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(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.

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(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.

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(“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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Action: SA
Sights: Dawson Fiber Optic (.100) Front, STI adjustable rear
Price: ~$1200


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.


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    • This is NOT injection-molded Tupperware but a machined frame. I have a Kimber Grand Raptor II from the custom shop with a $1585 MSRP but you can get it new for $1250 mine was $800 new with a thousand rounds on it because the guy wanted an Ed Brown Super Grade and his better half would have bruised favorite parts of his anatomy if he didn’t sell the KImber BEFORE buying the Brown.

      I have asked and most dealers in Bloombergia (all FOUR of them) say 15-18% off on a new STI so figure just over $1,000 for a masterpiece compared to some Chiappa or Taurus boat anchor.

  1. Absolutely love STI’s, yiu get a gun that is nearly as meticulously fitted as a Wilson or Ed but because they source their slides and frames elsewhere you get it for a fraction of the price. I have shot an STI Spartan V in 9mm and it shot better than any 1911 in any price category that I have ever laid hands on. Not bad for a $600 gun who’s only upgrade was a pair of VZ G10 grips.

    Great review!

    • Thanks!

      It’s worth noting that the Spartan is the only one they source parts for, the rest of the lineup are all made in Georgetown, TX as far as I know.

  2. I love my STI Spartan. It’s been nothing but reliable and accurate since I got the thing. If anyone is looking to get a 1911 I suggest you start with STI, you won’t be let down.

  3. Nice review. I have a 9mm Trojan that I use for IDPA and USPSA and love it. I’ve never had a malfunction in over 3,000 rounds with it, using Dawson magazines. For those “that price though” people, this is a high quality but base model 1911, made in America backed by a high quality small scale manufacturer. That’s the market price, and I think it is good value for money.

  4. Thanks for the feedback, I’ve since put another 300 rounds through it with absolutely no further issues.

  5. I’ve been range shooting my STI Trojan 5.0 in 9mm for over two years, and not one FTF, FTE, or failure to do anything but shock me as to how accurate it is. Sure, it has the Dawson makeover, but after comparing it with everything (other 1911s (Colt, Kimber, Springfield, you name it), HK, Glock, M&P, S&W revolvers (including a sweet 1972 Model 29 with the 6.5″ barrel), Ruger anything, etc., etc.) it hands-down beats them from 7 to 100 yards, inclusive. Just last week, I installed a 12.5 lb. EGW recoil spring because I like to shoot NATO rounds (124 gr. at +10% higher pressure), and I hit a bowling pin swinging on a wire 4 out of 5 times at 25 yards in less than 10 seconds. And I’m not Wild Bill, just someone who has gained tremendous confidence from practicing with an STI Trojan 5.0. If shot placement is the key to survival, I’ve found my forever pistol.

  6. I’ve been shooting my Trojan for four years so it has about 3500 to 4000 rounds through it now. Not one FTF, not one FTF, not one FTE. It’s perfect. Every other 9mm 1911 I’ve seen on the range has had issues of one sort or another. I may have paid 4 figures for it but I did not have to replace the barrel, grips, sights, nor have trigger work done when I got it. STI makes a super fine firearm for a very reasonable price.

  7. I just purchased a new STI Trojan 9mm. As I was trying to do the pre-firing clean and lubrication per the user manual, and I came upon a similar problem reported in this review. I could not get the firing pin stop out. I finally completely unscrewed the adjustment on the rear sight so that I could flip it forward, allowing me to drive the stop off with a mallet and punch. I removed the firing pin and the extractor, and when I tried to slide the stop back in place, it gets about 0.040″ from fully seating, but will not go any farther without reaching again for the hammer. That brings up the obvious questions – how did they assemble the gun at the factory? Did they have to use a hammer or a press of some kind? How was this not caught? I’m not as fortunate as the reviewer in living right by the factory, so instead of a quick drive, I have to send my brand-new gun back to STI. They did provide me with a prepaid shipping label after I filled out an online form (I couldn’t get an actual person on the phone and they didn’t reply to my voice mail), but the instructions in the return email say to not even call them for 6 weeks so that they have more time to work on guns rather than answer phone calls. I listed 4 issues with the gun: (1) the firing pin stop described above, (2) there’s a gap of 0.004″ (one sheet of paper) between the rear sight and the top of the frame, (3) a slight, but audible click as soon as I take up the slack in the trigger, and (4) very sharp edges where the beavertail meets the frame at the web of my thumb. It’s smooth as long as the grip safety is fully depressed, but seems like there was no easing of the edges at all when the safety is in the released position (the position when I grab the gun). The trigger seems to release ok at a good pressure, but the extra click isn’t normal. I don’t know what the specs are for installation of Bo-Mar type sights, but a gap like that just seems poor. So, don’t tell me about STI terrific fit and finish – that’s clearly not my experience. We’ll see in 6 weeks about their customer service.

  8. Andy, misery loves company so yeah, I had similar issues. Just picked mine up a week ago so may have been similar run. I noticed the firing pin spring would not return the pin back in to fire position after dry firing. The pin was sticking out of the breach face so I broke it down thinking some factory gunk was obstructing firing pin from returning. It wasn’t, but when I went to put it back together, I could not get the firing pin to come back through the firing pin stop/block into it’s normal position. After a bourbon and staring at it for 15 minutes, I figured it out and cranked the rear site about 3 complete turns out which allowed room for the firing pin stop to move up high enough for the pin to fall into place. Only problem is that I’m 6 inches high at 20yds?? If I lower the rear site it pushes down on the firing pin stop, again impinging on the free movement of the firing pin making the weapon inoperable. I also have a very noticeable “Click” after about 1.5lbs of pressure on the trigger, every time. At first I didn’t think much but now it’s driving me nuts. I took the gun immediately to a friend who is a very prominent gunsmith. He took a little off of the pin stop and fixed that issue. Did a lot of measuring and said that locks up well and he did a little trigger work to reduce the over travel. He stated that the “click” in the trigger that we are experiencing was the disconnect and told me to get some rounds through it and that he could take that out with a little work. I plan on bringing it back to him as soon as I get a few hundred more through it. Seems like quick and easy fixes if you have a gunsmith that can help. I guess my biggest disappointment is that it wasn’t picked up at the factory. The firing pin stop was impinging the pin right out of the box, and to me, the disconnector click is as noticeable as it gets. If you don’t mind, let me know how you make out and what they did to yours. Thanks and Good Luck with the new gun! -Mike

  9. Have a Dawson crp 9mm Trojan and what a gun. Countless rounds downrange with no issues. What a pleasure to own.

  10. old thread but wanted to give my .02. mine is 4 years old and at least 28k thru her. Other than springs all good. Do not remember a problem that was not my fault.

    • They are certainly beautifully made pistols. I have the Trojan in .38 Super, which happens to be a fairly common caliber where I am (Australia).

  11. For most not looking for 1 shot kill 😉 .. 9mm in the Trojan is the sweetspot !
    Dead accurate, reliable, fits the hands MUCH better than the 2011 double stack stuff, and SOLID steel (98%) means less recoil and back on target for the double tap 2nd shot in a milli-second, vs. the .45’s where you almost need to take a seat, catch your breath before coming back onto target for the follow-up 2nd shot. The bigger thing these days is the cost of ammo, so 9mm a bunch less and more rounds, though a single 9mm round will kill as much as a 45 round.. there’s no such thing as more dead 😉

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