Modern 9mm Subcompacts: CZ-USA, Glock, Steyr Compete

Tested: CZ-USAs 2075 RAMI B, the Glock 43 Limited Edition ProGlo from TALO, and the Steyr S9-A1. All deserve some consideration by shooters, but we think the Steyr is a Best Buy.

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CZ 2075 RAMI

It goes without saying that compact and subcompact pistols chambered in 9mm Luger are a highly desirable form of personal protection. The 9mm offers acceptable ballistics without harsh recoil, and 9mm pistols from a quality maker are famously reliable. Also, 9mm compact pistols are often based on service-size handguns in the best renditions. The action and spring rates, and making certain slide travel and barrel tilt are compatible with the compact size, is important engineering. When done correctly, compact pistols are as reliable for practical use as any full-size pistol. Accordingly, our readers often ask us for reviews of certain pistols they’ve come across and may want to buy, if testing proves them to be worthwhile. So, this time, we line up a set of reader requests to go head to head at the range.

The first contestant was CZ-USA’s 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger, $530. The RAMI is similar to the original CZ 75 but represents considerable engineering changes to accommodate the short slide and frame. The CZ 75 slide rides in the frame inside the frame rails, a design feature that some feel adds to the pistol’s accuracy. This engineering lowers the bore axis as well, resulting in less muzzle flip compared to most double-action first-shot pistols. A tradeoff is that the slide is sometimes difficult to grasp and rack.

Next up was the Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501, available for $489 from Slickguns.com. TALO is a wholesale buying cooperative that was started in 1965 by fishing and hunting wholesalers in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma. TALO commissions limited editions of firearms from Smith & Wesson, Colt, Glock, Ruger, and North American Arms and distributes them to stocking sporting goods dealers across the US. Shooters who want one of these special editions will need to contact their local dealer and ask him to order the special edition firearm from a TALO wholesaler. TALO firearms are often specially designed products with top-end accessories. An example came in 2006 with the Ruger John Wayne Vaquero. The first edition of 3500 units was featured as an American Rifleman’s Magazine editor’s pick. On this Glock 43, the pistol’s slide is standard save for the sights, which are made by AmeriGlo and feature a brilliant orange post around a white-insert tritium front. The rear sight features a U-notch for rapid target engagement. The rear face of the rear sight is serrated to reduce glare.

RANGE DATA

Black Hills 115-gr. EXPCZ-USA RamiGlock 43 TALO EditionSteyr S9-A1
Average velocity1123 fps1150 fps1138 fps
Muzzle energy321 ft.-lbs.337 ft.-lbs.330 ft.-lbs.
Average group size2.3 in.2.9 in.2.4 in.
Speer 124-gr. Gold Dot +P
Average velocity1150 fps1168 fps1144 fps
Muzzle energy364 ft.-lbs.375 ft.-lbs.334 ft.-lbs.
Average group size2.4 in.3.2 in.2.6 in.
Winchester USA 115-gr. FMJ
Average velocity1077 fps1101 fps1090 fps
Muzzle energy296 ft.-lbs.330 ft.-lbs.303 ft.-lbs.
Average group size2.6 in.3 in.2.8 in.
Notes: Average velocity readings were recorded by firing five-shot strings over a Competition Electronics Pro Chrono. The muzzle was 10 feet from the first skyscreen. Ambient temperature: 45 degrees. Elevation: 815 feet above sea level. The accuracy figures are the average of three five-shot groups. For accuracy, we fired the test gun from a benchrest at a 15-yard target.
Ammunition sources: Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain EXP Jacketed Hollow Point (MidwayUSA.com, $14.57/20); Speer 124-grain Gold Dot Short Barrel Hollow Point +P 23611 (MidwayUSA.com, $23/20); Winchester USA 115-grain brass-jacketed lead core FMJs (Cabelas.com, $36/150).

