Grand Power SP9A3S: The Stribog Gets Shorter
Since 2015 I've been a fan of Grand Power. Innovative designs and full ambidextrous controls at a price that is within reach for us working folk. After discovering them I've made more than 50 videos and written dozens or articles, taken Grand Power pistols to training events at Front Sight and Thunder Ranch, and perhaps the biggest endorsement; I've had a K100 as my daily carry for years.
It's safe to say I'm a fan. Naturally, when the Stribog first came to the United States in 2018 I was excited at the chance to cover it. Since then I've written digital and print articles on the platform as well as 15 videos on our YouTube channel. We've covered the evolution from the earliest A1 to the A3, and now have our hands on the A3S.
What is a Stribog? The Stribog (pronounced, "Stree-bog") as we get it in the US is a personal defense weapon (PDW) chambered in 9mm. Sold as a pistol, it offers increased muzzle energy, higher capacity, and better control than a classic handgun while also being smaller, lighter, and more compact than a rifle. The PDW category has roots in submachine guns which serve a similar purpose for military and law enforcement entities around the world. For civilian use they make for great plinkers, trainers, or vehicle/home defense options.
For the cultural nerds, Stribog is/was and ancient Slavic god of force. By force we're referring to currents of air and water. Stribog made them move. The root word "bog" is still in use today in many Slavic languages as the word for "god". If you've seen our footage from visiting Grand Power in Slovakia you know that an AP9 Stribog can certainly make a stream of bullets.
A tabletop look at the SP9A3S can be seen below including how to field strip and what makes it tick:
New with the SP9A3S is a shorter 5" barrel in contrast to the usual 8" barrel offered on US models. That's the only change. Chopping the barrel back 3" does cost some muzzle energy, but chances are unless your carry gun has more than a 5" barrel the Stribog is still more powerful than your pistol. The big gain with the "S" model is the reduction in overall length and weight as the handguard is also shorter. The total number of ounces saved isn't worth measuring as it was their location that makes the difference. With less weight on the forward end of the gun the SP9A3S handles quicker than it's longer brother.
Problems have been reported with the Stribogs and stem from two sources: magazines and the early (2020) SP9A3 models.
Some of the early straight magazines have reported to crack and bind. We have a couple dozen magazines (of all three generations) and have not had one crack, but have had one bind when loaded with low-grade ammunition. It seems the friction between the cases is enough to cause issues. The cracking is most likely caused by the un/poorly-trained replicating what they've seen in video games and movies and smacking up on an inserted magazine as if they couldn't feel or hear if the magazine engaged the catch. The problem with doing this when the bolt is closed is it smashes plastic feed lips against a steel bolt. Which do you think wins? Though 9mm casings have just a tiny taper there were calls for curved magazines as they must be the only solution. Folks who claimed so must not have ever seen a Glock, M31 Suomi, Colt SMG, or any of the other straight-stick 9mm magazines that have been successful for decades. Never the less, in 2021 Grand Power released a curved magazine update.
These new magazines certainly look cooler, but thanks to the curve they do indeed load easier and magically there haven't been the same complaints about cracking feed lips. Is it some new wonder-plastic material? No, subtly Grand Power included a small nub on the back of the magazine that helps resist over-insertion.
Reliability issues were reported with the early SP9A3 imports. This was largely in part due to end users not fully understanding the firearm. The A3 introduced a roller-delayed blowback action that reduces felt recoil and also makes the gun suppress quieter than a standard blowback action. The mechanical delay was designed around and thusly calibrated for 124gr NATO loads. Unbeknownst by many casual shooters 124gr NATO creates about 10% more pressure than standard American 115gr range fodder. Combine that with a soft shoulder/support behind the gun and it was likely to short stroke the action. Grand Power resolved this with a "US" locker which Global Ordnance facilitated swapping into early guns. Newer SP9A3S guns come with the US locker.
How does the New Stribog Run? Because our early A3 proved only problematic with low-quality and weak ammunition we never sent it in for the "US" locker. The SP9A3S is the first time we've had our hands on one, and it's a shorter barrel (less pressure to operate the action) so I was interested to see how the SP9A3S would do in our What's For Dinner™ test.
As you can see in that quick test no issues were encountered. I admit that at first I wasn't sure how I felt about losing the velocity advantage of the 8" barrel, but the ease of handling makes the SP9A3S a sweet shooter, and as shown in our testing there were no reliability issues. We'll get more rounds through it in the future, and can test with a suppressor if we get enough requests. We typically don't suppress firearms for basic review because it alters the performance of the firearm and the level of alteration can vary depending on the specific ammunition and suppressor used.
Where Can You Get one? Stribogs tend to sell our quickly, so you'll need to shop around. Here are a few places to check:
Palmetto State Armory tends to have good prices, but inventory can be sparse. You can sign up for inventory alerts if needed.
Guns.com has prices that can vary as their listings include both new and used. If shopping check back weekly to see if any good used options have popped up.
Primary Arms believe it or not has begun to carry this popular platform.
Global Ordnance is the importer and so most likely to have inventory, but prices can be a bit higher. If you're worried about warranty work there is some "feel good" that comes from buying from the place that also does the warranty work.
Which Model to get is totally up to your interests, needs, and budget.
SP9A1 is the original, least expensive, and uses traditional blowback action. As a result recoil is higher (though not as much as most AR9s) and they will get smokey if running suppressed.
SP9A3 Introduces the roller-delayed blowback. Recoil almost as soft as an MP5, and runs quieter and less smokey with a suppressor.
SP9A3S is the model shown in this article. Everything to love about the SP9A3, but with three inches less barrel and an appropriate shortening of the hand guard. Lighter and smaller.
SP9A3G is an A3 that accepts Glock magazines.