Table of Contents
Century Arms is a major United States distributor of firearms and provides, among others, the Canik pistols which in general are all very nice, reasonably-priced, well-performing guns. Century is the exclusive U.S. importer of Canik firearms, with an extensive history of providing affordable, quality, and unique products to the U.S. consumer. Century offers AK pistols and rifles, shotguns, and Canik pistols, and they manufacturer some rifles, like the AKM-pattern rifle, completely in America.
From my previous reviews, you probably realize that I carefully select handguns for my personal review based on my prior general research and students’ and instructors’ input. Then considering that data and general consensus information, I review and explore in-depth only handguns that I believe to be high-quality guns for reasonable prices with fine performances.
Canik Recognized as Leading Value Manufacturer
The Canik name of the pistol is from the Canik Mountains in Turkey near the Black Sea and the city of Samsun, near the capital of Istanbul. The pistol is manufactured in Turkey and Canik has been a world-leading firearm manufacturer for about 13 years. Their partnerships with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and others helped them develop their solid-quality polymer pistols. They have a reputation for making quality value guns and you get a lot of extras for their very reasonable price. The first Canik TP9 available in the U.S. was recognized as a clone of the fine Walther P99 at a very reasonable price, closely borrowing their fine ergonomics and trigger. The TP9 Elite sub-compact is designed for primarily concealed carry.
Ballistics magazine named Canik “Editor’s Choice for Versatile/Value Pistol.” And they have earned NATO certification with some of their pistols being provided to NATO forces as sidearms. Another noteworthy indicator is that they have earned the well-respected ISO-9000 certification as a gunmaker. ISO 9000 is defined as a set of international standards of quality management and quality assurance to help companies achieve and document quality.
Various Canik TP9 pistols have won First Place in class, including the TP9 SF Elite 9mm model, among various national shooting organizations and recognized events. See my February 29, 2016 review of Canik’s TP9SA and TP9SF full-size single-action trigger pistols.
Summary of Features for Canik TP9 Elite SC 9mm
For this author, the value-priced Canik TP9 Elite SC 9mm has several key features which I will review below. Here is a summary of just some of the features:
- Premium Flat Trigger with Fine Trigger Press, Accurate and Reliable
- Match-Grade Nitride-Coated 60″ Barrel
- Prominent Phosphorous Front Dot Sight and Blackout Serrated Rear Sight
- Attractive Tungsten Grey Cerakote over Sturdy Nitride Steel Slide Finish
- Comfortable, Nicely-Textured Grip, with Two Interchangeable Back Straps
- Micro Red-Dot Ready Slide Cut with Co-Witness Feature
- Undercut Trigger Guard- Higher, More Comfortable Grip & Recoil Control
- Ambidextrous Slide Stop Release
- Reversible Magazine Release
- Picatinny Accessory Rail
- Internal Parts and Components Nitride or High-Wear Nickel Coated
- Two Magazines: 12-round flush-fit with pinkie extension and 15-round
- Loaded Chamber Indicator and Striker Indicator on Back of Pistol
- Added Accessories to include Holster (OWB & IWB use), Hard Polymer Case, Toolbox, Cleaning Brush & Rod, Extra Backstrap, Extra Baseplate
- Easy to Disassemble and Re-Assemble
Canik TP9 Elite Sub-Compact Specifications
|Model||TP9 Elite Sub-Compact- Optics Ready Milled Slide Cut|
|Barrel Type||Match-Grade; Durable Nitride Finish; 1:10 RH Barrel Twist|
|Barrel Material||Stainless Steel|
|Sights||Front: Phosphorous Large White Dot (Glows Green); Co- Witness; Metal; Dovetailed into Slide; One-Hand Racking Rear: Tactical Rack Black, Serrated U-Notch; Metal; Drift Adjustable|
|Slide||Tungsten Cerakote Gray Finish over Nitride; Carbon Steel; Loaded Chamber Indicator; Ambidextrous Slide-Stop Release; Optics Ready; Beveled|
|Frame||Black Polymer with Adaptive Grip Texture; Finger Index Memory Pads on Both Sides|
|Trigger - Type/Action||Striker-Fired; Premium Straight-Flat; Single-Action-Like; Red Trigger Safety; Polymer; Captive Dual Recoil Spring-Steel; Undercut Trigger Guard|
|Trigger Press||4.75 lbs. (as measured over 10 trials with my Lyman Trigger Pull gauge)|
|Magazines - Capacity||2 included: 12 Rounds- Flush; 15- Rounds- Extended; Reversible Magazine Release; 2 Base Plates; Metal Square, Checkered Mag Release|
|Weight (Unloaded)||24.8 oz- with 12-round unloaded mag|
|Safeties||Integral Trigger Blade Safety- Red; Firing Pin Block|
|Grips||Black; Polymer; Comfortable Grip Texture; Snag Free|
|Other||Picatinny Accessory Rail (MIL-STD-1913); Limited Lifetime Warranty- from Date of Original New Purchase for Original Owner; Front & Rear Cocking Serrations|
My Criteria and Considerations
Here are the ten criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun for concealed carry, so I will use them for the TP9 Elite sub-compact. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like smooth rounded corners, a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last “Miscellaneous” criterion. I must admit that all gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want all of my criteria to be ideally met. I assigned a total possible point score of ten points for each of my ten criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. And a “Recommend” or “Not Recommend” at the end of my review. You can certainly add your own additional criteria, preferences or subtract any of mine.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider. You make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, goals, defined needs, and use.
