Many people will tell you that an inexpensive carry gun is not worth having. After spending a few weeks with the new Skyy CPX-1, I have to disagree. This well equipped, compact 9mm has a suggested retail of $339, and street prices well under $300! Some will dismiss this gun as a serious self-defense tool merely because of the price. That would be a mistake.
The CPX-1 is the first firearm offered by Skyy Industries. While the gun may bear some resemblance to other guns on the market, Skyy is plowing a lot of new ground with this gun, and all at a price that can’t be beaten. The CPX-1 is only offered in 9mm, and it comes in both all black and a two-tone finish with a silver colored slide assembly. Both models have black polymer frames with stainless steel slides. The color difference is merely a function of the coating applied to the stainless steel.
The CPX-1 is very compact and nearly identical in size to a Kel-Tec P-11. This is a good size for a concealed carry piece-large enough to shoot well, but small enough to carry easily. This gun would work in a large, baggy pocket, but it will probably be carried on a belt by most people. The gun is a true, double-action-only (DAO) with repeat strike capability. The gun has a concealed hammer, as opposed to the striker type action seen in many modern DAO guns. The magazines hold 9 rounds, so with one in the chamber, you can carry a full complement of 10 rounds. Make them standard pressure rounds though, because Skyy does not recommend the use of +P ammo. The magazines come equipped with a finger hook base plate (standard). The magazines are proprietary and don’t work with any other existing guns. Spare magazines are available from the factory for a reasonable $24.95 each. The sights are very visible, with bright white dots on the front and rear to aid in acquiring a quick sight picture.
All in all, this gun has a strong feeling of quality. It is hard to believe this is a $300 gun when you hold it in your hand. From the fit to the finish this feels like a much more expensive gun. The feeling of quality is further enhanced by the high quality packaging, including a well-written instruction manual, an actual trigger lock (instead of the generic cable lock we see from most companies these days), and two magazines with finger extensions. Every company selling a semi-auto should ship their guns with two magazines, and I applaud Skyy for not cutting corners here.
It should go without saying that compact 9mm handguns like the CPX-1 are not plinkers or target guns. They are designed to be carried a lot and shot a little. With that being said, this Skyy compact is reasonably comfortable to shoot. I have large hands and I find that the finger grooves do not fit my fingers well, but I have not yet found finger groves on a firearm that do. Even with the mag extension, I could not get three fingers on the grip, and my pinky would have to wrap underneath the mag bottom. If you have smaller hands, you may well manage a full, three finger grip.
Recoil using standard pressure, 9mm rounds is quite manageable. The gun’s grip surfaces are smooth and well-finished, and the "beavertail" design of the grip prevents any slide bite. My only complaint with the design is that the rear corner of the "beavertail" shape digs into my hand at the base of my thumb on recoil, which gets uncomfortable after shooting a few magazines.
The accuracy of the CPX-1 is more than adequate for defensive purposes, and it exceeded my expectations. At 25 yards, I was able to keep all shots well within a standard silhouette target. At 7 yards, which is more realistic for combat, I could put all ten rounds into one ragged hole. The sights are large and visible, and the only real handicap to shooting this gun well is mastering the heavy, but reasonably smooth, trigger. The trigger pull is long, but it has very little stacking and a crisp release. This trigger compares well to other guns in this category. The relatively wide trigger surface acts like a trigger shoe, and it makes the pull much easier and more comfortable, although it is still quite heavy at nine pounds. Those accustomed to a DAO semi-auto or double-action revolver trigger should have no problems mastering this one.
The most unusual feature on this gun may be the presence of a safety lever, which is an unusual feature for a DAO gun. Skyy chose to include this feature based upon market research. The safety lever is ambidextrous and is pressed down with the thumb to fire in a reasonably natural manner. On the other hand, putting the safety back to the "safe" position is not as natural and requires some shifting of your grip or perhaps the use of the weak hand. While I would prefer not to have a manual safety on a gun of this kind, I was largely able to ignore it. I experienced one occasion in which my thumb accidentally engaged the safety on recoil. I blame this on my large hands and my poor grip on the gun because it was late in the shooting session that day, and I was frankly getting tired. Nonetheless, this potential is something you want to be aware of if you carry this gun. Skyy has plans to offer a version of the CPX-1 without a manual safety in the future, but it is uncertain exactly when that will happen. The rest of the controls on the gun are very standard and easy to operate, including an over-sized slide release that is easy to reach with the strong hand thumb. The magazine release is located in the traditional position, at the base of the trigger guard. The CPX-1’s slide locks back on an empty magazine, as it should on a defensive handgun.
All in all, my shooting impressions of the Skyy were very favorable. The gun functioned flawlessly with a variety of 9mm ammunition. I did not experience any stoppages of any kind in approximately 500 rounds of testing. Early CPX-1 users reported some difficulty feeding the very commonly used Winchester "White Box" ammo, but the factory addressed these issues by loosening up some of the tolerances to ensure more reliable feeding of a variety of ammunition. I am happy to report that the changes were a success, because I shot several hundred rounds of Win White Box without a hiccup.
The only problem I experienced with the Skyy was the loss of the white dot on the front sight post after about 300 rounds. At some point, I realized that the dot was gone. Of course, the front sight post remained and the gun was still fully functional, merely requiring a standard sight picture, as opposed to aligning the three dots. A call to Skyy confirmed that this was a rarely reported occurrence, but covered under warranty.
Once I had established the Skyy’s reliability, I carried the gun in my daily travels. This gun rides well in a belt holster and it is perfectly suited to either inside-the-waistband or outside-the-waistband carry. A few holster makers are already set up for the Skyy line, and leather will be getting easier to find as the gun increases in popularity. The leather holster shown is a Cheyenne Defender from K&D Holsters.
The Skyy CPX-1 is a very functional, well-designed, and well-built firearm. The Skyy product is not in the class of a Sig Sauer or Heckler & Koch, but it is not meant to be. The CPX-1 is an exceptional value in a defensive firearm. The gun is further backed by a generous factory, lifetime warranty described by the factory as "anyone…anywhere…anytime." You can’t ask for any more than that. The CPX-1 is a worthy defensive handgun from an up-and-coming manufacturer, and you actually get more than you pay for. It is worthy of your consideration.
Thanks to our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association. To get their e-newsletter Armed American click here.