Rock Island Armory 1911 CS Ultra TAC II Part of the "Happy Family"

Happy Family – Asian Style

Sizzling Happy Family – Asian Style:


  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 lb. beef, sliced thinly
  • 6 large prawns, shelled with tail on
  • 1/2 cup scallops


  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup straw mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup water chestnuts
  • 1 cup baby corn
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup green, yellow, red bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced


  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thick soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water


  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch slurry
  2. Over medium high heat, sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant
  3. Toss in the beef, chicken, prawns and scallops and stir-fry until the beef is browned, chicken is no longer pink and prawns turn pink
  4. Toss in the vegetables, leaving out the broccoli and green onions, and stir to combine, stir-frying for 2 minutes
  5. Pour in the sauce mixture and toss, mixing thoroughly
  6. Pour in cornstarch slurry and simmer until the sauce thickens
  7. Toss in the broccoli and green onions and stir-fry for 1 minute
  8. Remove from heat and add sesame oil and pepper, mixing well
  9. Dish and serve hot

Happy Family – Western Style

Sizzling Happy Family – Western Style:


  • 1 Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra 1911 CS TAC II
  • 1 Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra 1911 MS TAC II
  • 1 Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra 1911 FS TAC II


  • 7+1 or 8+1 dashes of 11.43mm ammunition weighted to taste for each meat item.


  • Lubrication. Hoppes, Ballistol, or other lubricants provide a most pleasing aroma.
  • Burnt gunpowder. A by-product of the after-meal dining experience.


  • No sauce required, as the recipe stands on its own flavoring.


  1. Load and shoot until you are satisfied.  Ensure that the proper portion is achieved for each meat item for complete satisfaction.
  2. Serve at room or any ambient temperature between what freezes or what cooks you. Serves several purposes (training, practice, self-defense, home defense), but I know that you would want to hog it all.
  3. Serve with eye and hearing protection.
  4. Chopsticks optional.

I do own a fair share of Rock Island Armory (herein referred to as RIA) 1911-based pistols (I have listed reviews in the RESOURCES section of this article).  I have also made comparisons between RIA pistols against other manufacturer’s 1911-based pistols (notably Ruger and Springfield Armory), but a RIA 1911-based pistol ultimately becomes my constant carry companion.

By now, then, you should know of my fondness for the 1911-based pistol and the .45ACP rounds in particular.  You would think that I have nothing new to say about RIA pistols in general, but the recent acquisition has completed what I call, “The Sizzling Happy Family.”

Rock Island Armory “Rock” 1911 CS Ultra TAC II

The reason for my coming back to the RIA family of 1911-based pistols is simple; low cost – high quality.  The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II has not changed my mind in that respect due to the features that are available on the “Ultra” series, as compared to my early version of the RIA 1911 CS Tactical. The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II also matches the RIA 1911 FS Ultra TAC II and the RIA 1911 MS Ultra TAC II by way of having the same upgrades.  By going with the RIA “Ultra” in all three sizes of the same “series,” I feel that the RIA 1911-based pistol is conducive of comparing pistols of the sameness rather than of differences.  But, that’s just me.

The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II is the atypical “Officer Model” 1911-based pistol in that the barrel length is 3.5 inches. At 2.35 pounds (37.6 ounces), the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II is certainly not a light pistol to carry, but I prefer heavy over light when shooting and especially with compact pistols (or revolvers).  Add another 5.86 ounces to the equation and the carry weight would be around 43.5 ounces (2 pounds and eleven ounces). That, to some, is simply too much weight to carry around. But, the weight of the pistol is not an issue to me.

The 3.5 inch barrel is of the “Bull Barrel’ type, as is typical to this size of 1911. Unlike my old Colt “Officer Model’ 1911-based pistol that I used to carry off duty in my LEO days, the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II is far more accurate.  The barrel locks up tight while using the dual lug and slide as support. But, and aside from that, the ‘Officer Model’ 1911 has an interesting history.

The Colt Officer’s ACP or Colt Officer’s Model is a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, and recoil-operated handgun based on the John M. Browning designed M1911. It was introduced in 1985 as a response from Colt to numerous aftermarket companies making smaller versions of the M1911 pistol.” – Source: Wikipedia. “In 1975, Rock Island Arsenal (not to be confused with Rock Island Armory) developed a compact 1911 it called the “General Officer’s Model Pistol” for issue to general officers of the US Army and Air Force, but the pistol was unavailable for sale to the general public.” – Source: Wikipedia. And, according to Wikipedia; “In 1985, Colt developed their own in-house version and named it the “Colt Officer’s ACP,” which is what I carried an as off-duty LEO and, at times, a Colt ‘Combat Commander.”

