Gun Test: Canik TP9SFx
By Scott Smith
Canik handguns have been imported by Century Arms for the last few years. These pistols have somewhat of a cult following and after handling the TP9SFx both at the 2017 SHOT Show and on my range I understand why. It seems the various Turkish firearms manufactures have tapped into something that many of the big name players need to follow; give the customer a good value for their hard earned dollars.
The various models of the TP9 that have been imported all come with interchangeable backstraps to “customize” the fit and a true Picatinny rail for mounting weapons lights or lasers. The TP9SA has a slide mounted decocking lever and dovetail sights. The SF is their service weapon with a match grade 4.07” barrel, reversible magazine release and is striker fired; hence SF. The TP9DA is ships with a Warren Tactical rear sight for an improved sight picture over the SF and the slide is Cerakoted. When you look at the Canik website you will see all their pistols ship with a holster, magazine loader and cleaning brush.
Canik included these items with their “flagship” competition pistol the TP9SFx. This 5” match grade barreled pistol is packed with features. When you look at the pistol you notice the tungsten Cerakoted slide has five lightening cuts, extended magazine release (with other sizes included), Warren Tactical rear and front fiber optic sights and 2-20 round magazines.
After giving the pistol the visual once over, I felt around it for sharp edges. Pistols of all makes and models are notice for having sharp edges around the rear of the trigger guard where it blends into the front of the frame. It might be a little thing but when you are shooting a match or training class, a small sharp edge will make you miserable. The SFx has none of these. Truth be told the only sharp edges I could find are those on the sights where they should be for a crisp sight picture.
When you look in the case you will see four bases so that you can mount a mini red dot. There is also a racking extension in the parts box that has extra screws and magazine release buttons. Online you will find this package for around $500. Don’t let the price fool you, it’s a steal.
Out of the box the trigger was crisp with little to no over travel and minimal reset. Having Warren Tactical sights on other pistols, I can say the sight picture from the soft horseshoe “U” rear notch and bright red fiber optic front was perfect. The pistol felt great in my hand, possibly rivaling; don’t hate me, a Browning Hi-Power. When I pressed the magazine release, the magazine went sailing; even when it was covered with mud.
Century Arms sent the TP9SFx to me just before heading out to the USPSA Multi-gun Nationals and Area 6 Championships. After consulting Safariland, I found out that the 578 GLS Pro that fits my Sig X5 will also fit the Canik. With that information, if the TP9SFx shot as well as other Caniks I would shoot it.
Since these were championship level matches I was not going to take the TP9SFx right out of the box to a match unfired. I needed to know how the sights were regulated and get a feel for the trigger. To do that I took fifty rounds of Black Hills 115 grain full metal jacket and fifty rounds of Federal Premium 115 grain Syntech. That would be the initial range test and then off to Las Vegas and Atlanta. I kept this test simple; one USPSA metric target at fifteen and twenty five yards and fire five magazines filled with the one hundred rounds of test ammunition. Out of the box the pistol kept all one hundred rounds in the “A” zone at both distances.
Sadly I only fired thirty rounds at the Multi-gun Nationals after a questionable “180 violation” that caught several other shooters; my match ended early. That was not the case at the Area 6 Championships where I finished third in Limited 10 behind Colt’s Mark Reidl. The pistol never missed a beat, any misses were the operator’s fault. I have shot it in other sectional matches where it has allowed me to finish better than I thought I would.
Since receiving the pistol I have fired well over two thousand rounds both factory and reloads. I have not had a failure, even when shooting in the seemingly daily rain storms we have had. I have even loaded mud covered magazines and the pistol never misses a beat.
The only change I have made to the pistol from its factory condition was to install a shorter magazine release button and to put a Talon Granulate Grip, it’s the best $18 you can spend for a polymer grip. After banging a prop during the Buckeye Blast my Talon Grip was torn so I replaced it with one cut from material available from Dawson Precision. I used the Talon Grip as a pattern; it fits okay but is not as precise as Talon’s fit. I will caution you Dawson’s grip tape is very aggressive which I like but it is not for those with tender hands.
During down time from area and sectional matches I decided it was time to see how well the Tp9SFx really shot. For the test I used the aforementioned BHA 115 grain FMJ and Federal 115 grain Syntech as well as Federal’s 150 grain HST, Hornady’s 1235 grain FlexLock Critical Duty and from Sig Sauer their 115 grain V-Crown JHP and 115 grain FMJ as well as a mix of factory 147 grain loads and steel cased Russian ammunition. This mix covers a wide variety of loads on the market today.
After sending fifty or so rounds of each load down range at fifteen and twenty five yards from a bench rest I found the pistol was boringly reliable and easily kept five shot groups under three inches. Most of the groups hovered at two and a half inches, but when the heat index is 90+; sweaty hands and in the eyes can affect groups. As expected there was little variance in the POA/POI (point of aim/point of impact) varied little if any from load to load. Over the years I have found gone are the days of marked variance from one load to another. Thanks to SAMMI specs and governing bodies using the same “power factor” formula bullet weight in grains multiplied by velocity in feet per second over a chronograph divided by one thousand if the result is 125 or greater its minor, 165 or greater its major (9mm major is only legal in USPSA Open Class); manufactures know what consumers require. I have little doubt that the with a Ranson Rest and taking time to find the perfect load the TP9SFx is capable of shooting sub two inch five shot groups at twenty five yards. For my applications, if I can keep five shots in the upper A/B zone of a USPSA target; I am happy with the accuracy.
