Without a doubt, the original Springfield Armory Hellcat is an amazing handgun – one of several in the micro-compact CCW pistol niche. In today’s Springfield Hellcat Pro review, we take a close look at its larger brother.
Does adding 0.7″ in length and 4 more rounds in the standard magazine make a big enough difference to upgrade to the Pro? We explore that and all of the other features in this range test and review.
The new Compact model has a 3.8″ barrel and shorter grip frame. Standard magazines hold 13+1 rounds. If you are stuck in a reduced-liberty state, 10 round magazines are available.
As with the full-size pistols, the STR-9 Compact is a striker-fired handgun with a polymer frame. It weighs in at 24 ounces (unloaded.)
Stoeger uses a safety that is built into the center of the trigger. This trigger safety, popularized by Glock, helps to prevent accidental discharges. It is naturally disengaged when a shooter presses the trigger.
In addition to helping keep both cost and weight low, the polymer frame allows for the use of interchangeable backstraps. While often found on more expensive guns, Stoeger includes the feature on this pistol to improve the ability of the owner to fit the gun to his or her hand.
Drift adjustable, 3-dot sights are standard. However, the company offers tritium night sights as a factory option.
Additional features of the new Stoeger STR-9 Compact include:
reversible magazine release for left-handed shooters
low bore axis for improved control over muzzle rise during recoil
aggressive texturing on the front and rear of the grip
accessory rail for the addition of a white light or laser module
black nitride finish
As with the other guns in the STR-9 line, the Compact model has an affordable price tag. The suggested retail price is $329 for the standard model. If you wish to step up to the night sights, the price increases to $449. Keep in mind that these are suggested retail prices. Your dealer sets the actual price, which may be even lower.
Stoeger backs the STR-9 Compact with a 5 year warranty.
Concealable pistols continue to drive much of the firearms market, and the new FN 503 is an example of that trend.
FN America just announced the new 9mm handgun that will be direct competition for other single-stack, subcompact pistols like the Glock 43, Smith & Wesson Shield, Walther PPS M2 and the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2.
But, how does it compare? Will it build enough of a following to be a viable product long-term?
Let’s take a look at the pistol and what it may offer you.
FN 503 Features
Put simply, the FN503 is a striker-fired subcompact 9mm pistol that was designed for concealed carry.
FN states it took design cues from the FN 509 pistol, which was its entry in the US military’s handgun replacement program. But this gun is clearly built for concealment.
The company claims that the feel of the striker-fired system is “arguably the best in its class” with a crisp trigger break at an average of 5 pounds.
As with other striker-fired handguns, the FN 503 trigger has a safety built into the face of the trigger. Unlike many similar pistols, FN uses an all-metal trigger.
The gun is relatively small. It has a 3.1″ barrel with a maximum width of 1.1″. However, FN built the gun with large controls to make it easy to run – even under stress.
On top, the company uses metal 3-dot sights. They are dovetailed into the slide with a cut that matches that of the FN 509 pistol. That means the sights are large enough to be useable and can be replaced with fiber optics or night sights if you prefer.
FN developed a new grip texture that it likens to skateboard tape. That should provide adequate traction for controlling the pistol when shooting – even when your palms are sweaty.
6 rounds (flush fitting), 8 rounds (extended)
21 oz unloaded
How Does it Compare?
With a variety of other pistols on the market in this niche, is there a compelling reason to purchase it instead of the competition?
Until I’ve had this gun on the range for a full testing and review, I can’t say for sure. However, here is how the gun’s numbers stack up against the competition:
Note: All measurements rounded to the nearest tenth.
You should not buy a defensive firearm solely on specifications. However, specs can help you narrow down your choices. All of the guns in the table above – save the new FN 503 – are currently in my possession. The Walther is my favorite with the Shield and G43 being close runner ups. It will be interesting to see how the new FN pistol will compare once I have one in hand.
While the gun might be a little late to the party, it has the styling and features to put it on par with its contemporaries.
Assuming the gun is reliable, I think it will carve out a place for itself with many gun owners. How large of a market share it can pull remains to be seen.
Market share is important as it will be a key factor for obtaining third party support such as FN 503 holsters.