ASG STI Duty One

Nice replica, shame about the trigger… The ASG STI Duty One is a fairly typical product from Danish distributor ASG – it’s well made, well finished and a good replica of the original pistol.  However, it does have a couple of idiosyncrasies which you need to bear in mind if you’re thinking of buying one.

ASG produce two replicas based on the STI Duty One – one has blowback and one doesn’t.  Apart from blowback, the two appear to be identical (though the non-blowback version is a little cheaper to buy). The ASG STI Duty One is also available in both 6mm and 4.5mm form. I have owned three examples of this replica and all were 4.5mm, blowback versions, so that’s what I’ll mainly be talking about here though I believe that the other versions are similar in function.

Real steel background

In the early 1990s, Texan gunsmith Virgil Tripp started building custom 1911 pistols for the growing IPSC market.  His attention to detail and the quality of his products quickly brought commercial success and in 1993 a young engineer and Computer Aided Design (CAD) specialist called Sandy Strayer joined Tripp Research Inc.  With Tripp’s pistol knowledge and Stayer’s engineering skills, the two revolutionised the 1911 market when they introduced their 2011 range in 1994.  This provided a modular frame using fiber-reinforced plastic for the trigger guard, grip, and magazine well which was attached to the metal upper portion of the frame.  The STI 2011 frame was strong and reliable but less than half the weight of a conventional all-metal 1911 frame.

One of the STI International 2011 range

The company changed its name to Strayer-Tripp, Inc. (STI) in 1994 and focused on two distinct lines of pistol – the 1911 range which provided pistols with a conventional frame based on the 1911 design and the 2011 range which used the new modular frame.  In 1997 the company was bought over by the owners of electronics company Tessco, Inc., and was re-named STI International.  The STI 1911 and 2011 ranges continued to be popular and by 2007 STI International was the third largest exporter of guns in the USA.

The STI International Duty One

The Duty One is one of the most popular pistols in the STI International 1911 range.  However, unlike many STI pistols, this isn’t primarily intended as a target shooter.  It’s a practical carry gun with fixed sights which is available with 3″, 4″ and 5″ barrels and chambered either for the .45 ACP round or the 9x19mm.  The Duty One features a patented STI International lightweight trigger and a commander style hammer and is supplied with a distinctive matte blued finish.  An ambidextrous thumb safety is provided in addition to the grip safety.  The Duty One is available in standard and “lite” form, which incorporates a lightweight aluminium frame.  The Duty One was redesigned in 2014 and current versions feature distinctive “grid” pattern slide grip serrations and a revised grip.

The ASG STI Duty One

The ASG STI Duty One is a CO2-powered licensed replica of mostly metal construction with a stick type drop-out magazine and a short under-barrel accessory rail.  CO2 is retained inside the grip and accessed by removing the backstrap and grip base.  This replica is manufactured in Taiwan on behalf of ASG and is available in 4.5mm and 6mm.  ASG produce two versions of the STI Duty One – one with blowback and one without.  The figures below and the information in this article is based on my experience with the blowback version.  The non-blowback version looks very similar, but I haven’t tried it.  I believe that the 4.5mm version is available in matte black finish only though there is a two-tone version of the non-blowback and the 6mm blowback versions with a polished slide.  All versions include full STI markings.

Two-tone 6mm version

The slide moves through less than the full range of travel during blowback and locks back when the last round is fired.  The thumb safety, magazine and slide release work as per the original but the grip safety is moulded in place and has no function.  The ASG STI Duty One cannot be field stripped. ASG also produce CO2 powered replicas of several other STI handguns including the Lawman, Tac Master, Combat Master and the tiny Off Duty.

Packaging and presentation  2.5/5

The ASG STI Duty One is provided in a card box with a single magazine and a short user manual.

Visual accuracy  8/10

STI Duty One (left), ASG STI Duty One (right)

The ASG STI Duty One is generally a good visual replica of the pre-2014 STI Duty One.  Grips, markings, finish and overall shape and profile are very good indeed and all controls are a good visual match for the original.  The main visual difference is the trigger – the ASG replica uses a pivoting style trigger rather than the sliding 1911 style trigger seen on the original.

