Wednesday, July 8, 2020

STI Tactical Lite 4.0 2011 Handgun

Hey... remember when I was considering buying an STI Tac-Lite 4.0 with a compact VIP grip as a second 2011 carry gun, but ended up buying the Bul SAS2 Ultralight instead?  Well... I got tempted into buying a Tac-Lite after seeing it unsold on GunBroker week after week for what seemed like months.  It was apparently the LAST brand new Tac-Lite 4.0 in existence for sale, and I'm so glad I bought it! 😎  I had to sell three competition guns that were no longer being used to help fund the purchase, but it was worth it. I have wanted one of these guns since STI updated their Tactical line back in 2013. I had planned on selling several guns to fund the purchase back then too, but I just couldn't stomach the price tag and gave up on the idea.  Now that I've already purchased a few other 2011s and have gotten over the "hump" of paying that much for a handgun, I decided to buy this one and turn it into my "ultimate" carry gun.

The first thing was to buy and install a shorter VIP grip since this would be a carry gun. I haven't seen the VIP grips readily available that weren't already stippled, but STI just happen to have a few brand new ones in stock on their website, so I ordered one the second I won the auction for the gun on GunBroker. After I installed the VIP grip, I was playing around with the tactical magwell that came on the full size grip and realized that it actually fit onto the VIP grip and was held firmly into place solely by the tension against the bottom of the mainspring housing. I really like the look of the tactical magwell on the VIP grip because it looks too "cut off short" without it. The gun prints a little bit more with the magwell installed, but it looks awesome and actually helps with reloading quickly. I also blended the inside of the mag opening in the grip to transition smoothly to the magwell as much as possible.

After putting a couple hundred rounds through the gun to make sure it functioned properly, I sent the slide off to Vulcan Machine Werks to be milled for a red dot sight and I also had them cut a window into the top of the slide to reduce the weight a little and increase the cool factor a little.  While the slide was away getting milled, I struggled with whether to stipple the grip or leave it with the classic checkering.  I ended up stippling the unused full size grip first to see how it would turn out, and that convinced me to go ahead and do the VIP grip.  I also used melted plastic from a sacrificial STI base plate to fill in the faux screw holes at the bottom of the grip to give it a more custom look. I am extremely happy with how everything came together on this gun!

Is this gun the "best" carry gun that I own?    Probably not. 😐
Is it the most practical carry gun that I own?    No. 😕
Is it the most expensive carry gun that I own?    Yep. 😳
Is it the softest shooting carry gun that I own?    Yes it is! 😀
Is it the COOLEST carry gun that I own?    Absolutely YES! 😁


Sunday, July 5, 2020

IDPA Action Pistol Match 07/05/2020

It's been September of last year since I shot an outdoor IDPA action pistol match, so it was really nice to get back to it.  This one went surprisingly well for me other than a few trigger reset issues with my CZ P-09 on the first two stages. I'm not sure what was going on there, but it never came back throughout the rest of the match. After reviewing the video, I honestly don't think I made any mistakes at this match, which is awesome for me as I usually have one or two brain farts at IDPA matches due to all their strict rules. Some of the rules in IDPA can be fairly annoying, but unlike USPSA the scoring puts more emphasis on accuracy rather than speed, so I typically do better at these matches. I had a great time and ended up in 2nd place overall (20 total) and had the least amount of points down at only 3 for the entire match. 👍

Saturday, June 27, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 06/27/2020

Another USPSA action pistol match in Clovis, NM.  Ended up in 6th place Overall (26 total) and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match... again.  This was a decent performance for my B-class skills... not pretty, not fast, but fairly accurate. 😜  Every time I try to push my overall speed, my accuracy goes to absolute shit, so I just stay focused on trying to be as accurate as I can while maintaining a decent pace. One thing I've noticed from watching some of my recent match videos is that I need to pick up the pace on targets that are 5 yards or closer, as my accuracy shouldn't suffer much at that distance.  I can tell in this video that I did indeed pick up the pace on shooting the closer targets, so I'm definitely making small improvements based on what I see in my videos, which is the whole reason why I record my matches. 😊



Saturday, June 13, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 06/13/2020

Another great post-COVID USPSA action pistol match in the books!  I decided to use my CZ P-09 with a Trijicon SRO that I normally use for IDPA at this match because I haven't had a chance to shoot it at a match since installing the SRO.  For a polymer gun with a trigger that is not as smooth as the Shadow 2, it worked really well for me!  I ended up in 6th place Overall (45 total), and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 05/23/2020

My first USPSA action pistol match since the Coronavirus pandemic!  I finally got to shoot my CZ-USA Shadow 2 with a newly installed Trijicon SRO using a new CZ Custom multi-optic plate for the RMR/SRO to replace the Burris Fastfire 3 which I installed onto my old CZ SP-01 with a rear sight dovetail mount.  The SRO is such a great optic for competition because it has such a large window and the dot is very bright.  I like the SRO so much that I ended up sending a spare CZ P-09 slide off to get milled for an SRO by Jagerwerks for my Urban Gray P-09 that I use for IDPA. The match today was kinda thrown together pretty quickly, so the stages weren't all that complicated, but it was still great to get out and shoot a match again. I ended up in 5th place overall (26 total) and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match.



Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bul Armory SAS II Ultralight - Compact 2011

With the recent acquisition of my STI Staccato C2 compact 2011 handgun, I felt like I needed another compact 2011 in my carry gun collection.  I wasn't sure if I wanted another STI (maybe an older Tac-Lite 4.0 in 9mm with the shorter VIP grip), or maybe the single stack version of the C2... the Staccato C which is already optics ready (I know... not technically a 2011), or possibly one of the Bul Armory 2011 handguns (their SAS II line) that have gained popularity recently.  After making a list of pros and cons for all the guns I was considering, the Bul Armory SAS II Ultralight Shield stood out as the clear choice for the best value as it comes with a Shield RMSc optic already installed from the factory for only $1650.  Bul Armory handguns are made in Israel and imported to the US through authorized distributors.  I contacted GP Arms to order one (normally a 90-day process), but they just happened to have the gun I wanted in stock, so I had it in my hands within a week of contacting them! 😁

The Ultralight is very light weight due to all the slide cuts and the fluted barrel, which also gives it a very unique and interesting appearance. It comes with a stainless grip safety, but the rest of the controls were black, so I immediately installed Ed Brown stainless controls and EGW stainless action parts and pins to give it more of a unique two-tone contrast.  The gun has an aluminum frame with a full length railed dust cover to mount a weapon mounted light or laser. Unfortunately, that rail is very short with only a 3.25" barrel, which makes it difficult to find a quality weapon mounted light that fits the gun.  Even though I have never been that fond of Olight's PL-Mini 2 light with its sliding mounting bracket, it seemed like the perfect light for this short gun. The light output is really good for it's size at 600 lumens and it looks right at home installed on the gun.

Bul's 15-round compact grip is actually 5mm shorter than STI's compact grip, but since this is an "Officer" size 2011 I felt that it needed to be even shorter... so... dremel, drill press, belt sander, various files, determination, and an afternoon bored at home = chopped grip and shortened magazines for a flush fit.  The Bul 2011 compact magazines are about the only thing I don't like about this handgun, because the magazine base plates are a pain to remove and reattach compared to the full-size mags.  However, that attachment method makes it relatively easy to shorten the magazine body and drill new holes for the base plate mounting tabs.  The base plates are also unnecessarily long at the front lip, so I shortened that front lip for better aesthetics. I cut 0.300" off the magazine body and the grip for a flush fit when the magazine is inserted (similar in appearance to my beloved CZ P-07 handguns). The shortened magazines now only hold 14 rounds, but I believe the gun looks better and conceals better. In addition to chopping the grip and beveling the inside of the newly cut magazine opening, I also rounded off the sharp edges on each side of the bottom of the trigger guard to make it more comfortable when gripping the gun.




Here are a few pics of the gun before the grip chop

Magazine Update...
With the recent Coronavirus pandemic, extra mags cannot currently be imported to the US from Bul Armory in Israel. 😠 But... I recently realized that the Rock Island Armory 1911 22TCM/9mm double stack 17-round mags should function in the Bul as the mag tube is basically the same. I ordered four of the mags that come with the magwell base pads from Greg Cote LLC, but I ended up installing some tall STI 140mm base pads on them to fill most of the gap created from my grip chop. The only modification I had to make to the STI base pad was to cut off the bottom two points of the star of the retaining plate that protrudes through the hole in the base pad to lock it in place. The angle at the bottom of the RIA mags is not the same as the Bul mags, but it doesn't really matter since they extend out past the bottom of the grip  (even without the grip chop and STI base pads). These mags are cheaper than the Bul factory mags and are readily available in the US. I use one of my shortened factory Bul mags in the gun when carrying it, and a RIA mag for my spare carry mag. I use the other three RIA mags for practice and training.


After finally taking the gun back to the range to test the new RIA mags, I quickly realized that they sit up inside the gun just a slight bit higher than the Bul mags. I could feel the slide dragging on the top of the mag a little bit when I racked the slide manually.  They still functioned when shooting the gun, but it was enough of an issue that I ended up increasing the height of the slot in the mag body for the mag catch by 0.050" using a Dremel cut-off wheel and a small square file. I've since put several hundred rounds through the gun with the modified RIA mags and have not had any problems.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

USPSA "Carry Gun" Action Pistol Match 02/29/2020

This was the inaugural "Carry Gun" action pistol match at the USPSA club in Lubbock, TX.  I used my new STI Staccato C2 2011, and came in 4th overall out of 26 total. The gun ran great, but I had a few small mistakes that I wasn't happy with, but still had a great time.