July 13, 2020
The Great War is coming to a brutal, bloody end, Woodrow Wilson is the President, Prohibition is ratified into law, and Mossberg introduces the Brownie handgun. Priced at $5 ($64.87 adjusted for inflation) the pint-sized pocket pistol is as affordable and simple as it is reliable.
The Brownie is a breech-loading “pepper-pot” style pocket pistol chambered in both .22 short and .22LR. It features four connected barrels milled from a single piece of steel that are accessed by opening the hinged action by releasing a locking latch on the top on the pistol. The trigger mechanism is an internal striker-fired double-action only, which permits the shooter to simply pull the trigger four times to fire all the rounds chambered. Once all the rounds are spent, ejecting the casings is accomplished not by an auto-ejector but with a small ram-rod stored in the frame. Should the shooter misplace their ramrod, any small stick or paperclip longer than its short 2.5 in. barrels could be sufficient to drive out the spent casings. Consisting of only 29 components, the somewhat rudimentary Brownie was incredibly reliable. This is due to its simple design and the fact that almost none of the working components are exposed to carbon or the elements. Produced from 1919 up until 1932, more than 33,000 Brownies were built by Mossberg. This early commercial success helped generate enough revenue to fuel Mossberg’s ventures into shotguns and target rifles.
Mossberg’s reputation for building robust, reliable firearms would continue to grow for the next 99 years, but its product line was absent a traditional handgun until 2019. Marking the 100th anniversary of the Brownie pistol, Mossberg introduced a brand new modernized handgun just prior to SHOT Show 2019.
Enter, the Mossberg MC1sc.
The Mossberg MC1sc is a subcompact, magazine-fed semi-automatic handgun chambered in 9mm Parabellum. Available in both a standard black finish as well as a commemorative high gloss black with gold accents, the little auto-loader arrived as a complete surprise to both the media and consumers last year at SHOT Show 2019.
While the company’s entry into the handgun market in 100 years was unexpected, their choice was far more conservative. Instead of going after the full-sized pistol market, they went after the fastest-growing segment of the handgun market: concealed carry weapons. This makes sense, most gun-owners buy firearms for a specific purpose. The average deer hunter won’t purchase multiple shotguns or rifles per year unless they fit a need that his current firearms do not. Obviously enthusiasts are an exception, they buy guns that are interesting or exciting to them whether or not they serve a practical purpose, but many first-time gun owners purchase a firearm for self-defense or home protection. Plus, every gun-owner who decides to get a concealed carry license (where legally mandated) is going to want a pistol they can easily conceal. Some shooters will adapt their clothing to conceal whatever they already have, but most find it much simpler to buy a new pistol they don’t have to, “dress around.”
Here is the issue though; Mossberg has been out of the handgun market for a century. What was acceptable for self-defense 100 years ago is not sufficient by today’s standards. Also, thanks to the evolution of ammunition design, shooters no longer need big bore rounds to reliably stop would-be aggressors.
Another advantage of modern design philosophies, is that there are dozens of quality options on the market that have vastly less felt recoil than smaller caliber similarly-sized pistols of the past. Meaning, there are fewer straight blowback designs hitting the market, and more locked breech. The former requires either a stiff recoil spring or heavy slide to function with anything more powerful than .32 ACP. A great example is the Walther PPK/s. The iconic German handgun is easy to carry, but due to the stiff spring and heavy slide suffers from two issues.
