All About Infinity Firearms
It is simple to make bold statements when talking about Infinity Firearms, such as “the Ferrari of race guns,” because the high quality is apparent after the first glance.
Some background: Sandy Strayer left STI (Strayer-Tripp International) in early 1994 and started Strayer-Voigt, Inc. later that same year. Known as SVI at the time, Strayer teamed up with competitive shooting icon Michael Voigt to manufacture and market their own line of modular frame 1911s. The design was based off the original polymer grip, which Strayer was the designer and co-patent holder. The modular design meant that the frame was actually two pieces, the lower half being the grip, which allowed the guns to use a double-stack magazine without increasing the thickness of the grip. That is a pretty simple explanation of things that were going on within the race gun market and how things were shaking out in USPSA, which only had two divisions—Limited and Open—at the time.
If you didn’t have a high-capacity (often referred to as a wide-body) 1911, you were not going to fare very well in competition shooting. However, this article isn’t about the history of race guns in USPSA but more about the advancements that Infinity Firearms has brought to market with its custom-built guns—including the newest enhancements to their lineup. To begin, let’s talk about why an Infinity Firearm is so highly coveted in the race-gun world.
At the Infinity’s Texas facility, which is still family-owned by second-generation Brandon Strayer, the company does not wait for slides or frames to come in that may not meet tolerances. Instead, Infinity builds guns with parts made right the first time. This isn’t just for the major components used, but the grips, springs and even the small screws used in every custom build. Every pistol is built to a customer’s specific functional and cosmetic desire.
You start your dream gun on Infinity’s GunBuilder program selecting every aspect of the design you want. The options are endless, from interchangeable breech face slides to the different slide cuts and grip options. The interchangeable breech face is an Infinity exclusive that allows your firearm to have multiple calibers with the same slide. The guns are hand-fit and finished by only top-level engineers. In addition, every handgun is tuned and tested. All the major components are heat treated and cryogenically treated, and there are optional PVD coatings for maximum strength and longevity.
Infinity IMM Open Pistol
The pistol sent for review is the new IMM Open pistol (requires $1,000 deposit to begin a custom build, infinityfirearms.com) featuring a new hole design, compensator and the new internal breech face extractor. Before we get to the features of this beautifully crafted handgun, let’s talk about the shooting. I have shot a few open guns over the years, but I have never actually competed in a large USPSA match in Open division with a real Open gun. I have always been an iron-sight shooter in Single Stack and Limited divisions until recently, now I primarily shoot Carry Optics. My 47-year-old eyes are able to see a red dot much better than irons. Looking forward to shooting this gun at a match, beforehand I hit the range to test it out.
As with any finely tuned race gun, or going back to the race car comparison you are going to need the right “fuel” to make it go. In this case, we had a few hurdles to jump over to get the right ammunition that would maximize the gun’s performance. The initial ammunition sent didn’t meet major power factor; it was well below 165 power factor, causing the gun to not be 100 percent reliable. Strayer, not satisfied with my report back that the ammunition used was under-powered, wanted to double-check the gun while I waited for a second batch of ammunition. The gun was inspected, tested and sent back. Strayer also arranged for one of the Infinity Team shooters to send me handloaded ammunition as well. The tested ammo sent was 174 power factor, and the gun loved it. The second batch of ammunition was Eley 124-grain .38 Super Comp which was a consistent 167.1 power factor. The gun ran this ammunition and the Atlanta Arms 124-grain that recorded 168.4 power factor. The SIG Romeo3XL tracked the best with the handloaded ammunition, as it worked the compensator like it should. It is not uncommon for an open gun to like hotter ammunition.
Normally we would run some drills and compare times as part of the review, but the Infinity was so much fun to shoot that we didn’t write anything down. I worked through several draws into an 8-inch circle from the Safariland 015 holster with a transition into an A/C zone steel USPSA target that the second shot was basically a controlled pair at 12 yards. The gun was easy to shoot fast and accurately. On the scale it came in at 53.5 ounces; however the balance of the gun made it feel much lighter. Surprised by the weight of the gun, I tried it on another scale just to check. The trigger pull averaged one pound, 15 ounces on the Wheeler Engineering digital trigger gauge with a short, positive reset. Strayer sent the gun with several magazines that had no issues during testing and subsequent match.
