Mossberg MC1sc: Plenty for the Money

Mossberg makes a splash with the MC1sc, its first new handgun in 100 years.

Mossberg MC1sc: Plenty for the Money

The Mossberg MC1sc — Mossberg Carry 1, subcompact — debuted at SHOT Show 2019 and is the company’s first new handgun in 100 years. Mossberg’s built a reputation for making quality, no-nonsense, workhorse guns at reasonable prices, and the MC1sc is no exception. (Photo: Hilary Dyer)

As a retailer, you know better than anyone how hot the concealed carry market has been in recent years. In particular, polymer compact and subcompact striker-fired pistols, chambered in 9mm or .380, have been hot sellers. And for good reason: They’re reliable, easy to conceal and generally pretty lightweight, and the calibers make sense for personal defense.

One thing they often are not, however, is easy to shoot. On a gun with such a small profile, shooters can struggle to get a solid grip, and the short sight radius does not leave much room for aiming error. And with a powerful round being launched from a lightweight platform, physics dictates some snappy recoil in many of these small guns. As with most things in life, concealed carry firearms are an exercise in compromise. Users are constantly seeking a balance between concealability, shootability and performance, and the ideal balance will be different for each shooter.

Enter the Mossberg MC1sc. Debuted at SHOT Show 2019, the MC1sc (Mossberg Carry 1, subcompact) is the company’s first new handgun in 100 years. Mossberg’s built a reputation for making quality, no-nonsense, workhorse guns at reasonable prices, and the MC1sc is no exception. And even though it enters an admittedly crowded market, the gun was well thought out and carefully designed. This was no rush-to-market job.

“The MC1sc project was under development for approximately three years,” says Mossberg’s Linda Powell. “We considered bringing this project to the market in late 2018, but felt from a marketing standpoint, it made so much sense for the introduction to coincide with Mossberg’s 100th Anniversary in 2019; returning to our roots, since the first gun that Mossberg produced was the Brownie, a .22-caliber, four-shot ‘pocket pistol.’ ”

Details Matter

The three years of R&D behind the MC1sc are evident in some of the details. While — let’s be honest — this gun aesthetically looks much like many of its competitors, Mossberg has built in some details to set it apart.

To start with — and this is my favorite feature of this gun — the flat-profile trigger with a blade safety is, frankly, better than what you’d expect on an off-the-shelf pistol in this price range. The trigger pull is smooth and clean, with smooth take-up and a nice clean break at about 6 pounds. It’s got a crisp reset you can hear and feel. In most cases, you have to pay extra for a trigger like this as an aftermarket upgrade.

Close examination reveals that Mossberg chose not to cheap out on the details of this gun. The guide rod is metal, not plastic as is the case with many guns in this category. The sights fit to the slide via Sig-pattern dovetail cuts. The base model of this gun comes with standard white three-dot sights, but Tritium night sights are also available, as is a model with a built-in Viridian laser. Aggressive multi-directional serrations adorn the slide, making for easy slide manipulation. The mag release is reversible for left-handed shooters. Aggressive grip texturing and a natural palm swell make the gun comfortable to hold and shoot, regardless of hand size.

Everything about the MC1sc’s profile is designed with concealed carry in mind — the sights are low-profile to keep them from snagging on clothing, allowing for a smooth and easy draw from concealment. Diamond-like coating protects the slide and the barrel from wear. The gun itself is almost exactly the size of a Glock 43: Just over an inch wide, 6.45 inches long and 4.35 inches high. It weighs 22 ounces fully loaded. In fact, it accepts G43 magazines — Mossberg clearly knows that the G43 is its most similar competitor and has (perhaps wisely) decided to work with that knowledge instead of against it.

Speaking of magazines, this is another area where Mossberg has differentiated the MC1sc from its competition with a why-isn’t-everyone-doing-this concept: clear polymer magazines with a brightly colored follower. Constructed of a transparent polymer compound, the magazines offer low friction and high wear-resistance, while providing quick at-a-glance assessment of the number and type of rounds loaded. Each model comes with a flush six-round and extended seven-round magazine. Admittedly, you have to wonder if no one else is doing this because clear polymer is less durable or prone to problems. But during the course of this review, I spent three days dropping these mags onto concrete and sandy, rocky desert ground, and I can absolutely verify that they’re tough enough to handle whatever you throw at them. It sounds like a simple thing, but on the range or in a life-or-death situation, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to glance at a magazine and tell how close to empty it is.

Safety Features

A concealed carry gun must be at least three things: concealable, safe and effective. The subcompact size and snag-free design take care of the concealable part. What about the safety aspects?

Mossberg has built in a trigger-blade safety for extra security, and that model is the one I tested for this review. However, if you’re more comfortable with a safety you can snick on and off as needed, the MC1sc is also available with a crossbolt safety that physically blocks the gun from firing. This safety, located right behind and above the trigger, is reversible for left-handed shooters.

