Sunday, August 23, 2009

STI Rogue 9mm


Let me cut to the chase. This is a honey of a pistol. While I have been familiar with the STI brand I have never paid much attention to them as I perceived STI to primarily manufacture over-built custom 1911 race guns for competitions that seem to me to be far removed from the practical defensive uses of a handgun. My recollections of them included large, squared off trigger guards, flared magazine wells, different optics, and occasionally some unusual colors. I did not doubt their accuracy and certainly understand that the quest for accuracy is rewarding enough for most shooter; but I paid them little attention as I was interested in practical, carry pistols.

WHO IS STI?

The history of STI began with Virgil Tripp. If that name isn’t familiar to you it should be. Tripp is a premier class gunsmith who sold STI in 1997. Virgil now runs Tripp Research, Inc and I see plenty of his refinishing and refurbishing handy-work showcased in the gallery section of www.sigforum.com. STI was known for making custom parts for the 1911 shooter and branched into providing kits for those who wanted to build their own pistol from the ground up and also provided the completed pistols as well.

As I mentioned earlier, I always thought of them as a Race Gun Manufacturer until a couple of years ago when I began to see examples of their defensive handgun line-up in several magazines. I didn’t see one of their actual pistols until a business trip back to Boise about a year ago. I visited Impact Guns and Eryn showed me one of STI’s sleek and small .45’s. It had a blued frame and a stainless steel colored slide. I’m not sure of the composition of the frame or whether or not the slide was actually stainless steel or merely finished in that fashion. I politely told Eryn not to take it out of the case. I had plenty of exotic (meaning hi-priced) 1911s back in my safe and I was afraid that once I laid my hands on this one it would mean that another expensive purchase would show up on my credit card statement.

Well fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I spied the Rogue at Bill’s Gun Shop and Range in the 1911 case on a shelf with $2800.00 Nighthawks. At $1024.00 the Rogue almost seemed like a bargain. Yeah, almost a bargain if you had $1,024 sitting around that you didn’t need for anything else. This pistol was svelte with a set of very attractive slim grips setting off the reverse two-toned finish. I was interested immediately, but I was also skeptical. I have tested many an expensive pistol that did not live up to its hype. Oh, they all worked well, were reliable and were acceptably accurate but so are my Taurus and Glock pistols. I did not want to plunk down $1,024 plus tax and find out the accuracy was on par with my Taurus 709 slim. I’m not disparaging the Taurus 709. It is a great pistol. This gist of this is that the Taurus is available most places for under $400, so if I am spending another $600 I want something more to show for it than just a pretty frame. My concern heightened. Mostly this was due to the sights. They were small and my 52 year old eyes need all the sighting help they can get. They were not night sights (which I am fairly passionate about), nor did they have any white dots, lines or any other indexing markings on them. Most concerning is the fact that they were integral to the fame meaning they were fashioned out of the same block of steel as the slide. More to the point; the slide and the sights were one piece. The sights were not added on in a dovetail cut, they are not adjustable in any way, shape, or form. I have a tendency to shoot to the left and if I figured out how to finance this handgun I did not want to load it up and find out that this pretty and expensive pistol shot 6 inches to the left at 15 yards and not have any way to help correct that.

I came home without the pistol and for a week I thought about these sights. I realized that although they were not adjustable night sights they were very rugged…just what you want on a carry gun. They were not going to get bumped while in the holster and lose their zero…just what you want of a carry gun. And, they were small so as not to snag on anything as you draw…just what you want on a carry gun, especially one that would be carried in a pocket holster or an inside the waist band tuckable holster. After doing some reading up on STI I realized that they are very popular in championship shooting circles for their reliability and accuracy.

After a few day of consternation I decided to have faith that STI knew what they were doing with the sights and concentrated on how to finance this pistol. In the end I decided to sacrifice a very nice pistol made by one of STI’s direct competitors. This was a much higher priced pistol and I knew I was going to take a loss on it however; the proposed trade-in gun was too large for me to carry so it is just sat in the safe doing me no apparent good. The next weekend she went back with me to Bill’s where I walked away with the Rogue and a fist full of cash. No, I’m not going to tell you what I traded, but if David Skinner, CEO of STI contacts me I’ll tell him.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber

9mm

Frame

STI "Officer" length Forged Aluminum 1911 Frame with STIppled front strap, & undercut trigger guard

Grips

STI Logo, checkered, Cocobolo, standard thickness

Slide

3.0" Stainless Classic, Tri-topped w/ Lightened Fore End, Classic Rear Cocking Serrations

Trigger

STI Long Curved

Barrel

STI fully supported, 3.0" Bull Barrel

Safeties

STI Bobbed blue high rise beavertail grip safety and single sided thumb safety

Guide Rod

STI RecoilMaster

Sights

STI Slide Integral

Overall Length

6.0"

Height

4.4"

Weight

21 oz.

