Backpack PDW Project - Grandpower Stribog

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A while ago, as I sometimes do, I was looking around on the internet at guns and accessories that I don’t need. I had found some pretty cool Glock chassis systems that really caught my eye and for a while I thought heavily about building one out (a temptation which has been tabled but not necessarily canceled). For a while I was even considering having my Gen 5 Glock 19 registered as an SBR.

Ultimately, though I decided that for everything involved, it didn’t make sense to try to re-configure my Glock when a dedicated gun system could fit the role for a similar price. After looking at many options on the market, I settled on the Grand Power Stribog SP9A1.

(Visit Global Ordnance, Importer of the Stribog, and see the gun for sale here)

Before we get too much into the gun, let’s look at the parameters of the project.

Project Goals

I decided that I would look for a firearm system that would meet the following parameters:

  • Able to fit in a fully deployable configuration in a standard backpack, laptop bag, or messenger bag - no assembly or manipulation necessary

  • Increase first-round hit capability

  • Increase stability over a standard handgun - better stabilization, better accuracy at extended ranges, decrease time between accurate hits on target, reduce potential for misses in situations with high potential for collateral damage, increase ability to place shots in small areas as necessary

  • Meet legal definitions for concealed carry under Florida’s Concealed Weapons/Firearms License which allows only handguns to be carried

  • Reliability with ammunition common to my Glock 19 - all common FMJ rounds as well as jacketed hollow points (in my case, Gold Dots or Federal HST)

  • Modularity for peripheral devices, namely laser and flashlight attachments

  • Increase accessible ammunition capacity

  • Ability to deploy from stored capacity as quickly as possible - it will never be as fast as drawing a holstered handgun, but every second added to the draw exponentially decreases the likelihood of being able to respond to immediate situations

In addition, going with a 9mm “sub-gun) provides a number of ancillary advantages

  • Increased velocity from standard 9mm ammunition and increased performance with heavier defensive loads (such as 147 grain JHP ammo)

  • Reduced muzzle flash and noise over a standard handgun

Why?

To begin with, it’s my official opinion (and that of Potts Precision) that every law-abiding citizen has the right to choose a defensive firearm which fits their needs, even if it is non-traditional. The concealed-carry golden standard will always foreseeably be a personal handgun concealed in a holster on the body mid-line, but that idea has its own limitations. Beyond that, I imagine a more capable PDW (personal defense weapon) has immense value in the following situations:

  • Response to an active shooter situation or coordinated attack in a civilian area

  • Easy transport for travel - easy to take on the road and bring to a hotel, for example

  • Evacuations and other emergency situations including “bugout” scenarios

  • Plain-clothes law enforcement and security personnel who need to augment their response capabilities without causing public alarm or garnering attention

What it’s Not

  • A “hero” kit - it’s designed to augment an individual’s ability to respond to an emergency situation, not to run towards fire and be a rescue hero. Even the professionals who have a duty to respond to these situations would do so with dedicated training, a support team, and preferably more effective equipment than a 9mm subgun (if you are one of those professionals though, you may find a firearm like this does allow you to have access to something at least one step up from a traditional handgun)

  • A replacement for an EDC handgun. A defender is already at a disadvantage and it’s hard enough to bridge the gap drawing a holstered pistol - forget trying to pull a gun out of your backpack and get the drop on a mugger.

  • A chance to flex your fire-power. The debate on open-carrying guns, and long guns in particular, is contentious enough and not for here. This was project is built around discretion and concealment - not for vanity or intimidation.

The Gun - Grandpower Stribog SP9A1

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The last few years have been great for enthusiasts of pistol-caliber carbines (PCCs) and “subguns” - a common phrase essentially denoting a semi-automatic version of the submachine gun concept.

