Nearly two decades ago, gunsmith/designer Fred Craig teased a new pistol design – the gas-delayed M11 Merc. Alas, this turned out to be vaporware. In the mean time, Craig has done a fair amount of prototype work for Armscorp (Rock Island Armory). The .22 TCM cartridge and the XT22 .22 Magnum pistol have been the most obvious fruits of their combined labor.

Imagine my surprise when I found the March/April 2023 issue of American Handgunner in my mailbox on New Year’s Eve. The covergun is the new RIA 5.0 ST pistol. I immediately thought that it might be a resurrection of the M11 Merc, but the article quickly noted that the new pistol was a short-recoil design, not gas-delayed.

As soon as the cobwebs in my brain cleared, I remembered a 2018 patent awarded to Craig and RIA’s Martin Tuason: US Patent #10,018,433B2.

The locking system is deceptively simple. A piston-like locking piece engages the front underside of the barrel assembly. The piston has a hole running through its side for a long spring guide rod. The chiseled nose of the guide rod engages an angled surface at the opening of the piston’s hole. The contact between the two surfaces causes the piston to withdraw from its locking engagement with the barrel.

So far, RIA’s website is not showing full coverage of either the RIA 5.0 SP and 5.0 ST. I have been able to glean some stats for the latter.


SeriesRIA 5.0
Overall Length8.11 inch
Overall Width1.33 inch
Overall Height5.17 inch
Weight2.47 lbs/1.12 kg
Front SightDawson Precision, Fiber Optic on dovetail cut
Rear SightLPA Adjustable on dovetail cut (also available with C More RTS II Red Dot Optic)
FinishE100 Cerakote
PurposePersonal Protection

Update: RIA has finally updated their website with additional photos and added pricing info. The iron-sight ST has a MSRP of just under $999, with the C-More equipped SP will go for ~$1,299. They also posted the following video:



  1. John M. says:

    A 17+1 9mm with almost a 5” barrel seems like a weird choice in 2022. But at least it’s not Yet Another 1911, and I salute them.


    1. D.E. Watters says:

      I suspect it is really aimed at the competition market: IPSC Production Optics, USPSA Carry Optics, or IDPA Carry Optics. I could see some hipster Tactical Timmies giving it a try as a carry gun though.

      And yes, it is very nice not to see yet another clone of the M1911, Glock, CZ75, BHP, Beretta 92, et. al.


      1. John M. says:

        I suspect it’s easier to debug a new pistol operating system with a 5″ gun intended for the competition market. Maybe if it works well they can try to down-size it to a G19 size or even smaller.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s