Steyr M40-A1, Steyr Arms, Steyr, semi-auto handgun

Steyr M40-A1

What’s this? An Austrian-made, semi-automatic, striker-fired, double-action-only, polymer-framed pistol with a paddle safety on the trigger face?

By Ed Friedman (RSS)
January 13, 2011

Bah! I care not for your Glock, says the 1911 snob. Yippee! A brand-new Glock, says the Glock fanboy. Both are wrong. This handgun includes all the aforementioned traits, and is imported by a wholly owned subsidiary of an Austrian company located in the American South, but it is no Glock. Rather, it is from that other Austrian gun maker known more for its rifles—Steyr—and it boasts some features sure to please Glock fans and critics alike. (More images of the Steyr M40-A1)

The Steyr M-series was formally introduced in 1999 with the launch of the M9, a 9 mm pistol using the Browning-designed short-recoil operating system. Versions chambered in .40 S&W and .357 SIG followed. In 2004, the M-series received an upgrade that included a redesigned grip and a rail section along the dustcover for mounting accessories. Despite the M-series being well received internationally—including contract awards for Malaysian, Pakistani and Taiwanese police and military forces—Steyr ceased exporting the pistols to the United States in 2009, not because they were unpopular, but because unfavorable exchange rates made selling them at competitive prices impossible. Thankfully, in late summer 2010, exports resumed, and the gun is again available to American consumers. Steyr made a small improvement to the 2010 version, with a roll pin through the slide above the firing pin to smooth out trigger pull, addressing a minor complaint with the 2004 upgrade.


Though it is hopeless to avoid comparisons to the Glock, the M40-A1 is truly its own gun, with only passing resemblance to its co-national icon. The most recognizable difference is found in the grip, which has a pronounced cutout for thumb webbing and is set at a 111-degree angle as opposed to the Glock’s 109-degree grip-to-frame angle. That small difference in angle is not what makes the Steyr’s grip an improvement over the much-maligned (by Glock-haters) Glock grip—the smaller palm swell is the real bonus. Combined with the cutout, the M40-A1’s grip proved more comfortable in my diminutive hands.

One area where the Steyr pistol might have a leg up on all competitors is its sights. The low-profile sighting system combines a triangular front sight with a trapezoidal rear notch, drawing your eyes to the front sight and making fast aiming a cinch. It took no time at all to learn this innovative sight combination. What’s more, the sights’ low profile is further enhanced by the M40-A1’s low-profile slide upon which they are mounted, making the pistol ideal for concealed carry. The geometry also results in a low bore-axis, making the gun point very naturally.

Apart from its Austrian parent, the M-series has also been compared to the Glock primarily because of its trigger-paddle safety, which prevents enough rearward movement to make it nearly impossible to fire without intentionally pulling the trigger. It’s true—both the M-series and Glock pistols share this feature, but apart from automatic, internal firing-pin-block and drop safeties, the M40-A1 includes a key-lock safety most shooters will never use. That’s because you need to keep the key handy if you wish to fire the pistol, and that makes the pistol far from easy to deploy. But, a manual safety is present for those who demand such a feature.

Steye M40-A1, handgun sight, pistol sight,

The author found the sight configuration superlative. The rear sight works well in conjunction with the front sight's diamond shape, making sight acquisition fast and sure.

Disassembly is incredibly simple, besting most other designs in terms of ease. After removing the magazine, clearing the chamber and pointing the gun in a safe direction, pull the trigger to decock the pistol. Then, press in on the key-lock safety mechanism while pivoting the disassembly lever down. The slide can now be taken off the frame, allowing removal of the recoil spring and barrel for cleaning. Reattaching the slide is even easier, as the disassembly lever will automatically return to the closed position when the slide is retracted.

Two, 12-round steel magazines are shipped with the M40-A1, which is good because you’ll be sending plenty of rounds downrange thanks to the overall comfort of this well-designed handgun. Recoil from the .40 S&W, normally sharp and unpleasant, is mitigated thanks in large part to the cutout at the top of the grip. It forces a high handhold, which is better both for accurate shot placement and for absorbing felt-recoil.

On the range, the M40-A1 proved accurate and reliable, digesting all three tested loads without a glitch and providing an overall group average of 2.5 inches. I can’t praise the sights enough; they simply work—well, fast and easily. A tritium insert in the front sight would be a welcome addition, but for shooting with adequate ambient light, these sights are phenomenal. I would love to see Steyr rid the M-series of the pesky key safety, but since the lock doubles as part of the takedown system and you can simply choose not to use the key, it is neither a cosmetic blemish nor a calamitous bug.

Simply put, the M40-A1 is a comfortable pistol that has a variety of concealed-carry-friendly features. For those looking for less weight in a carry gun, Steyr offers its S40, which is about 3.2 ounces lighter than the M40-A1’s 1.7 pounds, but considering the .40 S&W chambering, I’ll stick with the heavier pistol. So, Glock enthusiasts and 1911 aficionados, have we found the pistol to settle your quarrels? Probably not, but the Steyr M40-A1 is an excellent handgun in its own right.


