Gun Review: Rock Island Armory ‘Baby Rock’ .380 ACP 1911 Pistol

TTAG reader Brian Connelly writes:

Most gun people  knows Armscor, better known as Rock Island Armory, produces some amazing 1911’s for the money, with a lifetime warranty. They have some unique offerings with more coming seemingly every year. Not too long ago, Rock Island released the scaled down Baby Rock, a 1911-style handgun chambered in .380 ACP for the concealed carry market.

The Baby Rock features a 4140 ordnance steel frame and slide, with a matte black Parkerized finish and, in general, follows the traditional 1911 design. Every part of the gun has been scaled from a full-sized 1911 which makes the pistol very familiar to 1911 shooters.

With an overall length of 6.62” and a height of only 4.62″, the Baby Rock was clearly meant to be carried.

The Baby Rock arrived in a standard Armscor clamshell pistol case. Inside, was pistol itself, two magazines (Metalform), a chamber flag, and owners manual. The trigger on my Baby Rock came in at just under five pounds on my trigger scale. As you’d expect in a 1911, it breaks cleanly with minimal creep or grittiness, so despite the five-pound pull weight, it’s well-suited for concealed carry or self-defense.

This mini-1911 has Novak-style sights that are actually quite good and allow ample space between front and rear sights for good front sight acquisition. All the traditional familiar components are there, traditional thumb safety, slide stop, barrel bushing, trigger, combat style hammer, grip safety, recoil spring, short guide rod, recoil spring plug and field stripping it works just like a traditional 1911, however unlike a traditional the barrel is fixed and the barrel is not locked to the slide during firing.

The Baby Rock operates on the straight blowback principle. With a fixed barrel, the Baby Rock doesn’t use a barrel link. The underlug of the barrel assembly has a single locating notch through it, which is locked into place in the pistol by the slide stop pin. In addition, unlike a traditional 1911 design, the Baby Rock uses an external extractor.

So…..How does she shoot? So far, without a hiccup. I’ve fed it 95 grain Federal American Eagle 95 Grain Full Metal Jacket, as well as Federal Law Enforcement 380 ACP AUTO Ammo 99 Grain HST Jacketed Hollow Point ammo. All ran flawlessly, with no issues whatsoever.

I was very surprised with the hollow point ammo, since I ran it in the pistol before I’d completed the break-in period, but the Baby Rock ate every round I fed it.

Five-shot group accuracy testing was conducted at seven yards using Federal American Eagle 95 Grain Full metal jacket produced a best single group of 1.33″ with a group average of 1.48″. Federal HST Tactical Law Enforcement 99-gr. HST hollow points turned in a best group of 1.35″ with a group average of 1.52″.

With a longer slide that the shorter competition (think Colt Mustang, SIG P238 and Kimber Micro), along with its heavier weight, the Baby Rock has excellent balance and recovers very quickly under recoil. That produces excellent double-taps and controlled pairs.

Reliability was excellent. On the initial range session it digested 100 rounds of FMJ and hollow point without issue. The 3.75” barrel is a plus. It’s a full inch longer than most 380’s in its class, giving you greater velocity and accuracy from the .380 ACP round.

Felt recoil is tame, managed by the additional weight of an all-steel weapon when compared to polymer .380s out there which are quite a bit snappier. Magazines drop freely from the Baby Rock without issue making mag changes a snap.

The slim profile (.76 inches at the slide) makes this weapon very easy to conceal, even when wearing light summer clothing.

I have been carrying the Baby Rock since it arrived in an Azula Holsters OWB rig that’s custom-fitted for the Baby Rock. Given the gun’s diminutive size and relatively light weight, it couldn’t be much more comfortable to carry. Other companies making Baby Rock holsters include Holsterco, Gunners Custom Holsters, Myholster, Sticky Holster, and many others offer holsters in leather, nylon, Kydex, OWB IWB Pocket carry and other options.

In short, if you’re a 1911 fan and looking for a smaller carry gun with a familiar manual of arms, is accurate and, most of all, reliable the Baby Rock is well worth your attention. While too large for pocket carry, this gun is perfect for either OWB or IWB carry, or even in an ankle rig.

Specifications: Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 7+1
Barrel length: 3.75 inches
Overall length: 6.62 inches
Height: 4.62 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Slide width: .76 inches
MSRP: $460

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
All in all, amazing. Groupings of less than 1.5″ at 7 yards during testing. I expect to tighten those even further after testing with more types ammunition.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Quite simply, it’s a 1911 in a smaller package. The beaver tail grip safety is excellent and the rubberized grips give you a firm handle on the weapon. Unlike a lot of small .380s, you can actually get your entire hand on the gun and the front and rear slide serrations make racking it a breeze.

Reliability: * * * * *
It just runs. Not one malfunction with FMJ or hollow point ammunition which is impressive right out of the box with no break-in period.

