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Stoeger STR-9: Performance On The Cheap

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The Stoeger STR-9 keeps pace with the best of the striker-fired market for a price that you can’t beat.

How The Stoeger STR-9 Stacks Up Against Other Striker-Fired Pistols:

The fact a new striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol hit the market isn’t a surprise. Who’s churning out the latest addition to the ever-growing corner of the handgun world is.

Performing up to par with the best striker-fired pistols, but at a fraction of their cost, the Stoeger STR-9 is ready to make noise.

Stoeger. Yes, the company with those easy-on-the pocketbook shotguns has turned its attention yet again to pistols. And there was no lack of clucking at the last SHOT Show over the surprise move by the Turkish concern.

More than anything, this was simply due to the STR-9 coming so abruptly out of left field. Who would have expected a company that’s earned its daily bread arming waterfowlers and wingshooters to go 9mm, striker-fired and polymer-framed? On the other hand, at this point, if Daisy added a Glock clone next to its Red Ryder, would any jaws drop?

So, given the utter profusion of polymer guns, has Stoeger made a wise move with the STR-9? Or is it simply another face in a vast crowd? Given a few assets – including an incredible price – the smoothbore specialist might have a pistol that can shoot with the best of them.

An Echo Of Echoes

If the emanate catcher and baseball manager Yogi Berra were a gun guy, he might quip the STR-9 is “déjà vu all over again.” Certainly, most modern pistols for nearly 40 years are, almost all echoes of a certain Austrian gunmaker’s creations. But the STR-9 seems an echo of echoes. While most closely resembling a Glock 17 in profile, it appears an amalgam of other popular striker-fired pistols. Aside from the G17, the one that came to mind for me was Beretta’s striker-fired APX.

Breaking down similar to the Glock 17, the STR-9 has a very familiar feel. The internals too don’t throw any curveballs to those familiar with the Austrian pistol.

While not a dead ringer by any stretch of the imagination –the STR-9 is not modular – it’s similar enough to have a family resemblance. Makes sense, since both companies are under the Beretta Holdings umbrella.

This is particularly notable in the guns’ cocking serrations. Though the geometry and placement are different, their aggressiveness and amplitude are comparable. Along with that, the STR-9 boasts a similar grip rake, texturing and ergonomics to the Italian pistol.

When it comes to the pistol’s handle, finger grooves, stippling and checkering on the backstrap all seem to mimic the APX. Though, there are a couple departures. Whereas the APX uses checkering in the finger grooves, Stoeger opted for the same pebble texturing found on the STR-9’s palm swell.

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Furthermore, the 12-lines per inch checkering on the STR-9’s backstrap is more pronounced than the Beretta’s. As told in the Stoeger booth, the aggressiveness is intentional, keeping the pistol firmly in the hand when fired. Though, with a firm grip, the toothy backstrap teeters on almost too assertive (more on that later).

The STR-9’s backstrap has aggressive texturing, which can bite. However, it allots ultimate control over the pistol.

Of course, an interchangeable back-strap system is also part of the mix. But you can hardly say that mimics anything, except the whole of polymer-framed pistoldom nowadays.

On the other side of the coin, the STR-9 pistol is more Glock-like in its takedown system and internals. Very familiar for anyone who’s handled a Glock, you pull the STR-9’s trigger after pulling down on the slide-lock crossbar to remove the slide. Then, if you know your way around the Austrian pistol, it’s safe to say you’ll know your way around the Turkish one. Though different specs, their guts are spitting images.

The STR-9 stands on its own legs in some minute details. It has a shorter barrel and slide, and is a smidgen thinner than the APX and wider than the G17 – by tenths of an inch that is. And then there’s capacity. Whereas the other aforementioned pistols come with 17-round magazines, the STR-9 is a 15-round affair at present time.

STR-9 Affordability

Aside from its familiar form, the STR-9 got the rabble exceptionally roused with a different spec: price tag. Coming in a bit higher than first rumored, the pistol’s $329 MSRP is exceptional, even for a style of handgun already considered affordable. That probably translates to right around $300 on a store’s shelf.

The STR-9 won’t cost you an arm and a leg, however, the entry-level package isn’t filled with the amenities many have come to expect.

Some of the economics obviously stem from its place of origin. Turkish guns are renowned for running less than their competition. There’s also the factor of what you get when you buy into an STR-9. The rub is how the starting price nets you, by today’s standards, a stripped-down package.

