Jens Krogh of STI Guns (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

I recently journeyed to Georgetown to return our test and review STI Guardian 2011. STI marketing maven Jens Krogh took receipt of the four-and-a-half star firearm and escorted me on my second tour of the Texas factory. Not much has changed — yet. STI’s new owners are due to take over any day now; they plan to update STI’s DOS-based machinery, increase production and expand the gunmaker’s reach into retail. I asked Jens about recent reports of a firearms sales slump . . .

STI frames (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

“It’s an election year,” Jens said, smiling enigmatically. “We’re anticipating another surge. There’s always a bump during an election year.”

Meanwhile, virtually all of STI’s guns are on back order by an average of eight months. Bottom line: they’re doing very, very well.

STI DVC 2011 race gun (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

And why not? STI’s DVC pistols are still the de facto standard for IPSIC competition. Their new DVC3-Gun is a hit. TTAG’s getting one to test, as well as a HEX Tactical SS (single-stack) 1911.

STI Guns finisher (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

“Our 1911’s go through the same meticulous build and quality control processes as our higher-priced race guns,” Krogh crowed. “They deserve some attention.”

STI coating (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

But don’t get to thinking that STI wants TTAG to sugar-coat our review of their T&E guns. “Just call it like you see it,” Jens insisted. As if we’d do anything else. But one thing’s for certain: if STI’s doing this well at the top end of the market, mainstream media reports of a firearms industry slump are, at the least, greatly exaggerated.

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32 Responses to STI Guns: What Sales Slump?

  1. So they’re upgrading Their systems and machinery To be able to manufacture more firearms With the new owner. That sounds like a recipe for lack of quality control. All of the other 1911 custom builders That went mainstream Took a severe hit in quality on their pistols once they started pumping them out by the thousands. I expect this to happen with STI as well.We will have to wait and see But I’m also guessing that the slump in sales Is because of the new ownership No one wants to buy a gun Made by a company with new owners until they’ve proven themselves again. Just the way it is and life There’s always that question if the new owners are actually going to run into the same Quality of production that the old ones did. And that’s yet to be seen but I have my doubts.

    • At the risk of sounding like an STI fanboy, I saw nothing to suggest that the company has — or will — abandon their labor-intensive commitment to quality control. And much that leads me to believe that the new owners will build on their well-earned reputation.

      Specifically, the people.

      STI’s employees are perfectionists. Every last one. They are also shooters, who know the difference between a good gun and a great gun is attention to detail. The company’s success is, like so many other businesses in this field, down to institutional knowledge and values.

      If you’re looking for gun makers on their way to rack and ruin, look for those companies that put process above people. Companies that fire employees wholesale in the name of cost saving and efficiency. Need I mention any names?

    • A spec is a spec. If new machinery drops the wait from 8 months to 4 while maintaining spec, the more machine time is available to run less spec tolerant arms, thereby broadening the customer base.

      • Yeah I can see where you’re coming from. But that never usually happens Someone will come in and buy an existing company Because Number one Their gun lovers And they want to own A manufacturing company And produce high-quality firearms. But usually It’s a money-making experience for the new ownership They want to crank out guns to make as much cash as possible I’ve seen it happen all across the market from AR-15 2 regular handguns Look what Glock is done They’ve had more issues in firearms in the last 10 years than in the last 30 years of production because they have Upscaled their manufacturing process And pumped out way more guns than they ever have before With this huge increase of production Comes a lack of being able to inspect every firearm that’s made before it leaves their doors. You just can’t give the quality control that a small shop can turn out If you’re going to spend that kind of change on a 45 I would look at Les Baer or Nighthawk custom. Stay away from the guys who are mass manufacturing handguns The quality drops Almost every time.Case in point Remington Outdoors AKA Freedom group They’ve literally ruined every Firearms manufacturer that they have acquired And Fired people Just so they could put everything under one roof and eliminated most companies Such as Para-Ordnance and the list goes on. I hope the new owners of STI Are gun people and not being counters looking to make a quick Buck off the gun people of this country. We won’t know until They get set up and putting out guns. And I understand specs but when you’re talking about custom built 1911 there’s a lot of hand fitting of parts And those parts have to be quality And it takes time to build a 19-11 correctly especially if you’re building one that cost $3,000 It can’t be a Kimber LOL.

        • So thats what happend to the 870? The last one I looked at was junk compared to the old ones. To bad, Rem used to be one of my favorites.

