Friday, January 30, 2015

SCCY CPX-2 Review


  The 20-30yr old version of me was more likely to own a Sigma instead of a M&P, or a Bersa in place of a Kahr. This younger (and lighter) me had a lot less disposable income, but still loved his handguns.
  Fast forward to 2015. I can afford more expensive firearms today than I could in the 80s and 90s. Life is pretty good. However, like most of you I still enjoy a bargain.
 
  I think that the SCCY CPX-2 is a helluva good deal for the money. This weapon averages about $275 in my area. There's not a lot of quality budget guns out there that can beat it at that price point.
  I like this gun, but I don't love it. There's several reasons for that.
 
  Let's get the specifications out of the way.

 
SCCY CPX-2 Specs:
Barrel Length     3.1"
Length      5.7"
Height       4"
Weight      15oz
Width        1"
Trigger      Double Action (9lb)
Sights       3 Dot (Adjustable)
Capacity   10+1
 
  Of course you could have looked up the specs here instead. 
 
  Alright, let's get down to business. I stated that this is a budget gun, and I stand by that statement. It's doubtful that many Glock owners or M&P fans are gong to put aside their current self defense picks in order to carry a SCCY. I would suspect that this pistol is intended for novice gun buyers, those on a tight budget, or people looking for a "Truck" gun. That's fine. There's a lot of those guys and gals out there. Not everyone can afford a $550 Glock, or $650 Springfield. Americans should be able to exercise their Right To Bear Arms without having to live on Ramen noodles for six months (the Liberal elite might think differently).
 
  This model SCCY has a satin finished stainless steel slide. It's attractive looking, and I don't expect any corrosion issues (I'll keep you posted as I carry this through the spring and summer).
  It's a good looking gun overall, and unlike some of it's competitors there is nothing "Cheap" feeling about this weapon.
 The slide serrations are well done, and are very easy to grip. I had The Daywalker and The Daywalker's Mom rack the slide, and neither woman had any issues. Both women have average hand and upper body strength for females. This pistol's ease of operation will be appreciated by those looking for an affordable self defense gun for the family.
  The weapon has a dual recoil spring system that is fixed to the all steel guide rod. That will be a plus for those that dislike plastic guide rods, and cheap looking two piece recoil springs.

  The sights are the normal 3 dot fare that we see on so many handguns. The rear can be easily adjusted by loosening a set screw.
 The front sight is plastic while the rear is metal.
 
  The Zytel grip has a little bit of texturing on the sides. The cutouts on the back strap have an interesting purpose. They supposedly serve as a "Re-Coil Cushion," and I'd love to see some stats on how much recoil they actually reduce. I have my doubts about how effective they really are. Personally, I think that they're the only unattractive feature on this gun, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
 You've no doubt noticed that there are finger grooves along the front of the frame, and the trigger guard is slightly undercut (I wish everyone did that).
  The frame is one of the things that I'd change about this firearm. While I don't usually care one way or the other in regards to finger grooves, I don't like them on this pistol. My medium sized hands feel a little cramped when holding this gun. It feels like the grooves are too close together, and too close to the trigger guard.  Perhaps if the undercutting on the trigger guard was a little higher the grip would feel better.
   As things currently stand, I don't think the grip fits me very well, and I'd give it a "Meh" for comfort. The grip isn't horrible, and I wouldn't have bought the gun if I couldn't work with it. It could, however, be improved by taking away the finger grooves.
  I'd also like some kind of texturing on the front of the frame.  Some Talon Grips  are definitely in the future for this little gun.
 
  The slide lock and magazine release are easy to reach and operate. No unusual contortions or obscenely high amount of hand strength are required. As I said earlier, my wife and daughter could easily cycle the slide (worth noting since not self defense guns are purchased for big hairy guys).
  Magazines drop free easily. A firm slap is sometimes needed to fully seat a topped off 10 round magazine. That's nothing unusual.
  While I've only had this weapon for a couple of months, I've tried to carry it as much as possible. It's carried IWB, and there have been no issues with accidentally releasing the mag. The magazine release has never been accidentally pressed while shooting, or reholstering
  I know that it's probably at least 50% holster, but this handgun carries really well. The weight is very good. I don't usually carry a double stack semi auto IWB, but there's no problem with this weapon being too thick.

  Recoil, while not punishing, is heavy enough that many beginners won't like this handgun. Actually a lot of long time shooters won't like the recoil. My wife and daughter weren't fans of this pistol, and they shoot (full sized service pistols) more in a year than most people do in a lifetime. If you're buying this as your single home defense gun then it's worth considering how your spouse handles recoil. Unfortunately, unless you go down in caliber or up in the physical size of the gun it's hard to beat physics. Smaller guns are always going to kick more.
 I have to note that the SCCY has less felt recoil than J frame revolvers (which a lot of new shooters seem to end up with).

