Col (Dr) Ben Findley*
Col Ben give the Century Arms Canik TP9SA Handgun a thorough range test, grading and gun review.
USA -(AmmoLand.com)- Would you pay between $325 and $400 for a full-size striker-fired single-action-only (SAO) pistol in 9mm with a 4.5 inch barrel and decent reliability?
Some might say “maybe“, but I want it to have two 18-round magazines, a 5-pound or so trigger press, no manual safety, and several extras.
Well, maybe then at least consider a Canik TP9SA, since it seems to have all these things. Are these budget-priced Turkish-made Canik 9mms too good to be true?
Century Arms Canik TP9SA Handgun
My interest was peaked, so I just had to check it out for myself. I was mainly concerned about reliability and accuracy. The gun does not have an established long-term reputation, but I know two shooters who have it and really like it.
These guns are offered by Century Arms (www.centuryarms.biz) , the exclusive importer of Canik and one of the largest firearms importers in North America. Century Arms was nice enough to send me a TP9SA striker-fired gun in single action to review.
Since then, the Canik TP9SA model with very similar specifications, but without the decocker, has become available. What about the decocker? Is it beneficial? I have an opinion about that, so will share it with you below. I was anxious to review this value-priced single action gun with a decocker, the Canik TP9SA. I discovered that both TP9 models passed NATO accuracy standards of 50,000 rounds failure free and both have machined match-grade barrels, according to Century Arms. There is a third version which is a TP9 Version 2 in double action with a long, hard press and a decocker. At a glance, the TP9 Series of guns are a “little” 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.
Below are my criteria and my opinions after I analyzed, handled, and shot the Canik TP9SA. First, I want to give you the factory TP9SA specifications and features. Then I want to list my 10 personal criteria, present some of my considerations, opinions, and then my recommend or not recommend to purchase, after I field test it at the range.
My Criteria And Considerations
My ten Criteria for evaluating the TP9SA pistol are listed below and I will apply them for my home defense, fun plinking, and possible competition uses for the gun. Generally, I believe this gun is not optimal for concealed carry use considering its about 29oz pound weight, but your personal decision. Consider all your or my criteria. 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 5.0-6.5 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 & competition-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– much less for carry);
(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, features, and criteria to include and consider, so make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, and defined purpose and use. Establish your criteria first, before even considering any gun.
RANGE TESTING- Canik TP9SA Striker-Fired SAO 9mm
Below is my evaluation and analysis of the full-size 9mm Canik TP9SA, after shooting and handling it and carefully considering its specifications, etc.
You should know that I am not being paid to say these things by Century Arms or Canik, 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 shot and I only shot about 200 rounds through the gun, so it is 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 mention that the Canik TP9SA is made in Turkey and imported and sold by Century Arms International from their FL headquarters. I began my testing and evaluation process, with a top priority to rigorously test the gun for reliability, dependability, and accuracy for myself.
The first time I shot the gun out-of-the-box, I got all 18 hits within a 3-inch group or so (see image above) shooting rapid fire at 7 yards, with my first Canik TP9SA 18-round mag.
I had to pinch myself because I am an aging codger with somewhat impaired vision? Did I just get those hits shooting quickly?
What helped me was the great smooth single-action trigger and my corresponding minimal movement from the lighter press. Also, the travel distance was short for quicker follow-up hits.
Canik TP9SA Decocker
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 only about 7 pounds or so of force to engage the decocker and it made a very definite “click” sound. I found that it was not easy to accidentally engage or disengage it. Although wondering about the necessity for the decocker, I sincerely found it very useful for cleaning and disassembly. In fact, I really like the decocker with this particular single-action gun. Before I shot it, as always, I disassembled and cleaned it. Honestly, it was very easy to do and the TP9SA’s decocker made it so quick to take apart. All that was needed for the to take down 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 disassemble of any of my guns.
