When Mossberg announced its new MC1SC pistol just ahead of SHOT Show 2019, the response was a predictable combination of excitement and skepticism. Some people thought it was awesome the company was finally broadening its horizons beyond long guns; some people felt they should stick to shotguns.
So what’s the reality of the new pistol? Months into testing, I’m here to answer that question. If you’re Mossy-pistol-curious, this is the place for you.
The Brownie: Mossberg’s First and Last Pistol…Until Now
It just so happens 2019 is Mossberg’s centennial anniversary. The company was founded back in 1919 by Oscar Mossberg in a loft space in New Haven, Connecticut. Oscar was the first of several Mossbergs to run the company. There has been a Mossberg at the helm or otherwise involved at a corporate level for four generations.
And, as it happens, the company began with a handgun.
Mossberg’s first gun was a handgun called the Brownie, a little .22-caliber, four-shot pistol that enjoyed respectable popularity while it was in production. It was a double-action pistol with a rotating firing pin and 2.5-inch barrel. The pistol fired .22LR and .22 Short. According to the manufacturer, 32,000 Brownies were sold during the decade.
It didn’t take long for Mossberg to shift its focus to long guns and find its niche well before introducing the market shaking Model 500 pump action shotgun. Production of the Mossberg Brownie ceased in 1932. Today those original Brownies are considered collectors’ items.
Over the years the company had a number of benchmarks such as their post-World War II creation of hinged peep sights and thumb safeties, both features that significantly boosted their popularity.
Then, in 1962, they came out with the Model 500 pump action shotgun, which has gone on to surpass the 10 million production mark. You could say their shotguns are well-liked (full disclosure: my first shotgun was a Mossy and I still have it).
Now, they’re moving to get a toehold in the handgun world. Whether or not they can match their shotgun success is anyone’s guess.
The Mossberg MC1SC
Mossberg designed the MC1SC specifically to be the ultimate concealed carry gun. That means it’s slim, dehorned, and lightweight, among other things. The MC1SC—I assume that stands for Mossberg Company’s 1st Sub-Compact—weighs in at 22 ounces, loaded, so it is certainly light.
It’s chambered in 9mm and has a capacity of 6 +1 or 7 +1 depending on the magazine you use. The frame is polymer and the slide is stainless steel with a Diamond Like Carbon Coating (DLC) for durability.
Features and Controls
The pistol has a host of features worth mentioning, so we’ll dive into the details for a minute.
To help enhance the gun’s snag-free promise, Mossberg ships it with dovetailed white three-dot sights that are adjustable for windage. TRUGLO Tritium sights are also offered as an upgrade.
The 3.4-inch barrel has the same DLC finish the slide does. A flat-face trigger with an integral blade safety is a nice touch as is the slightly enlarged trigger guard.
Then there’s the reversible magazine release, forward-and-rearward slide serrations, and unique-to-Mossberg grip texture. But those things aren’t what’s really interesting about the MC1SC. What’s really interesting is the takedown system they designed.
The Mossberg Safe Takedown System was designed, they say, so gun owners did not need to pull the pistol’s trigger prior to takedown.
How does it work? You literally remove the striker assembly. This is accomplished by dropping the magazine, locking the slide open, and pressing the slide cover plate button to slide down and remove the slide plate.
With the plate off you’ll see the neon orange base of the striker assembly. At that point, carefully pull the slide fully to the rear and allow it to close (slowly).
The striker assembly can then be pulled from the end of the pistol. Once you’ve removed the assembly the slide can be removed in the usual way by sliding it to the front of the pistol and from there you proceed as usual to field-strip and clean. See the process in full in the video above from Mossberg.
There are varied opinions out there about the Safe Takedown System. Whether or not it’s a good thing or a potential failure point after extended use remains to be seen.
Range Time with the MC1SC
I tested two MC1SC pistols for this review. The first one experienced a failure with its trigger pin, an issue I was told was due to an out-of-spec shipment of trigger pins that has since been corrected.
I was just over 100 rounds in when I noticed the trigger pin walking out; tapping it back in only delayed the inevitable: it walking back out again. Knowing this was an issue limited to a small number of first-run pistols, I requested another gun.
Side Note: Review guns are the same pistols you get at your FFL. Writers are not given hand-picked guns (and we should not be). The guns we review are pulled from production and are the exact same guns you’d get. Just thought I’d clear up the common misconception that writers are given special guns. We are not.
Back to the gun.
The second MC1SC I ran was solid out of the box. One of the first things I noticed was that trigger also felt better; suffice to say the out-of-spec trigger pin on the first gun had created some issues.
Since I’m working on a high-round-count torture test of this pistol along with this review, I immediately began running large quantities of ammo through it. Ammunition used so far has included Inceptor 9mm 65 grain ARX frangibles, Blazer 9mm 115 grain FMJ, Remington UMC 9mm 115 grain FMJ, Winchester Super Clean 9mm 90 grain FMJ, and SIG Sauer Elite V-Crown 365 115 grain JHP.
At the time of this writing I’m 500 rounds into the second MC1SC. Those 500 rounds have been a purposeful mix of the aforementioned ammo to get an idea of how well it feeds and how accurate it is across the board.
Accuracy does depend on the ammunition being used to a degree, but that is not unique to the MC1SC, that’s most guns out there.
As for feeding, the pistol made it through the first 500 rounds without any failures, meaning it passed the first benchmark for use as a carry gun. If your pistol can eat 500 rounds—minimum—without failing, and a decent chunk of those are defensive rounds, you’re good to go.
