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STI International, of Georgetown, Texas, is best known for building competition-grade pistols in the 1911 and 2011 platforms—the latter is STI’s updated double-stack version of the 1911. In the last few years, STI has been adding more tactically and self-defense focused handguns, and the DVC Tactical 2011 pistol is one of the company’s newest options.

The STI DVC Tactical 2011 pistol features aggressive slide lightening cuts and unique grip stippling, taking the most functional features of STI competition guns and putting them in a package for the defensive-handgun shooter.

With its a low-visibility black DLC (diamond-like coating) and a copper-tinted titanium-aluminum-nitride-coated barrel, fixed tritium sights and a threaded 5-inch barrel, the STI DVC Tactical is one cool-looking gun. It also comes standard with a tool-less guide rod and full-length tactical dust cover for mounting a variety of accessories. The gun also features the flared STI Tactical Magwell for quick reloads. It carries some hefty firepower, too, with a 20-round capacity in the 9 mm version, and 14 rounds in the .45 ACP model.

There’s nothing wrong with looking cool and having lots of ammo in the magazine. How does it shoot?

After three separate range sessions with the new STI DVC Tactical chambered in .45 ACP, I can say without hesitation that it is an accurate sidearm, has a precise trigger and functions like a champ. Given the double–stack nature of the pistol and the stippling on the grip, though, I don’t think this is a pistol for anyone with smaller hands. At least not in the .45-ACP version.

For my testing, I used three brands of .45 ACP ammunition: 230-grain Aguila FMJ, 230-grain Federal Premium American Eagle Syntech TSJ and 230-grain Browning FMJ. In all, I ran more than 250 rounds through the STI DVC Tactical and didn’t experience a single failure to feed or eject.

First, I shot approximately 30 rounds to get used to the controls and feel of the pistol. Then I did accuracy testing at 10 yards, firing offhand at Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets. My best five-shot group was 1.06 inches with the Aguila. The other two ammunition brands printed 1.5- to 2-inch groups, firing at a pretty rapid clip.

I moved onto to 25 yards, this time firing from a rest. My best five-shot grouping was 1.44 inches with the Browning ammo. The other brands all printed respectable groups in the two-inch-average range.

The STI DVC Tactical trigger pull measured at 3.5 pounds, according to my Lyman Electronic Trigger pull gauge. The trigger snaps off cleanly and without any hesitation. The ambidextrous wing safety snapped into and out of the SAFE position easily with my thumb. The tritium fixed ledge sights are easy to pick up.

When I first fired the DVC, I was surprised at how much recoil the pistol seemed to generate. I am regularly at the range and afield using both 10 mm and .45 ACP pistols, and the DVC felt much closer to a 10MM than a .45. I tried it side-by-side with a full-size Kimber 1911 and realized the Kimber really didn’t recoil any more than the DVC.

What the DVC did, though, was move around in my hands more than the Kimber, especially my shooting hand. I credit that movement—and the sense of increased recoil it created—to two factors:  my average-sized hands; and the texturing pattern on the DVC grips.

I measured the grip size on the STI DVC Tactical and compared it to the Kimber. I measured both from the bottom of the grip safety and around to under the trigger guard, with the grip safety depressed, and then around the grip just above the bottom grip panel screw.  The DVC measured at 5 7/16 inches at the top point, 5 12/16 inches above the bottom grip screw.

The Kimber came in at 5 5/16 inches for the top measurement, 5 4/16 inches for the lower measurement.

Now, as men’s hands go, mine are not large. You’ll never see me palm a basketball, for example. The grip diameters on the DVC are somewhat larger than those of the Kimber, especially the extra half inch the DVC has on the lower grip, and I think it’s fair to say I could get a better handle on the STI DVC Tactical if I had larger hands.

But that situation isn’t helped any by the scalloped texturing on the DVC’s grip. I like the looks of the scalloping, but the fact is I can’t hold it as well as the checkered wood grips on the Kimber. There’s less texturing contacting my hand on the DVC grip, and the grip material itself is not, well, all that grippy.  The texture, I should note, may be fine in the 9 mm model, given the reduced recoil of that caliber versus the .45 ACP.

A good set of shooting gloves may make a huge difference, at least for me. That said, the STI DVC Tactical is a first-rate pistol.  It will answer the call when the tactical situation demands it, especially if you need to put many rounds in play in a short amount of time. The suggested retail price on the new gun is $2,999.

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