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Old June 23, 2010, 12:11 AM   #1
artemka
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STI GP6-C with 5 inch barrel - review and photos

Ok, so this is my first post ever (as well as the first review), so bear with me here. Part I of III.
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The History

I've been looking for a SA or DA/SA 9mm to shoot for a while now. I saw the STI GP6C in a magazine, and liked the reviews. For those who don't know, GP6 is actually the Czech-made Grand Power K100, which has been imported into the US and modified by STI - a Texas-based premium gun manufacturer famous for their 1911 variants. GP6 is a DA/SA polymer pistol in 9mm with a 4.25 inch barrel and a rotating barrel design. GP6-C is a competition version of the gun with some enhancements (detailed below).

I read on one of the forums that the gun can be ordered with a 5-inch barrel, and thought that was a good idea (mostly because I thought it would come with a longer slide, but more on that later). Placing the order in March through my local dealer (who is an authorized STI retailer, by the way), I was told to wait for 4-6 weeks. In reality, it took about three months before I finally got my gun - according to STI, they've been having some issues with getting the barrels from Europe. The regular 4.25 inch is no problem, but the extended 5 inch is apparently in limited supply.

The plain-Jane GP6 is listed at $662. MSRP on the GP6C is $827, and adding the longer barrel costs another $100. Taxes and a couple of extra magazines later, this is a $1000 package. After a day on the range, I hope to find out that it's worth it.

What follows is a collection of photos of the handgun, and some first impressions, without having fired it once.

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The Pictures

The item comes packaged in a rather flimsy plastic box with an STI sticker on the top. On one hand disappointing, on the other hand - who cares!

1.

When opened, the box contains the pistol with two magazines, a wire cleaning rod, and a manual (not shown).

2.

A comment about the manual: it is well worded, but rather brief. I'm used to reading hundreds of pages of legal disclaimers, so the eight-page brochure was nice. Assembly, dis-assembly, a safety warning, and not much else. The one section missing from the manual is instructions on lubrication.

And here is the firearm in all its glory. Note the pretty blue "safety" indicator.

3.

To point out the obvious, the coveted 5-inch barrel sticks out exactly 0.75 inches beyond the edge of the slide. My initial assumption was that the 5-inch version of the gun (not to be confused with GP5, which is a pocket carry version with a 3.25 inch barrel) would have a longer slide as well. I eventually figured out that this is not the case after speaking to my dealer and an STI rep, but by then decided to go with the longer barrel anyway.

Here is another pic with the slide pulled back and locked:

4.

In addition to the longer barrel (which is a special-order add-on, and not standard on the GP6-C, there are things that make GP6-C distinctive from the regular GP6:

a. fiber-optic sight in the front (see photo 5)
b. adjustable rear sight
c. extended magazine release button (see photo 6)
d. a second magazine (otherwise costing $42 on shootersconnection.com)

5.
6.

CONTINUED IN PART II - I really wanted to get all the images into this review.
===========================

Last edited by artemka; June 23, 2010 at 12:19 AM.
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Old June 23, 2010, 12:14 AM   #2
artemka
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STI GP6-C with 5 inch barrel - review and photos: Part II

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).

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:

8.

9.

10.

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.

11.

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Thoughts:

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.

12.

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.

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Next Steps

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!
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Old June 23, 2010, 12:23 AM   #3
JohnKSa
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NICE review. I'll be waiting impatiently for part III.

I've been eyeing this pistol for awhile. In my opinion, it uses the most elegant engineering solution for implementing a rotating barrel invented to date.

Your observation on the the likely ease of cleaning is a good one. I hadn't notice that until you pointed it out in spite of the fact that I've read several other reviews and seen several other pictures.
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Old June 23, 2010, 01:14 AM   #4
ranburr
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They feel good in the hand and are accurate. The downside is that they must be kept very clean and well lubed. They are a competition pistol and not a carry gun.
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Old June 24, 2010, 06:51 PM   #5
Manos Lijeros
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Cite?

I know this is a "production" competition gun, but why do you think it is, somehow, worse than a regular production gun like the XD, the glock, or the M&P?

This gun is used by military personnel and law enforcement according to articles on the STI web-site...

