We recently tested four new or newish 9mm polymer-frame pistols that use mostly proven designs and come in at affordable prices. The first member of our new group is the Savage Stance, $408; followed by the SCCY-DVG-1, $255, a new optics-ready model that we covered on the Gun Tests YouTube page in January 2022; the very new Mossberg MC2c, $380; and the latest introduction, a SAR USA SAR9 Compact X, $631, which was announced in April 2022. How well do these affordable pistols work in an everyday-carry environment? Well, when we shot them head to head, we found some were more accurate than others, and even more important, some were more dependable.
Your eyes do not deceive you about the maker of the first pistol, the Savage Stance. Savage! Savage, you say! What does Savage, the maker of great rifles for more than 100 years know about pistols? Quite a lot, actually. Savage was one of the two finalists in the military trials that eventually accepted the Colt 1911 submission as the winner. A scaled-down version of that pistol was produced from 1907 until 1920. It featured a 10-round double-stack magazine almost 30 years before the famous Browning Hi-Power. Now, a mere century later, Savage is back in the pocket-handgun market with a fascinating entry.
SCCY (pronounced sky, as best we can determine) is out of Florida, and the company has a reputation for producing relatively simple, affordable, and effective firearms. We tried out their new optics-ready DVG-1 model to find out for ourselves. The DVG-1 departs from previous models in that it is striker fired, where previous versions were hammer fired. The required changes in leverage and springs can increase the effort needed to retract the slide, but ours did not show that to be a material factor. The other three pistols in this test averaged in the sub 19-pound category where the SCCY required 20.3 pounds of muscle to retract the slide. We did not feel the 7% increase was noticeable.
Next is Mossberg’s MC2c, a modern 9mm semi-auto with a 14-round magazine, which is a great compromise for most small or big hands. It is very similar in size to a Glock 48. There are many very good reasons why different firearms are shaped differently, primarily because people are as well. About the only assumption that can be made on the potential user of a new firearm is that five out of six will be right-handed. For example, one member of this group of testers has long, slim fingers. The rest of us tend to have bigger hands and shorter digits. That means that pistols of a size that work well for him don’t necessarily work for us at all. The Mossberg MC2c handgun seeks to strike a balance that most users will like.
SAR USA is the exclusive U.S. importer for all firearms and ammunition products produced by Sarsilmaz Silah Sanayi of Istanbul, Turkey. Sarsilmaz is one of the oldest firearms manufacturers in the world, being founded in 1880. It would appear that the “X” in the SAR USA SAR9 Compact X name stands for “extras.” Our sample included a nice hard case along with an inexpensive, but functional, mag pouch and holster. The package included a second 15-round magazine with weighted base pad perfect for those of us still practicing El Presidente–type reloads. Also included was a nice, Picatinny rail-mounted LED light. But intentionally, apparently, SAR did not include the battery. Curious. All told, a very nice collection of gear.
How We Tested
We shot the pistols at American Shooting Centers in Houston, firing accuracy groups at 15 yards. We posted multiple five-shot groups from a well-sandbagged Caldwell Pistolero shooting rest, assisted by a Mini DRC Fortune Cookie from Wiebad.com. We obtained velocities in one session using a LabRadar chronograph.
We tested using three different types of ammunition. First was 115-grain Remington Range ammo, along with Winchester White Box 115-grain FMJs. We also tried our standard match reload in the form of 147-grain FMJ bullets from Precision Delta, powered by Hodgdon Tite Group powder and CCI small pistol primers. On a pistol-by-pistol basis, here’s what we learned during our testing:
Gun Tests Grade: C
Beyond this model’s optics cut and striker mechanism mentioned above, SCCY has made a number of other changes as well. The steel slide now sports curved grasping grooves at the front and the rear. The top of the slide is flat and has already been milled for a Shield-style red dot. A cover plate is included. The fixed front sight has a single white dot, and the rear has a pair of them. We are told the DVG-1 uses sights of a pattern similar to the Glock 43, which we think is a great move on SCCY’s part. The slide is marked “Roebuck Quad-lock,” referring to SCCY’s founder, Joe Roebuck, and the way the barrel locks up at four different points, with an aim for superior accuracy. Our SCCY came in third place out of four pistols, averaging less than 3 inches per five-shot group on the 15-yard targets.
