If you happened to catch my previous post on going Open For New Skills, you already know about my recent experiment on moving to the Open division in the hopes of learning to see more visual information as well as bolstering my speed of movement throughout the stages. Time will tell if this turns out to be a good decision or not, or if those (hopefully) newly acquired skills can be backported and applied in Production division.
So, I’m going to shoot Open, but first I need to retool and that means it’s time to pick an Open division gun to compete with, which has not been an easy decision by any means. As I see it, there are really only three paths to consider when buying an Open gun, so let’s cover the pros and cons with each option since this is what I did to finally choose my new competition pistol.
The easiest way to dip your toe in the Open division waters, besides borrowing an Open gun from a buddy that is, is to use what you already have, right? Many a Glock shooter have equipped their G34 to compete in Open by adding a KKM barrel with a compensator, some big ole magwell, and a red dot optic like the C-More RTS or the Leupold Deltapoint. And to be honest, it’s not really a bad way to go, at least to get started quickly and on the cheap. Besides being the least expensive option it’s also the easiest option when it comes to time on your gunsmith’s bench and overall maintenance. As you may have seen from my earlier articles on building the Ultimate Production Pistol, and the building the New Ultimate Production Pistol, I already have the perfect foundation for such a project. Heck I would still have a Production pistol to compete with even if I did convert one of them over to Open, after all, I do have two of them. I have all of the spare parts, the magazines and mag pouches that are the same. I am already intimately familiar with the entire system and know how to work on everything myself. Switching between the two divisions would be monumentally easier since it’s the same dang gun! Even now as I type this it still sounds like a brilliant option, a no brainer, right? After outfitting the gun and the magazines to hold more ammunition the cost can still be held under $1000 and I would have a very nice and competitive Open gun. So what’s the problem then? Let me start my explanation by saying that the following opinions are based on my observations and research, and of course I’m speaking in general terms as well, so don’t please don’t get too wrapped around the axle and start flaming me. Again, I’m just explaining my thought process on how I arrived at my decision.
As inexpensive and easy as it would be to convert one of my G34’s over to Open division, (and as much fun it would be for me personally since I love to tinker with them) I passed on this option because I don’t think it would be as competitive as a “out of the box” Open gun. I love my Glock, and if I could only ever have only one gun I would select a Glock without hesitation, but when it comes to Open, and my reasoning to move to Open in the first place, I think there are better options than a converted Production gun when it comes down to raw performance.
My Glocks are the picture of reliability and even though I never seem to have the time to clean or maintain them, they always go bang. They never let me down. But since I already have everything to load 9mm cartridges I opted to stick with 9mm for my Open division gun’s caliber knowing that I’ll have to change everything about the load to move my power factor from Minor to Major. Trying to get an Open Glock to Major power factor in 9mm has to be the biggest problem I’ve noticed that people that have selected this option to experience. Again, just my own observations here, but when we desire to earn the extra points Major provides us as well as getting the most from the compensated aftermarket barrels we’ve outfitted our Glock with, the reliability we’re all used to starts to deteriorate rather precipitously.
The last reason I didn’t switch my beloved platform over to Open is that I wondered what all I could learn from moving to the 2011 platform. After handling a buddy’s STI Open guns I realized a few things that solidified my decision to move to the 2011. First off, it’s an entirely different animal. I know that seems obvious, but you have to realize that I’ve never owned a 1911/2011 before so I’ve never even used a thumb safety on a pistol. The thing is just foreign to me. The grip angle the weight, the manual of arms, and ultimately, the philosophy of the platform is completely different than what I’m used to, which is not a bad thing. What can I learn by going to such a radically different system? Time will tell.
So by now you know that I have decided to move to the 2011, for better or for worse, as my Open division platform. Now comes the tough part, stock or custom? If money wasn’t a factor we’d be done and I would be holding a new Gans or Brazos STI and that would be the end of it. But since I have yet to put Warren Buffet out of business I have to make a decision based almost solely on the financial aspects of my budget and try to get the most, dare I say, bang for my buck.
