by Sam Hoober
Alien Gear's Sam Hoober reviews the TriStar T-100 Pistol , a compact 9mm handgun.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The TriStar T-100 pistol (aka the Canik Shark-C) is a compact DA/SA pistol with a shape reminiscent of the Magnum Research Baby Eagle/IWI Jericho pistol.
It's a compact, so it's clearly made with an eye on concealed carry or for shooters with smaller hands.
And it's fantastic.
I Think I'm A Clone Now
TriStar T-100 Pistol
If you're familiar with CZ pistols or the other clones such as the Baby Eagle, the TriStar T-100 is much the same. Double/single-action, manual safety, with a bobbed, quasi-skeletonized hammer. The hammer is larger than those on the actual CZ, but with aggressive serrations that make for easy purchase. Bore axis is low as the slide rides low in the frame, which can make getting purchase on the slide a tad difficult at times.
Carrying capacity is 15 rounds of 9mm or 12 rounds of .40 S&W.
The controls are a slide release/barrel link, thumb safety and a magazine release, all on the left side of the frame. Takedown is just like the 75; align the takedown notch on the frame and slide, take out the slide release/barrel link and pull the slide forward. Extracting the barrel link is a chore (a punch or flathead screwdriver helps) though owners on various forums report this eases with time.
Sights are three-dot night sights. They're a tad small, but easy to see. My research indicates the rear sight can be replaced with a CZ-compatible rear sight, but the front cannot with this model.
It comes with a hard plastic case, two MecGar magazines, speedloader, barrel brush, patch tool, cable lock and a user manual. Granted, some brands give you a lot less despite asking more in sticker, so that's a bonus.
TriStar T-100 Pistol Dimensions
The TriStar T-100 Pistol is definitely a compact, though it's deceivingly light as the frame is aluminum rather than steel. You'd think the Jericho-esque shape gives it a wide flare at the bottom of the slide, but it's actually that the upper half of the slide is beveled for about ⅝ of its length.
Overall, it's about the same size as a Glock 19. The frame itself is only an inch wide (exactly) but the controls bring the width to 1.3 inches. Overall length is 7.3 inches, barrel length is 3.7 inches, overall height (measured from the bottom of the magazine to the top of the rear sights) is about 5.2 inches.
Unloaded weight is only 24 ounces, so once again…deceivingly light.
Handling and Firing The T-100
The T-100 handgun, like any CZ or clone, is ergonomically outstanding. It fits the hand almost perfectly and points intuitively, acquiring sight picture with incredible ease. Since the slide runs inside the frame rails, lock-up is tight and it cycles very smoothly. It's a touch nose heavy unloaded, but balances perfectly once loaded.
The manual safety allows for cocked-and-locked carry or double-action carry. Unlike CZ's manual safety (which only works when the hammer is cocked) the safety can be engaged in double- or single-action mode. Generally, I prefer DA/SA autos have a decocker or decocking safety as I prefer not to manually lower the hammer over a live round if I don't have to. However, the hammer on the t-100 like its doppelganger the Canik Shark-C, makes it easy to do so in a controlled, confident manner. Just make sure to point it in a safe direction first.
The double-action pull is long and hard, but smooth and with minimal creep. In single-action mode, the trigger is short, light and equally smooth. Both firing modes have a short reset and a clean break. The firing pin block insures against drop-fires and thus requires the trigger to be pulled all the way to fire.
I didn't have my trigger gauge on hand, but I would estimate double-action weight somewhere between 12 to 14 pounds and single action weight between 4 to 5 pounds.
The trigger, by my standards, is shockingly good, especially relative to the price point but I'm perhaps not the best judge. I learned to shoot with double-action revolvers and S&W autos instead of plastic striker guns. For me, this gun was (to some degree) a welcome throwback to a time when flannel was never ironic and bacon was served with all meals; a time when men were men and so were the women. However, it doesn't feel “dated” at all.
Recoil is very light indeed. In fact, the muzzle rise – also quite moderate – is more noticeable than the recoil. It belies the compact size of the pistol.
I only had 100 rounds of Blazer brass FMJ and 50 rounds of Winchester Personal Protection JHP on hand, but it fed on both like a hungry goat with no misfeeds or failures. I doubt this gun will have issues with any ammunition including +P though I didn't shoot any and the manufacturer says to take it easy on the overpressure rounds.
As to accuracy, guns are inherently more accurate than the shooter. My range session didn't start well and my initial groups were awful. However, once I settled down and remembered how to shoot worth a darn, groups tightened to the 1.5-inch to 3-inch range in both single and double action at close (4 yards) medium (7 yards) and longer distances (12 yards), meaning the poor groups were solely the fault of the shooter.
In other words, this pistol is capable of being shockingly accurate if you are. Granted, it doesn't matter WHAT you shoot if you're shooting poorly. However, the impression I got was that this gun can be practically surgical.
Best Uses For The Canik Shark-C Handgun:
The T-100 is close to a “Goldilocks” gun. It feels amazing, is easily and rather intuitively operated, feeds reliably and shoots accurately. It's small enough for use as a concealed carry gun, but would make an excellent nightstand gun too. Shooters sensitive to recoil or with small hands would likely appreciate it a great deal in this aspect.
For concealed carry, it covers up very well with an IWB holster, and concealment with a high-ride OWB under an untucked shirt would also be feasible for some people.
However, there is a slight catch. Any holster made for the compact Baby Eagle/Jericho will fit this pistol but darn few people make them. Fortunately, I happen to know a guy and was able to get an IWB holster to carry this pistol in. (Meaning I work at Alien Gear. And they just grabbed an Alien Gear Baby Eagle Semi Compact holster for me. Big-time shoutout to our team for being amazing.) Other companies do too, but it may take some hunting.
The final verdict on the TriStar T-100 Pistol? I keep returning to the phrase “shockingly good” because it fits. Canik and/or TriStar may not be household names and the price point makes it seem too good to be true, but this gun will outshoot pistols with double the sticker price and bigger names on the slide. Frankly, if you're overlooking this or any other TriStar for those reasons you are only cheating yourself. MSRP is $460, but they can be found for under $400 nearly anywhere and sometimes less than $300. Frankly, getting out the door for $400 or less with a pistol this good is an incredible bargain.
About Sam Hoober