There’s just something about a small, good looking handgun that makes me happy and the SCCY is no different.
Based on sales numbers, I’m not the only one who feels that way, and SCCY (Pronounced “sky”) has noticed. They released the CPX 1 and it’s almost identical twin the CPX 2 in an attempt to cash in on the gun-buying public’s desire for a cheap, good-looking pocket gun.
Well, there’s no doubt the guns are cheap as they regularly sell for as low as $200, and they look better than about 90% of polymer-framed CCW guns, at least in my opinion.
But are they worth it?
That’s actually a question my Dad asked me a while back when he was looking for a “glovebox gun” that he could drop in a pocket to go in a store for a few minutes or something.
Well, not wanting to tell him “I have no fu$&@%ng clue”, I set out to find out if these guns were worth it, or just a cash-grab from a fly-by-night new manufacturer.
A few years back, the “pocket gun” became the new hot thing in the gun world, and for a long time, a small, reliable gun that could fit in a pants pocket became something every manufacturer had to make.
The Ruger LCR and LCP, the Glock 42 and 43, and the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard have all carved out big segments of this market and are the most popular options, but other manufacturers like Kahr, NAA, Taurus, and SCCY have also grabbed substantial pieces of the market for themselves as well.
Better or worse, the SCCY CPX line has exploded in popularity, so I was excited to get my hands on one and see how it did in our testing.
SCCY CPX-1 + 2 First Impressions
Right out of the gate, we have to talk about the difference in the CPX-1 and the CPX-2, that difference being the presence of a manual thumb safety. The CPX-1 has one, the CPX-2 doesn’t. Given the double-action-only nature of the gun, I opted for the CPX-2 and recommend you do as well, but if you want the thumb safety, the option is there. Both are available in 9mm only.
The SCCY CPX-2 is available in a wide range of factory color combinations. You have the option of stainless or black for the slide, and nine different frame colors or black, white, red, tan, orange, pink, purple, teal, gray, and white.
I don’t know of another manufacturer that has that many factory options on a handgun, so that’s a plus.
Holding this $200, mostly-polymer gun, you’d expect it to feel cheap, but it actually feels really solid. There’s none of that Nerf gun type feel you get with a lot of similarly-priced firearms.
This is in no small part due to the experience of SCCY owner Joe Roebuck. Joe is an engineer and a tool and die maker by trade, and he runs a tight ship on the shop floor. SCCY developed all their own tooling and machining processes for the CPX handguns, which is how they’re able to produce such a quality handgun at such a low price.
Seriously, the CPX-2 has a total of 36 parts in it, the linkages are dead simple, and the slide and barrel are all machined out of bar stock. The grip is made from injection-molded Zytel which is plenty strong, but still lightweight and inexpensive enough to work with.
The sights are a windage-adjustable 3-dot affair, and they’re alright. Nothing to write home about, but perfectly adequate for an inexpensive defensive gun. At self-defense distances, point shooting is going to be more important than perfect sight-alignment anyway.
For your money you get two single-stack 10 round magazines with interchangeable base plates, two flush bases and two extended bases that give your pinky a little more to hold on to, which is perfect if you have bigger hands, or just want that extra grip.
Reliability-wise, there are two things to be aware of. First, the magazines that shipped with this pistol don’t like steel-cased ammo. Given that this is a defensive handgun you shouldn’t be using cheap steel-cased ammo with it anyway, but it’s worth pointing out. Something about the texture inside the mag like to bind with steel cases.
Second, I had two light primer strikes that I couldn’t get to go off in the SCCY but went off just fine in my GLOCK. Now, this was with the same cheap steel-cased surplus that you shouldn’t use anyway, and hard primers are common with that kind of stuff, so I wouldn’t really be concerned there either.
For all practical purposes, with good ammo, the gun goes bang every time. I’d trust it enough to carry it for sure if I was on a tight budget.
Now, you’re probably thinking “All that for $250? What’s the catch?” And of course, there is one because we live in an imperfect world.
It’s the trigger.
I dry fired this thing a little bit as soon as I got my hands on it, and oh my lord. I don’t want to say the trigger is badly designed or badly made because, for what is, it’s not. The gun uses a double-action-only internal hammer design so the trigger has to draw the hammer back until it trips the sear and then it comes down on the firing pin to ignite the round.
That’s a lot of work it has to do, and that work is evident in the long trigger pull on this thing. I’ve used caulk guns with triggers that weren’t as long. It’s also fairly heavy at a little under 9lbs of pull weight (The three I tested were 8.4-8.6lbs). That’s almost right up there with NYPD GLOCK triggers.
The trigger is not great, in other words.
