April 03, 2023
By Joel J. Hutchcroft
Shooting Times has already covered several micro-sized 9mm personal-protection pistols this year, and we’re happy to be reporting on two more in this issue. One is the new Stoeger STR-9SC (SC stands for subcompact), and you can read about it in Jake Edmondson’s report. My review is of the new Savage Stance pistol. That’s right. Savage is making a micro-sized 9mm pistol, and that alone demonstrates just how popular these small-size 9mm self-defense pistols are these days.
Lest you think that’s totally inconceivable, Savage actually has an interesting history when it comes to handguns. Maybe the most famous Savage handgun is the .45-caliber Model 1907 semiautomatic pistol that was created and submitted for consideration when the United States military was looking for a service pistol prior to World War I. The Model 1907 went up against the Colt Model 1911, made it through the first round of trials, and eventually was beaten by the Model 1911 mainly due to breakage of some small parts over the course of a 6,000-round shootout.
The Model 1907 (produced from 1910 to 1917) was originally built in .32 ACP and .380 ACP and later beefed-up and chambered for the .45 ACP for the military trials. Later, Savage produced Model 1915 (from 1915 to 1917) and Model 1917 (from 1920 to 1928) semiautomatic pistols that were similar to the .32-caliber and .380-caliber Model 1907. But semiautos aren’t the only handguns Savage has made over its 128 years. The firm also made a .22 LR single-shot pistol called the Model 101 from 1960 to 1968; strangely, it looked like a single-action revolver. And then there are the rimfire Models 501F, 502F, 503F, and 503FSS Sport Strikers (from 2000 to 2005) and the centerfire Model 510F, Model 516FSS, Model 516 FSAK, and Model 516BSAK/BSS Striker (from 1998 to 2005). Those handguns were bolt actions, with the bolt handle on the left-hand side of the action. Chamberings included .17 HMR, .22 LR, .223 Remington, .22-250, .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, .270 WSM, 7mm-08, 7mm WSM, .308 Winchester, and .300 WSM. I once owned a .22 LR Sport Striker and a .300 WSM Striker, and those guns were ideal for handgun hunting. But this review is about the 9mm Savage Stance, so let’s get into the details of the new pistol.
The Stance has just about all the features that have become de rigueur in small defensive pistols, except for two. (I’ll get to them later.) It’s a striker-fired design with a polymer frame. The barrel is 3.2 inches long. The standard snag-free sights are a three-white-dot setup, with TRUGLO TRITIUM PRO night sights as an option. The pistol is 6.2 inches long, 0.96 inch thick, and 4.6 inches tall.
The polymer frame has a removable stainless-steel chassis that houses the trigger and the firing mechanism. Sources tell us that different grip frame sizes are planned for the near future. Our sample came with two 18-degree interchangeable backstraps for personalizing the grip fit to the shooter’s hand size. One is flat and the other is arched. Three-hundred-sixty-degree stippled texturing is provided around the grip to assist in a secure handhold.
The stainless-steel slide is given a black Melonite finish for durability and corrosion resistance. It also has wide grasping grooves at the rear and up front for increased purchase, and the ones up front are ported. The slide also has a beveled front end for easier holstering. The extractor is an external type with a large, powerful claw.
The solid, smooth trigger is curved, and the mechanism has a short reset. Our sample’s trigger pull averaged 7.0 pounds, with very little take-up. The polymer frame has a molded-in trigger stop.
Other controls include a takedown lever, an ambidextrous slide stop, and an ambidextrous magazine release. And Savage offers an optional ambidextrous manual thumb safety, too.
As for magazines, our Stance came with two: one flush-fitting seven-rounder and one extended eight-rounder. You can choose that combination, or you can choose a seven-rounder and a 10-rounder.
Takedown is easy and simple and does not require the trigger to be squeezed. With the Stance’s magazine removed and the gun double-checked to be certain it is completely unloaded, lock the slide rearward with the slide stop. With the slide retracted, rotate the large takedown lever 90 degrees downward. Remove the slide assembly by pressing down on the slide stop and separating the slide assembly from the frame. With the slide assembly removed, compress the back of the dual-spring guide rod assembly to remove it from the barrel. Then remove the barrel from the slide. To remove the chassis from the grip frame, simultaneously rotate and pull the takedown lever to release the chassis, grab the front of the chassis by its rails, and lift it out of the grip frame.
