Greetings! So I finally made it to the range to put my Rock Island Armory Tact 2011 A2 to the test. This gun is a wide body (high capacity) gun in .40 and is a semi-custom gun built for me to use in the Limited class in USPSA matches in the 2014 season. I had Arnel (RIA custom gunsmith) install some Ed Brown thumb safeties and a Dawson fiber optic front sight, and other than that the gun is relatively stock. The trigger breaks at a crisp 2 pounds, 8 oz (a bit heavier than what I normally shoot in competition). It is fitted with a bull barrel that locks up with no lateral or up and down play. The slide is fitted to the frame with no notable sloppiness. In addition to these features, I did have Arnel modify the gun so that I could use my STI magazines, which will make it easier for me to use on the USPSA circuit.
At the range I set a target up at fifteen yards and shot a slow fire group to see if the pistol was sighted in. I was quite surprised at the results, which were shot with factory .40 Armscor ammunition. While I did not shoot the gun from a rest, I believe it would be very capable of shooting around 2 inches at 25 yards. This is very acceptable for a USPSA or IDPA type gun.
After testing the gun for accuracy and making a slight sight adjustment, I began to put the gun through its paces with some drills from my training program (Your Competition Handgun Training Program).
The first thing I noticed was the difference between how it recoiled and recovered in comparison to an STI (a polymer framed gun). The recoil in an all steel pistol feels different because there is no flexing of the frame during recoil. To me the gun felt snappier, but after around 100 rounds I started to get used to the feel and found myself to be shooting it as fast as I might shoot my STI. The gun pointed surprisingly well, and I like the feel of a heavier back end and light front end. This is the same feel I get with my STI when I chop the dust covers down. While this reduces the weight of the front of the gun and in some cases might seem like it allows the gun to recoil more (higher), I find that the important thing to me is how the gun recovers, and even more importantly how it stops when I am driving it into a target area. Several hundred rounds later I found myself getting into the groove and found that I could shoot the gun about as well as my STI. During this testing session and a following one the day after, I shot a total of around 700 rounds through the gun, without cleaning, and it ran flawlessly.
In the end, I was quit impressed with this gun and will continue to shoot and test it. For a gun that might sell for well under $1000, it is a great value in terms of features for the amount spent. Rock Island offers a great warranty, and the guns run well (the ones I have tested). My only changes/complaints were cosmetic, as I did find a couple sharp areas on the gun that (RIA probably hates to read this) that I will be taking a dremel to, and the full sized thumb safeties will have to be modified a bit so that I can get a nice, high grip on the gun from the holster. Other than most testing and some slight modification, you will likely see this gun on my hip at future USPSA matches if it continues to shoot as well as it did during my testing!
Until Then – Train Hard!