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Old 10-03-2010, 18:01   #1
bac1023
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Comparison range report: STI Spartan vs. Desert Eagle 1911

Alright, its time to share my thoughts and opinions on the two best $650 1911s on the market. The first player here is the tried and true STI Spartan, which is built by Armscor in the Philippines and fitted with STI small parts. The other player is Magnum Researchís new Desert Eagle 1911, which is built in Israel by BUL. Iím doing this comparison because I want to see how the surprisingly good DE stacks up against my long time favorite entry level model.

Iíve taken them to the range together twice now, the latest being yesterday. Between the two range days, I ran through 200 rounds in each contender.

As Iíve done in the past, Iíll break this comparison up into different sections and rate the guns based on my opinion. I will try to be as detailed as I can to help someone looking for the best enhanced 1911 at a very affordable price.

http://www.stiguns.com/guns/Spartan/Spartan.php

http://www.magnumresearch.com/Expand...ctCode=DE1911G

Finish: Unfortunately for the STI, it is clearly ousted in this category. The Desert Eagle sports an even, clean, semi-glossy black oxide finish. Its attractive and smooth to the touch. The Spartanís finish is a dull two tone parkerizing, which is present on many Armscor built 1911s. Obviously, I donít carry either of these pistols, so I canít rate either finish from a durability standpoint. Advantage: Desert Eagle

Aesthetics: The Desert Eagle would run away with this category if it werenít for the huge roll mark and the stainless grip safety. Though I have learned to overlook them, the roll markings are hideously large and I think the gun would look better with a black grip safety. Having said all that, the Desert Eagle is still a better looking 1911 than the Spartan. It has nicer grips, a nicer looking trigger, no front serrations, and the previously mentioned better finish. Advantage: Desert Eagle

Reliability: Both of these guns have been 100% reliable. However, being that Iíve had it much longer, the STI Spartan has several times the amount of rounds through it. Because itís a more proven commodity, the Spartan gets the edge. In this category, the Desert Eagle is, unfortunately, victimized for being new. Advantage: Spartan

Features: This is very close, as the guns have a nearly identical feature set. Weíre talking single sided safeties, beavertails, and full length guide rods. The Desert Eagle does have a very slight cutout in the frame under the trigger guard to give the shooter a higher grip. However, the difference is minimal. On the flip side, I like the target rear and fiber optic front sights of the Spartan better than the Desert Eaglesí black combat sights. Iím calling it a wash. Advantage: Tie.

Trigger: These two 1911s have, by far, the best two triggers in their price range, so there is no loser here. However, Iím going to give the edge to the Desert Eagle. While its not necessarily better, its lighter and just as crisp as the Spartanís. Its also aluminum, whereas the Spartan is equipped with a plastic trigger. Advantage: Desert Eagle

Accuracy: I shot the Spartan marginally better. This may have been a result of being more familiar with the gun and/or sights that are more conducive to range shooting. As I mentioned, both of these 1911s have outstanding triggers in their price ranges. That said, I was using a rest at 25 yards to take the shooter and the trigger out of the equation as much as possible. Advantage: Spartan

Parts Quality: The Desert Eagle is equipped with a forged slide, a steel mainspring housing, and an aluminum trigger. Advantage: Desert Eagle

Build Quality: Both of these guns possess a remarkably tight slide to frame fitting, though I find the Spartan completely void of any side-to-side movement whatsoever. I also find the Spartan smoother cycling with a smoother hammer. Futhermore, the Spartanís thumb safety is more precise and solid feeling, with a distinct ďclickĒ against the plunger. Other than those details, parts fitting seems to be on the same level. Advantage: Spartan

Exclusivity: I used this category when doing some of my other head-to-head comparison reports, but Iím not sure it holds much weight here. The Desert Eagle is a bit more rare, but only due to its very recent release. Advantage: Tie

Miscellaneous: The overall polish of the Desert Eagle is an upgrade over the rather subdued looking Spartan. However, STI has a much longer history and glorified pedigree, which canít be dismissed. Advantage: Tie

Looking back at this brief report, you can see the Desert Eagle won four categories, while the Spartan took three. The other three ended in a tie. The guns are close. The Desert Eagle is more impressive to look at, has some better parts fitted, i.e. metal over plastic and a forged slide. It also has a great trigger.

Having said all that, these comparisons are never a sum of the categories and my rating system doesnít tell the full story, it only helps. The Spartan remains my favorite entry level 1911. One category I donít include is ďfeelĒ, and the reason I donít include it is because I donít think its really a category. Its too difficult to quantify. The Spartan is more familiar to me and just feels right in my hands, which is probably why I shoot it better. Its also smoother cycling and equipped with better sights for range use, which is obviously where I was doing the comparison. To a new shooter who wants an entry level 1911 for the range, the Spartan gets my nod.