  We're told that the trigger pull is 9lbs, but I'd guess that it was heavier. There's about 1/8" of slack in the trigger before the long heavy double action pull begins. The trigger pull is very consistent throughout it's entire range. It's actually pretty smooth. 
  It's just too damn heavy.
  I love my Kahr CW9 (DAO). I really like my Ruger LCR (DAO), and don't have a problem dealing with double action only triggers on carry guns. I'm not a Glock fanboy bitching because everything isn't exactly like a G19. Anyone looking through my prior reviews will note that there is a nice mix of handguns in there, and firearms with DAO triggers are well represented.
  I just don't like this trigger. It sucks a lot of the fun out of shooting this weapon.
  The trigger reset is very long. You'll need to let it fully out after each shot. Yes, this slows down your follow up shots.
Of course this DAO hammer fired weapon has a second strike capability.
  A few hours ago, I was sitting around dry firing the SCCY and my LCR. The trigger pulls aren't that different, but I noticed that the trigger is much more rounded on the Ruger. It "Feels" better than the squared off trigger on the CPX-2. I know that the two firearms are apples and oranges. That's just my two cents.
Edit:    I had the chance to shoot a Ruger LC9 this week. It also has a ridiculously heavy trigger pull. The LC9 trigger is rounded instead of the flat trigger on the CPX-2. I think that the more rounded shaped trigger feels better, but to each his own).
  Nuff said about the trigger.

  The magazines are produced by Mec-Gar, and as expected, are very well made. The CPX-2 comes with two mags. Each one has a flush fitting baseplate for better concealed carry and an extended finger groove baseplate. That's a nice feature, especially since many manufacturers can't be bothered to even include a second magazine with their pistols.
  It's reasonably easy to top off the 10 round mags, and I doubt that many people will need a magazine loading tool.
  There are witness holes at the 5 and 10 round mark on the side of the magazines.
  Good luck finding someone that has magazines in stock (as of 2/20/15). It's been a lost cause for me.
  Edit:  I finally found one vendor with mags. It took several weeks of checking two to three times per week to find one company with magazines in stock. The vendor was Tombstone Tactical if you're interested.

    The three things that the majority of us care most about are reliability, accuracy, and price. I'll start off with reliability while my last range trip is still fresh in my mind.
  I've made three trips to the range with this weapon. So far it's had 300 rounds of WWB, 50 rounds of Remington 115gr, a few dozen rounds of 115gr Atlantic Arms, 50 rounds of Blazer Brass, and one box of Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P.  The round count is about 450 thus far.
  There was one malfunction during the 200 round break in period, and I'm not quite sure how to characterize it. I'll call it a stovepipe although that's not entirely accurate. At about 170 rounds there was one instance of a bullet sitting vertical in the ejection port instead of chambering. The slide closed on the bullet, and it looked like a stovepipe. I've never had this happen with a live round before. It's always occurred after extraction on other weapons. This malfunction was on the last round of the magazine. It hasn't happened since.
  At 450 rounds there was a failure to go into battery.
  There have been many instances of the slide not locking open on the last round. It's possible (hell, it's probable) that my thumb was resting on the slide lock. I won't ding it for the slide not locking open.
  Bear in mind that this CPX-2 got a very cursory cleaning before the first range trip, and no other maintenance in the first 450 rounds. It was truly filthy when broken down for cleaning tonight.
  I'll continue to update this post as more rounds put through the weapon.
  Edit:    Another 50 rounds of reloads were ran through this gun last night. Other than the slide not locking open on an empty mag about half of the time, the gun ran fine.
  Edit:   Another 50 rounds of 115gr Remington was put through the SCCY. No issues other than the slide not locking open. Two more magazines have arrived, so I'll start tracking whether or not the slide not locking open is a mag issue.

  Take down is pretty simple. I'm not going to go into great detail describing the procedure since it's somewhat similar to most semi autos. A link to the manual is provided below.
  One difference with the CPX-2 is that you don't have to squeeze the trigger when removing the slide. That's a big deal to some, but isn't a plus or minus for me.
  When putting the weapon back together, make sure that it's pointed down and the barrel protrudes from the frame. You may have to rack it a couple of times in order to get the barrel to drop down. You'll lock the slide open at this point and then insert the take down pin.
  Some will fault this gun for not having a take down pin fixed to the frame. I don't really care about that. It's simply one more part to keep an eye on. Those of us with M1911s are used to having a loose take down pin on the table during cleaning.
  If you screw up the reassembly procedure, I suggest you visit the FAQ section on this site. 

  The instruction manual can be found here.


