Grand Power Stribog SP9A1 9mm Submachine Gun
The Stribog SP9A1 9mm submachine gun and its carbine and pistol variants come from the same mind as the advanced Grand Power (GP) rotary breech pistols. Unlike the revolutionary GP K100 and its derivatives, the Stribog SP9A1 appears, at first glance, to be purely evolutionary. A detailed look reveals a number of original technical solutions that add up to an excellent weapon with great ergonomics.
Named after the Slavic god of wind, Stribog is a conventional-looking 9mm blowback firearm feeding from proprietary double-stack, double-feed magazines with 20- and 30-round capacity. Unlike many third-generation submachine guns that Stribog resembles, it uses an extruded aluminum rather than stamped-steel receiver. A much simpler shape, it is also much stronger thanks to the internal reinforcing rails. The serialized upper attaches to glass-reinforced polymer lower with two pins. The overall weight of the pistol is just over 5 pounds, but it feels extremely solid. The overhanging bolt and non-reciprocating charging handle, reminiscent of the Walther MPK, keep the receiver length down to a minimum without resorting to a bullpup configuration. Despite firing from a closed bolt, Stribog is more than a pound lighter than the MPK and equally short while sporting a longer 8-inch barrel. Everything about this design is optimized. The bolt is squared off, very simple to manufacture. Field-stripping requires pushing out one captive pin in the back of the receiver to hinge the upper receiver—forward to expose the back plate to which a stock or a brace would attach. The back plate slides down, exposing the back of the receiver. On disassembly, the bolt comes out as a unit with the recoil spring and guide, a guide rod and a double rubber recoil buffer. Further disassembly is usually unnecessary.
All controls are either ambidextrous, like the magazine releases, rotary safety levers and bolt stops, or reversible, like the non-reciprocating charging handle. The left-side mag release is just right for retaining magazines, while the right-side assumes drop-free magazines; although its transparent polymer magazines usually don’t drop free when empty. The two bolt stops are single-stamped parts, very easy to use either for locking or for releasing the bolt. As with an AR-15, locking in a fresh magazine places the left hand perfectly for closing the bolt to chamber the first round. Everything about the Stribog feels robust and streamlined for rapid deployment. Charging the weapon from a closed bolt requires only a moderate effort, a welcome difference from many small blowback guns. Since the bolt locks open on an empty magazine, bringing it back into action takes but a left thumb twitch. An enlarged trigger guard works with bulky winter gloves, and the well-textured flared pistol grip combined with a brace enables a comfortable one-handed operation if necessary.
Optics and Configurations
The gun comes with non-adjustable folding post and ghost rear sights. Folded flat, they present smallish post and notch sights useful for firing the gun in the pistol configuration. Upgraded metal or metal adjustable sights are available in theory, but the full-length Picatinny rail on top of the gun makes it more likely that the users would just mount an optic and relegate irons to backup duty. The iron sights are quite low, so they can be used through skeletonized scope or red dot bases. It’s more comfortable, however, to use AR-height sighting devices. Always dubious about factory-regulated sights, I tried them to discover that they delivered hits on a silhouette past 100 yards. The sights are well designed, glare-free, and the front sight is protected inside a ring.
Accuracy is one of Stribog’s strong points: with iron sights or red dot, 4MOA with all loads from 90 to 185 grains is routine. With a 2x scope, 2MOA is equally routine. Unlike most carbines, Stribog doesn’t favor light bullets over heavy. Ammunition used for most of the author’s testing was Federal Syntech Action Pistol 150-grain, polymer-coated “flying lipstick.” Wide mouth SIG SAUER 124-grain defensive JHP and lightweight SBR frangibles fed as reliably as everything else. The trigger feels heavy at over 5 pounds, but doesn’t seem to get in the way of delivering accurate fire. The trigger mechanism is partly interchangeable with AR-15 parts, so it can be improved if desired. Prone firing is aided by the long magazine well holding the mag securely enough to rest the gun on the magazine floorplate for additional support: pressure on the ammunition feeding device does not induce malfunctions. The well-ventilated, medium-weight barrel retains accuracy even when warmed up, and overheating in general isn’t a concern for this gun. The forend has a bottom Picatinny rail for accessories, not to include a vertical foregrip due to NFA restrictions. A typical configuration could be a white light and laser on the bottom, close enough to the muzzle to avoid occlusion of the light beam, and a slightly magnified optic like a 1.5x compact ACOG on top. The long top rail permits placement of night vision devices in front of the optic if desired. In addition, two M-LOK slots are available on each side of the forend.
Reliability of the Stribog SP9A1, a general feature of Jaroslav Kuracina’s designs, is predictably excellent. In over 1,000 rounds of all kinds of ammo, half of it fired with a sound suppressor without cleaning or re-lubricating afterward, SP9A1 had zero stoppages of any kind. Between superb ergonomics and perfect reliability, this gun really gives confidence to the user! Ballistic performance from the 8-inch barrel is close enough to be maximized for 9x19mm, with very little muzzle flash even with the hypervelocity loads. With 115- to 124-grain bullets, Stribog SP9A1 adds at least 100fps to the muzzle velocity over a typical service pistol. The weapon is suppressor friendly, with the muzzle factory threaded 1/2×28. A little blowback can be felt with the can on, something that the A3 variant (expected in the U.S. by late 2019) solves. If you do not run it sound-suppressed, I would recommend the Kaw Valley Precision Linear Compensator (kawvalleyprecision.com) to divert the report more towards the target and away from the shooter. Especially when used with 185-grain Seismic HP ammunition, the compensator cuts down the muzzle blast considerably for a more comfortable experience and reduced hearing damage in case of a precipitous firefight.
The pistol ships from the importer Global Ordnance with three 30-round magazines. Magazines are extremely easy to load by hand and weigh very little. Retail price is very reasonable: $699 at time of writing. At $30 each, extra 30-round magazines are a good deal. Various braces add a little to the price. Having shot it both with a fixed single tube and two collapsible struts, I am a fan of the more flexible collapsible variant. Both are compatible with various braces, with the Gear Head Tailhook (gearheadworks.com) being the most compact and robust option. The pistol ships with two back plates, one set up for a tube and one for a braceless configuration.
Compact dimensions, good balance and excellent ergonomics make Stribog SP9A1 an easy gun to shoot unsupported. Felt recoil is moderate, thanks to the well-calculated spring and bolt weight ratio and also to the double rubber recoil buffer in the back of the upper receiver. It’s been a strong favorite with my range visitors and models. Polish railroad police and Cape Verde SWAT officially adopted it. An updated A3 version with a remarkably simple roller-delayed blowback action has already been developed in 9mm Luger and 10mm Auto—hopefully, to be imported by Global Ordnance soon. Recently, the Stribog was a strong contender in the U.S. Army PDW competition. The main benefits will be reduced felt recoil and delayed unlocking in suppressed use to reduce already minimal gas blowback. Compared to the MP5 design, SP9A3 accomplishes the same goal with a single pin moving inside a bolt raceway. A more robust magazine design with metal-reinforced lips has also been developed, due soon in the U.S. As it is currently configured, Stribog SP9A1 would be my personal first choice for a defensive 9mm sort-of-pistol, complementing a GP Q100 or K100 pistol in the same caliber. It comes ready to use from the factory, unlike certain competitors that require numerous aftermarket parts to fix ergonomic flaws.