Gun Review: Sphinx SDP Compact Alpha

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I don’t shoot pistols as much as I should. Sure, I carry one for self defense and have quite a few, but my range trips are almost always centered around long guns. To me pistols exist simply because a rifle would be too large or impractical to haul around town and into the shops. After all, wiser men that me have declared that a pistol is a tool to fight your way to a rifle and I have always understood and take into account the limitations of handguns. That said, since a pistol is your only option (for all intents and purposes) to carry around practically and concealed you should definitely choose one that you shoot well and know your way around. Many people have been carrying compact CZ-75 variants for a long time, and the Ferrari of them may well be the Swiss made Sphinx SDP Compact Alpha. The Sphinx borrows very heavily from the CZ-75 but has several bonus features including three changeable grips, excellent sights, incredibly tight tolerances, and a remarkable trigger. Everything comes together in nearly perfect harmony and provides a unique shooting experience that is meant to be savored.

To put the pistol to the test, my friend Patrick and I went to the range with the Sphinx. Patrick was recently involved in an accident and had a major operation on his wrist (that included screws into the area) but insisted that he could still fire a pistol. We headed to an indoor range with about 250 rounds of 9mm that included hollow points, steel cased Wolf, brass cased stuff, and various bullet weights.

We set the target out at about 10 yards and got to it. Patrick drilled the target well despite his injury (thank goodness his dominant hand was not damaged):

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The target got carved up pretty badly:

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All in all I thought Patrick did well for having so little support with his left hand.

However after that it was my turn to give the Sphinx a whirl. I set up a new target and took aim:

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The gun handles recoil well and I genuinely enjoyed shooting this pistol:

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As I mentioned, I do not shoot handguns often so I was very surprised that the gun produced this group:

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I was very happy to have landed all shots in the 9 ring with a pistol touted as “compact”. I generally dismiss compacts as carry pistols rather than plinkers or match guns, but this thing can shoot.

Taking the gun apart for cleaning is also very simple, and is like any other CZ-75 variant or Hi-Power:

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Now for the bullet points:

The Good:

  • Accurate
  • Ate 250 rounds of various ammo without a hitch
  • Easy to clean/disassemble
  • Extremely good trigger in single action
  • Changeable backstrap
  • Excellent sights
  • Small enough to be carried

The Bad:

  • A bit heavier than other options
  • Double action pull is very tough

The Ugly:

  • MSRP of $1,295

So the gun is expensive and it performs very well but at a high price point. $1,295 is a lot of money for any firearm, much less a handgun, so anyone could be forgiven for overlooking this pistol as a result. That said, I enjoyed the hell out of shooting it.

Update: I have been looking around, it it looks like these can be had for under $1,000 making this a very good gun for the money. Still priced like a premium pistol, but it is a premium pistol!



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Zachary marrs

    Ouch! $1295!
    Damn, at that point id rather get an h&k, or a real nice cz

    • hod0r

      You get what you pay for.

      • Zachary marrs

        Should you have to use it, you’ll be sorry that you’re now out 1295

        • hod0r

          Get a pawned hi point if that’s your main concern.

      • G0rdon_Fr33man

        You truly get what you pay for. Normally I┬┤d say “leave it to the Germans”, but when opportunity arises, I say “leave it to the Swiss”. Perfectionism, nothing less…

        • Zachary marrs

          Not necessarily, I spent 400$ on a Henry ar7, and 250$ on a 10/22 takedown, but thee Henry is a pos even though I spent more on it.
          Same thing with handguns. My buddy got one of those styer m9’s and a glock 19.
          He still has the glock

      • percynjpn

        Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.

    • dp

      How much goes CZ for? Around 450.-?

      • J.T.

        $500+, probably closer to $550 for a standard 75B. $600 for the P-01 which is similar the the Sphinx SDP. The polymer guns and the 75 Omega can be found for under $500 though. CZs were dirt cheap until a few years ago but demand has gone up and the prices followed.

    • Andy

      Hell, you can get a CZ SP01 Shadow for that price. Granted it’s a far different purpose, but still.

