By Bob Campbell,
A few years ago the Canik TP9 pistol was introduced in America. A product of the Turkish arms industry, the pistol was a credible but not exact clone of a Walther design. The pistol has proven reliable and accurate enough. The price point was attractive and the pistol is well established.
The TP9SF Elite S is an improvement over the original in many ways and is designed as the top of the line pistol among the Canik polymer frame pistols. (They also offer a CZ75-like 9mm handgun.) The new pistol is a single-action-only pistol and a compact design. The dimensions are attractive for concealed carry. The pistol is a fifteen shot 9mm so it isn’t as compact as a Glock 43, but for those of us that wish to deploy a powerful, reliable handgun that handles well and offers a good reserve of ammunition, the TP9 is a wise choice.
The TP9 Elite features a polymer frame and steel slide. A major upgrade is the gunmetal grey Cerakote finish the slide is treated to. This is an attractive finish done well. The cocking serrations are generous and the pistol also features modest forward cocking serrations. The machine work is precise. There are no visible tool marks under the slide. The pistol features Warren tactical sights. The U-shaped rear sight combines with a fiber insert front sight to make for an excellent sight picture. These sights are great for speed shooting but offer a good sight picture for precision as well. This is an upgrade that shooters have been performing on existing Canik handguns. The new Elite version is factory supplied with this custom-grade sight set.
The frame is a better fit to my hand than the original TP9. The combination of pebbling and checkering offers good adhesion when firing but was never uncomfortable. The magazine base pad offers a portion of a rest and all but the largest hand sizes will find a comfortable purchase on these grips. Finger reliefs on each side of the receiver make for a shorter trigger reach. The magazine release is positive and may be actuated without shifting the firing grip. The slide lock/slide release is ambidextrous.
Take down is in Glock fashion by pressing two levers to the bottom of the frame. The rear of the slide tips over the firing mechanism in disassembly and must be angled back into battery. In practice the pistol is simple to field strip and maintain.
The magazines are steel units with a capacity of fifteen cartridges. The trigger action is single-action. There is a modest amount of take up and the trigger action breaks at 3.75 pounds, lighter than the advertised 4.5 pounds. The Glock, for comparison, usually breaks at 5.5 pounds and my well used Smith & Wesson Shield .45 at 6.0 pounds. And these are double-action-only handguns while the TP9 is a single-action. I would rely upon the double-action first shot pistol with its heavier action for carry, but would not carry a single-action cocked unless the action includes a positive safety. (See sidebar.) There is a lever in the center of the trigger that must be depressed in order to move the trigger to fire the Canik.
The Elite pistol features a new design manual safety. It is a paddle type that is pressed upward to guard the trigger against inadvertent discharge. No amount of
attempting to sneak around this cage to press the trigger was successful. This is an effective safety. As the safety is moved to the off position there is a positive “snick.” I would recommend plenty of practice with this or any other safety. This is a single-action design and
this makes for a lighter, crisp trigger and excellent hit probability. You also need to be familiar with the trigger to use it well and to use it safely. I would studiously avoid moving the safety to off safe with the support hand as you go into a two-hand hold. You may have only one hand to use in an emergency and that hand should manipulate the safety.
The pistol should be carried on safe. I am sure many will choose not to engage the safety as a matter of course. Trigger discipline and common sense mean more than the trigger action. If you do not wish to own a handgun with a manual safety this isn’t the handgun for you. This review isn’t a recommendation of the pistol but rather an evaluation in order to give everyone good information to make their choice. I personally prefer a manual safety and find the Canik TP9 Series a good value and reliable shooters.
During the initial range work the pistol featured a few short cycles or failures to go into battery. This is common with new handguns, especially with standard velocity practice loads. These short cycles disappeared in the first 50 rounds and never occurred with full power defense loads. The pistol’s recoil spring is set up to control full power loads and +P loads, so this modest break in was acceptable. Malfunctions after the break in are not acceptable and would have been either a gun problem or shooter error.
The Canik 9mm was lubricated prior to testing. The initial work was done in com bat style firing at 5-, 7- and 10-yards. The Canik feels good in the hand and tracks well on target. A 9mm this size doesn’t exhibit much recoil, but just the same the pistol was very comfortable. This 9mm may be labeled soft shooting. All loads functioned well. The U-shaped rear sight proved to be effective in fast shooting. The pistol is clearly a credible, even superior, choice for personal defense. I moved to rapid ammunition supply replenishment. Hit the magazine release and slap another magazine in and the Canik is as fast as any handgun. Driving a tapered magazine into a generous magazine well is fast, very fast. During these drills I used the supplied plastic holster which is packaged with the pistol.
This paddle holster is fine for range use but it is not service grade. I have fired several hundred cartridges without a malfunction. The pistol offers excellent combat accuracy. Hits were centered on the target at 5, 7 and 10 yards. Recoil is modest.
I have fired for accuracy at 15 yards with this pistol on a number of occasions, with excellent results. The crisp trigger is an aid in this type of work and so are the Warren sights. I used proven loads for this evaluation from Black Hills Ammunition. I fired for groups; firing two five-shot groups with several loads. I wanted to confirm the zero with the likely carry load. The results are shown above. The pistol is accurate in both the tactical and target sense.
The Canik TP9 SF Elite S is a handgun with many good features. There are no shortcuts taken with this handgun that I am able to discern. The pistol is affordable, reliable, and accurate, all we can ask.