RANGE TEST; STEYR PISTOL M-A1 9MM
I recently had the opportunity to professionally evaluate a pair of Steyr M-A1 pistols in 9 millimeter. I've been interested in testing Steyr's handguns for a few years but never had a professional reason to do so.
Prior to testing, I found the engineering and ergonomics intriguing on paper and wondered how well this design would hold up under extreme use. I’m happy to report that this pistol surpassed my expectations.
In my opinion a general issue service pistol must be absolutely reliable under normal and severe service conditions. It must be easy to maintain in the field and be durable enough to hold up to frequent training use. It must fit a wide variety of users and be flexible enough to fill tactical, duty and concealed carry roles. I feel the Steyr M-A1 does all of that.
For this test I started with two pistols purchased through two different gun dealers. I did not ask for special test pistols or price breaks nor did I let the dealers know what I had in mind with them. I also ordered 6 extra magazines.
I read all the paperwork and instructions included with the pistols. Then I fieldstripped and cleaned each pistol. Before assembly I lightly lubed every contact point. Then I dry fired and manually cycled the pistols about 200 times each before arbitrarily settling on one pistol that would be the victim of my torture testing. Both pistols felt identical but I chose the one with the lowest serial number (#1) for general reliability testing.
Pistol 1 – General reliability testing: Without further cleaning or oiling Pistol 1 digested 1000 rounds of 124 grain Black Hills FMJ without failure. It was then field stripped, cleaned, oiled and reassembled. Pistol 1 then digested 500 rounds of 147 grain Black Hills FMJ and 500 hundred rounds of 124 grain Black Hills 124 grain +P JHP ammo. I then shot 65 rounds of Pow’RBall 100 grainers and 15 rounds of Corbon 115 grain DPX.
No malfunctions occurred during these 2080 rounds.
Pistol 2 – Severe duty testing: This pistol was prepared identically to Pistol 1. 500 rounds of 115 grain FMJ and 350 rounds of ancient 147 grain Hydrashocks were run through the gun without malfunction. It was then field stripped, cleaned, oiled and reassembled. 700 rounds of 147 grain Black Hills FMJ were fired as fast as possible. Hot as hell with a full magazine and empty chamber, the pistol was dunked in a bucket of water then pitched into a bucket of sand and potting soil where it was roughly stirred about for 1 minute. The pistol was pulled from the bucket, shaken off, charged and digested a full magazine of mixed ammo, reloaded and shot ten more times.
Note - The pistol had two failures at this point both of which were instinctively cleared by the shooter without stopping for close examination. The slide simply failed to go all the way into battery and a light tap on the rear of slide seated the round and allowed the weapon to fire. The pistol was extremely dirty and cruddy at this point. Since the malfunctions were so easily cleared, I felt they were worthy of note but not necessarily derogatory regarding performance.
Pistol 2 was then scrubbed clean, lubed and fed 300 rounds of 124 grain FMJ, 50 rounds of Corbon 147 grain FMJ, 23 rounds of 80 grain Glazer safety slugs and 460 rounds of 124 grain Black Hills +P. The dirty pistol was then unloaded and stirred into a slurry of ice, salt water and dry ice for 15 minutes. The frozen pistol was then loaded and fired 200 more rounds of old Mil Spec hardball.
2583 rounds fired with two rapidly cleared malfunctions.
Somewhere along the line the front sight came off of Pistol 2. I didn't notice when it happened since my assistant and I were point shooting at a 7 yard target just as fast as we could. A broken sight does not prevent a pistol from being effective out to 25 yards so this problem did not represent a critical failure. We had really beaten this gun up so I'm not surprised we broke something.
Accuracy testing: After each gun demonstrated the ability to digest 2000 rounds without critical malfunction, I considered the Steyr pistol reliable enough for further evaluation. In my opinion a combat pistol must be able to hold 5 shot two inch groups at 25 yards. I can do this off-hand with a 1911 style pistol and I was able to do this off-hand with the Steyr as well. The Steyr is plenty accurate for combat and coupled with it's superior ergonomics it makes a very desireable gun for serious shooting.