Concealed Carry Drill
I used my standard “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” to test and evaluate a pistol after I initially thoroughly clean it. You can use my basic Concealed Carry Drill to test and evaluate your handguns. I like the realistic 3-yard, 5-yard, and 7-yard distances best to match common distances for personal defense and that is what I used to field test this fine TP9 Elite 9mm.
You can download and print “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and targets by clicking on the link at my website at www.FloridaHandgunsTraining.com. Go to and click on the “More” Section on far right of the Home Page and then click on “Carry Drill.” Drag a corner in to resize Drill to full coverage and print on full-size paper.
PMP and Blazer Brass 9mm Ammo
For the field test for this pistol, I used PMP 124 grain FMJ and Blazer Brass 115 grain FMJ ammo. PMP, a division of Denel Corporation, has been the manufacturer of ammo since 1931. PMP is the holder of the ISO 9001 Certification for quality and other certifications. PMP, Pretoria Metal Pressings, ammo is made in South Africa by Denel and is a state-owned company that is the largest African manufacturer of world-class military and commercial ammo products. It has been making ammo and related products worldwide “for more than 70 years.”
The military-grade brand that I used in this review was the PMP 9mm Luger 124- grain FMJ load, with new reloadable brass case. It was effective for my testing and evaluation of this gun and I did not have any malfunctions or stoppages. It has an approximate muzzle velocity of 1,110 feet per second and a muzzle energy of about 335 foot pounds.
FIRST SHOTS: Range Test Results with “Col Ben’s Concealed Carry Drill” and Various Ammo
I tested the TP9 Elite at three distances using my above standard Concealed Carry Drill. I shot the pistol at 3, 5, and 7-yard distances. At three and five yards, I quickly and easily landed 15 of the 15 rounds (using the 15-round extended mag for each trial) in the five various-sized circles. I shot at these distances twice. Piece of cake! And then I shot it at 7 yards. I barely got all 15 rounds in the five circles and some were close, but I did it. After my cataract surgery in a week, I’m sure I’ll do better.
At three and five yards, I fired rapid fire with the PMP 9mm Luger 124 grain FMJ and got 15 of 15 hits in their five circle targets each trial. But at seven yards, the 2.5-inch circle was a challenge and I missed one at seven yards, but did it and all distances in the 20-seconds time. I then shot at 10 yards, but not for time due to running out of range time that day. There were challenges for this old color-blind guy with weak eyesight, but I met my goals. I had no misfires, malfunctions, or stoppages. The various ammo worked fine. I used the PMP 124 grain FMJ and the Blazer Brass 115 grain for all trials.
Use my drill at various appropriate distances for yourself, e.g. 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 yards to challenge yourself and assess skill-level improvements, as you progress. At first, do not time yourself but safely practice, until you feel comfortable and safe with the drill. Hope my drill helps you.
Canik TP9 Elite Range Results: Opinions and Evaluations for Each Criterion
After live-fire shooting with the TP9 Elite pistol, here are my opinions and evaluations for each of my ten criteria.
