November 26, 2019
Rock Island Armory of Pahrump, Nevada, a division of Armscor, recently released a new model within its upgraded Rock line of 1911 pistols. The Rock Ultra CCO is the company’s new interpretation of the combat carry officer design and sports some of the company’s best features in one carry-size handgun.
The Rock Ultra CCO, or Model 51857 by item number, is chambered only in .45 ACP. At 3.7 pounds unloaded, it’s not a light gun, but Rock Island Armory saved weight where it could, primarily by using an aluminum frame and lightweight grip panels crafted from super-durable G10. Weight is minimized in smaller ways, too, via a skeletonized trigger and hammer, and a bushing-free construction.
Above the frame is a 4.25-inch, six-groove, button-rifled barrel. It rides over a full-length stainless guide rod. The slide and barrel are made of 4140 steel. The steel is finish is Parkerized, giving it a matte black appearance. The corrosion-resistant qualities of Parkerizing make this handgun well-suited to deep carry where exposure to sweat and holster abrasion are possible, although as with any 1911 the beavertail can get hung up on clothing.
The rear sight is outstanding, with Rock Island selecting an MPS1-type sight by LPA. This steel, CNC-machined sight has white, non-illuminating dots, a medium profile, and is “micro-adjustable” for windage and elevation, including hash marks on the blade and frame to keep track of distance traveled for windage. The dovetail attachments are crafted for a super-tight fit.
Out of the box, the test gun landed shots approximately six inches to the right of intended impact point at 25 yards. This was easily corrected thanks to the LPA sight.
To Rock Island’s credit, the front sight is also dovetailed into place with a steel frame. However, the company chose a red fiber-optic tube to fill the sight socket. While it’s quickly discernable and easy to use, my experience with fiber-optic inserts has not been positive. They seem to shrink with exposure to the sun and age, and are prone to slipping out of their receptacles—in addition to being vulnerable to cracking and falling out. Their plastic construction has a poor track record among my student groups.
The Rock CCO Ultra excels in looks and handling, though. Contributing to both are the G10 grips, which are perfectly sculpted and the alternating scallop patterns of marbled gray and ivory are interesting and pleasing to the eye. The highly textured surface provides superior control over a reduced-size .45, and there is a groove for the thumb that aids control and eases the trip to a checkered magazine release.
Factory settings for the trigger are for a four- to six-pound break. It was surprising to find the trigger on the sample gun with much lower 2.4-pound break over a 10-pull average. Operation is first-rate, and the reset is smooth and short. To put it another way, this is a match-grade trigger on a carry gun—a trait many 1911 aficionados seek, although as an instructor I think this gun is an expert’s concealed-carry choice due to the light trigger.
The Rock Ultra CCO is delivered with one seven-round magazine from Act-Mag of Italy, another company under the Armscor flag. The metal mag has a blued finish and polymer baseplate. It drops free of the gun when released, whether full, empty, or in between. A small but checkered magazine release, easy to reach thanks to the grip design, puts a fast mag drop within easy reach of most hands.
It’s the humble grip safety that really has me singing the praises of this pistol. The activating “nub” of the device is placed lower than on many 1911s. Unlike high-placed grip safety levers, this one has yet to be unintentionally engaged. My customary grip is correct and high. Some readers whose hands are hollow right where most grip safeties are placed will understand my pleasure at this discovery. Unlike other pistols in the Rock series, the Ultra has a single-side safety and not an ambidextrous one.
The Rock Ultra CCO ran with zero hiccups for this approximately 250-round test, although DoubleTap ammo required a bit of extra effort was required to properly insert the seventh round into the magazine. This load also grouped five inches lower than others using the same point of aim at 25 yards.
Rock Island Armory Rock Ultra CCO Specs
- TYPE: 1911
- CALIBER: .45 ACP
- CAPACITY: 7+1
- BARREL: 4.25 in., six-groove, button-rifled
- OAL/Height/Width: 8.0/5.1/1.3 in.
- CONSTRUCTION: Parkerized 4140 slide, stainless steel guide rod; aluminum frame
- GRIPS: G10
- SIGHTS: adjustable LPA two-dot rear, red fiber optic front
- SAFETY: thumb, grip w/memory bump
- PRICE: $760
- MANUFACTURER: Rock Island Armory, armscor.com