      • What you’re failing to understand is the fact that 1911 pistols cannot be mass-produced. You see this same problem with Kimber and particularly. When you try 2 machine with CNC machines a slide and frame good luck getting those two fit together correctly and don’t even start me on all the parts that complete the pistol All Machine 2 plus or minus 10 thousands of an inch give me a break every 1911 Builder that I’ve ever met hand fits all the parts to the pistol from the beaver tail to the extractor to the slide to frame fit has to be done by hand that pistol was never designed in 1911 to be mass-produced. It takes a serious gunsmith to assemble one of those guns correctly and make it reliable and accurate. Save your money and by Bill Wilson or an Ed Brown or a Nighthawk custom you’ll be much more satisfied. Machinery cannot get the tolerances that a gunsmith can get by hand assembly that is the way it is. And a 1911 can not have the same amount of slop that a Glock for an M&P Smith & Wesson pistol has and function correctly and accurately.

  2. I hadn’t seen any reports of a slump, and in fact noticed a couple blurbs about March setting some NICS check records?

  3. Slump hell… the manufacturers need at least a day or two each year to just catch their breath! Never handled a gun from this outfit, but as long as they put out quality stuff, they have nothing to worry about.

    But even though I don’t expect to buy many more guns, since the ones I have are ideal for me and will likely never wear out… I’m doing my level best to introduce new people to guns every day, and they’ll have to buy more than one, likely, before they find their ideal combinations.

    Slump, indeed. 🙂

    • Already have all the 9’s I need with 2 Ruger revolvers and 2 pistols, plus not enough room in gun case for more. But need is entirely different from want. STI Elektra CTC 1911 Compact Pistol 10-060012, 9mm, 3 in, Laser Grips, Black Cerakote Frame, 8 Rd would fit the “want” category. at $1599.00 would be OK with intension of passing on my heirs. Fits my criteria for what I like in that caliber but deal breaker is, not one of my family likes that caliber, they would just end up selling it and some would have no concept of it’s value. I have paid for all my handguns, ammo, holsters and accessories from pet sitting business. Husband has no issue with my hobby and I have no issue with his hobby of golf. In fact we encourage it, it gets us out of the house for hours, leaving each of us with time alone in the house a couple of times a month. Long time married couples can appreciate that.

      • Sounds great! 🙂 Glad you can support both of your hobbies, indeed. I’ve known a few golfers too. Personally, I don’t have the collector or hobby urge, and am fairly content with what I have. I need to make about $5,000. worth of repairs and maintenance to my log home here, and that will soak up all the spare change I can come up with for several years.

        But yeah, I don’t “need” any more guns at all. Doesn’t stop me from drooling all over lots of them each gun show I attend. [grin]

        • My husband is not so good buying birthday/Christmas presents for me so we agreed to buy our own presents for ourselves, his for golf and mine for shooting, it’s worked out well for many years. We are both retired but still working, so yes at age 65 & 74 yrs. old so we both have some discretionary income to spent on our hobbies and grandkids. We have both worked since we were kids, me babysitting, my husband as farm help. So after working full time for over 50+ yrs., it’s pretty groovy to be able to kick back and relax and have fun.
          Right now you are putting money into maintaining your cabin as a priority. Priorities can change over time, but I applaud your priority.
          . .

      • I’ve owned my STI Elektra (pink .45acp) for a few years now and I love it more every day. Absolutely fantastic gun that is perfectly reliable as well as incredibly accurate. Feels phenomenal and fit and finish is extremely nice. Honestly this gun should cost far more than it does but I’m not complaining. The only thing that would make it better would be CTC laser grips using the factory pink pearl grips. I’d settle for plain old pink laser grips but so far the only pink version made are for full size 1911’s.

        I was fortunate to receive my Elektra as a Christmas gift because there’s no way I could afford one being disabled with no income. As an OKGungal to a TXGungal….buy that Elektra, you won’t regret it!

  4. DVC-3gun, had not seen that. me double want.

    I unfort have no idea of how to convince the wife that i need a $3k handgun. The words don’t exist in any language I know.

    That’s what TTAG needs to do an article on

    • Every time you visit the ATM take out an extra $20, hide it until you have 140 of them hidden away(important to remember where they are). Then use the credit card for the last $200+, tell her you got a hell of a deal on it!

    • That’s a really easy one for me I opened my own bank account And credit card Separate from my wife That is my official gun spending account. She doesn’t ask what I spend I don’t tell her I just put a little bit of money every month in that account And spend it how I see fit. Thank God she’s Not into firearms that much She does go and shoot with me But she’s not really aware of how many guns I own thank God.

    • Pay the bills, prioritize the important things like home repair, save some for the future then share what’s left….. I earn, she earns and we both want things here and there so we save up for them over time. As long as you don’t get in a hurry and understand compromise it’s fairly easy with the right woman.

      You’d also probably be surprised how much currency she’ll overlook you spending on shiny things if you pay her in “honey do” items and work. This year so far mine got 2 animals she wanted, a raised garden, I painted her office and built her a bookcase…. Grand total around $500 or so. In return she doesn’t care that I buy car parts and toys(grand total WAY more than $500).

      Sweat equity is the key to many happy partnerships…lol.

