Rock Island Armory M206 .38 Special Revolver Review


Let’s call a spade a spade and come right out and say it. The Rock Island M206 sucks!!! It’s so bad I don’t know where to start.

I purchased my M206 on a whim, which is something you generally don’t want to do when buying a gun. Granted, researching it wouldn’t have helped since for some reason all of the reviews that I have found tend to be positive. I suppose it was the classic look of the gun that attracted me to it. It looks a lot like a Colt Detective model. It has classic checkered wood grips that brings one back to a simpler time when guns were made by American men, for American men, for blasting commies and saving damsels in distress all while trying to catch dirty bootleggers.

The gun was inexpensive, only costing me about $300. The relative cheap cost is it’s only redeeming quality. With that being said, it’s better than a sharp stick. However, there are three major things wrong with it.

1. Sometimes the gun won’t fire: This is most likely due to a weak hammer strike. When I first took my new M206 out I noticed that every so often it wouldn’t fire. I would check the back of the casing and noticed that there weren’t any marks on it from the firing pin. The next time I took it to the range I took along my Smith&Wesson model 14-3. I shot both guns using the same box of ammo. My Smith&Wesson never failed to fire. However, my M206 did. I watched some reviews of the M206 on YouTube and noticed other people having the same issue. unfortunately, they incorrectly blamed the ammo and not the gun.

2. Good lucking hitting anything with it: When I first took it to the range (that’s what I call my back yard) I was shocked by what a bad shot I was. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was wrong, and it wasn’t me. The issue with the gun is that the hammer spur comes back and reaches over the grip. This means that the spur rubs up against

The cocked spur is right where the top of my hand should be

The cocked spur is right where the top of my hand should be

the top of your hand. When you pull the trigger and the hammer comes down, it causes the gun to move in your hand just before the hammer hits the primer. I have read that other people have had a similar problem. They play it off as not being a big deal, but not being able to hit your target is kind of a big deal.

3. The cylinder has a lot of play: I have several revolvers from several different brands and none of them have anything close to this much play. When I say “play” I mean that the cylinder moves around when it’s supposed to be locked into place. It was so bad that I took it to a friend of mine who is a gunsmith and asked him if it was safe to shoot.

His response, “It will work for what you need it to do.” When I inquired further as to what he meant he responded with,” use it once and throw off a bridge.” As previously stated, it’s better than a sharp stick. It’s a Saturday night special and nothing more. I find that it works well as a paper weight, but I don’t have much confidence in it beyond that.



  • Allen says:

    Same here. I had one i purchased new was so out of time on several of the cyls I almost lost a eye with the shaving lead and jackets. I sent it back and it got lost at their service center. “We have record of it coming in but cannot find it” Weeks went by and I never could get a response. It took harping on their facebook page and having my Dealer call them and bug them to get it sorted.

    The ended up sending me another one which I presume was a factory reject test gun and looked the part. Really nasty looking. It wasn’t just dirty this thing was rode hard and put away wet.. It pretty much did the same thing. Shaved lead and jackets back at my face. I sent it back and was given another New-ish looking one. I took it directly to a Local gunsmith that had to rework the timing. I then sold it at a loss. I ended up buying a ancient charter arms in 38sp that works very well. Its a real shame. the m206 surely looks the part but they do not seem to put the same quality into their revolvers as they do their Semi Auto pistols.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Funny, I was stumbling around the internet about issues with my M206 and found this amung others. I have the large “combat” grip LoL. I would never take this into combat. feels good, looks decent, shots so so but hey it’s a snubby. Never been great with a snubby though I’m ok with my Smith 5 shooter. Anyway the damn thing will not extract 2 of the cylinders. All one has to do is look into the cylinder and to the naked eye appears rings where it not maching smack in the middles of the chambers! What a joke, not wasteing time with “warranty” will repair myself and DUMP it. I have the GI 1911 also, and though the fixed sights are off, it’s reliability has been exellent.

