STI EAGLE 5.5 Hybrid - KSC
Most people think of WA's excellent Infinities when considering a double stack 1911 target pistol, and, more recently, TM's Hi-Capa (and the metal copy) have made an impact, but for a number of years KSC have made a very similar STi range.
In 2005, to celebrate their 10th anniversary, KSC launched a new series of STis. These were a 4.3" Sea Hawk, a V ported 5.5" Eagle and this one, the 5.5" Eagle Hybrid.
I reviewed a non-functioning STi Titan some while ago, but the latest guns promised more weight and, of course, a chance to try a working KSC STi and the price Elite offered this Hybrid for was too good to ignore, especially as I was considering building a compensator equipped SVI anyway.
In the Box
Although the STi is a recent model, it looks remarkably like KSC simply dug some old boxes out and recycled them.
There is no sign of the solid one piece box or high-density polystyrene that has featured on all KSC guns I have seen since the M945. Instead, there is a thin cardboard lid over a ceiling-tile-style polystyrene base.
It holds the gun, manuals, BBs and allen key for hex adjustment reasonably, but the lid of my box was pierced before it reached me, so it doesn't offer as much protection as the newer style boxes.
First impression is of how similar to a Strayer Voigt the STi is.
There's a simple reason for that. For several years now,the wide-body 1911 pioneered by Fred and Virgil Tripp
and Sandy Strayer have been the hot ticket in IPSC circles. When the Strayer-Tripp partnership broke up in 1994, Strayer
formed Strayer-Voigt and Virgil took over what was then STI.
If you want the full story look here.
The KSC STI is, like WA's SV Infinity, the only gun in their range with a metal frame as standard (Actually, there was a full metal CZ75 from KSC, for a short while, but that is an anomaly, I suspect due their Taiwanese connection). This is mated to the familiar (to anyone who has seen an Infinity, anyway) double stacker grip and topped off with a 1911 style slide. The long compensator dominates the side view and, from above, the barrel porting is a notable feature.
The quality of finish is, as expected of KSC, high. The metal frame is especially good, probably better than most of WA's.
Metal parts abound, with a polished outer barrel, hammer, grip safety and thumb safety, plus black finished mag release, recoil rod, slide lock, trigger and sights.
The fit and finish of the KSC STi 5.5" Eagle Hybrid is excellent, especially the metal parts and the silver paint is extremely evenly applied.
Almost needless to say, as this is a KSC gun, there are no visible seams anywhere, except on the plastic grips, which probably replicates the real gun and, even here, they are very faint.
The Eagle 5.5 Hybrid features a standard length 1911 frame, mated to a 5" slide. The closest WA would be the 5" Std hicapacity Infinity, which is the same as the 5" Ltd except for the shorter dustcover.
Whilst the Titan is profusely marked, the Eagle Hybrid is less extravagent in this respect.
The left side of the slide is marked EAGLE 5.5 with an eagle logo. Further back is the STI logo. The left side of the frame is unmarked.
The right side of the slide is marked with the STI logo again, STI in a map of Texas.
The right side of the frame is marked 2011 and there is a serial number over the triger.
The underside of the frame is marked "STI INTERNATIONAL"/"GEORGETOWN, TX USA" over two lines.
The foresight is metal, unmarked and dovetailed into the compensator, rather than the slide.
The dot-less Bo-Mar style rear sight is marked with an STI trademark, too.
The chamber cover is marked "STI .38 SUPER", as this is not a .45 gun, but a .38 (9mm) target gun.
The trigger is black painted and is adjustable for travel as WA's SVI triggers are. The pull is quite smooth, but not as light as that I experienced on the broken Titan 5.1.
The highly polished hammer, slide lock and grip and ambidextrous thumb safeties of the STi Hybrid are exceptionally well finished, with no pitting and a very smooth, shiney finish.
As is the norm on 1911 based guns, the safeties can only be engaged with the hammer cocked, for a 'cocked and lock' carry condition.
The magazine is black in colour and has a plastic bumper (not a rubber one, like the Beretta Elite) on the bottom.
The blue/purple grips may not be to everyone's taste (I am not sure they are to mine), but they are comfortable in the hand and feature STI logos moulded into them.
The 8 port compensator covers an extended inner barrel, to help with accuracy, but the hybrid ports (the part cut into the slide) are disappointingly shallow and fake looking, compared to those on a WA Hybrid - A pity KSC didn't make the holes go all the way through the moulding, at least giving some depth to them.
The slide and outer barrel appear to be made of standard, lightweight ABS material, which gives a nice quick cycle action, but pretty much precludes the use of gasses more powerful than 134a. I have never seen a metal slide for this gun.
The extra weight in this gun, over the older Titan, is in the grips and lower frame, leading me to suspect that there is some added weight in there.
This was the first working KSC STi I had had the chance to test.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the STi placed the best 5 shots in a 25mm diameter, better than any WA SVI or TM Hi-Capa I've tested and in my top 10 most accurate guns tested.
Over 10 shots, the KSC STi 5.5 Hybrid averaged 211 fps (using 134a gas and .2g BBs) indoors (around 11C). This would equate to about 246 fps at 20C or around 300 fps with Propane at 20C. In other words, right up there, or a little ahead of (this gun was tested the same day as the SCW3 equipped Magna Tech 1911 and recorded 11fps more with 134a), WA's SVIs (and leaving TM's Hi-Capa trailing in the dust).
This gun has a trigger pull weight of 1,075g (38 ounces), which is a medium-heavy weight pull, in stark contrast to the very light pull of the Titan.
Take down is similar to any other 1911 based gun, such as an Infinity.
With the magazine out, push the slide back until you can push the slide lock through the frame. This done, slide the slide, barrel and recoil rod/spring off the front of the slide.
To strip further, you must separate the two parts of the recoil rod, pulling the front section through the front of the slide and then drop the barrel, chamber and recoil spring down from the underneath of the slide.
The compensator is removed by unscrewing a small grub screw on the underside of the compensator, just ahead of the slide.
I couldn't actually work out how to remove the barrel assembly, as the chamber is too large, unlike that on WA or TM 2011 style guns, to push forward through the slides front and the outer barrel does not unscrew as on a WA or TM gun.
Overall, the KSC STi looks and feels a great gun.
It shoots well to point and delivered power at least on a par with WA's SVIs and above TM's Hi-Capa model.
Building a race gun like this with any other base gun would cost hundreds of pounds, so if you cannot stretch to that, and can find one of these guns, it offers a fairly unique opportunity.
The inestimable DumboRAT once remarked that the KSC STis outshone the WA SVIs visually and this gun is a good example to support that assertion.
I would still, however, have qualms about unreservedly recommending one, mainly because spares and upgrade parts seem to be virtually impossible to source and little suggests that the gun is any more resilient than the Titan I had, which had suffered major damage from green gas use.
So, more of a collectors piece than an everyday Practical Shooting tool, sadly.
Weight : 965g (370g magazine)
Realism : ****
Quality : ****
Power : *****
Accuracy : *****
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