March 2017

Forward-Mounted-Mag 9mm Pistols from SIG, Zenith, & CZ

Are these worth the investment, or are they just super-sized semi-autos? The Zenith was the softest shooting, while the SIG was refined. The CZ competed well at a fraction of the cost.

Forward-Mounted-Mag 9mm Pistols from SIG, Zenith, & CZ

The three super-sized pistols tested included the Zenith Firearms MKE Z-5RS with SB Brace (top), the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 (middle), and the SIG Sauer MPX-PSB (bottom). The Zenith and SIG came with braces, while the CZ did not, but one could be purchased separately. All three proved to have good accuracy and reliability and are positioned as defensive firearms. In our opinion, these pistols offer a lot of shooting fun and could be used for self defense, filling a gap between a rifle/carbine and handgun. We preferred the Zenith, though the SIG and CZ performed well. Because the costs ranged from $849 to $2050, the question a potential buyer needs to answer is, “Do I want a novel home-defense firearm?” We are skeptical that many will choose these products for that use, but your mileage may vary.

In the October 2016 issue, we tested three high-capacity 9mm Luger pistols and found them somewhat lacking in defensive scenarios, though we did enjoy shooting one, the MPA Defender, which was sized more like a regular pistol than the carbine-like SIG MPX and which functioned better than an Uzi Mini Pro. But there are an increasing number of pistols that, save for a couple of features, function more like Short-Barreled Rifles (SBRs), which are controlled by much more stringent regulations under the National Firearms Act and are vastly more expensive and hard to get. The SIG MPX-PSB, for example, is similar to the unit we tested last October except it comes with a Stabilizing Brace, thus the “SB” in the name, compared to the “P” designation we initially tested.

This round, we found products more alike in size to the SIG Sauer MPX-PSB, namely, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 and the Zenith Firearms MKE Z-5RS with SB Brace. The Zenith and SIG came with a stabilizing brace, while the CZ did not, but it could be purchased separately. The SIG, CZ, and Zenith are tactical looking firearms because they all have a military ancestry that is especially noticeable due to the magazine mounted in front of the trigger guard and not in the grip. The three pistols tested are all semi-automatic, require two hands to shoot with any degree of accuracy, use high-round-capacity magazines compared to typical full-size handguns, and have the ability to be fired with a stabilizing brace. These pistols also represent three different operating mechanisms: the SIG uses a short push-rod gas system; the CZ a simple blowback system, and the Zenith a delayed roller-block mechanism. During firing, we noticed big differences in the mechanisms in both manual operation and cycling when fired, which we will get into. The ergonomics and controls differed as well, yet we found our ramp-up time transitioning between handguns to be short.

Initially, there is an awkwardness shooting these pistols because they feel like an SBR yet have no stock for a steady aim, and they are too heavy to fire in a Weaver, Isosceles, or hybrid stance with a two-hand hold like a typical handgun. We believe adequate range time and proper training is needed to master these pistols.

Most important, we wondered if, out of the box, these similar, yet different, pistols would work as home-defense choices. In our opinion, the upside of these three pistols is that they offer high magazine capacities, decent accuracy, and a lot of shooting fun. Yes, these pistols can make empty brass very quickly. On the downside is cost. Yes, you can purchase a lot less gun for a lot less money and achieve the same self-defense goal as what this trio delivers, we believe. Still, we looked forward to seeing what each firearm could do at the range.

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