The Grand Power web-site states:

Model Mk6 with SA/DA regime and new frame is a result of incorporation of the most strict requirements imposed for universal gun with its ergonomics suitable for shooters of practical disciplines as well as for special units of military forces. After consulting the sport shooters was roughage change in order to improve effectiveness and form new slope to magazine shaft. Frame has new trigger guard and customer is allowed to choose an option between magazine release through button or lever same at H&K USP or W99. For global military forces is front part of the frame fitted with universal tactic rail MIL 1913 Picatinny rail. Manual safety has new plastic wing with ledge. Sights consist of sideadjustable steel sight and plastic fibre optic sight

Why do you think this doesn't work while "dirty," while the Glock and others will?

Do you have a reference to a study or review that provides information? I think plenty of the folks who use CZs around here might disagree that a "competition gun" can't be as efficient or useful as a "glock."
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Old June 24, 2010, 07:31 PM   #6
ranburr
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This is not a CZ. I know three people who own them and I have at least a thousand rounds of trigger time on them. They must be cleaned and well lubed to function correctly. They are no where near as forgiving in the maintenance dept as any of the other pistols you mention.
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Old June 24, 2010, 09:54 PM   #7
artemka
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My intention, when I finally get it to the range, is to do a bit of a torture test on it. I can't put thousands of rounds through it, but after the initial cleaning and lube i will just keep firing it over the course of a few weeks to see when (if) it malfunctions. Your results may vary!

To be clear, I bought this gun to put holes in paper targets, and possibly do some competition shooting. I like the accuracy of my Series 70 Colt 1911, but prices for 45 ammo are 2x more than 9mm around here, and reloading is not an option for me. I hope the GP6 delivers on the accuracy/cost of firing ratio, but we'll see.

My first home defense gun purchase was a trusted G17, which still sits in my bedroom loaded with 17 rounds of Corbon +P JHP ammo and a laser/light combo attached. Sure, it's clean now, but I know it will be ready to shoot even after sitting dry in a safe or a desk drawer for a couple of years. Given the size of my house, long-range accuracy is a lot less important for me than reliability, and I feel like I know what I'm getting with the Glock...
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Old June 25, 2010, 08:04 PM   #8
tekarra
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artemka,
Hello and welcome to the forum. That is a great first post and very informative. I point out one error though; the pistol is made in Slovakia, not the Czech Republic. I am very interested in fondling and shooting both the GP6 and the GP5. Waiting to read part III.
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Old June 27, 2010, 09:44 PM   #9
artemka
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Thanks for the correction, tekarra. As someone born in the Soviet bloc, I still think of Chekoslovakia as a single country, although it hasn't been one for a while now. I'll correct the statement above.
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Old July 6, 2010, 01:26 PM   #10
artemka
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Review - Part III of III (or IV - we'll see)

So after a few weeks, I finally took the gun to the range, and was even able to put a dozen rounds through it into a paper target 25ft away (freestyle, both hands). The shots resulted in a nice vertical group roughly 3 inches in length - definitely a comment on my own shooting limitations rather than the accuracy of the gun. The fact that the shots grouped vertically leads me to believe that the smooth trigger of the gun prevented me from making the typical errors of dragging the trigger (something that I noticed doing a lot with Glock-style twin triggers).

I was eager to do more accuracy testing that day. The problem is that we were having a man-on-man steel match that day, and since that was the first i participated in, I have no frame of reference on whether I did better or worse than with one of my other firearms.

Initial shooting impressions are as follows:
1. The single-action trigger is not feather-light, but light enough for me
2. Gun ergonomics are very pleasant.
3. Perceived recoil is mild, so I FELT that it was easier to keep the gun on target (which came in handy during the steel match)
4. The fiber optic front sight was NOT highly visible at our indoor range. I don't know if its value will be greater for outdoor shooting.
5. Reliability was great, aside from a couple of user errors (forgetting to click the mag in place fully, not chambering the round on one occasion, keeping the safety on while a buzzer sounded, etc.)
6. See above about the trigger - if anything, I noticed shooting too low or too high - not side to side.

Next steps? Go back to the range for a more focused slow-fire accuracy test, and continue the reliability testing. I have not cleaned the gun after taking it to the range. After 100 or so rounds being fed through it, it was still firing just fine. I will use my next session to see if the performance or accuracy are impacted.

Stay tuned.
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