Narrowing down a 9mm list for steel shooting


March 20, 2012, 04:08 PM
Okay, this isn't so much an X vs Y thread as it is just trying to shorten a list. I and my brother want to get into casual steel matches - a run-what-you-brung sort of thing, no classifications. Since we don't CCW there's no issue with size or weight. We want to find a fun and accurate 9mm to keep down ammo cost for casual competition events. Lastly, being in CA means 10-rds only, so no point in frames other than single stack just for reasons of capacity.

Because we are in CA most of these are not approved, but due to the Single-Shot Exemption we can legally get any one we want. It does mean however that it's impossible to do the recommended "try them out at the range and see what you like." So we've been doing tons of reading and are having trouble cutting down the list any further, so I'm opening myself up for comment, scorn, ridicule, mockery, whatever you've got.

The budget is $1600 tops, and we both prefer new pistols to avoid someone's problem case. Neither of us plan to have any extra work done on these so no fair saying that "pistol X is great but only if Y and Z are done to it." The idea is to buy one nice enough that it works great right out of the box as-is.

So here's the current list:
CZ75 SP-01 and variants (the Shadow Target looks really nice,

SIG P226 X-Five Competition (

STI Trojan, stock

STI Trojan + Brazos or Dawson pkg (such as

STI TargetMaster, 6" barrel

S&W SW1911 Pro

Dan Wesson Pointman 9

I'm currently torn between the STI and SIG, and my brother is after a 6" barrel, yet neither of us can quite dismiss any of these on the list. We have nothing against 1911s, but admit to being a little wary of what we read about how they seem to have issues with 9mm, seemingly more so than other designs. And lastly, we admit that the list is somewhat sensitive to looks; the all-black tactical-look isn't attractive to us, which is why there aren't any Glocks on the list!

If you enjoyed reading about "Narrowing down a 9mm list for steel shooting" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
March 20, 2012, 04:51 PM
the cz is one of the most accurate guns out of the box that ive ever fired but cannot say for the others and have not shot the shadow..just the sp-01...its heavy and accurate and muzzle flip is low so thats a plus for competiton...not sure if i helped you much but thats all i got

add: as far as looks u can get about any color grip panels for cz and its real easy to do a color fill on the lettering if you want to spice it up a bit..details on color fill can be found on youtube..there ar a few different ways to do it

March 20, 2012, 05:27 PM
A stock german SIG P226 has served me well for casual competition on steel. It's the most accurate centerfire pistol I've ever tried.

March 20, 2012, 07:15 PM
The CZ and the Sig are both listed, saving you the hassle....

March 20, 2012, 07:23 PM
Go with the CZ.

March 20, 2012, 07:32 PM don't forget to check out the can get them with 10 shot mags.they are made for competition.get them with the extended slide stop and mag release.

March 20, 2012, 07:43 PM
Any gun from Brazos (Bob Londigran) is worth whatever is spent. I ran over 40,000 rounds through one of his SC Limited pistols. Sold it to a friend who made Master in USPSA and it is still running.
That package gets my vote fwiw......

March 20, 2012, 11:31 PM
I get the chance to shoot an Ed Brown .45 later this week so I'll get a good eval of what a high-end 1911 is capable of - granted, not 9mm. Talking to a LGS guy, I got him to momentarily take off his Sales Face and give my his personal opinion, which went:
1. Dan Wesson PM9
2. CZ
3. SIG
4. STI

Not sure he caught that if I went STI it would have been moded by Brazos or Dawson. Regardless, it's real hard to make concrete decisions without even being able to handle some of the candidates.

March 21, 2012, 03:08 AM
I have 2 Trojans from Dave, good guy and great customer service. My 9mm and .45 app are both top notch and a bargain at the price.

targets from us
March 21, 2012, 04:16 AM
cz or sig check classifieds on for some rare deals.

March 21, 2012, 09:39 AM
Thanks guys; I'll see if anyone at our range has any of these, but it's not likely. It's tough making a $$$$ decision based solely upon forum posts and looks! Granted, read enough posts and trends do develop, but it would sure be nice to be able to handle some of these. Oh well, if this is the biggest problem I have in life I have little to complain about!

Women have shoes and purses - we have guns.

March 21, 2012, 09:46 AM
cz or sig check classifieds on for some rare deals.

Yes I check GunBroker, GunsAmerica, CalGuns, and Armslist every day.

