Wilson Combat has always been a company unafraid to let people know exactly what they produce as a company, with uncompromising quality and extreme precision. They have also never been afraid to ask premium prices for their work. Most Wilson firearms are 2500 dollars or more depending on how you spec them out. So when I first heard about their new 15-round SFX9 9mm pistol being marketed as a carry gun with an MSRP of $2,895, I had to give it a try. The new variant of the SFX9 follows a trend many companies seem to be jumping on with a short slide and barrel and a larger mid-size frame allowing for a higher capacity.
Wilson Combat @ TFB:
Wilson sent me the pistol as well as 300 rounds of their ammunition including hollow points and target loads. I shot all of this, as well as 650 rounds of my own range ammo and 50 rounds of a variety of different types of commercial carry hollow points ranging from SIG V-Crown to Speer Gold Dot. The gun functioned reliably with no malfunctions throughout testing despite a deliberate lack of cleaning at the tail end of the review.
Upon receipt of the pistol, I took it out to the range and put it through 100 rounds of range ammo 50 rounds of Wolf steel and 50 Blazer Brass case which it ate reliably. I then proceeded to EDC the pistol over the next month shooting another 150 rounds through it. Towards the end of the review, I put the gun through a 400-round nonstop burndown to test reliability using a mix of Herters 115 gr and Magtech 124 gr ammo. Wilson Combat recommends a quick clean of the slide/frame rail area, barrel exterior and chamber as well as lubing the barrel hood every 300 rounds but I wanted to see if it would function past that with range ammo. During the test, I had no issues running the range ammo nor a mixed batch of old carry ammo.
During the testing, I grouped multiple types of ammunition at 25 yards. Wilson Combat guarantees the pistol to be capable of 1.5-inch groups at 25 yards. In my testing, I found this to be true with every type of carry ammunition I fired off a rest grouping at least 1.5 inches with my best group being with the Wilson branded hollow points and the Speer Gold Dot 124 gr both grouping under an inch. With basic range ammo it also performed extremely well grouping under 2 inches with every type I tested including but not limited to Herters, Magtech, Winchester and Blazer.
Considering the price Wilson charges for this pistol, I expected extreme comfort, accuracy and reliability especially since it has been marketed as a carry pistol. The SFX9 is contoured and designed from the ground up with comfort in mind. The grip texture is just aggressive enough to be grippy without becoming uncomfortable while carrying. To test this, I took the SFX9 a Staccato C2 as well as a SIG P365 on a 3-mile hike through the forests of the pacific northwest. All pistols were carried appendix with the C2 and the SFX9 being carried in a LAS concealment holster and the P365 in a SIG branded appendix holster.
The SFX9 was notably more comfortable to carry than the C2. The grip on the C2 while great for shooting with wet and sweaty hands, becomes uncomfortable much faster than the SFX9s diamond-like texture. The bottom of the grip of the SFX9 is also rounded off much more than the C2 meaning it doesn’t dig into my gut nearly as badly. The P365 is much smaller in overall package size than the SFX9 but despite that, I found the 2 near identical as far as comfort carry is concerned. Weight-wise, the C2 is 1.2 ounces lighter than the SFX but in testing it was not enough to make a noticeable difference while carrying in a good holster with a solid belt. In everyday use carrying while driving and working the SFX9 was extremely comfortable and never gave me issues doing a variety of tasks. Carrying it you can feel the work that Wilson Combat must have put into designing the pistol from the ground up as a carry pistol. The rounding and beveling on every surface mean that even with the gun rubbing against my stomach all day during work, I never felt any discomfort.
As far as the shooting experience, the SFX9 handles like you would expect a Wilson Combat to with a superb trigger that pulled a consistent 2 lbs 12 ounces on my scale. The pistol comes with a non-ambidextrous safety that is fit perfectly activating and deactivating with ease. Another interesting change Wilson made from the traditional double stack 1911 style designs is the lack of grip safety, which personally I don’t mind as I normally disable the grip safety on almost all of the 2011s I own. Every corner and sharp edge of the SFX9 that makes contact with your hands has been rounded off to make shooting extremely comfortable for extended periods. To save weight, the 3.25-inch barrel has been fluted. The barrel also has a recessed crown to protect the muzzle from damage that might affect accuracy.
Recoil-wise, the gun is manageable. The springs are well-tuned to run everything from hot carry ammo to basic 115 gr ball. I did notice when shooting the C2 and the SFX side by side, that the C2 was a little lighter recoiling and less snappy, however, the SFX was lighter and more agile when transferring between targets. The sights on the SFX9 consist of a red fiber optic front with a blacked-out rear which are my preferred style of carry sights. The front is just fine enough to make accurate shots at medium distances while allowing for fast acquisition when drawing. Doing drills from concealment I had zero issues with quickly acquiring the sights and engaging targets at 15 yards. The only thing I could see being better is if the pistol was cut for optics but that is always something that could be released in the future.
One of the more interesting design choices is that due to the frame length, the pistol will only accept certain models of lights listed below.
- Streamlight TLR-3
- Olight PL Mini 2
- Viridian C5
- Crimson Trace CMR-208
- Viridian X5L
This limits your options for holsters if you run a light in an already extremely limited holster market which is one of the only real complaints I have about the SFX9. I chose to carry this firearm without a light during my testing but on searching, I was only able to find a few companies making solid holsters one of which being Wilson Combat themselves. Realistically, if I were to start carrying this gun, I would probably look for a local maker to make one customized for what I need.
Now onto the elephant in the room – in a market saturated with 400-600 dollar carry guns is there a place for guns like the C2 and SFX9? Well, it really depends on you. In my opinion, these are not for your average Joe, these are for people willing to pay for peak performance from a handgun in both ergonomics accuracy and shootability. These guns don’t perform five times better than a SIG P365XL but they do outperform it in almost every way. At a certain point, you start getting into diminishing returns with handguns as far as performance goes where the price starts skyrocketing in the same way you do with cars. If you have the money and can justify spending it, the SFX9 is one of the highest performing carry guns you can buy and certainly won’t disappoint.