Mossberg MC1sc close up shot

[Review] Mossberg MC1sc: Handgun Of The Year?


That was the year, exactly a hundred years ago, that O. F. Mossberg & Sons produced their first pistol. It was a four-barreled .22 semiautomatic whose firing pin rotated with each trigger pull. It used a latch to keep the action locked. When opened, you used the piece of bent sheet metal provided with the gun to pick the empties out of their chambers. It was meant for trappers and outdoorsmen to carry in a pocket for whatever usage was required but was specifically intended to be a handy way to dispatch a wounded animal.

Mossbergbrownie ad

Cut to modern times. Mossberg introduced their next-in-line-for-production pistol, the subcompact 9mm MC1sc. This is one popular pistol which causes one to wonder, if Mossberg sticks to its pistol-introduction timetable, what wonder-weapon they’ll introduce 100 years from now. A ray gun? OK, enough tongue-in-cheek. This little 9mm is quite a buy. Let’s look at first the Mossberg company and then the gun in some detail.

Mossberg History

Oscar Frederick Mossberg (1866–1937) was born on September 1st, 1866, in Sweden. Emigrating to the U.S. in 1886, he went to work at the Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works in Massachussetts where he oversaw the manufacture of revolvers and shotguns. Leaving Iver Johnson, he worked for a few other gun makers including Stevens and Marlin-Rockwell. When the latter company went out of business due to WWI ending (they primarily manufactured machine guns), Oscar and his two sons started their own firearms company, O.F. Mossberg & Sons.

Mossberg’s New Haven, Connecticut plant started out making the above-mentioned 4-barrel pistol. The business grew, and in 1922 added a larger facility in the same town. Here they made a line of .22 rifles designed by Arthur Savage (yep, the same guy that started a gun business under his own name). Guns for America’s sportsmen were the main products that Mossberg made. Oscar died in 1937, so the business passed to a son.

WWII And Later

During WWII, they made parts for the Ma Duece .50 caliber machine gun, Lee Enfield Mk. IV rifles under contract, and .22-caliber training rifles for the Army and Navy. They eventually outgrew this second, additional facility and moved in 1960 to yet a larger plant, still in New Haven. The milestone Mossberg 500 shotgun was introduced in August, 1961. This was designed to be an entry-level hunting gun, but has seen its share of use as a law enforcement tactical weapon, and for home defense. I believe that ten million of these shotguns have been produced, making it one of the most-produced civilian firearms. Another distinction is that the Mossberg company, still owned by that family, is the oldest family-owned firearms manufacturers in America. That says something. Today, Mossberg’s headquarters are still in Connecticut but, due to restrictive firearms legislation in the New England area, have moved production to facilities in Eagle Pass, Texas where over 90% of shotguns and rifles (and this pistol) are made.

Mossberg MC1sc frame branding

OK, so now we know a little more about the Mossberg company. I have had personal experience with their guns, in particular shotguns. I bought, in the early 1980s, a Mossberg model 5500 semiauto shotgun at our local Service Merchandise (neat store – too bad it’s gone). This was just a lesser-expensive iteration of their mainline self-loading shotgun, the model 550. The wood isn’t walnut, and the metal is industrially-blued but the gun works. I’ve hunted rabbits and squirrels with it, with success. It resides in the gun safe and is there when I need it. I think I paid $150 or so for it. I appreciated the tang-mounted safety, being left-handed. I always had trouble with cross-bolt safeties because they worked backwards. The gun handled well, and had interchangeable chokes. Why am I saying all this? Only to say that Mossberg makes some very practical, effective guns for not a lot of money. The MC1sc is no exception.

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The Gun

Let’s look at the specs first, then some photos I took of the gun Mossberg sent me to test.

