'Third generation' Steyr M9-A1 with 17-round magazine
|Place of origin||Austria|
|Designer||Friedrich Aigner, Wilhelm Bubits|
|Produced||1999–present. M357 no longer in production as of 2014|
|Cartridge||9×19mm Parabellum (L9-A1, M9, S9, M9-A1, S9-A1)
9x21mm (M9, S9, S9-A1—Italian market only)
.40 S&W (L40-A1, M40, S40, M40-A1, S40-A1)
.357 SIG (M357, M357-A1)
|Action||Short recoil, locked breech|
|Feed system||17-round box magazine (M9-A1)
12-round box magazine (M40, M357)
10-round box magazine (S9, S40)
|Sights||Fixed iron sights, trapezoid notch and triangular front blade|
The Steyr M is a series of semi-automatic pistols developed by Steyr Mannlicher GmbH & Co KG of Austria for police services and the civilian shooting market. Design work on the new pistol began in the early 1990s and the final product known as the M9 (adapted to fire the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge) was officially unveiled in the spring of 1999. The M40 version chambered in .40 S&W was developed before the M9, followed later by the M357 (caliber .357 SIG or 9×22mm) and two smaller variants of the M9 and M40 designated the S9 and S40 respectively. These pistols were developed primarily for concealed carry and have a shortened barrel, slide, smaller frame and a reduced magazine capacity. In 2013 the Steyr M (Medium) and S (Small) form factors were complemented by the L (Large) sized series and the C (Compact) sized series both available in 9×19mm Parabellum and .40 S&W chamberings as the L9-A1, L40-A1, C9-A1 and C40-A1.
The Steyr M series of pistols employs the mechanically locked Browning short recoil method of operation with a linkless, vertically dropping barrel. The cold-hammer-forged conventional rifled barrel is locked to the slide by means of a single rectangular lug around the barrel chamber that recesses into the ejection port in the slide. When fired, the recoil impulse from the ignited cartridge drives the barrel and slide back, locked together until the bullet leaves the barrel and pressures drop to a safe level. A locking block integrated into the frame then engages a lug at the base of the chamber and drives the barrel downward, separating it from the slide and terminating any further rearward movement while the slide continues back in a straight line.
The Steyr M series uses a very high grip profile which holds the barrel axis close to the shooter's hand and makes the Steyr M more comfortable to shoot by reducing muzzle rise and allowing for faster aim recovery in rapid shooting sequence.
Hammerless and striker-fired, the Steyr M features a double action only (DAO) pre-set trigger mechanism marketed as a "Reset Action" trigger. When the trigger is in the forward position, the firing pin spring remains lightly compressed (pre-cocked by the forward motion of the slide as it returns to battery). Pulling the trigger all the way to the back will compress the firing pin spring completely, draw the firing pin fully to the rear and position the trigger bar to release the firing pin and fire a round. The trigger travel is 4 mm (0.16 in) with a pull weight of 25 N (5.6 lbf).
The pistol has a multi-stage safety system consisting of two automatic internal safeties, two external trigger safeties and a manual lock safety. The first external trigger safety acts as the primary fail-safe. A small, spring-loaded inner trigger is housed in a wide, outer trigger and cannot be actuated unless the inset trigger is depressed first. This keeps the trigger from being pulled by an inadvertent off-angle trigger pull. This trigger safety also activates and when released—deactivates the two internal safeties: the firing pin and drop safety. The firing pin safety is contained in the pistol’s slide and blocks the longitudinal movement of the striker. The second trigger safety is an optional, manually operated plastic bar located inside the trigger guard and projecting out from the base of the pistol’s frame when activated, revealing a small white dot. This indicates that the pistol is currently incapable of being fired. It is used as an additional safety that disables the trigger with the firing pin spring cocked (after reloading the pistol). This safety is engaged by simultaneously pushing in two buttons on both sides of the frame and then deactivated by simply lifting the trigger finger and pushing the bar up and into the pistol's frame, thus allowing the trigger to be pulled back and the weapon fired. These safeties enable safe handling of the pistol with a round present in the chamber (the so-called "cocked and locked" condition) and allow for rapid deployment and immediate firing; this arrangement however does not permit the firing mechanism to be re-cocked in case of a misfire after the trigger has been pulled.
