The full-size M40-A1 (right) is shown equipped with a SureFire…

The full-size M40-A1 (right) is shown equipped with a SureFire X400 light/laser combo, while the compact S40-A1 (left) is fitted out with a Viridian C5 green laser/light combo.

In 2001, I had an opportunity to evaluate the Steyr M9 9mm pistol. First released in 1999, it caused quite a stir with its racy lines and space-age sights. The M developed a small but loyal following over the next few years. The M40, in 40 S&W and the M357 in .357 SIG followed the 9mm model. In many ways, the M series was similar to the Steyr AUG. Shooters either loved it or hated it with very few having no opinion. The M9 shot well and held its own with the Glock 17 and S&W (Walther) 99. A compact series was later introduced with the “S” designation. Unfortunately, Steyr had some rough days ahead of them and the M and AUG became casualties. The company underwent a series of changes in ownership and leadership. The good news is that Steyr USA is back with the reintroduction of the AUG and now the A1 series.

Gun Details
The M40-A1’s 4˝ barrel is cold-hammer forged with conventional rifling, and has a fully supported chamber in all calibers.

In August 2010, Steyr announced the new M-A1 and compact S-A1 pistols. The new models feature several significant design upgrades from the original pistols. The A1 series continues to be a polymer framed, double-action-only, striker-fired pistol that is designed for military, law enforcement, and the civilian market and is available in 9mm or .40. I recently had an opportunity to try out a full-size M40-A1 and compact S40-A1 for myself. The new models have retained the distinctive profile of the original design. The angle of the grip to the frame is 111 degrees. When combined with the high grip backstrap,the design places the center axis of the bore lower than with other designs. The design also gives the M a very natural point of aim and reduced recoil and muzzle rise.

The S40-A1 is the compact variant of the design. Operationally, it is the same as its full-size M40-A1 sibling.

The M-A1 pistols have a double trigger, or trigger within a trigger, that functions as an integrated safety. The trigger design has been upgraded to improve the feel over the older pistols—and the crunch and grit of the old trigger has been replaced with a smoother and lighter pull. This has been accomplished by redesigning the firing pin linkage and installing a roller in the firing pin channel.

Load Comments
  • Larry

    Fantastic pistol! Super accurate and extremely easy to keep on target. The only .40 S&W that I’ve ever been able to achieve rapid & accurate controlled pairs with. Best bang for your buck in a semi-auto EDC by far.

    • LCMS pastor

      Totally agree. Easy to keep my C40 on target for accurate follow-up shots. Reasonably priced & east take-down & reassembly. Good value

  • For the holster of a Steyr M-A1, why not try a cheap uncle mike holster for ca. 15$.
    It works very well.

  • Donald

    I own the M40.I took my previous paddle holdster wetted the tight spots with rubbing alcohol, liquid shoe polish took care of the faded area.

  • General Jim M

    The designer of the Steyr M9 pistol used to work for Glock.He took the design to Gaston Glock,but he didn’t want it.To me,the Steyr is like an improved Glock.For instance it has an out of battery safety and full case head support.It also has the tennifer finish.The pistol has a rigid,solid feel,shake the thing around and it’s toatally silent.The Steyr’s ONLY drawback is holster availability.You won’t find a holster that fits it when you buy the gun.I mentioned this to Steyr,suggesting that they provide a holster with the gun.I only carry it in a belly band.Need a good Blackhawk type holster for it.

  • own the m40 1 with 1 without manu safety, m9 1with 1 without, an s9 with safety and m40a1, m357a1 and m9a1 all without safety…as a former glock “nut” my 10 glocks are now down to 2 after shooting side by side with the steyr! no comparison not even close. i swithched to traditional sites on an m40 and an m40a1 and went toe to toe with my glock 22 and my 22c “that i used to swear by” and was blown away by the steyr smooth recoil and quick site pick-up! groups are faster and tighter with steyr! switch back to trapozoid sites and its even quicker on site designation! love the steyr product!

  • Peter Jorgensen

    Steyr has a current model WITH AN EXTERNAL SAFETY in the top of the trigger guard(something like the M14 rifle). But it is for sale only in Europe – they took it off for the American market. They wanted it to be more like the Glock which is America’s top seller. This according to one of the Steyr reps. In other words they wanted to put themselves into the Glock market segment as ajust another competitor, rather than exploit a segment of their own (that would include the Glock segment). Steyr’s marketing strategy is awful.
    They could even have made the manual safety easily removable, like some other manufacturers have done.
    They sold the MA1 here before with the M14-type safety, I might see if I can find a low-mileage one on Gunbroker. This latest version has been castrated.

  • EdC

    Ditto to all the positives on the M40A1. I really think its the best handgun I have ever owned but I am frustrated by the lack of Paddle Holsters on the market for it. Anybody got a suggestion? It is really not comfortable in my belt.

