Can you buy a full-size striker-fired pistol in 9mm with 18-round magazines, a 5-pound or so single-action trigger press, without a manual safety, with several extras like a holster with belt and paddle attachments, loader, cleaning brushes, for less than $400. that is… KEY words… reliable and accurate? What about the new Canik TP9SF or TP9SA? They are somewhat similar to the Walther P99 and have a few of the respected features (like great trigger) of the PPQ M2 and HK VP9. Are they quality-built, solid and reliable guns and do they meet ISO 9000 certification and other quality standards? Are these Turkish-made Canik budget-priced guns too good to be true? Should you even consider buying one? Maybe or maybe not. Several of my readers, students, and book customers have asked me to review this budget-priced gun. I usually review only guns from the top manufacturers with established high-quality, long-term reputations. Century Arms International is the exclusive importer of Canik and is one of the largest firearms importers in North America, while Canik does not have a lengthy established reputation. I was a little hesitant to do the review, but several wanted my opinion and I was curious. Century Arms sent me two different models of this pistol for testing and evaluation, the TP9SA and the new TP9SF, both in single action. I want to give you my criteria and what I found when I analyzed, handled, and shot these guns.
To begin, I want to present all the TP9SA (and TP9SF) specifications. Then I want to list my 10 criteria, give some of my considerations, features, and difference between the models. Finally, I want to give you my range Field Test evaluation, results, and my recommendation or not about purchasing either gun.
NOTE: The TP9SA and TP9SF models are very similar in Specifications, with a major difference being that the SF model does not have a decocker. Also, the new for 2016 SF model weighs 1.83 pounds compared to the SA weight of 1.80 pounds per manufacturer’s specs. The rear sights on the SF are longer than on the SA because there is no decocker on the SF. The SF has a cerakote over phosphate finish. Both passed NATO accuracy standards of 50,000 rounds failure free and both have machined match-grade barrels, according to Century Arms.
In essence both guns appear to be almost totally identical and my criteria apply to both TP9 Series models as one, but I will Field Test shoot each of them to see if there are any differences and report that below.
There are currently 3 models in the TP9 Series: (1) TP9SA with decocker in single action; (2) TP9 Version 2 in double action with long, hard press and decocker; and (3) TP9SF without decocker in single action. There is also a new for 2016 SFX competition model with a 5.25″ barrel, single-action trigger, and 20-round mag which retails for about $549. The TP9 Series guns are produced following ISO 9000 quality assurance standards.
The TP9 Series guns are “somewhat” comparable to the Walther P99 with decocker, the Walther PPQ, the H&K VP9, and Glock 17, depending upon features and model, and each with pros and cons.
Criteria and Considerations
My 10 Criteria for evaluating the TP9 Series handguns are listed below and I will apply them for my home defense, fun plinking, and possible competition use for the gun. I believe this gun is not optimal for concealed carry use, but your decision. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, more mags included, different sights, no decocker, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in accurate target hits with a maximum of a 4″ inch hit group at 7-10-15 yards and do that consistently;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.0-5.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable;
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 4.0″-5.0″ (primarily for home defense & competrition-IDPA);
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer 25-28 oz. or so for home defense);
7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference;
8. Capacity – adequate for use and feature tradeoffs- usually want at least 8-9 in a 9mm magazine;
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance; mag release location; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly- assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like holster & pouch), etc.
Remember, there are a lot of attributes, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined needs and use.
Canik TP9SA and TP9SF 9mm FIELD TESTS
After shooting and handling both full-size 9mms and carefully considering the specifications, below is what I learned and my point evaluations representing both. You should know that I am not being paid to say these things, am not on Century Arms or Canik’s payrolls, and do not feel obligated to say the things that follow. Know that I am not a top expert shooter by any means and I only shot about 100 rounds through each the TP9SA and the TP9SF, so they are not fully broken in. For the testing, I bought and shot a variety of ammo including: American Eagle 115 grain FMJ, Aguila124 grain FMJ, and Speer Lawman 124 grain Total Metal Jacket loads. I should tell you that the TP9SA and TP9SF are made in Turkey, imported and sold by Century Arms International from their FL headquarters. At first, I had uncertainty in my mind about their production and quality control standards, quality of workmanship, and overall reliability, but several reliable sources and company representatives told me that would not be an issue. So, I began my testing and evaluation, with a thought to be certain to rigorously test the guns for reliability, dependability, and accuracy for myself.