  I stated earlier that I carry IWB. Here's the gear used at this time.
  This magazine pouch is made by The Masters's Holster. I like them a lot, and have several of their mag pouches for my CCW guns.
  The holster is a Bianchi 6D ATB. I like the holster overall, and it gives good retention (as it should since there's a strap). There's a few things that I'm not crazy about, and I'll talk about them in another post.
  Pocket carry doesn't work for me with this gun. I can fit the CPX-2, and a pocket holster, into my jeans pocket but the bulge is too noticeable.

   I'll be honest. I don't know how accurate this 9mm is. It will take another day or two at the range to get used to that trigger. I'm happy enough with being able to get reasonable groups with it, but I know that I can do a lot better.

2" Bullseye
  This is the first 20 rounds that I shot through the SCCY CPX-2. The distance was 7 yards, and approx. one round per second was fired. The rear sight was drifted to the right. Another shooter tried the handgun, and actually shot a bit low. I wasn't very happy with this group.







  The target on the right was shot at 7 yards a little later in the day, most of my groups looked very similar to this. No, I wasn't breathing when shooting. That trigger was just kicking my butt. There were a lot of handguns brought to the range that day, and it was hard to get used to the SCCY as it had the heaviest trigger pull of the lot.

2" Orange Bullseye
  The targets on the left were from a week later. The SCCY was the only thing that I used that day, and I think that I did a little better this time.
  The left target was shot slow fire. Without the flyer, this group would be about 2".
  The right target was shot at a rate of one round per second. The distance was 7 yards.


 
  This target was from my last trip to the range. The group is 2.75", and 20 rounds were fired at 7 yards. There was approximately 1 second between each shot (with a slight pause for the mag change).

   Soooo... long story short, my shooting with this gun is OK. You have to work a little harder to shoot this weapon accurately than you will with some of the other CCW guns that I've handled over the last year. I know that with a little more practice I'll close up the groups. I think that this is a very accurate gun when I do my part, and concentrate on my trigger squeeze.
  It took a few hundred rounds to tighten up my groups with my Ruger LCR, and I can live with my current level of accuracy (for now).

  Moving on. Let's talk about price, and some of the other choices on the market.
  I've seen the SCCY CPX-2 listed for as $250 - $300 in my area.


  What you see is what you get. The cardboard packaging is not something that concerns me. I have some really nice Springfield gun cases in the top of my closet. The boxes provided by Kimber, Taurus, and S&W are also pretty good. None of them get used... ever. I'd rather save $15 (or get a second mag), and have a simple cardboard box. Kudos to SCCY for not charging extra for needless junk.

   I thought that I would give you a few pictures for a size comparison. The SCCY CPX-2 is slightly smaller than Kahr CW9. Of course being a double stack, it is a little wider.
  I can't pocket carry the Kahr either.




The Kahr is sitting on top of the SCCY











The CPX-2 is sitting on top of the CW9

 
  As you can see, there's not a lot of length/height difference between these two weapons. The Kahr CW9 sells for $340 to $400 in my area. Of course that's only with one magazine so add another $35 to the price of the weapon. The CW9 is probably out of the ballpark for a lot of SCCY buyers (as is the Shield, XDS, Nano, etc).
  So why even discuss it then? Well... it's priced in between the SCCY and the hugely popular S&W Shield so why not mention it? It seems to be the next step up in semi auto pricing for carry guns.

  What is in the SCCY price range?
  The very popular Kel-Tec PF9 comes to mind, but it's a single stack, and only has one magazine. The Kel-Tec P11 is about $260 locally, and also comes with a single mag (so tack on another $20 or so).
  The previously reviewed P11 seems to be the SCCY's closest competitor. While I think the pistol "Feels" a bit cheap, it does have one great selling point. You can get high capacity magazines for the Kel-Tec (um... unless you live in one of the nanny states).
  Other than the P11, I really can't think of any other small double stack 9mm that's in the same price range as the SCCY.
 
  Alright then, what about a snub nosed revolver? As the Taurus, Rossi, and Charter Arms snubbies run about $310 locally, it's very likely that the SCCY shopper might consider one of them while shopping.
  Since I don't have a Taurus or Charter Arms revolver, I was forced to use my Ruger LCR for a size comparison against the CPX-2.



 
  Obviously there is a massive amount of difference between a 10+1 semi automatic and a 5 shot J frame revolver (I know that the LCR isn't a J frame). However, a lot of gun buyers are only going to be looking at the price and size of the weapon. Some might consider a revolver to be a better choice. I know people with hand injuries, weak hands, and even one individual that lost an arm. There are those that will never shoot a semi auto enough to be competent in their gun handling. There is no one size fits all choice for self defense guns. A .38 spl Taurus will trump a SCCY CPX-2 for some people.
  Soooo... as Taurus, Rossi, and Charter Arms snubbies are priced at around $300, it's likely that some shoppers will at least look at them when checking out the SCCY.

