Concealed-carry pistol trends of the past have not changed good deal, much like men's necktie styles. They get smaller, then bigger, then smaller again, ad nauseam. But the latest get-smaller pistol trend, namely, the "micro nine" sub-compact 9 mm pistols, look like they are here to stay.
The Florida-based gun manufacturing company SCCY Industries was in the micro nine business back in 2003, well before they were hip with the ‘in’ crowd. The company's bread-and-butter models for many of those years have been the Gen 2 CPX series of hammer-fired, double-action only pistols. In 2020, we finally saw the long promised arrival of the CPX-3 and CPX-4, sporting frames compressed to better fit the .380 ACP cartridges they’re chambered to fire. That same year marked the arrival of optics-ready slides and the company's very first striker-fired pistol, the DVG-1.
In the process of developing these more recent models, it became clear that the nearly two-decade old CPX line-up was in need of a facelift if it was going to remain competitive in the quickly growing micro nine category. At SHOT Show 2022, SCCY was ready to launch the refreshed Gen3 version of its CPX options. Here's a closer look at what these pistols have to offer.
Classic CPX Features
The CPX-1 and CPX-2 are hammer-fired, double-action-only semi-automatics chambered in 9 mm that employ a short recoil-operated action. They borrow much of their design from certain KelTec handguns, including the P32 and the discontinued PF9. The primary difference between these two models is that the CPX-1 version features an ambidextrous thumb safety lever, which is omitted from the CPX-2. Otherwise, the CPX pistol features are alike.
The Gen2 grip frame features finger grooves and vents (Left). The Gen3 frame (Right) has been smoothed, trimmed and re-textured for a more comfortable fit.
In moving up to the Gen3 versions, SCCY kept several features that have contributed to the popularity of the gun. The three-dot sight system is metallic instead of polymer, with a drift-adjustable rear sight. The slide is made of stainless steel, with a choice of a matte natural silver finish or a flat black nitride finish applied over the stainless steel.
The 3.1" stainless-steel barrel features seven grooves of traditional land-and-groove rifling, which is compatible with unjacketed lead bullets. The dual captured recoil springs wrap around a steel guide rod. At the heart of the pistol is a one-piece, heat-treated 7075-T6 aerospace aluminum receiver block. This block is the serial-numbered component, which is milled from bar stock and provides 3.35" worth of continuous rail on each side to support the slide.
The pyramidal Gen2 slide (l.) has been replaced with a squared-off profile for the Gen3 (r.).
The removable take-down pin and the slide-stop lever are both located on the left side of the frame. The CPX-1's ambidextrous thumb safety is located behind the slide stop. It swings up into the "SAFE" position and down to fire. The trigger is made of anodized aluminum with a smooth, curved face.
The frame is molded from Zytel polymer, a member of the nylon family, which has a well-proven track record of reliability when used for handgun components. SCCY currently offers no fewer than 10 frame colors to choose from, including black, tan, orange, lime green and robin's egg blue. These colors are molded into the polymer itself, which means they won't rub off like those applied to painted or dipped frames.
The reduced-size safety lever of the Gen3 CPX-1 was borrowed from the .380 ACP version of the pistol.
The CPX models ship with two blued-steel, 10-round, double-stack magazines. If I have a complaint about the Gen3 update, it’s that SCCY still does not yet offer magazines that hold 11-, 12- or 13-rounds like its competitors. Seeing as how the magazines have a finger extension on the bases, switching over to a +1 or +2 base does not seem like a solution that is out of reach for the company.
Gen3 Feature Updates
The Gen3 CPX pistols have a new slide profile borrowed from the DVG-1 striker guns. The pyramidal top edge bevel has been replaced with a squared-off shape, which is better suited to an optics-ready slide configuration. All Gen3 models are available with either a plain slide or a micro red-dot optic slot that ships with a filler plate installed. The optics-ready slide only costs about $30 more, making it an affordable upgrade.
The Gen3 CPX-2 sports the same features as the CPX-1 except for the omission of the thumb safety lever.
