Most people can't afford expensive custom guns, and the truth of the matter is they usually don't need them because when it comes to handguns intended for defensive purposes, there is only one important question: Is it reliable? If it isn't, don't consider that firearm suitable for self-defense.
After reliability, the rest boils down to options or aesthetics. Options include size, magazine capacity, sights, safeties, trigger pull and so forth. Aesthetics are simply whether or not you like the pistol's appearance. With all that in mind, let's take a look at the new CPX-2 from Daytona Beach, Fla., firm SCCY (pronounced "sky"). It's a 9mm pistol intended for self-defense and concealed carry, and I found it completely reliable with every type of ammo I fed it, including hollowpoints. The pistol is made in the U.S.A.
The CPX-2 has a 3.1-inch barrel, is 4.25 inches tall (not including the magazine) and is over an inch thick. Unloaded it weighs 15 ounces. I consider it a bit too big to be a pocket gun, but it is on the small side for a belt gun.
The exterior of the pistol is clean, and the only controls you'll see are the magazine release and the slide stop. The magazine release does not stick out very much, and you shouldn't have problems dropping the mag accidentally. (For those of you who just can't do without a manual safety, SCCY makes the CPX-1, which has a manual safety at the rear of the frame.)
The CPX-2 has a polymer frame and superficially resembles a few other pistols on the market, but that resemblance disappears when you pick it up. This pistol has a rather beefy grip for its size and fills the hand nicely. With the finger-groove base pads on the magazine I was able to get all of my fingers on the gun, but I have skinny fingers.
I feel pistols should come with a minimum of two magazines, and not only does SCCY supply the CPX-2 with two magazines, it provides both flat and extended finger-groove magazine base pads. I commend the company for this.
The CPX-2 has an internal hammer that does not protrude past the back of the slide. Some shooters might have problems with their thumb hitting the slide stop.
The CPX-2 ships with two 10-round magazines with finger-extension base plates. Two flush baseplates are also provided so you can configure the pistol to your tastes.
Sights are the basic three-dot setup. The rear sight is steel, and the front sight is polymer, which is one of only two things I didn't like about the gun. Sights tend to get banged up, and I consider steel sights a must on any gun designed to be carried.
The CPX-2 has a small internal hammer that can be seen moving as you pull the trigger, and it has a true double-action-only trigger pull. This pistol has the nicest DAO trigger pull I've ever felt on a gun. It was completely smooth, consistent and snag-free, and the pull was only 6.5 pounds. SCCY advertises nine-pound trigger pulls for these guns, so maybe I got lucky.
The pistol does have second-strike capability and an inertial firing pin safety. My only complaint was that the trigger had to travel a full inch to break, each and every time. There was no reset halfway.
Fifteen ounces is rather light for a pistol chambered in 9mm, but due to the length and thickness of the grip, the pistol was not unpleasant to shoot. Recoil was sharp, of course, but it didn't hurt my hand. I could shoot it as fast as I could pull the long trigger and not worry about the gun flying out of my hand.
I found I could also stage the polymer trigger—which is wide and smooth—close to the breaking point since it was so smooth and light. That produced better accuracy than you might expect from a DAO pull.
The slide will lock back on an empty round, if you can keep your thumb off the slide stop. Accuracy was on par for a gun of this size. For compact guns I do accuracy testing at the reduced distance of 15 yards, and that is still a greater distance than what you'll likely encounter in a real-life defensive situation.
What about aesthetics? Well, I liked both the looks of the pistol and the way it felt in my hand. If you have large hands, the finger grooves on the grip might not match up for you the way they did for me, but for anyone with small- to medium-size paws the CPX-2 should fit you fine.
The pistol ships with two 10-round magazines with flush and extended base pads for both, as well as a trigger lock. The all-blued version I tested has a suggested retail of only $299, and there is a two-tone version as well going for $319.