The STI Hi-Cap 1911 and IPSC Competition

Dave Skinner, shooting in the Nationals. He makes them, sells them, and shoots them. And he sponsors the sport.

Dave Skinner, shooting in the Nationals. He makes them, sells them, and shoots them. And he sponsors the sport.

The single-stack makers, seeing that the limit was just beyond them, offered ten-shot single stack magazines. Then and now they are reliable, sturdy magazines.
With the hi-capacity Para and STI frames on the market, shooters had a choice: should they build a gun that hundreds of gunsmiths could work on, or go with the CZ clones, then imported by European American Armory, with a couple of dozen ‘smiths to work on them? The shooters voted with their wallets, and soon the ranges were filled with hi-cap guns made in the Western hemisphere.

However, many, if not most, were 1911 derivatives. The Open guns were Para or STI in .38 Super with comps and dots. The Limited guns were Para or STI in .40. Brian Enos and some others still carried the banner for EAA, Brian shooting a Limited EAA in .40 until he retired. But the guns were just outnumbered. Limited Ten became the Para and STI with ten-shot-magazines playground. Yes, you could shoot a single stack with ten-round magazines, but it wasn’t competitive.

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And not for the reason you’d think. Leading to a minor controversy some years later. When someone noticed that some of the top shooters were using .40s at the Single Stack Classic, (recently the USPSA Single Stack Nationals) they cried foul. The top dogs were obviously taking advantage. As if.

I talked to the top shooters, and if I were to take all their reactions, throw them into a text cuisinart, and pour it out, it would be something like this: “Pat, I’ve been shooting .40 Limited for so long, it’s all I have. I’m not sure I can find any .45 ammo in my loading room.” For many top shooters, it was easier to simply buy/build a .40 single stack than to get back into loading .45 ACP or laying in a supply of ammo. The reason the Limited Ten Division became an STI/SVI/Para playground was equipment: if you were shooting a hi-cap Open gun a lot, and you want to shoot in Limited, you shoot the same gun in .40 If you wish to shoot Limited Ten, your easiest way (and less practice in transition) was to use your Limited gun, downloaded.

In Production Division, the USPSA rulesmakers desired avoiding an “equipment race.” That is, the exact sort of thing I just described: people chasing scores by buying equipment, even when the equipment didn’t matter, something shooters had been complaining about for fifteen years at that point. So, the scoring was made simple: everything was Minor. Once you exceeded the threshold, it didn’t matter what you used. Also, to avoid capacity problems, they made everyone shoot “ten round magazines.” Oh, your magazine might hold more, but don’t load more. This was not entirely due to the AWB/94. A Glock 17 holds 17+1 rounds. A Ruger or S&W of the time held 15+1. Clearly, based on past experience, shooters would move to the higher-capacity gun, if capacity were allowed to enter into things.

To preclude that, they set the limit (and kept it after the AWB/94 sunset) below the lowest capacity 9mm pistol, which for the 1911 didn’t matter, because to be a Production-kosher gun, it had to be double action. Or at least, not “cocked and locked.”

Enter Para ordnance with their LDA, the light double action, a 1911 frame with a double action trigger in it. As long as you didn’t load more than ten rounds, it was a Production-approved gun.
Partly as a result of the AWB/94, the 1911 started getting a lot more interest. You see, in the background, there was movement to change the “carry” laws across the country. Before the state of Florida changed, in the late 1980s, most states were what has become to be called “may issue.” That is, you go to the local police, or whomever, and ask for a license to carry a concealed pistol. If you meet whatever requirements there were (which in some locales, were pretty onerous) you were issued a license.

You had to prove you met the qualifications to be issued a permit. In a lot of places, “qualified” meant you’d contributed enough to the re-election campaign of a politician with enough “pull.” In other places, it simply wasn’t going to happen without a lot of legal expenses. And in still others, it didn’t matter what the law said, you weren’t going to get a permit no matter whom you knew, paid, or were related to.

This article is an excerpt from 1911: the First 100 Years.  To order your copy of this fascinating look at the 1911 click here.

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