The Colt 1911 pistols that I carried (both on and off duty) were known as the “Series 80” pistols that had an internal firing pin safety. The Rock Island version of the “Officer Model” is a “70 Series” pistol, which does not incorporate the internal firing pin safety – and remains so today. For most 1911-based pistol people, the “70 Series” is the preferred version. Today, the RIA version of the “Officer Model” is known as the ‘CS” model, which is a RIA acronym for “Compact Size.” The advent of polymer pistols that could fire the .45ACP stifled the marketing and sale of the “Officer Model” due to their lighter weight (the Glock G36 comes to mind), which seemed to fit the fancy of most forty-five folks. But, comparing a Glock G36 with a, “Officer Model” 1911 is definitely trying to compare apples to oranges.

There are some characteristics of the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II that sets it apart from its larger counterparts, the FS (Full-Size) and MS (Medium Size).

The recoil spring is obviously a lot heavier than that found on the MS and FS, due to the lighter mass of the barrel and slide and which all contribute to the timing of the pistol.  In short, the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II requires a bit more aggressiveness in its handling over what is needed for longer barreled pistols. As was mentioned earlier, and despite the shorter barrel and slide, the weight is not that much different from the FS and MS models.

G10 Grip Panel Close Up

Magwell extension

The assault on the hand by the G10 (VZ) grip panels provide an excellent surface to grip even when the shooting hand is wet, although they can become uncomfortable when shooting the pistol for long periods of time of time.  (Actually, “assault” would be a misnomer, but I can’t say that these grip panels massage the hands.) The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II, like the larger versions of this pistol, is not a target pistol; it is a pistol intended to be a ‘working’ pistol. When shooting at the range for practice, I sometimes wear a shooting glove to keep my “Technical Writer” delicate hands from being damaged while helping to soak up some of the recoil generated when bullets exit the muzzle.  I usually swap out the grip panels on virtually all of my 1911-based pistols for my favorite Hogue Rubber Wrap-Around Finger Groove grips; however, I have opted to give these grip panels a fair shake, and one other reason that I will cover later. I failed to mention that on the left side grip panel that there is a nice cutout for placement of the thumb. SOOTCH00 mentioned that this is a nice place to put your thumb when shooting.  However, for me it provides a nice channel in which to guide the thumb to the magazine release button since I am a shooter that places the thumb on the thumb safety while shooting.

I do have to be honest here and admit to not liking the G10 grip panels – at first. However, I found that to be dependent on the type of G10 panels. There are highly aggressive patterns as well as lightly aggressive panels.  I find the G10 grip panels on the ‘RIA “Ultra” series pistols to be of “moderately aggressive” panels. If you are holding the 1911 as you should, the G10 grip panels help to mitigate the pistol moving about in the hand.  I found that I was not readjusting my grip as much as some other types of grip panels, and muzzle flip was very moderate, which meant that I can get back on target as quickly as I possibly can. Although I do prefer the Hogue Rubber Wrap-Around Finger Groove grips, the grip panels used on the RIA “Ultra” line of pistols are more than adequate.  Everyone (when you want to break a pistol in, allow your shooting companions to shoot the pistol, which lessens your work and you can evaluate how the pistol performs in someones hand beside your own) who shot the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II liked the feel of the grip. Now, so do I.

To aid in gripping the pistol, the metal back strap is checkered while the front strap has vertical serrations.

Two-Dot Fully Adjustable rear Sight

Fiber Optic Front Sight

One feature that I surely appreciate RIA installing on these pistols is the low-profile, fully-adjustable 2-dot rear sight. It is great to simply adjust them for the bullet to impact the target where you want it to rather than using Kentucky sighting to compensate for any elevation or windage issues (or in one case having to file down the front sight to raise the bullets impact).  The fiber optic front sight, while showing brightly in sunlight, is not that great in the dim lighting of my favorite indoor range.  But, “Est enim est” and is something that I am used to. It seems that fiber optic front sights are “in” these days, but I would prefer a good white dot front sight.  With that said, the fiber optic front sight is probably adequate for most to use.

The major difference between the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II and most “Officer Model” pistols is the capacity. The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II has a magazine well extension that allows the unobtrusive carry of 7+1 rounds of ammunition, as compared to the standard 6+1 rounds of ammunition that is common these compact pistols.  The magazine well extension does not add an appreciable amount of grip length that would affect concealing the pistol.  The type of grip extension; however, negates the use of the standard “RIA” Hogue Rubber Wraparound Finger-Groove grips that adorn most of my RIA pistols for duty use.  There needs to be a channel in the Hogue grip to accommodate the magazine extension. The Hogue grip would have to be modified, and I may be working on a solution to that in the future. For now, the G10 grip panels that are on the pistol will have to suffice.

