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Stoeger Industries, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Benelli which is owned by Beretta, is a manufacturer and importer of firearms into the U.S., with headquarters in Maryland. They are well known for their affordable tactical and hunting shotguns and rifles. Stoeger branded models are manufactured in Istanbul, Turkey. Stoeger entered the U.S. 9mm handgun market in 2019 by launching the STR-9 series of semi-automatic pistols. This review is for their recent STR-9 Compact model in 9mm. They offer a 5-Year Limited Warranty on their products.
Stoeger STR-9 Pistol Earns NRA Gun of the Week
The Stoeger STR-9 9mm pistol was awarded the NRA Gun of the Week by the National Rifle Association’s AMERICAN RIFLEMAN and SHOOTING ILLUSTRATED magazines in 2019 after its introduction. This award honors excellence and innovation in firearms.
Smooth and Consistent Trigger Press
The STR-9 Compact has a very nice and smooth trigger, especially for a value-priced handgun. I really like its consistent and smooth trigger press and was pleasantly and comfortably surprised when I first shot this 9mm. Although a longer press, it is smooth. While it is not as smooth as my 1911s, it is a very nice trigger.
Deep Front & Rear Slide Serrations
Reminiscent of the Beretta APX and its large serrations, this Stoeger STR-9 Compact 9mm has large and easy-to-use deep slide serrations to help slide manipulations and for doing a press or safety check. I like them. The large and deep slide serrations give you more surface area to grasp for manipulations, especially if you are in a confined space or awkward shooting position. And they work well for one-handed manipulations and press checks to check the chamber for a round. While these generally are a helpful addition to handguns, shooters must be cautious so as to not develop some bad habits using the serrations. Some regularly, if not solely, rely on the front serrations to charge their pistol, which is a slower method for this and might cause feeding malfunctions. Some who frequently do press checks might sometimes find their gun out of battery more easily. But overall, I like the large and deep slide serrations.
For me, this gun proved to be reliable for the about 240 rounds I shot through it. I had absolutely no malfunctions, stoppages, or cycling problems at all. But, I want to shoot about 300 more rounds through it before I make a final decision about carrying and using this gun for self-defense. Reliability is probably the most important factor for any handgun used for self-defense and personal protection… to prove to yourself the consistent reliability of the gun and that you can always count on it.
When I pressed the trigger, this gun consistently and efficiently completed its firing cycle, fired accurately, performed well, and did not misfire, have any failures to fire or eject or have any problems. But each shooter must shoot the gun themselves and fire sufficient rounds through any gun to be comfortable with relying on the gun to protect themselves and their family. I like to shoot at least 500 rounds through any gun to be confident and comfortable with a gun to use for personal protection. And shoot hollow points, which is what I will carry for self-defense. Of course, given our current ammo shortage, this is very difficult and costly to do now. But, you must “bite the bullet,” so to speak, to learn the gun’s reliability. The more rounds down range with any gun, the better data you have to make the carry and self-defense use decisions.
Stoeger STR-9C Compact 9mm Pistol Specifications
|Model||Stoeger STR-9 Compact Pistol|
|Slide -Type/Material||Carbon Steel; Nitride-Hardened; Matte Black|
|Sights||3 White-Dots; Steel; Dovetailed; Drift Adjustable Rear; |
Tritium Not Available; No Optics-Ready RD Plates Included
|Frame||Fiberglass-Reinforced Polymer; Black Synthetic|
|Trigger - Action||Striker-Fired, Semi-Automatic; Recoil Operated|
|Trigger Press||6.75 lbs. (as measured over 10 trials with my digital Trigger Pull gauge)|
|Capacity||13 Rounds; includes 1 Magazine; Double Stack|
|Weight (Unloaded)||24 ounces|
|Safeties||Trigger Safety; Firing-Pin Block; No Manual Thumb Safety; Loaded Chamber Indicator|
|Grips||Black; Polymer; No Interchangeable Backstraps Included; |
1 Medium-Sized Backstrap Included
|Other||5-Year Limited Warranty; Reversible Magazine Release; |
Accessory Rail; Mag Loading Tool Included
My Criteria and Considerations
Here are the 10 criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the Stoeger STR-9 Compact 9mm pistol. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last “Miscellaneous” criterion. I must admit that all gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want all of my criteria to be ideally met. I assigned a total possible point score of ten points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. And a “Recommend” or “Not Recommend” at the end of my review. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider. You make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, goals, defined needs, and use.
