By Brad Fitzpatrick
O.F. Mossberg and Sons celebrates 100 years in business in 2019, and to celebrate this achievement, America’s oldest family-owned gun company has launched its first-ever striker-fired semiauto pistol: the MC1sc 9mm pistol (manufacturer item #: 89001). This trim single-stack 9mm features a polymer frame that makes it easy to carry and conceal, and with suggested retail prices starting at $425, it’s affordably priced. And while the MC1sc may look like many of the competing subcompact carry guns in this crowded field, the Mossberg features design elements that set it apart from other single-stack semiauto 9mms on the market.
Mossberg’s decision to release a semiauto pistol may seem like a departure from the company’s history as a long-gun manufacturer, but Oscar Frederick Mossberg’s first commercially successful firearm was actually a pocket pistol. After emigrating from Sweden to the United States in 1886, O.F. Mossberg began working as an engineer at Iver Johnson, Stevens and other firearm manufacturers.
When Mossberg launched his own company in 1919, the first firearm his brand offered for sale was the Brownie, a four-shot .22 pocket gun that employed a rotating firing pin. Intended as a backup pistol for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly trappers, the Brownie was a success because it was inexpensive and reliable.
The Brownie was Mossberg’s introduction to the shooting world. It provided the capital the company needed to expand its firearms catalog and cemented Mossberg’s reputation for offering functional, affordable firearms for American hunters and shooters.
A century after the debut of the Brownie, Mossberg’s mission statement—offering high-quality guns at affordable prices—hasn’t changed. What has changed, however, is the handgun marketplace. Today more than 16 million Americans exercise their right to carry a concealed firearm, and with so many options available, one could think that Mossberg is late to the game. But there will always be room in the market for a durable and functional carry gun that doesn’t cost a lot of money, and that’s an apt description of the new MC1sc. Mossberg may be late, but it’s fashionably late.
In many regards, the MC1sc follows the current trends in carry guns. It’s a single- stack, locked-breech, recoil-operated, striker-fired pistol with a molded polymer frame and a steel slide. Base models come equipped with three-dot white sights that are dovetailed into the 416 stainless steel slide, and front and rear slide serrations simplify operation.
There are also optional upgraded models that offer Truglo tritium night sights or a Viridian laser mounted ahead of the trigger guard. (You can also buy an aftermarket Viridian laser and install it yourself if you decide later you want one. The E series laser sells for $132.) There’s a special Centennial version featuring 24-karat gold accents and titanium nitride and Cerakote finishes on the small parts.
All MC1sc pistols come with DLC (diamond-like carbon) slide and barrel coatings. DLC coatings reduce friction wear and are very hard, so the Mossberg should hold up well to the rigors of daily carry and extended periods of exposure to moisture and perspiration.
The gun’s polymer frame has a slight palm swell and dual textured grip panels that provide a firm hold. The grip also features contoured finger grooves in the front and an angled rear that seats the hand high on the pistol for maximum control. A beavertail at the rear of the grip prevents the slide from accidentally pinching the hand during cycling.
The pistol ships with a flush-fit six-round magazine and an extended seven-rounder. Both magazines are made of a translucent, smoke-gray polymer that allows you to clearly see the rounds within. The magazine spring is topped by a bright orange follower. Additionally, Glock 43 magazines will fit and function in the MC1sc.
Mossberg worked to find the dimensional sweet spot for the MC1sc to make a gun that wasn’t too large to carry yet wasn’t so small that it was unmanageable to shoot. With its 3.4-inch barrel, the Mossberg measures just 6.25 inches in overall length, 4.3 inches in height and right at one inch in width.
Loaded weight is just 22 ounces—22.8 ounces with the Viridian laser unit attached. Weighing 19 ounces unloaded, the Mossberg is slightly lighter than the Taurus G2s (20 ounces) and the Walther PPS M2 (21.2 ounces), but it weighs more than the Glock G43 (18 ounces).
In terms of length, the Mossberg is close to the Walther (6.3 inches), the Glock (6.26 inches) and the Taurus (6.3 inches). With flush-fitting six-round magazines in place, the Mossberg falls just between the Glock (4.25 inches) and the Walther (4.4 inches) in terms of overall height. With the extended seven-round magazine the Mossberg measures 4.8 inches tall, which is within a tenth of an inch of both the Taurus and the Walther with their respective seven-round mags in place.
The MC1sc’s controls include a serrated slide stop on the left side along with a relatively large, reversible magazine release button with a textured top surface. There’s an optional manual safety, but this is one of the features that separates the MC1sc from other polymer-frame single-stack 9mms. Unlike its competitors, the Mossberg’s manual safety is a crossbolt design instead of the more familiar thumb safety you’ll encounter on other gun.
Why a crossbolt safety?
“To be in compliance with some states’ requirements, a manual safety is required,” says Linda Powell, Mossberg’s director of media relations. “We found that a percentage of our customers want the addition of a manual safety. In particular, women seem to prefer the added security of a manual safety combined with the Safe Takedown System.” (More on that system in a second.)
Powell says the crossbolt safety also serves to keep the slide clear and that many shooters feel confident with a crossbolt safety because it’s a feature found on many long guns.
Mossberg equipped the MC1sc with a frame large enough to comfortably accommodate a thumbs-forward grip without interfering with slide operation. A shallow polymer lip surrounds the underside of the slide stop to reduce the odds of inadvertently locking the slide open when firing.