Trigger: * * * * *
It’s crisp, clean and breaks right at five pounds with very little overtravel and a great reset. For an EDC weapon that’s right where you need to be.

Customize This: * * *
There are several grips out there for the Baby Rock already. However being a newer product there is a very limited supply of parts available which I would expect to change as time goes on. Holster options are limited, but available. I found leather, Kydex and nylon options.

Overall: * * * * *
The Baby Rock is an affordable, reliable, compact, concealable, low-priced and, in general, a perfect small carry gun for a lover of the 1911 platform who may not want to carry a full-size 1911 every day. You get the best of both worlds; a compact easy-to-conceal handgun that you can carry anywhere, combined with traditional 1911 style with that trigger we’ve all come to know and love.

comments

  1. avatar GS650G says:

    And half the price of the CMP 1911s

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      And half the number of background checks!

  2. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    Reminds me of the down scale 1911 style pistol LLama was making in days gone by. It was a decent enough, budget gun.

    When it comes to blowback actions I prefer a barrel that is fixed to the frame. That tight lockup aids accuracy.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      truth. 9x18s that i have (shot) put it where you want. i was asked not to mention the cz52 anymore. they all seem kind of hokey ever since my davis experience way back when. but they’re not all cheap.
      for example, korriphilia:
      http://modernfirearms.net/en/handguns/handguns-en/germany-semi-automatic-pistols/korriphila-eng/

      that said, p938 please.

    2. avatar sean says:

      It seems to be exactly the same gun. Just 40 years later.

  3. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Seems like a good EDC.
    Really not a bad MSRP too.
    For me though, it would add another caliber. So, I’m not interested. (I’m a reading reloading 16 calibers.)
    For a first timer, or a second timer though?
    Great choice.

  4. avatar Chris says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again: This company does not care about you, their customer service is horrendous. They sold me a pistol with an obviously underpowered recoil spring and refused to do anything unless I sent the whole thing to them. Couldn’t just send the spring and a copy of my receipt, eventually they ignored my emails. They don’t even make their own guns, somebody else does and they just put their name on it.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      They wanted you to return a defective gun to them for repairs?

      Yep, that’s just terrible. (/sarcasm)

    2. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Are you a professional gunsmith? If not, why on earth would or should RIA accept your diagnosis without question? (And let’s forget the whole “I’ve been shooting pistols my whole life” line of BS. That’s hearsay, not objective evidence of competence.)

      I’ve dealt with customers who felt their diagnosis of their problem was obvious … and completely wrong when investigated. While it may have been true in your case (I have no idea) that the recoil spring was out of spec, I can understand the company’s policy much more readily than your attitude towards them for having it.

    3. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      And I said it before you had to replace a spring on a 400 dollar gun. Get over it you tool.

      You cheap MF’er.

      Buy a good gun next time.

    4. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      Funny, I have heard a magnitude more people praise Rock Island customer service.

    5. avatar BRIAN CONNELLY says:

      Rock island most certainly makes their own firearms. They have plenty of videos out there of their factory in the Philippines. Their ceo is always online talking to customers. I highly doubt they wouldn’t replace a recoil spring, but if your gun was acting strangely and they felt it warranted a trip to Nevada to their repair facility and they pay for shipping both ways i don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t avail themselves of the warranty. Their customer service is second to none. It costs the customer 0 dollars to send it in and while it’s there it gets a complete evaluation and tune up.

    6. avatar Mike says:

      OMG…they offered to fix a defective gun…for free? What horrid customer service (heavy on the sarcasm). Very few gun companies will send you a mission critical part to repair a gun yourself. It’s called liability. Their lawyers would excrete purple turkeys. They would be supplying a part with no control whatsoever over how it was installed, opening themselves up to massive lawsuits. There’s enough liability involved in manufacturing a firearm already. As to them not making the guns…..ahhh…ahhhh…ahhhh…bullshit….sorry, I sneezed.

  5. avatar Geoff PR says:

    OK, why would I want this instead of Glock’s little single-stack .380?

    Convince me, please…

    1. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

      Ain’t plastic.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “Ain’t plastic.”

        Were you to live where I live (central Florida) and are outdoors a lot in summer, plastic is an official Martha Stewart ‘Good Thing’ in handguns, especially when worn IWB. Much less time expended in maintenance…

        1. avatar Pete says:

          Yes, but this will do more damage if you were to pistol-whip someone. Everyone has priorities, some maybe different from yours. (yes, it’s a dumb gun with no redeeming qualities, but someone is buying it, so obviously they like something — maybe he price, maybe the feeling of the heft)

    2. avatar Sledgecrowbar says:

      This would be for 1911 fans. Maybe looking for something smaller to conceal in lighter clothing, or a shooter of smaller stature deciding they like the 1911 but prefer one on a smaller scale. I think .380 lends itself to mouse guns but I have a Chiappa MC14, which is a Beretta 84 (13-rd double stack, blowback) that looks like a Taurus PT911 scaled down. It’s one of the easier-to-shoot guns I own despite not being locked breech, because it’s compact but not subcompact and shoots this cartridge. If I had to choose something easy on the wrists, that would be it because I’d rather have more rounds than a single-stack offers. That said, I do have a single stack .380 I’d consider a secondary carry if I was going to do that.