March 21, 2012, 09:09 PM
What's the consensus on the two companies, STI and SIG. What I mean is, how do the two compare for:
1. Customer service.
2. Parts availability (both factory and aftermarket?)
3. The overall sense of reliability.

single stage
March 21, 2012, 09:28 PM
I will be labeled old school (I am) but the most accurate and comfortable 9 mm I've ever shot is my Browning HP.

Jed Carter
March 21, 2012, 09:43 PM
I've shot a tricked out SP-01 CZ, great shooter, nearly $1400. I can still outshoot it with my STI Trojan 9mm $1000. As far as reliability is concerned the STI has a ramped barrel and has never failed me, ever. Never shot the SIG X5, just cannot get past the price. Straight out of the box the STI Trojan is the best and easiest shooting pistol I currently own. The only thing that comes close is my Glock G34, but it took a new trigger, sights, guiderod and spring to make it as good as it is, still not the Trojan. Of your choices, it's the Trojan 9mm, IMO. I would go with a "stock" pistol rather than one that has distributor upgrades, Dawson Precision does make great stuff, you just do not need it. Again just my opinion.

March 23, 2012, 09:27 AM
Thank you very much everyone for the input.

Yesterday I got a chance to shoot an HK45 with a laser on it - not for the mall ninja aspect of it, but for trigger training. Man, it was very educational to watch that dot start bouncing around as I anticipated the pistol firing. Very hard to keep it still but very helpful to have it pointed out - literally. Also, at 25 yards it was educational to see just how much the POI was moving around. I joked to my brother that buying a guaranteed-2" pistol was lost on me as I had trouble keeping the dot from moving more than that. (I do realize that regardless of how much I was moving around, an accuracy guarantee helps regardless.)

Also got to shoot an Ed Brown Kobra (.45 1911.) Wow, what a trigger... what a pistol, just a work of art.

Getting somewhat off topic, I'm told that bullseye rifle shooters purposely move the POI in a sideways figure-8, which is said to override the bodies random motion, and they pull the trigger as it passes over the "10." Can this possibly work with a pistol, too?

Anyway, yes, the laser was very very telling regarding my trigger control, and it really drives home the point of how the seemingly simply task of firing a pistol is very "Zen-like." Both my brother and I got a sense of it, sometimes getting into a rhythm where our accuracy would really tighten up, then loose it and be right back to a wider scatter. Shooting seems so.... easy, yet the nuance and finess go many layers deep!

And back on topic, I'm currently leaning toward an STI Trojan.

March 23, 2012, 09:48 AM
STI and Brazos do some great work. Can't go wrong there.

March 23, 2012, 10:42 AM
"Zen like" very accurate,
Go here and read:

March 24, 2012, 08:49 PM
Of the pistols you have listed, I'd be most partial to the CZ. That said, the last Steel Challenge Match I watched, the top stock pistols represented were Glock 17s and Glock 34s. Most of the 1911 types sported optics and race-gun mods.

March 24, 2012, 09:23 PM
Just a thought...shooting steel requires that targets fall, right?

Make sure whatever you buy works with at least 124gr and preferably 147gr FMJ ammo so you can be assured that contact = fall.

March 24, 2012, 09:27 PM
If I were a cop I'd be fine with a Glock - I mean, it HAS to shoot when you pull the trigger, and I get that. However, from an aesthetic standpoint I just don't like them. I'm sure they're very reliable and accurate, I just don't care to own one - no one said this was logical! And in Glock's defense, I don't care much for any all-black pistol, no matter who it's from.

As far as being partial to CZ, yes I'm wavering between the worked-over STI and the Dan Wesson PM9, which kind of surprises me in itself. I guess the way I'm looking at it (at the moment) is that the PM9 is like a high-end Lexus, and the STI is like a Nissan that's been worked over to "potentially" be a better choice for steel shoots. I'm reading tons of threads on both and in general, nearly eveyone (nearly) is really happy with the PM9 (about the only real problem is finding one.) The STI OTOH has more issues (usually mag-related) but with a bit of messing about, "may" be a better choice (again, a surprising conclusion.) Aesthetically I'm pretty sure that the PM9 wins, but hard-chromed, the STI would be pretty close.

Thanks for the comments, guys.

March 24, 2012, 10:24 PM
For 9mm "stock auto" steel shooting, the CZ Custom Shop Shadow/Target can be ordered with CA compliant 10-rd mags. The pistol comes "ready to compete" with comp rear and FO front sights. The FO rod can be 1mm or 1.5 mm--your choice. CZ Mags are totally reliable and not cost-prohibitive. Spare parts are readily available and reasonably priced.

