SPHINX SDP Compact: A high-quality pistol for professionals

The Sphinx SDP Compact is a versatile and reliable semi-automatic pistol that is well-suited for duty and competition. Chambered in 9 mm Luger and featuring

Eric Sof


Sophisticated ergonomics and a basic yet precise finish make the Sphinx SDP Compact a true work of art
Sophisticated ergonomics and a basic yet precise finish make the Sphinx SDP Compact a true work of art (Photo: XY)

The Sphinx SDP Compact is a versatile and reliable semi-automatic pistol that is well-suited for duty and competition. Chambered in 9 mm Luger and featuring a recoil-operated, center-fire design, this Swiss-made handgun has gained a strong reputation among IPSC shooters and law enforcement thanks to its hybrid design. Imported to the U.S. by Kriss USA, the Sphinx SDP Compact has quickly become a popular choice for those seeking a high-quality firearm that can meet the demands of various shooting applications.


In 1876, the company Sphinx was founded in Solothurn in northwestern Switzerland. Its products quickly became known for their exceptional quality and precise craftsmanship. Over the following years, the company expanded its production, and in the mid-eighties, it introduced its first weapon systems. High-quality materials in production and strict standards helped position Sphinx’s products at the top of the global market.

In 2011, Kriss Arms became the majority owner of Sphinx, and that same year, a prototype for a semi-automatic pistol called the Sphinx SDP (Special Duty Pistol) was presented. The design for the SDP was based on the successful Sphinx 3000 series, with some influence from the Czech CZ 75 pistol. A few months after the initial release of the SDP, a model with a shorter barrel, called the “Sphinx SDP Compact,” was introduced. The main advantage of these models is that, while the barrel length is slightly shortened, the weapon’s overall performance is not compromised, resulting in a more compact size.

Ceska Zbrojovka 75 (CZ 75) service pistol
C.Z. 75 is a good and reliable service pistol (Photo: Pinterest)

Although it lost the competition for the U.S. military’s XM17 Modular Handgun System to replace the Beretta M9, the KRISS Sphinx SDP Compact is still a formidable handgun. Some police and special operations forces in Europe already use it. While it was up against tough competition from well-known brands like SIG Sauer, Glock, CZ, F.N., and Smith & Wesson, the Swiss gunmaker KRISS Sphinx made a bold move by entering the trials. This helped to raise the company’s profile and may even lead to future contracts with American law enforcement agencies. Don’t let its relative obscurity in the U.S. market deceive you – the KRISS Sphinx SDP Compact is a reliable and high-quality handgun worth considering.


The Sphinx SDP Compact semi-automatic pistol operates using the short barrel recoil principle and is available in 9mm Parabellum caliber. It uses an improved Browning system for bullet locking, also known as the “Sig’s lock,” where the rear part of the barrel widens and fits into the ejection port, flush with the top of the slide. This design allows for a flat surface on the slide, improving the shooter’s visibility and aiming accuracy.

The Sphinx SDP Compact has a double or single-action (DA/SA) trigger system with an external striker that is optimally shortened to reduce the risk of snagging on clothing or a holster when drawing the weapon. The surface of the striker tail is grooved horizontally for a more secure grip.

Sphinx SDP Compact stripped to the basic parts
Sphinx SDP Compact stripped to the essential parts (Photo: X.Y.)

One of the notable features of Sphinx’s pistols is the manufacturing process for the frame, which contributes to the high price of these models. The frame comprises two parts that can be made of various materials, such as steel, polymer, or aluminum alloys, depending on the model. In the “SDP” series, the upper part of the frame is made of aviation-grade aluminum alloys, while the lower part is made of high-quality polymer. All external parts of the gun are coated with titanium-aluminum-nitride (TiAIN) for durability and resistance to extreme weather and off-road conditions. Additionally, all external parts of the gun have a matte finish to eliminate glare.

The pistol grip of the Sphinx SDP Compact has excellent ergonomics, with side panels that come in three sizes (S, M, L) as standard equipment. The front of the grip has finger recesses for a more comfortable hold, while the rear upper part of the frame is bent and curved (called a “beaver tail”) to protect the shooter’s hand from the lower edges of the slide during firing. A small polymer absorber is placed inside the handle gap to soften the impact of the barrel and slide on the frame during firing, resulting in reduced recoil.

The magazine release button is on the left side of the grip, easily within reach of the shooter’s finger. It has a circular shape with a relief surface and can quickly move to the right side to accommodate left-handed shooters.

The trigger guard has a square shape and an optimal size that does not obstruct access to the trigger, even when wearing thick gloves. The lower side of the trigger guard is flat, but it is slightly indented at the point where it connects to the handle to provide a safer and more comfortable grip for the shooter. The front side of the trigger guard is convexly rounded and grooved, which is beneficial for shooters who habitually place their finger on the trigger guard when gripping the gun. The trigger is curved at the bottom and has longitudinal grooves with a short and crisp stroke. In single-action mode, the trigger force is approximately 1300 g, while in double-action mode, it is about 3500 g. The precise finishing of all the moving parts in the trigger group makes shooting with this gun a pleasant experience.

Wiley Clapp Colt Government and Sphinx SDP Compact
Wiley Clapp Colt Government and Sphinx SDP Compact (Photo: Fl.ckr)

A Picatinny rail with four grooves is integrated in front of the trigger on the frame of the Sphinx SDP Compact pistol, allowing the mounting of additional tactical equipment, such as a laser target designator and a tactical light.

The pistol slide is made of steel and has guides along its entire length. It fits perfectly on the frame and has a square shape with notches on the side. Double-sided and large, slanted incisions are placed on both the front and back to provide a secure grip for pulling the slide. The cocking lock is located on the left side of the weapon, and the square hole for extracting shells is on the right and is an optimal size that does not interfere with the ejection of shells. The mechanical sights are square in shape, with the front featuring a permanent white dot and the rear having a clearly defined aiming channel, similar to “Novak” models. The standard set includes a rear mechanical sight with a horizontally grooved rear side to prevent light reflection and distractions while aiming.

This system has several primary safety mechanisms, including a firing pin brake, a striker brake, and a decocker on both sides that is visible from the outside and serves as a manual brake. The lever is easily accessible, with deep grooves to ensure safe handling. Double-row magazines in the standard version have a capacity of 15 bullets.

Technical specifications


  • Country of origin: Switzerland/USA
  • Manufacturer: Kriss USA
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Overall length: 7.4 in
  • Overall height: 5.35 in
  • Overall width: 1.37 in
  • Weight: 27.86 oz
  • Barrel length: 3.7 in
  • Sight radius: 5.7 in
  • Action: DA/SA with an ambidextrous decocking lever
  • Trigger pull weight: SA 3.30 lbs
  • DA 10.14 lbs
  • MSRP: $1,299

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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