Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol: Swiss Perfection In A Downsized Handgun

By Mike Searson

Writer Mike Searson tests & reviews the Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol
Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol
Mike Searson
Mike Searson

USA -(Ammoland.com)- One of the finest made pistols that a shooter can lay his hands on is a Sphinx Arms pistol.

These Swiss made handguns have raised the bar on manufacturing and the build quality is nothing short of superb.

Many moons ago we reviewed the Compact version for RECOIL Magazine ( http://tiny.cc/vxomdy ) and when test time was over we regretted not buying the sample we received. However, the author made a vow to grab the next one that came down the pike.

As fate would have it we obtained a sample of an even smaller version called the Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol and while bigger and heavier than what we consider a subcompact pistol we decided to give it a test drive.

For those unfamiliar with the design, they appear to be CZ-75 clones, but incorporate a decocking system closer to Sig's than CZ's. The slide runs inside the frame and this takes getting used to if you are not familiar with the operation.

The frame is a two piece construction: an aluminum chassis bonded to a thermo plastic grip. You can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol Slide Open
Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol Slide Open : The slide runs inside the frame and this takes getting used to if you are not familiar with the operation.

Having an excess amount of 9mm 147 grain ammunition on hand from running silencers on most of our nines, we took to the range, expecting a repeat performance of the pistol we tried a few years back.

Those dreams were shattered as our groups were about 3″ at 50 feet.

Switching over to 115 grain ammunition we improved our grouping getting a few rounds touching at the same distance, but overall at about 2″ on average. This improved further as we rang out the last of a box of 124 grain Samson ammo made in Israel.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol
Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol Specs:

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION SDP SUBCOMPACT
Caliber 9×19 mm
Overall Length 6.55 in / 168 mm
Overall Height 4.97 in / 126 mm
Overall Width 1.22 in / 31 mm
Weight 24.90 oz / 709 g
Barrel Length 3.13 in / 79.5 mm
Sight Radius 5.08 / 129 mm
Sights Front Iron blade with white dot
Rear Serrated U shape sight
Action DA/SA with ambidextrous decocking lever
Trigger Pull Weight SA: 4.0+ lb / 1.8+ kg
DA: 10.0+ lb / 4.5+ kg
Slide material Steel
Slide finish Black with TIAIN coating
Frame material Upper Hard anodized aluminum
Lower Polymer
Grip Polymer incl. finger molds
Magazine capacity 13+1

*All Technical specifications are subject to change upon final release.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol
Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol – The Good

Handling a Sphinx pistol reveals that there is a level of manufacturing that eludes many companies. Inside and out, there is not a single machining or tool mark, burr, rough edge or sharp corner. The build is completely flawless and this is a testament to the craftsmanship of Sphinx's gunsmiths.

We have said it before and will say it again; these pistols look as if they have been created out of thin air as opposed to milling, forging, etc.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol – The Bad

For the price point, we have shot more accurate pistols. The performance with 147 grain ammunition was downright disappointing, our $299 Tanfoglio 9mm is a tack driver compared to the Sphinx SDP Subcompact. With 115 grain ammunition it was acceptable and the hotter Samson load seemed to work best.

Getting a good grip on the slide to rack it presents challenges to strangers of CZ’s mode of operation.

Accessories are hit and miss for the SDP subcompact. Night sights have been made, but are awaiting DOE approval for importation. Holsters can be hard to find on the rack, but numerous companies are making them including Safariland. There is no factory option for a threaded barrel at this time, either.

Size wise, this is closer to a third generation S&W 6906 and the profile is nearly identical. In a world of polymer framed pistols for CCW, this one runs on the larger and heavier size.

Sphinx SDP Subcompact vs Tanfoglio 9mm (top)
Sphinx SDP Subcompact vs Tanfoglio 9mm (top)

Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol – The Reality

We could find nothing wrong with our test pistol but will try a few upgrades in the near future to get more accuracy out of it. If this were truly a pocket sized pistol we would expect that kind of performance, but it is sizeable enough that it should be more accurate with common off the shelf loads.

The Sphinx SDP Subcompact is an extremely well-made and reliable pistol, but we found the accuracy to be mediocre at best with inexpensive ammunition. Maybe this is the same performance you get when running “Regular” gasoline in your Ferrari or Lamborghini!

Just like a Rolex watch may not keep the best time, the Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol has other qualities that make it desirable.


Want another opinion on the Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol? Check out Hickok45's video review next.


About Mike Searson

Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

  • 8 thoughts on “Sphinx SDP Subcompact Pistol: Swiss Perfection In A Downsized Handgun

    1. Unsure as to the Authors experience, but hands down my Sphinx Subcompact is one of THE most accurate pistols I have ever owned. My SDP Subcompact just out shot a full size HKVP9 which I was borrowing, as well as out shot my HKP2000SK which had trigger work done by Gray Guns. I am so impressed with this pistol (I have owned nearly 35 different types/brands, including all the major names except CZ), that I just traded my SIG Legion for the Sphinx SDP Compact Duty, which holds 17+1, to add to my arsenal. By the way, I previously owned this sub-compact version in 2014, and the barrel had a tolerance issue causing it to malfunction and thus sold. In fact, out of six various types of 9mm round nose and hollow points, the 2014 version only fed Gold Dots reliably. Kriss USA has rectified this barrel tolerance problem, and my new (2017) version is 100% reliable. Hands down my favorite pistol to end up in the stable since I first discovered SIG’s 30 years ago. This is a FANTASTIC, high quality, incredibly accurate, compact carry – and to not own one would be a shame. If you like a svelte hammer fired gun w/ a de-cocker, this is your pistol! P.s. this Sphinx is one of the most compact guns you can purchase holding 13+1, so I am not sure what the author is using as a comparison for not being a sub compact?? I’ll take 13+1 double stack into a dark alley any day vs the vast majority of the 10+1 sub-compacts this author is probably referring to. Oh, and if you carry AIWB, you won’t shoot your junk off like you would with your striker fired Glock under split second presentation and deployment of a Sphinx. 🙂

    2. Just picked one of these up after 3 years of looking for a deal.
      This is a premium gun that runs on premium ammo. Found out it will not recycle reloads, i think that the right terminology. I have only short 100 rounds through it and overall I’m not super impressed.
      Being a heavier 9, I felt it was easier to have tight groupings with a double tap.
      For me, the gun is accurate with 115 grain new ammo. i bought the gun for less than $600 with shipping, I think I paid too much.

    3. I’m not sure if you are looking for feedback but thought I would offer some, just in case.

      As a completely new consumer to your website, it is hard to be clear where the article continues and where advertorial content starts. Trying to read this article was tricky to follow due to the fussy layout.

      I would also point out a few other items of note:
      I wonder what upgrades you tried to improve reliability?
      The Hickok review is for the Compact not Subcompact, as is stated.
      Featured photos are cheapened by the adding of oversize branding that covers a significant portion of each photo.

      1. Because it’s for concealed carry, and you don’t need a tac light or grenade launcher stuffed in your IWB holster for self defense shots from 7 feet a way. If you need a light, buy the larger version Sphinx for home defense.

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