Gun Review: Grand Power Stribog SP9A1 9mm Pistol

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 semi-autmatic pistol (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Being semi-retired from TTAG means that I get to be a little more selective with the firearms and gear that I want to review. No longer do I have a list as long as the Mueller Report filled with an endless stream of AR-15 variants that I need to test. Now I actually get to pick and choose the things that I find interesting.

And the second I saw this Grand Power Stribog SP9A1 in the gun deals section on Reddit I was hooked.

About four years ago I reviewed the B&T APC-9. B&T is the company that makes most of the cool accessories you see on H&K’s guns, and they were just starting their foray into producing their own firearms at the time.

The APC-9 was their sub gun entry into the field and it was exactly like their accessories: visually stunning, technically perfect, and massively expensive.

I like the APC-9, and I still think it’s a fine piece of engineering, but there are some things that irked me about it. First and foremost was the price. B&T asks princely sum of $2,250 for their little blaster.

For that I’d expect perfection, and while the machined parts and operating bits were up to that level the fire controls (specifically the safety selector) weren’t as perfect as I’d like. Add the fact that gun is only offered with a tri-lug mounting option and now I’m needing additional adapters for my suppressors.

Since all of my other guns are threaded, that adds a step when I want to swap them from one firearm to another at the range. If you can afford that much for the gun and the related complications, the APC-9 is great. But lots of people can’t or just don’t want to.

Four years later and we’re starting to see the next wave of pistol caliber carbines coming on the market. I feel like the 2014 era was all about new designs. Guns like the APC-9, SIG MPX or CZ Scorpion kept getting announced and manufacturers seemed to be trying to re-invent the wheel.

This cycle seems to be all about adapting existing designs, whether that’s the plethora of 9mm AR-15 variants or this Stribog SP9A1 we’re looking at today.

I bring up the APC-9 because — let’s be honest here — that’s pretty much exactly what the Stribog SP9A1 looks like. It’s probably the most blatant copy-paste job since the Israeli Galil.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the APC-9 is a (pricey) work of mechanical art, and I think Grand Power (a firearms manufacturer based in Slovakia) actually improved the operating mechanism in their version.

Let’s start from the top, shall we?

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Already things are different. Instead of a tri-lug adapter like the APC-9, the Stribog SP9A1 comes with a threaded barrel sporting the typical 1/2×28 thread pitch that you’ll find on 9mm caliber firearms. The barrel comes from the factory with a thread protector installed over those threads but be aware that it’s a royal pain in the ass to remove.

The friendly folks at the Silencer Shop gave me a hand removing it and it took nearly three of their largest, burliest gunslingers to get it to even budge. For others looking to do the same, I’d probably recommend hitting it with a torch for a bit to heat the thread protector up which should help it slide off.

The barrel is slotted into the receiver and held in place with a castle nut, just like with the buffer tube on an AR-15 rifle. This is a good thing in my book, allowing you to swap your barrel fairly easily without needing extensive time at the gunsmith. And for those who hate accumulating money, there are indeed aftermarket barrels available with the tri-lug adapter machined into the muzzle.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Moving back to the receiver you can definitely tell that this was at least highly inspired by the APC-9. The same extruded aluminum upper receiver design is used here, and just as with the B&T firearm, the finish on the Stribog SP9A1 is smooth as silk. It feels great, and feels great in the hand as well.

Again, there are some differences here that I think are actually improvements. Just as with the APC-9 there is a full-length top rail and bottom rail. But instead of having permanently attached Picatinny rails on the sides there are M-LOK compatible slots for you to attach whatever rails or accessories you need.

I generally appreciate the option for rails over actually having the rails, as it gives you the ability to make the firearm slicker or even directly attach things to the gun instead of needing the Picatinny rail intermediary which adds a little weight and bulk.

The top full-length rail over the receiver also includes flip-up plastic sights. I’ll point out that some other owners of this firearm have complained that these sights are easily broken, and on my firearm they aren’t exactly aligned with the point of impact downrange, but it’s way better than nothing.

Besides, be honest — there’s a red dot going on this gun pretty much immediately, right?

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Things inside the upper receiver are very different from the APC-9. Both systems use a straight blowback action, relying on the rearward pressure from the barrel to pop out the spent brass and move the bolt backwards.

B&T’s system uses a smaller, but chunky bolt that quickly accelerates rearwards and impacts a buffer in the rear of the receiver that eventually stops its movement before thrusting it forward again. The Stribog system uses a more traditional straight blowback design with a significantly heavier bolt and constant pressure from the return spring instead of a buffer mechanism.

