After trying the Stoeger STR-9C and having a decent experience we listened to our viewers and gave Stoeger another try with their top-of-the-line STR-9S Combat.
This model is a competition/do-all gun with all the bells and whistles including:
Adjustable, suppressor-height, fiber-optic sights
Optics cut (metal adapter plates included)
Three extended magazines
Three included backstrap grip panels (the STR-9C can accept different grip panels but does not include them in the box.)
Fit and finish is about the same as the STR-9C, presenting as a well-made gun, but nothing fancy. A duty-grade pistol at a working-man's price that won't win any beauty contests, but gets the job done.
After my experience of somehow breaking the rear cover plate during my first handling of the STR-9C (a fluke of both luck and manufacturing in my opinion) I knew I needed to be extra-attentive while field stripping. Unfortunately I still encountered a slight hang-up during reassembly; the slide did not want to go all the way back on the pistol if I reassembled gingerly. With an authorative running-start the slide goes on easily, but when attempting to do it softly it binds firmly as if hitting a wall. I'm not sure why or how this happens, but tried several times with the same result each time. You can get a closer look at the Stoeger STR-9S Combat, including that reassembly experience, in the tabletop video below.
Barrel Length: 4.69"
Overall Length: 7.95"
Sight Radius: 6.61"
Magazines Included: 3x 20rd
Rifling: Six groove 1:10
Prices Found as of January 2023:
Interested to see how a full grip and longer slide would feel compared to our previous experience with the compact model we hit the range for our standard battery of experiences and as always filmed it all unscripted and single-take to give you a realistic impression of how the gun performs and what two moderately-experienced shooters thought. In the video below you'll see:
Cold Shots: Truly our first rounds through the gun. For Teya also her first time handling the gun.
Full Magazine +1: Not all guns perform well when "fully stuffed", adding challenge we attempt this with the included extended magazine to see if the springs are proper.
What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads.
For this gun we used the following ammunition:
65gr Liberty Ammunition Civil Trainer (out of production?)
65gr ARX Inceptor (out of production?)
68gr +P Underwood Extreme Defender
Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.
Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of our shooting experience and time for us to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.
After Shots: Final impressions from two shooters. We both have different interests, backgrounds, preferences, and approaches to shooting. We don't always agree, but that's why we present you with two opinions.
You can watch the process in the Shooting Impressions video below:
Ammunition seen in our Shooting Impressions video was made possible by our Patrons and supporters of our ammunition savings account through Ammo Squared. Additional, on-demand ammunition through True Shot Gun Club.
Teya initially wished she had tried out the other backstraps, but couldn't put her finger on why (pun intended). She's taken to not touching the gun at all before we hit the range so that her impressions truly are first impressions.
The gun ran well and shot nice and softly. The stiff recoil spring is likely part of what that happened, and may have resulted in the slide failing to lock open on empty a couple of times, but with time and round count that should diminish.
We found the ergonomics to be very comfortable and despite not liking the aggressive spike texture of the backstrap on the compact model, when spread out over a larger area such as the STR-9S Combat's grip, and combined with a softer-recoiling longer slide the texture was great.
Overall I'd consider the Stoeger STR-9S Combat a win for those looking for a do-all gun without spending the money. It doesn't scream, "fancy gun" in appearance, but is well-made and comes with all the options and upgrades a modern pistol can at a market price in line with much more basic models. We know several of our viewers/readers are fans of Stoeger pistols and we'd like to hear from you what your experience has been.