Why the KRISS Sphinx SDP Compact Was Overlooked by the US Military: The KRISS Sphinx SDP Compact lost the competition for the U.S. military’s XM17 Modular Handgun System to replace the Beretta M9. Never heard of Sphinx? You’re not alone. It’s a Swiss gunmaker that outfits some police and special operations forces in Europe. KRISS Sphinx may have known it was an underdog in the trials – going up against SIG Sauer, Glock, CZ, FN, and Smith & Wesson – was going to be a tall order. But why not give it a go? Sphinx and its U.S. subsidiary got its name out there – likely hoping that some American law enforcement agency would put it in their sights for a future contract.
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KRISS is a supplier of submachine guns and carbines. Another KRISS handgun, the Sphinx 3000 pistol, is in use by the Danish and Norwegian special ops personnel, plus Swiss and Belgian police forces. The KRISS Sphinx 3000 is a sidearm that is known for its hybrid metal/polymer frame.
Some Assembly Is Done By Hand
One quality the Sphinx SDP Compact has is that every significant component is “machined from billet and assembled by hand,” according to the manufacturer. KRISS Sphinx lauds their ergonomics and selection of interchangeable backstraps for a grip that can fit different hand sizes. The SDP has a single-action double-action trigger.
Specs Are Competitive
The slide is PVD-coated and serrated. The frame is made of hard-coat anodized aluminum. De-cocking levers are built for righties and lefties. The magazine well is beveled with a reversible magazine release. It features a big trigger guard. The dust cover has a four-slot Picatinny rail for accessories. There is a fixed front sight at the front of the slide with a white dot to acquire a target at night.
The double-stack magazines hold 17 or 15-rounds. The barrel length is 3.7-inches and its overall length is 7.4 inches. Unloaded weight is just over 29 ounces.
Reviews Are Mostly Positive
A review by American Rifleman in May 2021 had this to say:
“Our range day consisted of accuracy testing with Federal’s Syntech training ammunition, as well as a defensive loading from both Speer and HSM. We achieved 100 percent reliability through our 500-round test and found the design to be quite controllable. Most of us thought that the deeply curved trigger bow greatly aided in navigating the pistol’s heavy double-action pull, but it was still just a little too heavy and gritty for most of the evaluators’ tastes.”
That’s some good news and bad news for the Sphinx SDP Compact. Good on reliability; bad on heavy trigger pull. But the review, upon further examination, also had nice things to say about the SDP Compact’s accuracy. Another review by Eagle Gun Range in Texas lauded the SDP’s Compact light recoil -stating that it was half the recoil of a Glock 19.
Only One Pistol Entered in the Competition
It’s not clear if KRISS Sphinx wanted to enter its SDP “Duty” model, instead of the Compact. But the Compact and Duty are the same sizes. That was one aspect of the U.S. military competition that SIG had an advantage in – entering two models in full-size and sub-compact. Sphinx was also likely to come in too expensive. Both the SDP Compact and Duty pistols retail over $1,000.
It was going to be an uphill climb for KRISS Sphinx in the MHS competition. The Americans were likely to go with a more well-known and established brand. The SDP Compact and Duty are still pistols that can shoot well in home defense or in competitions, so maybe the sales strategy for the SDP Compact should be concentrated in the civilian market.
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Now serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.