There are lots of ways for a shooter to hurt themselves with a firearm — most (or all) of which involve breaking at least one of the Four Rules — but two situations in particular are specific to striker-fired pistols of this type. The first is when someone shoots themselves in the leg when something snags their trigger as they’re reholstering. The second is a negligent discharge when someone is disassembling their gun for cleaning — they fail to verify that the chamber is empty, and they pull the trigger as required for disassembly. Obviously, both of these situations are user error and negligence and not a design flaw of the gun, but regardless, rounds launched when they are not intended are always a major problem.

The crossbolt safety is the MC1sc’s solution to the first problem. The second problem is solved by a truly innovative take-down system that does not require a trigger pull to disassemble the firearm. A user just locks the slide back, clears the chamber, and pushes a small cover plate on the rear of the slide. The cover plate comes off, revealing the striker assembly. Pull the striker assembly out, then pull the slide back and ease it forward and off. The rest of the disassembly process is just like that on any other gun of this style. The real value here is that the striker assembly is removed with no pulling of the trigger — no chance for a negligent discharge — but it also has the handy side effect of making the striker channel really easy to clean.


I put this gun through its paces on the range, firing more than 300 rounds of Federal Syntech ammo through it and experiencing just two malfunctions — both user error, as I let adrenaline get the better of me and limp-wristed the gun in a high-stress shoot-house environment with frangible ammo. This particular gun had been fired nearly 500 times the previous week by another group of testers and had not been cleaned. That’s a testament to the clean-shooting Syntech, but also a testament to the gun itself — although ordinarily I’d never recommend you shoot your carry gun 800 times between cleanings, especially in a dusty desert environment.

Our group of testers, all women, found the MC1sc more pleasant to shoot than we’d been expecting. Recoil is quite manageable, and the 1911-style grip angle allows for a confident, firm grip. I especially appreciated the smooth take-up on the trigger and the clean break, as well as the tactile reset. We unanimously preferred shooting the gun with the seven-round magazine in place, as it allows just a bit of extra space to wrap your pinky around. Because it was a concealed-carry class, the bulk of our range work was done at 10 yards and under, but we did stretch the gun out to 20 and 30 yards with great accuracy results. The MC1sc shoots better than I do, for sure.

Selling the MC1sc

In a crowded concealed carry market, this gun stands out for a few key reasons: the excellent trigger, cool features like the optional crossbolt safety and the clear magazines, and the price. MSRP on the base model (with or without crossbolt safety) is $425, and it’s been seen on retailer shelves in the low $300 range. That’s an incredibly appealing price point for consumers, and Mossberg has seen to it that shooters don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability with this gun.

Mossberg has been a shotguns-and-rifles company for so long, and with so much success. Why pistols, and why now?

Powell answered that for me. “To remain viable and relevant in the ever-changing landscape of the firearms industry, we listen to our customers — dealers, retailers and distributors as well as consumers — for insight into the market,” she said. “Research is also key as we look for emerging categories and trends in the market. The research showed us that the largest growing segment of the market was in the handgun category, roughly 44 percent of today’s market. More specifically, subcompacts with the following features: 9mm or .380; 2.75- to 3.50-inch barrel; single-stack, six-round magazine capacity; polymer frame; with a retail price of less than $450. That data is what we incorporated into the design of the MC1sc, along with 100 years of Mossberg engineering expertise and Mossberg’s mission to always deliver more gun for the money.”

If our testing and the enthusiastic consumer response is any indication, it appears the company has indeed delivered plenty of gun for the money. Can we expect to see more handgun introductions from Mossberg in future years?

“It is safe to say that Mossberg is back in the handgun business with the introduction of the MC1sc,” Powell told me. “Is there more to come? I would say ‘stay tuned.’”

Bonus: About Gunsite Academy

My initial testing of the MC1sc was done at Gunsite Academy, arguably the most prestigious firearms training facility in the U.S. Founded in 1976 by Colonel Jeff Cooper, who is credited with creating the “modern technique of the pistol,” Gunsite has built a reputation for rigorous and extremely safe training in all sorts of firearms disciplines.  

If you’re looking for some training, Gunsite is the place to go. While there, in addition to shooting instruction, you’ll also get the chance to observe how a well-run range and training facility operates. No one does it better. Located outside of Paulden, Arizona, Gunsite is an ideal testing ground for new firearms. Rocky, sandy soil and wide weather fluctuations put any gun through a torture test in even a short amount of time.

Gunsite instructors are world-class, and the facility offers classes for every age and skill level. Pistol classes are its bread and butter, but it also teaches courses as diverse as Church Defense, Ladies Pistol, Precision Rifle, Seasoned Citizen, Battle Rifle, Tactical Tracking, Defensive 3-Gun, Pocket Pistol, and much more. Find out more at


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