  • Tobin Roos

    I was reluctant to purchase one because the models that I tried were DAO. Is the A1 a SA/DA ? I would be very interested in acquiring one if that has changed. I understand that some users require a DAO pistol. I did not see any information regarding this in the article.

  • General Jim M

    I recommend highly this elusive weapon. I own a Steyr M9A1,while doing a qualification course i could see the holes in the target appearing right where i had the triangular front sight placed on the target.Put the tip of the triangle where you want to hit a presto,you got it.I wanted to buy a M357A1 but Steyr stopped sending them to us.More precision aiming then rougher sights that cover too much of the target.

  • Richard Linares

    Refresfing see gun that not try be glock but some new instead.

  • DJC

    Own several variants of Steyr arms, hands down simply the BEST. The M40a1 is my favorite carry handgun,and if I were told I was going into harms way it ia my sidearm period. Steyr is the best going all the way back to the 1903 schoenouer, you know the “finest rifle ever made” this same Austrian craftsmanship is still alive and well.

  • I know Steyr well, toured the Firearms Factory in Steyr Austria and will be back in January, 2011. I own the M9mm and the 300 Win-Mag, both are dead nuts on target. I shot this new 40 as a prototype over a year ago and have been waiting for its release. Better handling than the 9 or my 1911 .45!

  • Ryan

    I own the M40-A1 and love it! If you’re like me and dislike the trapezoid sights, Trijicon makes some pretty nice night sights for both versions of the pistol. This weapon packs a punch and is extremely accurate. Don’t be scared to buy Austrian!

  • Jerry Catania

    Watch for my article on the M9-A1 and S9-A1 in GUN WORLD magazine.

  • deryl moore

    As always the austrians make a superb product and always have . And with that said please let me know whenever something else comes out.

  • steve

    I own two of the older model S40, it is by far my favorite carry pistol. I am pleased that this model has returned, however I also like the manual safety that is sadly lacking in the new design. I would not hesitate to purchase one as the other changes improve a sidearm that feels like it was custom designed for me.

  • Joe C

    I’ve had the original M-40 and now the M9-A1. I’d bought a couple other handguns but sold them because nothing else felt as good in my hand as the Steyrs. Always reliable, always fun and solid as a rock.
    My only complaint is the lack of after-market parts.

  • Don Harvey

    I’m 72. Bought a 9MM two years ago and while familiarizing myself with the weapon, shot a hole through the TV console, pantry, dishwasher and outer wall. Needless to say, I would like to see a manual safety for old guys like me. Great detail and function. The new one appears better.

  • brolin1911a1

    My son bought the M9 back in 2002 and I fell in love with it. When I had a chance to buy an S9 for myself about five years ago, I jumped on it. It’s on my belt now in a Boomstickholsters IWB tuckable. I love the sights. I love the ergonomics. And I love the manual safety on my older model–Steyr should have kept that feature. I’m overjoyed to see that they are reentering the USA handgun market

  • gabo

    as an elite socom instructor i’ve had my m40 since it first came out (2001?) and have fired thousands of rounds. it has never jammed. it is the easiest target acquisitioning pistol i’ve ever shot. equipped w/ a veridian laser, i don’t leave home without it.

  • Adnan Rana

    I own an older M9 version. This is the best pistol i have ever owned or fired and hope that Steyr never stops manufacturing their pistols. Its a great Company which has led innovation in small arms, a natural achievement for Austrians.
    I am excited about the new gun, will get my hands on one asap!!!

  • peter

    I’ve owned the 9 mm version for about 3 yrs, it is hands down a great shooter, BUT… the sights take getting used to, and I venture to say, most won’t. It’s a negative in the whole equation (in my opinion), very glad to see it is also offered with traditional sights and there’s a set of night sights available as well.
    Lots of good info available on a dedicated forum,, which has the actual designer of the pistol, Wilhelm Bubits answer question – major cool-factor!

  • Clarence LaFuentes II

    Good morning,

    It is my goal to purchase this pistol in AD 2011. You have several magnificant products.

    I was teasing my wife before she saw the screen saying “Wow!, is’nt she a beauty.” Of course, she eventually enjoyed the tease once she did see what I was looking at.

    Merry Christmas!

  • I have the first version of this pistol
    Great ,Great fit, finish accuracy performance and love the trapezoid sites.

    I would say it BETTER than my GLOCK !!!

    The only downfall with this new one
    NO manual safety (why not) and NO night sites !!!

    Other that that Go for it you won’t be disappointed.

  • Dr. Joe L. Valles

    More interested in 45 caliber, hunting rifles, and Aug…Dr. Joe

  • jim

    I own the earlier Model M40 and absolutely love the pistol. I was hesitant in purchasing this firearm based on the funky design and an overall lack of knowledge but after consulting several of my military friends I dove in feet first and have no regrets. My Steyr fires and conceals perfectly and fits my hands like a glove. I will be purchasing this new pistol to add to my collection.