U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- One of the best parts about working in the firearms media is having access to high-end firearms; but I never lost my love for budget-friendly, feature-rich guns like the new Stoeger STR-9S Combat. Maybe it’s because I started shooting when I was in college and money was always tight, but I’m a fervent believer that when it comes to firearms, spending more money doesn’t always equate to better guns.
That said, there is no shortage of cheap guns that are priced accordingly in the current market. So which one is the new STR-9S Combat?
To be frank, it’s both; The STR-9 has some great features, and the overall design is solid – but it’s still rough around the edges in some regards. Are these rough parts enough to negate the positive aspects of the gun? Let’s take a look and find out.
Stoeger STR-9S Combat
The Stoeger STR-9S Combat is a striker-fired, locked-breech, magazine-fed semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9x19mm. Aesthetically, the STR-9S is a little derivative and vaguely resembles several other pistols on the market. That isn’t to say the gun is ugly, it looks exactly like what it is: a purpose-built combat handgun.
Standout features include its suppressor-height green fiber-optic iron sights, 1/2×28 threaded barrel, flared magazine well, and removable optics plate. These features on their own don’t really raise an eyebrow, but the fact that they’re present on a sub-$1,000 gun is definitely noteworthy.
Additionally, the Stoeger ships with multiple optics plates, a railed dustcover, interchangeable backstraps, and best of all, three 20-round steel-bodied magazines. These magazines appear to be based on the Beretta 92s magazines, and with a minor cut to the bodies (adding a magazine catch) and removal of the extended magazine well, the gun could actually run these magazines. Most shooters would not, and should not do this, but for those of you living in ban states that allow for pre 94 AWB magazines, you can use your pre-ban Beretta mags in this gun.
Lastly, the STR-9S Combat also does away with the standard STR-9’s curved trigger in favor of a more competition-style flat-faced one. And that’s about it for features. Like I said earlier, the gun isn’t revolutionary, but it really doesn’t aim to be either. It’s simply a competent modern semi-automatic pistol – which 100% isn’t a bad thing; by using tried and true methods of operation and a quality trusted magazine design, the STR-9S Combat is a very reliable, dependable pistol.
With that out of the way, let’s get to performance.
Compared to some of my past reviews, this one was more limited in terms of round count. That said, I still managed to fire 150 rounds of American Eagle 115gr FMJ, 100 rounds of Aguila 147gr FMJ, 200 rounds of Diamond Dog (MKE Headstamp) NATO-spec 124gr FMJ, and 100 rounds of stelTH 165gr TMJ suppressor ammo through the STR-9S. Both the American Eagle and Diamond Dog ran flawlessly through the gun, while the ultra-heavy suppressor-specific stelTH ammo would fail to properly ejection spent casings about 25% of the time with or without my personal SilencerCo Osprey45 attached.
This isn’t indicative of the gun being unreliable, simply that special ammo didn’t play well with the gun. While disappointing since that ammo was extraordinarily quiet when paired with a suppressor, isn’t surprising. That same ammo struggles with a few of my other suppressor host pistols as well.
That said, accuracy from the Stoeger was great, with hits easily possible out to 75 yards on six-inch targets. This was true with all ammo tested, even the less-than-reliable (at least in the Stoeger) 165gr rounds.
One thing that hampered accuracy testing initially, was the thin nature of the sight plates. While this thinness makes the design more slimline, it prevented the factory mounting screws of both my Trijicon RMR and Holosun HS507C X2. Thankfully, I was able to order replacement screws online, but definitely, something to keep in mind when buying one.
Ergonomics on the gun are pretty good as well – provided you don’t have either enormous hands or exceptionally small ones. And if the standard grip doesn’t fit a shooter well, the included interchangeable backstraps can accommodate most others too.
As far as felt recoil, the STR-9S Combat was predictably mild – the bore axis is fairly low, and it’s a 9mm full-sized handgun. Hammered pairs are very feasible, though the gun did jump a little more than expected when running the hotter NATO-spec 124gr 9mm.
STR-9S Combat Verdict
With an MSRP of $599, the STR-9S is a solid deal, especially considering all the included accessories and the modularity of the design. It’s neither a budget entry pistol nor a super-slick high-dollar race gun, but rather a solid design that delivers many of the desirable features of a high-end firearm without the accompanying high price tag. It certainly would make a great home defense, competition, or fun range plinker.
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.