The 10mm Auto cartridge is being rediscovered. There is new ammunition being manufactured in velocities the 10mm was intended for, such as the newer SIG Elite Performance ammo, and firearm manufacturers such as Glock, Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), and SIG offer platforms well suited to this powerhouse cartridge. Which would you choose?
The 10mm Auto creates a maximum pressure in the range of 37,500 psi. That can be compared to the .45 ACP that has about 21,000 psi with 230-grain ball ammo. The 10mm Auto exceeds .357 Magnum power and is very close to that of the .41 Magnum. The 10mm Auto is a brute of a round with the type of recoil you would expect from a magnum revolver.
RIA uses a 1911 platform, SIG uses a P220 platform (something custom gunsmiths have be converting to 10mm for years), and Glock has chambered in the caliber in the G21 since 1991. I have personally run all three of these pistols and found all three ran exceptionally well with no malfunctions or jams. I used an assortment of ammo; two lite loads from Federal and two standard 10mm Auto loads SIG Elite Performance Ammunition that were much faster than the Federal loads. The Federal loads consisted of American Eagle 180-grain FMJ that clocked slightly over 1,000 fps and Personal Protection 180-grain Hydra-Shok JHP that had an average muzzle velocity of slightly under 1,000 fps. The SIG ammo averaged well over 1,200 fps.
I used open sights and a rest, and fired at targets 25 yards down range. With all three pistols, I averaged 5-shot groups at under 2 inches. That works for me. I also fired for speed at 10 yards to get a sense of follow-up accuracy, and found the recoil from these beasts opened up my groups. These are not pistols for those sensitive to recoil. These pistols are designed to help manage recoil, and in my opinion, the Glock and SIG did better job than the RIA. Let’s take a look at all three in a bit more detail.
RIA TAC Ultra FS
The RIA TAC Ultra FS is manufactured in the Philippines by Armscor. Out of the box, it has a bold look due to the full dust cover and Picatinny-style accessory rail. I appreciated the extra heft the full dust cover gave the pistol. It has an all business parkerized finish and G10 grips, which provided traction.
This pistol is equipped with all the features you come to expect in a 1911— extended beavertail, ambidextrous thumb safety, magazine well funnel, high traction grips, excellent sights, match grade barrel, one piece recoil guide rod—features normally found on high dollar 1911 pistols. Needless to say, if you are a 1911 fan, you will find a lot to like in this pistol.
It uses a Series 70 system, so there is no internal firing pin safety. The slide and slide stop are forged. A one-piece guide rod and bull barrel lock up at the muzzle with a tight fit in the slide to aid accuracy. It also requires a paperclip field strip. The barrel is stainless steel with a built in feed ramp similar to a Clark Custom barrel. The integral ramp fully supports the case, so there is no gap between the frame and barrel for bullet noses to get hung up on.
The slide serrations were angled at the front and rear, and the top of the slide is domed like old-school GI-style pistols. The red fiber optic front sight was dovetailed in place, as was the dehorned adjustable 2-dot rear sight. In use, the sights on the RIA offer an excellent sight picture.
Serrations on the front grip strap and a checkered polymer mainspring housing helped provide a solid grip while the upswept beaver tail allowed a higher grip on the pistol with no hammer bite. The speed bump on the grip safety is oversized, so a less than perfect grip will still deactivate the grip safety. The skeletonized hammer has plenty of grip to cock/uncock the hammer. The extended ambidextrous safety flicked on and off with precise clicks. The trigger is also skeletonized and adjustable for over travel with vertical serrations, so your finger stays on the trigger—even under recoil. The trigger had a slight bit of take up and a bit of creep before it broke on average at 4.8 pounds.
The magazine funnel, on the butt of the receiver, is held down by the grip panel screws. The funnel ensured faster reloads and required base pads on the eight-round magazines, so they could be slammed home with the palm of our hand.
The TAC FS is very accurate. I could consistently group six of the eight holes touching, creating one large hole. Nice.
The P220-10 is a refined, but substantial pistol weighing in at 52.4 ounces loaded. The weight really helped to reduce felt recoil using a full mass slide to help combat recoil. Other P220 slides have lightening cuts depending on the model variant. Out of the box, the Reverse Two-Tone Stainless finish was impeccable and looked sharp with the green toothy G10 Piranha grips. In hand, the SIG did not have a chunky grip. It felt comfortable.
The SIG’s slide is finished in matte black finish and equipped with SIGNITE 3-dot night sights with tritium inserts. The sights are large and easy to use. Slide serrations are angled and placed forward and aft. They offer a positive grip to rack the slide.
The matte stainless receiver has checkering on the front grip strap and the backstrap is formed by the grips. It is contoured to better fit your hand and offers a positive grip with no abrasion so the pistol does not shift in your hand during recoil. The trigger guard is undercut in the rear. Combined with the semi beavertail, this allowed you to grip the pistol higher and closer to the bore’s axis, thus there was less felt recoil.
The SIG is traditional using a DA/SA trigger. The first shot is fired in DA with a long smooth press followed by SA mode. Both trigger modes were crisp. DA pull averaged 8.6 pounds but felt lighter and SA was 4.5 pounds on average. Located on the left side of frame was a decocker, the only manual safety on the pistol that safely decocks the pistol from SA to DA. The SIG also incorporates a firing pin block. The pistol will fire with the magazine removed. A loaded chamber indicator tells shooters a cartridge or a case is in the chamber. Fieldstripping does not require tools and is fast.
At 25 yards, the SIG was easy to shoot. I averaged five-shot groups that measured two inches. Recoil was quite controllable, which I attribute to the pistol’s weight and grip design. If you’re a SIG fan, this is your choice?
Glock G20 Gen4
The G20 Gen4 is built with replaceable backstraps to fit a variety of hand sizes. I like the ability to swap backstraps for five possible grip configurations. This helps elevate the chunkiness in the Glock grip.
If conceal carry is on your list, the G20 is a very comfortable 10mm to carry due to the light weight. The G20 weighs 39.5 ounces loaded. The G20 also has the three safety features: trigger, firing pin, and drop. This is a very safe pistol.
The sights on the Glock are serviceable and the trigger was typical Glock with a pull weight of about 5.5 pounds. It is a trigger we all have come to accept. The Glock can be outfitted with a 6-inch hunting barrel, which allows the Glock to generate more velocity with the 10mm ammo averaging about 30 fps extra (per load) compared with the standard factory barrel.
At the range the Glock provided good accuracy. With the defense loads—Federal Hydra-Shok and SIG V-Crown—the best 5-shot group was tied at 0.7 inches. In my opinion, the Glock was a soft shooter with less felt recoil. The polymer frame of the G20 flexes in recoil to help absorb recoil while the slightly fatter grip had more contact with the palm so recoil felt less.
Glock fan boys and girls… this is your 10mm pistol.
It’s hard not to be a 10mm fan, so we’ll just ask “Which gun and load are your favorites?” Share your answers in the comment section.
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