To say that I was excited to test the STI DVC Carry would be a massive understatement. I have been looking at this 9mm beauty for months on the Internet and still never had the opportunity to test an STI pistol. Of course, STI is known for its beautifully crafted, reliable, accurate, fast and sometimes a bit higher-priced guns. The DVC Carry doesn’t fall far from the tree, yet it definitely stands apart from some of the company’s other models.
The gun arrived in packaging that looked like something I would buy my wife for Valentine’s Day. Unlike any other firearm I have ever received, the DVC Carry arrived in a satin black and red box with a glossy black STI logo on the front. I was already impressed before I even opened it. Upon opening the box, I found a soft briefcase-style gun case with what I would describe as a work of art inside.
The DVC Carry is like no other 1911- or 2011-style pistol I have ever handled. The matte black diamond-like carbon (DLC) finish on the slide and frame contrast very well with the bronze TiAIN-coated barrel to make for an impressive and aggressive look. The coatings also reduce friction and protect the gun. Very few coatings are harder than DLC and TiAIN, so the DVC carry should hold up well and stay very reliable. To that end, I allowed some of my concealed-carry students to shoot the gun, and despite being scraped across a lot of range tables, there weren’t any visible scratches or blemishes.
The slide has six full-depth lightening cuts near the muzzle to reduce weight and add to the gun’s race-ready looks. The rear serrations are comfortable to grab onto when racking the side. In fact, the lightweight slide is so easy and smooth to rack that it can easily be done with the ledge of the rear sight if one of your hands is injured in a shootout. I put the gun in the hands of an older woman in one of my classes who, during dry-fire training, was not able to rack the slide on the full-sized Sig 1911 I was using to teach with. But she was able to rack the DVC Carry’s slide without a struggle. And bear in mind that STI had sent me a brand-new pistol that hadn’t been broken in yet. My Sig has had thousands of rounds through it and is definitely very much broken in.
The low-profile night sights on the DVC Carry are easy to see and very fast to acquire when drawing from a holster. The sights are mounted in such a way that you get the maximum amount of distance between them. The front sight is right at the end of the slide with a single vibrant tritium dot, and the rear sight, with its single tritium dot, is mounted flush with the back of the slide, giving you the maximum sight radius for a small, short-barreled pistol. The “stacked dot” sight picture may take a little getting used to for a shooter that is used to a three-dot system, but these sights are easy to get used to after just a few rounds.
The slide also houses a 3.9-inch, bushing-less bull barrel as well as STI’s well-renowned Recoil Master guide rod system, which helps reduce felt recoil for smooth shooting on the range.
The DVC Carry is also one of STI’s double-stack 2011 designs, which means the pistol can carry at least 15+1 rounds instead of a typical 1911’s 8+1 rounds. To be honest, I have smaller hands and was a little worried about the larger double-stacked grip, but to my surprise, this pistol felt great in my hands and as well as all those of the other shooters who handled the gun. This is a very well-balanced, comfortable pistol to hold and shoot. The stippled grips, while resembling a cheese grater at first, are actually very comfortable, and the material kind of has a bit of give to it. I shot the gun both indoors and outside without any grip issues. The grip just felt right for everyone who handled the DVC Carry.
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When I shot the gun in a cold, wet forest without any gloves on, the grip frame grabbed my hands very well and gave me a sense of confidence in the gun in any condition, which is great for a carry piece. Chances are you’re not going to be in a climate-controlled room with nice and dry hands in a defensive encounter, but with the DVC Carry, you won’t have to worry about not having a good grip on the gun.
That being said, the grip is a bit on the thick side and a little long for me for easy concealment under normal clothing. I was able to carry the pistol easily under a flannel button-down shirt, but when it got warm out, I was a little worried about the grip frame printing through a T-shirt at the grocery store.
As for its controls, the skeletonized trigger on the DVC Carry has a very light 3.5-pound with a very short reset and a clean, crisp break. In fact, I can say that this is probably the smoothest trigger pull I have experienced on a stock pistol.
STI also added a well-contoured ambidextrous thumb safety. The safety is tucked in nice and tight to the frame, and I don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about it snagging on clothing during a drawstroke. The safety is perfectly placed for my hand—a little short for shooters with shorter fingers, but it’s still usable. The safety also gives the gun just enough lift off of a table to make it very easy to grab and grip if the situation called for it. Since it does sport an ambidextrous safety, it would be nice to see an ambidextrous magazine release as well for those left-handed shooters or if you ever have to shoot left-handed due to injury in a defensive encounter.
STI includes two 15-round magazines with the DVC Carry. I would like to see the magazine fit a little better in the magazine well. About a quarter-inch of magazine extends from the butt of the grip when loaded, but the magazines still insert easily and drop free when needed. The state of Texas engraving on the bottom of each magazine is a nice touch, too. I got several comments from students about the Texas logo on the magazines in my concealed-carry classes. It’s the little details that people really like.
Finally, unlike some 1911-style pistols, the DVC Carry is extremely easy to break down for cleaning and maintenance. You simply pull the slide stop pin out and the pistol comes apart. I didn’t even need a tool.
DVC Carry Range Time
I put well over 500 rounds through the pistol during testing. I fed it both hollow points and FMJs ranging from 115 to 147 grains. Several people with various levels of skill shot the DVC Carry, and I only saw one malfunction: The slide stop failed to engage when the magazine was empty. That malfunction happened while shooting standard 115-grain ammunition. The gun was not in my hands at the time, so I cannot conclude why it happened. But, due to the incredible performance I experienced with the DVC Carry, I can definitely say that I would trust this gun on my hip to protect myself and my family.
Every single person that had the opportunity to handle this pistol all asked me how they could get one. Everyone fell in love with it right away. At only 26 ounces unloaded, the gun weighs less than many of its competitors on the market that hold half the ammunition. Yet, despite this light weight, the recoil is very minimal and controllable even during rapid-fire testing. I was able to consistently achieve 1.5-inch, 10-shot groups at 15 yards.
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In the woods, we had a little fun by shooting some empty cans on a table around 15 yards away. The target was the mouth of the can, and the goal was one clean exit hole out the bottom of the can. We set up six cans, and with six shots I was able to put four rounds perfectly through the mouth of the cans. One widened the mouth and the other was just low, peeling open a channel in the side of the can. This isn’t your traditional test, but it was fun.
At 25 feet, I was able to really bring in my 10-shot groups to around 1 inch on average. Even at 25 yards, I had all 10 rounds in the center-mass of a silhouette target; every shot would’ve been potentially deadly in a defensive confrontation.
I constantly had to keep reminding myself that this is a carry gun and not a full-sized 1911. The gun ate everything I fed it, including 115- and 124-grain reloads from A-1 Premium Ammunition as well as factory loads from Precision Delta, HSM, Sig Sauer and Hornady. At any distance and literally with any ammunition, the DVC Carry seems to be able to locate the target quickly and with precision accuracy.
This pistol definitely stands apart from the competition and wears the STI name very well. The price tag is a bit on the steep side at $2,999, but you will never have to doubt this gun’s ability to perform when you need it. STI nailed it when the company set out to make a 2011-style pistol perfect for everyday carry. I would sell some of my favorite things to be able to carry this gun every day.
Barrel: 3.9 inches
OA Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 26 ounces (empty)
Grip: 2011 DVC stippled
Sights: Tritium front, fixed ledge rear
Finish: Matte black DLC
For more information, visit stiguns.com.