“Short, fat and slow does the job.” This is the battle cry of every middle-aged man who finds White Castle to be more of a support group than a guilty pleasure. Fun fact: this applies to defensive ammunition as well. Of course, I’m talking about none other than the venerable .45 ACP. This oversized cartridge has been killing Nazis and other undesirables for over 100 years and it’s not because of its slender figure. While extraordinarily effective, John Browning’s gift to the world is a little bulky and isn’t usually characteristic of the smallest pistols on the market.
The Philippines are known for smoking hot women, endless beaches, and of course Rock Island Armory. These folks have been making 1911’s for a few years and recently turned their attention to cutting down the size while increasing the capacity. The result is the Rock Island BBR 3.10, a 10-round Subcompact .45ACP. Typing those words makes us want to put down whatever cheese-covered bacon-wrapped food we are eating to stand up and applaud how American an idea this is. The easiest way to describe the 3.10 is to think of the old Para Ordinance Warthog, except with a marginally longer barrel. So it packs lots of firepower, but is still relatively concealable.
Our test pistol came in with the final features installed which included upgraded steel sights and three porting holes drilled through the slide and barrel at the 12 o’clock position. These were added to help make the gun more controllable under recoil. While the .45ACP isn’t awful to manage, the large grip reduces your purchase quite a bit. Furthermore, those with larger digits will have a hard time getting their pinky on it, so every little bit helps. G10 grips and stippled front and back straps are also standard, further enhancing your ability to hold on. Lastly, the sheer weight of the gun (almost 34 ounces, empty) goes a long way in reducing the kick, but it might pull your pants down faster than a high school bully.
On the range, we dry fired the gun a bit and measured the trigger pull weight which turned out to be a tad more than 5.5 pounds. This is a little heavy for target work and a little light for a carry trigger, so we wouldn’t say this gun is built for beginners. It is, however, built for people who like a pistol that is easy to shoot at the range and like the feel of an all-steel gun. For ammunition, we used the 135-Grain Black Hills Honey Badger ammo as well as the Black Hills 230-grain FMJ loading. Both rounds gave us more than satisfactory results in our 10-yard test with groups as small as 1.56 inches and 1.73 inches respectively. I’ll take that any day for a gun built for bad breath distance. It’s important to point out that velocity was drastically lower than what you would expect, due to the reduced barrel length when compared to a typical 1911. If you plan to carry one be sure that your ammunition is NOT dependent on velocity to perform. This is the very premise behind the Honey Badger bullet and we were glad to see that the fed and functioned just fine, earning our recommendation for carry ammo in this platform. Groups were a few inches above our point of aim but if we cared enough we could use the rear sight to dial it in, as it is adjustable for both windage and elevation. Surprisingly, recoil wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. The small pistol in the major caliber certainly lifts off when you squeeze the trigger, but if you use about 75% of your strength you should be able to hold on with both hands without worry.
Disassembly was pretty typical for a bushing-less 1911, just make sure it’s empty and slide it to the takedown position. Once in that position, you will need to hold it in place and pop out the slide stop. After which the slide comes forward. At this time we noticed two features. One- the BBR 3.10 is a series 70 1911 (as god intended) and two- it uses a dual recoil spring system. This system helps change the recoil pulse by elongating it a bit, hence reducing the snap and making it more of a hard, drawn-out push. At the end of the day, we really liked what Rock Island did to bring 10 rounds of .45 ACP into a tight little package and celebrated it by sending another 200 rounds downrange. For more information visit armscor.com