Concealed Carry Drill
I use my standard “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” to test and evaluate any handgun after I initially thoroughly clean it. You can use my basic Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 5-yard, and 7-yard distances best to match common distances for personal defense.
You can download and print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the link at my website at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Go to and click on the “More” Section on the far right of the Home Page and then click on “Carry Drill.” Drag a corner in to resize Drill to full coverage and print on full-size paper.
First Shots: Stoeger STR-9C Compact Range Field Test Results with Various Ammo
As I do with all handguns I test, I want to include a mag change in my Drill. Since the pistol only comes with one included mag that holds 13 rounds, I requested another mag, so I could have a mag change to shoot and time the 15 necessary test rounds for the Drill at each distance and maintain the intent and integrity of my Drill, even with 13+1 loading. The distributor provided a second mag for my field test, and I really appreciate it.
As you see in the above photo, all 15 total hits with mag change were inside the 5 circle targets at 5 yards in 20 seconds. I bypassed the 3-yard trial for more of a challenge. At 7 yards, all 15 hits were in the targets, but I missed the timed goal by 1 second… because the mag change took me longer… and two hits were just barely touching the line. OK, even if this was a real-life deadly force encounter, because at least all 15 shots were somewhere on the target. And chances are I would not need to fire 15 shots for the high probability of only one attacker. But you never know, so I must practice more and with time goals. This also reinforced the need to practice a mag change. I repeated my Drill at 10 and 15 yards with almost identical results, reinforcing my target acquisition and alignment abilities. But, again, at 15 yards, I missed the time goal by one second. Practice!
Practice… Practice… Practice
I practiced with about 100 rounds of various weights and types before I shot my Concealed Carry Drills. First, from a short 5 yards, I shot and easily landed 15 of the 15 total rounds with one mag change on target with my Drill within the time goal of 20 seconds. Just fine at 7 and 10 yards with my Drills. But at 7 yards even in the practice, I sadly missed the time goal by only one second. When I shot the targets rapid fire, my best at 15 yards had 14 hits meeting the hits on target and time goals. YES! So, at least 14 of all my 15 hits for each Drill trial were on target and met the time goals for all trials and practices with mag changes for this Mr. Magoo.
Recognize that this is not Bullseye Competition shooting where your goal is to have a very small, tight group. For self-defense purposes, these target hits must certainly hit somewhere on the target and quickly. If there is a slight deviation from a small, close group with a larger group size with all hits quickly on target, that is, to me, acceptable to help stop a threat. But, I used more time for a trial that could be life-threatening. Get as many shots as you can somewhere on target quickly within the time goal to simulate responding to a possible attack encounter.
Before I shot the above Drills, I used reactive splatter targets to practice and timed my hits with a mag change on them. HITS and TIME. I suggest you shoot this handgun with sufficient timed trials, including mag changes before you decide on this gun for concealed carry and possible deadly-force encounters.
TIP: Several states impose restrictions on the number of rounds a mag can hold, i.e., capacity. But, these states do not restrict an individual licensed to carry a concealed handgun from carrying an extra magazine (or multiple mags) if they adhere to the mag capacity restrictions. For multiple attackers, malfunction and stoppage possibilities, faulty ammo, and other emergencies, a defender needs to carry and practice with at least two mags.
Carry an Extra Magazine
A second or spare mag is necessary for several reasons. An extra mag is like having a First Aid Kit or a spare tire. It is much better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it. Also, consider that having a second mag reduces the chances that your handgun will be rendered inoperable in an emergency situation. If you have any failure to feed or other mag-related malfunctions or stoppages, they can be averted by swapping the mag with your spare or second mag. Some may find it inconvenient to carry a second mag, but this ole’ shooter believes that the small “burden” of carrying a spare mag is worth the hassle.
Field-Test Ammo – Thanks to GunMagWarehouse
I used five types of various bullet grains and types of ammo, both Full Metal Jacket and Hollow Point, for field testing of the Stoeger STR-9 Compact 9mm. A sincere “Thank You” to GunMagWarehouse for supplying the variety of high-quality ammo for this field test.
