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Stoeger STR-9 Pistol – New Contender for Best Handgun Under $400

Stoeger STR-9 9mm pistol

The Stoeger STR-9 might just go down as the best new handgun under $400 coming out of the 2019 SHOT Show. It is also one that might be missed by a lot of people who don’t recognize the Stoeger Industries name.

Before the annual trade show, news about the 9mm pistol leaked out. I was immediately interested, as Stoeger had done a very good job producing the Cougar pistols. The Cougar was a Beretta design that had largely been abandoned as Beretta pursued new designs like the PX4 Storm and APX pistols.

Update

Palmetto State Armory now has these in stock. At the time of this writing, the price was less – substantially less – than the MSRP.

Stoeger picked up the Cougar and continued the manufacturing of those pistols. Stoeger Cougars were widely regarded as being an excellent value in the self defense handgun market. Nevertheless, the guns seemed to take a back seat to the polymer-framed, striker-fired handguns like those from Glock and Smith & Wesson.

It seems that Stoeger has abandoned the Cougar pistol and has put all of its weight behind the new STR-9.

Basics of the STR-9

Stoeger STR-9 Features

The STR-9 is everything that a modern defensive pistol seems to need for success. In fact, if there is a manufacturing checklist somewhere, I bet it has nearly every box ticked.

As a striker-fired pistol, the shooter has a consistent trigger pull from one shot to the next. Having shot and trained others to shoot traditional double action/single action (DA/SA) pistols, I can say that the consistency of a striker-fired pistol is much easier to learn. Every time you press the trigger, it feels the same. This is appealing to many people.

Polymer frames are a normal part of the shooting world. When done right, these frames are every bit as durable as a metal frame in most circumstances. I’m not talking edge case here – just average Joe self-defense guns. Once the manufacturing is set up, polymer frames can be much less expensive to make. This allows the company to keep the guns affordable.

Matching the tool to the user is an important concept. In the case of handguns, there have been a variety of methods developed to help do this.

Stoeger uses an interchangeable backstrap system to help get a good hand fit on the pistol no matter how large or small your hands are. I’ve got medium hands, but relatively stubby fingers. This makes proper finger placement on the trigger something of a challenge with pistols like the Beretta 92. But using small backstraps on a handgun like the STR-9 improves my trigger reach.

Stoeger STR-9 Backstrap System

Left-handed shooters might be interested to know that the magazine release is reversible. With just a few minutes of work, you can move the push button release to the right side of the frame.

As we’ve seen in the past few years, the shooting public has come to appreciate the 9mm cartridge again. I saw the major shift to the “Wonder 9” semi-auto pistols in the 80s, then to the .40 S&W in the 90s. Now, the public seems to have shifted pretty quickly back to the 9×19 again.

It is a proven cartridge that has the largest base of active shooters in the US today. I’ve seen some of the ammunition sales numbers from a few of the major companies. If you make a gun or ammo, ignore the 9mm fans at your own peril.

Three dot sights aren’t my favorite, but they seem to be the default position for many companies. Stoeger selected them for this pistol. You can get a factory model that has three dot night sights for a little more money. If you like night sights, this might be the best option for you.

New Stoeger STR-9 9mm pistol

One of the features I do like about the sights is that the rear sight has a hard front edge. This allows a shooter to run the slide with only one hand in an emergency. Yes, I recognize this is an unlikely occurrence for an armed citizen. It is, however, a bonus that cost the company nothing to include. I appreciate it.

Adding a light or supplemental aiming laser is easily accomplished with the Stoeger STR-9. A reasonably sized accessory rail is available to the shooter.

For some this might be a deal breaker: the gun is made in Turkey. Ignoring politics for a moment, there are some good guns being made in that country. The quality of the manufacturing base in that country does not concern me.

Specifications

caliber9mm
magazine capacity15
weight24 oz unloaded
barrel length4.17"
overall length7.44"
action/firing systemstriker-fired
sights3-dot
finishmatte black
MSRP$329 (base)

The Models

At launch, Stoeger is offering three different versions of the STR-9. Fundamentally, they are the same gun but with a few minor differences.

Stoeger STR-9 Review

The base model comes with one magazine and only one backstrap. It has a suggested retail price of $329. Since it doesn’t have multiple backstraps to try out at home, you definitely want to check this in the store before you put your money down. If this works for you, I’m betting you can get this for less than $300 at many gun shops.

Next up the list is the same gun, but with three magazines and three differently sized backstraps. This is the model for me, as I like to have multiple mags for every gun I own. The MSRP is $389, but I bet I pay less than $350 when they arrive locally.

If you want night sights, you have one option, and it has a full retail price of $449. At that price you also get three magazines and backstraps. So, it is only a $60 jump for tritium sights.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone who wants a pistol for self-defense can afford a SIG SAUER or HK, never mind an artisan gun from Nighthawk Custom or Cabot Guns. Frankly, a new Glock or M&P is a bit out of reach for some people who want to exercise their right to protect themselves.

