Last year I decided I wasn’t interested in reviewing any more STI guns. The reviews had all started to sound the same: reliable to the point of boredom, accurate, good looking, great controls, fast, expensive, blah, blah, blah. Then, around Christmas time . . .

I got a sneak peek at their new DVC line, including the DVC Carry 9mm. It should have been called the Jon Wayne Taylor Carry. It was exactly the gun I’d been asking for since my review of the Tactical DS 4.0.

I wanted to take it home with me right then Alas, the DVC Carry had to go to SHOT Show for Media Day. Two months later, I finally had one back in my hands.

Like the DVC 3-Gun, this one is a looker right out of the box. It has the same general appearance: full depth cut-outs in the slide near the muzzle, covered in STI’s black Diamond Like Coating.

Like the race gun, the Tactical and Carry versions sport a Titanium Nitride coating. The race gun’s barrel has golden hue, whereas the DVC Carry’s is a dark bronze.

The resulting color scheme is deeply appealing. More importantly, the coatings reduce friction and protect the gun. There are very few coatings harder than DLC and TiAIN. In theory, that should make the DVC Carry extremely durable and reliable. I certainly put that to the test.

I suspect this is the same DVC Carry STI used at Media Day; it’s had a lot of rounds through it. It arrived absolutely filthy, at least on the inside. That’s a real roll of the dice to take for any manufacturer. Anyone who reads this site knows I put at least 500 rounds through a T&E gun, with no cleaning before, during or after.

I put well over a thousand rounds through this pistol. I shot both FMJs and HPs through it, and standard 115gr, 124gr+P, and 147gr subsonic loads. Many people have shot it. Zero issues whatsoever.I’ve yet to experience a malfunction of any kind. Considering that performance, I’d trust my life to this gun.

The DV Carry feels great in the hand. And really, that’s the gun’s biggest selling point. In my review of the Tactical DS, I noted that I thought the double stack pistols had a larger grip. They do– by 1/4″ in diameter. The double-stack DVC Carry feels almost exactly the same in circumference as my single stack. In fact, the DVC Carry feels the same, only better.

The DVC line all have the same stippling on the handles, exactly like the one done by Extreme Shooters of Arizona for the DVC 3-Gun version. It may look like a cheese grater but it’s anything but. The material is soft enough to give just a bit, gripping back on my fingers.

I shot the DVC Carry in the summer and the (not so) cold of the Texas winter. When my hands were dripping with sweat, it held tight. When I was wearing gloves, same again. That’s nice in a competition gun, but absolutely vital in carry gun.

What are the odds your hands will already be bloody when you draw your gun? What are the odds that something else, like your shirt or your jacket will get it the way of a perfect draw, and you end up with some material in your hands?

The DVC Carry provided an ideal grip surface. The handle’s also the perfect size — for me. Children and smaller-handed men and women will find the DVC-Carry grip a little too big. If you’re on the tiny side, stay with the single stack.

The gun conceals just like any commander-sized 1911. That is to say, extremely well.

I packed the DVC Carry in the same El Paso Saddelry Summer Cruiser IWB holster as I do my STI single stack. Under just a T-shirt, you’ll really have to look for it to know it’s there. And then only if I’m leaning over or otherwise stretching the shirt tight. Under even a light jacket or overshirt, it conceals completely.

The notion of a true double stack pistol with 15+ rounds and a full grip that feels great in the hand and conceals even better is my dream come true. At 26 oz. empty, this 15-round gun weighs less than a single stack Colt commander in an aluminum frame, much closer to the polymer GLOCK 19.

The DVC Carry wears my favorite carry sights: Heine Straight 8 night sights. I have the luxury of having my own range, so I get to shoot quite a bit at night. Tritium sights make a difference, and Heine’s dot-on-top-of-a-dot setup is the fastest sight acquisition system I’ve found to fate.

Also appreciated on a carry gun, the STI pistol’s rugged sights have a built-in hook on the front of the rear sight; the owner can use it to rack on clothing, a belt, a shoe, etc.

You’ll also notice that the sights are mounted into the slide to allow the absolute maximum amount of distance between them. With a short (in length) front sight pushed to a couple of millimeters distance from the muzzle, with the rear sight flush with the frame, the DVC Carry gives you all the sight radius you can get on a shorter barreled pistol.

The DVC Carry has the same ambidextrous thumb safety found on the other models.

