STI Total Eclipse

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posted on January 25, 2011
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When the first STI 2011 pistols hit dealer shelves in 1994, it was unique in being the only high-capacity M1911 design featuring a modular two-piece bottom end consisting of a steel sub-frame and a detachable polymer grip. The company’s newest model, the Total Eclipse, was introduced in January 2010. The Total Eclipse offers the benefits of STI’s modular design in a model featuring a 3-inch barrel, a 0.9-inch-shorter grip, and a high-capacity magazine holding 13 rounds of 9 mm Luger, 11 rounds of .40 S&W, or nine rounds of .45 ACP.

The Total Eclipse is built on the company’s 2011 platform, which features a shortened frame made of 4140 steel hardened to 30 Rc. This precision-machined component contains the frame rails, fire-control mechanism, thumb and grip safeties and slide stop, and it serves as the bed for the barrel. The trigger pull is factory-set for a nominal weight of 4 pounds, 8 ounces, to 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Custom frame touches include an oversize-angled STI thumb safety, a bobbed STI high-grip beavertail safety with a palm pad, and an extended combat ejector.

The black grip is made of a proprietary glass-filled polymer. Molded-in checkered side panels and 20-l.p.i. checkering on the frontstrap and flat polymer mainspring housing, and 25 l.p.i. checkering on the squared-off trigger guard, afford a no-slip grip. The one-piece construction of the grip allows a relatively thin front strap and sidewalls, resulting in a grip width of 1.28 inches, a fore-and-aft measurement of 2.10 inches and a circumference of 5.69 inches. These figures compare well with the grip width typical of a single-stack M1911. Because of the double-stack magazine, however, the STI grip has a blockier shape.

The slide is CNC-machined of 4140 steel, heat-treated to approximately 40 Rc. It features angled rear slide serrations and a lowered and fluted ejection port. The slide lacks a passive firing pin block.

Both the slide and steel frame are thoroughly dehorned, and all metal components have a matte-black KG finish.

The pistol’s stainless steel STI barrel features an integral Wilson/Nowlin-type feed ramp and a flared muzzle. Compression of its double-spring recoil system is controlled by a two-piece, full-length guide rod.

Sights consist of a ramped front post, and a Heinie fixed carry rear with Trijicon self-luminous inserts, arranged in a two-dot figure-eight pattern. An integral sight channel in the top of the slide allows lower sight mounting.

Its double-stack magazine has a steel body, a polymer follower, and a removable black polymer floorplate. The magazine catch is steel.

We tested a new STI Total Eclipse in .40 S&W using defensive loads from Hornady, Remington and Winchester, fired off sandbags at 25 yards. We initially experienced occasional feeding jams, attributable in our judgment to the tight fitting of the gun. After a 75-round break-in period, however, reliability became excellent. Ejection was strong, with cases thrown 7 to 10 feet to the rear. All of the pistol’s controls and safeties worked properly.

The best-performing Hornady XTP load grouped into less than 3 inches. Recoil was strong but not intolerable, thanks to the dual-spring recoil system and the gun’s polymer grip. The grip frame was noticeably shorter than that of a standard Government Model or STI pistol, but our test shooter’s average-size hands fit around the grip comfortably without overhanging at the bottom. The light weight of the polymer grip frame made the gun feel slightly top-heavy, especially as the magazine emptied.

The molded checkering on the sides and front of the grip assisted in maintaining a consistent hold, and the gun was reasonably controllable even when shooting rapid pairs. Viewed through the rear notch, the front post allowed sufficient daylight around its sides for fast sight alignment.

One of the benefits of the STI design is its modularity, which allows the grip portion of the Total Eclipse to be changed out for any other STI grip.

The STI Total Eclipse is neither larger nor heavier than a Colt Lightweight Officer’s ACP, but it holds roughly 50 percent more ammunition. The pistol’s many “factory custom” modifications make any additional gunsmithing enhancements superfluous. These factors should make the pistol a top contender in the burgeoning carry-gun market.

Manufacturer: STI Int’l; (512) 819-0656; www.stiguns.com
Caliber: 9 mm Luger, .40 S&W (tested), .45 ACP
Action Type: recoil-operated, single-action semi-automatic pistol
Frame: modular, machined 4140 steel bar stock
Barrel: 416 stainless steel, 3"
Rifling: four grooves, 1:16" LH twist
Magazine: steel detachable box, 11-round capacity (.40 S&W)
Sights: ramped front post, rear fixed, drift-adjustable for windage, Trijicon night sights in a two-dot, figure-eight configuration
Trigger Pull: single-action, 5 lbs, 8 ozs.
Stocks: modular, detachable, glass-filled polymer
Overall Length: 6.85"
Width: 1.40"
Height: 4.98"
Weight: 25.8 ozs.
Accessories: hard plastic case, owner’s manual
Options: ambidextrous thumb safety
Suggested Retail Price: $1,825

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