The first is disproportionate recoil from its .380 Auto cartridge, and the second issue is that the slide is difficult to wrack for inexperienced shooters. These issues make the little gun feel like more of a compromise than a purpose built solution. The same could certainly not be said of the locked-breech Mossberg MC1sc. In fact, Mossberg’s first entry into the concealed carry market in 100 years is arguably one of their most well thought out designs to date. For example, the engineers knew enough about existing designs to not try and reinvent the wheel. Instead of designing an entirely new magazine, they based theirs off the Glock 43 magazine. The design is so close dimensionally, that the MC1 can feed from Glock 43 magazines without issue. This likely is not a coincidence. Not only does it make sense to use a proven design as a basis for the most critical component of reliable handgun operation, it has another benefit to early adopters. Realistically, Glock handguns will be around in one form or another for the next 100 years. If a shooter purchases an MC1, and for whatever reason Mossberg discontinues production of the firearm, they will still be able to find magazines for it. This also means that shooters in search of additional magazines will have affordable aftermarket options as well. This is one of the largest hurdles with buying proprietary designs — cost of ownership. So while Mossberg is renowned for offering affordable guns and accessories, it is still a nice afterthought to ensure buyers can always load up on additional magazines without spending hundreds of dollars. That said, the Glock magazines aren’t 100 percent compatible with the Mossberg. They do feed and function fire, but require a little extra amount of force to lock in place.
This is likely an effect of the magazine’s base plate which is larger than the one on the MC1. Consequently, some of the material must be compacted in order to lock up successfully. That said, 5 minutes of hand file work to the base plate will fix this with no effect whatsoever to functionality, but if shooters wish to stick to OEM components, the gun itself ships with a pair of magazines. The first is a flush-fitting six-round, and seven-round magazine with finger extension. In testing both functioned flawlessly across 300 rounds fired.
Other interesting design features include a rear takedown button that replaces the commonly used trigger pull disassembly method, and an ambidextrous magazine release. The takedown button is an intriguing choice, but one that makes sense for shooter who may be weary of pulling the trigger on a pistol for takedown. To disassemble, the shooter removes the magazine, clears the action, and then locks the slide to the rear. Once locked open, simple push in the button at the back of the slide to disengage the firing pin capture, and slide downward. Once free, the slide can then be released slowly which frees it from the frame and removes the striker assembly.
To swap the magazine release button from right to left handed, the shooter simply needs to slide the release free from the gun after inserting a small screwdriver into the magazine well from the top of a disassembled gun. Using the screwdriver, free the release from its spring, then slide the button free from the frame. Repeat in reverse after turning the button around.
Another great feature of the release is the aggressive texturing applied to it, and the rest of the frame. It’s a proprietary Mossberg pattern that offers increased friction and aids in weapon retention. Though it’s not so grippy that it tears up a shooter’s holster, or impedes drawing from concealment.
It’s an excellent choice on Mossberg’s part, as it makes the weapon much easier to handle if wet or oily. The former of which being very likely should a shooter be gripping the gun tightly during an armed altercation, but the MC1’s smart design features don’t stop there. The MC1 also ships with a set of dovetailed iron sights that bare more than a passing resemblance to those on the SIG 365 handgun. So much so, that the two are interchangeable. This is great news for shooters worried about a potentially limited aftermarket for their Mossberg pistol. More than that, shooters who want to run tritium night sights on their handgun won’t have to pay a smith to modify a set to fit their pistol. They can simply purchase a set for the SIG, and be done with it.
As mentioned previously, the MC1 features dovetailed iron sights. This means they are very easily removed or adjusted for windage with either a sight pusher or a brass punch. Word of caution: when using a punch tape the sight and the punch with painter’s tape to prevent any marring of damage to the finish. Speaking of which, the MC1sc features a titanium nitride matte black finish that offers excellent resistance to corrosion and holster wear. These both being important on a carry gun, as the combination of human body heat, sweat and constant movement can cover many guns in a fine coat of rust.
As for the frame, it’s built from high impact, durable black polymer with steel inserts for added durability. The entire package weighs in at 19 ounces unloaded, making the gun not only concealable, but easy to carry.
Since the gun is a subcompact handgun designed explicitly for concealed carry, the author decided to do a long-term carry test on the MC1. The test consisted of concealed carrying the gun into town in an Uncle Mike’s pocket holster. This is a very simple fabric holster designed to prevent foreign materials entering the trigger guard area and causing an accidental discharge.
The gun was carried while doing normal errands, and also while working on a construction site and at night during some security guard patrols. During all this, the author found the gun comfortable and easily forgettable inside the pocket provided a solid, leather belt was worn with it. Though, this is the case with basically all pocket carry guns — they will pull down the shooter’s pants if not supported with a solid belt.
