With half a dozen variants of Grand Power Stribogs on the US market (and more likely coming), the question often arises, "Which Stribog?". As the original media source who brought the Stribog to America's attention, it seems like GBGuns ought to provide a guide. Here's a breakdown of what they are, what they cost, and where to find them.
What is a Stribog? Named after an ancient Slavic God of forces (streams, gusts, etc), and pronounced, "Stree-bawg", the Stribog is a personal defense weapon (PDW) or pistol caliber carbine (PCC not currently in the US market) developed by Grand Power originally for military and law enforcement use. For the US Civilian market semi-automatic versions are available. The Stribog is most desirable for it's shorter overall length yet longer barrel than the formerly-market-dominating CZ Scoprion. The extra barrel length provides more muzzle velocity effectively making the same rounds hit harder from a Stribog than they would from a Scorpion. The Stribog A1 models are also quite affordable while the A3 models provide an advantage usually reserved for firearms costing much more.
Stribog A1 or A3?
This is likely the most frequently asked question. With a price difference of more than a couple hundred dollars, but no obvious visual difference the two main categories can be confusing to those new to the God of Forces.
The video left is an early A1 model, note the recoil impulse comes from bolt movement.
The Stribog A1 is a direct-blowback model. This operation type is the easiest to manufacture (hence lower cost, as low as $609.99 HERE) and also lends to incredible reliability. The breech is not locked, only held shut by the mass of the bolt/carrier and spring force. This is how submachineguns have been made for nearly a century and works very well. The downfall to this simple operation is the required mass and spring strength. Direct-blowback guns can require more effort to rack (stiffer springs) and exhibit more perceived recoil and more muzzle movement as the heavy bolt and carrier slam back and forth in the gun. The Stribog exhibits less of this than other guns thanks to the relatively short travel and quick action of the gun. Another disadvantage (compared to the A3) comes when using a suppressor. The increased back pressure from the suppressor lends to more violent cycling and can cause "port pop" as the action opens a little sooner than normal, resulting in noise escaping the ejection port. If you're just looking for simplicity and reliability, using for self defense or plinking without a suppressor, the Stribog A1 is a solid choice.
The video right demonstrates the smoothness of the A3 and was filmed on location in Slovakia with a pre-release full auto version.
The Stribog A3 costs a bit more to make and also a bit more to buy (starting at $799 HERE). With the A3 models a roller is used to mechanically delay the action opening after a shot is fired. As a result the spring can be softer and/or bolt and carrier lighter weight which results in a softer-recoiling shooting experience. Where the mechanical delay really shines is with suppressor use as it's just enough time for chamber pressures to drop: less port pop, less gas out the ejection port than a direct blowback option. It's not as soft-shooting or quiet as an MP5, but you can buy a Stribog and a suppressor for less than the cost of a good MP5 clone and still be better off than direct blowback.
What About the G and S Models?
The G and S models are named for either accepting Glock-Pattern magazines (G models) or having a shorter barrel (S model). We covered the S model in THIS article and have a G model in for review as well.
S Model Stribogs (Prices start around $1,000, lowest price can be found HERE) bring the barrel length down to 5" and take about an M-Lock slot's worth of handguard off. Doing so shifts the center of balance more rearward which also enhances handling. The end result is a Stribog that is quicker pointing and easier to pack. Some muzzle energy if lost, but with a 5" barrel chances are you're still getting more energy than you would out of your handgun. Most 9mm ammunition is formulated to perform best from a 4" barrel anyways.
G Model Stribogs (Also priced around $1,000, lowest price can be found HERE) accept Glock-pattern magazines. This was done at consumer request as many shooters have plenty of Glock-pattern magazines laying around. The downfall I see with this model stems from the need to feed from those magazines. Glock magazines have a relatively severe angle to them to accommodate Glock's grip angle. As a result when you put them in a PDW-type firearm, especially longer magazines, you end up with the magazine angling strongly toward the firing hand. There is also the inherent risk that just because Brand X magazines work in a Glock doesn't mean they'll fit well to another magazine well designed to accept those same magazines. This is why we always do our Multi-Mag test as seen in the SP9A3G Shooting Impressions Video.
