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Tested: SCCY Industries CPX-3 Pistol

Tested: SCCY Industries CPX-3 Pistol

My first experience working with SCCY Industries’ budget-friendly CPX series of pistols was back in 2013. The CPX-2 chambered in 9 mm quickly became a popular option on the concealed-carry market. In 2015, the company announced the CPX-3. It’s a scaled down version of the CPX-2 chambered in .380 ACP and incorporates the new Roebuck Quad-Lock action design. However, SCCY has been so busy filling orders for the CPX-2 and CPX-1 models that the launch of the CPX-3 has been postponed until now.

Like its 9 mm predecessors, the CPX-3 is a locked-breech semi-automatic with a tilting barrel. The stainless steel slide is 0.25" shorter than the 9 mm version with a rounded off muzzle end, beveled edges and scalloped rear cocking serrations. The relatively small ejection port has a rounded cut out on the left side to accommodate the ejection of live cartridges. The useful metallic 3-dot sights are low profile while remaining easy to see and use. The dovetailed rear sight has a tension screw that allows for windage adjustments.

 

The Roebuck Quad-Lock action is named after SCCY's founder and CEO Joe Roebuck, who also serves as the company’s head of design and engineering. The Quad-Lock system centers and rigidly locks the tilting barrel in place after each shot for better and more consistent accuracy.

The easiest way to appreciate the design updates is to compare one of the earlier CPX-2 barrels (top) to the new 2.96" long CPX-3 barrel (bottom). The front portion of the barrel's cam shares some similarities to that of the Ruger American pistol. In the case of the Ruger, it was designed to reduce felt recoil. As I would find out later at the shooting range, the Quad-Lock system also reduces recoil, but it does more than that.

The cam is radiused to move around the disassembly pin, pressing the rear of the barrel upward. This forces the notches at the front of the chamber to firmly engage the front edge of the ejection port. In addition, the cam presses the muzzle end of the barrel down into the bottom edge of the opening in the slide for a third point of contact. The opening in the slide is not actually round but is narrower at the bottom than the top. This allows the muzzle of the barrel to snug down into a firm position much like placing a gun into the V-shaped supports of a rifle rest.

In fact, when the pistol is fired, the barrel is pressed even more firmly into the slide’s opening making the lock up even tighter at the moment of discharge. As the bullet leaves the barrel, the Quad-Lock system releases at these key points to allow the slide to cycle. Because of this firm lock up in the action and the use of a fairly mild pistol cartridge, the slide can safely operate with a relatively low mass and a light single flat-wire recoil spring (captured on a steel guide rod). The result is a slide that's easy to cycle manually.

Inside the Zytel polymer frame is a one-piece 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum receiver block that has been milled from bar stock and heat treated. This block contains the firing mechanism and provides 3.35" worth of continuous rail on each side to support the slide. The gun's serial number is engraved on the block just below the hammer.

The external controls consist of a steel takedown pin, a polymerized sheet metal slide catch and a small polymer square button magazine release, all of which are located on the left side of the frame. The rounded trigger guard houses a smooth faced polymer bow trigger and is undercut where it meets the grip frame.

The double-action trigger was exceptionally smooth right out of the box. The trigger's arch of travel is similar to that of a double-action revolver but nowhere near as heavy. The trigger moves all the way to the rear of the trigger guard to fire and must be released all the way forward in order to reset. 

Folks who use striker-fired guns are used to triggers that require somewhere around 5 lbs. 8 oz. of trigger pull. Several double-action revolvers and pistols have much heavier triggers with pulls in the 12 to 15-lbs. range. The CPX-3 neatly splits the difference with a trigger pull of 8 lbs. 5 oz. (as tested). Because the trigger is so smooth it doesn't feel as heavy as the gauge indicates and can be quickly mastered with a modest amount of practice. This pistol has no external thumb safety. It relies instead on the double-action trigger pull to aid in avoiding unintentional discharges. The use of an inertial firing pin and a recessed hammer prevent the pistol from firing if dropped.