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Score: 9
The TP9 Elite Sub-Compact 9mm’s accuracy was very fine. It was very reliable at all distances I shot it, including close and medium distances of 3, 5, 7, and 10 yards, typical self-defense distances. I met the goal of my drill and got all 15 hits in the five circles in the time expected. And I did that twice at three and five yards, easily meeting the goals. Given my weakening eyes and average marksmanship, the TP9 pistol made the difference. The trigger and match-grade barrel had a lot to do with this and I’ll address them below. This pistol gave me no problems at all, with no malfunctions or stoppages in the 150 rounds or so I fired, but it did have snappy felt recoil. Ammo availability and cost to me affected the number of rounds in my field test. Of course, before I buy this to use in my carry rotation, I want more rounds down range, about 500 total rounds, but excellent reliability so far.
2. Trigger Press – Score: 10
The trigger press averaged 4.75 pounds right out of the box, with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. Fantastic! This is the press I like, was hoping for, and the TP9 Elite delivered. Given that this is a new pistol with only about 100 rounds through it, I immediately did a backflip to celebrate (I wish.) I am certain with more ammo down-range and after “break-in” with about 500 rounds fired, the press should definitely improve and the spring lighten. The press is just right for me and comparable to some of my 1911s and their lighter presses.
3. Trigger – Score: 10
Overall, the Gen 2 flat trigger action was excellent. This is one of the gun’s top features, if not its best feature, and for me lives up to its “Elite” name. I could tell the improvement over the original Hellcat. The TP9 Elite’s flat trigger was crisp, smooth, and excellent, with minimal takeup, and had a short quick reset, for quick follow-up shots. Honestly, I only had to move my finger a very small amount and the trigger was reset. It was very easy to feel the definite and short reset. There is a red trigger safety blade on the pistol. This stellar striker-fired trigger had a consistent and very similar press each time. I enjoyed shooting this smooth and relatively-soft trigger, which will certainly improve over time. There are helpful finger index memory pads on both sides of the pistol to help the shooter hold the pistol tight and focus on trigger control. The undercut trigger guard helps with a higher and better grip purchase. Canik says that small parts and internal components of the Elite are all nitrided or high-wear nickel-coated and now I understand why the trigger is so fine and smooth.
4. Barrel – Length – Score: 9
The hammer-forged steel Barrel has a strong and durable Nitride finish, broad-cut rifling, and tight tolerances. The sturdy Nitride helps with corrosion and rust resistance; generally better than or as good as chrome, on both the inside and outside, at a lower cost, without affecting accuracy. The fine 3.6-inch barrel was right for carry. But a slightly longer barrel with a longer sight radius would help with stability, accuracy, reliability, and to minimize felt recoil and muzzle flip. The barrel had a 1:10 right-hand twist.
5. Sights – Score: 10
I really like the phosphorous dot front sight because it glows great and was easy to pick up. I held it next to a light bulb for just 30 seconds and then held the pistol in a dark closet and it was really bright and so easy to see. And it lasted for a good long time. Some of the other guns I have reviewed do not do that and are not charged in only a few seconds. The black, serrated Tactical Rack U-Notch rear sight was excellent without any glare or reflection.
6. Proper Gun Weight – Score: 9
The TP9 Elite weighs 24.8 ounces empty. This lends the pistol to be used for concealed carry, but its weight is on the fine borderline for all-day carry. I do not think this is a major determinant for most carriers but is for some. Generally, its weight is not a detriment. Recoil was a bit snappy from its 3.6-inch barrel, as the shooter would expect from most sub-compact guns this size. But, the extra ounces of weight in this Elite sub-compact 9mm made a difference and it felt less snappy than some of my other short-barreled sub-compact pistols.
7. Caliber – Score: 10
The TP9 Elite in 9mm caliber was not that snappy compared to some other 9mms for me but was easy and fun to shoot. I could easily handle the felt recoil while my wife had a minor concern, but overall it did not give her concerns. The almost 25 ounces in weight helped tame the recoil and muzzle rise. I definitely favor shooting the 9mm caliber for self-defense and home defense. And shooting 9mm ammo now is much less expensive than most other calibers and modern ammo with improved ballistics work fine. Of course, at this pandemic time, it is difficult to find any ammo and for a moderate price. I prefer the lessened felt recoil and reduced movement for improved accuracy with the 9mm caliber.