      Does the Sphinx offer any advantage over a compact SP01 or 75b? It seems like it’s difficult to justify paying twice the price of the gun it copies.

  • Ross

    The quality on these guns is compared to a swiss watch

  • Lance

    Better option get a GLOCK 19. More reliable easier to get accessories and parts more accurate and ALOT cheaper.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      You are comparing apples and oranges here. If you wanna learn proper marksmanship with pistols, I say steer away from Glocks and invest in match grade equipment. Sphinx is alway a winner. Sig Sauer P210 or X-Six as well…

      Please don┬┤t wine because you can┬┤t afford it…

      • Zachary marrs

        This is a compact pistol. Last time I checked, most accuracy shooters dont use guns meant for cc

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          Granted, but still… same principles applies.

          You do know, in Europe there are special tournaments for compact pistols right? You do know that handgun competitions are very popular over here in general, right?

    • I have trouble concealing combat legos with my tall and slim frame without printing, but if you can then more power to you.

    • Andy

      I can assure you that a CZ75-based gun will be more accurate than a Glock (discounting those ultra-cheap clones, of course).

      Even so, I do think the Sphinx is overpriced.

    • john huscio

      Crapfest ergonomics destroyed any interest I had in ever carrying/shooting blocks on a regular basis…..

  • echelon

    The accuracy is inherent to the CZ-75 design. Take the money and get 3 or 4 nice CZ clones…or one clone and a whole bunch of ammo and extra mags…

    • Marc

      And of what use are more, lesser guns? Buy once, cry once.

      • echelon

        I believe “buy once, cry once” to be a myth. Man made products break. Products with the most stellar quality records still break. Companies get you to pay a premium on that reputation that their stuff is better. That’s fine.

        In my personal experience I’ve had very high end guns fail and I’ve had “crap” guns run and run and run. But I’ve also had the opposite be true.

        I have a Turkish Canik 55 CZ clone that runs and runs and runs. I like it better than my actual CZ. It cost $300. The CZ was $700. I don’t consider the Canik a “lesser gun”. I get the same or maybe more use out of it than the CZ. So knowing that why would I want to spend even more on a sphinx?

        I would say the same thing for high end 1911s and such…I have $400 1911s that I’ve never had anything break. I’ve had $1000+ 1911s that needed new barrels, extractors, etc. almost right out of the box…

        And I’m not talking safe queens that have “a couple hundred” rounds through them. I run my guns hard and shoot thousands of rounds through them. Many times they are nasty unjacketed lead handloads that can foul up barrels quickly.

  • James

    Considering that the CZ Custom Pro-Tek is $1550, this is actually priced pretty fairly for a custom shop CZ style pistol.

  • Held one at SHOT few years back and it was very impressive. Definitely not for everyone, but it wasn’t designed to be.

  • dp

    Very good report and pretty good shooting! Speaking of “compact” vs. say “mid-size” or “full size”…. where is the border? Does it go by weight, length, mag capacity…? I have my view, just want to compare with yours. Thanks!

  • Aaron E

    I’ve handled one of these at the last two SHOT Shows and each time I’m impressed with the feel, grip, and smooth action. As good as this pistol is designed, the $1300 price tag will keep me away.

  • Ross

    I remember watching the video about there pistols and silencers from shotshow, pretty sure all there stuff is match grade and hand fitted. They had that new impluse silencer that allowed you to fire the gun without the action cycling so its quieter and no round is ejected. Too rich for my jew bloood

  • justme

    1300…for a tricked out P-07. Ouch.

    Heck my 1st gen P-07 has Meprolight’s and an extended barrel…and a nice 3.25lb.trigger in SA. Even the DA is pretty good. (much much better than my GP-100 LOL) But I got it for about 400 OTD IIRC.

    I would really like to see the differences between these pistols to justify adding 900 dollars to that pricetag.

