OK, it’s easy to get jaded in this business. Everyone has something “new,” everything has something that “hasn’t been done before,” and if I hear one more time the current en vogue business phrases of “next level” or “in our DNA” I’m going to hurl. Breakfast, objects, invectives, something, anything.
Well, I had a recent chance to actually see a case of someone being different. In this case, SCCY—pronounced “sky”—and their new handguns. What we have here, in the CPX-2, is a compact carry 9 with a 10-shot magazine. Both versions of the slide are machined from stainless steel bar stock. The black version carries a black nitride finish; the two-tone version is a stainless steel that’s been ceramic bead-blast finished by hand. The barrel is also stainless and machined from bar stock. The receiver, internal to the polymer frame, is 7075-T6 aluminum (the same heat-treatment that mil-spec ARs get) and is also machined from billet.
The receiver gets assembled into a Zytel frame, with finger grooves and a recoil cushion that is integral on the backstrap. Recoil spring? A captured assembly, so you won’t be launching parts across the room when you take it apart to brush out the dust bunnies. Three-dot sights, double-action trigger (with a thumb safety, too, if you want that, on the CPX-1 model) and an inertial firing pin so it is drop-safe.
So far, it sounds like a lot of other pistols. Then we get to the interesting stuff. First of all, SCCY makes their own magazines for the CPX-1 and CPX-2. The magazine is a crucial element of a reliable pistol, and SCCY designed, tested, tuned and then decided to make them in their own plant. It takes a big investment in stamping and folding machinery, welding fixtures and hand-assembly in order to make magazines, plus the cost of shipping them out to a heat-treat and black nitride facility. I was pleased to hear the last part. While it is a good thing to desire keeping your production all under one roof, it’s smart business to hand off the heat-treatment to someone else, someone who has the plant, furnaces and experience to do it right.
Given the capital investment and the operating costs, I can’t see how SCCY folks make money on magazines. They have to be losing a couple of bucks on each one, and they still pack each box with a pair of them.
Which leads me to the next big thing: Each box has the pistol, two magazines, a trigger lock, spare baseplates for the magazines in case you don’t want finger-groove plates—and this all has a suggested retail price of $319. You did not read that incorrectly, an MSRP that is a tray of lattes over three hundred bucks. And we all know what MSRP translates to on street prices, which means you’ll probably (almost certainly) be able to leave your local gun shop after spending less than three Franklins for the pistol.
An inexpensive carry pistol, in a real caliber and with enough ammo on board to be useful for three hundred dollars? It’s almost like winning the lottery. That is, if it works. So, I went to the range—with the usual ton of ammo in the range bus—to see.
First off, a 9mm handgun that tips the scales at 15 ounces is going to have some recoil. There’s no way around it, you can’t escape Newton’s laws no matter how good your attorney is. So the size of the grip and the recoil-absorbing gaps in the rear are a good thing, even if they make the SCCY a bit more bulky than it could be.
How bulky? I have large hands, and the SCCY was not a big deal for me. However, my wife is only 5’3”, and in her hands the SCCY was a bit too bulky. She found it hard to reach the DAO trigger, so for her it is just a bit too big. But we all know that one of the important aspects these days of handgun selection is size. It doesn’t matter how good a pistol is, if it’s too big, it’s too big. For me, it’s a compact; for my wife, it’s not.
Also, low-profile fixed sights are going to point where they are going to point. If you have a favorite load or bullet weight, or you find your particular SCCY shoots most accurately with one load, you’ll have to do the work to adjust the sights to that load. The front sight is held in the slide by means of a pair of posts on the sight, protruding through the top of the slide, while the rear blade is dovetailed and locked in place with a set screw. If you need to adjust it, loosen the screw and drift the sight. If you need a height change, then a different-height rear is your next step.
Again, there is no way around it without weight or bulk. But we all know what purpose this and other pistols like it are made for. And in that application, 25 yards is almost far enough away to call for a forward observer. Still, that’s the distance I test at, and that’s the distance I tried the gun at. I used the usual suspects in 9mm defensive ammo and found that it delivered more than acceptable accuracy. While I was able to post three- to four-inch groups with most everything, the more robust loads suffered, more from the recoil (remember: 15 ounces) than from accuracy differences between loads. I also had a reminder of the advice I was given decades ago by one of my old gun shop bosses, Mike Karbon: “Try everything; you never know what’ll shoot best.”
In this particular SCCY, Rock Island Armory 9mm ball shoots like nobody’s business. Once I had punched out a pair of two-inch groups, I turned to the 100-yard backstop. Someone had left three falling plates, bowling-pin-size, standing on the rack. Three shots later, I turned around to see if anyone had watched me knock them down. (Why is there nobody watching at times like that?)
While full-metal-jacket ammo is not the best for defense, it is economical for practice. None of the loads—FMJ or JHP—exhibited any reliability problems, but these days we take that for granted (perhaps we shouldn’t, but we do). In short, the SCCY CPX-2 did not disappoint.
Disassembly? Piece of cake. Unload. Lock the slide back. Use a screwdriver to pull out the retaining pin. Ease the slide forward and off. Scrub, blow out the dust bunnies, reverse the process to assemble. Easy enough that there is no excuse for not keeping your gun clean.
So, if you want a reliable, accurate, low-cost, but rugged 9mm carry pistol, all made in the USA, there’s a new name you should know: SCCY.
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