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SCCY CPX-3 Pistol


You Shouldn’t Need to Be Well-Heeled to Go Heeled

You shouldn’t need to be well-heeled to go heeled. Like all of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment belongs to every American, whether they can drop cash for a new Nighthawk Custom without batting an eye or whether they’ve had to scrimp and save tip money to shop the bargain section. When money is tight, someone who lives in a state that requires them to pay for a training class for a permit and then shell out for the permit itself is already as much as a few hundred bucks out of pocket.

This end of the handgun market spans a fairly narrow price range, with Hi-Point staking out the lower end and Kel-Tec Industries, as well as some of Ruger’s less-expensive offerings, marking the upper. SCCY, a relative newcomer, entered the market in the early/mid-2000s, with an initial offering called the CPX-1, a small 9mm broadly similar in appearance and function to the Kel-Tec P11 with an aggressive price tag.

The CPX-1 was followed to market by the CPX-2, which was the same thing sans thumb safety. (Given the length and weight of the true double action only trigger pull, these were fairly extraneous anyway.)

This brings us to the most recent offering from the company, perhaps unsurprisingly dubbed the CPX-3. Externally similar to its catalog-mates, except very slightly smaller, the CPX-3 is distinguished by its 380 ACP chambering, a cartridge that’s witnessing something of a renaissance lately.

This resurgence first began in tiny pocket blasters like Kel-Tec’s P3AT and the Ruger LCP. Pistols that small and light could only be chambered in .380 both by being recoil operated, which helps slow the slide by the mechanical action of unlocking the barrel, and by being hammer-fired, where the slide’s rearward motion is further braked by the action of having to override the hammer against the tension of the mainspring. Blowback-operated .380 pistols tended to be larger and have heavier slides or much heavier recoil springs.

More recently, however, larger .380s have begun hitting the market. The Walther PK380, Smith & Wesson 380 Shield EZ, and the (now defunct) .380 versions of the SIG SAUER P250 Compact and Subcompact all exploited the combination of hammer-fired and recoil-operated systems making these pistols easier to operate than their 9mm cousins for people with less grip or upper-body strength.
Not only are the slides easier to cycle by hand, but recoil and muzzle flip is dramatically reduced with the .380 round in a larger package. The CPX-3 slides neatly into this useful market niche.

Ode to TLG

But how would it hold up to extended, hard use? Is this the sort of gun that could, despite its price point, be taken to a 500- to 1,000-round weekend class without worries, just like a Glock or SIG? Trainer Claude Werner, former instructor at the Rogers School and currently writing under the moniker The Tactical Professor had reported cautiously optimistic results with a CPX-2 a couple years back, so we were curious to see how a CPX-3 handles a decent volume of shooting.

The CPW-3 features a recoil-operated, hammer-fired system.

The “2,000-round Challenge,” publicized by the late trainer Todd Louis Green of, is something of an unofficial benchmark. As Green put it:

“It’s really pretty arbitrary. The Challenge was begun after so many people balked at my, shall we say, “less-stringent” maintenance habits. In my experience, just about any serious modern handgun, using something like Miltec, should be able to reach 2k without cleaning, without needing more lube and without stoppages.

The thing many people forget is that the 2,000-round Challenge included absolutely no [additional] lubrication to the gun during the whole 2,000-round cycle. You clean and lube before you start, and then do nothing but shoot the gun until you hit 2,000. If you add some oil or grease during the 2,000 rounds, it’s disqualified.”

SCCY seemed certain that the CPX-3 was indeed up to this level of use and sent a pistol, as well as 10 spare magazines. Considering that the CPX-3 ships with three magazines already, this meant we could arrive at the range with 130 rounds loaded up and ready to go.

Hornady anted up 2,000 rounds of its 90-grain Critical Defense .380 ammunition, with its distinctive FTX bullet. Just as the test was about to go live, SCCY realized the gun they sent was a preproduction model and asked to swap it out for a production version.
So, we did, although that did crowd things uncomfortably toward the deadline for this issue.


In due time the replacement pistol arrived. Opening the box revealed one SCCY CPX-3, black slide on black frame, with the magazine in the gun having a pinkie-rest floorplate and the two spare mags nested in the box wearing flush-fit floorplates.

The gun ships with the trigger lock affixed and locked. There’s no separate storage slot in the blown plastic tray that lines the cardboard box to hold the lock, either; just the gun, mags, and two keys. The subtle message this conveyed was that if it wasn’t stored in a quick-access safe, then SCCY was nudging the gun’s new owner to store it with the lock on the gun. (The lock is apparently of the one-size-fits-all-SCCYs variety, since it warns to store the gun with the safety on, and the CPX-3 doesn’t have one of those.)

A quick perusal of the pistol itself revealed a fairly conventional small double-stack pistol; a little shorter and narrower than a Glock 26, although a bit longer in the grip. The backstrap isn’t scooped out as radically as the subcompact Glock’s either, causing it to sit somewhat higher in the hand, although being chambered for .380 this shouldn’t make for much of a noticeable increase in muzzle flip.

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