The pistol only comes with one seven-round magazine (Act-Mag), but magazines of this type are widely available at a reasonable cost. I ordered three spare magazines for this pistol.

Ambidextrous Thumb Safety

The “Beaver Tail” grip safety is excellent at keeping your shooting hand out of the way of the hammer and slide as they do their work. Due to the low bore axis of the 1911, I can get the web of my shooting hand high on the back strap as possible while the thumb of the shooting hand rides the thumb safety. And, speaking of the thumb safety it is ambidextrous (unlike the thumb safety on the RIA 1911 CS Tactical, which is left-side only).  The thumb safety lever is flat and over-sized, which some shooters may not like, but it a whole lot better than the thumb safety found on “Government” models, and can be switched on and off quickly.  The thumb safety is positive in both directions. Note that I had an issue with the thumb safety on a early version RIA 1911 CS Tactical; it was too soft for my liking, but it was corrected by my favorite and highly-qualified local armorer.

Skeletonized Trigger with Over-Travel Adjustment

The trigger is excellent, but slightly gritty when new. After use; however, the trigger is smooth, let off is crisp, there is very little take-up, and no over-travel experienced.  Speaking of over-travel, the skeletonized trigger is set-screw adjustable for over-travel, but I found that no adjustment was needed. As a cautionary note, over-travel adjustment should be performed by a qualified gunsmith unless you absolutely know what you are doing (we are talking operation and safety at stake).

The Parkerized finish on the pistol is applied evenly throughout the pistol. At first, I was not impressed by the Parkerizing on any pistol, but I have come to appreciate it on a “Working, Blue-Collar Man’s Pistol.”  At some point in my 1911 experience, I realized that it does not matter how good the pistol looks; it is a matter of how well the pistol operates (among bikers this would be referred to as, “Chrome don’t get you home”). My usual carry, the RIA 1911 FS Tactical is showing signs of holster wear and shell casing bouncing off the finish of the pistol. It has developed a character of its own because of it. I suspect that the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II will, as well.

External and internal machining is excellent for a reasonably-priced pistol. While no match accuracy is claimed, competition with RIA pistols is widely spread (from what I hear from us ‘common folk’). I have the upmost confidence in my RIA 1911 pistols for defensive use.

The RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II has a full-length guide rod (FLGR) that, I believe, aids in accuracy (in some cases).  The FLGR complicates disassembly and assembly of the pistol, but this is common among 1911-based pistols that use a FLGR.  The simplest way to field-strip the pistol follows:

Preparation for Disassembly:

  1. Prepare a paper clip for use.
    1. Unfold standard paper clip.
    2. Use a pair of pliers to bend one end of the paper clip at a 90-degree angle.
    3. Use a wire cutter to snip the end of the paper clip so that approximately 1/8” of the bend remains.
  2. After ensuring that the pistol is unloaded and the magazine removed, cock the hammer.

Disassemble the Pistol:

  1. Pull the slide rearward to and push up on the take-down lever to engage the slide stop.
  2. Insert the bent end of the paper clip into the hole that is in the guide rod (through the top is usually best).  The slide is now without spring tension.
  3. Move the slide to the disassembly notch and remove the slide stop pin.
  4. Retract the slide slightly, and while holding the slide, carefully remove the slide from the frame.
  5. Once the slide is removed from the frame, remove the captive guide rod assembly from the rear – up and over the swing link.

Disassemble the “captive” guide rod assembly.

  1. The “captured” guide rod assembly can be disassembled for cleaning and lubrication and I have made a special tool to do the disassembly and reassembly (refer to other articles for this information). Actually, a hole was drilled in the center of a standard polymer bushing wrench. The hole is slightly smaller than the base of the guide rod bushing. I can simply push the guide rod bushing downward while maintaining pressure on the assembly with the wrench. I can then remove the paper clip and slowly allow the guide rod bushing to come off the assembly while maintaining pressure on it with the modified bushing wrench.
  2. Clean and lube the guide rod and spring, as desired.
  3. Reassemble the guide rod:
  1. Place the guide rod, recoil spring, and guide rod bushing into place.
  2. With the modified bushing wrench in position on the guide rod bushing, compress the recoil spring until the hole in the guide rod is revealed.
  3. Place the paper clip into the hole and gradually allow the guide rod bushing to seat against the paper clip.