For an "open class" gun the STI with all the trimmings will cost more than your limit, but is worth it for "open class".
Stepping further up + in price, and SVI or CZ Czechmate make outstanding Open Class pistols. (add drool)

My son and I shot a steel challenge and Man-on-Man shoot-off match last Saturday. My son won his "C" class (and was moved to "B" class) with his 9mm Custom Shop Shadow DA/SA. We shot almost 1000 rds between us. My 75B and his Shadow ran smoothly throughout. Many other pistols didn't. My B has well over 50K rds through it.

Whatever you choose will be a fine pistol in that price-range. Enjoy the sport!

March 24, 2012, 11:20 PM
Just a thought...shooting steel requires that targets fall, right?

Make sure whatever you buy works with at least 124gr and preferably 147gr FMJ ammo so you can be assured that contact = fall.
No the Steel Challenge targets don't fall down, they just need to be hit. The hit is registered by sound, and by the bullet splash mark on the steel, which is touched up with spray paint between each shooter. Unlike IDPA, the course is fixed, and doesn't vary from match to match, and is strictly a speed and accuracy competition between guns in the same class.

March 25, 2012, 01:25 PM
Yes, while they call it a "Combat Shoot" it's really a steel challange, just hitting targets, not knocking them over.

Regarding CZ, that brings up another question I had. Both CZ and STI offer higher-capacity "1911s", the "2011." From the reading I've done they appear to be exactly the same (slide, trigger, etc) other than mag capacity, true? If so, and since high mag capacity is lost on us in CA, it seems to make no sense to go there if the triggers and what not are the same.

I have a newbie question regarding SAO operation. In a steel match, the pistol has to be in the holster hammer-down. In a SA/DA, the first shot's doable but heavy, but with a SAO setup, it means racking the slide before shooting commences, correct? Reason I ask is because during the one and only steel match I attended (watching only) I don't recall anyone racking the slide before shooting. Is it because everyone uses SA/DA, I didn't see them racking the slide, or that I misunderstand what SAO means?

March 25, 2012, 10:41 PM
For both pistols the "Make Ready" call prior to the start, will include puting a rd in the chamber for all pistols, and hammer down and holstered on a DA/SA pistol (Safety off if it has one). A SA pistol will be cocked, safety ON and then holstered. A striker fired pistol is treated as a DA-no safety, then holstered
The next commands are "Are you ready", then "Standby", then "BEEP". Shoot.

After the beep, the SA guns are drawn and then the safety is flipped off with the stronghand thumb and fired. The DA-DA/SA pistols are drawn and fired as first shot DA.

A decent DA/SA CZ like the Target should be 6# "MAX" on the DA pull OOB.
My 75B is around 5# with a slightly lighter hammer and trigger spring.

After all this, the CZ Custom Shop shows "NOT FOR SALE TO CA" for the tricked-out CZs Maybe a Custom Shop worked SPO1 or Shadow is legal for CA, I don't know.

March 25, 2012, 11:27 PM
That's true, but nearly any handgun can be legally brought into California under the Single-Shot Exemption (SSE.) This involves temporarily substituting a much longer barrel and installing a block in the mag bay. Whether the seller agrees to actually ship a firearm here is a separate issue though... some refuse to ship ANY firearms here.

As of right now, after adding up everything I want to do to the Trojan, the Dan Wesson's looking like a very serious contender...

(As an aside, I have an .45 HK45, and its DA force is something like 13lbs or so - no kidding. The last time I tried it DA it made me realize that the trigger's too close to my finger for me to pull it in enough to fire it!)

March 26, 2012, 06:50 AM
I have not shot the cz. Having said that, you ca order the Trojan from Dawson with their tuning package and they will work it over before they send it to you. Pick yourtrigger weight, sed it to your ffl and go racing. Their crp kit is also a good idea. My Trojan 9mm shoots pretty damn good..... Probably better than my custom G34.

March 26, 2012, 06:05 PM
After obsessing over this for weeks, at the 11th hour a seller of a new Dan Wesson PM9 was located. The decision was pretty much based upon that, as if they didn't have it in stock, the choice would have been the warmed-over Dawson STI Trojan. Having never shot either of these, I'll of course wonder what the "other one" would have been like, but it looks like the search is over - I've heard only good things about the PM9.

If you enjoyed reading about "Narrowing down a 9mm list for steel shooting" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!