Caliber:9mm (rated for +P)
Capacity:One 6-round flush magazine & one 7-round extended magazine. Mags are translucent with orange followers for easy round checks
Weight:19 oz. (unloaded)
Length:6.25 inches
Height:4.3 inches
Width:I.03 inch
Trigger:Flat face with safety blade
Trigger Pull Weight:5 pounds, 6 ounces average of 10 pulls
Barrel Length:3.4 inches
Sights:Three-dot white, dovetail mount
Sight Radius:5.4 inches
Barrel & Slide Material:416 stainless steel, DLC (“diamond-like coating”)
MSRP/Real-World:Models range from $421 to $526, depending on sights. Tested: $421/~$320
Variations:FDE, Stainless two-tone finishes; cross-bolt safety; Viridian laser; night sights-10 variations total
Compatibilities:Sig #8 sights will fit the dovetails; Glock 43 magazines will work, as will most 43 holsters

The specs are fairly impressive for a gun that costs this much (or this little, depending on your viewpoint). You get some pretty uptown features, like steel sights, good steel construction, translucent magazines for quick round checks (why hasn’t anyone else done this?), and cross-compatibility with Sig sights and Glock 43 holsters and mags. It also fit my Taurus G2C IWB kydex holster – it was a touch loose, but I have the adjustment screw out so it could be tightened to fit. Between the Glock and the popular G2C, you should have no trouble finding a good holster for this little jewel. I do believe it’s worth carrying. Let’s see how it shot, then we’ll look at it field-stripped.

My Rating

As I was shooting this 19-ounce gun, I was reminded a bit of other sub-compact guns I’ve shot. I’ve put a fair amount of lead downrange with these guns and have formed some opinions on the subject. I’ll rate each category from 1-5, with 5 being the highest. Let’s look at a few of them.

“Shootability”. What does that mean? I tend to rate guns that cooperate with me and put their rounds on target with minimum fuss and bother as having great “shootability.” I doubt if I am the first to use that term, but it fits. The Mossberg behaves well in the hand. The grip is textured, slightly – check the photos below. It sat fairly still in my hand, even when shooting the 1500-+-fps NovX load. It IS a light gun, though, and did have some recoil. It’s rated for +P but I think I’d use that sparingly. With the velocities I got with standard-pressure ammo, you may not need the +P variety. Rating: 5

Sights. The sights on this gun are great. They are metal, and drift-adjustable or easily replaced with Sig #8 sights. That opens up a whole lot of possibilities. (If night sights are on your list, save your after-market money and just buy the Mossberg from the factory with TRUGLO Tritium PRO sights, or just go for the Viridian laser-equipped model – easy). One thing I really like is the amount of light on either side of the front sight when the sights are lined up n a target. This is how many of the old-school target revolvers were set up, and it works. Sights can be good in one of two ways…they are either great for precision shooting (like the target guns of old) with slightly-larger rear notches, or they are quickly acquired – witness the “Heinie 8”, the XS Big Dot or the “Bar-Dot” sights that draw your eye. Usually, these are not the best for precision shooting but allow you to get a quick sight picture. The Mossberg has the best of both worlds – it’s great for precision target shooting and also allows you to get a good picture quick when lifted to your eyes. Rating: 5

“Squirminess”. OK, yet another term from my personal shooting lexicon. This simply refers to the “stickiness” of the grips as you shoot the gun. I like a lot of tackiness where polymer grips are concerned. I have a soldering iron and am not afraid to use it – I’ve stippled many of my guns’ grip panels. I would be tempted to with the Mossberg, as well. The tackiness isn’t bad, but it could be better. Rating: 3

Build Quality. I’ve shot some small 9mm guns that I wonder how they held during a shooting session – the build quality and materials were (to be charitable) not the best. The Mossberg seems to be built from quality materials and to be put together very well. I had zero issues with any build-quality issues with the gun. A quick peek under the slide showed no great machining marks or “unfinished business.” The finish was evenly applied and everything fit together like it should. I was truly impressed with how the gun looked and shot. Rating: 5

Functioning & Accuracy. I had no failures of any kind with the gun as I shot it. (This includes my handloads, as well). This gun is a shooter and seems to not care what you feed it. The feed ramp is polished, the extractor and ejector tuned, and the trigger, great (check out my article on the best trigger pull gauge). It consistently broke at about five and a half pounds, with a solid reset. The accuracy is evident from the targets below. This gun was more accurate than some other full-size 9s I’ve shot. It will do what you need it to do. Rating: 5

Overall Value. Taking all of the above into consideration, I will give the gun a solid rating. You could sure do worse for your money. Rating: 4.5

Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5. This is just my informal evaluation. You need to try one and assign your own ratings.

