My Bias: I have what amounts to zero bias in this review. I’m borrowing the gun from a friend, I’m shooting the ammo I would normally shoot and I don’t own any competing products. So no need to justify my spending, just a straight up review.
As with the Ruger review, I put 500 rounds through the gun over a couple weeks of my regular practice class (put on by Rob at activeshooter.ca ). I probably would have been done the 500 in 2 weeks if it was summer, but well… its cold outside. First thoughts when I picked up the gun were “damn, this is gorgeous” and that has not changed over the weeks; it is a very very good looking gun. It is also very tightly fit, when it is in battery there is zero barrel play and 0.23mm (I actually broke out my caliper to measure this) in the slide to frame fit. That is hand fitting and you couldn’t ask for it to be any better.
Oh I forgot to mention an important piece of info, this gun has ~65 000 rounds through it. Yes you read that right, 65 000 rounds and still just as tight as it came from the factory, that’s what I call quality.
Moving on from the fit, the next thing I looked at were the sights; I know sights are a very personal thing for everyone but I will still do my best on them. The gun comes with an adjustable rear site (elevation and windage) that is very sharp and has serrations as well as a rear angle, like any good sight should, and when in use it is black with no reflections. The front sight is thin at 2.5mm with with a 1mm fibre optic insert. I found it very very precise in use and it didn’t really seem to hurt my speed any compared to the larger sights I usually use, but some may want to change to a wider sight. As I expected, high quality sights on a high quality gun that I feel there is no reason to change (and I tend the change EVERY sight on my guns). Oh and I should mention that if you do the slap method of racking your gun as championed by Tim Sanderson the sight will (unlike the shadow) eat your hand, so don’t do it.
The checkering on the slide is good looking, positive feeling and works great for racking at the front or rear. The gun also has large patches of checkering on the front and rear of the frame; this is quite grippy and you have no need for grip tape or anything to keep your hands secure, with a proper grip this gun will not move in your hands. The gun I’m shooting has Henning aluminium grips sporting even finer checkering which also really grabs your hands. I wish I had some of the stock grips to give a view on, but I have always had to replace wood grips with aluminium or g10 grips to get the grip I like and if I was ordering the gun I would add some new aluminium grips to the order even without trying them.
One of the best features on this gun is that the frame has an integrated mag well. It is awesome and really provides a much bigger hole to stuff your mag into which means less chance of missing and the ability to do your change farther away from your body. I would say that it gives you and extra 3mm on either side which is 25% more width than without it. There is one odd thing about the mag well, it is nicely sloped and contoured everywhere except at the front. At the front of the gun its profile is still sloped properly but for some reason its flat and not rounded. I’m not sure why Tanfoglio decided on the flat profile, I’m sure its easier to machine but I know that most of my missed reloads are to far forward and a round front profile is #1 in regards to making those fumbled reloads into a reload that still makes it into the gun.
I’m going to be honest, as much as I love every aspect about the gun the trigger is…..well it’s bad. It’s not horrible or anything, but it does have a number of issues. First is that the trigger stacks right near the end of the double action pull, so instead of being a smooth pull you end up having to change the amount of force you apply at different points in the pull. Second the reset is pretty long but it does still have a positive feel to it and you can tell when you hit it easily. The third problem is hard to quantify but the trigger just feels mushy, it’s not crisp or pleasant feeling. You can have the trigger from the stock III fitted to the gun by Freedom Ventures for $125 plus shipping both ways (or if you get it put in brand new then save the shipping and do it when you order the gun). The current world champion is shooting a stock II with a stock III trigger in it and word is that the stock III is a better trigger than the stock II. If I get a chance to try the stock III trigger I’ll update this review to reflect any new findings.
Pictures are better than words here.
There is a lot of things to like when shooting the gun. The weight of the gun means it is very stable while firing and the slide moves very smoothly along the rails. While running drills the gun stays very very flat with very little recoil, I was actually shocked at how little it moves. The muzzle flip is easily less than the CZ shadow and my 1911. The only problem is the safeties they are big and make a good shelf to rest your thumb on, which sounds great to any 1911 shooter but the position and size of them means that you aren’t gripping the gun as high as you could be. The problem is that if you try and grip as high as you would like to, you are jamming your support hand right against the under side of the safety and the shape of it is perfect for you to hit it on by accident. Why Tanfoglio doesn’t offer flush safeties as an option I have no idea, everyone who tried it had the same comment that they would prefer a flush safety because they are starting double action for IPSC and have no use for a safety.
The stock II is a very well made gun and it has all the features you could want for a IPSC or USPSA production gun. It is pricey coming in at $1600 but that is money well spent considering at 65 000 rounds its still tight as a drum and going strong. The only real competition in the market is the Canadian edition CZ shadow which costs pretty much exactly the same money. The Stock II beats the shadow in looks, weight, features (mag well, heavy bull barrel, longer barrel, great checkering) but the shadow has flush safeties and more importantly a head a shoulders better/crisper/shorter trigger on it. It would be very hard for me to pick which gun if I was purchasing one for myself, but if I could get my hands on a stock II with the stock III trigger and felt marked improvement I would go for the Stock II over the shadow. Sadly though if the trigger was the same as the stock one I would have to give the nod to the shadow, which kills me because the stock II feels perfect in the hand other than the trigger and to a lesser degree the safeties.