Functional accuracy  11/15

The version tested is a blowback replica with a drop-out, stick-type magazine.  The trigger operates in single action only and the slide locks back after the last round is fired.  The slide catch, magazine release and thumb safety work as per the original weapon.  The slide moves through restricted travel compared to the cartridge version.  The grip safety is moulded in place and has no function.

The slide release catch on the cartridge version can be extracted to the left side to allow the slide to be removed.  On this version the slide release cannot be extracted and the slide cannot be easily removed.

Shooting  30/40

The CO2 chamber is accessed by pressing a button in the base of the grip, which allows the plastic panel which forms the base and rear of the grip to be removed.  CO2 can then be inserted and tightened and pierced using the plastic tab at the base of the grip.  The tightening tab is a little small and quite fiddly for use with large man-fingers, but with a bit of practise this can be done without too much drama.  It can sometimes be difficult to remove the used CO2 cartridge.  Even with the cover plate removed and the tab loosened as much as possible, it can take a fair bit of shaking to get the used CO2 to drop out.  Re-fitting the cover panel can also be a little fiddly, though it’s nice to see that this completely conceals the loading tab once it’s in place.

Loading the stick type magazine reveals the first of this replicas’ idiosyncrasies.  The follower locks down, which makes it easy to load BBs in to the port at the top of the magazine.  However, if you then release the follower, the BBs will spray back out of top of the magazine.  To prevent this, you must cover the holes at the front and rear of the top of the magazine with your fingers as you release the follower.

When you have CO2 and BBs loaded, the ASG STI Duty One feels good.  The chunky, deeply serrated rubberised grips and angular frame allow a firm and consistent grip.  STI International obviously knows a great deal about how to make a handgun that handles well, and the ASG version replicates this nicely.  This feeling is reinforced when you pull the trigger – a loud bang and strong blowback make this feel like a powerful and purposeful shooter.

However, pulling the trigger also reveals the second odd issue with this pistol.  Like many blowback replicas, the blowback action cocks the hammer, but it doesn’t queue the next BB for shooting.  This is done during the long first part of the trigger pull and the movement of the BB can clearly be felt.  The problem here is that if you pull the trigger fairly slowly towards the release point, the BB can roll out of the front of the barrel if the pistol is pointed level or slightly down.  The solution is to pull the trigger firmly and fairly quickly (the manual actually warns that the trigger should be pulled “in one swift motion“), but this doesn’t help with accuracy.  This issue does seem to be variable – on one of my Duty Ones, BBs regularly fell out of the end of the barrel before I was ready to shoot, but the other two seemed less prone to this.  And if for any reason you pull the trigger halfway back and then release it without firing, when you next pull the trigger you will load a second BB into the breech and you’ll then fire both at once.  The trigger action on this pistol is a problem and it’s notably worse than, for example, the ASG CZ75 (though it’s identical to the trigger on the ASG CZ P-07 Duty, which has the same fault).  You really must develop a style where you pull the trigger quickly and confidently every time if you are to avoid issues.  Being tentative will lead to double loading or losing the BB before you shoot.

The loud bang and strong blowback make the Duty One feel powerful, but the numbers don’t really back this up.  I have owned three 4.5mm examples of the ASG STI Duty One and all chronoed at around 325 – 350 fps dependent on temperature.  Perfectly respectable figures, but well short of the 436fps claimed by ASG.  Accuracy was also average without being great.  Even though they lack white dots, the sights are clear and easy to read but grouping with two of my Duty Ones was around 1½” – 2″ at six yards – fair but not great.  The third example was notably worse, grouping at 2″ – 3″ at six yards.  These aren’t terrible figures, so perhaps it’s just because the ASG Duty One feels like it’s so powerful that they seem a little disappointing?

CO2 consumption is fair for a blowback replica with three magazines (60 shots) of full-power shots available from a single CO2.  If you continue to a fourth magazine, you’ll gradually run out of puff until the CO2 is completely exhausted somewhere around the 70th shot.

Other than the issues noted, the ASG STI Duty One appears to be reliable.  The slide locks back every time and I had no mechanical problems or failures with any of the examples I owned.  Because the slide and magazine releases and the thumb safety are on the left side only, this isn’t a particularly great pistol if you’re left-handed.

