Gear Review: STI Custom Shop Threaded Bull Barrel Replacement

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.

comments

  1. avatar gargoil says:

    pfft lol

  2. avatar No one of consequence says:

    STI is on the short list for me, if it’s ever time for me to get a high end 1911 variant.

    In the meantime, I think I’ll do better spending the money on ammo, range time and training.

  3. avatar ropingdown says:

    Nice pistol. Nice service from STI. My pistols require a lighter recoil spring when shooting suppressed. That goes for the PPQ, most of the Glocks, and for the 1911s (single stack). Walther sells a kit matching the threaded barrel to a lighter spring…which will not work well if the suppressor comes off.

    Apropos of nothing, the Dept of Energy always needs more security, and probably paramedics…..

  4. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    I think Billy Crystal’s Fernando Lamas would approve of this gun. Way better looking than those Cabots.

  5. avatar Accur81 says:

    I really want an STI 2011 or a Dan Wesson 1911. I also want to be more attractive and make more money.

    Incidentally, I put 30K plus rounds through a Glock 27 I bought in 2002. The recoil and striker springs wore out, the trigger system went from bad to worse, the mag springs wore out, and the night sight needed replacing. I sold the gun to a Glock buyback rather than replace all of the parts.

  6. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Could you please elaborate on what the difference is between the bull and non-bull (bushing) barrel?

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      Bushing barrels bulge at the end to match the slide while bull barrels are thick for more length.

    2. avatar Azrael Mackay says:

      Bull barrels likely originated at least in part from competitive shooting. They have modified slides and frames to accommodate extra heavy profile barrels. The bull setup requires a reverse plug recoil system and omits the standard bushing to accommodate as much barrel as possible. They add some weight up front. These days you will most commonly see the bull barrels on the shorty 1911s like the Springfield Micro, or the Wilson Sentinel. I would argue on the shorter than 4″ guns the bull setup is almost mandatory for reliability reasons. Slide travel is pretty essential to the reliability of the 1911 platform, cutting inches of the barrel requires one to be creative, bull barrels help, as does using a flat bottom firing pin stop, you want to slow the slide down.

  7. avatar Azrael Mackay says:

    STIs’ lower end guns I’ve handled are criminally overpriced rock islands with plastic trigger shoes. Any company that would throw their name on a turd like that is not worth my business. CZ makes one of the better bargain priced 1911s right now @ about $700-800 “street” price. The old Norinco 1911s are pretty darn good too, Wilson used to use them for custom builds back in his earlier days before the import restrictions.

  8. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

    Ram high end pistol repeatedly into plywood and nails. Replace expensive parts. Better ram Tundra into walls to simulate vehicle attacks. Replace bumpers later. Jam Ultratech front loader into solid objects to simulate human attackers. Replace blade later. Got it. I’ll get right on it. Well actually, I’ll just bank the cash upfront and live out fewer fantasies.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      You’ve got weird fantasies. But then again, there’s probably no greater fantasy than standing flat-footed on a square range shooting at paper and thinking it has much to do with self-defense.

  9. avatar strych9 says:

    While I will give STI props for having decent magazine capacity (compared to the usual capacities you see) and even more props for having multiple calibers commonly offered on the platform the last thing this planet needs is MOAR high end 1911’s.

    Seriously, now we’re into the realm of $2000+ factory 9mm’s.

    P.T. Barnum nailed it when he commented on currency and poor decisions.

  10. avatar Cadeyrn says:

    I’ve owned and shot a bunch of 1911s from USGI to Colt, Les Baer and, of course, STI. I gotta say: the STI 2011 blows them all away. There’s nothing wrong with the Baer, of course, and it’s tight and accurate etc. but the lower capacity is frustrating after you shoot a 17-round 2011. The STI’s accuracy is great, the ergonomics fantastic, even the magazine springs and loading are sweet. Disassembly and cleaning are a breeze. I really can’t say enough good things about the STI. It will change your perspective on shooting. Find a friend who has one or rent one from a range when you can, give it a try.

  11. avatar EGB says:

    JWT – I’ve taken your advice and settled on an STI Duty One or Tactical SS 4.0. Do you have any specs on how much length is added with the threaded barrel custom shop option?

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