The Steyr S9-A1

The Steyr S9-A1 9mm Luger, $483 at BudsGunShop.com, isn’t particularly more difficult to conceal then the RAMI, but it is not a pocket gun as the Glock 43 is. The Steyr S9A1 is a double-action-only handgun with a trigger action more Glock like than anything. The Steyr barely came in as the least expensive pistol tested. This is the largest pistol tested, but it is lighter than the RAMI due to the Steyr’s polymer frame. More effort is needed to cock this pistol due to a combination of the slide design and a heavy recoil spring.

In accuracy testing from the bench at 15 yards, we used three loads. The Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P Short Barrel hollowpoint load cost us $23/20 rounds at MidwayUSA.com. The Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain EXP ran us $14.57/20 rounds, also from MidwayUSA.com, and Winchester’s 115-grain USA Forged steel shellcase FMJs came to us from Cabelas.com (prior to the buyout by Bass Pro) and cost $36 for 150 rounds. Following is how the pistols fired those rounds, along with comments by our hands-on testers.

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger, $530

GUN TESTS GRADE: B

 the CZ 2075 RAMI

The CZ RAMI is a reliable and accurate pistol. Like many handguns with a single-action trigger, the pistol is combat accurate. The double-action first shot feature is useful at moderate range. The pistol isn’t difficult to use with the short grip, but it is even easier to use well with the extended 14-shot magazine. Most shooters will prefer a more modern handgun with a decocker lever, and one is available.

ACTIONLocked breech DA/SA semi-auto
OVERALL LENGTH6.5 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT4.75 in.
MAX WIDTH1.3 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED26 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED32 oz.
BARREL LENGTH3 in.
BARRELSteel
MAGAZINE10-rd. double stack; 14-rd. double stack
SLIDEBlue steel
FRAMEBlack polycoat 7075 T6 aluminum alloy
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT1.8 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT2.75 in.
GRIPSRubber
GRIP THICKNESS (max)1.25 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)5.5 in.
SIGHTSFixed
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT SINGLE ACTION4.5 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN SINGLE ACTION2.6 in.
SAFETYManual safety; safety stop on hammer; firing pin block
WARRANTY5-year limited on internal parts; 1-year wood and finish
WEBSITECZ-USA.com
TELEPHONE(800) 955-4486

 and the Glock 43

The 2075 RAMI B lists at $614, but had a retail price of $530 at TombstoneTactical.com and $551 at DamascusGunShop.com. However, most stores seem to be out of stock, so you may have to contact CZ-USA to find a dealer who has one.

The RAMI is a double-action-first-shot pistol. After the initial long trigger press, the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action fire. The pistol is what is known as a selective double action pistol. The manual safety may be applied only when the hammer is cocked. While this allows cocked and locked carry, the purpose of the safety, we believe, is to allow the pistol to be moved to a safe position during tactical movement after the first shot is fired. The selective-double-action pistol demands that the hammer be carefully lowered as the trigger is pressed. While some prefer the selective-double-action-firing mode, CZ also offers a decocker version (BD) that operates with a frame-mounted decocker. There is no question that handling is easier with the decocker version.

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger

The frame is anodized aluminum. The magazine release is a flat design that is easily manipulated and which locks the magazine in a positive manner. The front strap is lightly stippled. The rear strap features tall striations. Coupled with the checkered rubber grips, the pistol’s surface offers good adhesion when firing. A feature we appreciate is an indentation on the left side of the frame to shield the slide lock and manual safety. It is common for shooters firing light pistols to allow the support-hand thumb to find its way into these controls. The RAMI engineers wisely chose to shield these controls. (The decocker version does not have this scalloped section in the frame.)

The pistol is supplied with a 10-round and a 14-round magazine. The 14-round magazine is supplied with a sleeve that neatly fits over the magazine and gives an excellent feel to the pistol. Firing characteristics were gauged with the compact 10-round magazine in place for fairness to the other pistols. As an example, with the 14-round magazine, the pistol grip felt as good as the Steyr’s, but with the short magazine, the pistol was much easier to conceal. So, combat firing and accuracy testing were done with the short magazine in place. We will also comment on the larger mag.

