A powerhouse 9mm built for concealed carry, the STR-9 MC from Stoeger hits all the right notes…and does so at the right price
by Rob Reaser
It is often challenging to parse out the significant differences between many of the striker-fired polymer 9mms on the market today. That is because, generally speaking, so many manufacturers are singing from the same hymnal.
Let’s be honest — most guns in the EDC category offer only slight variations on the same theme. Sure, there will be minor differences in grip geometry, slide profile, trigger feel, and sight design, but nearly every one follows a similar pattern in terms of overall design, overall function, and overall features. The same can be said for long arms on the macro level, too, if you wish to go there, but this condition really shows itself with the polymer-class pistols. A point is reached in the design where there isn’t a whole lot left to fiddle with.
Of course, someone probably thought the same thing about the 1873 Single-Action Army revolver — and look where we are today.
All of that to say, the new Stoeger STR-9 MC micro-compact 9mm is a pureblood member of the conventional striker-fired pistol tribe. You’ll find no big surprises here. And given that its mechanical design sharply reflects GLOCK DNA (as with most striker-fired polymers on the market), you shouldn’t expect any.
So, the question is, “Does the STR-9 MC separate itself from the pack?” To that I would answer, “Absolutely!”
My conclusion is largely subjective and part objective based on a full day of running this mighty mite at a recent Gunsite event and follow-up trigger time at my home range.
I’ll start by giving you my objective conclusion of the STR-9 MC: the gun runs reliably and accurately right out of the box and keeps on going. As I mentioned in our overview article of the STR-9 series from our three-day Gunsite fest, 18 shooters ran this micro-compact on various training drills for at least half a day…with zero malfunctions. That is a lot of rounds downrange with no hiccups. Further, I’ve experienced no malfunctions in the time I’ve been running the gun at home.
It’s a hammer. Swing it and the nail goes down.
For the rest of that second day of drills, we were given the option of continuing with the STR-9 MC or running with the larger STR-9 C compact or the big dog STR-9 S Combat+. Having been impressed with the micro-compact’s comfort, ease of handling, excellent sight picture, and the diminutive 3.29-inch barrel’s accuracy, I decided to stay with the STR-9 MC — even though I was warned that we would be shooting steel at distances far exceeding the typical personal defense encounter.
I wasn’t disappointed.
When I did my part, the STR-9 MC pulled its weight on the distant targets.
To wrap up the day, the instructors set up an elimination-style steel competition. Two competitors squared off on steel silhouettes. The first shooter to draw on the buzzer and make a hit won the round and progressed to the next round at a 10-yard increase in distance. I made it to the 40-yard elimination before my “adversary” put me on the bench. Not bad for a micro-compact with open sights. Like I said, it’s a hammer.
The subjective characteristics of the STR-9 MC is where the gun stands out in the crowded micro-compact field. Too many polymer micros have a short and fat feel to them in my hand. Few hit the comfort zone. The STR-9 MC, though, nails it for me. The grip has a slender feel about it, with flat sides and a modestly contoured backstrap. That “not square but not rounded” grip profile settles nicely and quickly into the firing hand, promoting good hand alignment from the draw through the follow-up shots.
The grip texturing is also perfectly balanced. Unlike most polymer grips that feature a single texturing style, the STR-9 MC takes a tri-texture approach. The backstrap has squared texturing that hints at the GLOCK Gen4 RTF design but is more pronounced and offers slightly more traction (a good thing). The grip sides and memory pads above the trigger guard feature high-density stipling that leans toward skate tape as far as texture goes but isn’t quite as aggressive. The finger grooves along the front strap have a lower-density yet somewhat smoother texturing that proves easy on the fingers while ensuring a solid purchase.
Overall, the texturing blend simply works. It’s aggressive where you need it most but is comfortable for long shooting sessions. Combine that with the slim and subtly square grip profile and you have a micro-compact that falls easily into a comfortable and stable grip — and that goes a long way towards accuracy potential and quick sight alignment.
