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 SAS II 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. I probably paid too much for it, but 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 really wanted to buy one of these guns about 5 years ago when they were still in production. 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 over $1500 for a handgun, I decided to buy this one and turn it into my "ultimate" carry gun. By the way, I don't regret buying the Bul SAS II UL at all. I actually like that gun so much that I ordered a Bul SAS II Tac Commander that I'll be using for USPSA and 3-Gun matches.
The first thing to do was to buy and install a shorter VIP grip since this would be a carry gun. I hadn'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 from the magwell as much as possible and I inserted a small piece of soft rubber hose into the magwell to fill the gap between the magwell and the bottom front lip of the VIP grip.
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 magazine 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! 😁
Tactical Magwell Update
I've been wanting to acquire and install the updated version of STI's tactical magwell, but unfortunately they have been discontinued and unavailable for a while. I ended up buying an airsoft replica version of that magwell, and it fit exactly like the STI magwell. I think it looks better, and there is less bulk at the bottom of the mainspring housing around the back of the grip, so it feels a lot better in my hand when gripping the gun and it also prints less when carrying it concealed.