Quality and reliability  13/15

The overall fit and finish of the ASG STI Duty One are very good indeed.  Everything fits well without rattles or movement and seams are well concealed. The rubberised grips are a particularly nice touch and the matte black finish seems more durable than the finish on many replicas (which sadly isn’t difficult).  I have heard of owners who have had the front sight come loose on this model, though I didn’t experience this on any of mine.

The operational issues noted in the Shooting section seem to be design flaws rather than manufacturing defects, and this does seem to be generally a high-quality replica which is available at a very reasonable price.

Overall Impression  11/15

This is a great looking, well made and well finished replica but for me, trigger action is at the heart of how much I enjoy shooting a pistol.  On the ASG Duty One, the trigger action is flawed, which I found very frustrating.  This replica looks good and feels great, but for me at least, the shooting experience just doesn’t deliver what is promised.  I ended up buying three different Duty Ones, in the hope that I’d find one which shot as well as it looked and handled.  I failed, and I’m not sure that I’d buy another.

Conclusion

I’m a big fan of the 1911 platform and I generally like updated 1911s.  There is a lot to like here and in most ways this is a great replica of a modernised 1911.  It’s certainly a good looking and well-made pistol and it’s relatively inexpensive.  However, I found its shooting ability to be fairly poor and the trigger action rather disappointing.  And after all, the ability to shoot is the reason we buy this type of replica rather than a non-shooting wall ornament.

If you can find one that shoots well, or if you’re willing and able to modify your shooting technique to overcome its inherent issues, you may enjoy the ASG STI Duty One.  If not, there are probably better ASG products and better modernised 1911 replicas to add to your collection.

Pros

Nice looking and handling replica

Feels solid and well made

Finish seems to be more durable than average

Strong blowback

Cons

Trigger action

Accuracy and power aren’t all that great

Non-working grip safety

Not lefty friendly

Total score: 75.5/100

Related posts

ASG CZ75 review

ASG CZ P-09 Duty review

Umarex Legends MP40 First Impressions

Pistol Place reader R-Gun Pete got an Umarex MP40 on Father’s Day. Lucky man – I got another ecard! But, what did he think of it?

The Umarex Legends MP40 was released in Canada in early June and my BB machine gun arrived just in time for Father’s Day. After opening the box and admiring this nice specimen for a little bit, I managed two complete cycles on the day I received it (4 CO2 cartridges and about 350 BBs).

Basically this will be a first impressions post.

This submachine gun is a realistic and weighty replica.

The magazine must be prepared with 2 CO2 cartridges and the instructions mention that it holds 52 BBs. In my case I decided to use only 50 to have a round number.

All the shooting has been done offhand, standing up and using the shoulder stock. First I shot on paper targets from two distances: 15 and 25 feet.

Not knowing the accuracy of the MP40, I started at 15 feet to make sure that I would not shoot outside my trap.

From the box, it was shooting a bit low and to the left. Flipping up the second rear sight took care of the elevation. For the windage, I discovered that placing the bullseye in the gap between the front blade and the left air space gap of the rear sight was giving me a point of impact where I wanted it.

The adjustment shots were made in semi-auto. The next step was to continue the same way for several more shots on a fresh target. Being confident that all the BBs will be kept contained in the trap I proceeded to have several full automatic bursts which were surprisingly bunched close together.

I moved out to 25 feet and continued shooting in semi-auto for the balance of the session. The system works well and will not waste CO2 because the trigger will just produce a click if there no BB present in the top of the mag (this means that the gun stops shooting on the last shot). When a fresh mag is re-inserted, the cocking knob is pulled to make the gun ready to shoot.

With a few full-auto bursts and mostly semi-auto shooting I was able to get close to 4 mags of 50 BBs for a total of approximately 200 without any problem. It should be noted that at the end the gas pressure was not enough to recock the striker, so for the last few shots I recocked the gun by hand for each shot until I felt that it was getting too slow. After removing the mag, I saw that only a couple of BBs were left unfired. When the cap was removed it could be felt that there was some pressure still in the reservoir.

I would say that realistically about 175 good blowback cycles could be achieved.

For my second session, I moved to my garage to engage pop cans. This time I had to split my session in two parts with a gap of several hours between. In the first part, I used a mix of semi and full auto for 2 mags and in the second part a few auto bursts and mostly semi-auto. It seems that the full-auto made a difference because this time I obtained only one full mag (#3) before starting to have some problems after only a few shots on the last (#4). The MP40 is brand new and should not have leaked CO2 during the time I was away, so it is probably the use of the full-auto that caused a lower number of shots (about 150 this time).