Guns like the Stoeger STR-9 offer options to people that have historically had few. Fortunately, there are a growing number of good guns in the sub-$400 market. I look forward to testing one of the STR-9 pistols and letting you know how it performs. If you get one before me, please leave a comment below with your experiences shooting it. If these are good or bad, let’s share that information and help each other out.

Update: These guns are now on the market. PSA is offering them for a lot less than the suggested retail price.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

22 replies on “Stoeger STR-9 Pistol – New Contender for Best Handgun Under $400”

Really liking that low bore axis…all you see above his hand is slide. This is a great site, I hope you’ll have a nice thorough review of the Stoeger as soon as it becomes available…

This gun looks very much like a Sar 9 while reading the review it said it is also made in Turkey while l got a Sar 9 a month ago couldn’t wait to shoot it have had two range visits with it with federal 115 grain full metal jacket ammo blazer 115 full metal jacket ammo and federal 115 standard pressure hollow points gun ran flawlessly with 500 rounds through it is very comfortable to shoot accurate and I’m very happy with it so far trigger and trigger reset are good seems to be as good as any Glock 19,17 and only costed 330 dollars out the door I’m thinking this gun is very similar and most likely be as good as a Glock also without a 550 dollar price tag l really like the way it looks more competition better guns with better prices and more options to choose from everybody wins

I suspect that the STR-9 was designed for the same contract competition won by the SAR 9.

From what I have been able to freeze frame in videos, the STR-9’s internals are very close in design to a Glock Gen 3. It is so close that I suspect some parts may directly interchange unless Stoeger has altered the pin diameters or other dimensions. While this landed S&W a lawsuit over the Sigma, the Glock patents involved have since expired.

Hardware store near me had one in their display case and I got a chance to fondle it. Quality appears to be excellent. Trigger pull is a bit heavier then a Glock but it’s very stead with no stacking. Trigger reset is extremely short and crisp. Texturing on grip is outstanding. Neither too aggressive nor too slippery. Machining of slide and barrel as well as the melonite finish were flawless. I find it a tad annoying that the base model only comes with one mag and the one included medium-sized backstrap. You have to buy up to get one with three mags and three backstraps. On this particular pistol the magazine would not drop freely it would drop halfway and then stop and no amount of pressing the mag release button would release it.

Always looking for a quality pistol at a good price. There are more today than say ten years ago. Sadly none are made here in the USA.
IMHO SW and Ruger are junk, except their revolvers. They have managed to keep some kind of QC with them. Well I guess I shouldn’t say junk. But the material Ruger uses is a fiberglass reinforced resin and not a polymer like so many others use. That fiber/resin is slick like Teflon in my hands and I can’t keep a grip on any of their guns except the revolvers.
SW pistols that I have purchased all bar none had crap ( being very kind here ) triggers. It could be said that I just had bad luck, except tht one of my best friends ( he’s like a brother to me ) was talked in to buying a poly SW by a slick willy ffl by convincing him it was every bit as good as a Glock for less. I had already warned him away from SW poly pistols but he bought it and regretted it the first trip to the range. He sold it ASAP and bought my G19.
All this babble has a point and that is quality. People have been conditioned to believe that you have to pay a hi price for quality, it is true in phones, TVs and more.
Want a quality phone and not pay 1000.00 get a BLU XI+ about 350.00 and will leave the iPhone 10 in the dust. But no one knows about it.
Want a great TV for a great price? Look at anything TCL. They all come with ROKU built in. These are not SUPER HI END TVs with billion pixel per inch like everyone raves about from Samsung or another co. But they are plenty enough good TVs at very good prices.
Stoeger is now producing the STR9 and time will tell if the quality is up to snuff. We all hope it is because at that price, it could be a very popular item.
Some have pointed out that the mags are drop free. And while for many that is seen as a flaw and is agrivating. There are companies that intentionally make their guns this way. Early glock mags were designed NOT to drop free on purpose. But there were so many complaints about it by people shooting competitively with glocks that they changed the mags so that they were drop free.
As I understand it, non drop free design is to prevent the user from losing the magazine and or to prevent mag damage.
This is probably the ideology behind how the Stoger mags do not drop out.
Good day.

Richard,
The firearm is excellent! I rotated through some Sig 115gr FMJ and some Sig 115 Elite JHP. Both rounds fired flawlessly leaving a nice 2” hole in the targets at 15 yards. I needed up paying $299 as my hands are large and the back strap seemed fine for me. I would like to have an extra mag or 2, but I can purchase those later. I had no problem with the sights at all, they seem comparable enough to most of your states sights. After taking the slide off I noticed that most of the parts are stainless steal, even the guide rod is stainless. The weapon comes apart the same as your Glock and is as simple to clean. I give it 5 of 5 Stars!! Have any questions let me know!

