(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)
By Justin Sullivan
John Moses Browning’s quintessential handgun design has found its place in just about every major manufacturer’s lineup. Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Remington, and many others have all announced new “me too” 1911 models in the last year or so. Conversely, STI is no newcomer to this platform. A quick glance into the holsters at any major shooting competition will most likely reveal more STIs than any other single action pistol available. While they are perhaps better known for their double stack “2011” models, they also manufacture 18 different single stack designs in varying calibers and barrel lengths. The Trojan, while one of their less expensive models, is anything but ordinary . . .
I like to think it’s akin to owning a “base” Porsche 911. Sure, the Trojan is not the most expensive model STI offers, but it beats the pants off a large majority of the other shootin’ irons available.
(No Google, I did not mean to search for STI Treatment)
The Trojan features the flawless fit and finish that STI’s are known for. The slide slips along the rails like butter, and once in battery the barrel locks up tighter than Bar Refaeli’s hindquarters. It comes equipped with a target style adjustable rear sight and a Dawson Precision fiber optic front blade. The slide has positive cocking serrations on the front and rear, while an attractive scallop pattern is milled into the front strap.
The nicely figured Cocobolo grips sporting the STI logo are comfortable and slim. The mainspring housing simultaneously draws both a complaint and a compliment. While I’m not excited about the fact that it is not metal, I must give STI kudos on the finish applied to it.
(“Wow, That is really nice plastic!” I thought, oxymoronically)
I have never seen two completely different materials match color and texture so well, were it not for a polymer mold mark on the very bottom edge I would probably not have noticed it wasn’t metal. The back of the slide is totally flush with the back of the frame, something that bothers me to no end when not fitted well.
(An attractive, skeletonized hammer and a full beavertail grip safety round out the back end.)
Remove the slide and you won’t find any Series 80 firing pin block nonsense, which allows the trigger to have minimal take-up. From the factory it had a little more pre-travel than I would like, a problem remedied by spending a few minutes tweaking the trigger bow. STI provides small “fingers” cut into the front side of the bow; bend them out a few fractions of an inch and the slack is removed. Not a big deal, but I do feel like this should have been performed before it was shipped.
Once pressed against the sear however, there is no creep before the break. My specially-calibrated trigger finger puts it right at three pounds and as good as any 1911 I have fired. The trigger comes equipped with an over-travel adjustment stop screw. Following my standard procedure, I slowly tightened it until I couldn’t trip the sear, and then backed out one full turn.
Once at the range I measured out 21 feet and hung an 8-inch Caldwell splatter target. The provided 7-round magazine clicked easily into place even when fully loaded. I wish STI would provide an extra magazine; nowadays it seems like pretty much everyone includes two. At $32 each, I can see why they don’t and also why I’ll be sticking with my CMC’s for backup.
The first several shots landed right on top of one another, centered 2” low of the bullseye. A few counter-clockwise clicks of the rear sight adjustment had me easily punching the center. I haven’t bought any sort of factory ammo in quite a long time, and the reloads I have are in no way tailored for the gun. Four magazines were rapidly shot with no issues when I handed the pistol to a friend who had come along. She proceeded to empty the first magazine, I loaded it up and handed it back for another go. Two more rounds landed right on target.
Unfortunately, this is where the wheels fell off of what had so far been a great experience. She lined up for the third shot, carefully squeezed the trigger, and…click. Nothing.
“Just rack it” I said, believing it to be ammo related. She did, and the previous situation repeated itself. In disbelief, I grabbed the ejected rounds and examined the primers. Nothing. Nothing on either of them. I rechambered the round, manually cocked the hammer and struck it twice more. Still nothing.
“Well this positively sucks…what am I doing wrong” I thought to myself, refusing to believe my brand new, ~$1200 pistol had simply crapped out. Not wanting to disassemble it at the range, we finished our shooting and headed back to the house to figure out what went wrong.
Hurriedly, I went to the bench and proceeded to disassemble the weapon. Sure enough, the firing pin was stuck in the stop plate. A 1/8” punch required an inordinate amount of force to move the pin all the way forward. I went to pull the stop plate and ran into more trouble. For the life of me I could not get it to budge.
Whereas most of my 1911’s have loosely fit stop plates which drop free upon fully depressing the firing pin, this one simply would not move. Defeated, I called STI to find a solution. Luckily they are located only about 45 minutes north of me and offered to fix it while I waited.
After wading through the parking lot that is I-35 I arrived at their location. I described the problem and the nice gent took the pistol and disappeared through the doors to work it over. He reappeared about 20 minutes later, pistol in hand. Apparently the stop plate had been pressed in at a slight angle, and was catching the pin as it moved forward.
I have no idea how this wasn’t caught, as it must have taken a tremendous amount of force to press the over-sized stop plate into place. I also can’t figure out how I was able to shoot almost 50 rounds with no issue, and then have it lock up so completely. Nevertheless, I thanked him for the quick service and headed back home. At this point I fired up my Dillon 650 and cranked out 400 rounds of 230gr ball, determined to more fully test the reliability of my (hopefully) fixed handgun.
And test it I did.
I had four different magazines from three different manufactures. I shot it just as fast as I could fill the magazines. 100, 200, 300 rounds, I simply could not get it to choke. Some confused, evil little spirit inside of me almost wanted the Trojan to slip up, to stovepipe, a FTE, FTF, FTL, WTF, …something. But no. Pounds of lead were sent downrange without even the slightest hiccup.
After about 45 minutes of nonstop rapid fire I slowed down, stepped back, and shot for accuracy. Though I have always considered myself a shotgunner first, a rifleman second, and a pistolero last, even I was able to easily keep respectable groups at 25 feet.
I’m sure there’ll be a commenter or two bellyaching about the lack of variety in the pistol’s ammo diet, and how no claims regarding reliability can be made as a result. Well screw you, sir, thank you for your input, and frankly I agree with you. However, as I mentioned before, I simply don’t buy factory ammo. Reliability to me means gobbling up my standard .45 load without having to change things for any one particular gun. I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t run through any other box of ammo just as well.
My sour memories of the malfunction have already begun to fade and are quickly being replaced by the growing stack of targets missing their middles. I thoroughly enjoy owning this fine tool, and will highly recommend it to anyone thinking of adding a 1911 to the collection.
Model: STI Trojan
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 7 rounds
Materials: Steel frame & slide
Weight: 36 ounces
Barrel length: 5 inches
Sights: Dawson Fiber Optic (.100) Front, STI adjustable rear
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
It’s a freaking 1911.
Accuracy * * * *
Much more accurate than I am. A Ransom Rest would be needed to test the actual accuracy limits.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Again, 1911. The stocks are very thin. I like this, but they may not be for everyone.
Carry * *
A full-size 1911 is far from my first choice for concealed carry. Open carry is another matter…hopefully an option I’ll have soon here in the Lone Star State.
Reliability * * *
Though no further problems were seen, the initial issues were a major setback in this category.
Customization * * * * *
Perhaps not as customizable as, say, an AR15, there are still more aftermarket parts available for the 1911 than any other handgun that I know of.
Overall * * * *
Unquestionably a 5-star gun were it not for the firing pin problem. I have accepted the manufacturing issue as a simple mistake, one that STI took responsibility for and fixed right away. This is really the only drawback to this fine firearm and I fully plan on making it a permanent addition to my collection.