Speaking of sights, this is another highwater mark of the STR-9 MC for a couple of reasons. For my eyes, the square-notch depth and width of the rear sight blade and the front post dimensions make for quick sight picture acquisition. That’s because there is just the right amount of space on either side of the post to easily align it within the square-notch rear. This is something I often struggle with when shooting pistols with U-notch rear blades or systems that don’t allow enough “air” around the front sight.
Another plus you don’t often find in a micro-compact pistol is adjustability. While the rear sight is secured to the slide with a dovetail joint, the sight can be fine-tuned for your ammunition preference.
One of the options offered with the STR-9 MC is a tritium front sight. The standard front sight features a white dot. The tritium option adds $80 to the package price. For a defensive handgun, I call it money well spent.
If you decide to go with the tritium sight, the gun will also include a slide cut keyed to the Shield RMS/SMS footprint along with three adapter plates that cover most commercially available red dot mounting configurations.
Controls for the STR-9 MC are standard fare if you know your way around a GLOCK. The slide stop lever hugs tight and flat to the frame and is more difficult to drop than the GLOCK. A slight geometry and texture adjustment would be welcome here. The mag release button is well designed, and I had no trouble depressing it without losing my grip during speed reloads. The slide lock lever and slide removal process are straight-up GLOCK-style. With no cartridges in the gun and the mag removed, pull the trigger, move the slide back a skosh, pull down on both sides of the lever, and move the slide off the frame.
Field strip the STR-9 MC and you won’t be lost if this isn’t your first striker-fired handgun. The all-steel dual-captive recoil spring and guide rod assembly is a quality touch and does an excellent job of recoil management for faster target reacquisition. Other than that, no surprises here.
The trigger is certainly in the upper tier as far as micro-compact finger hooks go. The pull isn’t excessively long or short as you move to the wall. On my gun, I found the wall-to-sear-break distance about right (although it could be a tad shorter) with a decidedly sharp sear disengagement that I like. The reset is also relatively short, which comes in handy for fast follow-ups.
You’ll notice the trigger shoe has a flat face with texturing. Some folks favor a rounded shoe, but flat works well in the STR-9 MC. Between the flat trigger shoe and the squarish grip, it’s easy to achieve a straight and clean rearward trigger pull because there is no “rounding” to move your hand off-axis during repeated firing.
When you choose the night sight/optic-ready option, the STR-9 MC (model #31770) comes with three magazines — an 11-round flush plate, 11-round pinky plate, and a 13-round extended plate. For my medium-sized hands, the 11-round mag with the pinky extension works great and I find it to be more comfortable (and concealable) than the extended 13-round mag. My 13-round mag also has a slightly loose fit that I can feel against my palm when presenting the gun. It’s minor, but it is a mental annoyance I don’t care for.
In sum, the STR-9 MC may edge out my other micro-compacts as my EDC preference. That decision will come after more testing, load refinement, and just getting used to the platform, but so far, this pistol has scored an A in every critical category: dependability, ergonomics, and accuracy. And when stowed in CrossBreed’s DropSlide holster, it is also a winner in the concealability department.
With MSRPs ranging from $399 to $479, there is no question that the Stoeger STR-9 MC sits at the head of the class when it comes to the price-to-performance ratio.
Stoeger STR-9 MC Micro-Compact (Specifications)
- Model Tested: 31770
- Chamber: 9mm
- Frame: black synthetic
- Frame Size: micro
- Action: striker-fired
- Slide Finish: nitride-hardened matte black
- Barrel Length: 3.29 in.
- Grip: standard size
- Hand-Dominance: RH
- Magazines Included: 3
- Magazine Capacities: 11+1 (flush and pinky),13+1 (extended)
- Sight: low-profile adjustable rear blade, tritium front post
- Optic Ready: yes (Shield RMS/SMS footprint)
- Overall Length: 6.1 in.
- Weight Unloaded: 18.5 oz.
- MSRP: $479