his pull gauge. It feels lighter, more like 3.5#..
That's what Doug guessed after putting it back together & dry firing it a few times. I agree & now wondering about the accuracy of that gauge.

Need another range trip to see if I can shoot it more accurately. I did order 3 more magazines, they're RIA mags. Only found 1 place that had them in stock..they're on the way. Also noticed that the pistol is OOS now, at the site where mine was purchased.
 

joepistol

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Joined
Apr 23, 2020
Messages
1,193
Location
Rochester Hills, Mi
a later update..
I've taken the Baby Rock to the range another 3-4 X since my last post. I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed in it's performance.
I always take another of my 380's to the range when I take the Baby Rock, to compare accuracy, and "shooting comfort", maybe better described as "shooting enjoyment". Not to disparage the Baby Rock, but after putting 500+ rds thru it, I will say I'm a bit disappointed.

First, in it's accuracy. Maybe more accurate would be to say my ability to shoot it accurately.
I can shoot any of my other (3) .380's more accurately, & in all honesty, enjoy shooting them more.
Hard for me to admit, as I wanted it to be my go-to .380.. as it's styled like, and feels like a 1911.
Took my Sig 232 along with my BR a few days ago. I'd loaded some 380's with a starting load, so they'd be soft shooting.
Shot the best groups, & accuracy EVER with this load in my Sig... in the BR, it was more comfortable to shoot, but not anywhere close to the Sig's accuracy.
The BR chambered, fired, & ejected every round just fine. Whether it's me, or the pistol, it just doesn't "satisfy" in shooting comfort or accuracy.

Another observation worth mentioning is : cleaning this pistol.
I've mentioned the barrel has a lug beneath it, that fits into a slot in the frame.
The barrel fit so snugly it was almost impossible to reinstall the barrel with the slide into the slot in the frame.
Just fitting the barrel (w/o slide) was difficult, the lug fit so snugly into the frame slot.
Fitting the barrel w/o the slide was possible as the barrel could be raised or lowered a bit , to enable it to engage the slot in the frame.
Couldn't do this with the slide attached. I eventually used a very fine jeweler's file to remove the sharp edge of the barrel lug..just enough that the barrel fit the frame groove a bit easier. This enabled the slide &barrel to be assembled together, with much patience. Still not an easy fit.
I thought this snug fit would equate to better accuracy, barrel being locked into the frame so snugly.
My slight alteration doesn't seem to affect accuracy @ all.
Recognizing this is NOT a target /Bullseye pistol, I suspect some would say it is acceptably accurate, you can easily keep rds on
a 8.5 "X 11" piece of paper @ 7 yds. (what I print my targets on) and it will put rds close to , around, & even sometimes inside the bullseye..
it just doesn't meet my accuracy needs. It'll become a safe queen or maybe I'll put it up for sale.

(I strive to be honest & accurate in my reviews, when I take the time to write one)
 
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