Here’s my take. Having fired both, I actually prefer the Stribog. I think the APC-9 is a little hard to control with their buffer system, and while it’s a nifty design, I feel that the recoil forces are experienced over a shorter period of time than with the Stribog. For sub guns I generally prefer a smoother recoil impulse like the Beretta model 12S, and that’s something the Stribog provides.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 has a non-reciprocating charging handle (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Something else that the Stribog does well: the charging handle doesn’t reciprocate. Like with the MP5, it’s free and distinct from the bolt and doesn’t move once the gun is charged.

That means you can put your thumb over it for some extra leverage without worrying about your thumb spontaneously separating from your hand.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Just as with the APC-9 or FN’s SCAR series, the upper receiver is technically the “firearm” and the lower receiver can be swapped out at will. In this case the lower receiver is also serialized (in like three different places) and matches the upper receiver and the bolt.

The lower is made from a polymer material just like with those other examples, and just like the APC-9 the grip is molded into the lower. Jeremy thinks that using an AR-style interchangeable grip would be a better option and I agree, but the grip they ship with the gun isn’t terrible. It’s actually comfortable even for my big hands.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

The fire controls are a mixed bag. The safety selector is much better than the APC-9 design, using a more ergonomic shape that doesn’t cut into your hand when firing. That’s another improvement over B&T.

But the SP9A1’s trigger is definitely heavy, clocking in at about 7.75 pounds. Considering this is technically a “pistol” that wouldn’t be unreasonable for an imported handgun, I just wish there was an easy way to drop that trigger pull weight down.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

The magazine well is flared, and the firearm takes proprietary polymer magazines that are available in 10, 20, and 30 round varieties for roughly $25. I complain a lot about proprietary magazines, especially in a world where the NATO magazine has become so ubiquitous. I also complain because of those prices.

But in this case, the cost isn’t bad. Even if you don’t already have a trove of MP5 magazines, it’s not going to be the end of the world. Considering how well the MPX and Scorpion EVO have been selling with their proprietary magazines I don’t think this will keep many people from jumping on the bandwagon.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 carbine pistol with SB Tactical pistol brace (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

By default this handgun is shipped without any kind of a brace, so the rear of the firearm is just the rear of the firearm. The interesting thing to note here is that, unlike with the B&T version, since there’s no buffer spring back here to worry about, the normal H&K rear plate adapters might actually work.

For those who have an existing MP5-esque brace for their firearms, it should slot right in. And for those who want a brace from the factory, Global Ordnance (the USA importer of this firearm) has a version available that includes this spiffy looking SB Tactical pistol brace already attached for your pleasure.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Out on the range this thing is an absolute pleasure to shoot. The recoil is as soft as you’d expect from a direct blowback firearm like this, and I didn’t have a single issue with reliability the entire time I’ve been shooting it.

I would like to mention that Global Ordnance was nice enough to include some of their Fiocci 9mm ammunition in a can, titled “CANmunition,” to help facilitate the review. I think it’s an interesting concept for ammo storage, and the tag lines write themselves — the RSO’s preferred slogan was “CANmunition: so your targets go down smooth.”

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

Jeremy gave me a good amount of ribbing over how much stuff I’ve got hanging off the gun in this photo. I told him I take accuracy testing seriously, and while I tried to include my AN/PEQ-15 it just wouldn’t fit for some reason.

Accuracy testing was about as good as you’d expect. The best I was able to produce was right at 2 inches from an 8-inch barrel at 25 yards running typical 9mm Luger handgun ammunition. In my book that’s a pretty good group size considering the constraints.

The only complaint I have, and something I think would improve that grouping, is the trigger. The SP9A1 heavy trigger pull weight is the prime suspect in keeping group size larger than what’s mechanically possible, requiring more force from the shooter and therefore more sympathetic movement of the hand. Reduce that trigger weight and I can see groups tightening right up.

Stribog SP9A1

Stribog SP9A1 Stribog SP9A1 semi-autmatic pistol with SB Tactical pistol brace (Nick Leghorn for TTAG)

I’ll come clean. The reason I was interested in this firearm wasn’t because I thought it would be amazing. In fact, quite the opposite: I assumed it would be terrible. I saw this, immediately recognized it as an APC-9 knockoff, and expected it to be a cheap eastern European knockoff of Swiss superiority. I was really looking forward to tearing it a new one, but I actually think they did a better job with the design than B&T did.

I appreciate all the engineering work that went into the B&T APC-9 and I like it very much. But when I can have something like the Grand Power Stribog SP9A1 9mm pistol that offers better features at literally one third the price, I don’t think there’s any contest as to which is the better option for most shooters.