Let’s take a look at some of the photos I took of our test pistol…

Mossberg MC1sc left side

Mossberg MC1sc right side

Note the flat trigger. I liked it. Also, the forward slide serrations are nicely done.

Mossberg MC1sc field stripped

side shot of the Mossberg MC1sc mag release
Magazine release.

This is easily reversible – instructions are in the owner’s manual…

Mossberg MC1sc manual reversing things

Mossberg MC1sc frame top

Mossberg MC1sc slide underneath
Frame and slide, under the hood…pretty clean.
Mossberg MC1sc slide serrations
Note the interesting slide serrations and large ejection port. The slide is easily gripped.
Mossberg MC1sc stiker recoil springs
Striker and spring/housing, and recoil spring/guide rod.
Mossberg MC1sc striker release button
Striker release button-note it’s in two parts. More on this later.
Mossberg MC1sc sight picture
Sight picture. A generous amount of light is present on either side of the front sight.
Mossberg MC1sc front sight
Front sight. The dot is just a bit larger than the dots on the rear sight, which draws your eye.
Mossberg MC1sc sight picture taken button
Rear sight – roomy.
Mossberg MC1sc grip
Grip close-up. Extended mag in place. Flush fit mag has no texturing. This is nicely done and well thought out.
Mossberg MC1sc backstrap
Mossberg MC1sc frontstrap

Note texturing areas and how the front and back are different than the sides. My opinion-a little more aggressive texturing would go well here. It’s not bad, but I like the equivalent of 100-grit sandpaper texturing on my plastic guns.

Mossberg MC1sc mags

And, one of the better ideas to come down the pike – magazines that tell you exactly how many rounds you have left. No guessing! If you’re gonna build ‘em out of plastic, why not make ‘em clear? Plus, the bright orange follower stands out. Nice touch!

Mossberg MC1sc box

Let’s look at the box and shipping materials. There is some innovation here, as well.

Mossberg MC1sc box contents
Here is the box and what comes in the box.

What follows is the innovative part…

Mossberg MC1sc box packaging
… that is, the packaging.

You slip the gun under the clear plastic sheet, then when you fold the “wings” in and under to place it in the box, it tightens against the gun, holding it tightly. (If you get lost, there are instructions printed on this piece). This is one way to help ensure a cardboard box will actually hold the gun motionless during shipment. It saves the cost of an expensive hard plastic case. Yeah, I know – those cases are great, but not all guns need them. Smaller guns don’t jump around in their shipping containers as much as heavier guns tend to do. Anyway, it’s clever.

Size Comparison

Let’s compare the MC1sc to a couple of other guns I had on hand – a Taurus G2C 9mm subcompact and their Spectrum .380. I didn’t have a Glock 43 around, but that would be a great one to compare it with since Glock 43 holsters and magazines fit the Mossberg.

grip height Mossberg MC1sc vs Taurus G2C
Mossberg in front.

The Taurus is a double-stack that holds 12+1 rounds. It does loom a bit larger than the MC1sc.

gun to gun comparison Mossberg MC1sc vs Taurus G2c
Here, you get a good idea of the relative sizes of the guns.

The Mossberg is a bit thinner, as a single-stack ought to be. It would fit in a pocket (OK, a large pocket) if needed.

Taurus Spectrum vs Mossberg MC1sc size comparison

Speaking of a pocket gun, here is my Spectrum on top of the Mossberg.

Not a great deal of difference, plus you get the added advantage of 9mm in the Mossberg over .380 in the Spectrum. With the shown, 7-round extended magazine in place and the other (included) 6-rounder, you could have 14 rounds of 9mm at the ready, versus the same number of .380 rounds in the 2 magazines included with the Spectrum. That’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Given the fact that Glock 43 holsters and magazines work with the Mossberg, you could have a really great self-defense setup at your fingertips. Remember – the flush-fit 6-round magazine brings the sizes even closer.


Before we look at some targets I shot with the MC1sc, let’s talk a minute about the take-down process. It’s different, to be sure. There are no take-down levers or Glock-style tabs, no two-dots-you-line-up… it IS different, and I like it.