This would have to be confirmed by trial, but I suspect that using only full-auto will probably get 2 mags or less of usable shots.

This picture shows the paper targets covered in the previous text. The pop cans are not shown here but take my word that they were pretty much destroyed. The can lid shown in the upper right corner is from the full-auto test that will be explained a bit later in the post.

As for the problem I had at the end of my 2-part session, I noticed that there was no impact in my trap after a few shots on my last mag. After removing the mag and pushing a wooden rod through the barrel I found 3 BBs stacked together.

With the mag removed the breech is easily accessible to clear the barrel.

I suspect that there was not enough pressure to push the BB out of the barrel but there was enough pressure to operate the blowback to recock the gun. Since there was a BB present in the top of the mag, the trigger worked and a BB was then shot in the rear of the first with a repeat for the third BB.

Anyway when I unscrewed the cap there was barely any CO2 pressure left.

Some people might be wondering about the trigger pull. It is mentioned in some reviews as being heavy, and there is some truth to it but it is not overly bad. It is certainly not in the same category as a Colt 1911 or Tanfoglio Witness single action trigger feel but it is relatively easy to get used to it.

The other complaint is about the lack of a lock for the BB follower but this can easily be solved by using a small hook that helps to hold it in place during loading. I made mine from a small leftover piece of oak hardwood flooring.

To complete my post I decided to see how many mags the MP40 would run in full-auto. I was able to get 3 mags of 50 shots each without any problem. I pushed the limit by putting 10 BBs in the 4th mag and after a short burst it started to have BBs stuck in the barrel. After that test it seems that, shooting small bursts at a time, it would be possible to get around 150 shots. On the other hand, continuous fire might reduce that number.

In conclusion, for airgun collectors the MP40 is a nice addition that has an historical connection to a legendary model. Expectations should be realistic; this is not a competition target airgun but a very nice plinker.

R-Gun Pete

P.S. I had a piece of leather at home and I thought it would be a good idea to make a sling for my MP40. This is the result.

Gletcher PM 1951

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The Makarov is a classic pistol which has been represented by a number of 4.5mm replicas. However, none of them have been entirely satisfactory for a number of reasons. So, when I saw that Gletcher have produced a CO2 powered, 4.5mm Makarov replica, I was excited. Is this the Mak replica we have been waiting for? Let’s take a look…

The Makarov

I have already covered the history of the Makarov PM (Пистолет Макарова or Pistolet Makarova) in my review of the Baikal MP-654K (you can find a link at the end of this article) so I won’t repeat that here. Instead, I offer an interesting fact. Can you guess what is the only handgun to have been regularly taken into space? That’s right, that would be the Makarov.

You see, on board every Soyuz spacecraft was a Granat-6 survival kit. Along with the usual stuff like a first aid kit, there was also other survival gear in case the capsule came down in an uninhabited area. This included a compass, machete, fishing gear and a Makarov pistol and ammunition.

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A Soyuz survival kit complete with Makarov pistol.

This is, as far as I’m aware, the fourth CO2 powered Makarov replica in 4.5mm, though all the previous versions had issues. The first was the Baikal MP-654K which was introduced in 1998. Not so much a replica as a CO2 version of the firearm, this is produced in the same factory as the original pistol. It’s a heavyweight replica, but it lacks blowback and all versions are designed to shoot steel BBs through a rifled barrel, which means that none are especially accurate.

In 2009 Umarex launched their Legends range with a Makarov replica. This was a CO2 powered, 4.5mm pistol and it’s a pretty decent shooter. Unfortunately, it lacks blowback and parts like the slide release are moulded in place. In 2014 another CO2 powered Makarov replica joined the Umarex Legends range, the PM Ultra. This version had blowback, but it also had an unsightly CO2 loading tab which projected below the grip and it used a moving barrel system to fire which meant that it lacked a true single-action trigger.

The Gletcher PM 1951

Gletcher is a brand owned by US company SMG (Sports Manufacturing Group, Inc.). Under the Gletcher brand, SMG sell a number of 4.5mm replicas of historic handguns. Generally these are rebranded versions based on Taiwanese 6mm replicas.