Armscor ammunition

Specifications: Grand Power Stribog SP9A1 9mm Carbine Pistol

Imported By: Global Ordnance
Action Type
: Direct blowback semi-automatic
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 30 rounds (10 and 20 round magazines available)
Overall Length: 14.74”
Barrel Length: 8”
Weight: 82 oz
Price: $699 (MSRP $849 with brace)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Aftermarket Parts * * * * 
There is a very wide variety of accessories available for Picatinny railage and M-LOK accessory mounts, and even more with the HK adapter style used for the back plate. I just wish the magazines were standard (GLOCK?) and commonly available.

Fit and Finish: * * * * *
Excellent. Clean, smooth, and velvety.

Accuracy * * * *
If you wanted something better than 2 inches at 25 yards with handgun ammunition then you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere, but I don’t know where that would be.

Ergonomics * * * *
Yes please.

Reliability * * * * *
Zero issues, zero failures. Even suppressed.

Overall * * * * *
For the money the Stribog SP9A1 is an excellent 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Better than the Scorpion, better value than the SIG SAUER MPX in my opinion, and on par with the B&T APC-9. And at a third the price of the Swiss gun. If you’re thinking about any one of those other options, reconsider.

comments

  1. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:

    Boy, today’s “pistols” sure are looking different than your grandpa’s six-shooter nowadays.

  2. avatar Terry says:

    I had one a short time. Got it with the Safety Harbor collapsing brace. It felt heavy. The recoil is similar to my AR pistol. Decided to sell and saved for an MPX K.

  3. avatar Aono says:

    Great review. Grand Power makes really well built and finished stuff. When people hear “Slovakia” they should first think think “Czecho-” not “Eastern Europe.” Their K22 is one of those rare steel slide 22s and the Xtrim is amazing out of the box. They were doing rotating barrels before the Glock 46 will make it cool.

    The B&T buffer is gimmicky in the absence of a locked or delayed breech. Still waiting for the Stribog A3 with its mysterious “semi-locked bolt with delayed action via transfer roller” mechanism.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Exactly. Have had a P11MK12 for a coupla years now and I love it. Rock solid, tight tolerance, build quality on par with 1K pistols.

      Sadly, like many things I love for being superior, they’ll likely fold. Only then will the Glocksters figure out what they missed out on.

      Oh well. Expanding my personal GP collection, at least they sell at a discount to MSRP…

  4. avatar George Leroy Tirebiter says:

    Expecting a Grand Power firearm “to be a cheap eastern European knockoff of Swiss superiority” is just showing an ignorance of the brand.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      Their pistols are nice but obscure, and given the very low pricepoint & nation of manufacture –I don’t blame him for having low expectations, either. The plastic molding is kind of cheap, but machining seems top notch, and besides the takedown pins being crazy tight I was overall impressed. The spring capture system in the bolt is needlessly odd & makes field stripping harder than it could be, but it definately works so I can’t knock it too much.

  5. avatar barnbwt says:

    Nick, the trigger group is a nearly bone-stock AR15 unit (just a really funky looking but functionally identical disconnector); supposedly a Geissele drops right in with a couple shim-washers, though the ambi Stribog safety must be used. I assume you didn’t take the gun down for field strip because the pins were crazy tight like so many others (easily the most severe issue I have with the gun). Very clever innards, with some odd but functional design features.

    There’s also a thriving aftermarket for the gun, with about a half dozen companies making stock/brace adapters, barrels, and charging handles. Design is highly modular so I’m sure that will continue to develop further. Once the A3 delayed blowback & reinforced mags come in, and folks are no longer waiting for a new version, I think it’ll take off and eat everyone’s lunch; a B&T-inspired design that costs less than a plastic Scorpion & has a booming aftermarket? No contest.

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      Huh, I gotta try that.

      1. avatar Mantitude says:

        Yup, got a Larue MBT in mine. I love how much it looks like a weird, non-fully plastic UMP45 with that brace, and a few other additives.

      2. avatar barnbwt says:

        There’s an excellent handful of threads on *slight retch* ar15.com about the Stribog. A good friend of the designer is an active poster, and has passed along several suggestions that have gone on to be implemented (for example, the gun was originally Keymod, which is more popular in Eurostan). Another guy basically reverse-engineered the roller-delay concept and modded his gun to incorporate that feature before it was commercially available. Elsewhere, there are several different places working on aluminum lowers that take Glock mags (if you’re into that sort of thing)

  6. avatar JR says:

    This from the guy who reviewed the Scorpion without a brace. At least go back and update your Scorp review. It was lazy at best

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      Thanks for your comment, it’s definitely a valid point. I do think that the EVO is vastly improved by the addition of a brace, and it’s a fine firearm. I still don’t like the styling, but that’s a personal preference.