I used to be against this, thinking that an ambi safety would get caught on my clothes when I carried IWB. I’ve tried to create the problem with several different guns. It just hasn’t happened. I think the likelihood of having to draw and take the safety off with your left hand is so small as to approach zero, but I still like a left side safety.

I’ve found that it’s much easier to grab the gun off a smooth surface, like a desk or a floor, and get a fast grip on it, if the safety raises the handle slightly up, off the surface. I didn’t think it made much of a difference — until I tried to do it quickly. Now I’m convinced. It’s ambi safeties on my 1911s from here on out.

The DVC Carry’s safety is well serrated, giving my thumb plenty of real estate, while narrow enough to not dig into me anywhere during carry. It clicks on and off quickly and easily, with a solid feel to it.

Absolutely nothing on this gun catches on my holster, my clothes or my hands. It’s fast drawing fun, delivering hours and hours of easy shooting.

With just a tiny amount of pre-travel, the DVC Carry’s trigger breaks clean and easy. It feels just a bit heavier than the 2.5lb DVC-3Gun, closer to 3lbs. I keep a 2.5lb on my EDC, but few like a trigger that light on their carry gun. The trigger reset is very short and obvious.

The 3.9″ barrel is a bushing-less bull barrel. I have to at least partially credit this with the lack of recoil in an otherwise lightweight gun. The DVC-Carry also comes with the Recoil Master guide rod system, requiring no tools to disassemble.

Combine the heavy barrel, the 2011’s ergonomics, the great grip surface and the Recoil Master in one package, and the result is a highly controllable rocket ship fast 9mm.

With most guns, I consistently score .16 to .17 on my split times. It was the same on this gun as well. With the DVC Carry, I didn’t achieve this splits for just two shots, I was doing it for five shots, and at farther distances.

If I’d done all of my firing at 15 yards, I would’ve said this gun is just as easy to control as a GLOCK 19. But the reality is I can make the same group size in fast fire at 25 yards with the DVC Carry as I can my GLOCK 19 at 15.

But wait, there’s more! I went 15 for 15 hitting a silhouette standing at 50 yards, firing once per second. I went 16 for 30 at 100 yards at the same speed.

After well over 500 rounds of shooting an already filthy pistol, and a couple of days of down time, I sat down at the bench for accuracy testing.

Like the DVC-3 Gun, performance differed a bit based on round choice. A solid performer for a defensive bullet, the Winchester 124gr+P scored a 1.7″ five round group for 50 rounds of shooting at 25 yards. That’s not the best group, that’s the average, and that’s not bad.

The Cap Arms 115gr FMJ gave me an average of 1.25″ for another 50 rounds. The American Eagle 147gr FMJ bullet didn’t perform as well, printing 2.1″ groups, but to be fair this has been a poor performer in every gun I’ve shot them through and I don’t intent to use them again.

I’ve had the gun for a while now; a number of people shot it. Three have ordered the gun after that experience. The one who didn’t ordered the larger DVC Tactical version.

The DVC Carry looks great and shoots incredibly well. It certainly put me a level up, especially with single-hand firing and fast fire at distance. Yes, the price tag is high, but this is a pistol I’ll sell other guns I really like to pay for. I’m glad I broke my embargo for the STI DVC Carry.

Specifications: STI DVC Carry 9mm

Barrel: 3.90 inch bull,  TiAIN coating
Weight: 26 oz.
Finish: Diamond like carbon, black color
Trigger: 3.5 lbs.
Sights: Heine low-profile tritium front, fixed ledge rear
Grip: 2011 DVC stippled
MSRP: $2,999 (found online for a couple hundred less)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Customization * * * * *
On the customization size, like all STI 2011, there’s so much you can change, but don’t. The grips are perfect, the sights are ideal, and the gun looks good too. I still favor more traditional appearances, but the cut outs, and the contrasts in color of materials have been done with a great mind to both aesthetics and function, and it has all been executed well.

Reliability * * * * *
Proven. 1,000+ rounds total on an already dirty gun. Multiple types of rounds, multiple weights, multiple magazines, multiple shooters, zero malfunctions of any type. Perfection.

Accuracy * * * *
Like the STI Tactical DS, I think this should be broken into two categories. On strictly bench shooting, 1.25″ is good, especially on a gun with a less than four-inch barrel. Good, but not amazing. In fast fire, the ability to land multiple rounds inside an eight-inch circle at 25 yards with .17 split times for as many as five rounds in a row is absolutely exceptional, at least at my skill level.