Manufacturer: Steyr Mannlicher
Importer: Steyr Arms; (205) 655-8299,
Action Type: Short-recoil-operated,
Caliber: .40 S&W
Capacity: 12+1
Frame: Reinforced-polymer
Slide: 6.75 inches; Mannox-coated milled steel
Barrel: 4 inches; cold-hammer-forged steel
Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:16-inch RH twist
Sights: Triangular front post, trapezoidal
rear notch; adjustable for windage
Trigger Pull Weight: 5 pounds, 9 ounces
Length: 7.2 inches
Width: 1.2 inches
Height: 5.1 inches
Weight: 27.2 ounces
Accessories: Hard case, manual, two
12-round magazines, two safety keys
MSRP: $649

Shooting Results
(Load tested, followed by velocity, smallest group produced, largest and group average)

Hornady TAP 180-grain FPD, 924, 2.1, 3.2, 2.7
Speer GoldDot 165-grain GDHP, 1,122, 2.0, 3.4, 2.6
Winchester Bonded PDX1 165-grain JHP, 1,156, 1.7, 2.7, 2.2

Velocity measured in fps at the muzzle for 10 consecutive shots with an Oehler Model 43 chronograph. Temperature: 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Accuracy measured in inches for five consecutive, five-shot groups from a Caldwell Handgun Rest at 25 yards.

Tags: , , ,


15 Responses to Steyr M40-A1

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Steyr M40-A1 | Shooting Illustrated --

  2. Pingback: SayUncle » Steyr M40 A-1

  3. Gunnutmegger says:

    Damn, I just did an article about Steyr’s handguns.

    You been peeking at my to-do list?

  4. Stolen Forever says:

    Great review. I bought my M40-A1 in 2008 and haven’t found a handgun I like better. Personally I really don’t like Glocks, not to say they’re not good guns.

  5. Jay says:

    I have owned my M40-A1 since 2008 and have never regreted the purchase. I have owned and fired many pistols over many years and my Steyr is still my favorite. The inovative design and functions are great.

  6. Teej says:

    I have the original M40 (no A1 designation) and have always been uneasy at the lack of manual safety. Once a round is chambered It appears there is no way to uncock the pistol short of unloading it and dry firing.

    The manual safety on my Beretta 9mm will uncock the weapon when the safety is engaged. Since it has a hammer I can leave the safety on when carrying with a round in the chamber as it is but a small motion to release the safety and cock the hammer. It does take a valuable second to do so but I felt it was worth the extra protection from accidental discharge.

    I don’t carry the M40 as I have never felt comfortable with only having the trigger safety.

    I am wondering if I am being overly cautious. Do you folks think the trigger safety by itself makes the pistol safe for concealed carry.

    I would appreciate any advice/experience you can offer.

    • shawn says:

      i have been a glock owner for 15 years or so. your comment about being uneasy at the lack of manual safety. as a police officer and trainer and swat member. i have always explained the glock to new users like this. if you have a revolver in any caliber, once you put the rounds in the cylinder and close it, it is ready to fire. there is no manual safety, it is just like the glock or the steyr. the safety for these and all guns is to keep you finger off the trigger. no firearm can fire without pulling the trigger. as for your concern about the trigger safety makes a good conceal gun, it is. think of this. if your were to be mugged and had to use your handgun for self defense, would you want to have to think about releasing a safety button before you can fire or would you rather pull and shoot? those 2 or 3 seconds it takes to release a safety could mean life or death. the trigger safety is an awesome idea. i am not familiar with the steyr trigger but i now the glock trigger is very reliable. i have carried a glock for duty and off duty and have never had any problems. the key to it or any other firearm is to be very familiar with it, know how it works and spend time with it sending rounds down range. i hope this helps with your concerns .

      • Sun says:

        FFL sold me a $400 paper weight. A Styer M40. Claimed it was a copolymer [(]fancy name for plastic[)] handgun, intact just like a Glock but better with new advancements and triangular sights. Well the sights were triangular looked cool at first but ñot very practical as it took up most of the targets sight picture. Honestly how do you practice your aim with a huge triangle at 30 yards? Its better off being shot gangsta style without aiming at all. So okay, no biggie I figure most people that need to be shot are usually within 20 yards. The internal hammer doesn’t strike the primer always at the center. Most of the time its a little off not by much but enough to cause a malfunction. So 1 jam every 20 rounds not bad right? Wait now its 1 every 10. 1 round every magazine because not only is there a feeding issue but the internal hammer sometimes barely strikes the primer with enough force to set it off. I tried to pawn it you Styers being German made and all and making such wonderful machine guns like the Bull Pup. Not a single pawn shop would take it. I tried giving it away.

        • Guns says:

          Replace the striker and/ or spring or have this done by a competent gunsmith. Guns, like cars, are made mostly in factories and every once in a while they come off the line with a defect. Fix it, don’t throw it away!

        • Jared says:

          It sounds like you are limp wrist shooting and are clueless how to even aim a handgun. Do some learning before showing off your ignorance.

    • rebart says:

      You would really be uneasy with a revolver, then. Try thinking of it as a revolver. The Beretta is no carry gun.

    • Frank Woolsey says:

      You are right to feel uncomfortable
      You might as well carry a 1911 cocked with no saftey.
      Steyr had it right when they added the drop saftey in the trigger gaurd.

  7. Pingback: Steyr Arms Announces Big Savings on Its Pistol Line | Shooting Illustrated

  8. rebart says:

    I first saw this gun at this site:
    I fell in love with it. I love those triangular sights, and I need a .40, so………..

  9. Oregon Mike says:

    Got one. GREAT pistol. Best I have ever shot. Get one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>