Sphinx 3000 .40 S&W Auto Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

July 5th, 2005




I personally have no idea as to the number of different auto pistols that are available today, nor do I wish to count them. The selection for shooters is better than it has ever been, with dozens of fine pistols available for most any need, and the majority of the weapons available are really pretty good guns. However, occasionally a pistol will catch my eye that is a cut above the average auto pistol; one that is well-built with quality materials. One such pistol is the subject of this review; the Sphinx 3000. The Sphinx is built in Switzerland, and like the proverbial Swiss watch, it is built well and built to last. While I like lightweight polymer-framed guns as tools, and carry them from time to time, it is refreshing to pick up a gun that has some heft to it. The Sphinx 3000 is such a gun. Weighing in at 37.8 ounces, it is not overly heavy, but has that good solid feel to it that is hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it. The only plastic that I was able to find on the Sphinx is the magazine follower and the grip panels. The remainder of the weapon is steel, either blued or stainless. The gun sent to me was of a handsome two-tone finish that has a blued steel slide on a stainless frame.

The receiver proper and the grip-magazine well-trigger guard unit are separate parts, with the seam almost invisible. They are attached securely, and the feel of the grip frame is excellent to my hand. The grip width measures 1.212 inches at the widest part. The slide thickness measures just .946 of an inch, and the slide rails ride within the frame, and run the entire length of the slide, making for a very smooth and rattle-free fit. In fact, there is absolutely no discernable looseness of the slide to frame fit. The same with the barrel to slide fit. You will never feel a custom grade hand-fitted target gun that is any tighter than this Sphinx. The 3000 has a 4.54 inch barrel, and has an overall length of 8.25 inches. The overall height measures 5.375 inches.  The steel magazine holds twelve of the .40 S&W cartridges, for a total loaded capacity of thirteen. The operation of the weapon is of the double action/single action design, meaning that the first shot can be fired simply by pulling the trigger without the need to manually cock the hammer, with subsequent shots fired with a shorter, lighter single action trigger pull, as the slide cocks the hammer as the gun is cycled. The single action trigger pull measured a crisp 3.75 pounds after about one-quarter of an inch of slack is taken up. The double action trigger pull measured a smooth 7.94 pounds, but felt a bit lighter due to the excellent shape of the grip and trigger. The trigger guard is of generous size to accommodate a gloved finger. The magazine release is in the favored position on the left, just aft of the trigger guard, and protrudes about three-sixteenths of an inch past the grip frame for easy magazine changes.  The front and rear of the grip frame has minute vertical grooves for a better hold on the weapon, without being abrasive to the shooter’s hand.  The black plastic grip panels are thin, with an area of molded checkering. The barrel underlug is of the integral cam-cut design, and the chamber area locks into the slide when in battery. The recoil spring rides on a sturdy, steel full-length guide rod. The gun wears a manual hammer-drop safety on each side of the frame, and the slide employs an automatic firing pin lock safety. To fire the weapon, it is aimed and the trigger is pulled, without the need to release a manual safety. The gun will not fire unless the trigger is pulled. Simple. The Sphinx has an external type extractor, and a fixed ejector. There is a rail milled into the bottom of the frame forward of the trigger guard to accommodate a light or other device, if the shooter wishes to add one. 

The outside finish on the Sphinx is as close to flawless as you can get, and the inside is finished just as well. The machining on this weapon is excellent, with no tool marks, inside or out. The slide is finished in a matte blue/black, with the stainless frame finished with a smooth, satin  vapor-honed appearance.  This gun is very well made. I looked hard, and can find no flaw in its construction. I do not necessarily throw a fit if a gun shows a few tool marks, but it is refreshing these days to see one that doesn’t. 

For testing the Sphinx for both function and accuracy, I tried a variety of factory loads. No handloads were tested.  I quickly found that this Sphinx will feed any .40 S&W ammo available. Due to the feed angle, and the shape and  smoothness of the ramp, there was nothing tried that even offered to hang up. Any shape of bullet tried fed perfectly. I then tried feeding empty cases. They slid right in without a hitch. I even loaded empty cases backwards into the magazine, and they also cycled perfectly, extracting without the benefit of the extractor groove. Now, it serves no real purpose to have a gun that will feed empty cases; however, it is reassuring to know that if the need arose, full-wadcutter ammo could be fired through this gun. I like a gun that will feed! Extraction was also perfect with the test gun. The only problem encountered during function testing was that the weapon failed to lock open after the last round was fired from the magazine. Taking the gun apart, it was apparent that the slide catch had been honed too small and would fail to grab the magazine follower as it slid past. I called Grant Morgan at Sabre Defence Industries, the importer of the Sphinx. The sample gun that I received had been on display at a trade show. It seems that the slide catch had been ground off to better slide on and off of a display that held the gun by an insert into the mag well. The next morning the big brown truck of happiness brought a new slide catch. I installed the part and the gun functioned flawlessly thereafter.

The accuracy of the Sphinx was very good. Most loads tested would stay within two inches at twenty-five yards, hand-held from a rested position. Some loads tested did even better. One particular load, the Cor-Bon 150 grain jacketed hollowpoint grouped four shots into one-half of an inch, with the shooter (me) pulling the fifth shot, opening the group up to one and one-quarter inches. That is excellent accuracy from a .40 S&W pistol of any kind.

The Sphinx 3000 is one of the best-built auto pistols available anywhere. The gun comes with an extra magazine and instruction manual in a nice, soft-sided case. The Sphinx combines quality materials with precision manufacture, resulting in a reliable, accurate, and beautiful handgun.

To see the Sphinx in its many variations online, go to:  www.sphinxarms.com.

To order a Sphinx pistol, have your dealer contact Sabre Defence by email at:  sales@sabredefence.com or call 615-333-0077.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Sphinx 3000 semi-auto pistol comes with an extra magazine and a soft-sided case.



The Sphinx 3000 exhibits quality construction throughout, as shown by the perfect fitting of slide to frame.



It is indeed refreshing to see a modern pistol that is as well-finished inside as outside, as is the Sphinx 3000.







The well-polished feed ramp of the Sphinx 3000's barrel, plus the almost straight-in feed angle, equals a gun that feeds reliably, every time.





The Sphinx 3000 is fitted with an internal, automatic firing pin safety, rather than an external manual safety. As a long-time revolver shooter, Jeff likes not having to fumble with a lever to make the gun go "bang".



Sights are of the high-visibility "two-dot" configuration.



The Sphinx 3000 proved itself capable of outstanding accuracy.