When it comes to personal defense and concealed carry, a lightweight handgun firing a powerful cartridge is desirable. The handgun must first be reliable. There are compromises inherent in choosing a carry handgun, but the compact handgun must be reliable and it must perform adequately. Let’s face it, when compared to a shotgun or rifle the “weak .38” and “strong .45” are more alike than they are different.
All concealable handguns are compromises but often the equation works out better than others. When the buyer is on a tight budget, things get interesting. School clothes, car insurance and living expenses seem to get in the way of the pistol we dream of it. That dream should not become a nightmare of poor function.
The inexpensive handgun market is crowded and, by and large, you get what you pay for. The first consideration is reliability. Next, the pistol should fit your hand well. The trigger action should be controllable, the pistol should feature good sights and there should be good support from the manufacturer. The finish and the accessories are less important than reliability and suitability for defensive use.
A pistol that I have fired with a wide variety of ammunition to prove its reliability is now part of my family’s defensive battery. This is the SCCY CPX 2, chambered for the 9mm Luger. I have fired a number of these handguns with good results.
The pistol got off to a rocky start a few years ago. The original CPX featured a manual safety. This safety was often engaged by the firing hand, preventing the handgun from firing during a string of shots. SCCY redesigned the pistol and while the original is still offered with a redesigned safety my personal choice is the CPX 2.
While I usually prefer a manual safety, the SCCY features a true double-action only mechanism with a long trigger press that breaks at just less than nine pounds. There is also a positive firing pin block often referred to as a drop safety. True safety is between the ears, so keep your finger off of the trigger and use a holster that encloses the trigger guard. However, the long trigger action of the CPX 2 is a sufficient safety feature for my use. As the late, and much respected firearms authority Major George C Nonte opinioned, “Simple readiness demands the pistol be ready for action without cocking a hammer racking a slide or any other action.” Many agree as the popularity of the Glock pistol shows us.
As for the pertinent dimensions, the CPX 2 weighs but 15 ounces, stands 4.25 inches tall, has a 3.1-inch barrel and is just over an inch wide. The pistol is a remarkably clean design. It draws quickly from concealed carry. I like the size and weight very much because I carry a light handgun (and sometimes a heavier piece) when hiking, walking and jogging. (When jogging, a good holster and a positive firing pin block are good to have!)
There have been a number of unfortunate incidents in which folks have been attacked and assaulted in what we once thought was the great outdoors. A light reliable handgun is comforting. We do not hike in areas where there are dangerous bears, but the big cats and feral dogs are an ever-present danger. You need only look at the daily paper for a weekly report of attacks by dangerous animals.
Likewise, quite a number of inadequate personality types obtain a large dog and then mistreat the animal until it becomes an extension of their own aberrant personality. I dealt with quite a few during two decades of police work. If you think a .380 ACP is adequate for use against an attacking 75-pound animal we are attending a different church. With proper choice in ammunition and a loading that demonstrates an adequate balance of expansion and penetration, the 9mm Luger is a realistic minimum for personal defense. The CPX 2 gives 10 rounds of that ammunition in the magazine.
The pistol has a snag free profile. The slide lock and magazine release are unobtrusive. Dropping the magazine inadvertently would be a big problem in a defensive situation so the magazine latch design is appreciated. Speed loads are probably not going to be required. The pistol doesn’t feature a polymer frame but rather it is of rugged Zytel. The receiver is actually steel and embedded in the frame—a good system.
The slide is steel. In the case of the two-tone pistol illustrated, the slide is stainless. The slide is properly machined and is pleasantly angled to allow smooth holstering. The slide window, sometimes called the ejection port, is large enough to reliably allow ejection of a loaded round during a clearance drill or administrative handling. The grip frame is well shaped for the average size hand. The frame is stippled in the right places for good adhesion.
There are cut outs at the rear of the frame that give a bit during recoil and alleviate recoil shock. I can neither confirm nor deny this claim, but they do not hurt anything and just may be effective. My hand fits the pistol well with the supplied magazines, which have a finger extension on the base. The SCCY box is appointed with a spare magazine, a trigger lock and two flat-base pads if you prefer a lower profile. Quite possibly purse or pocket carry might be best served with the lower profile magazine base.
