The classic 1911 design offers the shooter a number of advantages: a fast, accurate first-shot potential; a light, consistent trigger pull for each shot; a slim cross-section; excellent ergonomics; and multiple manual safeties. One of the best-known manufacturers of high-quality 1911 pistols is Texas firm STI International. While most recognized for making guns that are used by Action Pistol competitors, STI also offers compact pistols for concealed carry, with one of the newest being the Shadow.
Designed with the input of Texas undercover narcotics officers, the Shadow is a redesign of the 1911 with size, width and height reduced to a minimum. But the Shadow still boasts all those features demanded by 1911 enthusiasts: extended thumb and grip safeties, a slide-stop lever, a magazine release, a single-column magazine and a single-action trigger. All the controls are located in the “proper” positions, so 1911 fans will find operating this pistol second nature.
The machined-steel slide has a rounded top, oversized ejection port and sharp-cut grasping grooves. A Heinie SlantPro rear sight and blade front both feature tritium dots for a figure-eight sight picture in low light. The sights are set low for snag-free carry, and a channel on top of the slide facilitates fast sight acquisitions. Consistent lock-up, and thus accuracy, is ensured by a stainless steel, fully supported, ramped, bushingless, match-grade bull barrel.
The lightweight, forged aluminum, Officer’s-sized frame boasts an undercut triggerguard, STI’s bobbed, high-rise beavertail grip safety, ultra-thin G10 grips, a checkered mainspring housing and a stippled frontstrap. This all combines to improve recoil control. Cartridge ignition is courtesy of an STI Commander hammer, while its RecoilMaster guide rod system lets you disassemble the pistol without tearing fingernails or having springs fly up past your face.
Rabbit Boyett of STI sent me a Shadow 1911 to evaluate. Not only was I impressed with the fit and finish and quality of materials, but I was also doubly pleased to see the gun was chambered for my favorite pistol cartridge: the 9mm Parabellum. I test-fired the slim, little pistol for accuracy with four types of ammunition from an MTM K-Zone rest at 15 yards. It shot to point of aim, with all four producing well-centered groups.
Next, I set up a combat target. Using a Gould & Goodrich 810 IWB holster, I performed two off-hand drills at 5 and 7 yards. From 5 yards, I drew the pistol and rapidly fired six shots, then reloaded and repeated. Then I repeated this drill by firing the pistol unsupported (one-handed). From 7 yards, I drew the pistol and rapidly fired five sets of double-taps, reholstering after each two-shot string, and then drew the pistol and fired 10 shots using slow, aimed fire.
The Shadow had no problem keeping most of my shots inside the target’s 10- and 9-rings, with only a single round (fired one-handed) wandering into the 8-ring. Controllability was above average for a pistol of this size and weight, and the checkered mainspring housing and stippled frontstrap provided a secure purchase for rapid follow-up shots. The beveled magazine allowed me to reload without any fumbling. I might add that I did not experience a single malfunction in the approximately 200 rounds I fired through the Shadow that afternoon.
While the Shadow might be a bit too large and heavy for “pocket” carry, it can be carried concealed in perfect comfort for extended periods of time with the proper holster. In fact, with the Gould & Goodrich holster, I found it more comfortable for IWB carry than a medium-frame revolver, which holds half the ammo the Shadow does!
For those who feel that a 1911 pistol best suits their CCW needs, and for whom weight and concealability are primary considerations, STI’s Shadow deserves strong consideration. For more information, visit stiguns.com or call 512-819-0656.