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Bul Armory SAS II TAC 5″ 2,000 Round Review: Better Than Staccato?

RUNNING WITH THE BULS

Every few years, a new hype gun takes over the gun world. Sometimes, it’s a real push forward in innovation. Sometimes, it’s a fad that invades our homes because of a TV show or movie. Other times, it’s just people rediscovering something old and making it new again.

Most of us would likely agree that the current hypebeast in the gun world is the double-stack 1911 or “2011” platform. While not new by any means, it has fairly recently taken over as the new cool-guy pistol. We could ponder the why and where of how it came to rise, but that’s another article. 

What is clear is that we are in the era of the 2011, whether we like it or not.

You can’t describe me as a huge 2011 guy. There are people who own one of every model of Staccatto. Or have 80 percent of their net worth wrapped up in Infinity builds, with the other 20 percent in MBX magazines, and there are even people who actually bought the $20,000 set of John Wick Combat Masters.

My taste is a bit more simple and a whole lot cheaper. What did find its way into my range bag is the Bul Armory SAS II TAC 5 inch because it was time to dip a toe in the waters of the 2011 world and see what it felt like. 

Through 2,000 rounds, a lot of range time, a half dozen USPSA matches, and another half dozen outlaw matches, and a few 2-gun events later, a boatload of time has been spent trying out this Israeli blaster. The vast majority of this was on my own dime, too.

The gun was a gift to myself, as were the mags, the extended magazine release, and even the optic that ran for the majority of the time with the gun. Most of the ammo came from personal stock, but some of it was provided by AmmunitionToGo.com, so a big thank you to them for that.

SPECS

  • Calibers: 9mm
  • Barrel: 5” ramped, bull barrel.
  • Guide rod type: Full length one piece.
  • Installed recoil spring: 9mm – 11Lb
  • Frame: SAS2 / aluminium with picatinny rail dust cover.
  • Grip: Full size module (FS) Black polymer grip.
  • Slide: Stainless steel / Front & rear serrations / Weight reduction cuts / Optic ready.
  • Capacity: 18 rounds
  • Trigger type: Modular trigger system / Short curved trigger shoe.
  • Trigger weight: 3.0 – 3.5 lbs.
  • Safety: Ambidextrous extended levers.
  • Sights: Suppressor height sights & optic ready system. (RMR footprint)
  • Magwell: TAC aluminium magwell.
  • Available colors: Black (Black anodized frame & PVD slide).
  • Weight: As shown (unloaded): 840g / 1.8lbs

“DOUBLE-STACK 1911”

Technically speaking, “2011” is only made by Staccato. But in common parlance, they are all 2011s, even if the different manufacturers don’t actually say it.

What it boils down to is a 1911 that uses a double-stack magazine and is normally chambered in 9mm. While .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .38 Super, and even 10mm double-stack 1911s can be found — they aren’t as common. Like how a normal 1911 is generally in .45 ACP, double-stack 1911s are generally in 9mm.

Capacity depends on the magazine, but 16 to 20 are fairly common, with 23 to 27 able to be found if you get some of the bigger competition-focused magazines. 

The standard magazine for 2011 guns is normally the Staccato pattern magazine. MBX, Atlas, Staccato, and other brands all make these magazines to the same spec, and the magazine itself is interchangeable across a wide range of double-stack 1911 guns from Staccato to Atlas to Nighthawk Custom to Infinity. 

Unfortunately, Bul Armory doesn’t use this mostly standard magazine. They use a different type that is exclusive to Bul Armory.

MBX makes a magazine for Bul Armory spec, but these are expensive and focused on competition.

FIT & FINISH

My Bul Armory came tightly fit from the factory with zero perceivable movement when wiggling the slide up and down or left and right. 2,000 rounds later, it’s the same story. The slide-to-frame fit is extremely tight and rides very smoothly.

Safety is extremely clicky and firm. It takes a deliberate sweep of the thumb to move it, but it isn’t so tight as to be hard to move. 

Grip safety is well fit to the metal but a little loose where it meets the plastic grip. This hasn’t proven to be an issue even in the moon dust environment it lives and shoots in, but it is what it is. Something worth noting is how the grip safety barely needs to be depressed for the trigger to work.

One of my main turnoffs on 1911/2011s is the grip safety, but this one is generous in how you grip the pistol.

The overall finish isn’t the most amazing, but it is functional and robust. Using only a simple black PVD finish, the Bul doesn’t look as sexy as some of the higher-priced cousins, but the finish does what it needs to do — protect the metal.

I have two very small marks in my finish from banging around on my workbench, but there has been zero holster wear and zero wear from general use. Honestly, the fact it only has two very small marks is impressive.


ON THE RANGE

While there are some great perks to being in the firearm writing industry, one of the downsides is that it’s nearly impossible to be totally dedicated to a single platform, let alone a single weapon. Every two, three, or maybe six training sessions, the need to review the next thing requires a change in kit.

Often, this is simply from one flavor of direct-impingement PMAG adaptor to another, or maybe from short-stroke piston to long-stroke, but it almost always means that it can be hard to get a lot of dedicated time with a single, new thing.

Since the Bul Armory was mostly a personal project and a bit of a treat for myself, I carved out the time and space to become monogamous with the Bul.

For over a month and about 1,000 rounds, the only pistol at the range with me was the Bul. From start to finish, I honestly wasn’t that impressed. 

Maybe expectations were too high, but there was never a “wow” moment when it felt like it was performing at a higher level than expected with most other full-size or nearly full-size pistols.

Sure, it was smooth. It was fast. It was a good bit of fun.

Finally, the honeymoon ended, and other projects demanded their turn on the range. That is when the “wow” moment landed. Everything else felt harder, slower, and shackled with restraints that demanded more brain power to overcome.

Other pistols felt inaccurate and flippy, less ergonomic, and forced a harder grip to keep tame. Set those down for a while and return to the Bul, and it was like the blindfold came off. Speed increased, metal energy decreased, and targets on the clock became point-and-click.

While none of these gains were individually huge on their own, the combined performance of the Bul made everything significantly easier. 

For example, 20 rounds in a hole half the size of my palm at 15 yards is simple with the Bul. The gun is high-speed and has a wonderful return to zero, even without the added aid of porting or a compensator.

PENNY SAVED, PENNY EARNED

Bul Armory stands out with a quality product, but it also stands out because of its price. Paying $1,800 for a quality 2011 is nigh impossible. Nothing required fixing, nothing required replacing, nothing required work. This was out of the box and then on the range, except for adding an extended magazine release because of my short thumbs.

Even if first impressions weren’t mindblowing, the Bul has proven a workhorse of a pistol that adds a lot to the shooting experience. 

Fit and finish, reliability, shootability—this is $1,800 very well spent.

LOOSE ROUNDS

2011-style pistols aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And it would be fair to say that there is a large amount of missing overlap on the venn diagram of people who own 2011-style pistols and people who can make the most out of them. But Bul Armory makes the world of double-stack 1911s a lot more assessable and a lot more reasonable. 

But even as this review was happening, multiple $1,000-ish double-stack 1911s were released in late 2023. We’ll be exploring those soon.

A fundamental shift in the world of 2011-style guns is rapidly approaching, and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

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