|Predecessor||Tripp Research, Inc|
|Headquarters||Georgetown, Texas, United States|
|Virgil Tripp, Sandy Strayer, David Skinner, Tim Dillon, Dave Dawson|
STI International, Inc., is a Texas-based company that manufactures complete M1911 pistols and parts for competition, duty and self-defense. It is most well known for its "2011" modular frame guns (so-called because the lower grip and trigger guard, which is made of a fiber reinforced plastic, is a separate component from the metal upper portion of the frame that comprises the dust cover and frame rails). STI and Strayer Voigt Inc. share the patent on the modular frame.
In 1990, Virgil Tripp, a gunsmith and machinist, started building custom 1911s for competition use, especially USPSA/IPSC. After some time, Virgil began designing parts for 1911s, including electrical discharge machining (EDM) hammers and sears. Virgil's company was called Tripp Research, Inc. and most of his parts were sold and marketed by Chip McCormick, a champion pistol shooter, under his company's name, Chip McCormick Corporation (known as CMC).
Around 1993, an engineer and computer aided design (CAD) guru named Sandy Strayer joined Tripp Research, Inc. Tripp and Strayer revolutionized the 1911 market by designing a modular hi-capacity 1911 frame for IPSC shooters. While Para Ordnance already had a hi-capacity 1911 frame on the market, it was made of steel. The modular frame made use of a fiber-reinforced plastic which combined the trigger guard, grip, and integral magazine well. It used a proprietary grip which attached to the upper portion of the frame (a metal part that comprised the dust cover and frame rails). The result was that the modular frame weighed less than half of what the steel frame weighed. Further, while the Para frame feels notably larger than a standard 1911 in the hand, the STI feels similar to a regular 1911 since the grips are molded into the plastic of the frame rather than screwed to the outside. Tripp and Strayer were listed as the co-patent holders on the modular frame. Soon after the modular frame was introduced, the company name changed to STI (Strayer-Tripp, Inc.) and Strayer was given an equity stake in the new company.
In November 1994, Dave and Shirley Skinner, owners of an electronics company named Tessco, Inc., became involved in the operation of STI along with Virgil Tripp. In early 1997, the Skinners completed their purchase of STI from Virgil Tripp and renamed the company to STI International, Inc. Virgil went on to start a new company using the name Tripp Research, Inc., which produces various finishes for firearms and magazines for 1911s. During the Clinton era high capacity ban, STI remained in business by focusing on exports and the growing concealed carry market. As of 2007 STI was the third largest exporters of pistols in America.
From 1994 through the late 1990s, STI had a custom shop which would build guns to customer's specifications.
In January 2005 Dave Skinner sold the company to the employees of STI, making it the first ESOP company in the firearms industry.
In 2010 Dave Skinner made the decision to retire and began searching his search for a suitable replacement. After months of looking, Tim Dillon (formerly a military contractor overseas and the head of the Law Enforcement Division of Brownells) was offered and accepted the job of President/CEO.
Today, STI manufactures a full range of 2011 pistols based on its modular frame, in addition to single stack 1911s using steel and aluminum frames in a variety of calibers such as 9mm Parabellum, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and .38 Super. STI also manufactures a full line of parts for 1911 pistols, such as modular frame kits (which are used by gunsmiths to build complete guns), slides, barrels, compensators, triggers, hammers, thumb and grip safeties, slide stops, firing pins, guide rods, magazine wells, magazines, and scope mounts. STI's modular frames are marketed under the brand name 2011 (a take on the 1911 name).
- Note: McCormick won the 1989 Steele Challenge with a gun designed by Virgil's brother, Fred Tripp, called the Scepter. The Scepter was the first of what came to be known as Race Guns. Tripp Research, Inc. - Company History
- STI International - American Handgunner - September/October 2001
- U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 4,267,237