First 1911 Poll. STI Spartan, RIA, Taurus


July 25, 2008, 11:24 PM
So I've been reading some of the prior threads on here. I'm leaning toward a Spartan, but I've read really good things about the RIA (which is cheaper). My issue is, I'd want a beaver tail grip safety and a few mods to the RIA, which would drive the price up. The STI comes with everything I'd want on it. The Taurus does, too, but may be more expensive. Plus, I've read spotty reviews of the Taurus.

Which one would you recommend? Are the STI and Taurus worth the extra money? Or should I just get an RIA mil spec and upgrade it? Or an RIA tactical (which gets closer in price to the other two)?

I've shot Kimbers and Para-Ordnances, but never any of the above 3. Nowhere around me rents them. I love 1911s, but I haven't gotten one yet for financial reasons. These are more in my ballpark. I won't be getting a Nighthawk Custom any time soon ;).

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July 25, 2008, 11:28 PM
Although Im fighting the urge to suggest a 1911 not on your list as a first 1911

Id go with the RIA Government Mil Spec.

July 25, 2008, 11:39 PM
I have a tac. It rocks.

July 25, 2008, 11:51 PM
:) I favor those that are close to the original, like the RIA, but if you want the little extras, the TAC is a whole bunch cheaper than adding them on later.

July 26, 2008, 12:18 AM
I love my Spartan. In this thread ( I'm asked to compare it with a Springer Loaded. Not the same as the OP, but it may shed some light.

July 26, 2008, 03:40 AM
I have both a Tac and an upgraded GI. It was cheaper to gust buy the Tac then upgrade the GI, if you want those features.

I like all my RIA's (4) they've been good guns. The Tauri that I've held were not as well fit as my Rocks, and cost slightly more. So I wouldn't buy one of those over a Rock. I don't have any pesenal experience with the STI, but I've heard good things from folks that have.

FWIW If you want the Beavertail and other options, get the RIA or STI. The STI with it's more "snaggy" sights might be more suited to range use then carry, but you never know.

July 26, 2008, 04:18 AM
Get the gun that has what you want. Upgrading is much more expensive.

I've got a pile of 1911s and even though I do all the work myself it still costs a lot more to upgrade than to get what you want.

That said, considering what you want I'd take a look at the Charles Daly, I think it is the EFS. It has the beavertail, extended thumb safety, extended slide catch and a few other nice features that are nice to have. Even though I'm kind of a 1911 snob I'm thinking I just have to get one because most of what I'd do to one is already done.

I do not recall which, but it is either the people who make the Armscor or the Daly also make the STI Spartan. It is still a Filipino import.

I'm also not sure if either is mil spec so that drop-in parts actually drop in. I'd avoid the Brazilian guns. SA is far from mil spec (no matter what they say). The Taurus guns are pretty, but because they come with most premium-style parts I don't know if they have the same quirks as the SAs (use a 9mm firing pin on the .45; ejector isn't pinned, but glued and is way off mil specs).

Main thing is buy a gun that has everything you want to begin with so you don't waste time and money making it what you want.

CD and RIA have great customer service. Taurus customer service has some real negative comments here and there.

I will add one more thing about SA. I've been shooting IDPA and IPSC for more than a decade. I've seen more SAs fail in matches than any other five brands combined. I've even seen a guy throw his SA at a target after becoming frustrated at its constant malfunctions (he was banned from the range for a year and his membership was revoked).

Keep doing your research. Just don't waste your bucks on a gun that isn't what you want.

July 26, 2008, 05:32 AM
RIA Tactical and STI Spartan are the same frame and reciever. The STI has better ignition parts, adjustable sights, and FO front sight. I would be content with either one.

July 26, 2008, 06:28 AM
I like my Taurus. However, I would give the RIA tactical a hard look as well since I've heard so many good things about them.

Eric F
July 26, 2008, 06:55 AM
RIA Tactical and STI Spartan are the same frame and reciever
this comes up every so often and I have seen it too many times to recall which is truth. But I think the slide and internals are provided by sti and the frame is Armscor/RIA No matter though.

Get the STI all in all its the best value for your money.

July 26, 2008, 06:58 AM
If you are going to make upgrades, just go with the RIA TAC or the STI. I have an RIA GI model and the upgrades have not been cheap.

July 26, 2008, 01:35 PM
I own a RIA Government and have a friend who owns the Spartan. I voted for the Spartan. My order of preference would be:

RIA Tactical
RIA Government

I've seen to many problems with Taurus semi-autos.

July 26, 2008, 01:38 PM
RIA Tactical, best bang for the buck! Get the STI Spartan if you are willing to pay a bit more for a brand name.


Samuel Adams
July 26, 2008, 02:35 PM
Get a Dan Wesson or a Colt.

July 26, 2008, 02:44 PM
The frame, slide, and barrel of the STI Spartan are made by Armscor and are the same as the RIA. STI ships the other internal parts to Armscor for assembly in the Phillipines.

