Concealed Carry

Budget Blaster: Stoeger STR-9C Compact

Stoeger STR-9C handgun right profile with three rounds of ammunition and a blue utility knife

Stoeger is an interesting company. In addition to making popular shotguns, Stoeger is a maker of air guns, a publisher of gun books, and a maker of some very fine handguns. I sometimes see Stoeger’s name imprinted as the maker on guns sold by other companies. My first semi-automatic handgun was a Stoeger, a Beretta-designed Cougar.

Years ago, Stoeger made a .22 caliber Luger clone. I wish that one was still available. Currently, the only handguns in Stoeger’s catalog are several models of the STR-9 and the STR-9 Compact specifically designed for the concealed carry and home defense markets.

Stoeger STR-9C handgun left profile
The STR-9C has deep cocking serrations both front and rear, a Picatinny rail for mounting a light or laser and a curved trigger with blade safety.

Stoeger STR-9C Features

The full-size STR-9 was followed by the Stoeger STR-9C compact model, which has a 3.8-inch barrel compared to the 4.17-inch full-size barrel. The overall length is shortened by just a hair over ½ inch. The compact carries 13+1 rounds (where allowed). Ten-round magazines are available for people who live in places where magazine capacity is limited.

The total weight of the gun is 24.5 ounces. The frame is constructed of fiberglass-reinforced technopolymer, designed to be light but strong and durable.

Stoeger put all the features into the STR-9C you would expect to find in a carry or home defense gun. I always like to read the manufacturer’s description of a gun before I start writing about it. Stoeger starts off by describing the design as snag-free and low-profile. I get the snag-free part. The top of the slide was rounded, and the front was scalloped for easy holstering and to prevent garment snags.

Low-profile is one of those subjective descriptions that originated in the shotgun world to describe the total height of the action. Stoeger has its roots as a shotgun company, so I looked at the total height of the STR-9C’s action compared to other handguns I have around. Although I found one or two slightly higher, I found none lower. The pistol sat low in the hand because its design allows for a high grip.

The sights featured three, large, white dots for quick target acquisition. The steel sights were dovetailed into the slide and were drift adjustable. The dovetail design means they could be easily exchanged with night sights, if desired.

Stoeger STR-9C handgun right profile
A loaded chamber indicator gives both visual and tactile warning that the chamber is loaded

Rather large cocking serrations — front and rear — helped with slide manipulation. The slide lock lever was big enough to do the job without getting in the way. I’m not one who uses the slide lock to release the slide into battery, but I do like the way this slide lock lever was easy to manipulate into the locked position when the slide was fully retracted.

The magazine release had ridges that helped with thumb positioning and could be swapped to the right side for lefties. The trigger guard was large enough for gloved operation, squared off in front, and a high undercut at the back to facilitate a high grip on the frame. Upfront, ahead of the trigger guard, the Picatinny rail had three notches plus extra room for mounting lights or lasers.

The trigger and take-down buttons looked as if they were transplanted from a Glock. There was a blade trigger safety which seems to be the de-facto standard these days. Trigger manipulation was solid with very little take-up and a crisp break.

When I first got the gun, my Lyman trigger pull gauge consistently put it at 7 pounds. After shooting 100 rounds or so, the trigger breaks at 5 pounds. If you shoot the gun, you’re going to like the trigger.

Stoeger STR-9C handgun fieldstripped
Takedown uses the Glock-style pulldown tabs and is straightforward and easy.

Stoeger STR pistols have a striker-blocking device that prevents forward movement of the striker/firing pin unless the trigger is completely pulled. One more safety mechanism disconnects the trigger bar when the slide is out of battery. This is meant to ensure the pistol cannot fire unless the slide is fully forward, and the trigger is pulled.

A loaded-chamber indicator protruded from the top surface of the slide when a round was in the chamber. This gave both a visual and tactile indication when there was a cartridge in the chamber. The trigger guard was undercut considerably which helped make the shorter 13-round grip easy to get my full hand on.

Everything about the gun felt good to me, and shooting it was very pleasant. The magazine loaded easily, yet the spring was obviously strong enough to feed rounds properly.

The backstrap was replaceable, although the package I bought had only one backstrap. Stoeger made the gun affordable by offering different configurations. For example, my package had only one magazine and one backstrap. The MSRP was $329, but I saw it priced at multiple locations for less.

The all-up model with three magazines, three backstraps, and Tritium sights had an MSRP of $449. That one could be bought for less than $400, and I would put it up as far as performance and reliability against handguns costing twice as much.

Accuracy and Handling

As I write this, the world is experiencing an ammo shortage, especially in 9mm. In the midst of this, Hornady provided me with an ample supply of its new Handgun Hunter ammo for testing. Also, I was fortunate in locating three different types of new ammo from Norma. Plus, I scored some defensive ammo from Pilgrim Ammunition, a new company in Florida. That left me with enough ammo to put the Stoeger STR-9C through its paces, and I certainly enjoyed doing so.

