By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
All photos and video clips contained in this article were shot by DefenseReview.com (DR), and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these materials. The photos and video clips were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability).
January 31, 2012
Last updated on 2/01/12.
DefenseReview (DR) got the opportunity to run the Sphinx SDP compact high-capacity 9mm semi-auto pistol (9mm Parabellum/9×19 NATO) a bit at SHOT Show 2012 Media Day, and, while the round count down range was relatively low, we came away impressed with the pistol. The pistol, being marketed in the U.S. by KRISS USA, is double-action/single-action (DA/SA), and its our understanding that it will also be offered in .40 S&W, but DR only shot the 9mm version.
The Sphinx SDP is essentially a premium-grade Swiss-made (significantly) modernized and improved CZ-75-type pistol design (the slide runs on the inside of the frame/receiver) that gives you 15+1 ammo capacity and a very accurate platform due to its full-contact slide/frame design and barrel fit. My primary complaint of the CZ-75 pistol design is the relatively small amount of slide above the (aluminum) frame that yields a narrow gripping surface for slide manipulation. The Sphinx SDP pistol manages to overcome this with well-designed, deep diagonal/slanted front and rear cocking serrations on the slide and prominent rear sight, so Defense Review had no trouble gripping and racking the SDP’s (steel) pyramidal slide.
The gun also felt very good in the hand, thanks to the SDP’s well-designed and very comfortable polymer grip with modular/interchangeable soft polymer grip panels/inserts, lightly-textured front finger grooves on the front strap (front of the grip), and an extended beavertail. I frankly wish my Gen 3 Glock 19 (G19), which I use for concealed carry (CCW), had an extended beavertail, since I often get slide bite from my G19 on the inside of my rear thumb knuckle when doing heavy training at the range, due to my high hand hold and hand shape.
The Sphinx SDP compact pistol has a few additional interesting features worth mentioning. First up are two things you can’t see, since they’re hidden under the hood: a Teflon inserts in the frame to reduce wear and a recoil buffer/shock absorber to reduce felt recoil. Next up are the prominent DEFIANCE front and rear sites. The front sight on our test pistol sported a red fiber-optic insert, and the rear sight was a Novak-style (ramp) tritium 2-dot sight. Cool feature three: The SDP’s pyramidal slide is protected by a titanium aluminium nitride (TiAlN) coating. DefenseReview has no idea how the TiAlN coating stacks up versus Melonite/Tenifer coating or Cerakote H-series coating tech, but it sure looks good and reads well, as does anything with the words “titanium” and “nitride”, and we certainly enjoy acronyms here at DR.
The fourth feature we liked is the guns well-designed and positioned ambidextrous decocking lever, although Defense Review would opt for the 1911-style frame-mounted sweep-down manual thumb safety version that’s coming out later, since we like carrying DA/SA autos “cocked and locked” (Condition 1). Even though we currently carry Glock pistols, DR likes a 1911-style manual safety for increased survivability in case of a gun grab, and for that single-action first shot capability versus the long double-action pull of most DA/SA autos. Number five is the SDP’s loaded chamber indicator that allows the shooter to visually tactilly determine whether or not there’s a round in the chamber. Finally, the SDP can be had with a bobbed hammer, which should reduce snagging when drawing from a concealed carry holster/rig under clothing. However, the skeletonized hammer also looks good, and should work fine for CCW.
One of the SDP pistols DR handled featured an extended threaded barrel for outfitting a DEFIANCE muzzle can (silencer/sound suppressor). To learn more about DEFIANCE suppressors, please watch the embedded video clip below and read DR’s previously published articles that discuss them, here and here.
The Sphinx SDP pistol of course features a Mil-Std-1913 “Picatinny” rail on the dust cover (front of the frame).
Defense Review really liked how the Sphinx SDP shot and handled, and it looks to be an excellent high-grade pistol, but in this case, excellence and high quality cost a bit extra. It’s DR’s understanding that the SDP will come in somewhere around $1,500 USD MSRP. It’s also our understanding that the Sphinx SDP pistol recently beat out Glock and SIG SAUER pistols to win a major foreign government contract due to its superior performance in testing (unconfirmed/unverified). DefenseReview will attempt to obtain more information on this, including the testing report and contract information, so we can verify it.
Assuming the Sphinx SDP proves itself to be reliable, accurate and durable in combat-simulated adverse conditions (sand, mud, dirt, ice, water, etc.) at high round count in military testing, it could very well end up becoming DR’s favorite out-of-the-box compact hammer-fired DA/SA semi-auto pistol for concealed carry. There’s certainly A LOT to like about it.
One thing we’d like to see is an 18-20-round and/or even larger-capacity mag (25 rounds?) made for the SDP for carry (spare mags) and competition, respectively.
The Sphinx SDP pistol was computer-designed (CAD/CAM) and is being manufactured using state-of-the-art CNC machines to Swiss manufacturing requirements and standards, which are incredibly stringent.
Editor’s Note: The Sphinx SDP pistol’s full-length rail design, barrel fit, and single-action trigger pull combined to make hitting targets a relative breeze, but the gun, like any gun, is only as accurate as the shooter. If you exhibit poor trigger mechanics or flinch on a shot, you’ll have trouble. Shooting is a perishable skill, and pistol shooting skill is the most perishable. No pistol can compensate for poor trigger mechanics or flinching.
Sphinx SDP Pistol Features and Specs:
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum/9x19mm NATO
Finish: Black, TiAIN coated slide
Magazine Capacity: 15+1
Action: Double-Action/Single-Action (DA/SA) with ambidextrous decocking lever or manual safety
Safeties: Loaded chamber indicator (visual and tactile), Internal firing pin safety, Drop safety, Integrated slide position safety, Hammer safety
Grip: Interchangeable – 3 sizes (S, M, L)
Overall Length: 7.4 inches / 188 mm
Height: 5.5 inches / 140 mm
Width: 1.3 inches / 33 mm
Barrel Length: 3.7 inches / 95 mm
Weight: 27.5 ounces / 780 grams
Trigger pull: DA: 8.16 lb / 3.7 kg, SA: 3.30 lb / 1.5 kg
Sights: DEFIANCE ® Front Day & Night Green Fiber/Tritium and DEFIANCE ® Rear Tritium 2-Dot Red
– Features Advanced pyramidal slide design
– Aluminum MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail incl. 4 notches
– Integrated polymer recoil buffer
– Double trigger bar for maximum precision, strength and safety
– Full length guiding rails
– Options: Adjustable sights, lanyard attachment
Company Contact Info:
KRISS USA Inc.
PO Box 8928
Virginia Beach, VA 23450
Tel. +1 757-821-1089
Fax +1 757-689-2113
Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/KRISSArms
Sphinx Systems Ltd.
3800 Matten / Interlaken
Phone: +41 33 821 10 05
Fax: +41 33 821 10 06
Sphinx Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/SPHINXArms
Sphinx Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/sphinxarms
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