Rock Island Armory AL3.1

A Fistful of .357 Power

Join us for another First Look with Special Projects Editor Roy Huntington. He takes some shots with the new Rock Island Armory AL3.1 — a six-shot .357 Magnum revolver. Feel the power!


Hi! Welcome to another First Look. Today we’re doing a follow-up video. We
looked at the 4-inch .22 Magnum revolver from Armscor recently. Today we’re going to do this sort of sister gun that we wrote up in American Handgunner magazine and it’s their AL3.1. It’s basically a two-inch snubby
.357 Magnum.

Weighing in at just under two pounds, the AL3.1 has a two-inch barrel. It’s
chambered in .357 Magnum and it’s got a conventional side plate which comes off via screws similar to a Smith & Wesson. One thing it does have that’s unusual, it’s got a hole in the side plate and there’s an accessible screw inside. You can use a screwdriver to actually adjust the double-action trigger pull. It’s actually very clever and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see something similar to that on other revolvers someday.

I like the fact the front sight is pinned so you can change the height if you need to zero it for your load. I like the fact that it has a bit of a narrow hammer — it’s not real big and bulky.

The trigger is serrated but they’re smooth grooves and so they don’t really tug at you. Let your finger roll across the trigger very smoothly when you’re shooting double action. And of course the cylinder opens in sort of
a conventional style. You push it forward. I really like the ergonomically shaped cylinder release. It’s got a secondary lock up in it — a kind of a hook that engages part of the frame at the front of the cylinder — but it doesn’t have the forward lock up like you would see on the ejector rod in a Smith & Wesson.

I wrote the cover feature in the September/October 2022 issue of American
Handgunner magazine and I tested both of these guns — a four-inch .22 Magnum and this snubby. And you know I would call both of these sort of real guns. They’re all stainless steel. This gun weighs about 30 ounces — 31 ounces with these nice rubber grips, and so you know, think two-inch Smith & Wesson Model 10 and that’s kind of what you are in the same ballpark. However, this gun has some features and some benefits I think which will surprise you.

I think first off, just so you can sort of see what’s going on here, in my right hand, I’ve got a two-inch Smith & Wesson J-Frame, and in my left hand I have the Rock Island gun. And so you can see it’s a little beefier than the J-Frame. This is an alloy frame gun on the J-Frame, so this is considerably heavier. But you know what, don’t let that scare you away because a heavier gun means that it’s more controllable. And you know, what’s heavy? Less than two pounds?

Now the parent company to Rock Island is Armscor. I tend to sort of use them interchangeably. They build this as a Rock Island gun. Something we need to make really clear right now is that this isn’t manufactured by Rock Island or Armscor in the Philippines. This is actually made by a company in the Czech Republic who’s been doing this for years and years and years. They are renowned a bit like Germany, you know in Austria, for their ability to manufacture things technologically excellent.

I look at the optics that come out of that country, Meopta brand for instance, every bit the quality of any high-end German-style optic that you can think of. And these revolvers are very similar to that. In other words, they put their engineering expertise and excellence to work and they came up with this design. It looks Smith & Wesson-y, but the inside is actually very much not
that way. And I think the best thing you could do is grab that issue of American Handgunner magazine and I actually talk about what’s going on on the inside of this gun.

Okay, I’m set up at about 12 yards. We’ve got six rounds of Black Hills 148 grain full wadcutter target loads. They’re fun to shoot, no recoil, I really like it. They’re accurate, so let’s see what happens here.

Okay, let’s go see how we did but I think we did pretty good.

Well, you know, that’s really not too bad. We’re at about 12 yards like I said and I was shooting double action. One of the reasons why I like to shoot those target wadcutters is that not only will they shoot up to the potential of a gun, but they’re just pleasant to shoot. I think had I had a rest this would have been more like one tight sort of clustered group.

Let’s shoot some .357 Magnums and shoot a little faster and see what happens.

We’ve got six SIG 125 grain V-Crown .357 Magnums. It’s a pretty stout
load, and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really recommend that’s what you carry in a gun like this. I think one of the high performance .38 Special loads is really all you need because you’ll see this generates quite a bit of fire and brimstone.

Let’s do a cylinder dump here and see what it looks like.

Okay, well that’s interesting because I actually had a center hold and so for some reason these high velocity light bullets seem to be shooting a little low right. I actually recall that from when I wrote the article it did seem to shoot a little low right. So it seems to be well zeroed with the lighter .38 Special loads although even that was just a little bit low. But that’s the beauty of having that front sight that you can take out and adjust the height on.

You know, I’ve got some Armscor 158. Basically it’s a round nose full metal
jacket, so it’s a lead core. What this will do is it’ll give us a little bit a better indication of what it’s like to shoot more of a sort of heavier .38 Special load.

So let’s do a cylinder dump and see what happens here. We’ll shoot on the left target just because I’m lazy.

Much more controllable. A little bit better centered. It may have something to do with recoil or my trigger control, I’m not quite sure, but as you can see I think a standard .38 Special, even a .38 Special plus speed just makes better sense with a short barrel .357 Magnum. Although these grips really helped a lot, I have to say that.

All right, let’s wrap this up. Well there you have it — a quick First Look at Rock Island’s AL3.1. It’s a .357 Magnum double action all steel revolver. It weighs 30 ounces, give or take a little bit. Maybe for a trail pistol if you need some protection against some critters or some two-legged kind, this may be a nice way to go.

It’s got some features like that easily replaceable front sight so you can regulate it that’s really handy. I like the narrow hammer. I like the relatively smooth trigger so your finger slides across on double action. I like the shape of the cylinder opening device there. I like a lot of things about this gun. Also, that ability to change the adjustment of the double action trigger pull weight, which actually really works. I was really surprised to see that.

So, a lot of revolver here for the money. I’m seeing them for about $600 bucks in the real world. So think Smith & Wesson K-Frame size and weight except with different features and benefits.

Hey, thanks for tuning in! Remember the four firearm safety rules and take a new shooter shooting, would ya?