SVI Infinity – Initial impressions and first 1000 rounds

So before I get into all the boring text of my review, here’s a pic to keep you interested:

Basically its a 6″, all-steel, full dustcover 2011 with a mag well and a bull barrel chambered in .45 ACP. For you uber gun nerds out there, here’s the full gunbuilder printout:

Design Name: Bedside gun – final version v2.0
Template Name: 6in – Wide Body
Quantity: 1
Front Slide Cut: Xcelerator Serrations
Guide Rod: Stainless Steel
Panel Cut: No
Radial Flute: None
Rear Lightening: No
Rear Slide Cut: Xcelerator Serrations
Slide Material: Carbon Steel
Slide Profile: Round Top
Slide Racker / Lightening: No
Stirrup Cut: No
Top Rib: No Serrations
Front Sight: Green Tritium dot, .110 wide
Rear Sight: Infinity® Rear Sight Absolute Target Zero
AET Barrel Option: Non-AET
Barrel: Plain Barrel
Barrel Length: 6
Barrel Style: Non-Bushing Style (Cone/Bull Barrel)
Caliber: 45 ACP
Compensator: No Compensator
Trigger Base color: Black
Trigger Bow: Stainless Steel
Trigger Insert Color: Black
Trigger Insert Style: Flat Long
Triglide System: Yes
Grip Length: Standard, Right Handed (Competition frame only)
Mag Well: Hi Cap Blued Steel
Grip Material: Carbon Steel – 4140
Grip Size (Competition Hicap Only): Signature Grip
Grip Surface: Infinity SkaterTerrain® (IST)
Trigger Guard – New: Under Cut Trigger Guard
Trigger Guard Profile: Infinity Traditional Square (ITS)®
Hammer: Triple Xcelerated HD
Hammer Finish: Blued Finish
Dust Cover: Infinity Extended Dustcover, 6″
Dust Cover Fluting: Xcelerator Flute 3 Cut
Frame Material: Carbon Steel
Frame Style: Competition (Wide body)
Grip Safety: Steel
ITI Rail cut: Rail Cut
Magazine Catch: Steel, Standard
Magazine Release Button: None
Mainspring Housing: CS Flat
Slide Lock Pin: Steel – 4140
Strut: Titanium
Thumb Safety Material: Carbon Steel
Thumb Safety Style: Ambidextrous Wide
California/ Massachusetts Resident: No
Gun type: Long Slide (6 inch)
IPSC Modified Division Infinity IMM Special®: No (typical)
Pistol Finish: Infinicoat Jet Black

Why I bought it

I’ve been using a FNP-45 as a bedside gun for the past couple years. Its a good gun, reliable, accurate, low recoiling. However, I was never pleased with the trigger, and I’m not a fan of DA/SA guns. And although its totally subjective and meaningless, I just can’t love a plastic gun. Also I’ve really stepped up my shooting since I bought the FNP (by about an order of magnitude) and the more I practiced, the more it became clear to me that the 1911 platform was the one for me. The ergonomics are superior for my hand, and the control locations are very intuitive and functional to me. I shoot it more accurately, as well.

About a year ago I started looking at STI 2011s. I very nearly bought a Tactical 5.0, but decided not to for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I’m not a subscriber to the “smaller and lighter is better” school of thought when it comes to defensive guns and guns in general. My ideal bedside gun, I would want capacity, maximum weight, and length. That means full dust cover and all steel. Although STI does offer an aluminum grip now, but only as an aftermarket option totally untextured and unfinished, essentially sticking me with a plastic frame. I found myself wishing STI offered an all-steel version of the Perfect 10 chambered in .45, so I ended up deciding that my money was better spent on ammo for the guns I already had.

Ordering

Eventually I ended up checking out the SVI site and realized I could have them build exactly what I wanted. Words cannot describe how great a company SVI is to deal with. Once you decipher the myriad options in their gunbuilder software, you submit it to the factory. Every time you have any contact with them, whether via the gunbuilder or email, they get back to you the same day or the next business day. You’re talking to Brandon Strayer, the same guy that will be building your gun, and he responds to questions not only with good answers, but with detailed explanations and alternative suggestions, as well. When I placed the order in October of 2009, I was quoted a 1 year lead time. I changed my mind about a few small details several times throughout the process, and they had no problem accommodating me. About two months ago, I got in touch again to add on some spare parts and springs, and they told me the gun was in slide/frame fitting and should be done and ready for coating in 4-6 weeks. After being sent to coating and returning to SVI, they notified me that they were unhappy with the quality of the finish on the left side thumb safety and were sending it back to be recoated. It sucked waiting another two weeks, but that’s the kind of attention to detail you expect from a full-custom builder. In the end, I had the gun in my hands four months before the quoted time.

Initial Impressions

The minute I pulled it out of the box, I was astounded at just how gorgeous the gun looked. The machining and fitting is phenomenal. There’s a lot of intricate curves where the grip meets the frame, and its all seamless. The right side of the mag release is in the middle of one of these curves, and although you can easily see the joint, you can feel it. The slide to frame fit and slide to barrel fit are rock solid, like its one piece of metal.