      I would just like to point out that the policy here at TTAG is to review the firearm as it comes from the factory. The only exception we sometimes make is the addition of some sighting systems or adding a suppressor. For the EVO we reviewed it back before there were any braces available that would have improved the experience, and there for sure weren’t any available pre-installed from the factory. In this case we reviewed a specific SKU of this firearm that shipped from the importer with the brace already attached.

      I get that adding a brace changes things. But if we start changing fundamental design elements of every gun that we review then we’re not really reviewing the gun anymore, in my opinion.

  7. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Pistol? That’s a 9mm semi auto carbine. I don’t care what ATF calls it. $2250? You can buy a really good handgun for that. Or, at least knock a big dent in it. No thanks. I’ll take a rifle caliber carbine every day. 14″ minimum barrel. 16″ is better. Thank you very much.

    1. avatar B.D. says:

      agreed. If I was ever to get something like this, it would be an MP5 variant. Other than that, SBR’s get the same shit done, but better. The only reason these have to be labeled pistols is because of those stupid fucks at the ATF infringing on all those rights and pursuing king george III’s dream. I personally don’t care what they are called, and if being called a pistol gets them some play time on the field, then we should just make more “pistol” variant rifles/carbines/flamethrowers/RPG’s too. The M320 was a favorite of mine in the Army, we should call those pistols too.

    2. avatar Rokurota says:

      The Stribog SP9A1 is $849 with the brace. $2250 is the price of the B&T APC-9. You’re welcome.

  8. avatar ‘liljoe says:

    Thank you for your review… let me be the first here to say I’ve missed your input on this site.

    The neighborhood has definitely gone downhill over the past few years. Especially the comments section.

    1. avatar SKP5885 says:

      This + 1,000

    2. avatar GaPharmD says:

      Man it is great to get some Nick back isn’t it? I agree 100%. Now If we could get the daily digest back,THAT would give me the warm fuzzy feels!!

    3. avatar NewKidsOnTheBlock says:

      Sorry. Not sorry.

  9. avatar JonRen says:

    You do know the APC9 Pro exists right?

  10. avatar M1Lou says:

    I own a GP Q100. It’s a fantastic pistol and shoots great with that rotating barrel. It was the best trigger out of my striker guns until I picked up the CZ P-10c. I handled a Stribog on a visit to Vegas. I didn’t get to shoot it as it was at a random gun store. I loved the way it operated and felt. The only negative I thought it had was a reciprocating charging handle. It looks like it doesn’t reciprocate! I guess I need to pick one up now to fight for space with my Scorpion.

  11. avatar Joshua Westmoreland says:

    Well said. I’ve taken a spin on mpx’s, scorpions , mp5’s and vectors. All of them having their ups and downs. Somehow this stribog has managed to impress me. And being the least expensive in its entire class, that is a pleasant surprise.

  12. I’m glad to see the Stribog is finally making it more mainstream. I’ve been ranting about it for years through my outlets. The delayed-blowback version is an absolute dream to shoot though I had to (and loved) go to Slovakia to shoot it.

  13. avatar Chili Chz says:

    I agree the trigger is heavy, but it is exceptionally smooth, has no takeup, and very short reset. I’ve got the tail hook version and love it.

  14. avatar Big Jack Cass says:

    I have always been intrigued by interesting firearms out of the “norm”. When I first saw the Stribog I knew I had to have it. And seeing as I am not swimming in MP-5, B&T money I knew it was a sensible fit for me. I have the original SP9 with the reciprocating charging handle. This problem was easily solved with an angled foregrip. Added a safety harbor 1913 adapter and SB tactical folding brace. Threw on an ol’ vortex sparc II. With at least 1k rounds dtp it is most certainly a fun plinker and has not let me down… not once.

  15. avatar Steve Durtschi says:

    I have never written a computer review before. I have tried for a time now to make friends with my Stribog, but it has been a disappointment. At first it jammed routinely. I sent it back and they cut the front of the bolt slightly. This helped some but the gun would throw the empty case back into the chamber about one time in ten, or strip two rounds from the magazine, both causing the bolt to jam. The feed lips of the plastic magazines are razor thin and many of mine broke after after just a little use rendering them useless. None of my magazines will drop free and in fact have to be pulled out. I enjoyed the look and feel of the gun so much I thought about buying a new one in the hope that mine was the infrequent “lemon”, but gave up and resigned it to the rear of the safe maybe never to be seen again.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      I bought an Extar EP9 and love it.
      You should check it out.
      In fairness both the 15 and 33 round Glock mags I use for it have to be pulled out but no failures of any kind (2264 rounds).

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