All the ammo performed great, and I did not have any malfunctions, stoppages, or failure to perform with any of the ammo used. All brands, weights, and types were extremely reliable. Generally and overall, however, the STR-9 Compact seemed to prefer and to perform with better hits with the 115 grain and 124-grain FMJ, non-JHP rounds, e.g., CCI Blazer. But, the 115-grain FTX Hornady Critical Defense and the Federal Punch ammo 124-grain JHP did fine. I shot about 240 total rounds.
Use my drill at various appropriate distances for yourself, e.g., 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards, to challenge yourself and assess skill-level improvements as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice until you feel comfortable and safe with the drill. Be certain to use mag changes while timing your drills to shoot 15 rounds per drill. Hope my Concealed Carry Drill helps you.
Stoeger STR-9C Compact 9mm Range Results: Opinions and Rating for Each Criterion
After live-fire shooting with the STR9-C 9mm pistol, here are my opinions and rating for each of my ten criteria for a concealed carry pistol.
Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The STR-9 Compact 9mm’s accuracy was well-above average and acceptable, but I had to practice in a short time period to adapt to the long and hard trigger press and resulting felt recoil from a somewhat short barrel. The hits grouped together nicely on most of my splatter targets, but the accuracy was not there on a few with rapid fire. Hits were right on for my timed drills. Of course, the shooter has a lot to do with that. But this ole’ guy has been practicing a lot. The Point of Impact was close to the Point of Aim almost all of the time. The reliability of this pistol was very consistent, and I had no complaints at all with it for the 240 rounds I fired. Very good reliability, with no malfunctions or stoppages. Great premium ammo for this pistol.
Trigger Press – Score: 8
Out-of-the-box, the trigger press averaged 6.75 pounds without modification for the STR-9C 9mm, with 12 readings with my electronic trigger pull gauge. I expected and prefer that the press for a polymer striker-fired 9mm pistol be less than this. I am used to shooting single-action and double-action 9mm pistols with around 4.5 to 6 pounds of press. So, after shooting my drills, I quickly did 3 more trials with the gauge, and the trigger press did drop to 6.50 pounds, which was reassuring. Of course, I am spoiled by my 1911s and their 4.5 to 5-pound presses. Since this is a new pistol that is not “broken-in” yet, certainly with more ammo down-range, the press should improve and be lighter. Although there was a heavy press and a little long take-up in the trigger, there was a crisp break. The long press caused me to exert more pressure to break each shot, and that extra movement directly affected my accuracy and performance some. Certainly, this trigger press will get the concealed carry job done safely. My wife and I both believe the trigger press is smooth and fine, not a major or even minor problem, and will improve after more rounds downrange.
NOTE: Just above the trigger in the above photo, you see the left-side takedown lever (Levers are on both sides.) The levers are functional, but for me, they are too small to firmly grasp them for disassembling the pistol. A minor concern.
Trigger – Score: 9
The STR-9 Compact 9mm trigger overall was consistent and smooth. The trigger was not stiff and was consistently effortless. It reminded me a lot of the similar Glock triggers, certainly very acceptable, but not great. The STR-9 C’s trigger press weight was heavier than I like for these first rounds through it, however. But, the trigger was pleasant, consistent, and effortless to shoot. This is a budget-priced gun.
Barrel Length – Score: 9
Short-barreled, smaller pistols with less than 4-inch barrels like this one are a challenge to shoot well. Yes, short barrels decrease velocity. But this pistol was not that much of a challenge since it is so close to 4 inches long. In general, its shorter sight radius makes it somewhat harder to shoot accurately, so grip it firmly and focus on sight alignment and trigger control. Recognize, however, that longer-barreled guns are not necessarily more accurate.
TIP: As a general guideline, an inch less barrel will reduce a bullet’s velocity by roughly between 25 and 50 feet per second. Of course, this varies on powder volume, its burning rate, and other things.
Generally, the more powder and the slower its rate of burning, the more barrel length needed to burn it, affecting velocity. Velocity helps a bullet go farther before dropping, which makes it easier to hit your target
Keep in mind that a shorter-barreled handgun like this STR-9C has the advantage of being easily carried and concealed.
Sights – Score: 9
The standard sights for the STR-9 Compact are 3-Dot White Sights with a rear adjustable sight. I asked, make that begged, the distributor for the Tritium Night Sights Model, but that option was not available for me. I guess since they are so newly offered, production is not geared up yet. I hope to review the Night Sight Model later. The front sight blade of this model I reviewed is wide enough to easily acquire, and overall the standard 3-Dot White Sights are certainly more than acceptable. If someone was to get this pistol, I would recommend paying the extra money and getting the Night Sights option for carry and self-defense purposes. And night sights can be added separately later if desired.