Shooting impressions: I found the pistol to be very easy to control and pointed naturally. Recoil seemed exceptionally light and very linear allowing for rapid target reacquisition. I ran Pistol 1 through the Federal Air Marshal, and standard FBI qualification course with very high expert scores. I played with some steel plates and pop ups also but they were no challenge for the Steyr.
Pistol 1 has now digested over 8 thousand rounds without problem and Pistol 2 has been sent in for warranty repair of the front sight. I was upfront with the dealer about the torture I put the pistol through but they said the warranty was still valid.
In short, the Steyr is a good general duty pistol that I can recommend without reservation. I just wish they would make a .45 auto version.
thanks for posting. you sure know what to feed guns that Black hills stuff is generally pricey but damn fine ammo.
EXCELLENT post! One of the best we've had in awhile. Seems folks don't do this type of thing very often. Good to know your out-of-the-box Steyr would feed all those different brands without a hiccup. Maybe this will help put to rest some of the fears potential buyers have about Steyr reliability.
I'm curious where all the ammo came from. Those Glasiers alone would set you back.
In what kind of time frame was this test performed? Was this something you did in a week, or months?
Thanks for the contribution to our forum!!
Nice first post.
Just curious, you say the test was for professional reasons. Are you a gun magazine writer or a firearms instructor or LEO ?
My Steyr's are my favorite pistols. I carry the M40A1 as a duty weapon everyday.
FFL dealer in Houston Texas.
Transfers for $20.00
Steyr shooter from way back.
Thank you for the warm welcome and for this fine forum.
I’m a former LEO and US Marine. Currently I'm a security and intelligence consultant with Virtual Defense and Development Incorporated. Over the years I’ve been blessed by working with some outstanding organizations and agencies and now I deliver that experience to government and private sector clients.
I had a stockpile of 9 mike mike that needed shooting and this opportunity burned up about 5K worth. I don’t shoot 9 very often as I have other preferences but I was working with a firearms training group some years back and all kinds of left over extra ammo found it’s way home.
I recommend two brands of ammunition depending on the mission: Black Hills and CorBon (Dakota Ammo). These are my favored choices. In testing or demonstrations I sometimes use whatever is available just to prove a point or perhaps to induce malfunctions. I also have handloaded ammunition in 9MM, .40 and .45 that is purpose built to jam in most weapons so I can teach proper tactical malfunction procedures.
I’m overseas now but will be back in the US for Christmas. In 2007 I hope to do more pistol training and instruction. Maybe I’ll see some of you on the range.
Welcome to the club! I would love to hear anything else you might have to offer, even if it isnt Steyr related! Its always a privilege to hear from the experts, and I have learned that the US Marines are indeed some of the best experts! When did you serve? I have a friend who served in Desert Storm, was a Scout. Hell of a guy, and one of the best teachers I have ever had. He's the one responsible for me getting into handguns and rifles (Ive always been a shotgunner). Come to think of it, he's the reason I own an M40 too!
Wonderful post.......thanks for the work and the sterling report..........sounds like a famous gun writer doesn't it..... :wink:
"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." ---George Orwell
NRA life member, NRA pistol, rifle instructor, RSO
Yes indeed Sir, welcome to the club!
Originally Posted by sasops
I've been very happy with my m9 having put hundreds of rounds through "her" without a problem. The A1 is intriguing on so many levels and I'm looking forward to owning one some day.
Be great if you could somehow swing the purchase of a couple m40A1's and put them through the same test. Reports here on the 40's reliability have been mixed best I can tell from following the threads and it seems a very desireable caliber for self defense.
Hope you have more time and inclination to contribute here often.
Wonderful report, thanks!
Selma, NC 27576
Semper Fi, and Semper Gumby, brother.
Welcome to the cult.
If any one on this forum also visits the Sigforum http://www.sigforum.com you may find this post simular to a former member of that forum that went by the name CALVERT.
Maybe its because I'm getting more skeptical as I get older, but I've got to pull the waders way up high when I read this.