STI Grand Master: A Handgun for USPSA/IPSC Competitors

Looking for an open gun ideal for someone just dipping their toes in USPSA/IPSC open class, I was on the hunt for a handgun primed for performance. The Vault revealed a pistol ready to take up this task — the STI Grand Master.

The Basics

STI Grand Master

Chambered in .38 Super, the Grand Master ships with steel mags. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

Chambered in .38 Super, the Grand Master sports a 5-inch Trubor compensated barrel. A Trubor barrel is manufactured from a single piece of rifle-grade steel. It’s then fitted to the compensator to improve accuracy and reduce muzzle flip. To really work that compensator, the .38 Super round allows for more powder and, for that reason, is a popular open caliber for reloaders.

Weighing in at 44.6-ounces the gun is hefty but manageable. As I shot it felt balanced and didn’t impede my transitions from target to target.

Elevated Features and Range Time

STI Grand Master

The STI Grand Master is an entry-level open class gun for those interested in trying competition shooting. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

The Grand Master is a factory-standard model that offers a few upgrades, chosen at the time of purchase, but otherwise is standard among its series. If you compare this gun to other factory models, it’s quite competitive; however, it shouldn’t be compared to a custom open gun. That’s like comparing apples to oranges or a Chevy to a Ferrari.

The pistol offers rear cocking serrations, STI’s steel magwell, an ambitious magazine release, and an installed C-More optic. For an open gun, it has what you need to get to the range and stretch your legs in Open Class. That being said it is lacking features like slide cuts and barrel ports, but, again, this isn’t a true custom gun. For a factory model, it gets the job done at a more affordable price point.

STI Grand Master

The author, pictured above, observed the gun shoots flat and manages targets well. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

In taking it to the range the Grand Master shot flat. The trigger brought very little creep and even less take-up, which one would expect from an open gun. I felt the Grand Master had much more punch than other open guns which affected the shooting experience but certainly did not impact accuracy.

Some feeding issues are due to the neutered 10-round magazines. With some tuning, I believe they would run flawlessly. Otherwise, there were no issues and it ran consistently.

The magazine release was easy to grasp and the magwell made reloads sweet. My main gripe would be the lack of a slide racker, but the rear serrations do help. This was a very fun gun for practice and I feel on a stage it would really shine.

Final Thoughts

STI Grand Master

The gun is pre-DVC so it’s a tad older but still kicking. (Photo: Taylor Thorne/

Though STI halted production of its open guns in 2019 — to focus on other product lines — the open series will most likely reappear after 2020. This particular Grand Master is from the pre-DVC line, which makes it a tad older. With that being said this Grand Master looks practically new and hardly used. In a world where open guns tend to see insanely high round counts and abuse, this one is a gem.

Overall if an entry open gun is your desire- this one fulfills that!


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