I have tried a couple others and been disappointed. As a huge CZ fan, I wanted to love the CZ scorpion but I really couldn’t. My only experience with the Sig Sauer MPX was plagued with ejection issues and several failures to go fully into battery (I have always disagreed with the necessity of a gas-operated compact PCC). I spent some time working as an armorer at Kalashnikov USA and I’m a big fan of the KP-9/KR-9 (especially in full-auto), but a couple things steered me away from it; the price was higher than the range I was looking at, the profile was less than ideal for a backpack gun (lots of protrusions including a long factory magazine), and no current options for telescoping PDW-type pistol braces.

B&T has a couple of great guns that were strongly considered for the project and I still believe would fit the role very well - but at somewhere around triple the price of the Stribog.

The more I researched the Grand Power, the more it made sense. The price is highly competitive in the market - I got my Stribog with 4 30-round magazines and a Holosun HS403C optic for right around the $800 mark.

For the price, I am really impressed with the gun itself. All of the necessary controls are ambidextrous, and as a switch-hitter (cross-dominant shooter) that was very important to me. The stribog has a really simple yet reliable bolt hold (with last-round bolt hold open) and bolt release which is accessible from either side of the gun. The controls, in particular the ambidextrous safety, are immediately familiar to anybody familiar with an AR-15 or M4.

Speaking of the AR-15, the Stribog is hammer-fired and has a fire control group very similar to an AR-15. I haven’t put it on a trigger gauge, but the Stribog has a great trigger that I would estimate at around 5-6 lbs. with short travel, clean break, and a short, positive reset.

Field-stripping is very simple and the charging handle swaps in seconds from one side to the other. Early Stribog models had a reciprocating charging handle which caused issues with some shooters - I bought the Gen 2 model which has a non-reciprocating charging handle, a major improvement.

The aluminum upper receiver has a full-length Picatinny rail along the top and a relatively short section along the bottom. The upper rail comes with integrated back-up sights which are adequate but not ideal. The rear peep aperture would be very suitable on a sporting rifle but on a handgun which will be held away from the body, it takes too long to find and maintain a good sight picture. Nonetheless, I am always a fan of redundant sighting systems. One nice feature of the Stribog sights is that they are functional when folded down on the rail - they present a very simple blade and notch sight picture.

The Stribog does use proprietary magazines, which some users see as a downside. I tend to avoid proprietary magazines myself, but I really like the Stribog magazines. They’re available currently from my partners at Gun Mag Warehouse - 10, 20 and 30 round magazines are all the same price, under $25 at time of writing, which reduces the cost to set up an inventory compared to some of the more expensive manufacturers. Personally, I find the 20 round magazines to be the sweet spot - 30 round mags extend a little too far for this project and tend to create a snag during the draw, while 10 round magazines don’t really add anything and I find them difficult to load to capacity (still an option for people in ban states though).

Accessories

I purchased a package on Gunbroker from Gun Pro Deals which included a Holosun HS403C red dot. I wanted to like this optic, and it’s doing its job so far, but I think I will end up replacing it. The 2 MOA dot is a little slow to pick up and I find it washes out easily against any kind of targets. I’ll probably end up putting it on another gun or selling it altogether. In the meantime, I think a holographic sight is going to be the way to go and I’m currently evaluating a couple different options.

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Going to the gun store to do a transfer, I asked on impulse if they had any “poor man PEQ-15s” and I was presented with a now-discontinued option - the Laser Lyte Center Mass laser. This is a zeroable green laser which mounts to a picatinny interface. It has a really neat duel-display feature that I really like. By slipping a diffuser over the lens, the single point laser becomes one dot surrounded by 8 dots in a circular configuration. This is very similar to the effect of a circle-dot reflex sight which makes a quick sight picture very easy to achieve. As I understand, this was designed to be used in conjunction with shotguns and I see it making a lot of sense in that role to indicate dispersion of buckshot. In my testing, it works very well out to about 25 yards, which is kind of the sweet spot for this project anyways. Any further beyond that and the pattern does grow a little too large to really be advantageous, although it still displays the center dot in this mode.

It would make perfect sense to put a telescoping stock on this gun and a suppressor (using the factory 1/2X28 threaded barrel) but both would run afoul of Florida law for concealed carry. However, down the road, I definitely could see myself replacing the factory thread protector with a quick detach tri-lug mount so I can quickly suppress it for range use.

