As more and more federal agencies adopt various variations on the Glock pistol, the recent adoption of the STI 2011 by the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group (USMS SOG) stands out. The STI 2011 is a double-stack 9mm variant of the venerable 1911 pistol—a design that is over 100 years old at this point.
But why did the SOG choose the 2011 instead of another Glock? The guns.com article suggests that the USMS SOG was working relatively closely with STI before the order, so in a sense, the USMS’s STI 2011 is practically a custom gun made to their request. The pistol is also replacing Springfield Armory 1911s. As the 2011 has practically the same manual of arms and excellent trigger pull as the 1911, adopting a 2011 would make the transition to the new gun easier than a transition to a striker-fired or DA/SA trigger.
The USMS SOG also appears to greatly appreciate the excellent single-action only triggers of tuned 1911s and 2011s, as “single-action pistols” were mentioned specifically in a statement given by a USMS public affairs official.
But the USMS’ 2011s represent a leap forward in many other ways compared to the legacy 1911s. Photos of them in use show them equipped with Leupold DeltaPoint Pro red dot sights, flared tactical magwells and extended baseplates for the magazine, which give users up to twenty-one rounds of 9mm ammunition on tap. Raised iron sights that are visible through the window of the red dot are also fitted to the USMS guns.
A concealed carry version of the 2011 was also procured for the USMS, which ditches the red dot sight and raised iron sights in favor of a low-profile set of sights, including a fiber front sight. All USMS 2011s also feature special finishes meant to resist saltwater corrosion, and have “USMS SOG” and the SOG team logo put on the slides.
The adoption of the 2011 could have some interesting implications for the guns used by elite teams across the world. STI 2011s competed with Glocks in the past early in the 2000s in trials for Delta Force, but lost due to inferior reliability to the Glock. But in 2019, STI appears to have ironed out most of the issues and has put together a modern and competitive package in the USMS SOG pistol that could be of interest to groups that plan to use pistols extensively on operations and want something that’s easier and faster to shoot accurately than a Glock.
In the article, STI’s military and law enforcement sales manager, Buck Pierson, mentions that STI was working with multiple other agencies in testing and developing duty-ready versions of the 2011 pistol, with some test guns firing in excess of 15,000 rounds. If all goes their way, we may see some real competition with Glock in the world of duty pistols for the world’s elite special operations forces.
However, the benefits of the STI will only be apparent to those who shoot their pistols extensively on a daily basis. For the majority of military and law enforcement users who carry more than they shoot, the more affordable and lighter Glock will continue to be the dominant choice.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues. This piece was originally featured in August 2019 and is being republished due to reader's interest.
This article first appeared in November 2011.
Image: Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agent Justin Collins reloads during firing competition July 31 at Tinker’s Combat Arms range. Thousands of rounds were fired when federal law enforcement officers visited base to compete as teams in an AFOSI-sponsored shooting event. Contestants came from OSI, the 72nd Security Forces Squadron, Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. July 31, 2008. Air Force photos by Margo Wright.