100 years ago, a child of John Moses Browning was formally adopted by the US Army. Given the centennial celebration, I figured it was time I filled a hole in my collection.
I bought my first 1911 — an STI Spartan.
It was an early birthday present for myself. And yes, you may be surprised to discover that it’s my first 1911, and my first gun in .45 ACP. Honestly, while I respect the 1911 design and find there to be many wonderful things about it (like the trigger setup), well… I’m a child of a more modern time and like my plastic guns just fine. The fact the 1911 design is still going strong today is a testimony to its design that you just can’t duplicate, but there’s no question that like all implements and technology, things evolve, things grow, designs improve. So I’ve really never had an interest to get a 1911 as a “working gun” but I have wanted one because it’s worth having at least 1 in the collection. Plus, as a firearms instructor it’s useful to have one for demonstration, for student use, and so on. So, not a bad thing to have purchased.
Why an STI Spartan? Because STI makes top-notch guns. Yes, the Spartan isn’t 100% in-house STI (I believe the frame is made in the Philippines), but everything else is done by STI and they stand behind it. STI is just up the road from me too, so it’s nice to support the locals. As well, for a first 1911 well… there’s a gazillion options out there and I won’t know just what I really want until I have something to play with. So, get something good but inexpensive and go from there. Thus, the Spartan.
In picking it up, blog reader, KRT student, and friend, Tim went with me. We picked up the gun then headed over to the new Best of the West Shooting Range. First time for both of us to go there. It was expensive ($32 for both of us, but we got a huge action bay to ourselves). But it’s a really big facility and I can see they’re trying to make a good setup. I wish good things for them because it has a lot of potential to be a good facility. We went in, paid, and set up on our bay. Fun side note… someone a few bays down from us was blowing through a few thousand rounds in a fully-automatic something. The constant sound of full-auto gunfire was awesome. 🙂
My goal wasn’t necessary to do any sort of real training or practice, just blow a couple hundred rounds through the gun to see how it functions and start to break it in. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage, so we took a few moments to get it dialed in. We tried just blazing away to see how that felt. We tried some precision stuff, one-handed, ran the F.A.S.T. drill, and just had some fun with it. Tim usually shoots a Glock and I shoot an XD, so shooting the 1911 was… different. Tim has a Kimber but he doesn’t shoot it that much, but it was nice to have another 1911 for comparison.
Here’s my impressions:
- Handling the recoil is fine, but it sure makes accurate shooting a lot slower than shooting my 9. Tim and I both were having an interesting time… like on the F.A.S.T. drill with the 4 shots to the circle, we’d nail the first shot, drop the second, nail the third, drop the fourth. Not 100% sure why, but we were both doing it. Maybe a “good enough” sight picture needs to be “gooder” because there was a lot of front sight bouncing around just due to more recoil and well, I’m not sure just how much grip tension I need to properly manage the recoil so it comes right back to the same spot from before the shot.
- There’s no front-strap checkering on the Spartan. Not a deal breaker, but shooting Tim’s Kimber with front strap checkering felt nicer.
- I want a magwell. Not a big IPSC Open gun magwell, but just a little something more because there just isn’t much of one on the Spartan and trying to reload at speed is very easy to flub up.
- I’m not sure about an ambi thumb safety. I guess I need to spend more time getting used to a thumb safety in the first place. 🙂
- The Spartan frame is a little… rough. I was noticing after about 150 rounds that the webbing of my thumb was hurting. I thought maybe just the big beavertail, all that recoil force, and it was just pounding my hand in a way I wasn’t used to. But upon further inspection, the back edges of the grip and frame up around in that area are just not as smoothed and rounded as they could be. It’s not sharp, just not really smooth flowing. We compared it to Tim’s Kimber and that was much less of an angle, flowed better into the hand. So, after enough time, there’s some bite and after 200 rounds I had enough.
- The factory sights are good. The front sight post is a little thick and I’d like either for it to be thinner or the rear sight’s notch to be wider. There is some air-space in the notch when properly lined up, but not as much as I’d like. Still not bad for what they are. I do like that you get fiber front and flat black “target” rear.
- Field striping was a pain. The barrel bushing was in there TIGHT and it took some work to get it in and out. In fact, we noticed that the gun felt a little tighter overall than the Kimber.
- The trigger is the typical short-travel 1911 trigger, but it broke kinda heavy. I recall doing some group shooting and working a slow smooth trigger press and thinking “GEEZ, break already!!” I’m not sure if it’s just heavy in general or just needs to be broken in. I will try a pull weight gauge if I can get my hands on one because I am curious what the pull weight is.
- 10 round Chip McCormick power mags are nice. 🙂
- Monarch ammo at Academy is about the cheapest .45 ACP ammo I can find anywhere, even online (when you factor in shipping). Yes, collected all the brass from today so I can eventually reload .45.
All in all, I like the gun. I can already see things I’d want to change and look for in my second 1911. 🙂
I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll do anything more with this gun, like would I want to trick it out just enough to do “single stack” USPSA shooting? We’ll see. For now, if I can just get to the range more often to shoot, I’ll be happy.
BTW Tim, you are a much better shot than you give yourself credit for. 🙂