Here you go…

First, make sure the gun is empty. REALLY empty, not “I-know-I-unloaded-it-before-I-left-the-range” empty. As I’ve mentioned in a review before, I put a .45 ACP 230 grain bullet into my reloading bench (best reloading press) while taking down an “empty” gun that required a trigger pull, so double-check.

Next, remove the magazine and lock the slide back. Now, press in on the back plate – the striker release button, pictured above.

Slide the button down and off the slide. Let the slide come forward slowly (slowly!), and the yellow striker housing, striker and spring will come out the rear of the slide. Ease the barrel off – no trigger pull needed.

Pull the barrel and recoil spring out as you would on most any other poly gun…that’s it. To reassemble, put the barrel and recoil spring back, put the slide back on the frame and lock it to the rear. (Make sure the trigger is forward – move it forward if it isn’t. Trust me.) Stick the striker back into its channel and slide the release button back on from the bottom. It should slide over the yellow striker housing and click into place. Press the striker housing down with something if you need to in order to get it started. Let the slide go forward, and check for function.

If you get lost, check out Mossberg’s video on taking the thing apart:

It’s not hard, but it is different. That’s really all there is to it.

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Shooting the MC1sc

I put three loads through the gun to test it. I put plain ol’ Winchester “white box” 115 grain RN, NovX 65 grain training load, and my all-time favorite 9mm handload – my 124-cast Lee RN bullet over 4.8 grains of Long Shot. Here are a few representative targets and ballistic information…

Mossberg MC1sc shooting at target-winchester

Average velocity, 1081 f.p.s. Obviously, it shot low and right but was decent overall.

Mossberg MC1sc shooting at target-novx

This new-technology load uses a non-lead 65-grain bullet at a measured average velocity of 1573 f.p.s. out of this gun’s short tube. It shot just a bit low but OK otherwise. For more about this company’s ammo, read my NovX review. It is worth checking out!

Mossberg MC1sc shooting at target-handload

Not too bad, considering conditions. Avergage velocity was 1060 f.p.s.

It should be noted that gun shot consistently low for me, but as I have stated throughout my gun reviews, this isn’t an ammo review…with all the hundreds of 9mm factory loads out there, you would be hard pressed to not find at least a dozen that shot to point of aim and was accurate. It does seem that the older I get, the less accurate my shooting becomes. Nothing really noticeable, but I do have to pay closer attention to it. Anyway, this little gun should work for self-defense, with proper ammo.

Shooting Impressions

The gun handled very well. My only concern, if it could be called that, is that the grip texturing isn’t as aggressive as I’d like it to be. I have commented before in several reviews that I like a rough grip surface, something on the order of 100-grit emory clothr. I’ve stippled plenty of my own pistols’ grips to get that effect. I like a gun to stay put in my hand when I’m shooting it.

Mossberg MC1sc grip

As you can see, the texturing is “zoned”, not unlike Springfield Armory’s XD Mod 2 guns. At least the texturing is in the right spots. The front- and backstraps are decently grippable – no worries there.

Otherwise, the gun shot just fine and was controllable, even with the ridiculously-fast NovX load. That ammo (with the proper, fluted self-defense bullet) and this gun would be an effective carry package. The sights were a blessing to my aged orbs…the white dots stood out and were easy to see. Given that you could replace them with Sig #8 sights, I think that the sights would be one of the easiest fixes if you were of a mind to change them.


A 19-ounce gun is going to buck, at least a little, with any serious load. This one is no exception. However, if you use a proper grip, you will not notice anything out of the expected where recoil is concerned. The frame is built so that you have a flat place where your trigger finger should go when it’s not in the trigger guard, and a corresponding one on the other side for your support-hand thumb.

Is the gun controllable? Does it come back to the target quickly? Yes to both. I have shot other guns in this size range that were not designed as well, and suffered in the controllability department. This gun seems to check all the right boxes.

Should You Buy One?