In this 2019 video (one of Teya's earliest) we try 27 different loads through an early SP9A1 with a suppressor and an updated SP9A1 unsuppressed.
What About The Stribog Problems?
Complaints around the internet about the Stribog stem mostly from one of two main issues: magazines or ammo sensitivity. Both happened, but user error may have played a role. To a lesser extent there were concerns about empty casings getting stuck in the mechanism.
Magazines: (Priced as low as $21.99, find lowest current price HERE)We've been shooting Stribogs since the first imports in mid 2018. Of the 20+ magazines we've used two have bound up when loaded and using low-grade ammunition (too much friction between the cases). The magazines have gone through a few evolutions, adding and removing steel reinforcements, straight-sticks and curved. Users have complained of cracked feed lips (hence Grand Power added steel reinforcements for a while) but we have not experienced this. It's my theory that those who have cracked their magazines are in the habit of slapping up on a magazine when the bolt is closed. This would understandably smack the feed lips against the bolt, causing crack in the top of the magazine. When Grand Power released the curved magazines they dropped the steel reinforcement and added a small tab that prevents over-insertion, effectively idiot-proofing them. We covered this in our article HERE. Many said that longer 9mm magazines need a curve to function however history tells us that it incorrect. In any case, if you don't trust Grand Power's magazines you can always get a "G" model Stribog.
Ammunition Sensitivity: This started when a YouTuber famously fed an early SP9A3 (roller-lock delayed) remanufactured ammunition. As we showed back in 2019, the A1 Stribog will eat anything, so what's wrong with the A3?
The mechanical delay of the early A3 models was calibrated for 124gr NATO ammunition which runs about 10% higher pressure than standard American 115gr ammunition. 10% is also about the difference between "+p" and standard pressures by American standards. In effect, the early lockers were meant to keep the breech closed through +p-like pressure. Feed it lower pressure like 115gr American range ammunition, or lower, less-consistent ammunition like reloads and it had issues. Grand Power responded to this by creating a different locker specifically designed for the softer-shooting stuff we mostly use here in the US. These lockers are easily distinguished as they have "US" laser etched on the sides, visible through the handguard. Including numerous, "What's For Dinner" tests we have yet to find an American commercial load that the current SP9A3 won't eat.
It's Jammed!: The last, and least of the concerns was that empty shell casings could fall into the mechanism and lock up the gun. I've seen this happen as a result of user error, but not experienced it myself. To avoid this and understand the gun better watch the video below.
Undoubtedly, the safest and most efficient way to fire a Stribog is with a brace or stock attached. At the time this article was written no Stribog rifles are commercially available in the US, just pistols. You can either pay $200 for permission to attach a stock (by making the Stribog an SBR), or save some cash by attaching a brace for some additional stability.
I've found that cheeking the brace is the safest way to stabilize the firearm and permit proper aim. From the 2018 launch of the Stribog there were end caps available which were threaded to permit AR-type buffer tube attachments, thus permitting use of the SB Tactical braces for ARs. In the last four years a number of other options have come to market that replace the Stribog's end cap directly. I'm sure more will come to market as the Stribog has quickly become a favorite.
So Which Stribog?
SP9A1, SP9A3, SP9A3G, or SP9A3S? The good news is there's likely an option to fit your needs. They all have their advantages and disadvantages against one another. In general, I tell folks that if you're just looking for a range toy or defensive tool you can't go wrong with the A1. If you want less recoil or plan on suppressing it then an A3 is the way to go. Glock-fed if that's your thing, "S" model if you want a more compact package and are willing to give up some muzzle velocity.
With thousands and thousands of Stribogs in circulation, I'm sure we'll have some readers who already own a "'bog" or two. If so we'd love to hear what your thoughts and experiences have been in the comment section below.