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The Gletcher PM 1951 appears to be a 4.5mm version of the Taiwanese KWC Makarov PM airsoft replica. It’s pretty much all metal with only the grips and some internal parts being made of plastic. This is a blowback replica and the slide operates through a full range of movement and locks back on empty. There is a slide mounted manual safety and a slide release, both on the left side, and a magazine release in the heel of the grip.

Up to 16 BBs can be loaded into a full-size, drop-out magazine which also holds the CO2 cartridge. Unlike the original (which is both double and single action) this replica is single action only. The inner barrel is brass and has a fixed hop-up rubber.

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Packaging and presentation (2/5)

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This replica comes in a simple card box with a single magazine and a hex key for tightening and piercing the CO2. No manual is provided but inside the lid of the box there is an exploded view of this replica.

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The box states “18 Month Warranty” but there are no clues as to what this means or how one would go about making a warranty claim.

Visual accuracy 6/10

At first glance, the Gletcher PM looks fairly much like a Makarov. However, when you look a little more closely, there are several discrepancies. First and most obvious is that the grip frame is too long. On the original, the overall height from the top of the slide to the base of the grip is 125mm. On this replica it’s 140mm. I assume the extra length is to accommodate the CO2 cartridge, but, just like the Umarex Walther PPK/S, this looks a little odd because of the extended grip frame.

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Makarov PM (left) and Gletcher PM 1951 (right)

Next there’s the trigger guard – this is much too thick and I don’t know why. Just as on the original, the trigger guard on this replica is hinged at the rear and must be swung down to allow the slide to be removed. Some people have suggested that the trigger guard on this replica is thick because a hinged zinc alloy trigger guard of the correct dimensions would be too fragile. However, both the earlier Umarex 4.5mm versions have hinged zinc alloy trigger guards of the right size, and I’m not aware of problems with these breaking. Whatever the reason for it, the trigger guard on this replica does look odd and not at all like the original.

Then there’s the hammer. In the fully forward position, it looks sort of OK, but when it’s cocked, you can see that it’s a very strange and unrealistic shape.

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You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned the magazine base extension which projects below and in front of the grip base. This makes the already long grip look even longer and I assume that this is also done to accommodate the CO2 cartridge, but it does look a little strange – most Makarovs have a magazine base that’s flush with the base of the grip. However, some versions, especially export versions for the US market, do have this type of magazine extension, so I’m not going to mark it down for that.

This replica also lacks any accurate markings. The only markings here are PM 1951 on the left side and some Gletcher markings on the right. All markings are laser-etched in fairly obtrusive white text.

Functional accuracy 13/15

Functionally, this is pretty good. It has blowback over a full range of movement, a full-size magazine and the magazine and slide release are located and work just as they would on the original. One small discrepancy is that this replica is single action only whereas the original shoots in both double and single action. This replica can be stripped in the same way as the original with the hinged trigger-guard acting as the takedown control. There is a sleeve which fits over the outer barrel. Initially, I initially thought this was plastic, but I believe it’s actually some form of light alloy.

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This replica weighs almost precisely the same as the (unloaded) original, which is always nice to see.

Shooting 30/40

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Loading the magazine with BBs on this replica is a little fiddly if you have large man-fingers like me. You have to hold the follower down with a thumbnail and then drop BBs in one at a time into the wider opening at the bottom front of the magazine. CO2 loads cleanly and without leaks using the hex key provided. When you re-insert the magazine, you have to use a fair amount of force – the spring on the magazine catch is very strong. When I first started shooting this replica, the magazine dropped out of the grip a couple of times because I hadn’t pushed it in firmly enough to get it to engage properly. Getting it back out again is also a bit of a chore – the deeper and extended magazine base makes using the release in the heel of the grip a little awkward and this is definitely a two-handed job, but then that’s true of the original Makarov too.

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With the magazine inserted, you must rack the slide for the first shot. This also cocks the hammer. If the manual safety is engaged, you can’t rack the slide. There is no decocker – the only way to safely de-cock is to remove the magazine and pull the trigger. With the slide racked and the first BB in the breech, you’re ready to shoot. The sights are simple – just a notch and post arrangement with no white dots, but they’re clear and easy to read.