Proper Gun Weight – Score: 10
The STR-9 Compact 9mm’s weight was just right for carry at 24 ounces, unloaded. The weight helped make the felt recoil manageable, and the weight does not interfere with carry. This pistol can easily be used for concealed carry, and its weight is not a detriment at all.
Caliber – Score: 10
The 9mm caliber for this STR- 9 Compact was easy, comfortable, and not unpleasant to shoot. My wife and I managed the 9mm recoil well. I strongly favor shooting the 9mm caliber for self-defense and home defense. It has the muzzle energy and muzzle velocity to get the job done without severe felt recoil pain and with sufficient control by the user. Of course, shooting 9mm ammo is much less expensive than most others, and modern ammo with improved ballistics work fine… if you can find it now for a decent price. I prefer the lessened felt recoil and reduced movement for improved accuracy with the 9mm caliber. 9mm loads typically demonstrate better ballistic properties and performance in short-barreled guns. The specific ammo and its proven ballistics certainly matter.
Capacity – Score: 9
The standard capacity of the STR-9 Compact 9mm is 13 rounds, and that is certainly acceptable. However, 15 rounds would be better, just in case there are multiple attackers and other threats. Two extra rounds can be a very significant advantage in self-defense and concealed carry. If a second magazine was included or acquired, that would offset this disadvantage. For personal protection, self-defense, and for concealed carry, defenders must have at least a second mag.
Ergonomics – Score: 9
The Ergonomics of the STR-9 Compact 9 mm overall were very good, and I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls. This pistol sat low in my hand because its design allows for a higher grip. Really like the grip angle of this pistol because it helped me get and maintain a high-hand hold of the gun for solid control.
The side panels were textured just right for a comfortable and firm grasp of the pistol. As you can see from the above grip image, the rear backstrap was aggressively textured and helped with a very firm grip for a few rounds. However, for me, after about 100 to 150 rounds downrange, the heel of my shooting hand became a little irritated, but I got over it. So just a note of caution since most self-defense encounters will not involve 150 rounds. Some prefer an aggressive grip texture and others do not. Personal preference.
The STR-9 pistol’s grip design is a result of input from top shooters and law enforcement professionals, according to Stoeger. The grip texturing is aggressive and certainly keeps the gun firmly in your hand. Not so sure I like the finger grooves on the grip, but that is also personal preference. Some love them, while others hate them. However, my Glock 19, Gen 3 has raised texturing and finger grooves and no problems for me. The front of the slide is slightly beveled near the muzzle, which helps reduce weight and holstering, and it looks nice.
Some of the STR-9 Compacts and the Optic Ready model have interchangeable backstraps, with small, medium, and large backstraps. This option costs, of course. But, this basic model I reviewed only has one medium-size backstrap included and installed. Thankfully it worked just right for my medium-size hands.
The magazine release can be changed to the right side for lefties and it had nice ridges that helped position your thumb for control.
Miscellaneous – Score: 9
The matte-black finish of the STR-9 Compact consists of a black-nitride finish on its carbon steel slide. The black-nitride finish is made by a process of diffusing nitrogen and carbon into the steel, which hardens the steel and improves its lubricity. Most do not realize it, but the wear and corrosion resistance of nitride is better than most blued finishes.
I searched for extra mags and for holsters, and there was not a plethora of them available. I could not find any extra mags locally but did find two nice holsters for it. So I am fortunate to be able to suggest the above two holster options for this pistol. Although aftermarket accessories are a little limited now, as more shooters recognize and appreciate this pistol, the market should expand.
I easily cleaned, and field stripped the Stoeger STR-9 Compact before I shot it. The included Operating Manual was very helpful. No problems at all taking it down or cleaning it. You must press the trigger to disassemble it. The first time I handled and field stripped the STR-9C, I thought this is very similar to a Glock pistol.
CrossBreed DropSlide OWB Holster
The OWB DropSlide Holster by CrossBreed is handcrafted and designed to keep your firearm tight against your body. This fine hybrid holster is made with a premium leather backer and a custom-molded kydex shell. The premium leather backer is configured to accommodate a different position of the pocket for a lower-riding holster. The specifically-designed cut of the leather backer allows for a full grip on the gun when drawing. The extended leather on the bottom side keeps most longer barrel guns from rubbing against clothes and body.
