In 1999 Steyr unveiled their first polymer frame semi-auto handguns, the Model M-A1 pistols. Included in this lineup was the M9-A1 pistol that they so kindly sent over for me to review. These pistols featured an on trigger safety system that Steyr called a “Reset Action Trigger”. To top it all off, the pistols came equipped with Steyr’s patented triangular trapezoidal sighting system.
I had to include a photo of the case that the pistol arrived in. I’m not always impressed by the cases that pistols arrive in, but with that being said, this Steyr arrived in style.
In addition to the gun and two magazines, you also get a padlock style lock for your case, cleaning patches, and extra takedown tools. Basically a small field deployment kit from the factory.
The M9-A1 had a lot of refinements in areas I wasn’t expecting. It took me almost a day before I noticed little things like this factory polished feed ramp.
Unlike other handgun magazines, the magazines for the Steyr M9-A1 have witness holes on both sides. The right-hand side of the magazine reads 5-7-9-11-13-15 and the left reads 4-6-8-10-12-14. These particular magazines feature the PLUS baseplate that allows them to carry an additional 2 rounds for a 17 round total.
The easiest way to take apart the M9-A1 pistol is with one of the two supplied takedown tools. With the magazine removed, verify the chamber is empty, and then dry fire the weapon. From there you use the supplied tool to depress and release the takedown lever.
With the takedown lever fully open, you can now slide the slide completely forward and off the gun. From there you simply need to remove the spring and then the barrel for field cleaning.
At The Range
During my time testing the M9-A1 I gave the gun no advantages. Ammo was not hand-picked by brand or type, and I didn’t inspect or oil the gun. I simply removed the gun from the factory box, grabbed as wide a variety of 9mm bullet weights as I had on hand, and headed to the range.
I was skeptical about how good the trapezoidal sighting system would be. About four magazines later I was hooked. My eye would naturally try to keep the sight picture flat, and not allow the front triangle to poke up above the two rear white lines. When the sights are level, the top point of the front triangle sight becomes a very precise tool for focusing your point of aim.
The Steyr performed flawlessly with all the ammo I put through it. The best groups produced by the M9-A1 were with standard velocity 124-grain ammo. All around, the gun is incredibly nice to shoot. With its low bore axis and great ergonomics, it chewed threw my supply of 9mm ammo faster than I imagined it would.
Pro’s & Cons
The Steyr M9-A1 stands out in the striker-fired polymer frame market as it’s a gun I would consider complete. Personally, I think the trigger is superb, the sights are genius, and the low bore axis design is fantastic. One could argue that the gun doesn’t have all the modern refinements, but for a gun designed in 1999, it was way ahead of its time.
The problem with the M9-A1 isn’t with the gun itself, it’s with the parts and accessories you will undoubtedly want for it. Steyr pistols can be difficult to find (depending on the gun store you’re shopping at). Accessories like holsters and magazines are then even harder to find. So if you’re looking to buy a holster and a gun in the same weekend, the M9-A1 probably isn’t for you.
A Steyr M9-A1 pistol will set you back $575 MSRP although dealer price is often a lot lower on these guns. At that price point, it lands squarely in the middle of the current striker-fired market. Personally, I think it’s priced accordingly if you view it as a duty or service weapon. The M9-A1 isn’t red dot ready and doesn’t have as many new features that you might find elsewhere. However, that’s not why you’d buy this gun. You buy a Steyr M9-A1 because it is one of the best off the shelf striker-fired polymer handguns that needs no modifications.
Product Info and Specs from Steyr
The Steyr pistol fulfills every demand in a modern handgun, including interchangeable calibers, low profile slides, unique safety solutions, innovative triangular sights and a grip designed for the best pointing ability. Our pistols set standards for safety, reliability and design.
- Caliber 9mm
- Magazine 17
- Trigger Reset Action (double action)
- Grip Frame Synthetic Grip
- Overall Length 6.9″
- Barrel Length 4″
- Height 5.35″
- Width 1.3″
- Weight 1.7 lbs
- Threaded Option Yes – 1/2″ x 28
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.