Tour of STI - 1911 and 2011 Production

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Texas1911

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May 29, 2017
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Austin, TX
I recently invited myself to take a tour of STI's manufacturing and headquarter facilities up in Georgetown, and needless to say... it's a damn cool place. Rabbit, their media and "innernets" guru, gave me the guided tour and explained the processing of their guns.

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All of the 1911 and 2011 slides begin life as a simple bar of metal. STI then cuts them down and heat treats them. Of note is the fact that they heat treat prior to the machining and intermediate processing. This allows tolerances to be kept throughout the entire fabrication run, and as we all know, tolerances are what define a quality 1911.

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As the various CNC machines mill out the blanks, each and every one is routinely checked for tolerances. I tried to obtain their go / no-go specs, but I was told a family of ninjas would visit me in the night. I suppose I lack a quality 5-axis CNC mill anyways, so I'll just leave it to them. A quick look at the tolerances and I now see why an STI feels like an STI.

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STI uses a series of EDM machines to etch out small proprietary components out of 6Al4V Titanium and a slew of other high grade metals. Items like disconnector struts, hammers, etc.

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STI will build custom pistols in sets of 16. Seen here, it's rather obvious how that number came about.

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Cutting down the cast single stack frame blanks. There is a good amount of metal being shaved off of the blanks which helps to ensure the frames meet tolerance.

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STI uses a number of highly skilled artisans in their processing. At this stage the frames are being de-burred and prepped.

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The new STI Jenga sets. Coming Christmas 2015.

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Slides after additional processing. The edges are hand beveled and polished.

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The 2011 magazines are made in-house and are built by some damn good dudes. Rabbit handed me one of the unfinished magazines and there was virtually zero remnants of the weld, exterior OR interior.

In the 2011 manufacturing and assembly area I got to meet the guys that do all the final stage processing. One thing that I cannot put into words is the slide to frame feel. Zero rattles, zero hitches, and zero 1911s that I've ever felt that smooth. That includes Nighthawk, Wilson, Les Baer, and a muriad of other badass 1911 makes. Every one of the 2011s is hand fitted, and to experience it... coat your lineoleum in watery dishsoap and try to dance on it.

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Evolution of the 2011 frame in the various manufacturing stages. Remember, at each stage the machinists run a quality check that involves a page long list of tolerances. Needless to say, there is alot of time and effort invested into each 2011.

Everything has to pass quality control, and quality checks are done on everything. Not only that, but each individual firearm passes through alot of trained hands.

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This is Daniel, he's the guy that does the hand marriage of slide and frame. Daniel does one hell of a job. I was honestly very impressed with the fitment in the frames he puts out.

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Jake, the head gunsmith at STI. If you ever needed to kidnap someone... this guy is a good candidate.

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Chad, one of those quality control nazis at STI. They are kept in their own room, fed through a slot in the door, and see sunlight once a month. I don't hear many complaints about STIs, so at least someone must be doing their job in this department. He is one of several guys that oversee the QC.

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Rob, a lead gunsmith at STI. He appears to like his job.

I really have to give it to STI. They are building one hell of a 1911 for an honest price, and the guns are all hand built, hand finished, and tested in Texas. The blueing, the polishing, the assembly, all in Texas.

One thing is for sure, I am buying one of their pistols.
 
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