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the details about the STR-9. It sounds like a great gun – especially at the price. My local gun shop hasn’t been able to get one yet, but I hope to have one soon.

-Richard

Quick follow up.
Two days ago my FFL got these in. I purchased the third option, tritium night sights, three mags and three straps, total price out the door was less than 355.00.
As reported, it comes apart like a Glock, trigger pull and all. The trigger is shaped a little differently than my gen 4 G19, but the trigger pull is almost identical.
I didn’t load the mags and check the fit and drop free function, but empty I did and all empty mags did drop free, this is a reported problem in many videos.
Personally the mags not dropping out is not a problem for me. So long as they partially eject and then pull easily from the grip I’m good.
Build quality is very good on mine.
I payed the STR9 out next to my VP9 and as I suspected, there is a strong resemblance.
While this pistol looks nothing like a Glock, in most respects it is very Glock like.
Glock needs to take some Qs from Stoeger here. If this pistol shoots as well as it looks and feels. Stoeger May have a hard time keeping them on the shelves.
I’ll try to give more info after I shoot it.

Took me a while to get back to this. When I purchased this pistol, the FFL believed this one to be the tritium night sight model because that is what his Stoeger supplier told him they were when he purchased 3 of the pistols.
As it turns out they were not the night sight pistols. I called my FFL to ask about another pistol and he immediately apologized for the mistake and promised to make it right. I had no idea what he was talking about as I still have not been to the range with it.
I told him not to worry about it. I can’t complain, for what you get for the price, it was still a good deal in my opinion.
While I haven’t been to the range with it yet, I have tried all the back straps and installed the one that felt best. Field stripped and oiled it for that future trip, rechecked the mags and all three still eject all the way.
Guess I was lucky to get one that drops free.
Feel in the hand is very nice.

Hi Dave,

That’s not encouraging. Can you explain how the gun broke without being fired? Was something wrong with it when you picked it up at the gun store? Also, please let us know how the company responds to the issue.

Best,

Richard

I shot my Stoeger STR-9 for the first time today and the bullets kept jamming after almost every shot. So annoying.

Hi David,

Wow – that sounds annoying. If you have a few minutes, can you give us some more details? For example, what kinds of ammunition did you try, had you done any cleaning/oiling of the gun prior to shooting, and when you contacted Stoeger about the issue, how were they to deal with?

-Richard

I had the same problem with my GPQ100. Either a fail to feed or fail to eject with almost every round. It was really disappointing for a brand new pistol.
I was using cheap Remington steel case ammo. Next trip to the range I took my normal brass range ammo and had no problems at all. Which was a relief.
It told me a couple things. Tolerances on the Q100 were very tight, and it doesn’t like steel case ammo. My Glocks will eat anything but they don’t shoot such tight groups either.
The Glocks are accurate enough for anything I might decide to throw at it, but the Q100 can/does shoot tighter groups at longer distances.
Your STR9 may be the same, I have only used brass case ammo in mine after the GP incident. So I avoid most ammo related problems these days.
Try a different ammo until the pistol has had about 500 to 1000 rounds through it, then try the previous ammo again.

Spoke to my FFL about the night sight model and he said that as far as he knows, all production on these fine pistols has stopped. That from what he read Stoeger may be moving the factory to Italy.
Are there any of the night sight models available? Or was production stopped before they were made?

Am looking to purchase my first hand gun. Doing alot of research. Have considered the S&W MMP Shield, 9MM,PCP/Glock 19/Spring Field XDE 9MM. Then I came across the STR9 and found the info to be compelling, especially concerning the $$$. But $$$ is not the bottom line, QUALITY is. (Though $$$ is still part of the equation.) The STR9 being new, I do not want to gamble on my purchase, but not pass on a less expensive hand gun that would serve me as well as the three I have already researched.
Appreciate any advice you can help me with.

Sorry for the slow response. If you have a nearby range that will let you shoot each of these pistols, I’d suggest spending a little money to rent them and get a feel for which you like best.

I own a Smith & Wesson Shield and a Glock 19, and I have shot the Springfield XDE. My choice for a first gun would be the Glock 19. It is a very reliable pistol with a broad range of accessories should you ever want to upgrade or carry it concealed. I also really like the Shield, though it may be slightly more difficult to learn than the larger Glock 19. (This may be counterintuitive, but a larger gun in the same caliber is generally easier to shoot than a small one.)

Best regards,

Richard

Good handgun but I keep having problem with disassembly latch spring keeps popping out While firing it i’ve sent it in twice to be fixed the same thing keeps happening how do I fix that problem

I am having the same problem with the take down lever. Actually my Slide Stop (takedown lever) fell out. Found the spring bar loose in the lower. I was wondering if the Glock part would work as a replacement? Having some issues with Stoeger’s web page accept my registration, host 505 error, a few times. Also called twice to customer service and both time they say we are having connection issues when i start explaing the problem. I am sure this is a coincidence, I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, will Glock parts work? Thx

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