|Overall Length||6.1 in.|
|Overall Height||4.5 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.27 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||0.9 lbs.|
|Weight Loaded||1.36 lbs.|
|Slide Material||Stainless steel|
|Slide Retraction Effort||20.3 lbs.|
|Front Strap Height||1.75 in.|
|Back Strap Height||2.5 in.|
|Barrel Length||3.1 in.|
|Grip Thickness (Maximum)||1.11 in.|
|Grip Circumference||5.5 in.|
|Rear Sight||2 Dot, drift adjustable, Glock 43 pattern|
|Front Sight||1 Dot fixed|
|Sight Radius||4.6 in.|
|Trigger Pull Weight||4.8 lbs.|
|Trigger Span||2.9 in.|
SCCY slimmed down the grips versus previous models, making them a bit easier to conceal. Panels are lightly stippled on the sides and the rear. The once-polymer trigger is now steel, flat, and releases at a point further to the rear, thus making the trigger span shorter and more attractive to smaller hands. The trigger required very little takeup, but then forced a good bit of movement before release was achieved. Still, it was a consistent, predictable pull and offered no hindrance to our shooting. The magazine release is left side only. We felt the feed lips of the magazine hit the mag release a number of times and would recommend SCCY bevel the base of the release, making insertion smoother.
Take down is a bit different in that the slide stop does not push out from the right side, but, is, instead, pried out from the left side. Locking the slide to the rear lines up the slide stop with the appropriate notch. Insert the rim of a fired case or the blade of a small screwdriver into the notch in the pin and remove to the left. Ease the slide off the rails, and you are done.
All other things being equal, the lightest pistol in the test should recoil more, and the SCCY, being at least 20% lighter than the others, did noticeably, but not distractingly so. Early on, we had several failures to extract, with the empty case not completely exiting the chamber. We experienced a total of five of these malfunctions but they seemed to be smoothing out as we shot more rounds through the pistol. This is not uncommon, and we strongly recommend shooters use their carry ammo to test-fire any firearm they are going to carry extensively before deciding to pack that particular piece.
Our Team Said: The last 10 shots functioned perfectly, as fast as we could shoot them, leading us to believe our SCCY sample might have just needed more break in.
9mm Luger Range DataTesting was done at American Shooting Centers in Houston. Muzzle velocities were determined via a LabRadar chronograph. All shots for group were done from a well-sandbagged Caldwell Pistol Rest from MidwayUSA and aided by a mini-DRC Fortune Cookie bag from Wiebad. Averages were taken for 5-shot groups shot at 15 yards.
|Remington 115-grain FMJ||Savage Stance||SCCY DVG-1||Mossberg MC2c||SAR USA 9CX|
|Average Velocity||1056 fps||1063 fps||1123 fps||1131 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||285 ft.-lbs.||289 ft.-lbs.||322 ft.-lbs.||327 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||4.10 in.||3.07 in.||2.43 in.||2.06 in.|
|Best Group||4.07 in.||1.82 in.||1.93 in.||1.81 in.|
|Winchester 115-grain FMJ||Savage Stance||SCCY DVG-1||Mossberg MC2c||SAR USA 9CX|
|Average Velocity||1083 fps||1090 fps||1157 fps||1140 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||300 ft.-lbs.||304 ft.-lbs.||342 ft.-lbs.||322 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||4.56 in.||2.70 in.||3.06 in.||2.00 in.|
|Best Group||3.35 in.||1.93 in.||2.59 in.||1.72 in.|
|Precision Delta||Savage||SCCY||Mossberg||SAR USA|
|Average Velocity||852 fps||856 fps||889 fps||899 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||237 ft.-lbs.||239 ft.-lbs.||258 ft.-lbs.||264 ft.-lbs.|
|Average Group||2.62 in.||2.96 in.||2.59 in.||2.58 in.|
|Best Group||2.12 in.||2.28 in.||2.44 in.||2.44 in.|
Drill Data (5x5x5)Process: Fire five shots from low ready at a 5-inch circle placed at 5 yards. Numbers are averages for two repetitions.