  • Greg Newton says:

    The one I have is spur-less. It has been a pretty good gun and I have Smiths and Taurus’ I could carry, but the M206 has become my main carry gun. It is not a Smith and Wesson in look or action, but it has been dependable. You do have to learn to shoot it low off of the butt with a tighter squeeze on the ball of the grips with your lower two fingers, but if you master this, you can hit what you aim at. This is not to say that you have not had problems with the ones you tried or that I might buy another one that has problems, but my experience with the one I bought has been positive.

  • Joe says:

    Alien, Jeffrey, I do not believe your comments. I think you both are trolls who
    like to bitch for the sake of bitching. Do you even own a revolver?
    I own about ten RIA pistols and have not had any problems the the factory
    did not fix right away. I even had one replaced. (WITH A NEW ONE).
    So the hammer spur is long, get a file. Not like you are shooting a 1911.,
    Greg Newton, your comment sounds honest.

  • Joe says:

    I do not know who wrote the review, but I can understand why you did not
    leave your name. The review sucked. Number one, you never once stated
    that you had reached out to RIA/Armscor for help. That would have solved your
    problem. Instead you go off half cocked about a revolver I doubt you ever
    had your hands on. I own many Armscor weapons and when and if I have
    a problem I know that Ivan and Ty out in Pahrump, NV will take care of it for
    me poste haste. If you intend to continur as a reviewer, DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!

  • admin says:

    Joe, I am happy to hear that the firearms that you have purchased from RIA work well. This is the only firearm I have ever purchased from the and I don’t think I will be buying any more. If I just had one issue I would send it back. However, it has a slew of problems. I would be more sympathetic to your case if it wasn’t for the fact that I have seen other people have the exact same problem.

    With all that being said, I do appreciate your passion.

  • admin says:

    Joe, I did take a file it. However, it only reliably fired in single action. Another reason I suspect that the issue is a poor hammer strike. Granted I’m not a gun smith. However, one thing I really like about revolvers is firing them in single action.

  • Tom says:

    I bought the Model 206 and test fired it at the range – it was reasonably accurate but I noticed that the cylinder skipped from time to time. I discovered the cause was because by just barley (very lightly) touching the trigger would release the cylinder and it would move counter clockwise and when firing it double action fast sometimes the cylinder wouldn’t rotate to the next chamber. I sent them an email – they immediately sent me a Fed Ex pre-paid label and I got the gun back in a couple of weeks. It was doing the exact same thing – I sent them another email and again they sent me a pre-paid Fed Ex label – I got it back the second time and the problem was corrected and I shot 200 rounds of standard factory loads through it at the range using 148 gr. wad-cutters and 158 gr full metal jacket ammo and the pistol performed great, no more problems and it was accurate – fist size groups at 20 yards! They included (free) the larger polymer grip which keep me from getting ‘hammer bite’. I had to send it in twice but they fixed the problem so I am happy with both their service and the revolver. They treated me right and did the right thing – none of this cost me anything except my time going to FedEx to mail it. On a side note, my bro has two of their 1911’s (one in ,45 and one in 9mm) and both are excellent shooters and reliable weapons. They have their 1911’s down pat perhaps their revolvers not quite as much but they do take care of their customers.

  • admin says:

    This wasn’t meant as a review of RIA’s customer service. I don’t doubt that it’s top notch. Rather it’s a review of the Model 206 and how it has been plagued with issues. I shouldn’t have to get new grips for the gun to function properly. I shouldn’t have to take a file to it. The overhang of the hammer spur was an obvious mistake that should have been fixed before it even left the drawing board.

    I am genuinely happy to hear that you are pleased with your revolver. I for one would not be happy with a revolver that I had to send back twice. If you are someone who wants a revolver that you will have to send back twice and get new grips for then the Rock Island Armory Model 206 is the gun for you. However, if you want a reliable revolver that will function perfectly the first time you may consider purchasing a different model or from a different manufacturer all together.

  • FP says:

    LMAO. People defending a purchase that had to be sent back twice. I wouldn’t bet my life on that. Sell it and get a Smith or use it as a boat anchor.

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