The OWB DropSlide features 1.75″ belt slots that work with 1.25″ and 1.50″ belts.
It is available in Black Cowhide, Founder’s Leather, and Natural Tan Horsehide. Kydex options include Standard Black, FDE, Sniper Grey, and OD Green. It is very reasonably priced below $56. CrossBreed holsters have a Lifetime Warranty, as well as a Two-Week, Try-It-Free Guarantee. “If your holster ever fails from normal use, you can rest assured that CrossBreed Holsters has your back.”
Alien Gear Cloak Mod OWB Paddle & Hybrid Slide Holsters
Alien Gear’s Cloak Mod OWB Holster is their next evolution of outside-the-waistband gun paddle holsters. Its exceptional strength begins at its core with a spring-steel flex plate which provides strength and support. A thermo-elastomer retention membrane is added as a durable material that rests between your gun and the steel flex plate. When holstering your firearm, this thick layer snaps your gun into place and retains it. This holster has a retainment lip inside of the paddle, which protects carriers from attackers looking to unhook their paddle holster. Alien Gear’s Five-Point Customization System provides each open carrier with a variety of carry options, and you will be able to adjust the cant/angle and level of retention.
The Cloak Mod Holster (shown at top above) has the ability to become a belt slide holster, which can then be attached to your belt. If you prefer wearing the outside the waistband holster through your belt loop as opposed to wearing the paddle backer, just swap out the paddle component and replace it with the belt slide that comes with the order. The Cloak Mod’s holster shells are fully swappable so you can easily switch out your holster shell to match the firearm you wish to carry.
The Cloak Slide Hybrid OWB holster (shown immediately above) is very comfortable, easy to re-holster, and features an available swappable shell for use with the Cloak Tuck IWB holster, for open or concealed carry.
Alien Gear Holsters have an “Iron-Clad Triple Guarantee,” free holster shell trades for life, and a 30-day test drive. The Cloak Mod Paddle and Belt holster sell for less than $58, and the Slide Hybrid for less than $48.
The Stoeger STR-9 Compact 9mm pistol is a very good budget-priced pistol, and I recommend it. While it has a basic, no-frills design and cost, it has extra features included. And it does not sacrifice performance, accuracy, and reliability. It has an undercut trigger guard that extends upward at the back, allowing the shooter’s middle finger to ride high up behind the trigger, which allows the shooter to have a higher grip on the pistol to improve stability and control. The grip’s backstrap is aggressively checkered and may be too much for some, but it was fine for me. It uses a steel guide rod, rather than a polymer one, for strength.
A lightweight, medium-short-barreled 9mm pistol like this fits right in with my carry style and matches my 9mm-caliber preference for carry and personal protection. I probably would use it occasionally as my primary carry gun tradeoff after more rounds downrange. The reliability and consistent performance is definitely there. Its very good, consistent, and smooth trigger is a nice advantage, although the trigger press for this not-broken-in gun was about 6.75 pounds, heavier than I like. The deep front and rear slide serrations were helpful for slide manipulations. The white 3-Dot iron sights were nice, and I could pick them up easily, but I wanted the model with Tritium Night Sights for concealed carry, but it was not available. For me, the night sights and second mag are very important necessities for concealed carry and self-defense.
I heartily recommend all the fine holsters and ammo I personally chose to include in this gun review since I have used them all before. The quality CrossBreed OWB holster, the premium Alien Gear Cloak Mod paddle and slide holster, and the stellar comfortable Alien Gear Cloak Belt Slide Hybrid all worked excellent with this pistol, and I recommend them. And the various, high-quality 9mm FMJ and JHP ammo also performed outstandingly, with no malfunctions or stoppages. You can trust this premium ammo to be very reliable to get the job done, and I recommend the brands and types used in this review. I am extremely grateful to GunMag Warehouse for supplying the fine ammo in various bullet weights for this review.
It is still true as the sage advice given at the monastery where they were teaching the art of Kung Fu… “Choose wisely, Grasshopper.”
Continued Success and Be Safe, my Friends!
Accokeek, MD 20607
Coppell, TX 75019
Alien Gear Holsters
Post Falls, ID 83854
Springfield, MO 65802
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2022 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
STR-9C Compact 9mm Pistol
Accuracy and Reliability
Proper Gun Weight