The action has been updated to the company's Roebuck Quad-Lock system, which debuted with the CPX-3 in .380 ACP. Developed by the company's founder and CEO, Joe Roebuck, this system reduces felt recoil and contributes to more consistent group sizes. The barrel port at the muzzle end of the slide is ovoid in shape. This leaves a bit of open space above the business end of the barrel. When the action is closed, or, ready to fire, the barrel's chamber is pressed firmly into the front edge of the slide's ejection port. At the same time, the barrel's muzzle is pressed downward into the narrower base of the ovoid opening. The goal of the design is to give the barrel four points of lock-up for more consistent shot-to-shot accuracy.
The CPX pistols break down easily for cleaning without pressing the trigger as part of the disassembly process.
The other key Gen3 changes are found in the polymer grip frame. An integral 1" long, two-slot Picatinny accessory rail has been added to the dust cover to support small light and laser sight modules. The front-to-back distance of the grip has been reduced by 0.10." The frontstrap's finger grooves have been flattened out and the back strap's vents removed. The Gen2 pistols had molded-in moderate texture panels on all four sides. The Gen3 keeps the moderate texture on the sides but the front and backstrap now have a deeper ridged texturing. These grip changes work together to make the Gen3 pistols noticeably more comfortable to hold and a better fit for smaller hands.
If you prefer a more unique polymer frame SCCY has several bright colors to choose from in addition to the more traditional black, tan and grey options.
The other big improvement applies to the CPX-1 model. The Gen2 guns have a relatively long ambidextrous thumb safety lever and raised ridges that protrude from the grip frame on both sides to guard the lever against unintentionally being bumped up into the "SAFE" position. When I shot the Gen2 CPX-1, those ridges would dig into my hand uncomfortably when shooting. It was not a dealbreaker, per se, but I preferred working with the CPX-2. The Gen3 CPX-1 thumb safety lever has been shortened by 0.3", which is to say it's the same lever found on the CPX-4 .380 ACP pistol. The protective ridges have been removed completely.
At The Range
To verify if these safety lever modifications were successful, I opted to use the optics-ready version of the Gen3 CPX-1 as the test gun at the shooting range. The pistol was topped off with the micro red-dot optic I happened to have on hand, which was the Shield Sights Reflex Mini Sight with a 4-m.o.a. dot. This particular red-dot costs about $70 more than the test gun and performed nicely.
The pistol tested demonstrated a preference for bullet weights of 124 grains or greater.
I'm happy to report that the grip was comfortable to work with, and the safety lever did not incur any discomfort. The pistol was fired with a total of six factory 10-round magazines and standard pressure 9 mm loads, ranging from practice grade to premium defensive hollow points. The pistol, magazines and ammunition all got along swimmingly with no malfunctions, hang-ups or problems in the course of informal and formal testing. The formal range results generated using Fiocchi and Hornady loads at 7 yards are shown in the following table:
|9 mm Luger||Average Velocity||Muzzle Energy||Smallest Group
|Fiocchi Training Dynamics 115-grain FMJ||1,042 f.p.s.||277 ft.-lbs.||2.31"||2.64"||2.47"|
|Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics 124-grain JHP||1,073 f.p.s.||317 ft.-lbs.||1.11"||1.37"||1.23"|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135-grain FlexLock||980 f.p.s.||288 ft.-lbs.||1.26"||1.57"||1.43"|
Some degree of bullet velocity loss should be expected with barrels shorter than 4”.
I laid hands on a SCCY Industries CPX-2 for the first time nearly 10 years ago. I've kept looking for opportunities to talk about this company's products ever since because I like what it has to offer: compact, lightweight 9 mm carry pistols with useful features made right here in the United States at prices just about anyone can afford. The Gen3 CPX series keeps the best of the original double-action only design while incorporating updates that bring it in line with competing micro nine platforms. After 20 years, the CPX is still one of the smallest subcompact 9 mm pistols available.
The new Gen3 grip frame proved to be more comfortable to work with than the Gen2.
Action Type: recoil-operated, semi-automatic, centerfire pistol
Chambering: 9 mm
Frame: Zytel polymer, various colors
Barrel: stainless steel; seven-groove, 1:16" RH twist rifling
Trigger: hammer fired double-action only; 8-lbs. 10-oz. pull
Sights: metallic three-dot, optics ready slide
Magazine: 10-round detachable box
Weight: 17.5 ozs. (with empty magazine, no optic)
Accessories: two magazines, trigger lock, owner's manual
MSRP: plain slide $330, optics-ready slide $360