      .380 ACP in anything larger than a mouse gun doesn’t actually need to be locked-breech. This is a technological preference for a modern, sophisticated action, which is sensible, but once you shoot all the blowback .380’s out there you realize that the manufacturers probably won’t ever make one because there wouldn’t be enough of a difference in felt recoil.

      1. avatar Pete says:

        The fans of 1911 can buy Browning 1911-380, which is a closer scale model of 1911. Baby Rock even has a wrong grip angle.

    3. avatar tdiinva says:

      Let me turn this one around. Convince me why I should by a Glock over the Baby Rock.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        Do you live in the steam bath of central Florida in summer? Less time battling corrosion is time that can be spent doing other things.

        (And did you bail out on Wisconsin? Back in Virginia?)

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          No, I figured everybody knows I am here.

          A Glock isn’t all plastic. You have to battle corrosion with a Glock too. 🙂

        2. avatar New Continental Army says:

          1911s held up in Nam, they can easily handle Florida.

      2. avatar Mike says:

        Buy both,

    4. avatar Kendahl says:

      Or Kahr’s CT380.

    5. avatar Mike H in WA says:

      Because you can? What other reason do you need 🙂

      Also, it’s bigger and heavier that the G42… when shopping for a gun for my wife, she wanted a P238 over the G42 because it felt better and was easier for her to control. This (or the Browning .380 1911’s) would probably make a good bedside/fullsize counterpart for someone like my petite wife with a pocket .380 1911.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        I knew this petite Navy O-5 who weighed in at 110lbs. Her preferred personal carry pistol was a 1911. This little gun for the little woman is a real instance of sexism.

        The Browning weighs in at a whole 17ozs. I am sure your wife could carry it.

    6. avatar Ed says:

      External hammer, single-action, external safety, metal frame,7+1 instead of 6+1…everything the Glock is not.

    7. avatar Mick says:

      Because Glocks have the mushiest triggers on the planet.

    8. avatar archangel says:

      Metal is a good thing, it adds heft for absorbing recoil, aids in durability, and helps bashing in skulls when the rounds run out!
      Oh, and like he said, “Ain’t plastic”!

    9. avatar Mike says:

      Why should I waste a moment’s time convincing you. If you want a Glock, buy a Glock. Duh.

  6. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

    NOT in commie kalifornia. Has not made the safe for the serfs list. So it just has to be dangerous. Well, certain elites can get them, cause they be exempted.

  7. avatar tdiinva says:

    I had a Browning 1911-380 that I purchased just before this gun became available. It was a 3/4 size Commander with a 4.25″ barrel. I probably would have bought this one instead had it been available. 380 out of 3.5″ or longer barrel is much more effective than the mouse gun as you get both good penetration and expansion.

    In the end I traded the Browning because I wasn’t carrying it but I would highly recommend either pistol for someone considering a 380.

  8. avatar Vincenzo says:

    Not impressed that this gun is blowback and not lock breach. 300 rounds through it so far. I prefer the sig p238 at this point.

  9. avatar skiff says:

    Looks similar to the Llama 380 that I won shooting pool at college in 1973.

    1. avatar Pete says:

      Well, duh.

  10. avatar former water walker says:

    The only 380 I would get would probably be a Ruger LCP2. I don’t “get” 380 1911’s at all.

  11. avatar Ogre says:

    Can’t see any difference between this .380 Rock Island and my Spanish-made Llama .380, except for the beavertail and the extra slide cuts. Is Armscor also making the new Llama .380 that’s being imported and marketed by American Eagle? My Llama probably cost less used and is a good, dependable shooter.

    1. avatar Philthegardner says:

      Same country, but different company. The new Llama is being made by Metro Arms Corp.
      https://homedefensejournal.com/2016/06/21/llama-pistols-made-in-the-ph-mac/

  12. Looking for the affordable choice for high-volume range training and plinking? SOG International Inc is providing the Armscor .308 Winchester at the most affordable rates.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Paid advertising?!?

  13. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I recently held one of these. It was cute.
    Still not ready to give up my P238 Equinox though.
    Why?
    I can pocket carry the Sig – this is substantially larger (and I imagine easier to shoot).

  14. I wish the BBR had a fiber optic front sight, an extended mag for the pinky finger, and a blue steel finish. Parkerize finishes.. scratch, too easily.

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