Part II of III
The handgun features prominent STI markings on the ejector port side, but also has "Grand Power K100" stamped at the front of the plastic frame (7).
Dis-assembly of the gun takes less than 5 seconds, once you get the hang of it. in that respect, it is in my view equivalent to a Glock (which until now was my gold standard for ease of take-down). The steps include taking the magazine out, pulling on the trigger guard down and outward to "unlock" it from the frame (see image #6), racking the slide all the way back, and then pulling it outward from the frame. The slide spring and the barrel come out easily. STI has an instructional take-down video, for those still in need of help. Here are a couple of pictures of the stripped firearm:
As can be seen above, the stripped gun has a lot of clean straight surfaces, which in theory should be easier to clean than the multiple nooks and crannies of some other firearms I've had to clean in my day.
And here are the magazines. These babies cost $42 each, although I'm wondering if they're identical to a different (and possibly more common) firearm - i.e. CZ75.
So after handling the gun for the past few hours (has it been that long, honey?), here are some initial observations:
a. The 5-inch barrel, despite the added cost (about $100 to the already higher cost of the GP6-C) presents some interesting possibilities. Aside from the marginal improvement in accuracy (really marginal, given my own shooting skills) I can only think of two reasons to order it: porting and threading. The STI rep I've spoken to mentioned that he sold one to a buyer who wanted to cut holes in the barrel to make the gun compensated. I'm not sure how well that would work given the "rotating barrel" design of the pistol, but there you have it. As for threading, in states where silencers or muzzle-breaks are legal, one could hypothetically install one or the other onto the barrel that's sticking out. There are multiple "barrel threading" service providers out there, and the barrel itself is thick enough that I can't imagine it suffering significantly from a shallow thread being applied. The rotating nature of the barrel would actually be a benefit for a silencer use (compared for example to a Glock, which has the barrel lifting up when the slide is pulled back fully, and therefore needs to lift the silencer can attached to it as well).
b. Overall gun ergonomics and handling are great. The front and back serrations on the slide make it easy to operate (the spring is pretty light), take-down is very easy, the gun offers good balance, and the grip is nicely shaped for my hand and offers sufficient traction. I've read of complaints about it being somewhat slippery when wet, which should be rectified with skating tape - I won't know if this is even an issue until I do some heavy-duty shooting with it. Dry-firing it shows a very long (but consistent) double-action pull, followed by light and crisp single-action. I don't have any measuring equipment, but have read that the pull on single-action is somewhere between 3 and 4 oz, which makes this a real competition contender.
c. Problems to speak of? Others have complained about the low-profile safety and the lack of a de-cocking mechanism as the primary issues to deal with. Neither was a problem for me (and the low-profile safety may actually be a boon for anyone who wants to carry this pistol concealed). Lack of and the high cost of accessories may potentially be an issue (the magazines cost $42 in the one place I was able to find them) - again, discussed elsewhere.
The two issues that I personally came up with after handling the gun are as follows: the magazine requires a firm smack to lock into place. Looking at image #3, you can see what happens when you don't smack hard enough - the magazine is loose, and can basically drop free. This could be because of the lack of a round in the magazine or the chamber, freshness of the gun, excessive lubrication from the factory, and a multitude of other reasons, but I'm just reporting what I saw.
Second, when dry-firing and manually racking the slide back and forth, I noticed that under certain conditions the gun has failed to go into battery (indicated by the slide being stuck about 1/2 inch from battery, and the barrel not being rotated fully). Basically what happens is that the corner of the barrel gets stuck at the lip of the ejector port, and requires a light tap to go into place (note the dark triangle on the otherwise shiny barrel, where there's clearly friction with the frame). The gun in the below picture is actually in what could be called the FTGB state.
I would not classify this as a problem yet - the gun is brand new, still smothered in factory grease, and the only way to get the barrel stuck in this position is to gently lower the slide (rather than a true violent snap-back that happens when the gun is actually fired). I'll really have to wait for a fire test to see if this becomes a problem at all.
As you may imagine, I'm eager to take this baby to the range. With two kids at home, however (one of them newborn), finding the time to do anything but dry-fire in the basement is proving a challenge, however. I will post an update once I have something real to talk about, though. In the mean while - thanks for reading, and looking forward to Part III!