8. Capacity – Score: 10
I liked the standard 12-round flush-fit and 15-round extended capacity of the Canik TP9 Elite sub-compact 9mm included two certified Carbon Steel AISI 100 or 17-7 PH aircraft-grade stainless steel quality Mec-Gar magazines. Capacities are just right since you can carry the 12-round flush fit easily in your gun for carry, with the 15-round in your pocket/holder for refill. Replacement mags are available for only $29.99 each for 12 rounders and $33.99 for 15 rounders, at this time. There is a 17-rounder with grip extension for $36.99. I prefer at least two mags to be included as standard and they were. There are helpful round indicator holes in the mags.
9. Ergonomics – Score: 9
This pistol felt very solid and comfortable in my hands. Even with slightly more weight than some comparables, I could tell it is a high-quality pistol with stellar craftsmanship. The ergonomics of the TP9 Elite 9mm were very good and I was easily and comfortably able to reach all controls like the slide lever and magazine release. There is a trigger safety, but no manual safety. My wife with her small hands and me with my medium-sized hands both liked the way it felt in our hands and we were easily able to reach the controls. The slide, frame, barrel, and smaller parts are all nicely fit to enhance accuracy and reliability. It felt good to hold this small, but slightly heavy, thin pistol. I did notice that it had just a little muzzle flip, due to its slightly higher bore axis, but really not a problem to deal with. We just gripped it harder. The slide-to-frame fit was very solid and it was easy for me and my wife to rack the slide. The stainless-steel slide has forward and rear serrations. The TP9 Elite has a loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide and a striker-fire indicator (red) on the rear of the slide. The trigger guard is enlarged some to accommodate those wearing gloves or with large hands… and it is undercut to help the shooter get a better grip.
10. Miscellaneous – Score: 10
Without a doubt, the accessories package with this Canik TP9 Elite sub-compact 9mm is the most extensive of the many handguns I have reviewed. I almost did not have the space below the above photo to list everything included. The two cleaning tools, decent basic holster, and some extras were pleasant surprises. Just saves the shooter some necessary basic expenses upfront. The included Operating Manual was very detailed and specific. I easily disassembled and re-assembled the TP9 Elite before I shot it.
I really liked the flush 12-round magazine with the pinkie extension and it helped make my grip comfortable and solid. The TRP9’s grip texture was just right for my medium-sized hands, not too aggressive, and comfortable to handle. Included with the TP9 Elite sub-compact pistol is a polymer case, extra magazine, trigger lock, holster, extra base plate, extra backstrap, slide mounting plate, tool kit, cleaning rod, cleaning brush, and operating manual.
Urban Carry Lock Leather Hybrid Holster
Urban Carry has introduced a unique hybrid holster made of 100% American-made premium leather and kydex that is exceptional. They have said that “It provides the safety and security of kydex, with the comfort and durability of premium leather.” One of its fine features is a definitive minimal “click” retention device that very securely and solidly locks your gun in the holster. You can hear its click to confirm that your gun is locked in place securely. Your gun will stay in the holster, even if you turn the gun in the holster upside down. The holster has a reinforced opening to make sure the leather does not bend when inserting the firearm. Thick steerhide leather is used and the retention clip is designed to cover most of the open area inside the trigger guard.
It is available in both “Outside-the-Waistband” (OWB) and “Inside-the-Waistband” (IWB) models. It is also available for Optics and other add-ons, like red dots, lasers, lights, and compensators, with free shipping. It comes in the standard black and the classic brown color as shown above. The Urban Carry website says that their holsters come with a full 10-year warranty.
Total Points = 96 out of 100 Possible.
I certainly recommend this nice quality, value-priced Canik TP9 Elite SC 9mm pistol. It has very fine accuracy and high reliability. Its outstanding flat trigger and soft press, easy to pickup phosphorous front sight, match-grade 3.6″ barrel, and sturdy and attractive Tungsten Grey Cerakote Nitride slide make it very useful for concealed carry, home defense, and fun at the range. The many accessories and its fine craftsmanship make it a very good buy for the money. The accuracy and reliability are there to defend your life and your loved ones. Carry on!
Continued Success and Be Safe! CONTACTS:
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Urban Carry Holsters
Sanford, FL 32771
Fort Worth, TX 76102
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.
© 2022 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.
TP9 Elite Sub-Compact
Accuracy and Reliability