This “Fully Loaded” Turkish Import Delivers A Whole Lot Of 9mm
Performance At A Reasonable Price
By John Taffin
Photos: Takashi Sato
Over the past 30+ years, much has changed, especially our attitude towards 9mm pistols. There are many reasons for this. One is we have a virtually endless supply of excellent 9mm ammunition including a long list of very effective jacketed hollowpoint rounds. Another is the wonderful platforms to discharge them such as the Canik Model TP9 SFx featured here.
However, probably the most compelling reason is the fact we’re now all 30+ years older and those heavy kickin’ sixguns and semi-autos are not something we can handle for long strings nearly as well as we used to!
Yesterday I fired just over 400 rounds of 9mm. There’s no way I could do this now—at least not comfortably—with a .45 ACP or 10mm. The 9mm is not only much more comfortable to shoot, it’s now proven a highly effective self-defense choice as well.
Our test subject is one of the latest 9mm’s from the excellent gunmakers in Turkey through Century Arms. The Canik TP9 SFx is a polymer-framed, hi-capacity gun of the safety-trigger genre. Although officially advertised as having a 20-round capacity and a 5.2-inch barrel, my official ruler measures the barrel length at 5 inches. And the magazine capacity on my sample is 20 rounds.
Before we look at the specifications of the pistol itself, let us take a look at the extras included with the Canik TP9. Besides the relatively compact lockable plastic case, there’s a molded polymer holster with a removable back flap, allowing for either IWB or OWB. Two magazines with large bumper pads are included along with small and large interchangeable backstraps.
There are also four mounting plates for red-dot/reflex sights, plus the necessary wrenches for removing the rear sight assembly to install them. There’s also a cleaning rod/brush and an easy-to-follow owner’s manual. There are three magazine-release button extensions (small, medium and large) plus a cocking lever—which can be mounted on the right or left side—for easy slide manipulation when a red-dot sight is installed. That’s a lot of goodies to go with one pistol!
Now let’s look at the TP9 itself. The first thing catching my attention was the safety trigger. Normally, safety triggers do a real job on my trigger finger when I’m shooting a lot, so I normally have to tape my finger for protection. The TP9 trigger is very smooth and easy to operate, measures 4-1/4 pounds and at no time gave my trigger finger any grief.
Canik’s TP9 SFx all set up and ready to go with a Trijicon RMR optic
and 20+1 rounds of on-board 9mm firepower.
The pistol comes with 4 numbered plates designed to accept various red-dot optics
(in this case a Trijicon RMR). The tools needed to remove the Warren Tactical
Rear Sight are included as well.
Aesthetically speaking, I found this pistol to be exceptionally attractive from the first time I opened the box. No, it’s not a classic .44 Special blued sixgun with ivory grips.
However, among its type, it doesn’t take a backseat to anything.
Starting from the top and working our way down, we find a tungsten-gray Cerakoted slide which contrasts nicely with the black-finished polymer frame. The top of the slide—forged from a single piece of 4140 steel—is striated from the front of the rear sight to the rear of the front sight, except for the barrel portion in the ejection port. Cocking serrations are at both the front and rear of the slide. There are also four weight-reducing cutouts found on each side of the slide behind the front sight and two more at the bottom front of the slide.
The rear sight is a locking, drift-adjustable Warren Tactical Sight matched up with a fiber-optic front. Both sights are set in a dovetail. The rear features a backward-slanted square notch which works well with the red front sight.
Using the included Allen wrench, the rear sight assembly is locked in place with two screws and can be removed and replaced with one of the four RMR mounting plates. These plates are numbered 1 through 4 and will accommodate at least 9 current models of red-dot/reflex sights.
I used Plate No. 2 to install a Trijicon RMR Reflex sight. When I started the initial test-firing, I discovered a problem of my own making. I have very little feeling left in the fingers of my right hand and I hadn’t tightened the base down as much as it should have been. Once corrected, groups tightened up significantly.
The match-grade bushing-less barrel is button rifled. There’s a striker status indicator at the back of the slide which shows when the striker is cocked and ready to fire. The spec sheet also says there’s a loaded-chamber indicator; if there is I can’t find it.
John found the Canik’s “safety trigger” to be smoother than most
and very kind to his trigger finger.
In keeping with the competition niche of the pistol, those 20-round
magazines feature generous bumper pads.
Moving down to the black polymer frame we find the easily operated takedown lever on both sides of the frame above and forward of the trigger. The easily accessible and operated slide release is above the area where your thumb naturally rides.