Even unfired (by me, at least) out of the box, racking the slide was like rubbing snot on glass. It was unbelievable how smooth it was. My Les Baer with almost 14,000 rounds through it isn’t even nearly that smooth. In general, the Infinity in its entirety makes my Baer just look… not so nice anymore. Its by far the nicest pistol I’ve ever shot or handled, including every semi-custom 1911 maker. The trigger is astounding, possibly even better than my custom-tuned bullseye trigger in my .22 1911. Its even crisper than a Smith revolver in single action. I actually had them build the trigger a few pounds heavier than their typical standard, as I don’t think a 1.5 pound trigger is a terribly good idea on a defensive gun.

Also, the rear adjustable target sight is the most solid and durable of its kind I’ve ever seen. Since I prefer this kind of rear sight for every kind of gun, including carry, I’ve become a real pro at breaking them, but the way this one is built makes it seem like it will be invincible, but time will tell.

Inside, the fitting and attention to detail is still up to the same high standard. I can’t find a tool mark anywhere on the pistol.

If you catch the internal finish at the right angle, it makes a rainbow!

And while I’m posting stripped pictures, check out how beefy the barrel is:

nd here’s the extractor. I’ve never seen one designed like this before. Like the rest of the gun, its carved out of solid bar stock, and according to the people at the Brian Enos forums, they’re so tough you have to put it in a vise to tension it.

Shooting

The title is a bit misleading. I actually have 1200 rounds through it now. The gun hasn’t had a malfunction of any sort. It eats my carry ammo (230 +p HST) However, the mags fail to lock back fairly regularly. The people at SVI recommended bending the top two coils of the magazine springs up about 15 degrees to create a little more pressure on the nose of the follower and consequently on the slide stop. This worked great, but it just doesn’t want to hold on some of the mags. SVI offered to send me several of a new, more lockback-friendly follwer they’re working on, so hopefully that will fix the problem. In the mean time, I have enough reliable mags for non-range use, so I’m not too concerned. I should try to be reloading before lockback anyway.

As far as accuracy goes, I don’t like shooting from rests, but standing at 15 yards, its shooting the same 2″ 50 round groups that my 1.5″ guarantee Baer does, so its safe to assume that the gun is more accurate than I am, at least for the time being. I usually have plenty of target pictures to back these claims up, but I’ve neglected to save any of the ones I’ve shot with the Infinity. If I remember, I’ll take some pics on my next range trip and post them to the thread.

The recoil is light to say the least. Its obviously a hefty gun, weighting about 50 ounces empty, and 70 in full bedside configuration with light/laser,15 round mag, and one in the chamber. This translates to shooting a full-power .45 that feels like a 9mm. I’ve shot two nines recently, a Star Model B (or is in BM, I can’t remember) and a Taurus 24/7 longslide. Both had more felt recoil and muzzle rise than the Infinity.

Ergonomically, the gun is fantastic as well. The first thing you notice when handling it is how slim the grip is. Its not near as big as any other double stack .45 on the market. In fact, I got out my calibers with the current grip panels I have on my Baer, the 1911 is actually .005″ thicker than the 2011. Granted, the thickest spot on a traditional 1911 is a tangential point on a curve, almost infinitesimally small, while the thickest part on the 2011 grip is about an inch wide, but it still would be easily concealable. In fact, the mag well is much smaller that it seems as well, and I think that would be fairly easy to conceal, as well. And before you ask, yes, I am going to try. I ordered a holster from Blade-Tech, it should be here in a couple weeks.

The overall feel of the grip is fantastic, as well. I got the SVI “Signature” grip, which has a much different shape to it than the original plastic 2011 grips. There’s a lot of curve around the backstrap area. I really need to shoot it side by side with my regular 1911 (can’t at the moment, its broken AGAIN) but I think I might actually like this grip better than a traditional 1911.

I also like the finish. Its a PVD coating chemically similar to IonBond. It looks great, it should be pretty tough over time, and fouling just does not stick to it. Its very easy to clean.

As a reward for wading through all that text, here’s some more pictures:







Overall

I couldn’t be happier. This pistol is amazing. The excessive weight probably won’t be appealing for very many people, but its exactly what I was looking for. It feels great in the hand, balances well, and shoots like a dream. The only problem I have with it is that it makes my Baer look a little crappy, and now I find myself wanting a 5″ version of this gun with no mag well for carry.

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Rating: 8.9/10 (15 votes cast)
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SVI Infinity - Initial impressions and first 1000 rounds, 8.9 out of 10 based on 15 ratings

5 thoughts on “SVI Infinity – Initial impressions and first 1000 rounds”

  1. Oh man great great article….This build of yours is almost spot on to mine and for alot of the same reasons. I could go on and on about that but man its just so great seeing what was in my head actually built WOW. PS is the grip hold up to wear and tear and it easy to clean?

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  2. Sean – I clean with Ballistol and brake cleaner, and I was expecting the brake cleaner to eat off the grip tape adhesive in fairly short order, but the gun had almost 10,000 though it before one of the edges started to come off enough that I decided to replace it. It takes about a minute, and a new piece of tape costs like 2 bucks. That tape is about the grippiest grip surface I’ve ever seen, so I find it well worth the occasional replacement.

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  3. How much was your gun with shipping?
    What optics did you choose?
    In the movie triple tap i believe the chinese competitors use an SVI

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  4. It was about ~4100, but I think their pricing structure has changed since I first ordered it. No optics on the gun. Its my bedside/home defense gun, so it just has irons (flat black rear, tritium front) and a light/laser combo, since I can clearly see the dot across the room without my glasses on, but can’t pick up the irons.

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