ARMSCOR (ROCK ISLAND ARMORY) ROCK ULTRA FS – 10MM

Light a fire, grab a cup of cocoa, and settle in for a review of a most excellent pistol. Reading my reviews is the perfect time to embrace hygge and fill your life with warm knowledge. How is that for an opening?

This review was created with a hidden agenda in mind, because I really have no need for another 10mm Auto pistol.

Aside from the RIA Rock Ultra FS – 10mm 1911, I have also purchased three other pistols in the same caliber, although for a cost less than the MSRP. The Springfield Armory XDm 5.25 (MSRP: $789.00), the Ruger SR1911 (MSRP: $1,019.00), and the Kimber Camp Guard 10 (MSRP: $1,228.00). In the area of functionality, it seems that the Springfield XDm 5.25 is the best and the Kimber Camp Guard 10 is the worst of the bunch. A powerful but ephemeral feeling of consternation overcame me, because at this point it seems that the more expensive the pistol, the more function-related problems exist.

The Armscor Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra – 10mm, herein simply referred to as the Ultra FS-10, with an MSRP of $748.00 is a step down in price from the Springfield XDm 5.25 in 10mm Auto flavoring. As such, it would be considered as an “entry-level” firearm, although there is no entry-level indicated in the quality of the pistol, but the entry level being more dependent on cost vs. anything else.

Some basis statistics for the Ultra FS-10 follow:

Description:  ARM M1911A1FS TACII 10MM 5PRK
Brand:  Armscor|Rock Island Armory
Model: M1911-A1 ROCK Ultra FS
Type: Pistol: Semi-Auto
Caliber: 10MM
Finish: Parkerized
Action: Single Action
Stock: G10 Grips
Sight: FT: Fiber Optic RR: Tactical Style Adjustable
Barrel Length: 5
Overall Length: 8.5
Capacity: 8+1
# of Mags: 1
Weight: Unloaded: 2.49 lbs. / 1.13 kg Loaded: 2.87 lbs. / 1.3 kg (8-rounds), 3.04 pounds/1.38 kg (8+1 rounds)
Sights: Front: Dovetail Fiber-Optic Front Sight Rear: LPA MPS1 Adjustable Type
Dimensions: Length: 8.75 inch / 222.25 mm Width: 1.313 inch / 33 mm Height: 5.5 inch / 139.7 mm
Safety: Ambidextrous Thumb, Beavertail Grip
Receiver: Parkerized Steel Frame
Features: Series 70 Type Firing System, Guide Rod; Combat Hammer, Skeletonized Trigger, Mag Well

Unpacking

While normally not worthy of mention, unpacking the Ultra FS-10 is worthy of mention. The Ultra FS-10 is packed with a preservative that has a consistency like molasses in winter, and there is a lot of it. The preservative is necessary because of overseas shipping and you would not like what sea salt does to a pistol’s finish. Therefore, be prepared to do a lot of cleaning before you can properly lubricate it for use.

Normally, I use TW25B Lubricant Protectant by MIL-COMM on my firearms. Lately; however, I have been experimenting with Ultima-Lube II Universal oil and Wilson Combat Ultima Gun Oil by Wilson Combat. I have been using it anywhere there is metal-to-metal contact, especially on pistol slides.

What you use is, of course, up to you, but I do recommend any of the following Wilson Combat lubricants:

  • Ultima-Lube II Oil – Thin viscosity penetrates hard to get to areas. Ideal for wintry weather use, 10° to 350° F temperature range. Recommended Uses: Tightly fitted handguns of all types.
  • Ultima-Lube II Universal – All-purpose lube for all types of firearms. Stays put under extreme conditions, 40° to 350° F temperature range. Recommended Uses: Service pistols/revolvers and broken-in custom handguns, Long guns of all action types, AR style rifles in the 20° to 50° F temperature range.
  • Ultima-Lube II Grease – Ideal for heavy wear areas. Stays put under extreme conditions, 40° to 350° F temperature range. Recommended Uses: Full and Semi-Auto rifles and carbines, Optimal in AR style rifles at temperatures above 50° F.

So, now that we have the unpacking out of the way, let us move on to the pistol itself.

Reality Check

The Ultra FS-10 is indicative of all “Ultra” Rock semi-auto of the 1911 class of pistols with additional features that have been added over the basic “Rock” series of pistols.

A red fiber front sight (shown below) that is commonly (and mistakenly) referred to as a fiber optic front sight, is drift adjustable for windage. The fiber front sight is highly visible in bright sunlight but leaves something to be desired in low light situations. A fully adjustable, 2-dot dovetailed sight is set into place at the rear of the slide.

