STI’s 9mm 1911 Hi-Caps,
Number 2 In A Series
By John Taffin
In recognition of the renewed interest in the 9mm, STI offers several excellent 1911-type pistols chambered to it. Here we’ll look at the Costa Carry Comp.
But before we look at it in detail, let’s examine why the 9mm is enjoying such renewed popularity (which may or may not have anything to do with the declining popularity of the .40 S&W).
There are several reasons. A big one is as many shooters age, they find the 9mm is a whole lot more pleasant to shoot than the big bores. Take me for instance. I quickly tire of shooting a run of +P .45 ACP. However, in the same semi-auto model, the 9mm remains pleasant as long as I want to shoot them.
Then there’s ammo cost. I can usually find a box of 9mm practice ammo for about half the cost of comparable .45 ACP. Magazine capacity certainly has something to do with it, and a comparably-sized pistol can hold a lot more 9mm than it can .45.
Finally, there’s this clincher. The old 9mm vs. .45 ACP arguement began to disappear once we had improved 9mm loads. Today we have a nearly endless choice of 9mm, which gives it a whole new lease on life as a self-defense or law-enforcement cartridge.
As he’s “matured,” John has come to appreciate the
easy-shooting qualities of a 9mm 1911 more and more.
Conceived as a personal-defense offshoot of the previous STI
DVC 3-Gun, STI’s Costa Carry Comp comes with one extended
20-round magazine and one flush-fitting 17-round magazine.
Nines For The Times
With all this in mind we take a look at the second STI 9mm in this series—also basically a hi-cap 1911. We’ll start at the slide, just as we did previously with STI’s DVC Three-Gun. The rear sight of the Costa Carry Comp is a Heinie Tactical. It’s low-mounted and dovetailed in and locked in place with two hex screws. The back of the sight is slanted rearward and striated to reduce glare. It is matched up with a red fiber-optic front sight also mounted in a dovetail. The red dot shows up very nicely, however, compared to the DVC 3-Gun there’s more daylight available on both sides of the front sight as we look through the square notch of the rear.
Looking down at the top of the frame we find a flat surface finish to also help reduce glare. The barrel has a very generous porting with a large slot in front of the front sight and two smaller slots on each side. The front sight is attached to the barrel/port and the slide is cut out on top to wrap around the front-sight base.
The Costa features slanted cocking serrations below the rear sight extending about an inch forward. The same pattern is carried out on the front of the slide below the front sight. Slide-to-frame fit is tight with no perceptible movement and, when operated by hand, feels very smooth. The slide finish is Diamond-Like Carbon Black Cerakote and can stand up to any kind of weather. On the left side of the frame is the logo “COSTA LUDUS” and on the right side of the frame is an outline of the state of Texas surrounding an “STI.”
Pulling back the slide reveals the tapered barrel fitted into the bushing as well as the guide rod beneath. Underneath the front of the mainframe are 6 slots and a long groove on both sides for attaching a laser or light. The ambidextrous thumb safety is extended and the grip safety is the now-mandatory beavertail shape with a memory bump. The hammer is a squared Commander-style and fits into a cutout on top of the beavertail when the gun is cocked.
The hammer is matched up with a skeletonized trigger which is textured on the face and also features an adjustment screw. From the factory, the Costa came set at 3-1/2 pounds. Mine was smooth and creep-free. The extended magazine release is found in the normal position behind the trigger on the left side. When pushed, the magazine drops out with no coaxing necessary. The Costa comes with two magazines, one a flush-fit 17 rounder, the other is an extended 20 rounder.
The blued-steel frame itself is the STI 2011 High-Capacity. The grip frame and triggerguard are the same as found on the DVC 3-Gun—that is, the front of the triggerguard is squared off and checkered for those who prefer a 2-handed hold with a finger of the offhand pressed against the front of the triggerguard. The glass-filled nylon polymer grip and triggerguard are integral to the blued steel frame with a highly aggressive finish completely wrapping around the grip frame. The frame, however, instead of being black is finished in an attractive earth color. The combination of the black slide and light-colored grip frame is especially distinctive.
These three 115-grain loads from Herter’s, Black Hills and American
Ammo also produced fine targets fired with the STI Costa.
At 20 yards, SIG Elite ammo, whether 115-, 124- or 147-grain,
performed extremely well in the Costa Carry Comp.
John tested the pistol with as many different types of 9mm
factory ammo as he could lay hands on.
The molded-in pattern is not as aggressive as that found on the DVC 3-Gun, however, it is more than adequate for self-defense use. With the relatively low recoil of the 9mm cartridges tested, I felt no twisting in my hand while shooting and found it very comfortable to shoot. The ported barrel really does its job and the Costa Carry Comp barely rises in recoil. Operation was totally flawless with no failures to feed.
I used 14 factory loads in testing the STI Costa. The most accurate proved to be the Black Hills 115-grain JHP +P which grouped 5 shots in 7/8-inch at 20 yards. Right behind the Black Hills load was the SIG Elite 124-grain V-Crown JHP which was right an an inch. Four other loads measured 1-1/8-inch and included American Ammo 115-grain JHP, SIG Elite 115-grain V-Crown JHP, SIG Elite 115-grain FMJ, and the SIG Elite 147-grain V-Crown JHP.
Four others hit the 1-1/4-inch mark (is there really any practical difference between 1, 1-1/8, or 1-1/4 inches?). These were the Black Hills 115-grain FMJ, Blazer Brass 115-grain FMJ, Herter’s 115-grain FMJ Practice/Utility load and Tech Enterprises 124-grain all-copper JHP. This last load is assembled in the Shell Shock Technologies’ 2-piece case, consisting of a nickel alloy cylinder and a solid nickel-plated aircraft quality aluminum head permanently bonded together. Tests show this load penetrates 13 inches of ballistic gel. (For velocities on all loads tested, refer to the accompanying chart).
With a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3,299, this is not a pistol for the casual shooter but rather for someone who is seriously looking for something which can serve as an everyday Perfect Packin’ Pistol or—as the name suggests—a carry gun. With the standard flush-fitting magazine in place and the 20-round magazine in your magazine holder or pocket, you’ve got the better portion of a 50-round box of 9mm for any unwanted scenario. The thought of having this many rounds of 115- or 124-grain JHPs available can be very comforting.
Lightweight pocket pistols are certainly more comfortable to carry, and at my age I must confess to choosing “comfort” over “comforting” too often. However, in a proper holster matched with a sturdy belt, the Costa Carry Comp can be both!
Costa Carry Comp
Maker: STI International
114 Halmar Cove, Georgetown
TX 78628, (512) 819-0656
Action Type: Short recoil, semi-auto
Caliber: 9mm, Capacity: 17, 20
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 36 ounces
Finish: Black Cerakote
Grips: glass filled nylon polymer, fully textured wraparound
Sights: Heinie Tactical rear, red fiber-optic front
Black Hills Ammunition
P.O. Box 3090, Rapid City SD 57709
Federal Cartridge Co.
900 Ehlen Dr., Anoka MN 55303
1304 W. Red Baron Rd.
P.O. Box 2086, Payson AZ 85541
41 Artley Rd., Savannah GA 31408
72 Pease Blvd., Newington NH 03801
Tech Enterprises, Inc.
509 Texas School Rd., Eubank KY 42567