Although the grip frame's width is the same as the 9 mm models (1.10"), the front-to-back distance has been reduced by 0.25". That may not sound like much but to those with smaller hands the difference is immediately noticeable, especially when reaching for the magazine release or slide catch. Like other SCCY offerings, the grip's sides and backstrap have a light molded-in texturing with finger grooves gracing the frontstrap. Divots in the grip, right behind the trigger on both sides, act as thumb rests for right- or left-handed shooters. The dust cover is also grooved on both sides to provide a tangible resting place for the tip of the shooting finger when it's being held out straight against the frame in preparation for firing.

As I've mentioned in the past, I appreciate gun makers that don't scrimp on the accessories they ship with new pistols. The CPX-3 arrives with two flat-based 10-round steel magazines, two magazine finger extension baseplates, a custom lock that fits around the trigger guard and two keys for the lock. Many pistols in this price range arrive with just one magazine. As of this writing, this model is available with a black frame and the customer's choice of a natural satin silver (shown) or black nitride finished stainless steel. The company plans to introduce more of its signature colorful frame options in the future.

 

 

As a fair share of concealed-carry practitioners have discovered for themselves, it's a mistake to assume that a pistol chambered in .380 ACP is automatically going to be soft shooting than a larger caliber. Some blow-back operated, ultra compact and lightweight models can be punishing to work with (some start to hurt after the first magazine). The slightly wider double-stack grip and Quad-Lock action work together to keep felt recoil at modest levels, despite the pistol’s light 16.2 oz. weight.

The CPX-3 was not fussy about which loads it was fed. It ran reliably with loads ranging from practice-grade full-metal-jacket rounds up to premium hollow points in all five of the factory magazines tested with the gun.

Formal accuracy testing was conducted at 7 yards from a benchrest using the pistol's factory installed iron sights. The new Browning Ammunition 95-gr. full-metal-jacket flat point yielded a best single five-shot group of 1.33" with a five group average of 1.37". The lowest level of felt recoil was produced by Gorilla Ammunition's Silverback 95-gr. Self Defense all-copper hollow point with a best group of 1.18" and an average of 1.25". The best single group of 1.13" was printed using Sig Saur Elite Performance 90-gr. V-Crown jacketed hollow points with an average of 1.19".

The new SCCY Industries CPX-3 pistol is an exceptionally well balanced defensive pistol with a bargain basement price tag. The suggested retail is just $229 which is going to translate into real world prices closer to $200. Compressing the platform to fit the .380 ACP cartridge makes it easier to carry and provides a grip frame that will fit a broader range of hand sizes. The slide is easy to rack and the smooth double-action trigger can be quickly mastered even by less experienced shooters.

Thanks to the Quad-Lock action, this is one of the softest shooting center-fire pistols I've worked with. This makes for easier follow-up shots and longer practice sessions at the range. The double-stack magazines bump the ammunition capacity up to 10+1 rounds which is about four rounds more than the single-stack models in this price and size class. For those new shooters who are looking for a first concealed-carry handgun, those who are recoil sensitive, or anyone looking for a straight shooting .380 ACP at a very fair price, the CPX-3 deserves your consideration.

Specifications:
Manufacturer: SCCY Industries
Model: CPX-3
Action: Locked-Breech Semi-Automatic, Double-Action Only
Caliber: .380 ACP
Slide: Stainless Steel, Natural Satin or Black Nitride Finish
Frame: Zytel Polymer
Sights: Steel 3-Dot, Rear Drift Adjustable for Windage
Trigger Pull: 8 lbs. 5 oz. (as tested)
Barrel Length: 2.96"
Overall Length: 5.70"
Height: 4.32”
Slide Width: 0.99"
Grip Width: 1.10"
Weight: 16.2 oz. with empty magazine
Capacity: 10+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 7
Accessories: Two magazines with flat baseplates, two extended baseplates, trigger lock, owner's manual
MSRP: $229

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