Shooting illustrated | First look: Rock Island Armory STK100

by Daniel T. McElrath –
Monday 14 June 2021

Rock Island Armory (RIA) today announced its new 9mm STK100 pistol. The semi-automatic handgun gives the ubiquitous polymer frame impact pistol a new twist by leaving out the polymer.

That’s true. The STK100 is a double stack pistol (17-round magazine) fired with a striking head with an aluminum frame. Why aluminum? It has been a tried and tested frame material for decades; much longer than polymer. Colt trusted him he would be handling the .45 ACP cartridge when he introduced the Commander more than half a century ago. Like polymer, aluminum does not rust. It weighs a little more, but that has its advantages. After all, some people just prefer metal, but haven’t had it as a frame material option in a newer, state-of-the-art pistol.

Front runner is right. Apart from the inclusion of aluminum, there is nothing anachronistic about the STK 100. It contains almost all of the latest trends in tactical pistol design. The sight image consists of a single white point on the front post combined with a black, serrated rear sight.

In addition, the Sims-style visor is designed for one-handed racking. Fashionable light cuts in the lock, a gentle radius under the trigger guard for a high grip and a beavertail for comfort and control. The dust cover has a Picatinny rail and the slider is already cut to accommodate a micro red dot sight.

We have informally tested the new pistol on a selection of ammunition including Federal Syntech, Hornady American Gunner, Speer Gold Dot, and Super Vel’s solid copper hollow tips. It fed and fired everything with no problem. The trigger felt moderately heavy, but the break was less mushy than is common with many impact pistols. There is a distinct snapshot when it breaks.

Personal protective weapons should be carried a lot and shot little. Many designs are (for lack of a better term) “weighted” in favor of comfort. However, the additional weight of the STK100 gives it an advantage in terms of range. While it doesn’t bend like a polymer (which absorbs some of the felt recoil) it does counteract the recoil impulse of the weapon, resulting in less movement. In theory, the higher rigidity of aluminum can also lead to improved accuracy. Most noticeable in my short shooting session, however, was the fact that the STK100 didn’t break my grip on long strings.

Its curb weight is roughly the same as a Colt Lightweight Commander, although its generous ammunition capacity makes it much heavier when loaded than the fully loaded Colt. It’s also a few ounces heavier than similar sized polymer guns, of course. If you don’t mind the extra weight on your hip, or just intend to use it as a range or home defense weapon, you can get a ton of gun for $ 599.

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