July 26, 2008, 08:10 PM
The fact that the RIA and STI Spartan are made in the Phillipines is no reason shun these pistols. STI is not going to risk their reputation on an unreliable gun. The FO. front sight and the adj. rear on the Spartan is a good option considering the cheap price STI is getting. Picked up a Spartan at a friends gun shop and may have been infected!

July 27, 2008, 08:55 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I had read a lot about RIA GI models, and was leaning that way, but then I read about the Spartan. I guess at this point I'm leaning toward the Spartan unless there's a strong enough financial incentive to get the RIA tactical. Not sure what the price difference is.

Anyone know about the price difference between:

1) STI Spartan
2) RIA Tactical
3) Charles Daly (someone mentioned this above).

How does a Charles Daly compare to a Spartan or an RIA Tactical in terms or quality and price?

July 28, 2008, 01:34 PM
ARMSCOR makes no bones about Rock Island Armory, Charles Daly, and STI as being their partners. Prices are continuing to go up, but in this area the price for an RIA Tac is as low as $415 upwards to $440. The other two models run about $100 +.

PS The RIA GI is going for $365 and up.

July 28, 2008, 04:24 PM
I am THRILLED with my STI Spartan. It was my first 1911 and it is the most accurate handgun I've ever shot. Aside from some bad reloads, I had 1 jam with it on it's first outing and none since. It's approaching 1k rounds and it's sitting in the nightstand until the SP-01 arrives.

It is made by Armscor using some STI parts. The frame, slide, barrel, and bushing fit together solidly, much better than any other 1911 I've handled in that price range.

July 28, 2008, 05:27 PM
Well I agree with what some of the others have said and get what you are looking for right up front and not try to upgrade to it.

I have officially step into the 1911 world as of only this weekend so I don't have alot of experience with them, but however I love the hell outta my SIG GSR1911 C3

July 28, 2008, 09:07 PM
In order of preference:
RIA Tactical
It's really a toss up between the STI and the Taurus. If you're looking for a base pistol to build on, go with the Taurus. (Forged frame/slide).

Stay away from the GI or base model if you want a shooter out of the box.

July 30, 2008, 12:11 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Pretty much confirms my preferences. STI versus RIA Tactical. I'll update you all on what I choose.

July 30, 2008, 12:14 AM
What? No Springfield Gov or Milspec?

July 30, 2008, 12:54 AM
Of the pistols you listed, I'd likely chose the STI Spartan. The main reason is the reputation the company has for standing behind their product. If it had fixed sights, it would be the hands down winner.

The Taurus has a hammer forged frame and slide. This is important to many 1911 shooters. The STI and RIA are cast, in the Philippines.

Loop made a very good point. Buy the gun that has the stuff on it you want, as long as the gun is fitted to your standards. Upgrades cost money. The main difference between the STI and the others is an adjustable rear sight and a fiber optic front sight on the Spartan. The front sight is dovetailed making a swap easy, but you are stuck with an adjustable rear sight. So, you must ask yourself whether you plan to carry this gun eventually, or whether it will be a range gun. Some folks carry adjustable sighted guns, but most folks who have done so for a while swap to fixed sights and recommend them for carry.

I just wrote a blog piece on chosing your first 1911 ( You may want to give it a read.

Of the choices you did not list, I highly recommend the Springfield Mil-Spec.

July 30, 2008, 01:07 AM
I had a RIA tac, it was great and never gave me a problem.
I ended up trading it towards a ss pt1911 and I think It was a step up.
Its forged, the trigger is better, the slide fit is tighter and the sights are better plus Its stainless.
Im right at 6,000 rounds without a single problem

Joshua M. Smith
July 30, 2008, 03:21 AM
RIA milspec here.

The reason for this is that I feel the "Tactical" is loaded with parts which have proven weak in the long run. The most glaring is the ambi safety which is retained by the sear pin. It was abandoned by Colt years back, and the only people I know who are currently making it are a company called Mueschke. They're not known for their quality.

I bought an RIA milspec and made it my own by fitting a Brown beavertail safety, a Kimber thumb safety (I'm left handed and like the hammer pin retention; it will be upgraded to a King's when they get them back in stock), a new sear, a Wilson spring kit, and a Commander hammer.

Not to toot my own horn, but it is much higher quality than the factory Tactical when compared side by side, simply because I used higher end components.

If I had to buy one from your list and only make minor mods to it, I'd have to pick the Spartan and replace the front target sight and install an ambi thumb safety. The internals are already very good quality.

Josh <><

July 30, 2008, 09:32 PM

Thanks for the link. I read your blog. Good info there.

July 31, 2008, 07:44 PM
I got and paid more for the compact tactical than i should have i know, but at 500.00 i got the better trigger, hammer, sights and beaver tail + decent wood grips. Been very happy with it and accurate to a fault almost, no problems at all right outta the box

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