With my first TP9SA 18-round mag, I got all 18 hits within a 2 inch group or so (see above image with hits.) I had to pinch myself to make certain I was not dreaming. Honestly… and I am not a great shot. I found both the single-action triggers to be very smooth with short travel distances. The decocker on the TP9SA was not a problem and I did not have to even use it if I did not want to. It required about 7 to 10 pounds of force to engage it and when I did, it made a very definite and solid “click” sound. It was not easy to accidentally engage or disengage it. The decocker was very useful for cleaning and disassembly. Before I shot them, I dissassembled and cleaned them, especially easily for the TP9SA with its decocker. All that was needed for the TP9SA was to press down on the decocker and pull the two tabs on the frame down, without pressing the trigger. It was one of the, if not the easiest, to dissassemble of any of my guns. The slide-to-frame fit was very tight and felt solid. When shooting both guns, I experienced NO malfunctions or stoppages of any kind; no failures to fire or failures to feed or eject; no failures to lockback; no misfires; no problems whatsoever. They were smooth shooting and it was fun to shoot nice full-sized, heavy guns for a change, rather than my smaller concealed carry guns. The weight of the gun seemd to help my accuracy. For the rounds I shot with them, the TP9SA and TP9SF impressed me as very solid full-size 9mms, with acceptable quality, very decent accuracy, good reliability, and comfortable handguns, especially for the less than $400. price point.
1. The Accuracy of both TP9 guns was very acceptable to me at distances of 7 and 10 yards, given my aging eyes. My groups at each of the distances were about 2.0 to 3.0 inches or so for rapid-fire shooting them right “out of the box” drawing from the included Serpa-style retention holster on my belt. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, and shot various 115 grain FMJ and 124 grain FMJ ammo. I did not shoot hollow points… 10.
2. The Trigger Press out of the box for both averaged between 5.1 to 5.4 pounds (below 5 pounds on a few readings), with 5 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. Certainly very acceptable for a new single-action pistol with no break-in. This easily met my criterion and the light, crisp, and short press was very good. Some have told me their’s improved to between 4.9 & 5.0 press average, after more range time. So hope it gets even better… 9.
3. The TP9 Trigger had a nice short travel distance and very identifiable reset (tactile & audible) for a value-priced gun. I was able to get off quick follow-up shots easily. I experienced a similar press each time I shot this striker-fired pistol and it was smooth and consistent shooting. I enjoyed shooting it. The trigger safety was comforting… 10.
4. The extra barrel length and sight radius of the 4.47-inch Barrel helped the gun’s handling and contributed to improved accuracy and increased velocities. The recoil was very manageable and controllable. It did seem just a little front heavy and the balance was a little off for recoil control with most of the weight in the front, but no major problem. The recoil was not severe… 9.
5.The 3-dot sights were steel and nice standard ones, but I would have preferred larger front sights. I liked that the rear sight was adjustable for windage. Also, the unique vertical white-line centered on the rear sight base between the two rear-sight dots helped me align my sight picture. The 6 o’clock hold sight picture worked best for me… 9.
6.The unloaded 28.8 ounce Weight (TP9SA) and 29.2 ounce (TP9SF) were heavy enough to benefit the gun’s performance. Both were not too heavy and I could handle them well… 9.
7.The 9mm Caliber TP9 Series guns were pleasant to shoot, made recoil very manageable, and I was accurate with them. The variety of 9mm ammo I bought was reasonably priced and the guns digested everything easily… 10.
8. The 18+1 Capacity of the TP9 Series 9mm mags was excellent and I used different mag reloads successfully only after many shots down range. It was comforting to know I had the extra rounds. There was no magazine disconnect. The mags were made by Mec-Gar and should work in all TP9 Series guns, and were quality… 9.
9. The comfort, fit, and handling Egonomics of the guns were just right for my medium-sized hands. They felt very good in my hands and I could easily reach all the controls. The decocker on the top of the slide was not a problem at all on the TP9SA. When it was pressed, the trigger was dead & could not fire, so I had to bring the slide back only 1/4 an inch to reengage the action… like a very short chamber-check distance. There was also a Loaded Chamber Indicator behind the ejection port & an indicator at the back of the slide to indicate if it was cocked… 9.
10. Miscellaneous. I easily & quickly disassembled & re-assembled them and cleaned both the TP9SA and TP9SF before I shot them. I did NOT have to press the trigger before disassembly for the TP9SA, but did for the TP9SF. They were very easy and quick to field strip. When I received the TP9SA the back of the case was cracked and damaged. Several nice extras, but I wish it came with 3 mags and better sights, but it is a value-priced gun. I do not know about available parts & accessories. The TP9SF did not ship with an instruction manual or a lock… 7.
Total Points = 91 out of 100 Possible.
I RECOMMEND this handgun at its price point of less than $400. as a value-priced gun for fun plinking. After more range time and a longer break-in period, I might consider it for competition shooting and home defense. This is a very nice spare home defense and backup gun. Remember, this is just my personal opinion. I will buy one of the guns for myself and believe it would make a nice edition to your gun inventory.
I hope this review of the TP9SA and TP9SF full-size, striker-fired 9mm guns has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my point of view with limited live-range fire and using about 200 rounds of available ammo I bought. Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds.
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.