The grip panels (shown below) are G10 “Operator II” style, and appear to be from VZ Grips stock, and while they look really aggressive they do provide an excellent grip without being overbearing to the hand. In the hand, they are not as aggressive as they look, at least to me.

A magwell extension, which appears to be a Wilson Combat unit, is installed at the bottom of the grip and attaches via mounts that hook over the bottom grip screw bushings. Each grip panel has been relieved of material on the inside of the grip panel to accommodate the mounting hooks of the magwell extension, which negates the use of other grip panels unless they are modified to accept the magwell mounts.

I am really beginning to like a magwell extension, shown below, as they assist in getting magazines into the grip frame quickly, although they do add a bit of length to the butt, which is the hardest part of the pistol to conceal. And I would select a different type that is part of the mainspring housing and allows the use of different grip panels without milling operations needing to be performed.

The Parkerized slide, barrel, and frame are excellently done while the Armscor Logo resides nicely at the rear of the slide on the left side. Thankfully, Armscor listened to the people and rid the slide of the billboard that really took away from the looks of the pistol. The Ultra FS-10 look “Cheetah Sleek.”

Internally, a 20-pound recoil spring keeps things from battering themselves to death and the action operating as it should. While the 20-pound recoil spring keeps things operating nicely, it does take some strength to manually operate the slide. The drop-link, bull-barrel design is typical to the Rock Island Armory line where appropriate for the caliber and pistol style, as is the full-length guide rod (FLGR). The barrel fully supports the high-pressure 10mm Auto cartridge, and that gives me warm fuzzies.

I do like the ambidextrous safety, shown below, the extended slide release and magazine release button, as well as the skeletonized trigger with over-travel adjustment, which did not require adjustment.

The Ultra FS-10 is a “Full-Size” (thus the FS designation) 1911 pistol. Frames are Cast 4140 Carbon Steel and Slides are Forged 4140 Ordinance Steel. As such, the pistol is 2.49 lbs. (Unloaded) and 2.87 lbs. (Loaded with 8 rounds), which is on par with the Ruger SR1911 and the Kimber Camp Guard 10 pistols, but much greater than the polymer-based Springfield Armory XDm 5.25 (2.05 pounds). Regardless, the weight of the Ultra FS-10 assists in managing recoil, and the 10mm Auto cartridge can generate some healthy felt recoil in hot loadings that would be used in a hunting environment. To me, it matters more on how I feel the day when I am shooting the 10mm Auto. On some days I am not bothered by the felt recoil whilst on others I am.

Picking up the Ultra FS-10, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference from other Rock Island Armory “Ultra” pistols in different calibers such as .45 ACP, 9mm, and .40 S&W. A quick look at the barrel stamping at the chamber end tells you that it is 10mm.

In the review example, there is absolutely no slide to frame play.

The fully ramped barrel is of the swing-link design, is of carbon steel, incorporates a full and polished feed ramp, and is Parkerized for protection.

I cannot tell if any areas of the frame or slide have been beefed up to accept the pressure of the 10mm Auto cartridge, although the area around the swing link is beefier than your normal 9mm or .45 ACP offerings. Given the overall weight of the pistol, something has been beefed up. 

Armscor has installed a beefier recoil spring (20 lbs.) to handle the increased recoil generated by the 10mm Auto cartridge. There is no way that I can attest to the perceived longevity of the pistol, as that can only be determined by long-term use; however, one would have to assume that a steady diet of full-power 10mm Auto hunting ammunition would lessen the life of the pistol. With moderate range and defensive loads, I am hoping that the pistol will outlast me.

The Ultra FS-10 looks and feels like a quality pistol, but quality is not measured by looks and feel alone, but in how it performs. So, after the requisite clean and lubricate pre-range activity, I was ready to take the Ultra FS-10 to the firing line.

THE FIRING LINE

While the Ultra FS-10 comes with only one magazine, I had several magazines from various manufacturers that would feed the beast.

Ammunition consisted of Sellior and Bellot 180-grain FMJ (1164 fps), Magtech 180-grain FMJ (1164 fps), and Sig Sauer V-Crown 180-grain JHP (1250 fps). The former two loadings were for function testing and the latter for defensive load feed tests. For some reason, I expected the Ultra FS-10 to perform better the first time out than the Ruger SR1911 and the Kimber Camp Guard 10.

So, how did it do?

First, the negative. The slide would not lock back on the last round with the provided magazine (shown at right in image that follows), although when manually working the slide, the slide would lock back. I had several magazines with me and the magazines that had the same type of follower would not lock the slide back on the last round. For a brief moment, just a moment, I was lugubrious. There was; however, a fix. Magazines from Wilson Combat (shown at left in image below), Ed Brown, a couple of magazines that were not labelled, and even Remington magazines, all with different followers, worked perfect. I would highly recommend that you purchase some Wilson Combat, or even Ed Brown magazines, to run in the Ultra FS-10.

