[Review] Stoeger STR-9: Excellent 9mm

Stoeger is a company that I am familiar with. Known for decades as an importer of really decent-quality shotguns, the company got this handgunner’s attention around 1980 when they began importing these:

Stoeger Luger 2

This is a German-made Luger .22. Stoeger has owned the rights to the Luger name in the U.S. since 1924, so they thought it might be a good idea to have a “Luger” made, only in .22LR. They did later, in 1994, build a stainless 9mm gun called the American Eagle Luger. (Interesting fact: Georg Luger submitted a Luger in .45ACP caliber for the U.S. Army’s handgun tests in 1907 that culminated with the adoption of the M1911 Colt in 1911. The Luger was withdrawn fairly quickly, but at least they tried).

I remember reading about those Stoeger guns in gun magazines of that time, and thinking how cool it would be to own one. But, on a teacher’s salary it was an idea dead in the water. At any rate, the guns were nice – Stoeger sold quite a few of them, if I remember correctly.

About Stoeger

Let’s start from the beginning and find out a bit about the Stoeger company. Stoeger is a manufacturer and importer of guns into the U.S. Headquartered in Accokeek, Maryland, the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Benelli. Working our way up the ladder one more rung, we find that Benelli is owned by Beretta. Not a bad family to be a member of, to be sure. Stoeger also is the FFL of record for the importation of Uberti guns. Most Cowboy Action shooters have heard of Uberti – they make some very nice replicas of the original Colt 1873 single-action revolvers, among other guns. That is the Italian connection with the company; now, we’ll look at the Turkish one.

STOEGER SİLAH SANAYİ A.Ş FİRMA PROFİLİ

Stoeger Silah Sanayi AS (formerly Vursan) got into the firearms business in the late 1980`s. It was the first company to manufacture a semi-auto shotgun in Turkey. As seems to be the way with firearms manufacturers in Turkey, technology abounded. (See my review of the SAR K2P pistol as an example of Turkey’s up-to-date manufacturing methods). Soon, international investors were attracted. This resulted in Beretta Holding acquiring the corporation in 2002. They built a new, even more modern factory for Stoeger. In 2005, Stoeger obtained a pistol manufacturing license from the Turkish Ministry of Defense, which set the company up as a member of the Turkish defense industry. This is in addition to their continued manufacture of sporting shotguns – something not very common. Usually, defense industry companies tend to focus on singular-purpose guns, i.e. military use. Building sporting arms is not always on the agenda.

Stoeger became the distributor of Beretta products in Turkey, which also included Benelli, Franchi, Sako, Burris, BAM-Stoeger and Beretta-Benelli Ibérica products. Marketing is conducted through two main groups: the Law Enforcement/Defense and Civilian divisions. Stoeger exports its products to over 40 countries and is continuing to upgrade its technology and manufacturing processes to better serve civilian hunters and shooters. These upgrades will also provide quality equipment to law enforcement and defense agencies.

That’s the corporation’s story in a nutshell. After owning the above-mentioned Turkish Sar pistol, I was impressed by its quality. Setting politics aside, that country does seem to make some very nice products.

The STR-9

The new striker-fired 9mm from Stoeger was introduced at the SHOT Show of 2019. The gun seemed to have a slow launch, and was not on dealers’ shelves for a while, at least around here. I remember when it came out and I glanced at the press release and accompanying photos – the gun was very interesting. I attribute its rather slow take-off to a lack of shooter familiarity and product availability. You saw some print ads for the gun, but a lot of folks probably thought “Stoeger – good shotguns” and stopped there. I wanted to get my hands on one from the first ad I saw about it, but nobody close to home had one for sale. Cut to a short while ago – I requested one from Stoeger, and today it arrived at my local FFL. I am grateful to Stoeger for the loan of the pistol. If it is half the gun I think it is, it might not be going back. We’ll shoot it in a bit. First, let’s look at some specifications. I have figures that I have gathered online, and those from my own measurements. Below the specs is a page from the Stoeger website that explains all the options available…there are several, including a compact version. Here you go…

