CONCEALMENT 18 Phoenix Fusion TA Carry Review Iain Harrison Join the Conversation The Goldilocks Gat from the Alps [This review originally appeared in CONCEALMENT #18] There are guns you buy because they check all the boxes for a CCW piece. Think of them in an automotive context as the equivalent of a transportation appliance — functional, reliable, adequate, soulless, dull. Then, there are guns that you add to the collection because they’re quirky and unusual, but you wouldn’t dare trust your life to them, as those same characteristics bring with them the vices of iffy reliability, so-so ergonomics, and mediocre ballistics. The Phoenix Fusion TA Carry may well be a Goldilocks gun, bridging the divide between practicality and the exotic; you’ll probably never see another one at the range, but boy, can it shoot. We covered the Phoenix Fusion TA Carry’s bigger sibling in RECOIL #47, and thought that although it was an exceedingly high-quality piece, we wouldn’t buy one as it fell between roles — too heavy to carry, but possessing an odd feature set that ruled it out as a competition gun. The carry version in the Swiss firm’s lineup is a different proposition altogether. For those who missed out on the back story, the company started out in Switzerland in the 19th Century as a tool and die company, before getting into the firearms business in the 1980s by manufacturing a licensed copy of the CZ-75. Various product-improved versions followed, with Sphinx holding to tighter tolerances than other companies and garnering a reputation for both quality and accuracy. The company was acquired by Kriss (of Vector fame) in 2010 and declared bankrupt five years later. The previous owner then got the band back together and is once more producing high-end versions of the CZ design, having risen from the ashes. Although it’s a CZ-based design, it strays from the Czech blueprint through its use of a SIG-Petter locking system, where the chamber end of the barrel mates with the slide by means of a ledge that contacts the front of the ejection port — the CZ uses Browning-style lugs found on the 1911 and Hi Power. It also uses a two-piece frame — which in this carry version is polymer, while the upper is aluminum. This combo effectively splits the difference between an alloy-framed pistol and a plastic fantastic, hence the Fusion moniker. Barrel-to-slide lockup is very tight, with zero perceptible lateral play and just enough vertical slop to allow the gun to function reliably. Full-length frame and slide rails are likewise closely fit; their absence of tool marks makes for an Astroglide-on-glass feel when racking the gun. Inlet into the grip frame is a soft polymer insert, providing plenty of tackiness to the shooter’s hand, even if wet. The Phoenix Fusion TA Carry manages to do this without being sticky enough to hang up on clothing — we carried it AIWB for a couple of weeks without ever having to tug the T-shirt covering it back into position. Front and rear slide serrations give plenty of friction for positive manipulation, while fine, machine-cut checkering fills two panels on either side of the frame, positioned to fall under your support-hand thumb. Other than a little minor texturing on the frontstrap, the rest of the gun lacks stippling. Honestly, it doesn’t need it, as the curved backstrap, vestigial finger grooves, and contoured grip panels make for a very secure grasp, at least for medium- to large-sized meat shovels. Size-wise, the Phoenix Fusion TA Carry fits in the same box as a Glock 19X; in other words, a full-size frame with a compact top end. While we can debate the merits of this from a concealment perspective, it offers 18 rounds on tap (or 19, if you use SP01 mags) from a fast-handling, very accurate setup. With the addition of a Shield RMS red dot, any benefits of a longer sight radius are moot, and we had no trouble making head shots on demand, offhand at 50 yards. On its second trip to the range, we entered it in a local match, and it took a podium finish in Carry Optics division, indicating that shootability is pretty damn good. The Phoenix Fusion TA Carry retains the original CZ-75’s selective DA/SA lockwork, so it can be carried cocked and locked, or hammer down, on a chambered round, with the first shot fired double action. For anyone who wants to carry in the appendix position but is justifiably concerned about shooting their dick off, this offers an additional layer of security. Holstering can be done with the thumb placed on the hammer, adding substantial resistance to the fire control mechanism. If it moves, stop and check that there’s nothing lodged around your belt line causing the trigger to be pulled. The downsides are that the first round needs to be fired DA (not an insurmountable problem if you train for it; see RECOIL #29 for an article on this from Ernest Langdon) and that the hammer must first be lowered on a live round, as there’s no decocker built into the safety. As Heinlein said, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The good news is that the DA pull is pretty smooth, and at 9 pounds with a little stacking, it’s perfectly manageable — though if this were to be the only gun in the arsenal, we’d swap in a lighter mainspring to drop it another couple of pounds and set it closer to the single action. The SA pull breaks at around 4.75 pounds with a little overtravel and tactile reset. We suspect overtravel contributes to the pistol’s accuracy, as the bullet is long gone before the trigger hits its stop, reducing any sight disturbance, but if we were to use it exclusively for competition, we’d probably add a set screw to eliminate it. Faster split times are worth the potential accuracy degradation. The Shield RMS sight looks like it was made for this pistol, as it sits flush with the slide’s flanks with no overhang. It also serves as backup irons, by means of a notch cut into the emitter housing, lining up with a blade front sight. In keeping with its role as a carry piece, the front sight is shorter than most, belying the idea that you need suppressor-height irons if you want to use an RDS. Once zeroed, the dot lined up just above the irons for an almost perfect co-witness. AT THE RANGE On a pistol like this one, where both the slide-to-frame and barrel-to-slide fit are tight, we expected a little finickiness regarding ammo choices and a protracted break-in period. We were wrong. Federal 135-grain Syntech, Geco 115-grain ball, SIG 124-grain V-Crown, and Streak 147-grain TC ammo all went downrange without a hiccup. The only problem came from some 147-grain, minor power factor handloads, which have caused issues in the past due to their overall length, leading us to suspect the Phoenix Fusion TA Carry’s chamber doesn’t have a very long lede. Of course, the problem had to manifest itself at a match … On paper, Federal Syntech turned in the tightest groups. Shot from a bench at 25 yards, the combination of red-dot optic and excellent trigger delivered solid 1.3-inch diameter results. Once our dodgy handloads had been eliminated, over 600 rounds fed, fired, and ejected without incident. Perhaps due to it being a few ounces heavier than say a G17, recoil is soft even for a 9mm, despite not having a particularly low-bore axis, and sight recovery is rapid. If you’re in the market for a handgun, which — despite being a rarity in the U.S. — is reliable and accurate and which exhibits a quality of manufacturing placing it above most mass-produced pistols, then you may want to consider the Phoenix Fusion TA Carry. It’s a step above most of the offerings in a typical gun store display case, without the eye-watering price tag of a custom build. Read more about the Phoenix Fusion TA Carry here More on 9mm Pistols We compiled a Roster of exceptional 9mm Pistols for personal Defense. Here's the List. Czech lineage with Swiss precision: the Phoenix Redback SAO. Explore RECOILweb:[SHOT Show 2017] SW Performance Center 2017 LineupMichele Esparza - Going HotMystery Ranch BackpacksThe National Atomic Testing Museum NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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