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The trigger is reasonably light and short and true single action – all pulling the trigger does is to release the sear and allow the hammer to drop. The Gletcher PM is moderately loud and the blowback action provides fairly strong recoil effect. Balance is good, but I didn’t especially care for the feel of the grip. The rear of the grip has a pronounced corner or edge at each side. This isn’t particularly uncomfortable, but it is noticeable and I’m sure that other Makarov replicas I have owned didn’t have such pronounced corners on the grip.

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I ran a number of shots from the Gletcher PM over my chronograph and, in fairly warm temperatures, I saw readings of between 265 – 280 fps. Perfectly reasonable, but well down on the 328 fps claimed by Gletcher. I found that I was able to get 50 – 60 full power shots before power started to drop off. Faster shooting uses CO2 more quickly. Like some other KWC replicas I have owned, cooldown is an issue if you’re shooting quickly. You can actually feel the cold permeating the grip if you shoot several times in quick succession.

In terms of accuracy, this is adequate. Groups are around 1.5 – 2” at 6m, but it does do one thing that I particularly hate – it shoots low. At 6m, it hits around 2” below the point of aim. Now, there are a number of things that you can do about that (and I may look at this in another article) but looking at other reviews of this replica, it does seem that out of the box, it’s likely to shoot low. I find that very frustrating. Obviously, I prefer a replica that shoots to the point of aim, but I can just about tolerate one that shoots high. What I definitely don’t like is a replica that shoots low. There is a hop-up rubber here, but it is non-adjustable. This replica’s airsoft roots can be seen in that there is a slot for a hop-up adjustment wheel in the outer barrel, but the wheel itself is not provided.

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There is one other slightly odd thing about this replica. The slide locks back, but generally not when you fire the last shot. Instead, it locks back when you fire the next shot after the last BB is fired. So, if you have 10 BBs loaded, you shoot all ten, but it isn’t until you pull the trigger for the eleventh time when the pistol is empty that the slide locks back. This happens most of the time on my example. It’s not a major issue, but it is odd and in the course of shooting around 500 BBs through this replica, it has been completely consistent.

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Below you can see a short video showing a shooting test for the PM 1951. The aim point was the centre of the target. You’ll note that the first shot was so low that it completely missed the target – I don’t know why and this isn’t usual with this replica. You’ll also note that the slide locks back after the last shot is fired, which is also unusual.

Overall, the Gletcher PM is a perfectly pleasant shooter, but not an outstanding one.

Quality and reliability 13/15

Overall, quality and finish look reasonable. The semi-matt finish seems to be fairly hard wearing and is showing no signs of wear though, like every Mak replica I have seen, there is a scratch on the slide where the bearing for the manual safety moves. It was notable that, out of the box, my Gletcher PM was completely devoid of lubrication.

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Other than the issue with the slide usually failing to lock back until the shot after the last BB, I haven’t seen any faults with my PM and it shoots reliably and without misfeeds or misfires.

Overall impression 11/15

I like compact replicas and I like classic handguns, so I should really love this replica. The fact that I don’t is down to a combination of several minor factors which separately don’t amount to much, but which combine to be a little frustrating. I don’t care for the extended grip or the sharp corners on the rear of the grip. I don’t like look of the oversized trigger guard or the oddly shaped hammer. And I am disappointed that it lacks a double action trigger and I hate that it always shoots low.

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None of these are show-stopping issues and they are partly offset by decent finish, good weight and the fact that it’s a reliable shooter. But overall, if I’m looking in the gun cupboard for something to provide half an hour of shooting satisfaction, this  isn’t the first one I’ll be reaching for.

Conclusion

It looks as though we’ll have to wait a little longer for the definitive 4.5mm Makarov replica. This is close to being a good visual and functional replica, but it’s not quite there. However, it is relatively cheap and it seems to be reliable and fairly frugal with CO2 usage.

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If you want something that looks and handles like a Makarov, you’ll probably still be wanting a Baikal MP-654K. If you want something that looks like a Makarov, has blowback and shoots well, I’m afraid you’ll most likely be looking at one of the 6mm versions.

Total score

75/100

Cons

Not the best visual replica.

Shoots low and lacks a double action trigger.

Pros

Reasonable shooter.

Seems well made and finished.

Inexpensive.

Related posts

Baikal MP-654 review

Type 59 (Chinese version of the Makarov) 6mm review