Longbeach SWAT Evaluation of the STI Tactical

Written by – OFC. Patrick A Dougherty | LBPD SWAT

PREVIEW

The testing and evaluation for this pistol was done over a period of four months. The pistol was supplied by STI international. The pistol is a 2011 tactical 4.0 model chambered in 9mm. The testing was conducted primarily by myself and other members of LBPD SWAT. There were several models of striker fired and single action pistols tested during this period. Maintaining objectivity, and relying only on data were the primary goals of selecting a new pistol during this process. During this evaluation period there were three main factors which the pistol was evaluated on

− Reliability
− Accuracy
− Ergonomics/Efficiency

RELIABILITY

Several different types of ammunition were used during evaluation. The primary type was Winchester 147 gr. 9mm TCMC, followed by Winchester 147 gr. Ranger SXT (RA9T), Winchester 115gr. FMJ, and Freedom Munitions 135 gr. HP (X-treme munitions bullet).
During initial testing the Tactical 4.0 was not cleaned. The slide rails, Barrel, Barrel link, frame rails and dual recoil spring were lubricated after every 500-600 rounds with Lucas extreme duty gun oil which was included with the test and evaluation pistol from the factory. No stoppages or malfunctions were recorded for the first 1000 rounds which were fired within the first two days upon receiving the pistol from the factory. It should be noted that the gun was field stripped, cleaned and lubricated before any testing was done. The tactical 4.0 was fitted with a Surefire x-300u weapon light.
Testing was done with three 140mm 20 round magazines which were included with the tactical 4.0, these magazines were previously used, and the magazine springs were later found to be compressed and out of specification.

The initial testing was done at the Long Beach Police Academy range. The temperature was between 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit. While conducting emergency reloads, magazines were dropped onto a concrete surface. The test gun was shot during a two-day period from late morning hours to the afternoon. On the first day the tactical 4.0 was shot by multiple Officers, with minimal cooldown period. The slide and grip of the pistol reached a temperature where operators were unable to grip it without wearing gloves.

During the next several weeks the pistol was fired at Burro Canyon Shooting park, Prado Olympic shooting range, and Long Beach Police Academy. The magazines and pistol were exposed to dry dusty conditions at Burro Canyon, and Prado Range. Magazines were dropped in dirt, and sand. At no point were the magazines cleaned or brushed out. Between 2200 and 2500 rounds two class 3 stoppages occurred where the slide failed to go completely into battery. Dirt in the magazine tube was determined to be the causal factor of these stoppages.

After 2500 rounds through the pistol, there was one failure to feed which occurred. Magazines were brushed out at this point, and cleaned. The weapon continued to feed the 147gr. SXT, and 147 TCMC ammunition with two incidences of the slide not locking to the rear on an empty magazine. Both of these occurrences were with the number 3 magazine. After 3200 rounds of various ammunition, the pistol was field stripped and cleaned. To include extractor and firing pin removal. The firing pin channel and extractor were cleaned, and the pistol was re-lubed with Lucas gun oil.

The magazines were inspected, and all magazines were found to have compressed springs which were out of specification. Magazine springs were replaced after 3500 rounds. The pistol has since cycled through 6000 rounds. Maintenance has been lubrication and field strip after every 500 rounds. The magazines were brushed out at the 500 round interval. The maintenance schedule was changed to a more reasonable interval to represent a typical training cycle a duty pistol is subjected to. Between 3500 and 6000 rounds, two class one malfunctions occurred, which were determined to be ammunition related.

During this firing period the DLC finish on the pistol has not shown any signs of wear on the corners of the slide or external surfaces of the barrel. The pistol was drawn from Safariland ALS 6360 holsters, and a personally owned Kydex pancake style holster.

This pistol has exceeded expectations for reliability. The small number of stoppages have been attributed to dirty magazines, and worn magazine springs. No parts or structure of the pistol have any signs of abnormal wear; no part or structure of the pistol experienced any breakage or stress fracture.

ACCURACY

The pistol was not fired from a Ransom rest to test accuracy. The pistol accuracy was tested from 50 yards to 5 yards. LBPD SWAT standards course was fired numerous times, with the pistol maintaining accuracy. All accuracy tests were conducted with Winchester 147 grain Ranger SXT duty ammunition. 25 yard groups were shot on NRA B-8 bullseye targets. The pistol held 3 round groups of 3” or less throughout the testing process. There was no noticeable degradation in accuracy, and accuracy was deemed above average for duty pistols
The shorter sight radius on the pistol (4.15” barrel) was not found to be a factor or affect accuracy during testing.

ERGONOMICS/FUNCTION

Ergonomics were better than two other 1911 style pistols that have been previously fielded by SWAT. The slide and frame are devoid of sharp edges and corners. The Ambidextrous thumb safety is rounded and found functional by left and right handed shooters, without interfering with grip or safety manipulation. Forward cocking serrations are functional and facilitated easy slide manipulation. The double stack 2011 grip is slightly larger than the typical 1911 single stack .45 ACP. The circumference on the Tactical 4.0 is slightly larger than a standard 2011 grip measured at 6” compared to a Springfield Armory 1911 operator .45 which measured 5 ¾”. The increase in grip circumference did not have any effect on ergonomics or handling reported by any user of the pistol.

The Heinie rear sight is a ledge type sight, and shooters were able to conduct one handed reloads, and rack the slide off of duty gear with ease. The rear sight is held in position with two set screws, both front and rear sight did not shift during testing. The front sight is a fiber optic type. This type of sight is normally associated with competition pistols, however, no issues were found during use in tactical/duty holsters. The fiber optic rod remained in place without any wear or damage. The feedback from team members was positive on this type of sight, during use at night and daytime hours.

Felt recoil was remarkably light compared to all pistols during the test period. The most notable aspect of the pistol was the lack of felt recoil, and shot to shot recovery times when compared to striker fired and other 1911 type pistols. The shorter 4.15” barrel and slide cycled faster than 5” 1911 style pistols due to less reciprocating weight, and quicker slide movement.

Officers who tested this pistol are currently issued a 1911 single stack pistol. The advantage the 1911 single action automatic has in accuracy, and shot to shot times are well known advantages to this platform. Officers who tested the pistol are also well aware of the deficiency this platform has in reliability when compared to striker fired pistols. While it is noted that tactical units are moving away from the 1911 platform due to reliability, round capacity, and weight. The Officers who tested the STI tactical 4.0 pistol had very positive review on the reliability, accuracy and round capacity. We believe this pistol carries all of the positive attributes of the 1911, and adds the reliability and capacity of a striker fired pistol. The STI tactical 4.0 passed the testing and evaluation, and was unanimously selected as having the features and attributes superior to other pistols which were tested during this period.

2 thoughts on “Longbeach SWAT Evaluation of the STI Tactical

  1. Adam Delatorre says:

    I work my first shift in 3 weeks as a fully sworn Police Officer and desperately looking for a duty holster for my STI Tactical. I have been looking ever since and Galls is having an issue with their warehouse. I have completed over 60 hours of LEO academy pistol instruction and was the only cadet out of a class of 23 to not carry a Glock. With my new STI Tactical I stood out with some instructors in lust with it and others making the joke “when it breaks”. A few instructors asked to fire the pistol and fell in love but more importantly, 2 Glocks broke and every Glock jammed. I was waiting for my 2011 to have an issue and make me look like a fool trying to continue the 1911 legacy but it shot better than I did and felt much more confident with it in my hand. On my worst day, I would not trust anything else besides my STI 2011.

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