Forget the hard case, extra magazine and holster that many consider standard fare. Instead, the pistol comes neatly packaged in a corrugated cardboard box with one magazine, one-backstrap (medium), a reloader, Allen wrench, lock and instruction manual. Spartan, to say the least, but if you’re in the market for a concealed carry piece, it’s all you should require.

Stoeger offers two other packages: one complete with three magazines and three backstraps (small, medium and large) for $389 and a further upgraded model with all that and Tritium night sights that runs $449.

The On-Target STR-9

For testing, Stoeger graced me with the base package, which, if anything, was only disappointing for the fact reloading its one magazine took time away from shooting the STR-9. All in all, the pistol performed magnificently, especially considering its price.

Steel three-dot sights are dovetailed into the slide. The rear sight has a flat front, so you can rack the slide with it, if need be.

In the accuracy department, the Stoeger pistol vastly exceeds what the company is asking for it. Shooting off sandbags at 15 yards, the STR-9 produced groups around 1 ½ and just over 2 inches. It seemed to like Sig Sauer 124-grain V-Crown JHP the best as it produced the tightest group of the day.

It was equally on target shooting freestyle from 7 and 10 yards, consistently punching a ragged hole center mass. Any fliers I encountered fall squarely on my shoulders, not the STR-9.

Ammunition Advertised Velocity Best Group Inches Average Group Inches
SIG Sauer 124 Grain V-Crown JHP 1,165 1.54 1.91
Speer Gold Dot 124-grain +P 1,220 1.69 1.98
Aguila 117-grain JHP 1,150 1.83 1.95
Federal Premium 150-grain HST JHP 900 2.01 2.27

Admirably, the STR-9 didn’t have a hiccup in my time with it. It chewed through Sig Sauer V-Crown, Federal HST, Speer Gold Dot and Aguila JHP like it had been starved for a week. This was no torture test, mind you, but its omnivorous appetite for disparate defensive ammo straight out of the box – with little more than a routine cleaning – was heartening.

Turkish Delight

One asset that makes the pistol eminently shootable is its trigger. No featherweight to start, right around 7 pounds, it broke in over the course of a couple hundred rounds. Yet, top to bottom, it was extremely crisp with zero play on its x-axis. The reset, too, is worth note. Not race-gun pithy, it was more than adequate for most practical shooting.

Plenty of extractor on the STR-9, which helps it chew through anything it’s fed.

Where the pistol really comes into its own is manipulation. One would hope this would be a quality, given the cocking serrations. However, it’s not simply the slide that deserves kudos, but also Stoeger’s attention to some other important features. The extra real estate on the slide release doesn’t leave you fumbling. Nor does the magazine release (reversible for lefties), which is tactilely easy to find, given its texturing and size.

To be fair, not everything was roses and bulleyes with the STR-9. The backstrap checkering, as mentioned before, has teeth. I felt it bite by the time I cracked into the Speer +P. Shooter judgment deserves some blame, as I held off on the hot stuff until near the end of the session.

The gun fit my hand well with the included medium backstrap. Still, I would have liked to have tried the smaller option for the sake of comfort. However, although the pistol nibbled at my palm, it stayed in place as promised.

Parting Shot

The STR-9 is hardly Stoeger’s first foray into handguns. The company boasted such models as the DA/SA Cougar 8000 (based on the Beretta pistol of the same name) and the rather slick American Eagle Luger. But after what feels like a lifetime since the release of the Cougar – the newer of the two pistols – handguns seemed an afterthought at Stoeger.

A nice sized magazine release and slide-lock lever make the STR-9 intuitive to manipulate. The trigger as well is solid, breaking around 7 pounds and very crisply.

That’s no longer the case. The STR-9 has all the makings of a performer, one at par with the mainstays of the striker-fired market. Moreover, given the price, there’s little doubt in my mind Stoeger has hit the mark with the pistol and found a place in the crowd. The STR-9 seems ideal as both a full-sized carry gun and a little something to knock-around range pistol. Either case, it’s fit for any budget.

Overall, the only disappointment I can really register is Stoeger waiting so long to get back into the pistol game.

Stoeger STR-9 Specs:

Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 15+1
Weight Unloaded: 24 ounces
Barrel Length: 4.17 inches
Overall Length: 7.44 inches
Sights: Three-dot, drift adjustable
Action: Striker Fired
Includes: 1 magazine, medium backstrap
MSRP: $329

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