The second portion of the carry test consisted of the author carrying the pistol both inside the pocket, and inside the waistband during a 10 mile hike in the Appalachian mountains. As a pocket gun, the dehorned design prevented it from making the hike uncomfortable while ascending rocky terrain. While in the waistband, the gun vanished from sight and mind, when used in conjunction with a light jacket like the 5.11 Surplus M65 style jacket. Though a slightly oversized shirt would also suffice. Despite the author incurring a foot injury during the hike, he found the gun very easy to conceal and carry, and forgot about it until returning to his car at the bottom of the mountain. The author was only reminded of it because his seatbelt pushed the pistol’s grip directly into his hip with the full weight of the author’s body. But that appears to be an issue with Honda not making their seatbelts concealed carry friendly, and not with the gun’s design.
However, this review wouldn’t be complete without full accuracy and reliability testing as well as some more subjective ergonomic testing. In terms of reliability, the Mossberg MC1sc encountered no malfunctions of any type across 300 rounds of ammo fired.
This testing was done with four different types of ammunition to ensure that regardless of which ammo a shooter chose, the MC1 would still make a suitable carry option. Speaking of which, of all the ammunition tested, the most consistent round was also the least comfortable to shoot — Hornady’s Critical Duty 135gr FlexLock. Designed to meet FBI standards for terminal ballistics when fired through automotive glass, the FlexLock series of ammo is renowned for its consistent performance. Indeed, Hornady’s FlexLock ammo has been yawn-inducingly reliable and consistent in every platform the author has ever tested it in. That said, the 135gr FlexLock is a somewhat hot loading for 9mm. When paired with a small, lightweight pistol like the MC1, the round can be a little snappy compared to 115gr FMJ. Still, that recoil is very relative. It’s still nowhere near as punishing as a .38 snubnose revolver with full powered ammo, or even a .380 blowback pocket gun firing defensive ammo.
Accuracy was top notch as well, with all rounds being well beyond simply, “acceptably accurate.” In fact, the author was surprised to find he was capable of hitting a human-sized steel silhouette target from MGM Targets at 100 yards with ease. Incredible precision from a subcompact, so-called, “point blank” pistol.
Another 9mm loading that the author really enjoyed, was the SIG Elite Match 135gr V-Crown round. Consistently producing groups under two inches at 15 yards, the Elite Match ammunition was very pleasant to shoot. So much so, the author is looking to grab some ballistic gelatin to test the ammo further to potentially replace his current concealed carry rounds.
Everything about the MC1sc seems perfect. From its low MSRP, to parts interchangeability, everything seems top notch. In fact, it was difficult for the author to find fault with any of the components of the pistol. The only concern he has, is with the durability of the magazines.
Translucent polymer tends to be more brittle than opaque mixtures. The magazines do feel a little brittle, but after attempting to crush them with his bare hands multiple times, the author has to concede that the MC1sc magazines are plenty tough given that they are completely housed inside the magazine well.
Mossberg’s first venture into the modern handgun market might be a safe bet, but that doesn’t mean their engineers skimped on features or performance. Shooters looking for a dependable concealed carry handgun from a manufacturer with over 100 years of experience have finally found their golden ticket. An unlikely, but excellently-made semi-automatic from Mossberg.
Mossberg MC1sc Specifications
- Caliber: 9x19mm Para
- Overall Length: 6.25"
- Barrel Length: 3.40" Six Groove 1:16 RH Twist
- Weight: 19 oz. (unloaded)
- Trigger Weight: 4.249 lbs. average of 25 pulls
- Magazine Capacity: 6+1 / 7+1 both included
- Finish: Titanium Nitride
- Ambidextrous Magazine Release
- Dovetailed carry-style three-dot sights
- Blade-style trigger safety (crossbar style also available)
- Can use Glock 43 Magazines
- Price (MSRP): $425 (much less at some retailers)
- Contact: OF Mossberg & Sons; Mossberg.com
Mossberg MC1sc Accuracy Results