I’m a huge fan of STI guns. Much of that’s due to my experience carrying their Duty One four-inch aluminum framed 1911 in .45ACP on my hip every day. I’ve put at least 30,000 rounds through this gun. It carries easily, shoots well enough and provides extremely reliability. I shoot it every week, and it’s usually the gun I take to training courses. I always end my range days with 25-yard slow shooting for accuracy. It’s during those drills that I’ve noticed my groups have gradually gotten considerably bigger . . .
They weren’t horrible. So for the last six months or so I’ve lived with it. Then about a month ago I realized I could no longer hit he five-inch steel swinger at 25 yards. Getting down to the bench and shooting off bags, I found my groups were coming in at about 4 1/2 inches. That’s unacceptable for a firearm of this size and this purpose. A year ago I was shooting this gun at 2 1/2 to 3 inches on my worst days.
The culprit likely wasn’t the tens of thousands of rounds I’d put through the pistol. Most quality barrels can take many thousands, if not tens of thousands more than that before things go south. The real culprit: the gun’s scratched, marred, and generally beat-up crown. For a while I had engaged in a series of drills at zero distance, drawing against a target pressed against me, driving the gun into the target to fire. That target had a wood frame held together with nails. Occasionally the gun would strike one of those nail heads, dinging the crown.
Upon arriving at STI’s shop in Georgetown, Texas, Jens Keogh (above) and I talked about what I wanted done to the gun. He said STI could easily re-crown my barrel. Thanks but — I wanted a threaded barrel this time. I love shooting quietly and want the option on my EDC gun. It would also be nice to use a suppressor on impromptu pig hunts. And even that extra half inch of barrel helps shooting .45ACP.
Jens asked me if I wanted to keep the gun as a bushing barrel, or go with a heavier bull barrel. For the suppressor, the bull barrel made more sense. I though it would take them months to get the work done, but they let me know that I’d have it back in less than a month. Sure enough, a week or so later I got a call from the STI custom shop wanting a few more details, and just over a week after that, my gun was ready to pick up. That’s a less than three-week turnaround time with the Thanksgiving holiday stuck in there as well.
I got exactly what I asked for and more. The new bull barrel came with a knurled thread protector sealed against the barrel with a gasket. The fit was great and so was the accuracy.
There at the shop, STI staff scored 1.8″ groups off the rest. The big surprise was when they also handed me my old barrel and bushing, re-crowned and ready to go. Now I can switch back and forth if I’d like. I can carry the longer threaded barrel in the same El Paso Saddlery IWB holster as I did before.
Back home, the gun shoots as well as ever, if not better. I can’t really tell any difference in fast fire, but in slow fire, off bags at 25 yards, my largest five-round group was 2.5 inches with most of the Cap Arms FMJs and HPs scoring right a the 2″ mark.
I’ve had no issues in reliability with either FMJ, LSWC, or HP rounds. Suppressed, I have the same problem as with my FNX-Tactical. The first round or two chokes and missfeeds, and after that everything runs fine. But I couldn’t be happier. STI fixed what I messed up, and got a great gun back up and running again. It’s better than ever and they did it in no time. I’ve got my now re-accurized and sometimes politely quiet .45ACP 1911 back on my hip again, right where it belongs.
When buying an expensive gun, never forget that customer service is part of the price. STI doesn’t.
STI Custom Shop Re-barrel to Threaded Bull Barrel
$450 (estimated cost, your gun may be different)
Overall * * * * *
They did an outstanding job. The gun is more accurate than ever, still reliable, and they turned it around faster than I would have expected. That they handing back my old, re-crowned barrel was an additional pleasant surprise.