For all that though, the trigger is relatively smooth with no real stacking. Just a mile long straight pull all the way back and then an equally lengthy reset. You can also get an aftermarket short-stroke trigger and hammer kit for about $70, but how many of us are going to spend that kind of money on modding a gun like this?
Few, I’d imagine, and I can only evaluate this as it comes from the factory, and from the factory the trigger is damn difficult to use, and actively hinders accuracy.
In short, a competition gun this ain’t. But that’s not really its purpose is it? This isn’t a target gun, and at a little over a third the cost of a GLOCK, we have to temper our expectations a little bit.
One final quibble: the gun is rated for +P ammo but only for “limited use”. Now, +P ammo is most defensive ammo, so that’s a bit of a problem, but carry ammo is expensive anyway so you probably aren’t going to be shooting it much.
A box or two every few months isn’t going to hurt it, and I’ve shot maybe 200 rounds of +P ammo through this thing at this point and the gun is still running just fine. And it’s worth noting that it’s not going to blow up or anything, you’re just going to wear the friction surfaces out faster
So with that in mind, how well does the gun fulfill its role as a small, defensive-minded handgun? Well, that’s the real question, isn’t it?
Shooting The SCCY CPX-2
The gun is mechanically fairly accurate but is massively held back by that trigger.
For reference, my best group with six different types of ammo was about a dinner plate-sized monstrosity at 25 yards. At 7 yards, I was able to keep everything in the A-zone, but only just.
With my Glock 48, I can get a 3” group at 25, and I can do about the same with my LC9s. And I can stack rounds touching at 7 yards. I’m no Jerry Miculek, but I don’t suck either, so when I say it’s not me, it’s the gun, I mean it.
Granted, I’m new to shooting the SCCY and had only shot about 50 rounds through it before I tried to shoot for grouping, but frankly, I don’t think much more practice tightened my groups a whole lot. The trigger on this is just not at all helpful when trying to shoot accurately.
But let’s think about this. This is a gun that’s designed to stop someone trying to do you harm, not win any accuracy competitions.
How accurate does it need to be, really? That’s still a 4-inch group up there at ten yards, and at twenty yards I was still at about an 8-inch spread. That’s hits in the upper chest, as a distance that’s further than almost any justifiable self-defense shooting I can find record of outside of police/military incidents.
In most defensive situations, you have an attacker at a distance of fewer than seven yards, and you’re going to be aiming for an adult human torso. This pistol is easily capable of that.
With practice, I got a 10-yard Failure Drill (two quick shots to the heart/lung area, and one to the brain) down to a time only about a half-second longer than what I could do with the LC9S which I’m much more familiar with.
I think with $40 in ammo and some practice anyone can be proficient enough with this gun to protect themselves with it, but for serious defensive use, I’d say there are better options out there if you have an extra $150 to spend.
That said, for $200, it makes a fantastic backup gun, glovebox gun, or even a primary self-defense tool if you’re on a tight budget.
I’m all about making gun ownership more inclusive, and something that can be for everyone, and a lot more people can afford a $200 SCCY, than a $500 GLOCK if they need to defend themselves.
Who’s it For?
That doesn’t mean the SCCY CPX-2 (or CPX-1) is necessarily for everyone though.
In my mind, if you find yourself frequently leaving your gun at home because its too heavy or bulky ( I live in the South, I’ve done it many a time in the summer), then you may want to look at something smaller. If you have plenty of money, is an LC9s better? Or an S&W Shield or Bodyguard?
Maybe. They’re certainly easier to shoot tight groups with because of the better triggers, and probably going to be a little bit more durable, and have a more reliable and well-known name behind them.
Conversely, they’re also about $100-$150 more expensive, don’t look as good, and aren’t available in as many cool colors. Does cool matter? That’s for you to decide, but if you decide it does matter you could certainly do worse than the CPX line, and you can’t do better for the price.
All in all, this is a good carry gun. For $200 or so and under $180 on sale, it’s maybe even a great one. If you want a backup gun or something to carry in a cargo pocket when it’s hot out, or you’re like my father and want a hideaway gun for a glovebox, tackle box or toolbox, $250 is hard to beat for ten rounds of 9mm on tap in a good-looking package.
I think that’s where this gun really shines. It’s not a better gun than the $300 and up pocket gun crowd, but it’s a contender for the best gun under $300, and it’s definitely a big step up from the High Points and other “problem solva” guns that you can pickup for the same price.
Finally, and most importantly, it is infinitely better than no gun at all. If you don’t have the cash to drop on a more expensive gun, or otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a backup gun for your car or to squirrel away somewhere in your home, it’s a great option.
It’s also a solid option for anyone looking for a small, easy-to-conceal handgun that won’t break the bank or those who just want a good looking James Bond-esque handgun.
What do you think of the SCCY? Is it good enough, or are you held back by the sub-par trigger? Let us know in the comments!