The front of the triggerguard is squared off and serrated, and there is a 3-notch Picatinny rail in front of the triggerguard for mounting a weaponlight or laser. The TP9’s magazine drops easily and positively when the mag release button is pushed. The magazines are numbered on the back to indicate the number of rounds in place. These magazines both have generous bumper pads to protect them when dropped in the heat of competition. The grip itself is quite aggressively textured. The interchangeable backstraps and the frontstrap area are both covered with textured dots while the grip panel areas are like finely stippled sandpaper. All this combines for a very secure grip—there’s no way this pistol will twist in your hand.
The pistol comes with a polymer holster which can be employed in IWB or OWB mode.
Extra interchangeable backstraps (below) are also included.
Buckets Of Nine
More than two dozen versions of factory ammunition were used in testing the Canik TP9, and as normally experienced especially with 9mm semi-automatic pistols, this one showed a marked preference for certain loads. With the iron sights in place targets were fired at 15 yards with the best results coming from Israeli Military Industries 115-grain Ex-Star at just under 1,300 fps and a five-shot group of 1-1/8 inches. The SIG SAUER 115-grain FMJ was right behind it with a 1-3/8-inch group at 1,240 fps. Other groups well under 2 inches included Black Hills’s 124-grain FMJ, 115-grain JHP and 147-grain FMJ. Buffalo Bore’s 124-grain FMJ and 147 JHP also shot well under 2 inches.
With the Trijicon RMR sight aboard, I moved the targets out to 25 yards. Here, best results were with the Black Hills 115-grain JHP+P at 1,340 fps (1-5/8) and two SIG SAUER loads—their 124-grain JHP at 1,225 fps (1-3/4) and 147-grain FMJ with the same group size at just over 1,000 fps.
John was impressed with the “on paper” performance of the TP9 SFx at 15 yards with
iron sights (top) as well as 25 yards with the Trijicon RMR optic on board (bottom).
The Canik TP9 SFx is designed for competition, basically on steel plates and poppers. I started out shooting it at small rocks at 25 yards. Once I got it sighted in I filled the magazine to capacity with 20 rounds of FMJ and proceeded to run it as fast as I could, shooting at a 4-inch rubber cube at 20 yards. It went through those 20 rounds with nary a stutter—no failures to feed or eject. I then had three of my friends go through the same exercise with the same results. They all had very positive things to say about how the TP9 shot and felt. “This is OK!” was heard repeatedly. This continued to be the case with every factory load I tried.
Just holding the TP9—let alone shooting it—I got the urge to compete. However, even though the spirit is willing, the flesh is definitely weak and those days are gone forever. But the gun can certainly be used for other things such as plinking (next to .22 rimfire, 9mm is the least expensive ammunition available), as an everyday packin’ pistol, even a self-defense semi auto. With its easy handling qualities and 20-round capacity, it would certainly serve well as a house or truck gun. For day-to-day carrying and/or concealed use, I would prefer a magazine which fits flush with the grip frame. At 27 ounces, I do not find the gun objectionable weight-wise for packing and the polymer holster which is included locks the pistol securely in place and releases it when needed.
With a retail price of $549.99, the Canik TP9 SFx is a good value for money spent.
The Trijicon RMR optic combines ruggedness and precision in a
relatively unobtrusive package.
Trijicon provided an RMR sight for use with the Canik TP9. By the time you read this the new improved RMR Type 2 version will be available. It includes a reticle which automatically adjusts to lighting conditions.
This LED RMR sight operates with a CR2032 battery which will last two years in typical use. Windage and elevation adjustments are accomplished with 1 MOA per click. Elevation adjustment is on the top of the back of the sight base while the windage adjustment is on the right side. Both are clearly marked as to which way they are to be turned.
Other enhancements? The True-Color multi-coated lens aids in light transmission. One feature I hope I never have to make use of is the fact the RMR Type 2 sight is waterproof to a depth of 66 feet.
49385 Shafer Ave.
Wixom, MI 48393
Sight Window: 0.87 x 0.63 inches
Lens: Tempered glass
Click Value: 1 MOA, Internal Adj.
Range: 150 MOA
Weight: 1.2 ounces (with battery)
Battery: (1) CR2032
Battery life: 2 years (vcontinuous use), 5 years (dark storage)
Reticles available: 3.25 MOA or 6.5 MOA dot
Black Hills Ammunition
P.O. Box 3090
Rapid City SD 57709
P.O. Box 1480
St. Ignatius, MT 59865
Federal Cartridge Co.
900 Ehlen Dr.
Anoka, MN 55303
1304 W. Red Baron Rd.
P.O. Box 2086
Payson, AZ 85541
10777 Westheimer Rd., Suite 101
Houston, TX 77042
72 Pease Blvd.
Newington, NH 03801
P.O. Box 856
Lewiston, ID 83501
Tech Enterprises, Inc.
509 Texas School Rd.
Eubank, KY 42567