The Tailhook Brace

The brace gets its own section because I believe it’s essential to building out this gun to its full potential. It’s no secret that a number of approved “pistol braces” are in essence poor replacements for rifle stocks meant to create a quasi-SBR without the registration.

After receiving the bare Stribog pistol, I knew that it was missing something that would really solidify its capabilities. The Stribog itself does balance really well in two hands. Putting a sling on it and using a push-forward method of stabilization would work very well and I considered getting a back-plate with a Picatinny attachment just to facilitate this, but I’m glad I went one step further.

The mount used is one produced by Safety Harbor Firearms. It’s a very rugged anodized aluminum mount with a robust locking system and easy push-button unlock to extend the brace. There is almost no slop or play - there is a very small amount of flex in the fully extended position, but that’s to be expected.

Fully extended and open

Fully extended and open

The Tailhook installs very easily and adds many dimensions to shooting the pistol. The brace features a “hook” which can be unlocked to create a 90-degree support for the shooting hand. It’s hard to explain until you’ve shot one, but this truly does stabilize the gun when firing with a traditional two-handed pistol grip. By contacting the arm at the rear, it effectively counter-balances the weight of the muzzle and presents a very stable sight picture without the dipping or wandering common in this type of pistol. However, I do find it difficult to shoot with the support hand-forward in this position - the brace tends to force a canted position on the gun when doing so.

Perhaps by design, the brace really is not best used as a “stock” in the way that rifle shooters are used to. It does not present a large cross-section of support on the shoulder. Even if you manage to get a good shoulder hold, it’s very difficult to get a good sight picture on a low-pro optic such as the one mounted. However, this highlights another capability of the mount for the shooter willing to adapt.

By extending the mount and canting the gun, similar to a Central Axis Re-Lock style of shooting, the “arms” of the brace become an exceptional cheek rest. This creates a great offset on the gun to line up the red dot optic with the eye naturally and get a full two-eye-open shooting picture. This is generally how I opt to take longer shots.

Shooting

At the time of this writing, I don’t have a ton of rounds through the Stribog yet - in the range of 100 to 150 - which I put downrange to verify function and confirm a couple assumptions about the ability to use the gun.

I mounted the red dot on the rail and co-witnessed with the flip-up iron sights. Putting a target out at 20 yards and firing a 5 round group, the optic was dead on for windage and about 2 inches low on elevation. Considering the sight-height offset, this immediately puts it in a usable hold before I even adjusted the optic.

The laser was a little further off - shots hitting about 4-6 inches low of point of aim but still very close for windage. This is to be expected considering it has a greater offset from the bore than the red dot. Although more refinement will be necessary, I think I’ll be moving the laser from the bottom of the gun to one of the side of positions so I’ve held off for the time being.

Shooting the Stribog is exceptionally easy. The controls are very intuitive and easy to use. Magazines insert and chamber very easily. Recoil is minimal, as would be expected, but also has a very smooth cycle opposed to some blowback 9mm guns which can present a surprisingly “sharp” impulse. The trigger is perfect for the intended use, heavy enough to require a very deliberate process, but smooth and clean enough that I never had to think about staging or controlling it as I have with some competitors.

I ran out of time to do much more shooting, but not before I emptied some old Federal HST rounds through it. These were rounds that I had pulled from my carry rotation as is recommended to do once in a while to prevent bullet set-back and other issues. There was not a single bit of hesitation in functioning with the JHPs, which would have pretty much been an immediate disqualifier in my mind. Of course, testing will continue in this regard but everything so far is very encouraging and I quickly am finding this to be one of my favorite new gun purchases.

If you’re interested in keeping up with the project, keep up with the website and consider joining the mailing list for updates. Also check out the YouTube channel linked in the video and subscribe - you’ll get updated for further tests and every subscriber really does help the channel and the website.

What do you think about this gun? Thinking about buying one of your own? Have an experience to share? Let me know in the comments below!