by B. Gil Horman - Tuesday, January 15, 2013
There's one word that most folks would like to see included when reading a description of a personal protection pistol: affordable. Very few factory-fresh defensive handguns are available these days with suggested retail prices starting at $299 and stopping at $339, but SCCY Industries of Daytona Beach, Fla., offers just such a line up. In business since 2003, SCCY released the CPX-2 in 2010. This offering is the second-generation version of its CPX sub-compact 9 mm pistol. What separates the two models is an external thumb safety lever. The CPX-1 has one while the CPX-2 does not.
The CPX-2 is a double-action-only, hammer-fired, semi-auto pistol. The milled stainless-steel slide, sand blasted for a blemish-free satin finish, is angle cut and rounded at the corners to provide a practical and attractive shape. Five curved serrations are located at the rear of the slide to provide a good grip surface for easy cocking. The slide is topped with a three-dot sight system. The front sight is polymer, but the rear sight is steel and windage adjustable via a set screw.
The 3.1-inch, stainless-steel barrel is machined from solid bar stock and contains seven traditional lands and grooves. The receiver is milled and heat treated from 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum and held in place by two steel pins to the Zytel polymer frame. The receiver's rails are 3.5-inches long to provide solid support for the slide. This pistol has no external safety devices, relying instead on the heavy trigger to prevent unintentional discharges. The use of an inertial firing pin and recessed hammer prevent the pistol from going off if dropped.
The polymer frame is molded with finger grooves and is long enough to provide a full grip when the extended magazine base plates are installed. The sides and rear of the grip are textured with a thumb index groove on both sides. The backstrap contains SCCY's integral vented Re-Coil Cushion. A steel slide catch, molded over with an extended Zytel lever, is located on the left side of the frame along with a large, square magazine release.
The trigger guard is roomy for a pistol this size and can accommodate a gloved trigger finger. The wide polymer trigger has a serrated surface, making it comfortable for large and small fingers alike. Some companies reduce the price of its less expensive pistols by cutting corners. The CPX-2, on the other hand, arrives ready to use with a useful set of accessories in the box. These include a custom, removable trigger lock, two 10-round steel magazines, four magazine base plates (two extended, two flat), a pouch of lubricant and an owner’s manual.
Field stripping the CPX-2 for cleaning is a simple process. After removing the magazine and verifying the pistol is completely unloaded, lock the slide into the open position. The disassembly pin is located on the left side of the frame. Using a small flat-blade screw driver or an empty 9 mm casing, remove the disassembly pin from the frame. Hold the slide in place as the slide catch is released, then slowly move the slide forward and off of the frame. Removing the dual-spring recoil assembly reveals the guide rod is steel, instead of polymer. With the recoil assembly out of the way the barrel can be lifted out of the slide. That's all there is to it. The pistol goes back together just as easily.
Although cheaply constructed guns may look good in photographs, they've got nowhere to hide once the shooting starts. Shoddy workmanship is quickly revealed as low-grade semi-autos sputter and choke their way through each magazine loaded into the grip. In contrast, the CPX-2 demonstrated that it is not a "cheap" gun in the course of range testing. The fit and finish all show a professional level of attention. The pistol was free of the molding lips and rough spots that indicate a lack of proper attention to the manufacturing process. It reliably fed, fired and ejected a variety of defense and practice-grade loads without any malfunctions. It should be noted that the CPX-2 is not rated for +P 9 mm ammunition. Only standard pressure loads should be used for practice and concealed carry.
The trigger is advertised as having a steady 9 pounds of trigger pull. A Lyman's digital trigger gauge said it was lighter at 8 pounds, 10 ounces. The trigger was smooth and consistent without any stacking, creep or grittiness. Shooters who like a good double-action revolver trigger will feel right at home with the CPX-2. Working with tiny pocket pistols that have triggers in this weight range can be tough, but the hand-filling three-finger grip frame of the CPX-2 stabilizes the pistol nicely to make driving the trigger more comfortable.
The smooth-faced magazine release button reliably dropped the double-stack magazines and was easy to locate and operate. Whether or not the extended slide-catch lever is a plus or a minus will depend on the shooter's preferences. It may get in the way or be bumped into action by some shooting grips, but I didn't have any problems with it. The front edges of the polymer magazine base plates on this sample contained two forward points that were quite sharp and uncomfortable to handle. This is only a minor issue that is quickly solved with a bit of sanding, but is something to be aware of.
Shots fired at 25 yards stayed center-of-mass on target, providing acceptable combat accuracy, but not forming tight groups. Moving the targets to 15 yards yielded better results, with five-shot groups fired from a bench tightening up into the 2-inch range. The best single group of 1.5 inches at 15 yards was produced using Hornady Custom 124-grain XTP loads, with the largest test group not exceeding 2.75 inches in size.
The CPX-2 was test driven for concealed-carry comfort in what turned out to be two excellent holster systems. For strong-side hip carry, the Bianchi Model 100, Size 10A, in-the-waistband leather holster worked very well. This holster provided a quick, smooth draw, held its shape for easy re-holstering and can be quickly removed while the pistol is inserted when the owner needs to disarm. The other carry method tested was the new CrossBreed Ankle Rig. Although the CPX-2 is a lightweight pistol, its size pushes the upper limits of what can be practically strapped to a person's leg for concealed carry. So it was a positive experience to see how this particular ankle holster, designed by Mark Craighead and manufactured here in America, was comfortable enough for all-day carry with the CPX-2.
Plenty of folks are wrestling with the challenges of tight finances while looking for a personal-protection handgun that can stand up to regular practice sessions and daily carry. The SCCY Industries CPX-2 is more gun than one would expect for a real-world price of less than $300. The company has performed 5,000-round endurance tests without any breakages. In fact, the company is confident enough in its product to offer a lifetime warranty that follows the pistol, not the owner. And it sure doesn't hurt this pistol's appeal that it is wholly manufactured and assembled here in the United States.
Manufacturer: SCCY Industries; www.sccy.com
Model: Gen 2 CPX-2 Two Tone
Action: Double-Action Only
Caliber: 9 mm
Slide: Stainless Steel, Natural Satin or Black Nitride Finish
Frame: Zytel Polymer
Sights: Steel 3-Dot, Rear Windage Adjustable
Barrel Length: 3.1”
Overall Length: 5.7”
Weight: 15 ozs.
Capacity: 10+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 7
Accessories: Two magazines with flat base plates, two extended base plates, trigger lock, manual, lubricant pouch
Suggested Retail Price: $319
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