RIA STK100 Not Quite There Yet
Rock Island is known for their 1911's. The fit and finish isn't always the best, but the guns offer great value in reliability and features that until the last decade were usually reserved for custom guns. We own a few Rock Island 1911s and enjoy them, especially the 10mm and .22TCM options.
When the STK 100 was announced it shocked a lot of folks. Not only is is the first striker-fired gun from Rock Island, but it has an aluminum frame. Early talk was ablaze with excitement that the STK 100 was close enough in design to the Gen 3 Glock pistols that parts and magazine interchangeability was assured. Essentially the STK 100 would launch with a built-in aftermarket plethora of magazines and parts for tinkerers. For some of us that meant dusting off Glock-pattern goodies that we'd nearly forgotten about.
As media we often get our hands on new products early after coming to an agreement with the manufacturer. It's a slave market in which we offer to spend our time and money to produce content which ultimately serves as advertising for the manufacturers. This is tricky business as it's difficult to not be left feeling like a Patsy, and some companies have apparently sent "ringer" guns that might have received a little extra attention at the factory before they were sent out. We've all seen the results of this when media publishes glowing reviews only for the public to end up with nothing but lemons. To combat this we try to purchase firearms when we can, or insist that we have the option to keep a firearm after reviewing it: no company wants to give up their best example. This model has worked well to help us ensure that the product we show you is just like the product you'll receive when you purchase. To keep things fair we do not sell a firearm that we keep, rather it joins our inventory that permits us to provide you with follow-up reports, comparisons, and long-term use stories.
Rock Island refused our terms and instead had us sign a document stating that regardless of any transfers conducted for the purpose of legal compliance the firearm would remain property of Rock Island. We agreed because we'd had so many requests to review this gun and wanted to support a company who's 1911's we've enjoyed for years. When the gun arrived it even included a rather obnoxious copy of that agreement with the statement in all capital letters. Rock Island wanted it to be clear that this was their gun. As our regular viewers know, we don't modify guns for review (something other channels seem to love doing despite the fact that their results and experience no longer represent what the consumer will experience, especially when those modifications improve performance or handling such as installing an adjustable piston on an AK or hanging a heavy flashlight off a pistol.)
As we prepared for the range we dry-tested a couple different Glock-pattern magazines and noted that not all Glock-pattern magazines work in the STK 100. Not a big deal considering there are plenty of options out there and accepting Glock-pattern magazines was more of a bonus than a priority. This did, however set some things into question. We then tried three different Gen 3 slides to find that they would not fit the STK 100 as the ejector's angle put it clearly in the path of the slide. If we owned the gun we might have attempted adjusting the ejector after reviewing as is, but once again the ability to swap slides is not what makes a pistol good.
We got to the range where we noticed some initial issues with sighting. Thinking we were maybe having a bad range day we kept at it, at least until the front sight fell off after about 30 rounds.
Were we to have a Glock front sight tool in the range bag we might have been able to fix this on the range, but we've never needed a front sight tool with us at the range so one wasn't packed. Upon further inspection we noticed the rear sight was crooked. The plate it attaches to is siting as flush as it appears it can, and the screws holding it in are tight, it's just a poorly-made plate.
Thinking we have a lemon (seems to be a common thing in 2021) we contacted a friend who had purchased an STK 100 and loved his initial range time with it. As it turns out he came to loathe the gun as he also had sighting issues. He purchased a compliant red dot only to find that it didn't fit the footprint the STK 100 was supposed to be cut for. Later he noticed accuracy issues as the twist rate did not like his 124gr ammo. Rounds were yawing and tumbling. Specs have been pulled from the website as of the time this was written, but I believe they were 1:16 or 1:18 which we've seen on a few 9mm pistols in the past, but is certainly uncommon in the US market. Had the STK 100 lasted long enough for our What's For Dinner™ Test the results would have been interesting.
Back home from the range we could of course reattach the front sight, but with as loud as RIA was about their ownership of the gun I don't want to be accused of having worked on it. Additionally, with the canted rear sight, and slide cut that reportedly doesn't accept an optic, there's not much we can do for sighting.
The STK 100 has a lot of promise and although the 30 rounds we got through the gun weren't inspiring, they were pleasant as the aluminum frame made for a softer shooting experience than typical polymer. I just don't think the gun is ready for the masses yet, but hope Rock Island fixes the pile of small issues that combined to make for a failed range trip.