I think I have a problem. My 5″ STI Spartan 9 has spoiled me from other handguns. After shooting an low-level competition-grade handgun, I find myself unwilling to settle for less. The downside is that it only holds 10 rounds and is somewhat unreliable, especially with hollow point ammo. I tried 3 kinds of hollow points that I had laying around the house. Some would feed but not extract/eject while others would extract/eject but would hang up on the feed ramp.
Make no mistake, it’s been just fine for range work. At first, reliability was around 95% with FMJ hardball. I’ve since changed to a Wilson Elite Tactical Magazine, which feeds better than the stock Metalform magazine. I’ve also learned that a 1911 is not like a modern gun. They need an extensive break-in period of at least a few hundred rounds. They don’t run well with a light coat of oil. I’ve slathered it up with white lithium grease and it feels smooth as butter. Typical hollowpoints don’t function well, but Hornady Critical Defense seems to function correctly. I won’t go into the details of how Critical Defense is shaped differently than traditional hollowpoints, but the short version is that they work in my gun.
However, it’s still not perfect. My last outing, I fired around a hundred rounds through it. Near the end of my session, I was loading 2 rounds into each magazine to practice reloads. Twice, I had failures to extract. Both times, it was from the Metalform magazine. The round failed to extract, the slide came open, and the gun tried to feed the next round to the chamber. The only remedy is to remove the magazine, rack the slide until the empty shell extracts, reinsert the magazine, and chamber a fresh round. It isn’t exactly fast to fix. It concerns me that this is my only defensive gun right now. On the other hand, the malfunctions only happened with a spare magazine after the gun was warm & dirty.
Still, I find myself unable to settle for a standard service pistol. My Spartan is just so much more accurate. I imagine the the reliability issues would be resolved by a higher grade gun and using the 45 Auto as JMB intended. Hence, I predict one of these in my future: http://www.stiguns.com/the-sti-tactical-5-0/
Standard and extended magazines are available. In a standard-length magazine, 9mm capacity is 17 rounds and 45 ACP capacity is 11 or 12 rounds. Extended 9mm magazines are available in capacities of 20 (140mm) and 26 rounds (170mm). The 140mm magazine holds 14 rounds of 45 ACP. Unfortunately, STI doesn’t make the longer 170mm magazine in 45 Auto, but if they did, I estimate it would hold 20 rounds.
I’m divided on the 9mm/45Auto debate. I appreciate the high capacity, low recoil, and low cost. On the other hand, the 45 Auto makes a bigger hole and should be more reliable in the 1911. Back to the first hand, a lot of the guns on my wishlist are 9mm and the fewer calibers I have to stockpile, the better. On the second hand again, I probably should stockpile 45 ACP because I really like the feel of a 1911 and intend to buy several more. Then again, why bother buying more 1911s? They’ll just collect dust while I shoot the Tactical.
Of course, this has to wait until I leave California for several reasons. First, California has a list of “safe” handguns approved for sale. There are ways to get off-roster handguns, but those methods add to the cost. Second, STI refuses to sell any guns to California or allow any of their dealers to sell to California, either. Again, I could find some way but it’s another hurdle. Third, any handgun I acquire in California will be registered, and I’m a conscientous objector to gun registration. When I leave California, I’m going to sell my STI Spartan 9. Fourth, the ENTIRE reason to buy a doublestack 2011 series is to get a hi-capacity gun. What good is a doublestack gun if I’m limited to 10-round magazines? We can already get 10-round magazines for single-stack 1911s.