Overall * * * * 1/2
An absolutely stellar performer for its intended purpose. Half a star off on the overall score for not breaking the one-inch mark in accuracy testing. This is the standard by which I will judge all EDC carry guns going forward. It will very likely replace my current STI for daily carry. I can’t think of any higher praise.

48 Responses to Gun Review: STI DVC Carry 9mm

  1. 15 rounds?? I like it. I’m not a fantastic shot with a pistol so the typical 1911 single stack mag is just not acceptable to me.

    The price is not cool though. For that price I would have to accept the usual 1911 single stack mag if I could only choose between the two. If it had some precious metals in it (in large quantities). I think I could do it – otherwise – nah.

      • I dont have a clue about the carry model, but the DVC 3 gun is a dream to shoot. It is fast and accurate. I was reliably shooting a 6 inch plate at ~50yds. If I had to be in a shootout, I would choose my DVC over your six guns any day of the week.

  2. Very nice review. I keep thinking about getting a nicer 1911 or similar.
    Is the STI a hand built pistol? I would imagine it is for the price.

  3. I recently purchased one of STI’s Hex Tac double stacks, and it’s a stellar shooter. This DVC carry looks like an ideal EDC, but I’ll have to save up for quite a while to be able to meet that price tag. After my experience so far with STI, though, their pistols are totally worth it.

  4. Awesome gun. Good looks, accurate, reliable, and has character. Just think, I was considering checking it out then saw the MSRP. Oh well, maybe someday.

    • You haven’t shot enough tweaked and tuned “nice” guns, my friend. Find a local competition. Find the nicest guns there. Kindly ask the owners if you can give it a try.

      Not to say you can’t make a decent gun run just as well without spending quite so much, but it’s a matter of whether or not you are comfortable making those changes.

      • Tom-Tom, there is also the potential problem of gun safe running out of room, no space to put another, and gun budget building surplus. Someday, may have to get into diamond studded guns.

  5. Is the slide open to the elements at the front end at the bow-tie between the barrel and recoil spring? If so, any concerns with dirt, pocket lint, water getting into the works?

    Great review!

    • Boy, that’s a good question. I’m not sure I could even imagine how you could test for that. Imagining wading thru a swamp seems like firing could cause a jam involving foreign objects, but how would you know?

        • The m9 does, the M9 is also not purpose built for everyday carry either. The open slide in the m9 allows all foreign objects to pass through, in theory. In practice sand and grit fowl up the slide action, especially when over lubricated. To be fair though no handgun the size of a glock 19 is going to be pocket carried.

  6. Price kinda puts an end to “one to carry, one to shoot”, doesn’t it?

    Somewhere I read one should not buy a thousand dollar gun unless competing professionally for prize money.

    The DVC is a carry gun I wouldn’t want to carry, and have the cops take it after a DGU.

    But then, I still don’t have a gun.

    So many complications

    • I get the logic behind that, but the odds of that happening are small. If you like it and can afford it, get it. If its a justified shoot you’ll get it back in the end.

      • Actually, I guess I am favoring a small, inexpensive pocket pistol in .45.
        9mm can have great expansion, but .45 never gets smaller. Right?

        • Big bullet hole, big bleed. That’s what I read just about everywhere.

          I understand a .45 bullet will not actually “kill the soul”, but a center mass hit with a .45 bullet will blow hands, feet and other appendages clean off the body.

        • Shot placement. You can get devastating rounds for a 380 these days from Lehigh Defense.

        • I would not be one to claim that a particular bullet cannot ever be effective, so don’t use it. .380 seems very popular. Does the Lehigh bullet leave a near- half inch hole? Does a small bullet wiggle around in tissue more than a heavy bullet? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but assume a wider, heavier bullet will produce more effective wounds. I can easily handle a .45 in a compact pistol, but they are heavy and not for pockets. Heck, if I thought I could reliable use a .500 pocket pistol, I would put those in the candidate pile. My overall problem is I know even the .22 can be effective in defense. The array of usable bullets is just mind-numbing.

        • My only piece of advice is to get something that you can make accurate and fast follow up shots with. The big 3 45, 40 and 9 are all within 5 percent deviation of first round stops. So logic would dictate that whichever gun in whichever caliber gives you the fastest accurate follow up shot is the best.

        • Not even an evidence locker issue here. Police have no means to return a gun found, collected, taken, surrendered. They have no FFL, and can do no transfers out.Which means no sell-offs to the public, either. That condition has always been in mind whenever I get close to choosing that gun I keep looking for. Rationally, I know the likelihood of cops taking the gun are small, but the thought of losing a real beauty keeps nagging.