Like more expensive guns, the slide-to-frame fit was very tight and felt solid. When shooting it, 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. The TP9SA was smooth shooting and it was honestly FUN to shoot a nice full-sized, heavy guns for a change, rather than my smaller concealed carry subcompact and compact guns. The weight of the gun seemed to help my accuracy. For the rounds I shot with it, the TP9SA impressed me as a very solid full-size 9mms, with acceptable quality, very decent accuracy, good reliability, and it was comfortable, especially for the less than $400. price.
What follows is my analysis summary and point evaluation for each of my criteria as applied to the Canik TP9SA :
(1) The Accuracy of the Canik TP9SA 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 2.5 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 averaged between 5.1 to 5.4 pounds (below 5 pounds on a few readings), with 10 readings with my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. Certainly very acceptable for a new single-action pistol with no break-in. A very nice crisp break and I love single action triggers. This easily met my criterion and the light, crisp, and short press was very good. I didn’t expect this on a value-priced gun. 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… 10.
(3) The Trigger had a nice short travel distance with a 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 two-piece trigger safetry was similar to those on some other striker-fired pistols, so it can be carried in single-action mode with the striker pre-cocked. It still has the decocker button on top of the slide and pressing it causes the trigger to be dead. The trigger safety was comforting… 9.
(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 controllable and manageable. 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 felt recoil was manageable… 9.
(5) The 3-dot sights were steel and nice standard ones, but I would have preferred larger front sights and fiber optic ones for my old eyes. 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 with this gun… 9.
(6) The unloaded 28.8 ounce Weight was heavy enough to benefit the gun’s performance. It was heavier than what I am use to, but I could handle it well. The weight felt very solid in my hand and did help my accuracy… 9.
(7) The 9mm Caliber TP9SA gun was pleasant to shoot, made recoil very manageable, and I was accurate with it. The variety of 9mm ammo I bought was reasonably priced and the gun digested everything easily… 10.
(8) The 18+1 Capacity of the gun’s 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. They were quality mags, but I wanted one more for 3 total mags…. 9.
(9) The comfort, fit, and handling ergonomics of the gun were just right for the shape of my hand and its medium-size. I could easily reach all the controls and it felt very good in my hands. 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. The comfortable design of the backstrap permits high hand placement on the backstrap… 9.
(10) Miscellaneous. I easily & quickly disassembled & re-assembled and cleaned the TP9SA before I shot it. I did NOT have to press the trigger before disassembly for the TP9SA. It was very easy and quick to field strip. Several nice extras were included, but I wish it came with 3 mags and better sights, but it is a value-priced gun. I can certainly make do with the standard setup. I do not know about available parts & accessories. In the back of my mind, I have a general concern about a mass-produced, low-priced handgun from a manufacturer without a long-term proven quality record as to whether they can meet demand for parts, etc. So, I am somewhat hesitate because of the uncertainty. Time will provide more information… 7.
Total Points = 91 out of 100 Possible.
I RECOMMEND the Canik TP9SA handgun at its price point of less than $400. as a value-priced gun for fun plinking, with a slight reservation for the long term for primary home defense.
After more range time and a longer break-in period and reliability assessment over time, I might rely on it for competition shooting and home defense. This is a very nice spare home defense and backup gun, but it will not be my primary gun now. 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 Canik TP9SA full-size, striker-fired 9mm gun has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that this is just my short-range 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.
- Contact: Century Arms, 430 South Congress Ave, Suite 1, Delray Beach, FL 33445, (561) 265-4500; 1-800-527-1252
- CANIK Arms Turkey : http://www.canik55.com/
* 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.
© 2016 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 [email protected]
About Ben Findley:
“Col Ben” is retired with 30 years service in the U.S. Air Force, with joint services Special Ops duty and training, and is Air Force qualified as “Expert” in small arms. Ben is an experienced NRA-Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Range Safety Officer, and FL Concealed Carry License Instructor.
Ben recently wrote the book “Concealed Carry and Handgun Essentials for Personal Protection” with 57 comprehensive Chapters about concealed carry and handgun principles, techniques, and tips for both experienced and new shooters.