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Preview – STI Costa Carry Comp

Costa Ludus and STI Make Race Guns Ready for Duty

Photos by Iain Harrison and Kenda Lenseigne

The pistol-carrying community is on the verge of something theoretical physicists might call a convergence. Previously, the two primary disciplines of pistolero — the competitor and the tactician, walked distinctly different roads. Each gave the other a wide berth and rarely did they see eye to eye on anything hardware related. But just like the economy, the presidency, and trending hashtags … times change.

Many lessons that have been hard-earned on the tournament circuit are now being seriously considered as force-multipliers for the professional gunfighter. A decade ago, most race-gun upgrades were quickly dismissed with the age-old “that sh*t’ll get you killed on the street!” Many of these upgrades are now widely accepted by those who use lead and brass to save lives. First it was extended mags and floorplates that added capacity. Then came the spread of red-dots on duty and carry guns. Another, creeping in more slowly, is the addition of compensators to defensive guns.

Compensators are ported devices specifically designed to combat muzzle rise. Conventional wisdom has long held that common defensive pistols don’t generate enough muzzle rise to require compensation. It was thought that the right training was all one required to properly drive the duty gun. It was also rigidly espoused that putting a compensator on a handgun would not only give away your position in a fight, but would also blind you after the first shot — both things that could, as they say, “get you killed on the street.” A number of smaller companies are putting these paradigms on notice as they innovate pistols that are both compensated, and purpose-built for defensive use.

Chris Costa is a name that needs no preamble. Most came to know him through the groundbreaking Magpul Dynamics training videos, which fundamentally altered how the industry views training films altogether. Since then, he has continued to evolve as a trainer and product consultant through his firm, Costa Ludus.

Likewise, the STI brand is almost universally recognized among those who ring steel for pride and glory. They built their success on the highly innovative 2011 pistol frame, which brought the concepts of light weight and high capacity to the trophy-winning disciples of John Browning’s master work.

These two companies have teamed up to release the Costa Carry Comp — a pistol that pushes the traditional boundaries of what most consider a defensive handgun.

sti-costa-carry-comp-barrel sti-costa

First Impressions
Hard as we try to look at this pistol purely from a conceptual standpoint, the bottom line is not lost on us. That bottom line is 3,000 little green pictures of George Washington. Such a hefty price tag is not unheard of in the 1911 world, or in the race gun realm. But the Carry Comp is being billed as a defensive pistol. Is the juice going to be worth the squeeze for those in search of an EDC piece?

Aesthetically, the Costa Carry Comp is absolutely striking. The smooth black slide on a matte tan frame seems to hold our gaze a little bit longer every time we look at it. The slide cuts are subtle and elegant. The full-length Picatinny rail and Liberty Bell mag funnel give the whole package a sort of 1980s sci-fi feel. The overall visual is just about perfectly executed.

Then there’s the stippling. The entire grip is 360 stippled in a semi-reptilian texture that left us scratching our heads. To be frank, the pattern looks like it was beaten into the frame with a mallet and steel punch while the gun was benched on a coffee table. Functionally, it works like a charm! It’s aggressive without being painful and, once you close your hand around it, the gun’s not going anywhere. We picked it up with a palm full of dish soap and still managed a working grip. If this were a DIY stipple job on a $500 factory gun, it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning. But on a piece that costs three G’s, we’d like to see more refinement. Now that we’ve aired our big gripe, there’s plenty to love about the Costa Carry Comp.

The trigger is everything you’d expect from a well-tuned 1911. We ran two test guns — one in 9mm and the other in .45 ACP. The 9mm trigger broke between 3 pounds, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 12 ounces. The .45 sample snapped at a pleasingly uniform 4 pounds, 10 ounces on the digital gauge. Each had 1 or 2 millimeters of take-up and stopped dead at the break. The rear sight is a serrated black Heine ledge, the front a red fiber-optic tube. This configuration is becoming increasingly popular on defensive pistols, with this author being a recent convert himself.


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