Assemble the pistol:

  1. Install the barrel into the slide.
  2. Install the “captive” guide rod in from the rear of the slide. Note also that the guide rod bushing has a cutout that matches the mating surface of the slide.
  3. Install the slide onto the frame.
  4. Retract the slide to the rear slightly.
  5. Locate the swing link opening, and insert the slide stop pin through the swing link.
  6. Retract the slide so that the disassembly notch in the slide aligns with the tab on the slide lock.
  7. Fully install the Slide Lock assembly.
  8. Position the slide with the slide stop notch in the frame and press the slide lock lever to engage the slide. The slide will no longer be under spring tension.
  9. Remove the bent paper clip from the guide rod.
  10. Retract the slide slightly to the rear to release the Slide Stop.
  11. While holding the slide with one hand, allow the slide to move forward slowly until it is in battery.
  1. Perform a function check.

If you invest in RIA 1911-based pistol in any sufficient caliber, you may be surprised at the (little) recoil in this heavy a pistol. While not soft by any means, packing the widely known .45ACP punch, the recoil is easily managed if you do your part. The short barrel of the pistol also add some additional muzzle flip, as compared to its bigger brethren, but it is also easily managed through a proper grip on the pistol.

I have put about 150 rounds through this pistol with some issues.  I did need to slightly adjust the rear sight to my liking. At first, the pistol was shooting slightly left, but a trigger finger correction brought it to POA.  However, I did adjust the rear sight for windage, shot with my trigger finger where I like it on the trigger, and life was good.  At “combat” distance the projectile impacted the target right on the money.

The pistol sends 230 grain bullets downrange quite efficiently at “combat” distance.  The polished feed ramp helps to feed the beast while an oversized and flared ejection port gets all of those expended cases out of the way very nicely.  In the early days of “Officer Model” 1911-based pistols, functioning was always a question of if it would function properly. Also, many hours were spent by home and professional gunsmiths to make these pistols operate as efficiently as possible.  Today, it is hard to find a 1911-based pistol that does not function near flawlessly, even in low-cost pistols (there are always exceptions, of course).

With the above said; however, the CS may require a little more break-in and is ammo finicky due to its inherent characteristics of short action and strong recoil spring. This is not uncommon with the ‘Officer” model 1911 pistols.  I was breaking in the pistol with Monarch 230-grain FMJ (836fps) and Perfecta 230-grain FMJ (860fps).  Of course the ratings are for 5″ barrels and some velocity is lost due to the 3.5-inch barrel.  The Monarch shot softer and no problems were noticed with the exception of a ‘premature lock back’ of the slide, which I attribute to my support hand thumb being in the wrong place. Once I corrected my thumb position no premature lock backs were experienced. The Perfecta ammunition; however, caused two FTFs and one stovepipe jam.  The Perfecta ammunition was noticeably ‘hotter’ than the Monarch ammunition, and because the pistol had not yet been broken in, may have been the contributing factor. I ran a magazine of Sig Sauer 230-grain JHP (830fps)  through the pistol and it ran fine.  Some Federal 230-grain FMJ will be run through it at the next range session, as will some 185-grain FMJ to test the waters further with lighter, faster bullets.  As the pistol breaks in it will find ammunition that it really likes, regardless of my preferences.

The Armscor (Rock Island Armory) pistols are some of the best selling 1911-based pistols in the marketplace.  They carry a life-time warranty and Armscor customer service is excellent (I can attest to first hand experience with that). RIA has listened to their customer base and delivered, what I believe, are some of the finest, highly-affordable “Working Man’s Pistols” that can be found. And, they are available in favored calibers from .22LR through 10mm.

With the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II in .45ACP, you will have a compact pistol; albeit weighty, that can deliver a major caliber projectile with the best of them at fighting distances. Of course, you will have a short barrel with a short site radius. That only means more trigger time to master the pistol.

If you like an “old school” pistol with modern features, and don’t mind a little weight on your side, I don’t believe that you can go wrong with an all-steel RIA 1911 in your holster, regardless of caliber.

The “Sizzling Happy Family” will cover ‘all-season’ IWB carry for me.  The RIA 1911 FS Ultra TAC II takes care of the cold weather concerns, and the RIA 1911 CS Ultra TAC II takes care of my hot weather carry, with the RIA 1911 MS Ultra TAC II handling anything in-between.

In my opinion, with the exception of the pistols coming with night sights, the Ultra TAC II pistols fulfill the need for an excellent 1911-based pistol that can be used for EDC, range, or HD.  That’s my take and your mileage may differ.

RIA “Rock” 1911 CS Ultra TAC II in a modified IWB Holster from Black Arch Holsters. This holster works well with both ‘MS’ and ‘CS’ Models.


About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty 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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