The Steyr M9-A1 is a gun that has, shall we say, been around the block, and has made a return to the forefront of the Steyr line of military and law enforcement models in just the last year. The M9-A1 design is distinctive, compared to a Glock, Sig Sauer or Smith & Wesson M&P semi-auto, in that the Steyr feels different in the hand than a more traditionally styled sidearm. The best word to describe that difference is “ergonomic,” a term more often associated with automobile interiors than handguns; but in the case of Steyr’s revised M9-A1, it’s a good word to use.
At first glance the M9-A1 looks oddly shaped, appearing to increase in proportions from the breech to the muzzle. In other words, it looks wider at the front than the back. This is partially, but not entirely, an optical illusion due to the deep contours of the triggerguard and a sharply tapered frame that slants upward toward the grips. The backstrap is also deeply recessed to position the back of the frame higher over the hand, thereby creating a low barrel axis to help reduce muzzle flip. Once you pick this gun up, wrap your hand around it and take aim down the trapezoidal (triangular) sights, it all begins to make sense. This is a gun you absolutely have to handle before passing even the slightest judgment.
The Steyr Model M-A1 pistols, chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W, evolved from the original M-Series introduced in 1999. The M Series was Steyr’s first synthetic (polymer) frame semi-auto and the first model to use a Glock-style trigger safety system, which Steyr calls a “Reset Action Trigger.” In addition to the gun’s unusual shape, the M Series introduced Steyr’s patented triangular trapezoidal sighting system. It was an unconventional looking gun, but every feature proved to be exceptional, even the trapezoidal sights.