On the flip side, any $650 1911 that bests the STI Spartan in a series of ten categories, deserves heaps of praise. The Desert Eagle is one of the best values in the 1911 world and with its superior finish and other advantages, may be a better value for the dollar than the Spartan at the same price.

To sum everything up, the Spartan is simply a 1911 that gets it right. Its at a minor disadvantage to the Desert Eagle in many ways, but manages to put it all together to more than compensate for this disadvantage in the real world. Likewise, my personal favorite entry level enhanced 1911 hasnít changed.

Thanks for reading.


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Old 10-03-2010, 18:01   #2
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Old 10-03-2010, 18:01   #3
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Old 10-03-2010, 18:14   #4
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Thanks bac. I am going to be getting a DE as soon as I get the Wilson payed off.
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Old 10-03-2010, 18:24   #5
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what's the gun on the right? i just can't read the name on the slide
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Old 10-03-2010, 18:36   #6
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The fiber optic insert in my Spartan broke/flew out at ca. 2000 rounds. STI sent a replacement insert, took me all of 2 mins to install. It's my favorite handgun.
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Old 10-03-2010, 18:41   #7
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Very nice writeup!

Do you think you'll do any more between your more similar 1911's?
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:01   #8
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Excellent range report, Brian. Do you rate the Remington R1 a close third?
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:14   #9
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Thanks man. Good write-up.
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quack View Post
what's the gun on the right? i just can't read the name on the slide


Actually the font on the Spartan is even larger, though not as long or deep.
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:25   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GVFlyer View Post
Excellent range report, Brian. Do you rate the Remington R1 a close third?
No.

Nice gun, but different category. If you look at my guide in the sticky, you'll see that the R1 is in the GI replica group. I wouldn't compare it to these, as they're apples and oranges, in my eyes. The R1 should be compared to similar models.
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:29   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshuaC View Post
Very nice writeup!

Do you think you'll do any more between your more similar 1911's?
Yes.

That said, this is actually the third one I've done.

The other three were:

Wilson CQB vs. Volkmann Combat Custom
Dan Wesson Valor vs. Springfield TRP
Wilson Super Grade vs. Ed Brown Classic Custom

Unfortunately, the only one still standing is this from 2+ years ago:

http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=885646

The other two have disappeared and search won't bring them up.
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Old 10-03-2010, 20:45   #13
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Very good write up! I am very interested in handling a DE. Anything that is around or better quality in the price point of the Spartan is definitely worth a look.
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Old 10-03-2010, 20:51   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bac1023 View Post
No.

Nice gun, but different category. If you look at my guide in the sticky, you'll see that the R1 is in the GI replica group. I wouldn't compare it to these, as they're apples and oranges, in my eyes. The R1 should be compared to similar models.
I see, I was looking at the price point only.
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Old 10-03-2010, 20:53   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GVFlyer View Post
I see, I was looking at the price point only.
Well that makes sense too.

Its just difficult to compare them back to back, as they have a totally different feel.

The R1 is one of the best replicas on the market, as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:09   #16
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Thanks for your report Brian. I have a Spartan and if I needed another full size 1911 I would take a hard look at the Desert Eagle. If I saw one in person I might be tempted to buy as the large roll marks doesn't really bother me.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:44   #17
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Has anyone else noticed that in all of the DE's marketing material and the manual itself the pistol is depicted with front serrations yet none of the actual guns seem to have this?
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Old 10-04-2010, 16:18   #18
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Great write up!...

so the Deagle is that good huh. I know the spartan is an amazing value, but i do like the finish of the Deagle better. Too bad it has such a huge billboard on the darn thing. I do like how it doesnt have front cocking serrations though.

JOe
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Old 10-04-2010, 17:33   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tx787 View Post
Has anyone else noticed that in all of the DE's marketing material and the manual itself the pistol is depicted with front serrations yet none of the actual guns seem to have this?
I did see one actually DE with front serrations on Gunbroker when they first came out. It was a photo of the actual gun for sale, not a website pic. The very first batch must have had the serrations.

Its looks better without them.
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Old 10-04-2010, 18:28   #20
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Nice write-up Brian. I would have to agree with the comparison results. For me, since I am new to both models, it was a dead even tie. With each having their Pros and Cons, I found them to be very suitable for that price range. They actually give more bang for the buck in my opinion.
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