If you are a serious USPSA/IDPA shooter, you’ve doubtlessly heard of the company STI international, manufacturers of the finest competition 1911 pistols in the world. In fact, you might even have one of their 2011 double stack 1911s that you shoot in Limited division. But recently USPSA has seen a HUGE growth in the “Production” division, largely due to the surplus of people who bought a Glock or similar handgun after the 2008 elections. The largest division in IDPA is also production based guns in their Stock Service Pistol division. STI has decided to enter the Production & SSP Division pistol market with the GP6-C. After putting well over a thousand rounds through one, the GP6-C has proven to be a reliable tack-driver of a handgun that would make you instantly competitive in either IDPA SSP or USPSA Production division.
During a recent tour of the STI factory, I was intrigued with the GP6-C I tried out of their gun cabinet, and I cajoled a review pistol from them. I’d wanted to do a review like I read in the gun magazines, but I vowed to report it “straight” even if I never got another review. Fortunately, I was impressed with the pistol, and while there are flaws I’d like to see corrected, I intend to compete with it going forward.
STI’s GP6 is a double action/single action design with a polymer frame, rotating barrel, and all of its controls are ambidextrous. The “C” model has been optimized for competition with the addition of an adjustable rear sight with a fiber-optic front, and a longer, wider magazine release.
The GP6 is the imported version of the Grand Power K-100 pistol, designed by Grand Power’s owner, a former weapons officer in the Slovak Army named Jaroslav Kuracina. The K-100 has been adopted as the standard issue sidearm of the Slovak Army. All GP6 pistols are made in Slovakia by Grand Power and imported by STI.
USPSA has approved the GP6-C for Production Division, however it really shines in IDPA, where it is legal in the Stock Service Pistol (SSP) division along with all the Glocks, SIGs, and Berettas.
The reason the GP6-C is at such an advantage over the rest of the guns is the trigger. The GP6-C’s trigger is a DA/SA type, with a smooth double action trigger pull weight of about seven pounds. After the first double-action pull, the hammer stays back and the trigger goes single-action. THAT’s where the GP6-C stands out. While a SIG P226 (one of the most popular DA/SA guns around) also goes single action, it’s single action trigger pull is 4.4 lbs., with a LOT of take-up. The GP6-C has a 3.5 lb. trigger pull with absolutely NO take-up. And the reset is almost non-existent. It’s like a 1911. This is a MAJOR advantage over most SSP guns.
Another advantage is that it has a thumb safety, which gives me something to put my thumb on to keep it off the slide stop. This keeps me from holding the slide stop down when the gun is empty, preventing me from having to rack a new round into the chamber every time I do an IDPA slide lock reload.
After my first 500 rounds without cleaning, I was very impressed with the GP6-C. There are only two things I would like to see added. The thumb safety is very thin and hard to get a thumb on. It’d be nice if STI could add a wider, 1911 style, safety. Not only would this make the safety easier to manipulate, it would also help keep the muzzle flip down.
The other issue is that the grip is very slippery from the factory. This is easily remedied by adding some skateboard tape to the grip. Skateboard tape costs about $8.00, and you can get it in all sorts of colors and patterns at your local skate shop.
IMHO, the GP6-C is a better competition gun overall than the Sig P226. Here is an overview:
- Price: the GP6-C has an msrp of $827.38, and it’s ready to race right out of the box. The 226 is $976.00, and it isn’t really good to compete with without some custom work and sights. A good trigger job costs around $350.00, and good fiber-optic sights run about $100.00.
- Feel: The SIG feels really blocky to me, and weighs 34 ounces loaded, verses the 26 ounces of the GP6-C. While the standard grip on the GP6-C is slippery, skateboard tape makes it far easier to hold.
- Accuracy: The GP6-C is far more accurate than the SIG due to a unique rotating barrel system, as opposed to the conventional browning style “tilting” barrel of the SIG.
- Reliability: I have had only two malfunctions (both of them failures to feed) out of 500+ rounds of testing. I’ve seen SIGs that have failed catastrophically at the WORST possible moment. UPDATE: I had quite a few failures to extract at one training session, after my first time cleaning it. I took it apart, cleaned it again, and put it back together and have had only one jam in 1000 rounds since.
- Trigger: The trigger reset on the single-action pull is almost non-existent. With practice, you can get your splits down pretty low. The transfer from double-action to single-action can be confusing (in that you can’t feel the trigger if you bring your finger to where the trigger was in double action), but with practice becomes second nature.
- Capacity: STI offers 20 round magazines for the GP6-C, which could come in real handy at a 3-gun match, where there is no major/minor power factor. And you’ll be shooting a 9mm, which produces far less recoil than the .40 Limited division guns most of your competitors will be using.
- Accessories: Holsters for the GP6-C are kind of hard to find. There are only a few holsters purpose built for the GP6-C, but it fits my Blackhawk! CQC (NOT the SERPA) for an XD tactical almost perfectly.
I would definitely feel safe and comfortable carrying the GP6, even though it’s not designed to be a carry gun, because:
- It’s lighter than the SIG by half a pound.
- It’s more reliable.
- The only two areas where the SIG has the GP6-C beat are power and safety. The SIG is available in .40 S&W, whereas the GP6-C is only available in 9mm Parabellum (luger). The SIG also has a decocking lever, which brings the hammer down from single action to double action. The GP6-C doesn’t have this lever, so you have to bring the hammer down slowly, blocking the firing pin with your thumb.
Muzzle flip using WInchester White Box factory ammo was slightly more than a Glock 34, but not considerably so. Shooting lighter reloads would drastically reduce the amount of flip.
5 shot group fired freestyle at 20 yards.
Disassembling the GP6-C is a snap, although it’s quite different from most semi-automatic handguns.
After putting well over a thousand rounds through the GP6-C in practice, I’m very impressed and ready to shoot it in a match. You’ve heard it a million times, equipment is a small part of the competition verses practice. Their is NO substitute for practice. Be familiar with your gun, and you will be a safer shooter, and a better shooter.
The GP6-C is race-ready out of the box. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on a heavily customized SIG, Glock or XD, nor go to the trouble of installing aftermarket parts. Even with hundreds of dollars in aftermarket triggers and components, you will only come close to the single-action trigger on the GP6-C, probably its most outstanding feature. It is a new gun, so accessories are scarce, but I’ve found three suitable holsters and magazine holders. I’m very impressed with the GP6-C. I’ve managed to convince my Dad to buy the review pistol, and you’ll see me shooting it in IDPA competitions more in the coming months.