After flat out molesting my friends’ custom Open rigs and thus summarily sending my lust into orbit, I know right away that I want a custom Open STI with all of the trimmings. But my budget is unfortunately closer to the Open Glock conversion than it is to the awesome custom blaster. But the gears in my mind start turning, trying to figure out how to acquire a gun of this caliber (no pun intended) with the money that I can redirect from my kids’ college fund (sorry guys, we can’t all be astronauts). I know that a new custom system would be almost double of what I can spend so that’s out of the question, but perhaps I can get a gently used custom system with the budget I have earmarked for this foray into Open. So I start looking in the Enos forums and immediately realize that I have no idea where to even start looking to buy an Open gun. I see lots of stuff for sale with questionable logic around how things are setup, round counts, hack jobs and Frankenguns by gunsmiths I’ve never even heard of. Being a new realm for me I come to the realization that I don’t know what I don’t know and if I attempt this purchase own my own I’m boned. I also soon realize that Open guns, much more than anything other division’s gun, are highly customized per the owner’s personal tastes. Ask 10 different Open shooters how an Open gun should be setup and you’ll get 10 (or more) answers. The used custom gun options is starting to look less desirable to me at this point because I’m just too unfamiliar with this brave new world. Heck, I don’t even really know which gunsmith I’d take it to, which ones would even take it on, or would even bother with me since they all seem to be overloaded as it is.
Time to step back and reevaluate my options.
I know that I would rather not convert my Glock to Open, I want a 2011, I can’t afford to sell the farm and get a shiny new custom gun, I would rather give birth to a flaming porcupine than roll the dice on a used Open gun, so my options are getting pretty limited at this point. All of the aforementioned options being taken off of the table really only leaves one viable option for me. Getting a stock 2011.
Again, speaking in generalities here, most of the custom 2011 pistols that I dream of are built from, at least in part, stock 2011’s. So I start to research what stock 2011 pistol options are available to me. Just about every custom 2011 pistol I have gun-lust for are built on the STI 2011 as their basic foundations. I figure that if I start with a stock STI I can eventually have it turned into the custom pistol of my dreams if need be, and/or I win the lottery. Now I need to decide on what STI model that best suites my needs…which again, is a bit of a leap of faith since I have no idea what I prefer. I boil it down to short and fast, or heavy and more controllable, or in less abstract terms, the STI Match Master or the STI Trubore.
Initially I lean towards the lighter, faster Match Master since I would love to speed on my side for transitions, but at the cost of better recoil control. Since the Trubore is heavier due to it’s longer barrel I can conceivably expect to have it handle recoil better, thus produce better split times. My split times are one of my least optimal skills and if the Trubore can help in this area, it is very appealing. One other likely benefit is because of the Trubore’s longer barrel I can expect a higher muzzle velocity than the Match Master’s shorter barrel given the same load. Being that I plan to shoot 9mm Major and the types of powder even available that will fit into a 9mm case and still make make Major power factor, I’m going to need all of the help I can get. So with that criteria established, the Trubore tips the scales in it’s favor and I, for better or for worse, pull the trigger (ya, the puns are getting worse, I know) and order a shiny, well sort of since it’s blued, new STI Trubore in 9mm Major. To say that I’m as nervous as I am excited about this option is an understatement, but I really do think that given my goals, my research, and my constraints, it is the best option as my Open gun. Time will certainly tell whether or not this was the best choice or not since some of my options here and the rationale behind them are hotly debated as well as highly variable depending on each person’s experience. After all, from what I can tell, it’s very hit or miss weather a stock STI will run reliably or not based on a myriad of factors from the caliber selection, to the powder that’s currently available, to the individual gun itself. For every person in the forums that say their stock STI had tons of issues out of the box there is a person who has no issues whatsoever and runs it that way to this day. We’ll see, eh?
All of that being said, my intent here was not only to provide an explanation of I arrived at my Open gun selection, but to also serve as a resource to anyone who is considering the move as well and could use another voice on the matter (or further muddy the waters?). So stay tuned as I post the progression into this new arena, and how I adapt my training and my equipment to accommodate.
Next up, getting the gun, setting it up for my shooting style, developing a load that will optimize the performance of the compensator while making Major power factor and reliably cycling the gun, plus magazine selection, pouches, holsters and more! So if you’re at all interested in switching to Open, now might be a good time to Like Recoil Sports on Facebook so you’ll see when I post the next article in my “Going Open” series.