A mild rant at STI

I needed some repair work done on my STI Eagle 5.1 and from my phone call to them I expected to have it back in about 10 days. It arrived at their factory on August 12th. I received it back yesterday. That was exactly 35 days.

I started getting a hint that things weren’t going so well about a week after they got it when I got a call and instead of them telling me it was on it’s way back David told me he had just briefly looked at it and, “that’s a really old gun”. Hmm… And your point is? It turns out there was far more wrong with the gun than I knew and that a lot of things are built different now compared to when the gun was new. That meant some replacement parts weren’t just drop in. They were going to have to do some machining on the frame. Stuff that wasn’t going to be covered under warranty. Fine, give me an estimate and then I’ll decide.

Nearly a week after that on August 31st I had an exact amount and sent David (yes, to him personally rather than STI) a check for $231 for the non-warranty work. He also told me there were things wrong that he couldn’t really fix and but it would still be good enough for “What we down here in Texas call a ‘truck gun'”. Great. My STI is now a “truck gun”. But for $231 I would have functional gun that would be far better than any other gun I could buy for $231.

To be fair the stuff he didn’t want to work on were things that I had long suspected were messed up by the original gunsmith (who shall remain nameless because he is no longer working as a gunsmith anyway) who built it from a kit. Nearly the first thing I did when I got my hands on the gun back in 1998 was check the slide to frame fit when the gun was in battery. I was shocked and disappointed that there was quite a bit of movement. I looked up in surprise and the gunsmith said that he had asked me if I was going to carry the gun or just shoot it in competition. I told him both. So he made the tolerances much greater than a competition only gun. He said that he was taught that a carry gun needed to have looser tolerances so it would be more reliable. I asked if it could be tightened up and he told me that for all practical purposes the answer was no. Rather than rejecting the gun due to a misunderstanding I took it. I really couldn’t complain about the accuracy. It wasn’t what I expected but there were very few stages which I competed in for which the accuracy was a limiting factor.

But that wasn’t the only problem with the gun.

The lugs for the barrel link broke on the original STI barrel after only about 20K rounds. The gunsmith figured it had to be a defective barrel. STI didn’t see it that way and I paid for new, non-STI barrel to be installed. A few years later I told someone else about this and he told me the only way that break occurs is if the barrel was installed wrong. David, at STI, told me the “new” barrel was installed incorrectly as well but it isn’t likely to break–it just doesn’t lock up quite right and the accuracy is degraded.

So, I took the gun to the range tonight and it functioned well. The new safety fits better than the old ones (I had the first gunsmith replace a one that broken once before) ever did but it required some machining on the frame to get the new safety to fit. I’m glad I didn’t try to do it myself because I don’t have access to a milling machine to do the type of cuts that were required–besides not knowing that the frames were built different now and that the frame cuts were required instead of removing material from the safety.

I’m a little annoyed at STI for taking five weeks when I expected something closer to one week. And the non-warranty work being done via a direct payment to David is a little unprofessional. But except for the slide to frame fit everything on the gun looks very good to me. I’ll probably continue to use the gun in competition for quite a while longer. Maybe next summer I’ll be able to justify (money, it’s a lot of money) a new STI (Eagle 5.0 or maybe an Eagle 6.0–any suggestions?) and put this one “behind the seat of the truck”.

Regardless of my irritation with STI I still say–I shoot a STI gun in competition, I carry a STI gun and you should too.

12 thoughts on “A mild rant at STI

  1. For a competition only gun, I’ve got a bit of a chub on for the TruSight, which while it’s been discontinued seems to still have some units available. There’s something sexay about a front sight that doesn’t move on the slide.

  2. Can’t get ’em in Mass (at least not easily, there may be some sort of custom-build option, as I’ve shot a few of them) never-the-less 2011 magazines are probably impossible to find ’round here.

    In the end I’d LOVE for a 5″ no-frills 2011 in 10mm That just is too sexy a combo!

  3. If you like your Eagle 5″, you will flat out love the 6.0. I bought a 6.0 when I decided to buy a limited gun. About six months later, I bought a 5.0 when someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. they’re both great guns, more accurate than I’ll ever be, but the 6.0 is just a little smoother, a little flatter in recoil, a little quicker on the follow up shot.

  4. Sounds like you’ve got yourself a “good ship What” for a gun there Joe.

    Sorry, bad philosophy joke there. The “good ship What” is a thought experiment about the continuity of identity.

  5. “…an abomination.”

    How so? People tend to have their own definitions of “abomination” and you have me curious, especially since I’ve been considering a new carry piece. I have an “abomination” on my hip right now, known as a “Glock”. Some will say the grip angle is all wrong, others think it being an abomination against John Browning is reason enough to reject it, and others think anything that’s not steel or wood should be kept off a gun. It’s probably not the gun I would choose firt, given the chance to do it over again, BUT every time I pull the trigger a bullet comes out (OK, with the exception of one or two primer ignition failures in extreme cold weather, which I’ve also had happen with every other type of firearm I’ve used in extreme cold weather. we could get into the reaons for this, but I’m guessing it has as much to do with mechanics and lube properties at low temp as with initiating chemical reacions at low temp, but I digress).

  6. Lyle, it has a Pri 0 bug that, with practice, I hit less frequently but now I have problems with the gun going off before I really want it to. Because of the long trigger pull (5x to 10x more than the single action STI) it takes a lot longer to do the trigger prep. If I rush that I sometimes over prep and the gun discharges before I intend it to. It’s been a long time since I fired a Glock but I think I would rather have a Glock than the LDA trigger…

  7. I must say that I enjoy the heck out of my LDA trigger on the Gunblogger Rendezvous IV Para. But then I intensely dislike single-action guns for self-defense. The bug is not a problem for me as my fingers simply won’t do what’s necessary to cause it. Nevertheless if I were used to single-action triggers I could see it being an annoyance.

    Joe, assuming STI continues its no-California-sales policy even after we Calgunners and Alan Gura have the CA Handgun Roster declared unconstitutional (first of several hearings October 2nd), you should consider selling your STI in California for a considerable premium (but not to me!). I assure you if you post it on the Calguns board with an outrageous price, you’ll likely get it.

  8. 5 whole weeks??!! Dear Gawd!!! The horror!!!

    The last time I sent a gun out for repair, Ruger had it for close to 5 months before they got around to even looking at it.

  9. I had the gun for two days then sent it out again. This time to Robar for their NP3 finish. It already had NP3 on it from 11 years ago but it was getting worn in a few places and after STI made the modifications there were several places that had bare metal exposed as well as the new parts with different color finishes. It sort of looked like one of those cars you see with different color doors, side panels, and hood. I sent my magazines with it so everything will look all “shiny” (it’s actually a matte finish) again.

    This time the turn around time is said to be “six to eight weeks”.

  10. Lyle: “but I’m guessing it has as much to do with mechanics and lube properties at low temp”

    How cold and what lube are you using?

    I switched to Tetra lubes after doing some informal -20F winter testing on my front porch last winter.

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