Do not carry a gun you have not tested; 50 rounds is not a test. That isn’t even four magazines for some guns. In fact, 500 is what I’d call A Good Start. Yes, I realize the expense of ammo for such a test, but when it comes to a self defense handgun, you’re life is literally at stake.
With its 3.4-inch barrel, the MC1SC is meant for closer-range use. It isn’t that you can’t hit more distant targets with it, just that it’s significantly more accurate closer in.
Inside 10 yards, Inceptor ARX or Remington FMJ ammo produced single-hole five-shot groups (actually, it nails all seven rounds into one hole).
When I moved out to 15 yards, the groups opened up, but remained under two inches. That’s all shooting offhand; when firing from a bench, my groups remained tight farther out.
My shots stayed mostly within a Birchwood Casey 3-inch reactive target with the occasional flyer when shooting from a bench at 25 yards.
When shooting offhand at 25 yards, those five-shot groups grew to 4-6 inches.
Ergonomics, Feel, and Trigger
Muzzle rise is negligible. Considering this is a lighter-weight 9mm, its felt recoil and muzzle rise really are minimal.
The trigger is a feature I was immediately interested in the first time I saw the gun. It was clear significant thought and work had gone into the MC1SC’s design; that flat-face trigger was just one of many components Mossberg carefully selected for their foray into handguns.
Using my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge and averaging 10 pulls, I found the pistol has a trigger pull weight of 4 lbs., 10 oz.
It’s listed as being approximately 6 lbs. in the specs on the Mossberg website, but at no time did I get a measurement heavier than 5 lbs.
Right out of the box, the trigger is far better than the factory triggers found in its gun world peers. There is some stacking ahead of the break, but the break itself is crisp and reset is relatively short.
Thanks to the flat design of the blade your finger has a broader, better-fitting surface to press. It’s nice to see a better-than-average factory trigger in a sub-$400 defensive-use pistol. The trigger outperforms the price point and then some.
Ergonomics of the pistol are solid. This is a slim single-stack so it’ll be a slightly more awkward fit in larger hands, but it is still a more user-friendly grip than many other CC pistols.
The grip texturing is of Mossberg’s own design and is a wrap-around style with deeper cutouts over the front strap and back strap. It has provided a nice grip, even when my hands have been sweaty from the summer heat.
Also worth noting is the slightly-enlarged, rounded trigger guard. It gives my finger plenty of room even when wearing winter gloves.
My one gripe about the frame design is the placement and protrusion of the magazine release, which is in a prime position to be accidentally pushed during shooting. A good, high thumbs-forward grip mostly negates that risk. My attempts to fire this gun thumbs-down were a fail due to the mag release.
In addition, the slide lock is extremely flush to the frame and stiff, making it difficult to manipulate. Mine hasn’t become easier to use after 500 rounds, but perhaps it will down the road.
Serrations are placed at both the front and back of the slide. They’re aggressively cut, which has pros and cons; you don’t lose your grip racking the slide, but you do notice the wear on your hands after extended range sessions.
Do not rack the slide by grabbing the front of the gun. Wrapping your hand around the ejection port of any gun is a bad idea and can be a safety hazard. Learn to run your slide from the rear.
Why is it a bad idea to wrap your hand around your gun’s ejection port? Because it places your vulnerable flesh over the part of the gun where live ammunition lives. With your hand over the ejection port, you’re opening yourself up to a potentially serious injury. It’s rare but it has happened, so don’t do it. Other drawbacks of using forward slide serrations include angling the muzzle of the gun in your direction instead of away from your body, putting your fingers too close to the muzzle, and interference with your trigger finger. Then there’s the way they can damage holsters and slow down your draw.
If you insist on using forward slide serrations to rack your pistol, do it underhand. That means you have to reach underneath the gun using your support hand. Turn your support hand palm-side up and grip those forward slide serrations as best you can. Rack your slide. Sound awkward? It is, but it keeps your tender bits safe. You’ll find some competitive shooters insisting on the use of forward slide serrations to shave time off loading. That doesn’t make it a good idea. Plus, when you’re carrying a gun for self-defense, you should already have a round chambered.
Again, if you’re going to rack your slide using the forward slide serrations do it underhand not overhand. And keep your hand completely clear of the muzzle (meaning it won’t work at all on little guns) and the ejection port.
The Mossberg MC1SC is a reliable pistol capable of good close-range accuracy. Considering it’s selling for around $349 real world price, I’d have to say it’s well worth the expense.
It out performs its price point and will undoubtedly fulfill the concealed carry needs of many shooters. If you have large hands, it will take some getting used to, but that is true of all smaller pistols.
Aesthetically, it’s an attractive gun—or I think it is, anyway—which is the icing on the gun cake.
The understandable concerns I had regarding the first gun’s trigger pin issue have been put to rest after talking to quite a few other gun writers whose guns have been fine since Mossberg addressed the problem.
Overall, I’d say it’s worth considering the Mossberg MC1SC for your next highly concealable 9mm. If you’re still unsure, hit pause because I’ll be back with a 3,000-round torture test soon. In the meantime, hit the range and run your guns because handgun skills are perishable and trigger time is a must.
Mossberg MC1SC Specs:
Capacity: 7 +1 or 6 +1
Barrel Length: 3.4-inches
Barrel Finish: 416 Stainless Steel w/DLC
Slide Finish: 416 Stainless Steel w/DLC
Overall Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: 19 ounces, empty; 22 ounces, loaded
Safety: Integrated Trigger Blade Safety
Sights: White 3-Dot (tested)
MSRP: $421; with TRUGLO Tritium PRO Sights: $526; with integrated Viridian laser sight: $514