This IMM Open gun features a new hole design in the Accuracy Enhancing Technology Sight Tracker barrel fitted on this pistol. This consists of two small squares offset from one another on the top of the barrel, but further inspection shows that the squares are angled into offset holes directing the gas right and left instead of directly up, like many traditional holes in other designs. The top leading left square is cut into part of the barrel and the compensator. The reason for this design, according to Infinity, “was to take advantage of high pressure gases just prior to the pressure drop that occurs in the compensator, with little effect on bullet velocity. Remember, making ‘fast’ barrels are also part of the ‘synergy’ (all parts optimized) of an Infinity Pistol where 1+1 = 3. A true win for competitors.”
One of my longtime pet peeves with some Open gun builds are how the compensator looks like an afterthought attached to the gun, with no concern for the lines and how the slide, frame and compensator should all fit seamlessly together. The Infinity slide, frame and compensator treatment set the bar extremely high. I have not seen a better-looking setup on a gun—the way the lines of the butler cut on the frame flow into the rounded cut on the slide into the flutes down the side of the compensator are stunning. You can barely feel where the barrel’s island is fitted into the slide cut or where the slide ends and the compensator begins. You couldn’t fit a gnat’s eyelash between where the hand-fitted parts meet up. Besides being a beautifully machined titanium part, Strayer says “the new compensator design was created by an improved dot tracking technology algorithm that balances port volume and angle of inclination of each port for improved accuracy and speed.”
The interchangeable breech face is an Infinity exclusive introduced in 1998. This was to allow multiple calibers from the same slide on the pistols. However, a new feature of the interchangeable breech face was introduced recently—an internal extractor attached to the breech face of the gun. The 1911 design has used basically the same designed extractor system since its initial testing over 110 years ago. A few manufacturers have tried an external slide-mounted system to varying degrees of success, and there have been other attempts to enhance the extractor part itself. The spring steel arm with hook can be the single point of failure when it comes to the reliability of a 1911 feeding system. Infinity decided to take on this 100- year challenge and design something new. Brandon Strayer explained that “extractors actually perform two functions. The first is to aid in the successful feeding of the round into the breechface seat. The second being to ‘extract’ the case from the barrel chamber.” Strayer stated that Infinity started by using a “super clean steel” that resists cyclic failure by many magnitudes as compared to commercial- or even aircraft-quality materials, giving the shooter more confidence in the performance of his or her pistol. Critical cross-sections were then significantly increased, including an enlarged hook profile to guide the round into the breechface seat more reliably, with only the slightest amount of friction. Strayer says the biggest benefit of this feature for the shooter is that there is no tuning or readjustment required, as well as having a modular drop-in unit that can be replaced quickly with simple tools.
After initial testing, I was able to head to the USPSA Area 5 Championship held at the Bluegrass Sportsman League in Wilmore, Ky. I am only A class in Open division, earning that shooting a Limited gun, with most of the scores counting from 2010. I ran the Eley 124-grain .38 Super Comp ammunition during the match, which it—and the gun—ran the entire match with zero issues. It was 167.1 power factor, which was the lightest of the ammunition tested, and the gun ran fine. I was conservative for the first couple of stages, getting used to the gun in a match, but was able to throttle up the speed and finished middle of the pack by the conclusion of the match. At my last stage I picked up two mikes and a no-shoot that kept me out of the top 20, but I only had eight deltas and managed a 76 percent score of the Division champion. The gun was easy to shoot and I can see why once you go “Open” you don’t come back. I also was able to shoot Open at the Steel Challenge World Speed Shooting Championship with the Infinity, and set personal bests on five of the eight stages during the match.
Are Infinity Firearms expensive? I would answer that by saying “they aren’t cheap.” You can get a buzz and a bad headache off cheap tequila or sip on Don Julio. Eric Clapton can probably play “Layla” on a knock-off Stratocaster, but it isn’t going to sound the same as it would on a Fender Custom Shop Signature model. You can tell the time with a Seiko, but an Omega Speedmaster is an investment that you will pass on to a loved one. Avoid the headaches and hit the range with an investment that you can pass on after you are done making the sweet sounds of the perfect cadence of gunfire—that is what an Infinity firearm is worth.
Article from the November/December 2020 issue of USPSA’s FrontSight magazine. Photos by Isabel Martens.
Article by Jake Martens