Other safety features include a loaded chamber indicator and an integrated limited access lock operated using a key to prevent unauthorized use. The latter key can be either a handcuff key or a special factory-supplied key. If required, the access lock can be omitted. The locking mechanism is located above the trigger area of the pistol and is characterized by a small circular plate with two holes in it (in the police version of the pistols there is a handcuff key hole instead of the two small holes). It has two positions: "F" and "S". When pushed in and rotated to the "S" position with the provided key, the lock disables the trigger and barrel and prevents the pistol from being disassembled. This unique system of limiting access to the weapon was patented (U.S. Patent 6,212,812) by Friedrich Aigner in 1999.
The pistols are fed using a detachable steel magazine of the single position feed type with the cartridges arranged in a staggered column pattern. The magazine’s follower and floor plate are fabricated from polymer. The magazine catch-release is located on the left side of the frame, directly behind the trigger guard. After expending the last cartridge from the magazine, the pistol’s slide remains locked open on the metal slide stop, located on the left side of the frame and operated with the thumb.
The Steyr M is equipped with fixed, low-profile iron sights. The unique sighting arrangement consists of a triangular front sight and a trapezoid rear notch that lead the eye to the target for quicker target acquisition and allow for instinctive aiming. The front sight contains a non-luminescent white triangle contrast element designed to mate with two white rectangles on the rear sight. Optional adjustable or non-adjustable tritium-illuminated three-dot low light situation sights can also be fitted to the Steyr M; these have a conventional rectangular profile. The original pistol’s frame also has proprietary mounting rails for attaching accessories, such as a tactical light or laser pointer.
The pistol’s design takes advantage of modern manufacturing techniques: the slide is precision-milled from steel; the frame is an injection-molded synthetic polymer and parts of the trigger and striker mechanisms are pressed from sheet metal. For the purpose of regular maintenance, the pistol is stripped down into the following components: the barrel, slide, recoil spring, frame and magazine.
While the Steyr M is frequently compared to Glock-series pistols (both are polymer-framed striker-fired pistols, with Tenifer finishes), there are several differences in the details of the design. For example, the M-series had a fully supported chamber in all chamberings from the start (Some Glock models also had this feature from the start, other Glock models evolved to having more supported chambers when compared to their original internal layout), unique triangular/trapezoid sights, a loaded chamber indicator in the form of an extractor protrusion, witness hole on the top rear of the barrel and a rod below the rear sights that sits flush in the rear of the slide when the chamber is empty and is raised slightly when the chamber is loaded for a visual and tactile indicator of the firearm’s condition (on third and later generation Glock pistols this feature is present on the extractor on the right slide side) and a different grip angle (111°).
Steyr offers conversion kits to swap 'third generation' models between 9×19mm Parabellum and .40S&W. These kits consist of a slide, barrel, recoil spring assembly and magazine.
In 2004, an improved version of the pistol replaced the original Steyr M in production. The new 'second generation' Steyr M-A1 and S-A1 pistols received several improvements. The grip of the pistol has been redesigned with some textured surfaces as was the magazine well (uses the same magazines), ergonomics have been slightly altered to improve grip, the manual safety button is now optional (not in models sold in the United States, all US imports lack the manual safety) and the lower forward portion of the frame now consists of a STANAG 2324 Picatinny rail for mounting accessories. Later 'second generation' also have a modified extractor for easier ejecting of casings.
In 2010, Steyr Mannlicher US began reimporting Steyr M-A1 and S-A1 pistols. The newly imported 'third generation' Steyr M and S have a revised slide and grip imprinted with the Steyr Arms logo. Post 2009 'third generation' models have a roll pin in the slide just under the rear sight element, feature an improved trigger and 17-round magazines with a +2 baseplate are available for the 9×19mm Parabellum M9-A1, C9-A1 and S9-A1 models.
