Rock River Arms is famous for their iterations of two classic American martial firearms, the AR-15 and the 1911. In the latter case, Rock River’s .45 autos made their bones at Camp Perry, where their accuracy and reliability endeared them to bulls-eye shooters. Take one of those excellent pistols, make sure the tolerances will allow it to run reliably under duty conditions, put on some sights suitable for defensive purposes, and add a light rail to the dust cover: Voila! You have Rock River’s new Tactical 1911-A1 .45 ACP ($2,200).
The sights are an excellent choice for a pistol bearing the “Tactical” moniker, to wit, the excellent Heinie Ledge, so called because the shape of the rear sight gives a ledge which allows a user with only one hand left to fight with a way to rack the slide against a belt or holster using this contact point. The front post and the rear each have one Trijicon night sight ampoule, aimed by setting the front above the rear in Richard Heinie’s famous “Straight Eight” configuration.
Kart match barrels are famous for their accuracy and quality. That’s what you find in the Rock River Tactical, perfectly installed for optimum function.
The recoil system is John Browning’s time-proven original, which gets a big thumbs up from this reviewer. The thumb safety is sized well for fast use, but is mounted on the side only. The speed hammer and beavertail grip safety with “speed bump” worked perfectly even with a high-thumb grasp, which on many 1911s fails to activate the grip safety. Not so on this one.
I would have preferred an ambi thumb safety and could have done without the forward slide grasping grooves. That, of course, is subjective. I found the thumb safety stiff to engage to the “on-safe” position at first, but within the first day of “git ‘er up on target an’ shoot,” it wore in just fine.
On the Lyman digital scale, the trigger pull weight averaged 4 lbs, 10.9 oz., but felt lighter, an indication of a well-made gun with a smooth pull. Four pounds even is generally considered red-line minimum for a duty gun as opposed to dedicated target pistol in the 1911 platform, so the pull weight absolutely lived up to its “Tactical” name.
From five to ten yards, the RRA kept everything in one hole when I did my part slow fire (and did so faster at the closer distances). At 25 yards I went with my usual protocol: Caldwell Matrix rest on a concrete bench, and each five shot group measured twice to the nearest 0.05”. The first measurement was all five, showing what an experienced gunner could expect from a solid, braced position with no stress involved, and the second was the best three hits. We used three different brands of ammo, representing the most common bullet weights. The lightest was 185-grain Federal Classic JHP, and the numbers measured out so precise they looked made up. All five were exactly 2.50” apart center to center, and the best three measured exactly half of that at 1.25” on the nose. Point of impact centered slightly above and to the right of the aiming dot.
The middleweight bullet was the Sig Elite Performance V-Crown 200-grain JHP. Five of these formed a 2.95” group a tad above the aiming dot but centered for windage. The best three measured 1.70”.
Traditional “fodder” for the .45 ACP is 230-grain bullets, and since full metal 230-grain FMJ “hardball” is so popular in .45 ACP ya just gotta test some. Remington-UMC was the choice here, and it turned out to be the tightest-shooting of the three loads tested, in both measurements. All five went into 1.60”, and the best three formed a 1.15” group.
We ran over 300 hundred rounds through this gun without cleaning or lubrication. The only malfunction was a failure of a spent casing to completely clear the chamber. This occurred on the bench with the 185-grain Federal, the mildest load of the test. After that malf, I loaded up a magazine with a mix of hardball and JHP carry loads, and deliberately “limp-wristed” the RRA weak-hand only. All eight rounds cycled merrily through, leaving the pistol at slide-lock with no malfunctions.
I wore the RRA .45 for an afternoon in a Blackhawk CQC composite scabbard, and for a full day in a Kydex holster by Green Force Tactical (greenforcetactical.com). No snags, no discomfort, no sharp edges, no problems at all. After testing, the Rock River Tactical had left not the slightest bit of soreness in the tester’s arthritic old hands. This is a user-friendly .45, to be sure. For more information contact Rock River Arms, Dept. OT; Tel.: (866) 890-ROCK; Web: www.rockriverarms.com
TESTED: Rock River Arms RRAGE 2G
RRA expands the RRAGE series with the new RRAGE 2G
by Jeromy Knepp
In the competitive world of modern sporting rifle manufacturing, companies must be on their game to achieve top dog status. New ideas can propel them to the forefront of the manufacturing race and Rock River Arms, a well-known precision 1911 pistol manufacturer, has done so in spectacular fashion. Taking what they gleaned in performance-enhancing accuracy techniques from the 1911 platform provided a natural transition into the MSR build world. Unlike some manufactures, RRA does not “build guns” by pulling from other industry manufacturers. RRA produces products from within their own facilities to create competition and duty-ready rifles they can firmly stand behind.