The bladed trigger features a flat front, and my sample had a pull just under the advertised weight of six pounds. I classify Mossberg’s trigger as one of the better offerings in its class because it offers smooth and even take-up and has a relatively clean break.
Trigger reset is short, predictable and positive, allowing for fast and accurate follow-ups. Mossberg’s trigger doesn’t have the sloppy, spongy feel that plagues some other striker-fired guns. The trigger’s pull weight isn’t single-action light, though; it’s heavy enough that those who carry the gun concealed will feel secure.
The Safe Takedown System, or STS, doesn’t require pulling the trigger for disassembly, and it’s an ingenious, simple system that becomes intuitive rather quickly. To begin, remove the magazine, ensure the gun is unloaded, and lock back the slide.
Pressing an indentation at the rear of the slide allows a plate to slide down and permits removal of the striker assembly. With that removed, press the slide lock lever and control the slide as you pull it forward and off the rails, which gives you access to the barrel and recoil spring. The system also makes it quite simple to maintain or replace the firing pin or spring as needed.
The only trick, if you will, is to make sure you’re placing pressure only on the serrated center portion at the rear of the slide. If you’re pushing on the rear of the slide itself and not just the button, the plate will not release and there will be much cussing. But once you learn to press the rear release button—and only the button—disassembly is both safe and simple.
A handful of companies already offer holsters for MC1sc pistols. Mossberg offers Kydex inside-the-waistband/outside-the-waistband holsters that will accommodate the pistol with or without the Viridian laser mounted. DeSantis also has a line of holster products for the Mossberg pistol, including Mini Scabbard and Inside Heat belt holsters and the Nemesis pocket holster, all of which are available for purchase at Mossberg’s website.
The MC1sc is light enough and trim enough that it is easy to carry and conceal. Narrow dimensions and a dehorned profile allow the gun to sit close against the body without printing under light clothing. I didn’t have a MC1sc-specific holster, but the Mossberg fit my Versacarrys IWB Rapid Slide. It’s possible to conceal the MC1sc with the extended magazine under light casual clothing, and with the flush-fit magazine installed, I could conceal the gun under a loose-fitting T-shirt.
The MC1sc rides close to the body, so it isn’t prone to excessive jostling during activity. I carried the pistol daily for more than a week without any issues; I even carried it in the IWB holster while hiking without discomfort. What’s more, the DLC coating stood up well to perspiration and rough handling. And because it’s a low-friction coating, the gun is easy to draw from concealment, without being too slick.
The Mossberg’s grip angle is similar to a 1911 and promotes a high and secure handhold, placing the hand closer to the bore axis to better absorb recoil. The pistol’s palm swell and molded detents are logically positioned, and there’s adequate length of pull, so the average shooter will have room to operate the trigger without having to awkwardly coil the finger into place.
The grip is also large enough that the magazine falls clear of the pistol when the release button is pressed. The MC1sc’s extended seven-round grip is large enough to accommodate the largest hands comfortably. The six-round, flush-fit magazine leaves the last finger floating for shooters with average-size mitts, but the grip design and high hand position make the Mossberg manageable to shoot even with one finger free.
The sights are contoured to prevent snagging and are windage adjustable. The model I tested came equipped with white three-dot sights that function well under most light conditions from full sun to near darkness. I also tested the MC1sc with the Viridian laser sight in place.
The MC1sc is pleasant to shoot and is more manageable than the really ultra-compact single-stack 9mms that want to jump out of the hand with every shot. At 25 yards the pistol produced three-shot groups in the three-inch range, which is perfectly acceptable. With its favorite load, Winchester’s 147-grain Defender, the average group size shrunk below the three-inch mark.
From seven yards offhand I could reliably hit hostage targets when firing the pistol slowly and deliberately. When shooting faster while conducting Mozambique or movement drills, the Mossberg’s short trigger reset and grip design and geometry allowed me to get back on target quickly.
Reliability is a key factor for a carry gun, and no semiauto is a bargain if it doesn’t go bang every time. I suspect some readers will question the reliability of the polymer magazines, but I ran 500 rounds through the gun and its magazines and was impressed. The polymer magazines withstood the test, and also I began to appreciate the transparent design because it immediately allowed me to know how many rounds are on tap without having to peer through tiny port holes on the back side like you do with traditional mags.
There were no failures to eject—thanks in no small part to the gun’s beefy extractor—but in two instances the slide failed to lock back after the last round. Both occurred early during testing.
With so much competition fighting for space in the carry gun market will the Mossberg stand out? I believe so. Over the course of the 500-round test, this gun proved to be reliable, and its dimensions make it an ideal carry gun. The takedown system is different but effective, and it remains to be seen what consumers will decide about the crossbolt safety.
What’s not in question, however, is the fact that this gun is reliable and affordably priced. Reliable and affordable. Those seem like good qualities around which to build a gun company.
Mossberg MC1sc 9mm Pistol Specs (#89001)Type:
6.25/4.3/1.0 in. w/ flush-fit magazineWeight:
polymer frame, DLC-coated 416 stainless slideSights:
dovetail three-dot; windage-adjustable rearTrigger:
5.9 lb. pull (measured)Price:
O.F. Mossberg & Sons, mossberg.com