  The aftermarket for the SCCY isn't too bad. The manufacturer lists a few holsters that will work for the gun, and this forum has a decent list of holsters as well. A lot of them are intended for the Glock 26 or Kel-Tec P11, but work OK with SCCYs.

  And now for the anecdotes:

  I discussed the SCCY pistols with a couple of different salesmen at the local gun stores. I always like to pick their brains while waiting on my background check to come through. I've found that the clerks are much more willing to talk trash about a weapon/manufacturer once they've made a sale. It's interesting to talk to the people that are the first line in hearing complaints.
  I was told that they've seen a few CPX-1 pistols come back in with broken safety levers. SCCY has outstanding customer service, and a great lifetime warranty. I've never heard any problems with them not fixing an issue.
  Some people seem to think that the safety lever makes the grip even more uncomfortable. I'd guess that they have larger hands than I do. I have to admit that my experience with the CPX-1 is very limited.

  In spite of my earlier complaints about the grip and trigger, I really like the SCCY CPX-2. I like it, but I don't love it. I've  tried to judge it as both a budget gun, and a concealed carry weapon. Concealed carry guns are always a compromise, and when one retails for under $300 it's ridiculous to expect perfection in every category. This handgun is affordable, probably more accurate than the shooter, and I expect it to be reliable with a reasonable amount of cleaning.
  I'd recommend the SCCY for those looking for a small, inexpensive (but not cheap) 9mm. As long as they realize going in that the pistol will have a fair amount of recoil, and the trigger is mediocre they shouldn't be disappointed.

  Edit:   A few more months have passed since I did this review. The CPX-2 is starting to grow on me a bit more. I still stand by everything that I wrote earlier about the awful trigger, and the grip not fitting me very well. Regardless of that, I find myself enjoying this gun at the range. As I look to the left and right on the firing line, I notice that my groups are generally a lot better than what I see from other shooters in spite of my using a budget CCW gun instead of a high end service pistol.
  So I'll say it again, the SCCY gets the job done for a reasonable price.

  Edit:   Several more months have passed. It's now mid July. The SCCY has been shot on many more occasions, and I've learned a few more things about the weapon.
  First of all, I finally found some more magazines. It took months, and they weren't cheap. I now have four factory mags for this "Truck gun" (which is what it's used for).  Remember when I said that the slide doesn't consistently lock open on an empty magazine? That holds true with all of my mags.
  But...
  After running through a box of ammo while using only two rounds per magazine, I'm certain that it's me and not the gun. I made sure that I didn't touch the slide lock during this test. The slide locked open when the weapon ran dry 24 out of 25 times. While I'm sure that my thumb has been hitting the slide lock all of these months, it's worth stating that if you even look hard at the slide lock on MY pistol then it's not going to lock open after that last round goes downrange. It's also worth stating that due to the design of the weapon and MY hand size/shape , it is very hard to keep my big fat thumb well away from the slide lock. If I was shooting rapidly or under pressure then it's a given that I'm going to be greeted with a "Click" instead of a "Bang" on the 11th trigger squeeze.

  Next up is the gun's reliability. It's a very reliable firearm when clean. Once I reached the 200-250 round mark without a cleaning, I began to experience feedway stoppages. I'll be honest, I shoot a lot and don't clean my pistols until they've been to the range 3 or 4 times. I usually make it a point to wipe down the feed ramp, and put a couple of drops of oil on the rails after shooting. It only takes a few seconds, and goes a long way towards stretching out the time between real cleanings. This practice got me through the first few months of owning this gun without any issues showing. It took a while to discover that THIS pistol needs to be reasonably clean to run. Now I know. It's not that big of deal to me as a little basic cleaning should be done after a day at the range. If I get into a 250 round defensive encounter, then the S has truly HTF.
  While I don't recommend having a dirty self defense weapon, I like knowing what my pistols will do when they're dry/dirty. The SCCY is well out of the testing phase for me. Now that I know it's quirks, the CPX-2 gets more maintenance than some of my other weapons. No biggie.

  Long story short, due to the gun's design, my hand size, bad gripping habits (?), etc. the slide is not going to consistently lock open on an empty mag. The firearm is reliable as long as you at least keep the feedramp clean, and a couple of drops of oil on the rails.
  I'd still recommend the CPX-2. It's hard to beat at the $275 price range. It is still a great budget/truck gun IMO.

  BTW, this is a great video for those that have to leave a firearm in their vehicle (when at work, travelling, etc). I honestly believe that we are fast approaching the time when gun owners are sued or prosecuted for a criminal stealing/using their weapon. Another layer of security on top of a trunk or locked car door is a plus.









Other gun and knife reviews on this blog can be found here.


 

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