January 25th, 2014

Deliverance from Trigger Hell to Trigger Heaven at SHOT Show

While at SHOT Show, I visited nearly all the major pistol manufacturers, and tried out their latest polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols. To my dismay, these pistols (from a half-dozen different makers), all had one thing in common — really unpleasant triggers. The triggers were mushy, “sproingy” (my term), with a heavy (and sometimes rough) “stagey” pull that was not consistent through the pull cycle. Trying one gun after another, my reaction was always: “Yep, another awful trigger”. Most of the striker-fired guns also had a sloppy slide to frame fit, so they clanked around as they cycled. I’m sure they would function reliably, but I felt I was sampling staple guns, not fine firearms.

STI International Firearms

STI International FirearmsIn Search of A Better Trigger
Disheartened, I left the main exhibit hall and descended to level one. There, like a beacon, I saw the STI logo, and ranks of metal-framed, hammer-fired pistols. I picked one up. I worked the slide — it operated oh-so-smoothly, like it was on ball bearings. The grip safety functioned perfectly when I wrapped my hand on the grip — no conscious pressure was required and I didn’t feel an uncomfortable bump in the web of my hand. The safety just did its job effortlessly.

I asked an STI rep if I could dry-fire the pistol. “Go right ahead” he said. The first thing I noticed was that the take-up was smooth — butter smooth. There was no grittiness, and the take-up pull was constant. When you got to the break point, resistance increased, and at just about 3 pounds of pressure, the hammer fell with a precise release. No staginess (rising/falling pull weight), no “sproingy” feel (like a cheap coil spring compressing and then snapping), just even pressure and “click” the hammer falls. This was trigger heaven, compared to striker-fired trigger hell.

As I was at the STI booth, a young fellow came up next to me. I noticed, from his name badge, that he was from Austria, home of the Glock. He said “You know I have had Glocks for years. Then one day I said ‘Why am I doing this to myself, why am I putting up with this?’. The triggers are scheiße — I can’t stand them, and the grip shape is wrong. So I sold my Glocks and bought one of these [an STI] and now I am very happy.” He held up an STI and said “Now this is how a pistol should be made!” I smiled and said, “Isn’t it ironic that it has been more than 100 years since John Moses Browning invented the 1911, and his design still works so well?”


Here are two of the STI Pistols on display at SHOT Show. They are both built to very high quality standards, and they both have smooth-running slides and crisp, near-perfect triggers.

STI International Firearms

STI Target Master
The Target Master is built on STI’s 1911 Government-length frame with 30 lpi checkering on the front strap. The safety controls are STI ambidextrous thumb safeties and STI high rise, knuckle-relief beavertail grip safety. The 6″ slide features a lowered and flared ejection port, tri-level adjustable sights, and STI front and rear cocking serrations. The barrel is a 6.0″, fully-supported and ramped bull barrel. The Target Master comes standard with a STI two-piece steel guide rod, Commander-style hammer and patented STI Int’l trigger system. The STI Target Master ships with one 1911 Magazine.

STI International Firearms

STI International Edge
Integrating patented 2011 technology with classic 1911 design, the STI International Edge is a high capacity pistol that carries John Browning’s design into the 21st Century. Since its introduction in late 1997, the STI Edge has become the standard for USPSA/IPSC Limited Division competition. Built on the STI Modular Steel 2011® frame with polymer grip, the Edge delivers the traditional features of a 1911 with the benefit of high capacity magazines. The Edge frame preserves the 17° grip angle (like the original 1911). The design allows for double stack magazines without over-sizing the circumference of the grip.

Along with its distinctive full-length dust-cover frame, the STI Edge features traditional front and rear cocking serrations. The Edge comes standard with a stainless, high-rise, knuckle-relief grip safety, stainless ambi-thumb safeties, and a stainless, fully-supported and ramped bull barrel. The Edge ships with one 126mm magazine.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 9 Comments »
January 25th, 2014

CMP Air Rifle Match inside Bass Pro Shop in Alabama

Here’a a new twist. Earlier this month a CMP Air Rifle match, the Bass Pro 600, was held inside a shopping mall. This match featured a junior 3×20 match, as well as a 60-shot standing competition. The Tracker Boat section of the Bass Pro Shop of Leeds, Alabama was adapted to hold the CMP’s mobile range, so the young shooters could showcase their air rifle skills indoors. Some 24 electronic targets were set up in the boat garage, between permanent artificial swamp trees that decorate the area. Competitors traveled from several states to shoot in this unique indoor match, held January 4th and 5th. “The Bass Pro 600 is such a unique idea that many competitors travel to shoot in the event just for the novelty of the venue,” said James Hall, CMP program outreach supervisor.

CMP Bass Pro 600 Shooting Match

CMP Bass Pro 600 Shooting Match

Shoppers at the store could actually watch the young competitors in action. On Saturday, 42 junior competitors fired in a three-position match, while the store’s music played and shoppers stopped by to watch. Spectators were drawn over to the boating area, with 60-inch big-screen TVs displaying the scores in real-time.

CMP Bass Pro 600 Shooting Match

CMP Bass Pro 600 Shooting Match

Bass Pro patrons were also allowed to try their hand at air rifle shooting using a SCATT electronic training system, right beside competitors on the line. The photo below shows the trace captured by the SCATT machine. This tracks muzzle movement, helping shooters to steady their aim and chose the right moment to break the shot.

CMP Bass Pro 600 Shooting Match

This is the second year the Bass Pro Shop in Leeds has opened its boating area for a CMP match. The success of these events have inspired many young shooters to attend the open range nights at the CMP Marksmanship Center in nearby Anniston, Alabama.

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