The Steyr M9 has been around for years, but has gone unnoticed for the most part. They are only recently getting serious recognition in this country. I heard about them not too long ago and was interested to know more about the Steyr brand of pistols. Surely it couldn’t have been anything special since I hadn’t heard of them before, right? The more I read about them, the more the pistols called for me to adopt one. I finally got one in my possession and I have been very happy with it. This pistol conceals a few cool things within its humble and very broad appearance.
Steyr, the company, has been making iron weapons since as early as the 12th century with iron ore mined from the old Erzberg mine. The company began making a slew of weapons to include muskets and other firearms for the Habsburg Emperial Army after the Thirty Year’s War in the early 1600’s. That is not that long after Beretta got their start, if you think about it, yet Steyr is relatively a less known company when it comes to firearms manufacturing. Around WW1, Steyr was producing repeating rifles and semi-automatic pistols for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WW1, Steyr had to turn into a car and bicycle manufacturer to prevent them from going bankrupt, due to the treaties which prohibited them from making weapons. Steyr did not see much production of weapons until the 50’s when the Austrian Army had a resurgence and needed to be supplied with weapons. As we all know, the 70’s was really the time that Steyr became a worldwide name in firearms manufacturing, with the manufacturing of the Steyr AUG. This design was revolutionary with its extensive use of polymer and is recognized as being the first widely fielded bullpup design. Though Steyr is not well known for its other weapons, it does not mean that they do not make some of the best guns you can get.
In 1999, Steyr came out with their first generation of M-series pistols. It has seen three total generations that have made minor improvements. Some improvements include a STANAG 2324 picatinny rail, a roll pin just below the rear sight, and an improved extractor that allows for more reliable and consistent extraction. Currently I feel that the design is darn near perfect and comes with every feature you need in order to perform well. But it isn’t quite left hand friendly unless the left hand crowd is already comfortable running right-handed pistols.
Normally I don’t really care what the packaging is like for any of my guns, but I found the Steyr M9 to have a very lacking setup. You are getting a nice, solid case that is lockable and has a nice logo imprinted on the front. The inside seems a little over-sized for what little you are getting with the gun though. You basically just get the gun, the extra magazine, a lock, and two keys for the safety that lock up the gun. No instruction manual, stickers, nothing. I found that a little odd, but then again, I don’t really mind too much. I rarely stare at the manual I get with my guns, so there is no hard feelings from myself, but I still find it slightly odd.
The grip is smooth and uses only two finger grooves to help secure your grip. I like how the polymer was molded to be smooth. It makes this grip feel like a handful of play-dough that you squeezed.
The angle of the grip is kind of aggressive compared to other pistols you may be used to. The funny thing is that the look is deceptive to how it actually points. I don’t know what it is, but when you aim in, the grip seems to feel more and more like it was molded to your hand.
Though it does not have extra backstraps, the grip sure makes up for it by being almost perfect in design and thickness. The grip texture all around it just seem to disappear and go unnoticed when shooting. It just feels molded to your hand, even when shooting one handed.
The Steyr pistols are known for their trapezoidal sights. It is the biggest thing that separates them and makes them stand out from the competition. The sights on the Steyr M9 are very unique and are actually the best sight design I have ever run for a pistol. Just shy of running a red dot, this must be the most accurate sighting system, in the sense of being able to “point the arrow” where you want the round to impact, as long as your POA/POI are calibrated properly.
I do not understand why people wouldn’t like this system. The triangle front sight is huge and you can see it clearly even when focusing on the target. The sights are steel and the rear sight does have a small ledge for one handed manipulations.
So far the trigger needs some work before a trigger snob can be pleased with its feel. It has a short travel after the safety is disengaged. The trigger has minimal takeup but it doesn’t “break” in the traditional sense. It more or less just glides into the snap gracefully. I find the reset to be nice and short.
I know people don’t care for the fact that an air horn doesn’t go off when the trigger resets, but I like the subtle short reset. This trigger is very easy to run fast and I have nothing but success in running this pistol fast and accurately. The Steyr M9 trigger reminds me of the VP9 trigger, but with the smoothness of the PPQ. I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy this trigger or think it needs a lot of help. One interesting note is that the striker face and sear are angled instead of straight. This helps the trigger “glide” versus “stutter” to the break. See below for pictures.
Disassembling the Steyr M9 requires you to pull the trigger, and then depress the safety lockup button so you can rotate the takedown lever downward. This safety button is a built in safety that is designed to lock up the gun and render it inoperable. The button remains recessed in the frame of the gun, out of reach. But in order to get the gun locked up in the first place, you need the key. You are provided with two in the box you get the pistol in. I do not see this as an issue by any means, but some people really don’t like that they need to depress a button while rotating a takedown lever. But remember this by contrast: You have to pull the slide back and hold down the takedown levers on the Glock before you push the slide forward. To me, this sounds like a comparable amount of work to takedown a pistol.
The trigger group is a very unique system that I have never seen elsewhere. The trigger group comes out as part of the chassis system, which is the only serialized part of the gun. This simplifies maintenance and virtually eliminates the need for tools. The internals as a whole are very simple, have very well built/machined parts and are pretty beefy for a long service life.
When I shot the Steyr M9 at first, I noticed right away that the sights were amazing. the rounds impacted right where I was aiming. As long as I was aiming properly and not screwing up my trigger pull, the shots all hit right where I wanted them. The felt recoil on this pistol is mild, but should go down a little more with time and more rounds. The “muzzle flip” is minimal and the sights only need a minor correction. As I shoot more, I am sure the effects of recoil will lower, as they do with all pistols. Between the sights and the trigger, it is hard to miss with this pistol. All the people who have shot this pistol with these sights, love them. I don’t understand how they can be hated from a practical standpoint. Some people credit the low recoil on some guns to the low “bore-axis” which actually has very little to do with the recoil itself. Spring tension and slide weight have more to do with this pistol having low recoil, along with the angle of the grip and the finger grooves giving you a better hold on the gun.
When I was first looking at the Steyr M9, the concept of the sights was interesting, but wasn’t the only thing that attracted me to this pistol. For me the selling point on the Steyr M9 was the sights, the chassis system, the trigger, the ergonomics, and the overall simplicity. Though the package deal is kind of anemic and I wish you at least got an owners manual for guidance, I typically find them to go in my junk drawer anyways. All in all, I am a sucker for awesome underdog guns that make Glocks look basic and weak. This pistol definitely gives Glock a run for it’s money with all of its offerings.
David served in the USMC for a few years, deployed twice and got wounded. Retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.