  7. So, the new Wilson edc has a direct competitor… I didn’t think the ‘carry guns that cost as much as used cars’ market had that much room in it.

    • But Vhyrus, it’s got one of those new fangled “handles” on it! Farago wrote a article the other day about another STI pistol with a handle on that one too. Must be a “Operator” thing. ? But….does the shoulder thing….never mind.
      Funny, I can’t seem to find a pistol handle for any of my ARs. ?
      BTW, for $3000. they could at least put some nice handle, err, grip… fugh it, whatever screws on it!

  8. Change the name to STI Escort and have it delivered by one for the night, then I might consider dropping 3k on it. P. S. She better make breakfast too.

  9. THREE GRAND??? WOW!!! Think I will stick with an XDs! Not as accurate, but I will have lots of $$$ left for practice ammo. The bad folks around here are larger than 3″.

    • For 3K I can buy 6 or 7 guns that I can have more fun with & not worry about buggering something up on it.

  10. yeah man, that’s really nice. i doubt if i’m that self indulgent.
    i’ll keep looking for a double stack 1911 in 9mm. there’s a couple other ones, emp4 or whatever.

  11. Sweet gun! Not sure I could EDC it since my Glock 23 has some good dings and scratches. My Sig 229 Legion spends a lot of time safely in the safe. But if I had the money to spare I’d buy one.

  12. Usually high end 1911s don’t catch my eye, because, “yeah right, can’t afford that”, but… man, that is one seriously amazing looking (and performing) pistol. Do want.

  13. JWT – Dang it Sir! I just dropped multiple dimes on a STI 1911 Tactical SS 4.0 based on your earlier comments. Love it thus far, I’ll look at the DVC Carry whenever it wanders into Fuquay Gun (near Raleigh – best independent dealer in NC!). My hands are considered medium by DoD standards so the DVC may not be as perfect as a single-stack. Recent groups were 2-3 inches low at 15 yards so I’m considering the Tritium front sight now.

    Side Bar – must be nice to have the manufacturer connection – I still haven’t received a STI CS email response after more than a week…

  14. OK JWT, this or the Wilson Combat EDC X9? I’ll probably never have the funds to buy one either, but I want to know for the same reason I watch hyper car reviews…

    • I agree…I’d love to see a comparison between the two since they are both new and are trying to fill the same niche.

  15. This is what you call the ‘Honey-why-is-there-$3300-missing-from-our-bank-account?’ gun. I was able to siphon off some side cash to buy my last Sig…but this would take me a lot of years!

    I’m sure it’s as good as advertised, but there are just way too many guns for considerably less $$$ that are too high on my list already.

  16. Excellent review! Man do I want one.. Still loving my STI Guardian 2011 though. They are amazing guns for the money. I would love for STI to offer this DVC Carry in stainless. Then, I might pony up the cash or sell my Guardian for one.

  17. I just received my DVC carry and went to the range with it and my DVC Limited, the limited is full size little difficult to carry but what a gun, I shot both first 5 rounds in the Carry, shot low all 5, then the Limited , dead bull eye all 5, back to the Carry , 5 shots , all low tried it many times with 5 and 10 rounds shot low and left, would pick up the Limited and dead center, not giving a bad review , want to try it again before I blast it, maybe it was me, not sure I also have the Aperio and out of the box 5 rounds dead center. I hope just maybe it was me. But I do not think so, will post another when I go back to the range in a week or so.

  18. Just went to Range today to fire the DVC Carry. First 5 rounds went low again, shooting with two hands, most of my guns are 5 in barrel, not sure maybe has something to do with that, DVC Limited 5 in, STI Aperio 5 in , Tanfoglio Stock 1 and Stock 2,5 in , used to shooting them. I dropped one hand and shot holding gun in right hand, hit my target, I am shooting at a red stick dot on a piece of computer paper I feel the smaller the dot the more focus to hit it. I have the target around 25 to 30 feet out in front. Shot 200 rounds with the DVC Carry one handed and was able to double tap the same hole many time even hit the first hole 3 times and enlarge it with 5 shots. All in all gun shoots well one handed.

  19. I did take the DVC carry to the range a couple times and found out since I shoot 5″ guns I had to tip barrel up, I had a friend shoot with me and he had the same thing shooting low and he shoots better than me, I bought this gun for carry, I have to remember it is not a competition type gun. I have a SIG 938 for carry and like the DVBC for it holds 15 not 7.

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