|Pistol||Time to First Shot (seconds)||Split Average (seconds)||Total Time (seconds)|
Drill Data (5x8)Process: Fire five shots from low ready at a 6-inch by 11-inch A Zone placed at 8 yards. Numbers are averages for three repetitions.
|Pistol||Time to First Shot (seconds)||Split Average (seconds)||Total Time (seconds)|
Value Guide: Smaller 9mm Luger Handgun Rankings
|Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ M2.0 12436 9mm Luger, $499||2022-07-01 00:00:00||A||Our Pick. We liked the way this pistol handles and operates. Racking the slide is easy enough.|
|Kahr K9 K9093A 9mm Luger, $750||Mar. 2022||A||An excellent option for EDC. Metal frame mitigates recoil for faster follow-ups. The grip angle is comfortable.|
|SIG Sauer P365 365-9-BXR3 9mm Luger, $599||Dec. 2021||A||Our Pick. Small enough to fit in a pants pocket. Carries 10+1 rounds of 9mm. Felt recoil is less than with a 38.|
|Ruger MAX-9 No. 3500 9mm Luger, $544||Sep. 2021||A||Our Pick. This is a sophisticated pistol. No fault with the magazines, capacity, or general accuracy.|
|Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus 13246 9mm Luger, $553||Sep. 2021||A||A step up from the previously tested 9mm Shield. The new pistol has an improved trigger and greater capacity.|
|Taurus GX4 1-GX4M931 9mm Luger, $398||Sep. 2021||A-||Best Buy. The Taurus is the most compact, and the Taurus is the only pistol with a changeable backstrap.|
|Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ 12437 9mm Luger, $479||Feb. 2021||A-||The Shield EZ9 was easy to manipulate and soft to shoot, but the sights needed to be calibrated better.|
|KelTec PF9 Blued-Black 9mm Luger, $358||Feb. 2021||B+||An inexpensive pistol that functioned flawlessly. It reminded us of a good 38 Special snubbie.|
|Taurus G3C 1-G3C931 9mm Luger, $306||Feb. 2021||B+||Best Buy. The Taurus G3C pistol is an inexpensive offering that functioned flawlessly and shot well.|
|Springfield Armory Hellcat HC9319BOSP 9mm Luger, $550||Mar. 2020||A||Our Pick. An 11+1 pistol, this small Springfield might be the most versatile pistol in the group.|
|Walther PPS M2 2805961 9mm Luger, $649||Mar. 2020||A||Best Buy. A smaller pistol with grips that will not abrade tender hands.|
|Ruger Security-9 Compact Model 3818 9mm Luger, $309||Feb. 2020||B||The pistol is adequate for the task of self defense and will not break the bank.|
|SIG P365 Nitron Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $465||Feb. 2020||B||The SIG costs more than the Ruger Security-9 without overwhelming advantages.|
|Springfield Hellcat Micro-Compact 9mm Luger, $500||Jan. 2020||F/A||Hellcat #1 failed when the trigger wouldn’t reset (F). Hellcat #2 worked perfectly (A). Best accuracy.|
|Glock 43X Ameriglo Night Sights PX435SL301AB 9mm Luger, $542||Jul. 2019||A||Our Pick. Firing grip is superior to the G43 and allows better shooting with little compromise.|
|Mossberg MC1sc 890019mm Luger, $365||Jul. 2019||A-||Best Buy. The Mossberg 9mm gave up little to the Glock designs. Reliability was never a question.|
|Taurus G2S 1-G2S931 9mm Luger, $204||Nov. 2018||A||Best Buy. The Taurus pistol was reliable and controllable in rapid fire.|
|Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield SW180021BW 9mm Luger, $400||Nov. 2018||A||The Battleworn Shield is reliable, accurate enough, and compact enough for EDC.|
|Bersa BP9MCC 9mm Luger, $295||Nov. 2018||A-||Reliable, feels good in the hand, and offers excellent handling in fast-paced drills.|
|Honor Defense Honor Guard HG9SCF FIST 9mm Luger, $400||Nov. 2018||A-||The FIST option is viable. We tested it against barricades with excellent results.|
|Ruger EC9s 3283 9mm Luger, $231||Nov. 2018||B-||Most accurate handgun of the test, despite its light weight.|