Caliber:9mm
Length:7.5” (compact version available)
Height:5.25”
Width:1.3”
Weight:25.3 oz. with empty mag (weighed on my digital scale)
Slide:Carbon steel, matte black nitride finish
Barrel:4.17”
Capacity:15+1; three magazines included
Magazine Release:reversible
Sights:Steel three-dot; rear sight has a tactical ledge
Action:Striker-fired semi-automatic
Trigger:6 lbs., 3 oz. average pull weight, measured with my Lyman trigger pull gauge
Grip Options:3 backstraps
Safety:Trigger blade; striker block; loaded chamber indicator
Warranty:5 years
MSRP:$329 - $449 depending on options – see below
“Real-World” Price:$299 - $399

Here’s the listing from Stoeger’s website that shows the available models of the STR-9…

STR-9 Specs Website

So, no matter what you want in this pistol, it is pretty much available. I think that you would definitely want to spend an extra $60 (less in a real-world price) and get the version with two extra backstraps and magazines. I don’t believe you could order those items separately for anywhere near the extra $60 that you would pay for a gun from the factory so equipped – that’s a great buy. Also, another good deal is the tritium night sight versions. For a real-world price of around $400, you can get night sights, three backstraps and three magazines. That’s a great buy in anyone’s book.

Features & Photos

As we look at the pics I took of the gun, let’s look at a few of what I consider good features that this gun possesses. You will be able to see, in my pics, what I’m talking about here.

Slide Serrations: First, the slide serrations. These things are deep. There aren’t that many of them (4 in front, 4 in back) but they allow a firm grasp of the slide even with gloves on. I read one reviewer who likened the look that those serrations give the gun as shark-like…not sure about that, but it does set the gun apart from a lot of others. If you need to rack the slide in a hurry, these deeply-cut serrations will help. Another note – the serial numbers are matched. The barrel makes the trip through the factory with “its” own slide.

front half of Stoeger STR-9

Tactical Ledge: Speaking of racking the slide – look at the rear sight. It has what is generally referred to as a “tactical ledge”, among other things. This flat ledge allows you to rack the slide on any handy firm surface – a tabletop, drawer, your belt – so if for some reason your usual racking arm is out of the fight and you need to load the Stoeger’s chamber, hook the sight ledge on something, push the gun downwards quickly and get back in the fight. I’m not sure how often a feature like this might be needed – I’m not involved in gunfights, usually – but I see it as one of those “have-it-and-not-need-it” things. It can’t hurt to have this slide-racking ability. I tried it on a handy outdoor wooden tabletop and it worked fine, if you don’t mind two “digs” into said tabletop from the sight – you have to be careful about that. I forgot to add that the sights are steel, not plastic and drift-adjustable.

Stoeger STR-9 rear sight ledge
Rear sight ledge – it works.

Grip: The grip is textured very nicely, but it could be a bit rougher. This comes from a guy who would glue 100-grit sandpaper to my polymer pistol grips if I could… I like a rough texture. Short of taking a pointed soldering iron to all my poly pistol grips, I find every now and then a gun with an acceptable factory grip texturing job. One such pistol that passes my grit test is the Taurus G3c. But this Stoeger’s grip will work because it consists of not only the pebbled texturing but also raised diamond-like texture “nubs” on the backstrap – your hand tends to stay put during firing. Included with the grip texturing are the two extra backstraps. If you buy the gun with three backstraps, you will have no excuse for having the gun not fit your hand. The grip-to-trigger-face distance is adjustable. Might as well make it as good as it can get, eh?

Stoeger STR-9 grip front

grip rear of the Stoeger STR-9

Rail: There is a three-slot Picatinny rail on the dust cover. That’s enough to mount just about whatever you want to mount under the gun.

Stoeger STR-9 rail

Trigger Guard: Looks and feels like the trigger guard is big enough to allow gloved-hands use without it being cartoonish. This guard has a good size balance, and is textured on its front for those that use the finger-around-the-trigger-guard hold. Also, the trigger uses the standard safety blade – it is a comfortable trigger.