Provided Magazine (Right) and Wilson Combat Magazine (Left)

Now, on to the positives.

My first shot struck the X. Subsequent shots of the first magazine struck low but within the X-ring. Once I figured out that POI equaled the POA, I was able to produce a few decent groups. Once POI to POA was established, it was time to have some fun with the “Mozambique” drill, and also let my friends and shooting companions have a go with it.

The Ultra FS-10, except for the provided magazine not allowing the slide to lock back on the last round, ran flawlessly out of the box with Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, and Mec-Gar magazines. No failures to feed, no failures to extract, and no failures to eject. I was highly satisfied with the first outing with the Ultra FS-10.

The G10 grip panels are a definite plus when shooting the 10mm Auto cartridge, as is the checkered rear mainspring housing (polymer). The front serrations not so much. The installed G10 grip panels are a definite improvement over the grips that come with the standard Rock Island Armory “Rock” 1911 pistols.

At the bottom of the excellent G10 gip panels lies a magwell extension that definitely helps in funneling magazines into the grip.

The adjustable rear sight on the Ultra FS-10, which are of a low-profile ‘combat’ style, is excellent and better than that found on the Ruger SR1911 Target Auto. However, the night sights found on the Kimber Camp Guard 10 excel at being well suited to low light operations. The sights on the Ultra FS-10 were set perfectly and point of impact was the point of aim.

Trigger pull on the Ultra FS-10 is excellent and is right up there with 1911-based pistols of greater cost. A slight bit of take-up is evident, and then a wall that takes about 5 pounds 12 ounces to overcome but feels lighter. I expect that to lessen as the pistol wears in. The break is close to crisp with no over-travel. The ambidextrous thumb safety clicks crisply in both directions but is slightly less going into safe mode than when going into fire mode. When fully locked to the rear, it does take some effort to “slingshot” the slide. The “slingshot method is one I prefer über alles. That 20-pound recoil spring makes things a bit more difficult. Doable, but difficult. The Ultra FS-10 would not be the pistol for somebody with weak hand or arm strength.

Due to the weight and size of the Ultra FS-10, some of the sharp felt recoil is lessened and is not unlike that found on the Ruger SR1911 and Kimber Camp Guard 10. If you have been shooting a 9mm pistol, you will experience a harder and sharper felt recoil. If you have been firing a .45 ACP, then the recoil is a bit sharper, and depending on the ammunition being fired, a bit greater in intensity. However, recoil is manageable with a firm proper grip and stance.

Compared to my Ruger SR1911 10 mm Auto and the Kimber Camp Guard 10, the Ultra FS-10 is the most reliable out of the box.

Concealment

At this point in my reviews, I normally go into the fact that the firearm under review can be concealed if the owner does their part with using a proper retainment system (holster and belt) and dressing accordingly.

The Ultra FS-10 weighs 3 pounds 0.4 ounces when fully loaded with 8+1 rounds of 180-grain fodder. The RIA Ultra Rock FS-10, my friends, is a heavyweight pistol as compared to the Rock Island Armory Tactical FS 1911, which is my favored EDC, which weighs in at 2 pounds 12.2 ounces fully loaded with 7+1 rounds of .230-grains of .45 ACP ammunition.

Since the Ultra FS-10 is a 1911-based pistol, holster selection is wide and varied. One of my favorites, shown below, for cost and quality, is the Falco A112 Hawk IWB holster. I have a version in black and one in brown. I highly recommend them.

Falco A112 Hawk IWB Holster.

For a shoulder holster system, the excellent but expensive Galco Miami Vice or Miami Vice II Shoulder Holster System is a desirable choice. My preference is the Miami Vice II Shoulder Holster System due to the forward-facing magazine holder; albeit, the system is slightly more expensive than the Galco Miami Vice. However, due to the overly endowed ambidextrous thumb safety of the Ultra FS-10, the thumb safety strap of the holster will not close, which negates the use of the holster.

Other favorites of mine are shown below.

The Versacarry Comfort Holster – Distressed Brown.

Savoy Leather Hosts a Series of Excellent IWB Holsters.

If you prefer a hybrid holster, the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.5 IWB Holster (Inside the Waistband) is an Excellent Choice.

Cumberland” Holster from Simply Rugged Holsters (with Kimber Stainless II shown.

