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.

The COVID Backyard Shootout: Pellet vs steel BB vs Airsoft

I have been doing more shooting than usual lately, mainly as a way of spending time during COVID lockdown. Punching holes through bits of card in my back garden is not only fun, it’s now also considered responsible behaviour that keeps me and others safe (at least, that’s what I have been telling my wife…). However, it also started me thinking: of the replicas I own, which is the best shooter?

Which then started me thinking about the different types of replica pistol I review here: pellet shooters, 4.5mm BB shooters and Airsoft replicas shooting 6mm plastic BBs. How do the three different types compare as shooters? You might assume that a pellet being shot through a rifled barrel is always going to be more accurate, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily true at the 6m range at which I shoot. I think a pellet will always be more accurate at longer range, but that may not be relevant for short-range backyard shooting. In some ways, you could argue that I’m comparing apples with oranges here – Airsoft and pellet shooting replicas are designed for different things, but I use them all to shoot at targets in my backyard, and it’s that experience I want to compare.

My home-made backyard target holder and pellet/BB catcher – it’s made out of an old drawer with the base reinforced with wood and thick, heavy-duty carpet tiles to absorb impact and reduce ricochets.

So, here you have it – the backyard shootout! I’m going to use three very different replicas – one pellet shooter, one steel BB shooter and an airsoft replica. Each has been chosen as an accurate shooter of its particular type. And here are the contenders…

Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm

This is a CO2 powered, blowback replica that is capable of shooting both .177” pellets and 4.5mm steel BBs. I have never seen the point of shooting BBs through a rifled barrel, so I’ll be using pellets with this one. This is the most powerful replica tested in this shootout and it flings BBs downrange at a healthy 350fps from a 4” rifled barrel. Now, if you have read my review of the Umarex PX4 (and you’ll find a link at the end of this article if you haven’t), you’ll know that, out of the box, mine was pretty dismal in terms of accuracy. However, with a couple of simple mods it has turned into a very satisfying shooter.

Gletcher PM 1951

This a CO2 powered, blowback replica of the iconic Makarov pistol. It shoots only 4.5mm steel BBs through a 3.15” smoothbore barrel and when I tested it, it gave a velocity of around 280fps. When I first used it, it consistently shot low and so I have reduced the height of the front sight to make it hit closer to the point of aim.

Tokyo Marui Glock 26

This is a Duster Gas (HFC 134a) -powered blowback replica that shoots 6mm BBs at a fairly lowly 210fps from a 2.95” barrel. This shot to the point of aim out of the box and hasn’t been modified in any way.

The Shooting Test

I’ll be shooting at targets from 6m, semi rested to reduce errors caused by my shooting (in)ability. For each replica type, I’ll shoot four targets with ten shots and I’ll keep only the highest scoring target for each type. A direct comparison will tell us which is my most accurate replica at this relatively short range.

I’ll be using standard Sportwaffen- Schneider card targets for each. The target is 14cm square, the outer circle measures 115mm in diameter and the inner black circle is 28mm. There are twelve scoring zones and points are awarded for the highest scoring area any shot is touching. The highest possible score for ten shots is 120 if all the shots are in or touching the innermost light circle which has a diameter of just 9mm. The replicas I’m using are all blowback and all have been reviewed here on the Pistol Place.

Umarex Beretta PX4

10 shots at 6m, semi-rested using RWS 0.53g training pellets. The score was:

2 x 8, 1 x 9, 1 x 10, 4 x 11, 2 x 12

Total: 103/120

I really enjoy shooting this replica now that it’s capable of decent accuracy. The blowback feels strong, it is loud enough without being a problem and it feels solid when you shoot it.

Gletcher PM1951

10 shots at 6m, semi-rested using Umarex steel 4.5mm BBs. The score was:

2 x 9, 2 x 10, 4 x 11, 2 x 12

Total: 106/120

I like the functional realism of this replica and the fact that it has the strongest blowback and that it’s the loudest here, though by a small margin over the PX4. I also like the fact that this is a hefty, solid-feeling replica.

TM Glock 26

10 shots at 6m, semi-rested using 0.25g BBs. The score was:

1 x 8, 1 x 9, 2 x 10, 4 x 11, 2 x 12    

I really love the tiny TM Glock 26 and this is probably my favourite Airsoft replica, just because it shoots so well, though I also appreciate that’s it’s a great functional and visual replica. However, shooting alongside the other two in this challenge, it is noticeable that it’s very quiet, quite light and that the blowback is the weakest of the three.  

Total: 105/120

So, the Gletcher PM1951 is the surprise winner in this backyard shooting test by a very small margin. It’s so close overall that, on another day, either one of the others might have edged ahead. What’s impressive for me isn’t just the winner but that all three were capable of shooting accurately enough for challenging and satisfying target work. If you were shooting at longer range (say, 10m), I suspect that the PX4 would do much better in comparison. However, 6m is all I have space for, so that’s what I’m using here.   

Conclusion

If you had to guess the winner here based on stats, you would probably choose the Umarex PX4, simply because it shoots pellets through a rifled barrel that’s longer than the barrel on either of the other two. I already knew how good the TM Glock is as 6m shooting and I would probably have guessed that the Gletcher PM1951 would have done worst of all in terms of accuracy. But here in the real backyard world, that’s just not how it works. The Gletcher PM 1951 and the TM Glock 26 are great target shooters at 6m, despite using BBs which you might expect to be less accurate. In isolation the TM Glock also feels like a convincing replica too but, in the company of these two CO2 powered blowback replicas with metal slides, it does feel just a little wimpy. The other two are heavier, louder and with stronger blowback and both replicate the firearm experience more closely than the Glock.

In the end, it all depends on what you’re looking for in a replica. For me, shooting ability is important – I don’t collect wall decorations; I like shooting my replicas and I want them to be accurate enough to make that fun and challenging. For that reason, I do very much like the TM Glock. However, the Umarex PX4 is almost as accurate and it’s louder, heavier and has stronger blowback compared to the Airsoft replica. With its extended grip, the Gletcher PM1951 looks a little odd to me, but it is a cracking shooter as well as a good functional replica…

So, there you are. The winner of my COVID Backyard Shootout is… Any of these replicas! They’re all fun to shoot, accurate enough to be challenging and those things help keep you shooting and off the streets in these difficult times. If I had to pick a personal favourite, it would probably be the Umarex PX4 – it may be marginally less accurate than the other two but I like the way it looks and shoots and it fits my hand really well.

Why not try this challenge yourself – only use air or Airsoft pistols that are replicas of real firearms, use as many different types as you can, shoot four targets with ten shots on each at your usual range and keep only the best score. Then compare to find your own backyard champion…

Stay Safe and Enjoy Your Shooting  

Related Posts

Umarex Beretta PX4 Storm Redux

Gletcher PM 1951 review

Tokyo Marui Glock 26 review