In 2010 the C (Compact) sized C-A1 series was inroduced in 9×19mm Parabellum and .40 S&W chamberings as the C9-A1 and C40-A1. This C (Compact) form factor mainly pairs the S (Sub-Compact/Small) barrel lengths to the M (Medium) form factor grip. For Italy only the C9-A1 is offered in the 9×21mm chambering.
In 2013 the Steyr M (Medium), Steyr C (Compact) and S (Sub-Compact/Small) form factors were complemented by the L (Large) sized L-A1 series available in 9×19mm Parabellum that uses 17-round +2 baseplate magazines as the L9-A and .40 S&W chamberings 1 that uses 12-round magazines as the L40-A1. The L-A1 series feature additional serrations on the front sides of the longer slide and 115 mm (4.5 in) barrel length puts it more in line with full-size service pistols offered by other manufacturers.
|Series||Model||Cartridge||Length||Height||Width||Barrel Length||Weight (unloaded)||Magazine
|176 mm (6.9 in)||136 mm (5.4 in)||30 mm (1.2 in)||101 mm (4.0 in)||747 g (26.3 oz)||10, 14, 15, 17|
|M40||.40 S&W||767 g (27.1 oz)||10, 12|
|M357||.357 SIG||778 g (27.4 oz)|
|102 mm (4.0 in)||766 g (27.0 oz)||10, 14, 15, 17|
|M40-A1||.40 S&W||10, 12|
|M357-A1||.357 SIG||776 g (27.4 oz)|
|S||S9||9×19mm||168 mm (6.6 in)||117 mm (4.6 in)||91 mm (3.6 in)||725 g (25.6 oz)||10, 14, 15, 17|
|S40||.40 S&W||10, 12|
|166.5 mm (6.6 in)||123 mm (4.8 in)||92 mm (3.6 in)||664 g (23.4 oz)||10, 14, 15, 17|
|S40-A1||.40 S&W||170 mm (6.7 in)||96 mm (3.8 in)||678 g (23.9 oz)||10, 12|
|170 mm (6.7 in)||132 mm (5.2 in)||92 mm (3.6 in)||766 g (27.0 oz)||15, 17|
|C40-A1||.40 S&W||175 mm (6.9 in)||96 mm (3.8 in)||780 g (28 oz)||10, 12|
|L-A1||L9-A1||9×19mm||188.5 mm (7.4 in)||142 mm (5.6 in)||115 mm (4.5 in)||817 g (28.8 oz)||17|
|L40-A1||.40 S&W||136 mm (5.4 in)||838 g (29.6 oz)||12|
Steyr Arms exclusive United States distributor is Steyr Arms, PO Box 840 Trussville, AL 35173.
- Austria: Spezialeinsatzkräfte
- Pakistan: Special Service Wing
- United Kingdom:22 Special Air Service Regiment
- Thailand: Royal Thai Air Force, Special Operation Regiment,JAS-39 Pilot Pistol,F-16 Pilot Pistol
- Caracal pistol - also designed by Wilhelm Bubits
- Woźniak, Ryszard: Encyklopedia najnowszej broni palnej—tom 4 R-Z, page 103. Bellona, 2002.
- Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 276.
- Steyr M-A1 instruction manual
- Woźniak, 104
- Ayoob, Massad (2007). The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. pp. 248–250. ISBN 1-4402-2654-7.
- Steyr Arms press release: July Newsletter-Steyr Arms to Import Pistol Again!
- Kinard, Jeff (2004). Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-470-9.
- Woźniak, Ryszard; Tomasz Begier (2002). Encyklopedia najnowszej broni palnej—tom 4 R-Z (in Polish). Warsaw, Poland: Bellona. ISBN 83-11-09312-1.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steyr M.|
- Steyr Mannlicher—official site
- Steyr L-A1 instruction manual
- Steyr M-A1 instruction manual
- Steyr C-A1 instruction manual
- Steyr S-A1 instruction manual
- Modern Firearms
- The Sight M1911A1—Steyr M series history and review
- Steyr M9—brief article Guns Magazine, Oct 1999, by Massad Ayoob