It’s a Glock! It’s an XD! No, it’s a Steyr Mannlicher! The S9-A1 is a comparably little known pistol. When you look closely at the ergonomics and features, it is hard to tell why. The subcompact double-action-only striker-fired Austrian beauty feels better than my Glock 19, has improved sights, a shorter trigger, and a much lower bore axis, making it easier to hit the broad side of an Austrian barn.
What some gun enthusiasts deem foul about this pistol is the key-lock safety. I personally don’t have an issue with this. However, some shooters sneer at the thought of anything but a Glock safe action trigger. We all have our reasons for multiple safeties, and I don’t think a key-lock takes away from the overall function of the pistol. The other gripes I had with this gun were nit-picky but deserve mentioning. The blued steel frame rails have very close tolerances and therefore create a great deal of friction before you break it in. Greater friction on the rails can create a situation where the gun fails to feed the following round. I would recommend at least 500 rounds of shooting to reduce friction and brass shavings. Most guns need a break in period, but out of the box this one seems to require a bit more love.
The list of good features on this firearm is extensive. The trigger stands out as an amazing advancement in design. It is smooth, crisp, and short—you can’t ask for much better than that. If you have shorter fingers as I do, getting proper straight pull on a Glock or Kahr can take some serious practice. With the Steyr, I have no issues. The trigger reset is nice too; it is so short you don’t notice it. Even with my comparably small fingers, I found the larger grips to be quite comfortable. I started shooting pistols in the military after the brass phased out the 1911, so thin grips are foreign to me. As is the standard these days, the Picatinny accessory rail makes a nice addition. Mounting a laser, flashlight, or tiny novelty chainsaw underneath your frame is as easy as turning a screw.
As far as the sights go, I originally thought they would end up in the negatives category. However, once I practiced with those strange triangle space-age sights, I found them to be very accurate, precise, and most importantly, fast!
The most important feature on any handgun, especially one designed for concealed carry, is reliability. You can have the fanciest pistol on the planet, adorned with the most beautifully polished steel and decked out with every single whizz bang feature under the sun, but as soon as it jams, it is a paperweight. After the previously stated break in period, this gun runs like a top. The Steyr eats every type of ammunition I feed it and never chokes. I save money by practicing with cheaper ammunition, usually the cheapest brass I can get my hands on. I like shamelessly plugging Armscor USA for lower priced yet quality brass cased ammunition. Their consistent primers and better than decent quality brass run great in my guns. I have yet to fire steel cased from the S9-A1. It would probably do fine, but I have not bothered to try it.
Overall, the Steyr S9 is an excellent concealed carry firearm. Like many DAO polymer pistols, disassembly and maintenance is a breeze. The gun’s reliability, combined with superior ergonomics and an affordable price, make the S9-A1 an outstanding choice that many shooters probably would not have considered.
Specifications and Features
- 9mm Luger
- 3.6″ Barrel
- 10 Round Magazine
- Picatinny Accessory Rail
- 1.2″ Width
- 4.8″ Height
- 6.7″ Length
- 26.07 ounces Unloaded