I shared the shooting experience with my grandson and several people at the range. Initially, the sights were off, and shots were impacting slightly to the left of the point of aim. Tapping the rear sight to the left solved that issue. Groups were tight out to 15 yards.

rear cocking serrations on a handgun
Three dot sights are drift adjustable and easy to see. The cocking serrations are especially deep to make slide racking easier.

I shot the gun clean and dirty. It didn’t like dirty. The issue was the gun was not going into battery. A bump with the heal of my hand on the rear of the slide solved that issue on a temporary basis. A good cleaning solved it permanently. After cleaning the gun, I shot numerous rounds of different brands of ammunition to make sure that was the issue and there were no more failures of any kind. I put enough rounds through the gun to ensure my confidence in it as a carry gun.

Carry Options

I found carrying the Stoeger STR-9C easy in both my Bullard IWB leather holster originally built for a P226 and in the Bianchi Foldaway Belt Slide holster. The STR-9C was a nice carry size. With 13+1 rounds on board, it was an easy match for my Mossberg M2C2 that has become my regular carry gun in recent months. A couple of years ago, who’d have thought two of the most practical concealed carry pistols today would be made by traditional shotgun companies?

Stoeger STR-9C pistol on an open box of ammunition in front of a blue and white 10-ring target
The author found the STR-9C consistently and exceptionally accurate with a variety of ammunition types.

One of the things I appreciate about the Stoeger, which is also true of the Mossberg, is how well it was made. The fit was tight. The finish was flawless. The grip, trigger, and sights were of the quality of a good trap or skeet gun.

Because of my role as an instructor, I’m often asked to recommend a handgun for people for whom it’s a stretch to come up with any money for a gun. However, these people also feel the need to own and perhaps carry one. Because of my hands-on with this gun, the STR-9C is high on my list of recommendations.

The Stoeger STR-9C has all the performance without the high price tag, but is it enough for you? Share your answer in the comment section.

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. I recently purchased the Stoeger STR9C for $299. I feel their engineering and quality control is very good. The price was right. I previously owned a Stoeger Cougar which I regret selling. Stoeger makes decent guns. As a trained industrial engineer, I am well pleased.

  2. I purchased the STR 9c for 228.00 I am all about sub 300.00 firearms I have to say that it is a great Glock clone, in Function and Looks, No complaints here, for 228.00? what to complain about?

  3. This fire arm is well made and after a 500+ round break in is still shooting up a storm I don’t know how well it will work when clean since I haven’t done so since I purchased it I pulled it out of the box manipulated the slide several times for about two minutes and it was off to the range the sights grouped at key hole to one inch at ten yards the trigger was smooth and crispy and the pull was a little friendlier after the first couple of boxes of ammo I used several types of ammo and Encountered no noticeable difference or malfunction. This is now my go to carry and I’m looking forward to a very long relationship like I have always said nothing more satisfying then a inexpensive date that delivers and is always happy to come back for more. STR-9 thank you for making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside;)

  4. “Stoeger made a .22 caliber Luger clone”
    I still have one of these.
    When new, it had lots of problems, solved by not loading the magazine to its capacity.
    Rarely used it
    Haven’t used it in decades.

  5. Well COLONEL K I learned something. I was just sure you were mistaken, but I checked the product listings of all the wholesalers I used to buy from in my gun store days and none of them handle Stoeger or Benelli. Interesting.

  6. Stoeger brand firearms are sold exclusively through Stoeger. They only sell dealer-direct and you have to buy into their program to become a Stoeger dealer. This is also true of Benelli, but the parent company of both brands, Beretta, does sell to distributors. I’ve never understood the reason why Stoeger and Benelli have such an odd policy. It is a self-inflicted wound which limits the number of companies willing to do business with them.

  7. COLONELK Stoeger is a distributor of the many brands owned by Benelli and Benelli’s parent company Beretta. All of the distributors I’ve worked with offer incentive packages – you buy a certain number of guns you get a free one, etc. but they’re not necessarily exclusive. Stoeger started out as an American company that was an importer, then it was bought by Benelli who was owned by Beretta. If it’s true they require a storefront for their retailers, they are certainly not exclusive in this regard, either.

  8. The only problem with Stoeger (owned by Benelli) is their highly restrictive policy of not selling through wholesalers/distributors. They run a dealer-direct program which requires a prospective new dealer to place a substantial first order. They also are picky about the type of business the FFL operates, which leaves out many gunsmiths, most small FFLs, and any FFL who does not run a traditional storefront operation. I’d like to say this is a European attitude, but more than one American distributor these days has similar policies. It is very anti-firearm and anti-small business, but is rarely talked about inside or outside the industry.

    As an unrelated aside, Stoeger has introduced a longer version of their pistol, the STR-9F with a 4.68″ barrel.

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