Steyr is a pistol brand most American gun buyers would not be familiar with — unless they are really into guns, research guns, or somebody told them about them. That’s a shame because this other Austrian firearms maker turns out quite a product. Steyr Arms, most known for its AUG bullpup rifle and its line of sniper and hunting rifles, has been in business since 1864.
The complete name of the firm was Steyr-Mannlicher, until 2007 when it was sold to Dr. Ernst Reichmayr and Gerhard Unterganschnigg and moved from Steyr, Austria, to a new factory in Kleindraming (approximately 12 miles from the original site). The new name of the firm is simply Steyr Arms. Its U.S. location is in Bessemer, Alabama, and most U.S. distributors carry these pistols.
Steyr M9-A2 Features
The Steyr pistol I have been testing is designated the M9-A2 model. Steyr makes these pistols in three models: L9-A2, M9-A2, and C9-A2. That’s large, medium, and compact frame. The barrel lengths for these pistols are 4.5 inches, 4 inches, and 3.8 inches. The barrels have six lands and grooves with a right-hand twist.
The M9 model is 7.9 inches long, 5.6 inches tall, and 1.3 inches wide. It weighs 27.8 ounces with an empty magazine. The magazines hold 17 rounds. Ten-round magazines are also available.
My first impression of the Steyr M9-A2 was “This is a gun that’s ready for action.” And my work with the gun verified I was on the right track. A soldier, cop, or civilian carrying this gun would have a solid, reliable firearm that’s easy to shoot, and one that will stand up under rugged use. To expand on that observation, let’s start with the grip frame.
This one I have is green in color — kind of OD green. They’re also made in black. It has a textured grip with a checkered backstrap and a lined front strap. With or without gloves, this is a gun you can hold onto.
The trigger guard is large and is undercut in the back to provide the shooter with a high grip. The front part of the trigger guard is flat. Just ahead of that is a three-slot Picatinny rail. The front edges of both the frame and the slide are beveled for easy holstering.
The gun was shipped with three backstrap sizes and two extra side panels. These additional grip options allow the user to fit the gun perfectly to their hand. As for me, I found the gun fit me perfectly as it was shipped. In addition to having a slightly humped backstrap, and a very subtle top finger groove on the front strap, there is an indentation on either side of the frame above and forward of the trigger guard for your index finger whether you shoot right- or left-handed.
The only controls on the right side of the frame are the takedown lever and a lock that must be turned with a special key to render the trigger inoperative, thus locking the gun. On the left side is a small, but easy to operate, slide lever. The trigger is wide — thicker than most — and only slightly curved. It has a blade safety.
As far as trigger operation, there’s about a quarter-inch take up, then the trigger breaks cleanly at 5 pounds. The reset-action trigger system features a trigger safety and a drop safety. These passive safeties function automatically. They are always on and are deactivated only by pulling the trigger to its rearmost position.
The Steyr M9, like the SIG P320 and Springfield Echelon, has an operating chassis that is removable and can be placed in another frame. This is the serial numbered part of the gun. I’ll also note that the slide also has the serial number etched upon it. The slide is quite shallow which means the overall bore axis is low and that helps mitigate recoil. The slide is flat on top with tapered sides.
There’s a unique set of sights mounted on the slide. The front sight is a white triangle. The rear sight has a triangular-shaped window through which the front sight is to be viewed. Both sights are made of metal and are drift adjustable. Although these sights are different from anything I’ve seen before, I found their use intuitive.
The slide has serrations front and rear that are deep enough to be quite effective. There is a view port at the rear of the chamber opening for determining whether there is a cartridge in the chamber. The front part of the ejector also extends out slightly when a round is in the chamber creating a tactile method of checking whether there is a round in the chamber.
The mag release button is long and easy to operate. The magazines themselves have a slightly extended baseplate with a groove designed for easy grasping. The base of the magazine well is flared to aid in rapid magazine loading.
The entire time I’m describing the gun, I’m wishing I could hand it to you. It’s just a pleasure to hold. Everything about the design feels right. When I knew this gun was coming, I ordered a special holster made for it by Galco. It was a leather OWB holster that required breaking in, but once it was well broken in, I found the gun easy to draw and get on target.
I shot multiple brands of range and defensive ammo in the gun, including a couple of mix and match magazine loads. Using the triangle-shaped sights presented no challenges to me. Although I watched one or two YouTube reviews of the gun in which the sights were slightly off (as the gun came from the factory), I experienced none of that. The sights on my test gun were dead-on. Had they been off, however, both front and rear sights are drift adjustable.
I didn’t find any 9mm bullet weight that the gun seemed to like better than the others. Likewise, I didn’t experience any variances in accuracy at the 10-yard distance where I did most of my shooting. There were no issues whatsoever in how the gun digested the ammo I fed it.
As I had suspected from examining the construction of the frame and slide, gun handling was pleasant, and recoil was modest — even with +P ammo. I’m really surprised this pistol isn’t more well-known. It must be Steyr’s marketing program here in the States. I don’t recall seeing much in the way of advertising, although I have read of the Steyr pistol being selected by various police units.
My first introduction to the Steyr was when a friend bought one on sale a few years ago. I liked what I saw when he showed it to me, but I never got to shoot it. Now that I’ve shot one, I’m even more impressed. I’m glad I got a holster for it, because I’ve started including the Steyr M9-A2 in my EDC rotation.
BTW, we writers and instructors use that term “rotation” when talking about our carry guns. That doesn’t mean we recommend everyone have multiple EDC guns that they must rotate. In fact, “same gun, same place, every day” is good advice. But because of our role in the industry, we have the opportunity to acquire, plus the responsibility to get to know, multiple guns. This way, we can inform and train others about them.
If I only carried one gun, it would be either the SIG P365, Hellcat Pro, or Mossberg MC2C — when there was the need to carry a lighter gun. If I’m dressing for a little heavier gun, it would be the HK VP-9, the SIG P229, FN 509, Echelon, Glock 19 or now the Steyr M9-A2. Having these guns available, plus new guns that come along, plus my 1911 favorites, it seems a shame not to experience a variety of them so I can be up to speed when asked about a particular gun. All of that said, the Steyr M9-A2 has what it takes to join such a respected group of handguns.