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Review: Rock Island 5.0 9mm Pistol

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Rock Island Armory (RIA) got its start in the Philippines, with a logo that harkens back to the defense of Corregidor, the famed “rock island” in the middle of Manila Bay and home to some of the fiercest fighting of World War II. RIA is known for having a wide selection of 1911-style pistols, but the 5.0 is a brand new pistol that, while it is hammer-fired and single action, uses a completely new action (more on that later).

square barrelThe 5.0 is not a small gun, and at over 39 ounces unloaded, it’s not a light one, either. However, the pistol probably wasn’t developed with concealed carry as its primary function. Instead, with a 4 pound trigger pull and very low bore axis, it’s ideal for practical pistol competitions. The 5.0 has an aluminum receiver and a steel slide. The front sight has a fiber optic for fast sight picture, and you can swap out the rear sight for a C-More red-dot optic if you wish. The gun is single-action and hammer-fired, but there is no frame-mounted safety. Rather, there is a blade safety in the trigger as is common on striker-fired guns. That’s just a hint that something is very different with this pistol. That hint blossoms into a sense of amazement when you rack the slide back and discover the barrel of the 5.0 is square, which brings us to the heart of this gun, the RVS, or Ram Valve System.

Get In On The Action

The RVS is a unique way of making a semi-automatic pistol function. Rather than use a tilting barrel locking lugs like pretty much every pistol since the Browning Hi Power, the barrel of the 5.0 is locked in place with a small detent which engages with a locking block and holds everything in place until the bullet leaves the barrel. The locking block then slides down, allowing the slide to move separately from the barrel and cycle the action. The barrel itself moves straight back and straight forward in the receiver: There is no downward motion of the barrel as the gun cycles. This in turn drives the recoil straight back into the shooter’s hand, reducing muzzle flip and perceived recoil. The 5.0 also has internal slide rails like a CZ75, which, combined with the internal design of the pistol, allows for a very low bore axis, which reduces recoil even more. All of this, when combined with the weight of the 5.0, results in a gun that sets a new standard in recoil absorption and lack of muzzle flip.

RVS action

The internal slide rails provide for smooth operation of the slide and more slide to frame contact than most pistols on the market today. The level of the machining of the slide and barrel are first rate, and the barrel fits snugly into the slide with no play whatsoever. That sort of close fit might cause some people to worry about how the 5.0 might handle dirt and dust, but the 5.0 was designed for the world of practical shooting, where competitors can send tens of thousands of rounds downrange each day, and a gun malfunction can mean the difference between first place and also-ran.

Range Time With The RIA 5.0

All of this clever machinery and attention to detail mean nothing if they don’t help you deliver the shot, and I’m pleased to report that the 5.0 is both very soft-shooting and very accurate, delivering results comparable to guns that cost three times the $998.88 MSRP of the 5.0. The sights settled back quickly on target after each shot, and 100 rounds of test ammo felt more like 100 rounds of 22LR than 100 rounds of full-power 9mm. There were no malfunctions of any kind, and the gun delivered as promised.

We live in a world of rapid innovation and change, so sometimes we forget that the actions inside of our pistols, the thing that makes them actually go bang, have changed very little in the past 100+ years. The 5.0 changes this, and promises to be an outstanding gun for the world of competitive shooting. It’s also a terrific gun to take to the range and amaze your friends when it shoots one-hole groups. I hope that Rock Island takes the innovative RVS action and uses it in a wide range of guns that can be easily carried, as it represents something completely new in the world of firearms and looks to be one of the few times in the gun world where a technological leap forward results in significantly better results downrange.

Avg. Group (Inches) Avg. Velocity (fps) Min Velocity Max Velocity
Wilson Combat 147gr XTP 1.915 953 932 974
Speer Lawman 147gr FMJ 2.365 993 936 1,074

 

Test conducted using a Caldwell G2 chronograph positioned 10 feet away from the muzzle.

Rock Island Armory 5.0 Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Rock Island Armory
  • Model Name: 5.0
  • Action: Hammer-fired, single action
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Height: 5.17 inches
  • Width: 1.33 inches
  • Length: 8.11 inches
  • Weight: 39.5 ounces
  • Barrel Length: 4.92 inches
  • Finish E100 Cerakote
  • Magazines Included: Two 17-round magazines

MSRP for the 5.0 is $998.88, and more information on this gun and other products from Rock Island Armory can be found at armscor.com.

Article by KEVIN CREIGHTON

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