In 2018, the company wanted to meet the demand of 3-gun competitors with a price point that could be afforded by the average shooter. Thus, the RRAGE series rifle was born. This first iteration was the basis of the rifles to come in the 3G and 2G trim. The first series rifle came optics-ready with a flat top upper that meshed seamlessly into the carbine length handguard. The drawback for competitors would be the carbine length handguard. With only enough length to either use an optic, red dot, or a combo red dot with magnifier, it would be difficult to combine irons, if necessary, with optics. A short handguard also limits how far you can place a bi-pod or barricade stop. Again, it was not possible to run both options simultaneously.
The next year, RRA ramped up the RRAGE offerings with the G3 model. Eliminating the short carbine handguard, RRA fitted a 15-inch unit to extend the site radius and to provide room for additional handguard accessories. The newly designed handguard is an exceptionally low-profile design with a seamless blend to the upper. The upper receiver and handguard junction results a slick design that allows the shooter to move effortlessly without fear of snagging clothing. Moving to the barrel end of the handguard is a 2.690-inch section of Picatinny rail to allow for a front sight option or a laser/light combo of your choice.
Enter the RRAGE 2G
At first glance, you wonder what the difference is between the 3G and 2G. First off, you get a 9.5-inch handguard. Pay attention also to the barrel and you’ll see a new stamping. Unlike the 3G, the 2G now comes with a 1:8 twist rate, allowing shooters to stabilize 80- to 85-grain bullets in a 16-inch barrel.
As a benchrest shooter and a long-range shooting enthusiast, I’m always looking to push things, and this rifle will do just that. I have used 69-grain Sierra-tipped MatchKings up to 1000 yards with little work. While not ideal, adding fifteen more grains of bullet weight and ballistic coefficient makes 1 MOA steel doable and 2 MOA steel a steal. Wind will, however, always be the nemesis of the .223 caliber bullet.
So, what else comes with this rifle? As mentioned, RRA takes pride in their firearm design and construction. This rifle comes equipped with the RRA six-position collapsible M4-style carbine stock and A2-style hand grip. An original 30-round magazine made in-house is also shipped with your 6.5-pound rifle. The bolt runs by a carbine length gas system. Trigger pull weight breaks crisply at 6.2 pounds, according to a Wheeler Engineering pull gauge.
The upper receiver and free-floated handguard are made of light but strong extruded T6061 aluminum along with the optics-ready flat top. Made in-house, quality control can catch any issue before it leaves the factory. The lower receiver is made of forged aluminum, giving it the strength necessary to handle whatever you throw at your rifle.
Going to the range was a joy. Being mostly a bolt guy, cutting loose with a semi-auto rifle is a nice change of pace. Since receiving some new lubricating and cleaning product from Real Avid, getting the rifle ready was a cinch. A big nod goes to Black Hills Ammunition, Barnaul, Berger, Fiocchi, and Hornady for digging deep to find ammunition for this accuracy test.
The winner on the day is a new offering from Berger Ammunition. Their new 77 OTM offering shot the best group at 2611 fps average and standard deviation of 20 fps, producing a five-shot group of .618 inches. Second place goes to Hornady’s Frontier 68-grain boattail hollow-point coming in at .771 inches at an average of 2667 fps and a standard deviation of 15 fps. I found that this rifle did not care too much for the 55-grain offerings. Federal’s 55-grain FMJ boattail produced the best group at 1.123 inches while the steel case Barnaul was not working with this barrel, landing last at 2.740 inches.
Functionally, the rifle was a gem. Real Avid’s gun oil kept the bolt carrier group running flawlessly. Topping the RRAGE 2G was a Riton Patrioptic 1-8×28 scope with a green reticle affixed to a Contessa QD mount. Over multiple strings of fire, there were no misfires or stove pipes. There were no jamming issues with the magazine or double feeds. Brass ejected uniformly for each ammunition used. While shooting the rifle, it felt solid without any sloppiness between the upper and lower. This definitely aided in accuracy.
- Berger Match 77-gr OTM – Avg. 2939 fps, SD 20, .618-inch group
- Hornady Frontier 68-gr. BTHP – Avg. 2667 fps, SD 15, .771-inch group
- Black Hills 77-gr. OTM – Avg. 2673 fps, SD 16, 1.060-inch group
- Federal American 55-gr. FMJ BT – Avg. 2915 fps, SD 14, 1.123-inch group
- Fiocchi 55-gr. FMJ BT – Avg. 2655 fps, SD 16, 1.147-inch group
- Hornady 55-gr. FMJ BT – Avg. 3044 fps, SD 63, 1.292-inch group
- Barnaul Steel Case 55-gr. FMJ BT – Avg. 2939 fps, SD 26, 2.740-inch group
I like that the RRAGE 2G comes with a 1:8 twist barrel, allowing the use of all weight bullets up to the 85-grain weight range. Solid, sleek lines and the additional Picatinny rail at the front of the handguard allows for a greater site radius if you choose to run iron sights. At 6.5 pounds without an optic, it makes the rifle suitable for your range and home security needs.
