Probably best known in the United States for its workhorse M3500 inertia-driven shotgun, Stoeger Industries jumped into the concealed carry handgun market early in 2019 with the STR-9 pistol.
Manufactured in Turkey, the STR-9 a striker-fired, polymer-framed 9MM pistol featuring a steel slide. Weighing in at just 24 ounces (unloaded) and sporting 15+1 ammunition capacity, the STR-9 sports a barrel just a shade over four inches long.
The base model STR-9 has an MSRP of $329. But prices for the pistol, as advertised on the Internet, are actually in the $280 to $300 range, with one gun shop offering the STR-9 for just $270 in mid-December 2019.
After several different range sessions, and carrying the pistol concealed for a week, I’d tell anyone looking at an affordable and accurate carry handgun to take a serious look at the STR-9. It’s not flashy and it doesn’t have all the features found on more expensive handguns. No optics-ready milling here, no barrel threaded for a suppressor, and no safety. Plus, it has the “Glocky” look of dozens of the other poly, striker-fired pistols on the market today.
But it functioned fine in my time shooting it without a single malfunction, was very accurate, and carried nicely. For $300 or less? I don’t think you could go wrong buying a STR-9.
At my range, I used two range/practice ammunition brands: Aguila 9MM with a 124-grain FMJ bullet; and, Browning Ammunition’s 9MM firing a 147-grain FMJ projectile. I also ran a self-defense round, the new Hydra-Shok Deep 9MM with a 135-grain bullet, from Federal Premium.
Once I shot off a few magazines to get a feel for the pistol, I tested the three brands of ammunition from five- and seven-yards, firing offhand.
Accuracy was very impressive. Now, I didn’t do any long-range shooting with the STR-9. It’s made for concealed carry and personal defense and to me that means close ranges, hence the five- to seven-yard shooting I did.
At seven yards, for example, I pegged a five-shot groups of the Aquila ammunition at .90-inches, and I put six shots into a .86-inch spread at five yards with the Browning ammunition.
The Federal Hydra-Shok held up its end, too, putting several groups at 1.0-inches.
Now, I pulled some shots and ended up with groups measuring anywhere from 1.5- to 2.5-inches. For some reason, I kept losing my concentration on shot #4 and would often pull that round wide, only to curse myself and then get back on track with shot #5.
Those wider groups were on me the shooter, though. With all three ammunition brands, the STR-9 was capable of groups of 1.0-inches or less at seven yards.
I used a PACT Professional-XP Chronograph to measure the speed of 10 shots of each ammunition brand. The averages were: Aguila at 1,086 feet-per-second (fps); Browning at 980 fps; and, the Hydra-Shok at 1,043 fps.
The sights on my STR-9 were pretty much standard: drift-adjustable, with a black front post and black dovetail rear sight, with two white dots on either side of the rear notch, and a single white dot on the front post. The sights aligned quickly on targets.
My Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge measured the trigger pull on the STR-9 at an average of 4 pounds, 7 ounces. The trigger is good, but not great. As with many striker-fired pistols, the STR-9 trigger has some take up and a somewhat spongy feel to it. Obviously, not enough of a problem to affect accuracy, though.
Recoil? Exactly what you would expect from a mid-sized 9MM poly-frame: somewhat snappy but nothing that can’t be handled. Here, the deep texturing along the backstrap is a real aid in getting and keeping a solid grip.
Speaking of deep, the deeper serrations at the front and rear of the slide aren’t cosmetic. They actually did make racking the slide easy.
An oversized trigger guard lets you use the STR-9 with gloves on, and a rail ahead of the trigger guard allows a light and/or laser to be mounted.
There is a loaded chamber indicator on top of the STR-9’s slide. The pistol doesn’t have a manual safety but does incorporate a bladed safety on the trigger, plus a firing-pin safety internally to stop the pistol from firing if dropped. Oh, and the magazine release is reversible.
Disassembling the STR-9 is very easy. You simply pull back the slide a bit, hold down the takedown latches on either side of the frame, and pull the trigger. At this point, the slide is quickly pulled off the frame, and you remove the barrel and recoil spring from the slide. It’s ready to clean.
STR-9 negatives? I found very few.
The trigger is good but, as noted, in a spongy, striker-fired way.
You could argue that the slide release needs to be adjusted just slightly forward to avoid accidentally putting pressure on it during firing, which could stop the slide from locking open on an empty magazine. This problem didn’t occur during my time with the STR-9, but depending on how large your hands might be, it could be an issue.
The STR-9 doesn’t have a manual safety, and I do prefer a pistol with one. But that’s personal preference, not an actual quality issue.
For concealed carry, the STR-9 is not a super slim pistol, especially when compared to a model like the Smith and Wesson Shield. But it’s also not bulky like a 1911. The STR-9 hits that sweet spot between a slimmer model and a full-sized open carry handgun, and I found it easy and comfortable to carry inside the waistband.
The basic model STR-9 comes with one inter-changeable backstrap and one 15-round magazine. There are two other models, though. One includes three backstraps and three magazines for a $389 MSRP, the other also with three backstraps and three mags, and the sights tricked out with eye-catching tritium, with an MSRP of $429.
Factor in the price, and the STR-9 represents a very good deal in any of the three current offerings. Industry rumors have a new version coming out soon, too. I’ll be interested to see what Stoeger changed or upgraded in the new model.
SPECS: Stoeger STR-9
Action: Striker fired, semi-auto
Barrel length: 4.17 inches
Overall length: 7.44 inches
Weight: 24 ounces
Grip: Interchangeable backstrap
Safety: Trigger safety
Finish: Black Nitride
Warranty: 5 years