August 19, 2022
Massachusetts-based Savage Arms is a well-known and respected player in the rifle world, but some handgunners may not be intimately familiar with the brand. After all, Savage Arms had not released a new handgun since well before World War II. That changed earlier this year when Savage announced the Stance, a micro-compact, striker-fired, polymer-frame handgun designed with concealed carry and personal defense in mind.
This handgun combines many of the features that consumers have come to expect on a carry gun but with characteristic Savage Arms value. Though Savage Arms isn’t a brand often associated with concealed carry, the company was actually an innovator in the development of compact and conceal- able handguns. The Savage Model 1907, which was a compact and relatively lightweight pistol, was released more than a century ago. More than 100,000 of these handguns were produced and sold. A .45 ACP version of the pistol even appeared during the military trials at the turn of the 20th century that led to the adoption of the Colt 1911. The 1907 even made a cameo appearance in the 2002 Tom Hanks gangster film Road to Perdition.
Now, 94 years after production of the Model 1907 ceased, Savage reentered the handgun market with the release of the new Stance. The Stance incorporates many modern design elements, including a machined stainless-steel slide, chassis-style polymer frame/grip and striker-fired operation. Its size and features put it in the immensely popular micro-compact 9mm category alongside handguns such as the Springfield Armory Hellcat and the Taurus GX4. The Stance is available in several variants: with or without a manual safety; with various sight options; and in black, gray and flat dark earth frames. I chose the FDE model with a manual safety and TruGlo night sights as the test sample.
Overall length is 6.2 inches, and the width is a very concealable 0.96 inch. At 22 ounces, the Stance is roughly four ounces heavier than the average micro-compact handgun. The benefit is less felt recoil. In terms of portability, I doubt that four ounces is going to be a game-changer for anyone. The controls on the Stance, which include the manual safety, slide stop and magazine release are fully ambidextrous. This is somewhat rare in the micro-com- pact category of handguns, making the Stance a strong contender for left-handed shooters.
The manual safety lever is small, but I didn’t have any trouble disengaging it during our testing. I’m pretty neutral on manual safeties anyway: I can live with or without them. As a guy who grew up shooting 1911s and Browning Hi-Powers, sweeping off the safety as part of the draw/shoot cycle does not require much in the way of conscious thought for me. Those raised on striker-fired handguns may feel otherwise. Whether you desire such a safety on a concealed-carry handgun is very much a personal decision, and fortunately, Savage gives buyers that option. There is no upcharge for the manual safety model.
The barrel is stainless steel and measures 3.2 inches. The barrel is integrally ramped, and the chamber is fully supported. The bore has traditional lands and grooves, so lead bullets can be used in the Stance—unlike handguns with polygonal rifling. There is a locking lug on the foot of the barrel as well as one at the hood, which also doubles as a visual loaded chamber indicator thanks to a small radius where the hood meets the slide.
A dual recoil-spring arrangement does a nice job of taming muzzle rise, but it does come at a price. More on that later. Concealing a handgun close to the body exposes metal surfaces to plenty of moisture. The Stance’s slide is treated with black nitride, which is a very hard and corrosion-resistant finish. Nitride is a surface treatment rather than a true finish, meaning that it won’t flake off with hard use. With stainless steel underneath the nitriding, rust shouldn’t be much of an issue even in humid environments. Cocking serrations are milled into the slide, both front and rear, and the front serrations do double-duty as vent holes that show off the stainless steel barrel underneath. The extractor is slide-mounted with a coil spring underneath.
The ejector is fixed as part of the frame/ chassis assembly. The trigger on my test sample broke repeatedly right at the seven-pound mark. It actually felt more like five. There was a creepy spot roughly halfway through the trigger pull. Though I don’t believe this was intentional, it gave the trigger an almost two-stage feel. When performing the benchrest testing on the Stance, I was able to stack the trigger at this position before its final break with good results. The trigger pull is not a bragging point, but I don’t believe it had much of an effect on my ability to shoot the Stance to its potential. As with most striker-fired handguns, the trigger pull is effectively double-action-only and is consistent from shot to shot. The trigger reset length is about average, and there is no restrike capability.
As I mentioned, I chose the variant that comes from the factory with TruGlo night sights, which are a $69 upgrade over the lowest-priced models. The sights are made from steel, and the front blade is secured to the slide using a hex screw that threads in from below. The rear sits in a dovetail and uses a small setscrew to lock in any necessary drift adjustments for windage. The sights themselves are a three-dot system. The front sight uses a green ring surrounding a tritium lamp to differentiate it from the rear dots. They use a white outline surrounding green tritium inserts. Both the front and rear dots are highly visible day or night. The rear sight notch is U-shaped, and the rear of the sight is serrated. Overall, I would rate these sights as excellent.
