By R.K. Campbell
One of the most desirable types of handgun in the modern world is the compact carry pistol, and one that is reliable and powerful enough for the critical chore of personal defense is a friend indeed. There are many handguns that have few virtues. It is easy enough to make a handgun small but compact and reliable – not to mention powerful – are often not part of the pistol’s attributes. By the same token, cut down versions of service pistols with a short slide and compact frame do not always come off well. A purpose designed carry pistol will feature a different geometry than a short barrel/short frame service pistol. This geometry is more pleasing to the hand and often enough the pistol is more concealable than a cut down service pistol with similar dimensions. Among the most interesting of the purpose designed compact pistols is the CPX 2 9mm pistol. The CPX 2 is a variation of the CPX 1, with the primary difference the CPX 1 features a thumb safety. Many of us believe that an automatic pistol without a safety abrogates many of the advantages of the type. At any rate SCCY Industries offers both versions. The pistol with the safety, the CPX 1, may be carried with the safety on or the safety off as the user prefers. It is definitely an advantage that the user keep a pistol designed for carry close to the body on safe, providing they have practiced with the pistol in order to master rapid deployment of the handgun. If they are not willing to practice they have little business carrying a deadly weapon. As for the CPX 2 with no manual safety, the trigger action is heavy enough to avoid most missteps. A large number of concealed carry handgun users believe that simple readiness demands that the pistol be capable of being drawn and fired without any type of hindrance or hesitation. The CPX 2 meets these criteria.
The first impression of the SCCY CPX 2 comes not from examining the pistol but from its modest price; right around three hundred dollars. We cannot help but wonder what type of engineering and performance is achieved for this light a tariff. As it turns out, the piece is well designed for economical CNC manufacture. It isn’t machined from steel; rather the frame is polymer and the slide devoid of difficult to machine edges. But the piece works and works well per our test program. The company gives the consumer a vote of confidence with a lifetime warranty. The pistol isn’t cheaply made of inferior material. The recoil spring guide, as an example, is of steel versus the plastic so often found even in much more expansive pistols. The pistol features a 3.1 inch barrel with the standard 1 in 16 twist for the 9mm Luger cartridge. The finish is a modern black nitride in some versions and stainless steel slides are an option. There are claims for the nitride finish including high corrosion resistance and self lubrication but the pistol needs to be cleaned and lubricated. Clean it every three hundred rounds at the minimum, and lubricate it for carry. The slide is pleasantly shaped and angled at the front for easy insertion into the holster. The cocking serrations are generous. A good feature of the pistol is the high profile sights. A small handgun needs good sights and the high profile sights of the CPX 2 are a pleasant change from the slide grooves found on many compact pistols. The rear sight is drift adjustable. The front set is inserted into the slide and held with a set screw. This is a neat operation not expected on an inexpensive pistol, but my advice would be to sight the pistol in and then permanently Loctite the front sight in place. Compact pistols firing high intensity cartridges take a beating and a sight held with a set screw is simply bound to work loose. At least this has been my experience with many pistols. After three hundred and forty rounds, the CPX 2 has not worked loose. The pistol’s extractor is a robust design not likely to give trouble and the ejector is as compact as possible but efficiently kicks the spent cases out. The ejection port is wide enough to ensure the spent case clears or that a loaded cartridge is easily cleared during administrative handling.
The grip fits most hands well although the magazine is a ten round capacity double column feed device. The magazine fits flush with the frame and offers a slight finger extension. There are flush mount magazine bases available if preferred. The grip fits most hands as mentioned but the pistol is also more comfortable in recoil than the size and weight of the pistol would warrant. The pistol’s trigger is wide to afford good leverage in managing a long double action trigger press. Double action only pocket pistols make sense and the CPX 2 is a double action only that cocks and drops the hammer with each press of the trigger. The hammer is hidden in the slide but visible from the rear, and this hammer rides to the at rest position with each fall of the slide. The double action only trigger breaks at about eight and one half pounds of compression. It is smooth and quicker than the measured weight would indicate. The slide lock is neatly fitted to be as low profile as possible and the push button magazine release is unobtrusive. Take down is accomplished by prying the slide lock out with a flat tip screwdriver, coin or even a thumbnail. The pistol breaks down into the major components easily enough.
In preparing to fire the CPX 2 we found the magazine’s springs are stiff enough to ensure the pistol feeds from full compression with ten rounds to almost no compression on the last round. With the magazine fully loaded and the chamber loaded, full capacity is eleven rounds of ammunition. This is more than double the available rounds in a traditional carry gun like the snubnose .38 caliber revolver, and while there are other significant differences in the types, the 9mm compact pistol does have an advantage in magazine capacity. Given that the pistol is only slightly larger than compact .380 caliber pistols, this is an interesting combination. The pistol delivered for this evaluation is the stainless steel slide version. The pistol was examined, photographed and lubricated before the firing test. I began the firing test by loading the magazines with inexpensive Black Hills 115 grain FMJ loads from the remanufactured line. To gauge the efficiency of the type for personal defense, I began firing the pistol at 5 and then 7 yards at typical man sized silhouettes. The key to managing a double action trigger is to press the trigger and allow it to reset in about the same time frame. Press, reset, and the cadence of fire is set not by how quickly you are able to manage the trigger but rather by how quickly you are able to reacquire the sights after recoil. It was no mean feat to keep a magazine full of ammunition centered in the X ring. The pistol was more comfortable in firing than would be expected and the sights seemed well regulated for 115 grain ammunition. We proceeded to fire a good number of cartridges during the test program and over the next few weeks racked up a substantial number of rounds fired despite the present shortage of ammunition. The pistol was lubricated often but not cleaned until well past the three hundred rounds mark. The pistol fed, chambered, fired and ejected normally with every load tested. These included the Black Hills 115 grain FMJ and also the Black Hills EXP 115 grain hollow point and the Black Hills 124 grain + P. While recoil was noticeably greater with the +P loads, it was not uncomfortably so. The only malfunctions were several instances in which the slide locked to the rear during a firing string. This was traced to shooter error and the shooter contacting the slide lock with the thumb during a firing string. This is not uncommon with light pistols with sharp recoil. However, recoil was not uncomfortable- it was simply obvious that momentum was there.
As for accuracy it is difficult to test a double action only pistol with a 4.5 inch sight radius for absolute accuracy. Managing the sights and trigger is more difficult and while it isn’t difficult for a trained shot to manage in defensive shooting we may not be giving the pistol a fair shake as far as accuracy testing. Just the same, we test fired the piece from a barricade rest at 15 yards. The pistol is clearly accurate enough for the task at hand, reliable, and in the end a particularly good buy.
The pistol was carried primarily in a Remora or ‘sticky’ holster with good results. We also carried the pistol in a Vigilant belt slide, a new branch of pinkpistolholsters.com. The pistol rode light enough and a good draw was possible with the Vigilant holster.
15 yard accuracy: average of two five shot groups at 45 feet, measured in inches.
Black Hills 115 grain FMJ: 3.5 inches
Black Hills 124 grain JHP +P: 2.9 inches
Hornady 115 grain Critical Defense: 3.4 inches
Fiocchi 124 grain Extreme: 3.2 inches
Magazine capacity: 10
Action: Double action only
Barrel length: 3.1 inches
Overall length: 5.7 inches
Weight: 15.25 ounces unloaded
Average price: $339
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