Off the Mark
As an Army veteran, I would like to see a forward assist. In the heat of battle or competition, a jam costs you time. Being able to slam the forward assist could prove its worth. That MILSPEC trigger needs some help. It is crisp, yes, but going from a 10-ounce target trigger to a 6-pound trigger is like trying to move a concrete block with your big toe. A Rock River two-stage match trigger or even a 3-pound single-stage trigger would be a recommended upgrade.
Overall, this is a good, solid rifle. With an MSRP of $860, it is a capable rifle at great price point. If you’re looking begin your 3-Gun or short-stage PRS competition endeavors, the Rock River Arms RRAGE 2G may be your ticket.
On a side note, this rifle is not available directly from Rock River Arms, as it is an exclusive to national distributor RSR Group. Ask your local dealer for ordering information.
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I love a good AR-15. Accurate, manageable, reliable to all sorts of distances (depending on your setup). I love hearing thepingsand twangs of hits, misses, and ricochets. Even after years, I’m still fond of the scent of spent cartridges, especially in an outdoor range and particularly in the summertime. Hold on to your hats, people, it’s our Rock River Arms review.
As you are undoubtedly aware, there are many companies competing for your attention and your hard-earned dollars. Sure, you have guys like Cimarron Firearms and others, who are so niche that they have some measure of well-earned exclusivity. Heck, Cabot Guns is selling 1911s made from a bonafide 4-billion-year-old meteorite. But when you’re talking about modern ARs, it’s really anyone’s game, and there are many options to choose from.
Whether we’re talking about a complete system, a build, or an upgrade to an existing weapon, the question is asked: should you use Rock River Arms (RRA) for your next endeavor?
Rock River Arms
A bit of history for context: this company was founded in 1996 by two brothers, Mark and Chuck Larson. As Rick and Morty would say, these two brothers… they have a strong bond.
Before they established their outfit, Mark and Chuck had been in the firearms industry for years, working with Springfield Armory and Eagle Arms, and also partnering up with Les Baer Custom, who are known for their quality 1911 pistols.
In the mid-’90s, the Larsons set up shop as Tolerance Plus in Illinois, and the business was later renamed Rock River Arms. RRA can now be found in Colona, Illinois in a state-of-the-art facility.
They primarily manufacture AR-style guns, pistols, uppers, lowers, parts and components, plus they also have some alternating specials and limited edition offers, as many companies do. They also produce 1911s. In fact, they started off as a 1911-making company in 1996, and only later did they branch out into AR territory, at the turn of the millennium.
As a company, RRA went through some controversial times, particularly in the summer of 2017 when a questionable gun law was passed in their home state. Rock River Arms took steps to distance itself from the incident, but some damage was definitely done during that time. Then again, I am aware that laws and guns are two different things, really, so I’d like to focus on their manufacturing abilities.
Generally, Rock River makes good rifles and pistols. I use the term “good” loosely because it really is subjective. They’ve been producing 5.56mm and 7.62mm models since the beginning of their AR-15 manufacturing, and that’s pretty standard. Later on, 9mm joined the party, as did 300 BLK. Recently, they introduced a pistol and rifle chambered in .22LR.
I mentioned the exclusivity of other companies, because some of them are really boldly going where no man has gone before. Rock River certainly is not doing anything too exclusive, although they do have proprietary actions and designs, and even a polymer 1911 (something which is not so common).
They manufacture quality weapons, and ultimately that’s what you want – quality you can depend on to perform. RRA’s most recent additions, which debuted at SHOT Show 2019, are the BT-9G and RBG-1S series.
Rock River AR 15
Their AR-15 line, which they named the LAR-15, is varied. There are multiple versions and configurations, but it’s pretty standard stuff when you get into the guts of it; and to be clear, that is not meant in a bad way as a put-down. I think they may go in different directions in the future, but for now, it seems they are content with using what works, and with manufacturing solid, respectable, well-put-together firearms. What more do you want from a firearms maker?
Ever since Eugene Stoner designed, released, and improved his AR system back in the mid 20th century, everyone and their mother has been using it and working off of it. It’s not by chance that the AR-15 was nicknamed “America’s Rifle”. It’s a tried, true, and tested weapons system, which is why so many companies are manufacturing them and their derivatives.
If you’re looking for a good model at a fair price, RRA is a safe bet. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be successful – you need to provide value to your consumer and stand behind your product. RRA manage to do this for sure, and compared to others at their models’ respective prices, they deliver a good rifle which stands the test of time.