Since the Stance uses a serial-numbered stainless steel chassis, the glass-filled nylon grip module is not a true frame. This means that different color grip modules are user-interchangeable and after-market “frames” are a possibility. The grip is slim and comfortable, and the molded stippling provides plenty of grip without being too abrasive. I like that the stippled surfaces run well forward on the frame, allowing a solid resting place for the weak-hand thumb.
My hands are about average in size, and using a high grip, I was just able to get all of my fingers onto the frame with either the flush-fit or extended magazine. As of now, none of the Stance models offer an accessory rail, although a factory-installed Viridian E-Series red laser is an option. Two single-stack magazines are included with the Stance. One holds seven rounds and the other eight. The seven-rounder fits flush with the bottom of the grip frame and is therefore more concealable. The eight-round magazine has an extended base pad that allows for a full-fisted grip on the handgun for those with large hands. Both magazines are steel with polymer followers and base pads. Frankly, the single-stack configuration of the magazine puts it at a disadvantage compared to similarly sized handguns that offer greater capacity. On the other hand, it allows for a slim grip, which is an aid to concealment and a real benefit for those with smaller hands.
The Stance is simple to use and operate. This is a good thing since, unfortunately, many non-enthusiasts who buy handguns for self-defense do not train or practice with them nearly as often as they should. Accuracy was about average for a handgun of this size and price. Hornady’s 115-grain XTP load was the most accurate, which is something I encounter quite often when evaluating handguns. Despite its compact size, the Stance was very shootable. Reliability was 100 percent with two different full-power defensive loads: Federal Premium’s Punch 124-grain JHP and Hornady’s American Gunner 115-grain XTP. I did experience consistent reliability problems when using the Fiocchi Training Dynamics 124-grain load. This ammunition is on the lighter side, with an average velocity of just 860 fps out of this gun. I had repeated stovepipe stoppages with this ammunition, which was no doubt due to its lack of power.
The variety of 9mm ammunition on the market varies tremendously, with factory bullet weights ranging from 64 to 150 grains. It’s asking a lot of a handgun to digest such a wide variety of ammunition reliably. This is an even greater challenge for subcompacts since the entire mechanism must be condensed into a smaller footprint. The Stance is a handgun designed for self-defense, engineered with full-power loads in mind. The heavy recoil spring that dampens the recoil of those loads also makes it incompatible with some of the milder ammunition on the shelf. There are no free lunches.
To disassemble the Stance, remove the magazine and lock the slide to the rear. The takedown lever is swung downward, which allows the slide assembly to come forward and off the frame. There is no need to pull the trigger at any point during the process. Removing the recoil spring assembly allows the barrel to slide free. Unless you want to change out grip modules, no further disassembly is necessary. A spare backstrap is included with the Stance and gives the grip a flatter profile. Changing backstraps is simple and requires removal of a single pin. The Stance is a clear competitor to other striker-fired micro-compacts on the market. Those include the Glock 43 ($500), the SIG P365 ($500), Springfield Armory Hellcat ($620), Kimber Mako ($599), Moss- berg MC2sc ($556), Smith & Wesson Shield Plus ($553), Ruger Max-9 ($579) and the Taurus GX4 ($392).
Pricewise, the Stance sits at the lower end of the category, which may be a deciding factor for some buyers. For many in the market for a handgun of this type, though, that decision will likely be based on personal preference for the feel and features of each particular firearm. The manual safety option is one of the features that set the Stance apart from the pack, as are the ambidextrous controls. The Savage Arms Stance is lightweight, highly concealable and available with various options. It manages recoil well, and it was reliable with full-power ammunition. This handgun would be an attractive choice for the great number of consumers out there who are purchasing handguns for self-defense and concealed carry. Though the Stance may be a little late to the micro-compact party, it has a lot to offer at an attractive price. I predict the Stance is merely the beginning of a revived handgun lineup from Savage Arms.
Savage Stance Specs
- Type: Striker-fired, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 8+1 rds.
- Barrel: 3.2 in.
- Weight: 22 oz.
- Construction: Steel slide, polymer frame
- Grips: Molded, glass-filled nylon
- Sights: TruGlo 3-dot night sights Itested)
- Safties: Ambidextrous manual thumb (tested)
- Trigger: 7 lbs. (tested)
- MSRP: $548 (tested)
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms