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  • Writer's pictureFlemming Mark Pedersen

Review of Phoenix Redback and Drake

Swiss quality guns

 

By P.E. Ruud IPSC Shooter Norway

May 7th 2024


After 6 years and more than 200 000 rounds, this is my experience with PHX Phoenix AG, Swiss quality guns https://phx.swiss/ 

 

In early 2000 I was shooting the Sphinx 3000 9mm pistol. This is a high-quality CZ Shadow clone. Sphinx was sold and later relaunched as Phoenix. The Phoenix Redback is a 4,5-inch CZ Shadow clone and an evolution of the old Sphinx 3000.


Match photo: World Shoot Thailand 2022


Since 2019 I have fired more than 200 000 rounds in the Phoenix Redback. In 2022 I sold one of my Redbacks at which time, I had fired more than 130 000 rounds in this gun with no issues. This gun had no signs of wear and tear. My gun was still factory tight in the slide and accuracy was as good as new. I simply had no issues with this gun whatsoever. The only thing I experienced was a few slide stops that broke when I tested recoil springs that were too light. With an 11-pound recoil spring I have had no problems with this. The new owner is still using this gun regularly and without any issues.

 

The only reason I sold this gun was because I acquired two new guns before the World Shoot in Thailand. I wanted my two guns to come from the same production line to be as identical as possible. This turned out to be a wise decision because there were different preferences in bullet type in my old gun and the two new ones. As anyone who does their own reloading knows, 9mm can sometimes be challenging from one gun to another.


In late 2023 I acquired the new Phoenix Drake. This is in my opinion a Phoenix Redback evolution. The Drake is a 5-inch gun with a large frame body using Tanfoglio LF magazines. In addition, the Drake has a barrel (spherical) bushing, a recoil spring guide, and a slide cut to reduce weight. Other than that, the Redback and Drake share much of the same measurements and parts.


After acquiring the new Drake I have fired several thousand rounds in testing and trying to decide which gun I prefer, and whether one has advantages over the other. This has been an interesting and, to some degree, frustrating process. The Redback is a slightly snappier gun that I perceive to cycle faster. It is slightly smaller in size and weight. The Redback comes in at 1282 grams or 2,83 pounds, and the Drake at 1312 grams or 2,89 pounds, a difference of 30 grams.


I perceive the Readback to be faster, but shooting Bill Drills proves this to be wrong. It is more a feeling than fact. The Drake is slightly heavier with a 5-inch barrel and is significantly softer in recoil. The added line of sight makes it easier to track and particularly when shooting on the move. I also did have some bias after shooting more than 200 000 rounds in the Redback. Either way, I decided to move forward with my new Drake and acquired a second gun in early 2024.

 

Does the difference between the Redback and the Drake make any difference in my results shooting IPSC Production? I certainly don’t think so; they are both fantastic guns. All in all I think they are pretty much even, different, but not to a point where it makes a difference. On the other hand, it could be argued that the Drake does have some advantages when it comes to overall use. This is a fantastic gun that was originally designed for Standard division in 40 S&W major with the large frame TF magazines. It is slightly more accurate, puts out a higher power factor (2-3 higher on chrono than the Redback), and with a higher magazine capacity with the possibility of 20+1 in 9mm minor in Standard Division configuration. It is a cross-over gun between Production, Production Optic and Standard Minor. Outside of IPSC it is also a very capable gun in field shooting competition.

 

In my experience, the Phoenix Redback and Drake are extremely high-quality guns with exceptional tolerances only found in “custom” high end guns, with very good precision and ergonomics.  Phoenix guns are service friendly and have proven to be very reliable over time. In my 200 000+ rounds I have never had a malfunction caused by the gun. Phoenix have engineered a good solution for their extractor that makes it easy to service or replace, although I haven’t needed to change one yet. The extractor also serves as a loaded chamber indicator (slightly raised when loaded), and visibly between the slide and the breech.

 

Both Phoenix Redback and Drake come with a polymer recoil buffer mounted into the frame to reduce the impact slide on the frame. In addition, this buffer seems to reduce felt recoil. Drake also comes with a barrel (spherical) bushing and recoil spring guide and plug.


Barrel with bushing, recoil spring guide, spring and plug..


Recoil buffer 


Phoenix guns are customizable to individual preferences with access to alternative grip plates with or without palm swell profile – as well as options in gun finish and accessories. Redback comes in all black, Duotone with black slide and stainless frame, all stainless, or FDE (Flat Dark Earth). Drake comes in all black, Duotone or FDE.

 

Phoenix also offers different color options on side plates, triggers, grip plates, main spring housing and safeties. In addition, safety levers are available in different widths or even completely flat. Safeties are ambidextrous.

 

Phoenix pistols now have a new Tri-Angled trigger that gives the shooter a nice flat pocket for your trigger finger. Eemann Tech also offers the aftermarket “Ultimate Trigger”. Personally, I have been using Eemann Tech straight DA trigger made for CZ Shadow 2. This trigger requires some fitting, but has worked very well in my case. The reason I have chosen this solution is my preference for a straight trigger in SA and how my trigger finger contacts the trigger. I am a cross dominant right-handed shooter, and my trigger finger contacts the trigger in an angel. This makes my finger hit the tip of a curved trigger. I am extremely happy with my Eemann Tech straight DA trigger. However, for some shooters this trigger has a bit long reach in DA mode. To my knowledge most other Redback and Drake owners shoot the factory trigger.



Factory Phoenix triggers have a very tactile and defined response which makes it easy to feel the wall. They have a great balance between not too heavy and not too light, with a snappy and tactile reset. This makes it very easy to time your shots and cadence.

 

Both the Redback and Drake have great balance with factory recoil spring and a neutral grip, with great return to zero.” (Contributed by T.K. Krogh Olsen, National Team Member Production Optics)

 

Phoenix Redback and Drake have a 2011 main spring housing and main spring solution, where the main spring (hammer spring) can be easily changed or serviced. Phoenix also offers an extended firing pin. Drake has a barrel (spherical) bushing and recoil spring guide plug and can easily be taken down with no tools.

 

Phoenix offers a green or red front fiber sight, all black or even a tritium insert.


Phoenix Drake with Patriot Defense grip plates.



Nice to know!


Magazine Base pads: On my new Redback Gen 2 I used Armanov base pads made for CZ Shadow 2. This was a bad decision because the Armanov base pads have a slimmer profile that allows the magazine to travel too far up in the frame and hit the bottom of the ejector. I broke two ejectors before I was able to identify the cause of this. I changed my base pads to Henning Group Base Pads, and they have worked perfectly.


Henning Group Base Pads


Recoil Spring: You should be careful when testing out different recoil springs. This is particularly important with the Drake because of its barrel bushing and Recoil spring guide casing. Recoil spring needs to have the right specifications for the gun, like in a 1911/2011. If the spring is to long it might compress, and the recoil spring guide plug will absorb all the impact of your recoil. This could possibly result in malfunctions and damage to the spring plug.

 

Main spring: I have tested an 8-pound main spring from Eemann Tech and had a few light primer-strikes with factory ammo. With an 8-pound spring and extended firing pin I haven’t experienced any light strikes yet. Factory main spring is 12 pounds.

 

Grip plates: Make sure to use the factory hex key when loosening or tightening the grip plate screws. They are shallow and I have broken the screw head three times.

 

Side panel screws: Make sure to use the factory hex key when loosening or tightening the side panel screws, they are shallow and very small, I have broken one of these. Also, be aware that the screws for the side panels have different length in front and back, if you put the long screw up front you will not be able to fit the slide back on to the frame, don’t ask me how I know.

 

Summary: In short, I must say that I am a great fan of the Phoenix Drake and Redback. What gun to choose comes down to personal preferences and your needs. They are both great guns with extremely high quality and tolerances. Phoenix supplies high-end competition guns and they don’t come cheap. Currently the Redback cost 49 500,- NOK in Norway or some 4 500 USD/4 200 Euro. The Drake comes in at 56-62 000,- NOK, 5 100-5 650 USD/4 760-5 270 Euro, depending on finish DA/SA or just SA (Standard division in 9mm or 40 S&W).

 

As with other high-end guns, I believe Phoenix can justify their prices through exceptional high quality, fit and finish. A gun showing no wear and tear after 130 000 rounds is a quality gun. With great ergonomics, precision, and durability I won’t be looking for any replacements any time soon.







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2 Comments


Andrei Baryshnikov
Andrei Baryshnikov
Jun 07

Hello! I like you review! I have one question :) You wrote:

Main spring: I have tested an 8-pound main spring from Eemann Tech and had a few light primer-strikes with factory ammo. With an 8-pound spring and extended firing pin I haven’t experienced any light strikes yet. Factory main spring is 12 pounds.

Here you are talking about Drake or Redback? Does Drake has an option for extended firing pin? I can't find it on Phoenix catalogue.

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Flemming Pedersen
Flemming Pedersen
Jun 12
Replying to

Correct - we (I) do not offer that option.

The reason is safety issues.

In IPSC we are required to lower the hammer alle the way before start and if the gun is dropped, there is an increased risk of an AD.

Besides, the gain in a slightly lighter DA trigger is questionable.

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