I guess what it all comes down to is whether you, the shooter, thinks this gun’s value outweighs its price. I think it does. Considering that most gun shops will sell this thing for around $330-$350, that makes it a really decent value. When you figure that the gun fits Glock 43 holsters and magazines, that begs the comparison. Let’s take a quick look at some Glock 43 specs, with the Mossberg’s beside them…

 Glock 43Mossberg MC1sc
Overall Length6.26”6.25”
Weight:18 oz. (empty mag)19 oz. (empty mag)
Sights:plastic Glock-type outlinesteel, dovetailed three-dotcompatible with Sig sights
Sight Radius:5.24”5.4”
Capacity:6 rounds6/7 roundscompatible with Glock 43 mags
“Real-World” Price:$450-$470$330-$350

As we can see, the guns are almost identical in dimensions and weight. Where they are not identical is in price, especially what I call the “real world” price. Am I claiming that the Mossberg is the equal in every way to the Glock? Of course not. All I’m stating here is that the Mossberg deserves a good look if you are in the market for a sub-compact 9mm handgun. Mossberg quality is highly regarded in the firearms world, and now the company is investing resources in producing their second-ever handgun. They have a lot to lose if they handle things wrong, so I look for Mossberg to (first of all) exhibit good quality control and not let guns out the door that need work, and secondly, to jump on any guns that might get sent back and get them repaired and back to the owner as fast as possible. They have entered the most competitive area of firearms production – small, 9mm carry guns – and I expect them to act accordingly.

So, that leaves us with the question…do I buy the Mossberg, or go with something that’s been around a while longer? Only you can answer that. I would add that I would love to have this little gun – it would fit in a pocket holster and provide a total of fourteen rounds of 9mm in both included magazines plus one in the chamber. That is comforting to a concealed-weapon-carrier. I do believe you could do worse than the MC1sc. And, if you are looking for a slightly longer barrel and a few more rounds in the magazine, go with its bigger brother that was just recently introduced, the 13/15-round, three-point-nine-inch-barreled MC2c for $490. Either way you go, I think you would be covered.

As always, be careful out there and leave a comment below. Stay safe!

  1. I am a lefty and am used the mag release on the left side. I use my index finger to release the mag. I am so used to it because of having to do it that way for so many years it is just natural to me. My hands are small and I cannot reach the most mag. release buttons with my thumb anyway. My problem with some handguns the mag. will drop while firing the gun left handed. The pad of my left index finger will drop the magazine sometimes when firing the gun. Is rt.hand mag.release and issue possibly allowing the mag to drop shooting left handed with a rt.handed mag release ?

  2. Well put together review. I am not in the market for a 9mm but after reading this piece I will read your reviews for guidance.

    1. Jarheadforever, thanks for the vote of confidence. That means a lot coming from a Jarhead! I think we have many Marines that check our site. Thanks for writing!

  3. I bought one of these after trying the Sig 365 and Glock 43. They are all nice guns but the Mossberg felt best in my hand and for the price difference I was able to put a Night Fission front sight on ( the brightest night sights available) and buy a bunch of quality ammo! This is very accurate and concealable and my go to EDC.

    1. Grumpy, that’s the advantage of having a lesser-expensive gun work for you – it allows you to get accessories and ammo that you might not have been able to before. Thanks for writing!

  4. Hey Mike- A great, unbiased review. Grew up in CT so my family ALWAYS bought CT manufactured Firearms. My Dad bought me a Mossberg Shotgun 50 years ago for my 11th birthday , single shot break barrel- what a quality firearm. SO GLAD to hear Mossberg is delving back into pistols, even if they need to make them in a more 2nd Amendment “friendly” state- they should !! That’s my BEEF about others.
    I will WATCH – Thank you Mike !!

    1. Bill, glad you enjoyed the review. It is too bad about them having to move, but it’s understandable. Thanks for writing!

  5. I have two MC1sc pistols. Both have been sent back to Mossberg for repair: failure to return to full battery. The slide needs to be nudged forward between 1/8″ and 1/4″ after a very large majority of shots. I got the first one back. It now has failure to return to full battery 10% of the time, much better than before, but still not good enough. My second is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

    1. Ruger, sorry to hear that. What was the time frame from the time you sent it back until you got it returned? Just curious. Thanks for writing!

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