The Steyr Mannlicher M-A1 is a medium-frame semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W. It features triangular sights, an ergonomic handle and a Picatinny rail molded to the frame.
|Features:||Picatinny rail; manual safety; and trigger safety|
|Frame Material:||Synthetic black|
|Trigger Pull:||5.5 pounds|
Editor ReviewThe first “plastic” handgun I purchased was a Steyr. Since then I’ve owned or shot almost all the different models that have been available in the United States. I love these handguns - just want to get that bias out in the open first thing.
The Steyr M-series was first available here in the late 1990s. Initially they were available in 9mm and .40 S&W (the M9 and M40 models, respectively) and then later in .357 Sig (the M357 - the model I currently own). Minor revisions were made to the design in the mid 2000s, which eliminated the manual safety, tweaked the grip shape slightly, and included an integral rail system under the barrel housing. These models were given the “-A1" designation. Just recently Steyr made some additional minor changes to the operating mechanism, but maintained the “-A1" designation.
A lot of handgun owners and reviewers actually considered the Steyr to be very competitive with the Glock guns, their equal if not superior in design and manufacture, and of a similar size, weight and capacity - in the case of the M-series, to the compact Glock models. But Steyr Mannlicher really screwed up their introduction into the US market, leading to shortages, unreliable service support, and few available parts and accessories. For this reason the guns didn’t catch on with the general firearm-owning public, the brand was tarnished, and these guns went for a substantial discount. When I bought my first Steyr new, I got it for about half what a similar model Glock was going for. Twice now Steyr Mannlicher has tried to re-introduce these handguns, and I think this time they may have gotten it right. Currently the M-A1 series is going for about the same price as similar Glock models.
So, what do I like about the M-series? They shoot great. They have a very low bore-axis, meaning that the position of the barrel relative to your hand is close - this minimizes muzzle flip, allowing for less perceived recoil and easier follow-up shots. I consider the ergonomics superior to the Glock - they have a different grip angle that just points more naturally for me. The unusual trapezoidal sight system is very intuitive, and leads the eye to quicker target acquisition.
The guns are very well made, with excellent fit and finish of all parts. The trigger is a DAO - what Steyr calls “Reset Action”, which means that it is partially pre-cocked (about 72 percent) giving a shorter trigger pull with about 5.5-pound pull. This makes for faster shots with less motion. The M-A1 series has multiple safety systems - internal, external, and a key-lock for access control. The older straight M-series also have a manual safety, which I personally like, but it can be ignored or even removed without presenting operating problems.
Dislikes? Well, as far as I know, there is no option for lefties - no way to easily operate the slide lock or magazine release with the left hand only. Accessories are still pretty limited, though the folks over at the Steyr Club have pretty good lists of what is available and adaptable. And one odd thing - once when racking the slide on my M357 my hand slipped, and my thumb caught in the rear sight - the trapezoidal structure snagged and ripped my thumb up pretty good, putting my shooting for the day to a nasty end.
So, if you get a chance, give a Steyr a try. Everyone who has shot mine has really liked the guns a lot, and more than a few have gone on to get their own.