STI VIP 1911 in 9mm
Some guys believe it’s all about capacity. I don’t.
I usually carry an HK P7M8 on a daily basis. That’s 9mm. It’s also 9 rounds. If my math is correct 9 x 9 = 81 and for most, that’s not enough. Sometimes I carry a 1911 with 8, so that’s something like 8 x 45 or 360; I would imagine there are a lot more 1911 users picking up what I’m putting down now. The numbers I came up with mean nothing, but the power difference sure seems like it does to some people. I know I can do with 3, what most think they need 16 for. That is all I need to feel confident. (I realize that math above means nothing, it’s to illustrate that if you can hit what you aim at, most rounds will do the job.)
I sold my STI VIP 1911 in 9mm…
I recently sold (yes I got rid of it because I just didn’t love it as much anymore) a daily carry weapon that held 16 9mm’s. That’s probably a pistol, more akin to most people reading this and their setup. But this is the thing: The gun I recently sold is a gun that caters to both sets of readers. It caters to the people who love capacity, and it caters to the people who swear by the custom 1911 as a daily carry weapon.
It’s a gun I respect, but simply fell out of love with. It was my first custom 1911 purchase from a maker other than ME (me, meaning, I was the custom maker). Until I bought this, I had never owned something in the 1911 platform made by another pistolsmith or from a Custom/pro shop outside of my own.
I don’t regret the purchase, in fact, used, I sold it for more than I bought it for; I also shot about 3500 rounds through it. All in all it was a learning experience. But I have some good things to say about it.
I’m talking of course about the STI VIP 1911 in 9mm. I bought it in 9mm because I could, and because someone, somewhere made me think perhaps, I may someday need 16 rounds in a firefight. I sold it because I wised up to the fact that I would never be in a position to need 16 rounds of any caliber where it involved my life, and where I wouldn’t have a distinct positional advantage and a rifle. I should clarify about what I said earlier: I fell out of love with the idea of a high capacity carry gun. I did not stop loving the 1911 or stop respecting the build quality coming out of STI. That should be clear.
My daily carry gun is either an HKP7M8, a modified 10mm HK USP, a 1911 .45 I made myself, or a Sig P220 Stainless steel (I’m currently retrofitting it to shoot 10mm). I am in the process of finalizing drawings for a custom pistol made from the ground up with bare metal, based on a HK P7 design and chambered for the .45, though I’m not entirely sure I can make it work-yet. The first chips of metal should hit the shop floor sometime in the second quarter, and it will hopefully be a Christmas present for myself. I will be doing a full build documentary on the www.netgunsmith.com website for those who think they might be interested in watching.
This 1911 in 9mm thinks it’s a hi-cap polymer pistol…
Now, back to the 1911 in 9mm that thinks it’s a high capacity polymer framed pistol. Well, the truth of the matter is this: It is!
STI essentially mechanized the production of the 1911, and brought about nearly every innovation we see in heavy use today. Well, at least, they adopted parts and technologies early on. They were one of the first companies to radicalize the 1911 en masse, and their innovation has led to their spot as one of the best factory “custom” builders in the business. It’s also their innovation that has finally allowed them to be one of the best priced builders in the space for relative value. Sure, any time you spend $1650 on a gun, it better be good, but in all reality, there are custom 1911’s that cost three times that if you get too “custom”. I have built $5k+ race guns. Usually with some combination of crazy materials, or some insane design which required a ton of pre-work, metal modification or heavy incorporation of custom parts which required ridiculous amounts of fitting and testing.
So here was STI, innovating away, seeing polymer framed pistols and wondering how they could tap into the benefits of such a design, but still not alienate the tried and true 1911 platform or the lovers of it. Enter the upper frame 1911. A heavily engineered oversized rail connected to a lightweight magazine well and trigger guard. They had modularized the 1911, allowing not only customization but easier customization than ever before. Now shooters could buy a largely modified frame, ready for fitting of barrel and slide, and have an incredible 1911 in a fifth of the time essentially. It was cheaper to produce than all metal frames, had infinite “customizability” (I know that’s not a word) and was able to carry high capacity magazines.
They made a ton of money and earned a lot of fame as THE race gun manufacturer. They probably put a lot of old school 1911 builders out of a niche, and probably supplied more work to the hobbyist than any other 1911-centric company. Their hardware went years at the highest level of demand, and is still going strong. They have caught up production-wise now, and began putting out a ton of custom guns for purchase.
Well as you suspected: they learned a thing or two about building a 1911 in the years that preceded. They are now one of the premier builders of this platform, and they can do it for substantially less money than the competition in many cases. Their customs guns are a thing of tactical beauty if not aesthetic beauty, and of incredible workmanship.
The STI VIP Platform
I bought a 1911 in 9mm from them: the STI VIP 1911 in 9mm
Believe me, I have heard it all from my fellow 1911 builders, and from friends, family and fellow shooters. I get it: the 1911 was made for .45ACP. Well, the STI VIP was made for 9mm; .40 S&W and .45ACP, not to mention, if you held this gun without looking at the hole in the end of the barrel, or at the rounds ready to go into the magazine, you’d think you were holding a 10 round Commander sized .45 1911, with some slick carry modifications.
1911 in 9mm
The STI VIP 9mm is compact, heavily modified and tactically oriented. The pistol weighs around 25 ounces, a full 10 ounces lighter than a full sized 1911 in all steel. You can also get the STI VIP 1911 in 9mm with a steel “upper frame”, which adds a bit of weight (roughly 4 ounces).
It’s a bit thicker than a Glock 19, but has much better grip and better ergonomics. After all John Browning was famous for his ergonomics on this weapon. Even though STI calls the gun platform a “2011” it leaves you wanting nothing from the 1911 in terms of ergonomics. The barrel is just under 4” and is a fully supported ramped bull barrel, using a conical lockup in the front for a bushingless design. It has, of course a full length guide rod which disassembles with a special sleeve to avoid eye injuries and the inevitable popping of the guide rod cork. The trigger is clean, and engineered; it breaks at 4# (pounds) and it’s the little touches that put this gun over the edge: like the Heine rear sight and the front sight dovetailed into the smooth flattop slide.
The STI VIP is one of the best commercially available 1911 in 9mm
A special note: If you have never used STI mags, they may be the best magazines for a high capacity 1911 that have ever been produced. They flat out work.
The STI VIP is very accurate: I don’t know if I ever shot the gun with a group over 2.5 inches at all the way out to 60 feet or so…off hand. It’s more accurate than I can shoot. I think bench resting it you should be able to get 1” consistently once you find a load you like. For any detractors of the 9mm Luger’s accuracy: this 1911 in 9mm will shut you up. Less quirky feeding problems exist in this weapon than any other factory “Custom” that I have ever shot: perhaps an indication of a benefit the 9mm has over the .45, at least as far as hollow points are concerned.
It’s like this really: You can’t get a better gun for this price in the 1911 arena than the STI VIP 1911 in 9mm, but there are better guns out there, and this one isn’t as inspiring in my opinion as some others. It’s perhaps the fact that it’s too reliable and too finished: it just isn’t interesting enough to me. Maybe it is the fact that there is nothing to tinker with; I am a gunsmith after all.
The final word on the STI VIP 1911 in 9mm
The STI VIP is a gun that can’t mess up, it’s so nearly perfect of a compromise that it lacks in compromise. If you want a 1911 in 9mm; a 1911 with high capacity, or one that functions perfectly, but doesn’t inspire the inner 1911 lover (the masochist that need a bit of functional issues) in you: this is it.