    • KLP

      The P-07 is more a copy of the Sphinx 3000 than vice versa, but that’s only with regards to the aesthetics. The SDP is based on the 3000 which is based on the CZ-75, but has diverged supposedly in significant ways such that the P-07 and the SDP aren’t comparable anymore.

      Now, if that difference is worth the difference in price I can’t say. I have shot a really nice P-07 but haven’t shot the SDP and can’t imagine the SDP will be 900 dollars better. That said, an SDP is high up on my list. I’ve always wanted Swiss gadgets and these cost less than a Rolex.

    • Jeremy S.

      I just finished comparing a 2014 P-07 to the SPHINX SDP and will be writing a back-to-back ‘shootout’ & technical comparo review soon. This is for a different gun blog and is probably 2 weeks out still.

  • Kovacs Jeno

    Buy one while you can.
    The Sphinx company is near bankrupcy:

    “Die Sphinx System AG aus Matten bei Interlaken, Hersteller der im IPSC
    und bei Beh├Ârden bekannten Sphinx Pistolen, steckt immer noch in gro├čen
    wirtschaftlichen Schwierigkeiten. Wie das DWJ bereits berichtetet (http://www.dwj.de/magazin/aktuell/details/items/sphinx-in-grossen-wirtschaftlichen-schwierigkeiten.html)
    wurde im M├Ąrz die die sogenannte provisorische Nachlassstundung
    verf├╝gt. Bei diesem Verfahren wird vom Gewicht ein Sachwalter
    eingesetzt. Dieser pr├╝ft ob eine Fortf├╝hrung des Betriebes sinnvoll ist,
    sprich ob die wirtschaftliche Schieflage ├╝berwunden werden kann. Dazu
    hat er zun├Ąchst zwei Monate Zeit. Zum Ablauf der ersten Frist im Mai
    wurde diese vom Gericht um zwei Monate bis Juni verl├Ąngert. W├Ąhrend der
    provisorischen Nachlassstundung muss die Sphinx System AG offene
    Rechnungen die vor der Beantragung der Nachlassstundung angefallen sind
    nicht zahlen. W├Ąhrend eines erneuten Gerichtstermins in Thun am 15.7.
    (Ende der verl├Ąngerten vom Gericht verf├╝gten Nachlassstundung) wurde
    einer weitere Verl├Ąngerung der Nachlassstundung um insgesamt 6 Monat bis
    zum 16.01.2015 vom Gericht beschlossen. Zu den Ma├čnahmen die bis dahin
    ergriffen werden, geh├Ârt unter anderem eine Liquidation von Teilen des
    Firmenfuhrparks und des Maschinenparks. ”

    (Sorry, I can not translate the precise legal terms to English.)

    • john huscio

      Another trait they share with HK besides sky high prices….

  • petru sova

    Why is everyone bitching about the price. An HK plastic pistol will cost you this much and the Sphinx is all steel. I do not get the complaining. ON the other hand the groups were pretty sad considering this gun was only shot at 10 yards. I have gotten groups this good at 25 yards with other compact 9mm pistols. I have read other reports that these pistols although very well made are not very accurate. Perhaps Sphinx still had not learned how important barrel lock up is to accuracy. Still I think I would chose this steel gun over any of the plastic trash being made today. This gun feels like a “real pistol” in the hand not like a plastic toy.

  • Chris

    I can’t tell if the bore axis on that gun it low or not – it looks like the slide rides low in the frame (because the slide fits inside, not outside, right?), but the beaver tail looks pretty low vs the height of the barrel. I’ve heard they have pretty good recoil management, but I’m unsure how it would compare to the other pistols I’ve shot like the M&P, PX4, and Xdm.

    Regardless, though, that gun looks beautiful to me. Love the design and look.

  • AnthonyS

    My wife’s firearm of choice is the cz75 p07. It’s worth every penny. Limp wristing is probably the number one problem small females have with pistols leading to FtF or FtE. My wife sometimes has this issue with any other pistol. Take her to the range with 300 rds and a CZ75 and you get a target with nothing in the middle back. I like lots of pistols more than most, but the CZ may be the most user friendly 9 mm ever.