    • It’s really simple brother you simply open a separate savings account at a different bank that you bank at with your wife and every time you get paid pull out 60 to $100 and stick it in that savings account before you know it you’ll have your money for your 1911 $3,000 pistol it’s what I have to do to be able to purchase something that expensive it’s kinda late like I have for over a year now and now I’m ready to buy a Nighthawk custom T3 and stainless steel the gun is absolutely beautiful and built like a brick shithouse stainless steel Ford slide stainless steel forged frame hand fit bushing hand fit slide to frame hand fit beavertail and fit extractor you name it it’s got it. And as long as you’re not taking thousands of dollars at once most likely she won’t get too irritated if she knows or finds out about the savings account due to the fact that you are planning and orchestrating I don’t know portable way for you to actually obtained this firearm without causing Financial stress between you and your wife. My girl go shooting with me every once in awhile but really is an end to firearms however I’m a gunsmith and I’m over 15 AR-15 that I custom built myself in about 25 handguns and have bought all of them through the savings account and just sticking little bits of money here and there aside until I have enough to purchase what I want just an idea for you people out there. Hope it helps.

    • not necessarily pre-windows. A lot in industrial equipment will be based on simpler and more stable OS platforms for the sake of reliability. So if they were upgrading to computerized equipment in the 90s, its a good bet that lots of it was dos based, because it would do what was required, reliably and on low spec computer hardware.

      A relative of mine has a fancy OBD2 code reader and diagnostics tool set, and the little tablet device boots up to windows XP. Nothing fancy, fast enough to work just fine and dead nuts reliable.

      Most of the newest stuff will run on some form of linux. got a smart tv? linux, locked down and highly customized, but still linux.

  5. “STI’s DVC pistols are still the de facto standard for IPSIC competition.”

    Outside of the STI demo booth at the USPSA Handgun Nationals, I’ve only seen one DVC Open or Limited at a match. If I were going to say one company that is dominate it would be a Brazos Custom or Infinity, but even then you are talking about a small percentage of guns being from either of those companies. Most open and limited guns are custom guns built by a wide variety of custom gun smiths, with no company being dominate at the national level at the moment.

    Now I do think that STI does have a chance to make in rounds with the DVC, but they are hardly dominate yet.

  6. “I recently journeyed to Georgetown to return our test and review STI Guardian 2011”

    You took it back?! I would have been happy to give it a new home.

  7. Anyone have a double stack? How much fatter is this this than a Glock 21(which feels like a brick to me)?

  8. Have had an Edge in .45 ACP for over 12 years – used to compete in service pistol disciplines. It is a bit fatter than the Glock still feels good in my hand. It’sMore accurate than I can shoot, ergonomically very 1911 except for the wider grip and totally reliable. My only mods were skateboard tape on the grip and the double recoil spring.
    The cons: tends to break the rear sight pivot pin – only problem I have ever had. However, my best scores shooting FBI Qualifier on a 20% smaller target, UK Police Pistol, and UK Service pistol were with a Sig P-210 in 9mm with a single stack 7 round mag – but that’s probably just me.

    To sum up, It’s as good as it gets without breaking the bank on a full custom pistol and worth every penny.

  9. Really doubt the sort of folk that are in the market for somthing as high end as a stI are fealing any sort of economic pinch atm

  10. There was talk of a “slump” when the previous management was in place -the talk came from STI spokespersons to explain the departure of the CEO and key members of the management structure. Local gun shops attributed the attending chaos to a period of poor quality assurance (“they were turning out C**p”) -a situation key retail shops said was completely resolved when the new (present?) CEO took over. The large backlog is nothing new-having always been a factor since the company originated. Until recently, STI distributed through participating dealers instead of the more common regional distributors. One dealer attributed the large backlog to squabbles among the various shops within STI. He eventually dropped the products because customers would order one of the guns, get tired of the extended and unpredictable delay , cancel the order and buy something else.

    • The problem I have always seen with STI is the quality. They’re asking the same price as a Nighthawk custom which is a far better pistol quality all the way down to manufacturing of the parts that complete the gun. It’s always been my impression that STI was no better than Kimber maybe a little better but still based on the same philosophy Mass producing manufactured 1911 and having multiple departments worked on the same firearm creates issues between the Departments when trying to turn out a custom or semi-custom gun like they do. I’ve got my choice right now to purchase any 1911 R1 and my money’s going to Nighthawk custom one gun one gunsmith with his name engraved inside the Magwell. I’m just not into mass produced $3,000 guns sorry. You’re just buying high-end overpriced M&P or Glock in my opinion. Sure they’re nice looking guns but I’ve seen them go down from parts that weren’t fit correctly during competition shootings that you see on the cheaper 1911 Pistols that are mass produced by Remington Kimber and a few others I don’t see the upside of spending that much money on something that you can get much cheaper from another manufacturer if you want to mass produce 1911.

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