Finish

Blued Slide w/ KG Coat Frame

(The STI Rogue sports a very distinctive hammer shape)

At this point you know as much as I did about the pistol before I fired it. So…I fired it. The range officer ran a bore snake down the barrel and oiled up the slide and I fired it, again, and again, and again, and I smiled.

My eventual faith in STI paid off in spades. It is accurate beyond my expectation for such a small pistol. It is also 100% reliable right out of the box. Making a small, micro sized 1911 pistol is no easy proposition. I have owned several of them that neither I nor the local gunsmith could get to function properly. Many new 1911’s require a break-in period of several hundred rounds. The Rogue ate 217 rounds right out of the box that first day with no malfunctions. Yesterday she polished off another 150 and still no hiccups.

(Rogue carried in a simple Bianci inside the waist band holster)

My concerns over the sights were never realized. The rear sight is plenty large enough and the front sight has a very interesting quality…it kind of “glows”. It is short, but ramped and polished in such a way that it reflected the ambient light inside the range and gave off a gray glow. Usually black on black sights aimed at a black bullseye give me fits at an indoor range as I can’t pick up the front sight. The front sight of the Rogue was easy to quickly pick up. In fact, this little pistol comes on target very quickly…just what you want in a carry gun.

Normally a shortened grip frame bothers me, but for some reason I am OK with the abbreviated grip on the Rogue. This might be due to the fact that, even though this is a fairly light pistol (21 oz.) the recoil is tamed with the massive bull barrel sported on the Rogue. The Rogue holds 7 + 1 rounds of your favorite 9mm ammo, but I also found that my Kimber 9mm magazines, holding 9 rounds each, fit as well. This allows me to carry 7+1 in the pistol with one or two 9 rounds reloads. Yes the 9 round Kimber magazines protrude from the bottom of the magazine but it does not impede the function of the pistol at all.

The shootability of this pistol is also enhanced by the trigger pull which at 4.10 lbs. is near perfect. Many high-end 1911’s have pulls so light that I end up double firing. So far that has not happened with the Rogue.

OK TIME FOR THE TARGETS

First 50 rounds fired out of the box:
14 rounds of Winchester NATO 124 grain FMJ ammo fired at 21 feet.
Speer Gold Dot 124 grain Gold Dot Hollowpoint. 10 rounds fired at 21 feet.
Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX. 7 rounds fired at 21 feet.
14 rounds at 31 feet
35 feet
30 Rounds at 75 feet

Usually the wrap-up paragraph of a magazine writers gun review begins with the phrase “So, if you are in the market for…” and they rationalize the attributes and performance of the pistol to justify its place in the market (I’ve done this myself when I couldn’t think of anything else to say). I’ll just leave the review with this: The Rogue is worth every penny.

5 comments:

tawcat said...

Great review. Someone had recommended an STI to me. Not knowing much about them I ordered the SA Micro Compact Operator.

John K. said...

Very interesting review as usual. Great job.

Anonymous said...

I dont know how I could justify such rudimentary sights on a carry gun that large. An LCP or 3AT is one thing but in the real world black irons are awful and you cant hit if you cant aim.

Average Joe said...

Anonymous,

Everyone has a right to their opinion and they are all welcome here. I am not exactly justifying the "rudimentary" sights on the STI--I didn't design it or manufacture it. What I am saying is that they worked. As I mentioned, I was concerned about their usefulness but as it turned out I did not have any trouble seeing them or hitting the targets.

In terms of the size of the pistol, may this was not easy to tell, but this is slightly larger a Walther PPK, but smaller than a Springfield EMP. So it is not that large at all and really fits into the category of a pocket pistol.

As I said, everyone's opinion is welcome. Perhaps I could have been more thorough in my explanation. But I still take credence in my review since the pistol shot well enough to become my everyday carry piece.

Have you shot one?

Dave said...

Great write up! Very thorough and informative. Its 3/10/2011 and I managed to find a dealer with some still in stock even though it has now been discontinued. I ordered one!