I once wrote an article titled “I Love Cheap Guns…and I Am Not Afraid to Admit It!” That was a true statement when I wrote it in 2014, and it is still a true statement today. I own Hi-Points, a Raven .25 ACP, a Tanfoglio Excam .25 ACP, a .380 Cobra, a single-shot shotgun that was ordered from the Sears catalog over 60 years ago, early examples of the Diamondback .380 and DB9, and enough .22 rifles to arm a Cub Scout troop. Dig deep enough in my safe and you’ll find an old Mosin Nagant I bought from a cousin for $10! (I have been planning to restore it for over three decades.) Recently, a SCCY CPX-2RD followed me home. This review will determine whether it will earn residency status.
I feel it necessary to explain what “cheap guns” means to me. Just because a gun doesn’t set you back a mortgage payment on a mansion does not mean it won’t serve reliably for home or self-defense. The SCCY CPX-2RD exemplifies this fact perfectly.
I would never rely on a gun for concealed carry that I had not thoroughly tested first, but I also put a lot of stock in how a gun runs straight out of the box. I’ve tested guns the manufacturer recommended field stripping and lubing first. Others have warned that you may need to run a box of ammo through the gun to break in the pistol. That’s all fine and good, but if it runs straight out of the box, the manufacturer has paid attention to the details — that offers a level of confidence.
As it was out of the box, I dry fired the CPX-2RD about half-dozen times and quickly noted that I was a little too eager. I went to a safety bench, installed the battery for the red dot, and eyeballed a couple of quick sight adjustments. During this time, I had a minute to think about my dry firing. Due to my writing and testing, I shoot and carry several guns a year. At a little over 8 pounds, the trigger was certainly heavier than I am used to and did not inspire hope.
RE-COIL CUSHION Grip
I have hands, not paws, so the CPX-2’s grip fit my medium-size hands perfectly. This was thanks in part to the pinky extension on the two included 10-round magazines. The CPX-2’s grip isn’t wide, but it feels long. Laying a Glock 19X (without any of the additional backstraps installed) over the CPX-2 made it clear that the grips were similar in size — save the CPX-2’s finger grooves. That being said, due to the location of the palmswell, the CPX-2 feels meatier. Shooters would not be wrong in saying it feels larger. That’s not a deal breaker, just an observation.
As you can see in the photos, the grip is lightly textured. Some shooters I know prefer a light texture. Another group of friends would throw a fit if the texture was not rough enough to permanently alter a palm print with every shot. There is a case to be made for a slightly more aggressive texture. However, few of us will ever be in such a situation for the grip texture to make that kind of difference.
SCCY CPX-2RD Magazines
The second feature I looked at was the magazine. The SCCY CPX-2 comes standard with two 10-round magazines. I inserted an empty magazine firmly enough to ensure it was seated and pressed the magazine-release button. Next, I swapped magazines and repeated the test. Unloaded or loaded, both magazines dropped freely. This is highly desirable and allows for faster reloads as well as the ability to drop a mag and reload the gun one-handed if necessary.
Next, with a loaded magazine, I shook the gun (forcefully) side to side, up and down. I noted an audible rattle that was also present when shaken with less enthusiasm. I quickly determined the culprit was the barrel. With it holstered in a Sticky IWB, I made a few trips up and down a flight of stairs. I could not detect any rattle that could give away the fact that I was carrying concealed.
There is a cost to keeping manufacturing expenses to a minimum, and sacrificing a tight fit can be one of them. This is telling, so it is a test I perform on every handgun. However, a rattle is not an indicator of how the gun will shoot. After all, the AK47 is preferred because of its loose tolerances.
Sights — Red Dot With Irons
Sights are an important feature on most any gun and particularly noteworthy on a gun designed for self-defense. For this review, I chose the SCCY CPX-2RD but only after inspecting the design of the red dot.
The CPX-2RD comes with a Riton red dot. Since its introduction, Riton has taken the optics market by storm, with quality offerings at affordable prices. The red dot on the CPX-2 has a rear notch built into the unit. This setup made going from the red dot to the iron sights quick and intuitive. If I were to find any fault, it is my preference for 3-dot sighting systems. The rear sight notch is a black, low-profile design. I foresee a trip to one of my favorite gunsmiths soon to find a fix.
The advantage of a red dot is the ease it offers — simply put the dot on the spot and control the trigger through the break. Many, wisely, have a distrust of electronic sights for carry guns. There is always a fear that a battery will go out at the wrong time. For a carry gun with a red dot, the ability to use the irons sights as a backup is a must.
Trigger — Practice, Practice
If there is a feature of a gun that will be a deal breaker quicker than any other, it’s the trigger. I checked the trigger on my SCCY CPX-2RD with a Lyman digital trigger scale. The scale reported a consistent 8.2 pounds. The trigger also has about a half-inch or so of travel.
While long, the trigger pull was consistent and smooth. One of my favorite carry guns is the Kahr K9 Elite that has a similar heavy, long, and smooth trigger pull. Sure, I would prefer something under 6 pounds on the range, but when the adrenaline is flowing in an emergency situation, the heavier trigger with a long pull makes a lot of sense.
SCCY CPX-2RD on the Range
The features of a gun are similar to the looks of the person across the room you want to date. They are the initial attraction, but you really need time spent together to know whether you are a match. My initial range session with the CPX-2RD was underwhelming, to be honest. It almost didn’t get a second date. The gun shot fine, and sight-in was easy, but I left with a feeling of indifference. I was not for or against keeping the gun. I need a reason to keep a gun before I am willing to open my wallet.
Over the next two weeks, I kept the gun within arm’s reach. Working at home from a computer gives you plenty of time for dry-fire practice. I started with dry fire and before long, I moved to the penny drill. The penny drill is where you balance a penny on the front sight, bring the pistol up to your sight line, and squeeze the trigger. The object is to do this without the penny falling off, working to increase the speed you can successfully come through the trigger. Next, I moved to a laser trainer for the additional feedback of showing where the shot broke.
This is a routine I go through with any pistol I plan to evaluate or carry. The only addition to a carry pistol that I add is work from the holster. I do not carry guns with optics, so I was able to forgo this holster work.
Magazine: Two double-stack, 10-round magazines with finger-extension
Barrel: Seven lands and grooves – 1:16 right-hand twist
Receiver: 7075‐T6 aircraft-grade heat-treated aluminum alloy
Slide: Stainless steel – Black Nitride finish
Grip and Frame: Zytel polymer – Integral “RE-COIL CUSHION” backstrap
Red Dot: Riton 3 Tactix MPRD 2
The CPX-2RD Earns its Place
After a couple more range sessions, I had a new appreciation for the little gun. Its initial lackluster impression was behind me. The gun is too small for meaningful work on paper to measure group size. The CPX-2RD simply was not intended to be a target gun. Instead, I opted for the steel course. From a low ready, hits on 8-inch steel plates were quick and easy. As expected, going from my first mag to the second was easy.
During the shooting evaluation, I took a turn on the steel dueling tree. The long, heavy trigger pull proved to be the difference, as my opponent was shooting a full-size 1911 with plenty of custom work. However, the duel saw both of us requiring a reload and emptying both of our spare mags. At the end, he had two extra plates flipped to my side. Given the advantage he started with, I am still calling the SCCY CPX-2RD the winner.
Don’t discount performance just because a gun’s price tag does not hurt your wallet. The SCCY CPX-2RD offers premium performance at an affordable price.