March 2010

Full-Size 9mm 1911-Style Pistols: Kimber, Springfield, STI

Kimberís Custom Aegis II, Springfield Armoryís Loaded 9X19, and the STI Duty One favor personal carry, target shooting, and law enforcement, respectively. All three are worth a look.

It could be said that the Browning 1911 pistol has evolved more than any other design. The operating principal remains the same, but alternate configurations have been applied to nearly every facet of its execution. In fact, it is now commonplace to buy over the counter what not long ago would have been considered a full-blown custom pistol. We all know about beveled magazine wells, frame checkering, undercutting the trigger guard for a higher grip, high-arch memory groove grip safeties, extended magazine releases, aluminum triggers adjustable for overtravel, light rails on the dust cover, extended and/or ambidextrous safeties, checkered slide stops, skeletonized hammers, titanium firing pins, front and rear serrations on the slide, weight reducing slide cuts, lowered and flared ejection ports, full length guide rods, bull barrels, multi-spring recoil systems, external extractors, spring-loaded internal extractors, ramped barrels, adjustable sights for target, adjustable low-mount sights for carry, light-gathering-filament sights, or self-illuminating modules for front and rear sights.

In this test we will evaluate three full-size 1911-style pistols that include several of the above-mentioned features. A few years ago we would have called them factory customs, but that term is obsolete. The most distinguishing characteristic of our trio was that all were chambered for 9X19 shells, aka 9mm Parabellum or simply 9mm. They are the $1299 STI Duty One, Springfield Armoryís $1277 Loaded Full Size Stainless Steel 9X19 No. PX9130LP, and the $1277 Kimber Custom Aegis II. All three guns shipped with and fed from identical 9-round MetalForm-brand single-stack magazines. Otherwise, there were significant differences between the pistols. Each gun represented a different viewpoint of what a 9mm 1911 should be. As a result, each gun had a slightly different personality, which we took into account in our grading.

The holiday season was upon us and the radio was playing old favorites like "Baby Itís Cold Outside." So we accepted an offer from Houstonís Top Gun Training Center (www.topgunrange.com) to conduct our test indoors. The range was under renovation, so while the ActionTarget.com folks were working their magic on one shooting bay, we set up targets at the other end of the building. Test distance was 15 yards and Black Hills ammunition was used exclusively in our tests. For break in we opened a case of 124-grain FMJ ammunition packed in blue boxes (remanufactured). Both our 115-grain FMJ and 124-grain JHP rounds were new manufacture (packaged in red boxes). We brought in a portable shooting bench and went to work firing five-shot groups. Here is what we learned.

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