Earlier I mentioned that this pistol comes with slide mounts for various mini red dots. Canik like other manufactures is doing this due to the demand from users. Mini red dots have become tough enough and have long enough battery life to make them a viable option for duty, self-defense and competition. USPSA is driving this demand with the relatively new Concealed Carry Optics and Pistol Caliber Carbine divisions.
After perusing a number of manufactures, I contacted Meopta to get a MeoSight III. For those of you who don’t know the name Meopta, this is not a new comer to optics. The company has been making precision optics since 1933 in Czechoslovakia and they have been becoming a bigger player in the US since 2004. Over the last few years Meopta has grown into one of the best kept optics secrets in the industry. I tested my first Meopta scope (a 1-4X22KD) back in 2011 and found it to me an awesome piece of glass. This led me to believe the MSIII would be an excellent sight for the TP9SFx.
Canik’s number 1 plate fit the MSIII perfectly. To mount the sight, you first remove the slide plate with the rear sight, screw down the optic base and then mount the optic to the plate. Between Canik and Meopta all hardware and tools required are supplied. Once the optic was installed I screwed Canik’s charging handle into the base. For daily carry I would forego installing this, but for range/competition it makes loading/reloading easier.
To zero the MSIII I used both BHA and Sig’s 115 grain FMJ loads. Within thirty rounds, the pistol was dead on. I used Birchwood Casey’s EZ Score Multiple IPSC and Dirty Bird 16.5”X24” IPSC targets to zero and test the pistol/optic. As you can see from the images, the TP9SFx and MSIII makes for a wicked accurate combination.
What I like about the MeoSight III is that you can adjust the brightness easily and when turned on/off it returns to what you set it at. The adjustments are easy when you follow directions and ensure you loosen/tighten the locking screws on the rear of the sight. I found that the sight could be removed and remounted without POA/POI shifting. Lastly there is a notch on the sight that allows you to make a precision shot, something I have not seen on mini-red dot. I used this when shooting the twenty five yard groups on the Dirty Bird IPSC target.
During my testing Mother Nature gave opportunities to test the MSIII in bright sun, cloudy grey and monsoon wet days. Even when shooting in the rain, the dot was visible and the unit proved to be highly water resistant. As with any optic check with manufactures specifications. Meopta’s new MeoRed is guaranteed submersible waterproof and would be my choice for a duty weapon since you cannot control the conditions on duty. For competition, I am certain the MSIII will survive what the trials I put it through.
Online the MSIII is generally priced around $350-$400. This is about the average price for a quality mini red dot. With the previously mentions features, I give the nod to Meopta because with my prescription shooting glasses I do not get a halo around the dot. I have heard many folks who need corrective lens complain about this, blaming it on a defective optic. It’s not the optic; it is the way your prescription, shooting lens color/polarization bend focus on the dot. If you find a halo on an optic try another until you find one that works best for you.
Over the last four months I have put well over three thousand rounds through the Canik in hot, wet, dry, dusty muddy conditions. All I have done is lubricate it. There has not been a failure to feed or failure to fire except when I failed to depress the trigger safety properly. I had picked the pistol up off a table to start a stage (literally the second time I presented the pistol) and pushed the bar against the trigger not back in a normal motion. It was something I was able to reproduce after mentally playing back how I snatched up the pistol. This has never happened again. I cannot fault operator error on the pistol; the same as we cannot blame a shotgun when you short stroke the pump or you timidly operate a bolt on a quality rifle. The TP9SFx is just a rock solid reliable pistol.
Overall I found the Canik TP9SFx to be a helluva buy. It is well made, has a good trigger, excellent sights, reliable with any ammunition (I am sure there is something the TP does not like), fits most shooters hands well and the package makes it ready to take to the range. With the mini red dot plates and installing a quality optics such as the Meopta MeoSight III gives the user a pistol for many applications. If you are in the market for a quality pistol or mini red dot; consider Century Arms Canik TP9SFx and Meopta’s MeoSight III. You will not be disappointed. Once you get the new blaster or optic; get out to the range and shoot accurately, safely and have fun.
Scott Smith is a Disabled Veteran serving in the Army and USAF Reserve. He has been a federal police officer, is a charter member of IDPA and is actively involved with USPSA and various three gun competitions.
Close-up of the Warren Tactical Sights, note the “U” notch rear which allows your eyes to naturally center the fiber optic front. The scallops on the sides of the sights allow you to have a clearer image of the target area.
The lightening cuts on top of the slide reduce the slide mass, which reduces the recoil. This is a custom touch that costs big bucks to have done.
The undercut at the rear of the trigger guard allows you to get a higher grip. There are no sharp edges to wear your trigger finger which is very nice.
The ejection port is angled and recessed so you don’t have sharp edges to catch you and this helps reduce the case from catching on the port during extraction.
My TP9SFx riding in Safariland’s GLS Pro ready for three gun.
The TP9SFx with Talon Grips granulate grip, these adhesive grips vastly improve your purchase on a polymer pistol.
The MeoSight III is mounted on the TP9SFx with charging lever, ready for USPSA’s Carry Optics division. You can see the on/off switch at the front of the MSIII.
Running the TP9SFx at the 2017 USPSA’s Area 6 Championship.
The Canik TP9SFx with all the test ammunition from Black Hills, Federal, and Hornady.
These two targets were shot with factory sights, magazines had test ammo mixed.
This is how the MeoSight III ships.