May 09, 2023
By Brad Fitzpatrick
With the advent of the STR-9 line of semiauto striker-fired 9mm semiauto pistols, handgun shooters learned what shotgun enthusiasts have known for some time: Stoeger knows how to build affordable firearms that don’t feel cheap or fail to operate. The newest member of the STR-9 family, the SC (Subcompact) Optic Ready shares the same can-do attitude as the rest of this family, but the SC is the easiest of all the STR-9s to conceal and comes with a slide that’s cut to add a red dot sight—all for a suggested retail price of under $400.
STR-9SC pistols have 3.54-inch blued stainless steel barrels and a black nitride slide with aggressive angular serrations fore and aft. The standard SC model ($329) features three-dot sights that are dovetailed at the front and the rear, and there’s also a version with tritium night sights ($399).
The new OR version tested here costs the same as the night-sight version and has the three-dot sight layout found on the standard model but includes a slide cut and four plates. Labeled “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D,” these allow you to mount most popular reflex pistol sights on your gun. A cover plate is included should you choose to run your Stoeger without an optic.
Price and amenities no doubt will draw many shooters to this pistol, but the STR-9SC Optic Ready checks all the boxes for an everyday carry pistol. The carbon steel slide’s nitride finish prevents corrosion caused by perspiration or the elements. The 10-round magazine is metal.
There’s no external trigger safety, but there is a bladed trigger safety and a cutout in the rear of the chamber to visibly inspect for a round. The rear sight is beveled for a smooth draw, and the front of the rear sight is flat to facilitate one-handed slide manipulations. There’s a three-slot Picatinny rail on the dust cover for mounting accessories.
The slide cuts look like the dentition of a plesiosaur or the teeth of a crosscut saw. That added depth makes the slide easy to control, and I think this is one of the easiest subcompacts to operate. Rounded slide edges aid in concealment.
The STR-9SC OR is the smallest of the STR-9 pistols, but it is slightly larger and heavier than some of the newer micro compacts. The STR-9SC OR measures 6.5 inches long and weighs 22.4 ounces. That’s an ounce heavier than the Springfield Hellcat Pro OSP and SIG’s P365XL 9mms, and both of those guns hold more rounds than the STR-9SC OR. They also cost a couple of hundred bucks more than the Stoeger.
That the STR-9 family continues to grow is good news for Stoeger, but it’s also proof that the public is catching on to how well these guns are built.
“When we designed the STR-9, we wanted to make sure the gun was extremely reliable and accurate,” said Keith Heinlein, Stoeger product manager and the man who helped conceive and design the entire STR-9 family. “In a defensive situation those are the two things that will save your life.”
I feel that Stoeger’s pistols are among the most underrated striker-fired guns out there. Some of the very early Stoeger pistols had rather heavy triggers, but that’s not the case with current guns. This one had a smooth take-up and a clean break just under five pounds.
Not surprisingly, this helps make the Stoeger one of the most accurate carry 9mms on the market. With its 3.54-inch barrel it’s just beyond the 3.5-inch threshold for 15-yard testing and must compete with the full-size guns at 25 yards. But with a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro 2.5-m.o.a. red dot sight, the Stoeger managed five-shot groups as small as 2.1 inches and averaged about 2.5-inch groups with multiple factory defense loads. That’s impressive accuracy for a carry pistol.
Cycling through 150 test rounds was flawless. That’s thanks in large part to a quality 10-round metal magazine and the beefy extractor. The feed ramp isn’t mirror smooth like you might see on other guns, but it didn’t cause any issues. There were no failures in the test, but the slide failed to lock back after the last round on three occasions.
The primary knock on the STR-9SC OR pistol is that it’s slightly larger than other micro 9s and has a lower capacity. That’s true, but the Stoeger isn’t much larger than those guns, and it’s easy to conceal. You’ll feel the grip is a bit wider than others in its class, but that also makes the Stoeger one of the more comfortable micros to shoot—especially if you have large hands.
Stoeger’s shotguns have proven reliable and affordable and have redrawn the battle lines in the semiauto shotgun market. Clearly, Stoeger aims to do the same thing with their pistols, and this gun has the features to do it.
Stoeger STR-9SC Optic Ready Specification
- Type: Striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 10+1
- Barrel: 3.5 in.
- OAL/Height/Width: 6.5/4.6/1.2 in.
- Weight: 22.4 oz.
- Grips: Polymer, medium backstrap included
- Finish: Black nitride
- Trigger: 4.9 lb.
- Sights: 3-dot; optics ready w/four plates
- Price: $399
- Manufacturer: Stoeger Industries, StoegerIndustries.com