Recently introduced, the new Steyr C9-A1 combines the compact slide and barrel of Steyr’s S-series pistols with the frame from full-size M-series duty pistols. The standard magazine has a 15-round capacity, while a larger magazine is also available, giving the gun a 17+1 payload.

Trigger System

One significant feature is a new and improved trigger system. The redesigned Reset Action mechanism provides a two-stage trigger. The take-up stage is extremely light, while the second stage delivers a 6.75-pound let-off with only a slight hesitation before the trigger breaks. The pull seemed lighter than my RCBS trigger scale indicated, and the “break” was easy to control. The A1 series also differs from earlier M-series pistols by the addition of an improved grip, abbreviated Picatinny rail and the lack of the manual safety button that was located inside the triggerguard of earlier Steyr handguns.

This is a pure “carry gun” with no manual or magazine safety. I have mixed feelings about this, being an “old-school” shooter who finds comfort in manual safeties. Still, that’s the direction new pistols appear to be heading, which brings new emphasis to the warning: “Keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.” The lack of a manual, external safety can be an advantage in a combat situation. There’s no safety you have to take the time to disengage. You simply unholster the gun, aim and fire.

The striker-fired Steyr actually boasts three safeties. These include a “trigger within a trigger” safety, a drop safety and a firing pin catch. These safeties automatically disengage only when the trigger is pulled to fire the gun. Aside from the trigger, the only external controls are the slide release, magazine release and takedown lever. That makes the gun easy to operate—simply aim and pull the trigger.

There’s also a key-operated “Integrated Limited Access Lock” that prevents firing when the gun is stored. These “access locks” are frankly poor substitutes for keeping unused handguns locked up safely in a gun safe. No father or grandfather should leave guns where they can find their way into curious hands. With a little ingenuity, many children (or teenagers) may find a way to circumvent external, key-operated handgun locks. A sturdy gun safe with a good combination lock is by far the best way to keep handguns out of the reach of unauthorized users.

I found it refreshing that you don’t need a death grip on the slide to cycle the action. Unlike some autopistols I’ve used, the Steyr slide responds readily to only modest pressure. There’s a loaded chamber indicator port at the rear of the chamber, which provides visual confirmation when a round is chambered. I’ve never relied on such gadgets. When I want to check the gun’s condition, I always retract the slide and look into the chamber.

The low-profile sights are drift-adjustable for windage. Two generously sized white dots on the rear sight and a cor-responding red dot up front does a good job of catching your eye. I found the sights easy to use, whether I was shooting one-handed or with both hands supporting the grip.

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