Stoeger STR-9 trigger

Recoil Spring Guide Rod & Spring: Steel, not plastic. Spring is flat wire-wound, as well.

Stoeger STR-9 recoil spring

Take-Down: Glock-esque. Just about any semi-auto shooter worth his or her salt can take a Glock apart. Just make sure the chamber is empty before you pull the trigger to separate the slide from the frame. Trust me on this one. I recently reviewed two pistols that used a removable takedown pin in order to get the slide off the frame. You could lose or at least misplace this pin…there’s nothing to lose with take-down tabs.

Stoeger STR-9 field stripped

Warranty: A five-year warranty isn’t as long as a lifetime one (well, hopefully) but is better than the one-year-wonders out there. I would think that if anything is going to go wrong, it will within that 5-year time frame. Would I rather it be a lifetime warranty? Sure, but this is not a deal breaker. A reputable manufacturer is going to take care of their product even after the warranty period is technically over (or should, at least).

Are you starting to get the idea that I like this gun?

The “E” Word

It looks like Stoeger’s engineers took their time when they designed this thing. Ergonomically, it’s very good. That “E” word can be a catch phrase in today’s firearms market and can mean whatever the companies want it to.

Let’s look at how the Merriam-Webster dictionary define the word…

Definition of ergonomics

1: an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely

called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors

2: the design characteristics of an object resulting especially from the application of the science of ergonomics

Ergonomics really are important…if a gun (long or short) doesn’t fit you, you won’t shoot to the best of your ability. It’s like that old, holey T-shirt or that pair of well-worn Keds that you know you need to get rid of, but…they are so comfortable! Same way with guns – if it fits well, it shoots well. And, I own one or two guns that I equate to that T-shirt or those Keds – they just fit me right and are like old friends when I pick them up. I’m sure you know what I mean. The extra backstraps included with this gun allow you to customize the length of pull for your hand. Another point that is easily overlooked is the frame undercut at the rear of the trigger guard. This allows a higher handhold, allowing the gun to sit a bit deeper in the hand which helps reduce muzzle flip. This gun looks like it was in development for a good while – I can’t point to any one feature on this gun that has to do with ergonomics that is less than satisfactory, for my hand at least. My opinion, of course, but for a $300-or-so gun, it fits the hand well.

The Other “E” Word – The Engineer’s Report

One of our four sons is a process engineer at a large factory that makes OEM auto parts among other things. He is trained to notice manufacturing anomalies and inconsistencies, and also is a machinist and has done metal etching. In his first, quick look-over of the gun he commented that, all in all it seemed well-made. He did notice the slide etching, or engraving – it seems to be different from one side to the other. If you look closely at the first two photos below, you will see the company name and gun model on the left side and the serial number on the right. He said that it looked like the engraving on the right side was deeper than that on the left side. The left side shows no hard-cut lines as the engraving isn’t as deep here. You can see it in the color fill of the engravings – I did not do this color fill (although I am guilty of filling in engraving cuts on several guns-white crayon works well, believe it or not) – this is how it came from the factory. The left side is just not as consistent, or as deep, as the right. He went on to comment on the injection-molded frame, the machining of the metal and a few other areas. Bottom line – the gun is decently-made, especially considering the price.

Now – does all this matter when you are shooting the gun? For most of us, that answer is ‘no’ – I am more interested in function over form. I only mention this in order to give you, the reader, the fullest report I can.

More Photos

Here are some other pics I took of the gun…

Stoeger STR-9 left

Stoeger STR-9 right

Stoeger STR-9 muzzle
Small touches. The polished end of the recoil spring guide rod just sets it off, and looks classy (to me, at least).

Stoeger STR-9 with mags and backstraps

Stoeger STR-9 front sight

Stoeger STR-9 rear sight

Stoeger STR-9 sight picture

As far as sights go, the pistol I was sent is optics-ready. It has a removable plate in front of the rear sight. So, if you don’t like the sights that are on the gun, add a pistol red dot. Or, if you don’t want to go that way and don’t like the three-dot sights, you can get the gun with tritium night sights from the factory.