Obviously, there will always be those who claim RRA are nothing but “tactical bling”. I take issue with that. It’s one thing if you say a certain model or series is just for show, but to claim the entire company makes weapons which are “tacticool” and nothing more than that – I don’t agree. I think Rock River’s weapons are much more than that.
Here are the specs for the classic LAR-15:
- Model: RRAGE LAR-15
- Caliber: 5.56mm
- Capacity: 30 Rounds (comes with a single polymer magazine)
- Action: Semi-auto, direct impingement
- Barrel Length: 16”
- Overall Length: 36”
- Weight: 5.7 lbs
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $760
It comes with a 6-position stock, A2 grip and flash hider, Picatinny rail top, and a single-stage trigger. They also have a two-stage trigger which many people are fond of, and which comes standard with some of their other models.
This base rifle is a good option for a US-made “budget” AR-15, but as always, you may be able to find cheaper versions. In fact, you can count on finding cheaper ones, but they may not afford you with the quality of Rock River Arms.
The LAR-15 has a nice and sleek monolithic look to it (although it is not monolithic), so if appearances are important to you, it is something to consider. Also, if you’re not into the “complete rifle” thing, their barrels are one piece of equipment which you should think about for your AR setup or build. Whether chrome or stainless, they are a viable option which will set you back some money, of course, but is worth the price.
Rock River Arms 1911
Ever since the mid-90s, when they first started, Rock River has been into the 1911 game. It comes as no real surprise, since they were partners with Les Baer, who make some of the best 1911 pistols around. Their 1911 models (aptly named RRA 1911) are all chambered in .45 ACP, and if I am not mistaken, they are considered to be more on the semi-custom line of the 1911 spectrum. They are more than your run-of-the-mill 1911 with drop-in-parts pistol.
There are several versions of the RRA 1911, as well as parts and components of all sorts. Their guns provide a 7+1 capacity, which is pretty standard for these types of models.
As I mentioned, there is also the polymer 1911, which some praise and others curse. There are those who feel that if Browning meant for it to be anything but steel, he would have designed it that way.
According to the company, they slowed down their production of 1911s around 2008, after they saw a significant rise in their AR sales. You gotta go with what works, you know? So they poured more focus into ARs for several years, and then reintroduced their 1911s later on, with the polymer model joining their lineup in 2014.
Here are the specs for the poly 1911:
- Model: POLY RRA 1911
- Caliber: .45 ACP
- Capacity: 7+1 Rounds (comes with 2 stainless steel magazines)
- Action: Single-action, semi-auto
- Barrel Length: 5”
- Overall Length: 8.3”
- Weight: 2.4 lbs
- Sights: White-dot, non-adjustable
- MSRP: $1,025
The frame and housing are indeed polymers, but it all rides on a stainless steel chassis. The points of locking are steel, which makes a big difference in the long run. The barrel is chrome-moly, and the grips are over-molded in rubber.
It will definitely not be everyone’s 1911 of choice, and the reasons for that are obvious, but overall this model represents an interesting take on a classic piece of American weaponry.
Rock River Arms is considered by some to be “middle of the road” and nothing more, but they do have some models which are significantly more than that. Their newer models certainly solidify what RRA fans have known for a while: that this is a company capable of making more than good AR-15 clones.
Hypothetically speaking, if I had to purchase a complete AR-15 sight unseen, I would be confident and comfortable with buying a model from RRA. They have a good reputation, many years of experience with a variety of people and companies, and also a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. It has everything I would want or need, if I am an everyday shooter.
It comes down to the shooter, as always, and the intended use. Does it feel comfortable in your hands? Does it meet your expectations as far as ruggedness and accuracy are concerned? Are you impressed by the technical specifications, or do you find them wanting? There is so much that you can’t tell about a weapon until you physically hold it and actually fire it.
Carry Pistol RRA 1911-A1
- • .45 ACP
- • RRA Forged NM frame with beveled mag well
- • 25 LPI checkered front strap
- • RRA Forged NM 5 inch slide with double serrations
- • RRA rear sight with tritium inserts
- • RRA dovetail front sight with tritium inserts
- • RRA Match aluminum speed trigger with crisp 4 lb pull
- • Match Commander hammer and match sear
- • Flat mainspring housing with 25 LPI checkering
- • Beavertail grip safety with raised pad
- • Lowered and flared ejection port
- • Tuned and polished extractor
- • Extended ejector
- • Throated RRA 1:16 twist barrel and bushing
- • Tactical mag catch
- • Tactical safety
- • Standard recoil system
- • Super Rosewood grips
- • Parkerized finish
- • Dehorned for carry
- • Tuned for total reliability
- • Includes One Magazine
- • Guaranteed to shoot 2.5 inch groups at 50 yards with 185 grain Federal Gold Medal Match Semi-Wadcutter or Atlanta Arms JHP
1911 review rock river arms
.Rock River Arms Carry 1911 #454
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