Pistols should be supplied with a minimum of two magazines, and not only does SCCY supply the CPX-2 with two magazines, it provides both flat and extended finger-groove magazine base pads. I commend the company for this. For just a few pennies over $300, you are getting your money’s worth with this pistol. It is important that a handgun have good sights and the SCCY features usable sights with the white three-dot outline.
When I began dry fire practice with the CPX 2, I first removed the magazine and triple checked to be certain the pistol was unloaded. The CPX 2 is not a striker fired pistol but features a hammer. The double-action trigger both cocks and drops the hammer, which is a good system for a pistol to be carried close to the body. The double-action press is long and requires a long reset.
The firing pin is the inertial type and there is a firing pin block that retains the firing pin until the trigger is fully pressed. The trigger is smooth enough and with some acclimation, I was able to bring the hammer back, stage a shot and connect at longer ranges. The preferred cadence of fire is to press the trigger and allow about the same time in reset as you do in pressing the trigger. The cadence of fire isn’t set by how quickly you are able to press the trigger but by how quickly you are able to recover the sights after each shot. By firing quickly in double-action pairs, good combat shooting is possible to 7 to 10 yards. By staging the trigger you may connect with a man-sized target at 25 yards.
Prior to the firing evaluation, the pistol was lubricated along the long bearing surfaces. The barrel hood and the bell of the slightly belled barrel were lubricated as well. While modern handguns are often designed for a minimum of lubrication, the CPX 2 features steel-on-steel slide-to-rail contact and lubrication is advisable.
The initial firing tests were uneventful. Dry fire practice paid off. The pistol was fired with inexpensive Black Hills ball ammunition during the evaluation stage. The goal was to quickly present the pistol from concealed carry and drill the target in the center of mass at five to seven yards. This was handily accomplished. Center of mass, remember, isn’t the area between the shoulder blades or any other such ideas fostered by gun writers that have only faced targets of paper on gun ranges.
The center of mass is the center of the target that is presented. If the target isn’t perfectly squared to you, as it is on the gun range, don’t be caught flat-footed. If your target is bladed or angled or only a portion of the target is presented with the rest behind cover, aim for the direct center of the target in order to get a hit.
That being said, much of your practice should involve small targets at known and unknown ranges. When you concentrate upon the sight picture, sight alignment and trigger press recoil isn’t noticed as much. And the SCCY CPX 2 does recoil, the laws of physics demand that a 15-ounce 9mm pistol kicks a bit.
The company doesn’t recommend +P ammunition, and the short barrel probably doesn’t do much to develop the top velocity the +P is noted for. I have fired the pistol with +P loads and the firing was uneventful. There was greater recoil energy and higher slide velocity. A +P load will not blow a gun up, of course, but wear on small parts is accelerated. Frankly, in a pistol this size, in 9mm Luger, a standard pressure load is indicated.
You must be careful to preserve the balance of penetration and expansion—penetration cannot be compromised. A full metal jacketed bullet may simply slip past tissue. Even a bullet with modest expansion will do much more damage if the projectile upsets at all. Shot placement is vital but the ammunition choice is important. At present, the pistol is deployed with the Black Hills 124-grain hollow point. The loading exhibits high quality and good accuracy. Recoil is modest and the load breaks over 1,000 fps 50 from the CPX’s short barrel.
The SCCY was fired for accuracy from a solid benchrest at 15 yards. Forty-five feet is a long distance in personal defense but the pistol was test fired for accuracy at this distance. As of this date, with several hundred rounds fired, there have been no malfunctions attributable to the firearm. A number of shooter errors were addressed with a change in grip style and by keeping the finger away from the slide lock! The usual 25-yard distance for a service pistol test just didn’t seem to make sense for this pistol. The handgun fared well. Overall, the CPX 2 is a credible defensive handgun at a fair price.
This is all we can ask.
Accuracy Results, Two Five-shot Groups, 15 Yards
|Black Hills 115-grain FMJ||3.5 inches|
|Black Hills 124-grain JHP||3.65 inches|
|Wolf Performance Ammunition 124-grain||FMJ 3.8 inches|