So what are those two missing features that I referred to earlier? One is the slide cut for installing a red-dot optic that so many small pistols now incorporate, and the other is a higher magazine capacity. Savage says the magazine capacity was purpose-driven in order to maintain a single-stack configuration, in keeping with the designers’ desire to make the Stance as slim as possible. In fact, the grip’s circumference is just 6.0 inches. Regarding the current optic-mounting trend, Savage says an optics-ready version will come sometime in the future. Until then, the company is offering a version of the Stance with an integral Viridian E-Series red laser at a higher MSRP.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I couldn’t make it to the shooting range, but my friend and Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole was shooting a Stance for his report in G&A, so he did the shooting for this article, too. His results are listed in the accompanying chart, and his impressions of the Stance’s shootability are as follows, in his own words.
“The Stance proved flawlessly reliable at the range; not one stoppage occurred. In terms of its accuracy, the barrel tended to group more consistently with 124- and 147-grain loads out to 25 yards.
“After the first 400 rounds, I stepped up and tested accuracy at seven, 10, and 15 yards. At seven and 10 yards, the Stance produced one-hole sub-1.5-inch five-shot groups. At 15 yards, groups opened to 2.25 inches and 2.75 inches. It was only when I stepped back to the 25-yard firing line that group sizes exceeded 3 and 4 inches. I offer this information because many have suggested that micro-compact pistols be tested and compared at shorter distances.
“The slide is thick and makes the pistol top heavy when the magazine is empty, but with seven, eight, or 10 rounds loaded to maximum capacity—depending on your choice of magazine length—the weight evens out in your hand or a holster.
“The trigger felt unusual for a striker-fired pistol. Take-up on the sample pistol measured less than a quarter-inch before the proverbial ‘wall.’ To press through it required an average of 7.0 pounds of pressure. Due to the short take-up, that meant the trigger finger had to overcome most of the weight all at once. In addition, I hit another stopping point before the striker was released to fire. The trigger reset felt as though it returned to its original position for each stroke of the trigger. (If your technique is to ‘slap’ the trigger, then this trigger won’t bother you.)”
As you can see from the accompanying chart, at an average of 1.70 inches at 25 yards, Eric’s best accuracy came with the Speer 147-grain Gold Dot G2 factory load. The Gold Dot G2 has the bonded UNICOR design of the original Gold Dot but with new skives and a shallow nose cavity filled with elastomer rather than the original hollowpoint. The elastomer prevents barrier materials from filling the nose cavity and provides more consistent performance through tough barriers like wood and steel. The skives promote reliable expansion and effective energy transfer while maintaining straight-line penetration. According to Speer, the bullet style achieved the highest FBI protocol evaluation scores of any ammunition ever tested.
I think there’s some good synergy there, considering Speer is owned by Vista Outdoor (previously part of ATK) and in 2013 ATK purchased Savage. Vista was created in 2015 and owned Savage until 2019, when the current owners acquired it. Not that Vista has anything to do with the development of the Stance. It’s one of the exciting new gun designs that Savage’s new owners have brought forward, but I still think it’s a happy coincidence.
Interestingly, Norma’s Range & Training 65-grain Frangible loading also averaged under 3.00 inches at 25 yards in the 3.2-inch-barreled Stance. That bullet is a lead-free copper polymer matrix that’s designed for indoor and outdoor training with steel targets and eliminates large fragments that could injure shooters and damage sensitive range equipment. As the chart indicates, it achieves a high velocity out of the short barrel.
I for one think it’s great that Savage is back in the handgun game. My first real gun was a Savage Model 24 over-under combination gun with a .22 LR top barrel and a 20-gauge bottom barrel, so I have always had an affinity for Savage guns. And as I said earlier, the Striker and Sport Striker pistols I had were excellent handguns.
In recent years Savage has been on the leading edge of firearm design, especially under the new ownership and management that went into effect three years ago. The Stance is targeted at a segment of the market that is going strong, so it is going to compete with similar guns from many well-known and trusted companies. Savage has a strong brand identity and a very good reputation for dependable, good-shooting rifles, at very reasonable prices, and the Stance handgun is positioned to fit that mold.
The standard Stance retails for $479, and our sample with night sights retails for $548. Those are excellent price tags. Even better, the Stance obviously is a pistol platform that lends itself very easily to expansion. Time will tell what other versions will come, but in the meantime, the slim, sleek, compact version is exactly what a lot of handgunners want.
- Manufacturer: Savage Arms, savagearms.com
- Type: Striker-fired autoloader
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Magazine Capacity: 7, 8, and 10 rounds
- Barrel: 3.2 in.
- Overall Length: 6.2 in.
- Width: 0.96 in.
- Height: 4.6 in.
- Weight, Empty: 22 oz.
- Grips: Integral to polymer frame
- Finish: Melonite slide, black polymer frame
- Sights: TRUGLO TRITIUM PRO three-dot night sights
- Trigger: 7.0-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Striker block
- MSRP: $548