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Truly new guns are few and far between. Virtually everything we have now is basically a clone of something else. Sometimes the size is changed, and sometimes the shape or magazine is altered, but most new guns really aren’t so new.

On the flip side, the Rock Island Armory 5.0 is something new. Like…really new, and that’s rare these days.

Rock Island Armory is known for its imports from the Philippines and Turkey, but the 5.0 is made right here in the good ol’ United States of America.

Inside the 5.0

Good lord, this gun is different. It doesn’t use a straight blowback, or Browning rotating action, or the SIG SAUER system. Nope, it’s something new that employs what RIA calls the RVS, or Ram Valve System alongside a fixed barrel. Oh, by the way, this barrel is square-shaped externally, which may surprise you the first time you retract the slide.

The Ram Valve System uses a valve to keep the action closed and results in a locked breech. When pressure drops to safe levels, the valve allows the slide to cycle using the force of recoil. It’s novel and patented by the crew at Rock Island Armory. Specifically by Martin Tuason and Fred Craig, the two men responsible for .22 TCM.

The purpose isn’t just to be novel, but to improve on handgun design. First, it eliminates the need for a moving barrel. This increases mechanical accuracy. Second, the system reduces felt recoil and allows for a low-profile slide design. The RVS system takes the recoil of a 9mm cartridge and reduces it significantly.

In the 5.0, this system is used in a full-sized firearm, and the recoil makes the gun feel like nothing overall. The big chunky dust cover, complete with a massive Picatinny rail, makes the gun slightly front-heavy, but also more resistant to muzzle rise.

A Tiny Hammer

Besides the RVS, the 5.0 also uses a micro hammer system. This isn’t a striker-fired gun, it’s a hammer-fired gun that gives you the feel of a light single-action trigger. The lack of an exposed hammer reduces snap points and gives the gun a nice clean look. It might fool you into thinking it’s striker-fired, but it’s simpler than that.

The grip and frame design are neat. It’s an aluminum frame, but at the grip is a polymer insert which allows for that natural, sticky, and highly texture feeling of polymer with the weight of aluminum.

The gun comes with a 17-round magazine and is only chambered in 9mm. RIA is making a run of optics-ready options as well as standard iron sight guns. The RIA 5.0 is a big gun that fits better in the home defense continuum than concealed carry. At 2.47 pounds, it will definitely pull at your pants.

Of all the many handguns I’ve seen at the show so far, I’m most excited about the RIA 5.0. MSRP is right under $1000 and hopefully it will be on store shelves sooner than later.

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  1. Major shock that a company like Rock Island Armory came up with such a revolutionary design. I’m gonna wait for more people to try it out and review it before I buy though.

  2. The barrel isn’t fixed. As someone on another site pointed out, it’s basically the same as the Archon / Stryk pistol (and some from 100 years ago), but with the locking block moved from the rear to the front of the barrel. Frankly, it makes more sense at the rear because it shortens the stressed portion of the frame.

    • Ditto.
      Make it in 45acp with the ability to shoot 45 Super (keeping the $1k price point) and I’ll buy two.
      Make some threaded barrels available too.

  3. You know what would be real cool? Pictures of the weapon from , oh I don’t know 3 sides, so maybe we would know what the whole gun looked like since it’s supposed to be a completely “new” look.

  4. Interesting. While I’ve been profoundly underwhelmed by the RIA 38 I give the benefit of doubt on this. Oh & sub par 9mm & 223 doesn’t imbue me with confidence…

  5. I agree with others, look forward to more in-depth reviews.
    Good to see someone come up with something innovative. Only time will tell if it is a good design. I am sure it will go through some need of refinements.

  6. The innovation bottleneck is just a natural consequence of there only being so many ways to dent a primer.

    Remington experimented with electrically-ignited cartridges a few decades back, but the designs were unreliable in cold weather and the need for proprietary ammo was a significant obstacle to market penetration.

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