Of course, the above are my preferences for concealed carry in the environment I am normally in. For field work, I would probably open carry unless I would be around people that I don’t know and whom need not know that I am carrying; whereupon, I would probably revert to my original concealed carry suggestions. For remote field work, with only mother nature as my companion, I would recommend, due to the weight of the pistol, something like “Tanker” holster from El Paso Saddlery (shown below), as big furry animals like nature walks when hunting and gathering and our paths might cross.

Tanker” holster from El Paso Saddlery

Due to the weight of the pistol, I also wear a quality set of Perry suspenders that helps to support the load.

Of course, clothing plays a major part in effectively concealing a large-frame pistol like the 1911.

Operability

If you have handled a 1911 previously, then you will have no issues with the Ultra FS-10. The manual of arms for the Ultra FS-10 is the same as with any 1911-based pistol. For self-defense against predators bound on doing you or yours harm, the 10mm Auto cartridge is more than adequate for the task. The use of the 10mm Auto cartridge; however, seems to beg discussion as to the court defensibility of the cartridge over the 9mm Parabellum, .40 S&W, or the .45 ACP cartridge. But that is for a separate discussion unrelated to this article.

The 1911 is one of the safest of pistols to carry. The overall design of the 1911 pistol, although it is over 100 years old, continues to serve those in the military and civilians that recognize the worth of the pistol.

Even with its reduced capacity and slimness of design, which makes it easily transportable, the 1911-based pistol continues to be my top concealed carry choice, regardless of caliber.

Comparisons

At the beginning of this article I stated that this write-up was to serve two purposes; evaluate the Ultra FS-10 and to compare the performance of the Ultra FS-10 to the Ruger SR1911 and Kimber Camp Guard 10, both of which are also chambered in 10mm Auto and both of which are 1911-based pistols. So, how did the Ultra FS-10 compare against the others?

Rock Island Armory (Armscor) products continue to amaze me. While the cost of their 1911-based pistol is below most manufacturer’s asking price, I would rate their 1911 pistols as equivalent to or even exceeding other manufacturer’s products. While I must admit that I have had to tweak some of the Rock Island Armory pistols that I have, the tweaks have been minor and have been no different, and sometimes less, than what I have had to do on higher-priced 1911 pistols to make them run like I need them to run.

I mention this a couple of times in this article, but I will mention it again, the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS-10 is the best running of the 1911 10mm Auto pistols that I have, which have been mentioned previously. I am still breaking in the Ruger SR1911 and the Kimber Camp Guard 10, both of which have feeding issues. Except for the provided magazine, the Ultra FS-10 has surpassed my expectations for performance and accuracy.

Wrap Up

If you are into large capacity, then you may opt for the Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra FS HC-10mm, a 16+1 round version that has more grip girth and a heavier load-out weight. However, for EDC and under most conditions, the RIA Ultra Rock FS will suffice.

While the Ultra FS-10 is less expensive than many others, that does not mean that the quality is any less. I have carried an RIA 1911 FS Tactical for several years, and while it is showing wear from a Kydex holster, wear due to shooting is minimal. The Rock Island Armory (Armscor) products are just an excellent value, the customer service is great, and I have no doubt that RIA products will step up when needed.

The 10mm Auto cartridge is an enormously powerful cartridge with case pressures listed at a maximum of 37,500 psi (SAAMI). To put that into perspective, the .44 magnum cartridge has a maximum case pressure of 36,000 psi; whereas, the .41 magnum and .357 magnum both max out at 35,000 psi. The 10mm Auto 180 grain (12 g) FMJ Federal is rated at 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) with 708-foot pounds of muzzle energy.

My chosen defense load, the Sig Sauer 180-grain JHP, because of its accuracy and reliability though this pistol, is rated at 1,250 fps with a muzzle energy of 625-foot pounds of energy, and operating at a lower case pressure than maximum, is more than adequate for the job that I need it to do. And the Ultra FS-10, from all indications, is up to the task of handling it.

While this article does not answer the question of what caliber is better; 9mm parabellum, 10mm Auto, or .45 ACP for defensive purposes, it does transfer my impression of the Ultra FS-10. Caliber wars will continue if there are firearm platforms to shoot them. To the latter all I can say is to shoot all three calibers in different platforms and determine which works best for you and the intention for which it will be used.

My final say is that compared to my Ruger SR1911 10 mm Auto and the Kimber Camp Guard 10, the Ultra FS-10 is the most reliable out of the box with Wilson Combat or equivalent magazines. Would I recommend the Rock Island Armory (Armscor) Ultra FS 10mm? Yes, I would, highly so.

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About Taurian

Taurian is an Oath Keeper, veteran, former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Until retirement, Taurian had over forty-seven years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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