Stoeger STR-9 slide engraving

Stoeger STR-9 slide underside

Stoeger STR-9 frame topside

Stoeger STR-9 barrel

Stoeger STR-9 barrel feed ramp

magazines and backstraps

Range Time

I’m going to do something a bit different here. I shot the gun at my backyard range, but so did some of my sons. That enabled me to shoot the shooter, so to speak – with my trusty Canon DSLR. Here is a sequence of four shots I was lucky enough to grab – a reprise of the photo from above showing the gun firing, the slide retracting, the empty case in the air. Interesting, at least.

Stoeger STR-9 with muzzle blast

gun slide working

Stoeger STR-9 just after firing

brass in air

The photos show a couple of other things, as well – the sights and the slide serrations are both prominent. The pistol shot well – it is one sweet-shooting gun.

Here is a target that was shot with Tula 115-grain FMJ ammo. Not too bad, considering it was shot right at 20 yards. Both targets were shot off-hand, standing – no bench rest. This load was a bit low, but I reminded my son that guns like these, that are designed as concealed carry pistols, are usually set up at the factory for what I call a center hold, and what is commonly referred to nowadays as a combat hold. Once he figured that out, things got better. The gun hangs very well on target – it is balanced well.

target shot with tula

Here’s another target that was shot using my handload that consists of my home-cast, powder-coated Lee 124-grain round nose bullet over 4.8 grains of Long Shot (read my guide on handgun powders). It is powered by a Fiocci small-pistol primer. (If you haven’t tried Fiocchi ammo, you’re missing out. It’s good stuff, and their primers are primo). I also wrote an article on the best 9mm ammo.

target shot with handload

This load usually prints a bit higher than some factory loads, and has demonstrated good accuracy in general in several guns. This is also my go-to load for dispatching bothersome pests. We have a possum that likes our cat’s food and makes his (or her, hard to tell) appearance during daylight hours. Bad sign – probably sick with distemper or rabies. At any rate, the gun is accurate.

I feel like I need to make an apology of sorts for the fact that I only show two targets, one of which was shot by a handload. I’m not sure how it is in your neck of the woods, but around here there is no 9mm, .380 or 5.56 ammo to be had. Period. My good buddy Duane, who is my local FFL dealer, said he wanted to have a T-shirt made that repeated what I said above – “No 9mm, .380 or 5.56” – so that he wouldn’t have to explain the situation to every person who came in to buy ammo. So, at least I’m a reloader and will have something to shoot. Hopefully situations will get better soon – both the ammo and gun supplies.

To Sum Up…

What do I think of the STR-9? I like it. It felt solid in the hand and was reliable. The construction seems to be good. I saw no extraneous machining marks or chatter that would indicate less-than-desirable construction techniques. Even though the engraving may not be consistent, the gun is a shooter. Let’s do a quick “Hits/Misses” listing:

HITS:

  • Gun seems to be well-constructed and is strong.
  • Accurate & reliable – it shot everything it was “fed”.
  • Great slide serrations.
  • Ergonomics are good – three backstraps contribute to ease of configurability.
  • Included in the box are three well-made 15-round stainless magazines.
  • Sights are excellent; night sights or red dot are optional.
  • Mag release is reversible (instructions in owner’s manual).
  • Five-year warranty (good or bad – see below).
  • Trigger was not bad. A bit of a long take-up but release was crisp.

MISSES:

  • The engraving issue mentioned above – this is purely subjective and may not matter to some.
  • The packaging. The cardboard box it came in is starting to come apart.
  • Five-year warranty – most manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty. Better than a one-year warranty.
  • And, one final “picky” thing – the takedown tabs need to be longer. They were very hard to grasp.

Most all of the “Misses” are subjective items – you may not see things like I do. The overall impression that the gun gives is that it seems to be a solid, well-made compact 9mm with good sights, decent trigger, three magazines and three backstraps that should do whatever job you ask it to do. For around $300, I don’t think you can ask for more. If you’ve had experience with one of these Stoegers, let us know below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

Mike
Written by Mike

Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 9-and-counting grandkids.

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