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger

During the combat evaluation, we fired 80 rounds of ammunition in each handgun. We used a handload using the Montana Gold 124-grain JHP and enough Titegroup powder for a 1060-fps average from the three pistols. Firing at 5, 7, and 10 yards, we drew from a Barber Leatherworks Chameleon belt slide and found the RAMI pistol comes on target quickly. The double-action trigger was smooth and good hits were registered out to 7 yards. More effort was required to achieve consistent hits in the DA mode at 10 yards. You have to slow down to get hits with the double-action trigger at this range, our shooters said. The pistol allows only two fingers to be held on the grip strap. One of our raters managed to crunch his average-size hands onto the frame, but the rest of us had a small finger dangling.

Once the transition to single-action fire was made, the CZ RAMI gave the best combat groups of any of the pistols tested. As long as the shooter properly grasped the pistol, the groups were centered. The combination of a crisp single-action trigger press and good sights gave good results. The double-action trigger breaks at about 12 pounds, while the single-action trigger break measured a clean 4.5 pounds.

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger

The pistol never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The CZ RAMI was the most accurate handgun tested. The best group of the day was a 2.3-inch effort with the Black Hills 115-grain EXP load. The sights are high-visibility units with three-dot inserts. These sights are easily acquired in rapid shooting and rated the best of the three pistols for accurate fire. The front sight is solidly dovetailed in place. The rear sight may be adjusted for windage after loosening a set screw.

Our Team Said: The CZ RAMI offers excellent combat ability and concealment. The feel of the pistol is robust. This is the heaviest pistol tested and was the most comfortable to fire, although the Steyr was very close in comfort. However, the pistol should have a decocker for most shooters. We also did not like the short grip.

Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501 9mm Luger, $489

GUN TESTS GRADE: B

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger

The best thing about the Glock, past the baseline reliability, was the addition of AmeriGlo sights for combat shooting, but accuracy was less than stock Glock sights. The pistol is a good one for deep concealment.

ACTIONDouble action only
OVERALL LENGTH6.25 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT4.25 in.
MAX WIDTH1.2 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED18 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED22.5 oz.
BARREL LENGTH3.4 in.
BARRELSteel
MAGAZINE6-rd. detachable box
SLIDESteel
FRAMEPolymer
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT2 to 2.25 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT2.6 in.
GRIPSN/A
GRIP THICKNESS (max)0.9 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)5.25 in.
FRONT SIGHTGreen tritium lamp inside orange outline
REAR SIGHTAlloy steel, nitride finish, round U notch, serrated
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT SINGLE ACTION5.6 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN SINGLE ACTION2.55 in.
SAFETYNo manual safety
WARRANTY1 year
WEBSITETaloInc.com

CZ-USA 2075 RAMI B 91750 9mm Luger

Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501 9mm Luger

The Glock 43 is a single-column-magazine pistol. It is considerably smaller than the other handguns and the lightest pistol tested. We wished to see how much performance is given up by going to a subcompact. As it turns out quite a bit, but then you may slip the Glock into your front pocket. The cocking serrations make racking the slide easy enough with this pistol. The frame is standard textured Glock 43. The pistol is supplied with two six-round magazines. The magazine catch is flat and easily manipulated with speed. The slide lock is protected by a raised portion on the frame. One magazine features a finger rest, while the other rides flat. The finger rest was appreciated. The Glock 43’s double-action-only trigger broke at 5.6 pounds. The grip cross-section is thin, and this resulted in the greatest felt recoil, although not uncomfortable. Muzzle flip degraded combat scoring. During combat drills, the pistol was fast on target as a result of the big-dot front sight and wide-notch rear sight. Repeatable accuracy was less impressive, however. Still the first two or three shots in a gunfight may be the most important. In our August 2015 test of the regular Glock 43, the sights were standard Glock, with a white outline rear and white dot forward. They proved adequate for combat firing and reasonably good for accuracy work at 15 yards and were properly regulated for 115-grain loads at 15 yards. The Glock did not come with additional front-sight posts. The pistol fired low with the 95-grain loads, but slightly high with 124-grain loads.

Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501 9mm Luger

Recoil is heavier than the other pistols and the combat groups were not on a par with the two other handguns. In accuracy testing off the bench, recoil was more noticeable, approaching uncomfortable with the +P load. The best group of the day with the Glock was a 2.3-inch effort with the Speer Gold Dot load, which had the heaviest recoil.

Our Team Said: The best thing about this pistol is the sights. They are good combat sights that offer real speed. The pistol is completely reliable. However, down and dirty accuracy was inferior to the heavier pistols and benchrest accuracy as well compared to the other pistols in this test and an original G43.

Steyr S9-A1 9mm Luger, $483

GUN TESTS GRADE: A (Best Buy)

Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501 9mm Luger

When working with this handgun, we had to keep reminding ourselves that this was the least expensive of the three pistols tested. Performance was good by any standard. The trapezoidal sights, however, take some getting used to, whether regarded as good or bad.

ACTIONDouble action only
OVERALL LENGTH6.5 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT4.8 in.
MAX WIDTH1.3 in.
WEIGHT UNLOADED27 oz.
WEIGHT LOADED33 oz.
BARREL LENGTH3.6 in.
BARRELSteel
CAPACITY10+1
SLIDESteel
FRAMEPolymer
FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT2.25 in.
FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT2.75 in.
GRIP FRAMEPolymer
GRIP THICKNESS (max)1.25 in.
GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)5.65 in.
SIGHTSFixed trapezoidal
TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT SINGLE ACTION5 lbs.
TRIGGER SPAN SINGLE ACTION2.6 in.
SAFETYManual safety (for storage)
WARRANTY1 year
WEBSITESteyrArms.com
TELEPHONE(205) 417-8644

Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501 9mm Luger

The Steyr has a racy look that the raters liked. The pistol is supplied with two identical 10-round magazines. The Steyr slide has well-designed cocking serrations. The slide rides comparatively low in the frame. The slide features cocking serrations that are proportionately larger than the other handguns. The frame features modest finger grooves. The slide and the magazine release are well designed and offered positive manipulation. A combination of a stippled front and rear strap and pebbled grip area gave good adhesion in all firing conditions. Indentations on either side of the grip frame allow for a shorter trigger reach.

Steyr S9-A1 9mm Luger

The firing grip is excellent. The double-action-only trigger breaks at a clean 5.0 pounds. Even the Glock and CZ fans among the raters had to admit that the Steyr grip was the most comfortable tested.

The primary concern with the pistol is the trapezoidal design sights. These sights are a unique design. The front post is centered between an inverted rear sight that encloses the front sight and supposedly affords a superior sighting plane. It is true that there is some difficulty in acclimating to a new system, but our raters did not like these sights. The most experienced raters felt that it was difficult to judge precise vertical impact location. Whether geometrically advanced or not, considerable time and effort would be needed to learn to use these sights to the best advantage.

Steyr S9-A1 9mm Luger

Just the same, during the combat firing stage, the Steyr held its own with the CZ RAMI. The RAMI may have turned in slightly better combat results, but this is more difficult to rate than absolute accuracy. The impression was that the Steyr shooter took more time for the same results. Nevertheless, the pistol offers excellent control and combat accuracy. Reliability is faultless. The Steyr was the least tiring pistol to fire for extended periods. Since only one type of magazine was supplied, there was no need to decide which magazine to use for concealed carry.

Steyr S9-A1 9mm Luger

In firing off the benchrest for accuracy some raters did better than others with the trapezoid sights. In the end the Steyr was more accurate than the Glock but did not equal the benchrest groups of the CZ RAMI. Accuracy was acceptable for most uses, however. The pistol has a rather bulbous dust cover, but this dust cover houses a light rail.

Our Team Said: When all the features are added up, it came down to the Steyr or the RAMI. Each is reliable. The combat shooting was equal. Bench-rest accuracy was comparable, but the RAMI had an edge. The Steyr, however, is the more modern pistol and features a light rail. However, some of the raters wanted to rate the piece down a half grade based on the sights. The majority ruled, so the top grade stuck. The Steyr is a Grade: A handgun and a Best Buy.

Written and photographed by R.K. Campbell, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.

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