Ask anyone on the street to name which country makes the finest machines on the planet, they’ll reply, “Germany” or “Switzerland”—and for good reason. Industry legends like SIG Sauer and Heckler and Koch hail from these European titans of industry. Very few people, including myself, would reply, “Turkey.” At least until they had the chance to shoot the pistol of choice for Turkey’s law enforcement officers, the Canik TP9SA imported and sold by Century Arms.

The Turkish TP9SA is a striker-fired, semiautomatic, polymer-framed handgun chambered in the ubiquitous 9x19mm cartridge. Sound familiar? It should, pistols of this type have been flooding the market for over a decade in the hopes of dethroning the Austrian king. Most have one or two improvements over Glock’s pistols, and either match or surpass the gold standard’s price point. Turkish arms-maker Canik chose a different route: they decided to make a true competitor to Gaston’s pride and joy that bests it in nearly every category—and for less money.

The model preceding the TP9SA is the TP9. Based on the successful German Walther P99, the TP9 improved its design by replacing the HK-style magazine release with a more traditional push-button one. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the P99 specifically because of this magazine release. So naturally I bought a TP9 as soon as I could.

In line with many other modern designs, the striker-fired Canik TP9SA is made in Turkey and features a polymer frame.
In line with many other modern designs, the striker-fired Canik TP9SA is made in Turkey and features a polymer frame.

Despite the TP9’s improved controls over its German forebear, the frame’s awkwardly rigid construction and hefty trigger pull prevented the TP9 from achieving “must-have” status. Thankfully, the SA variant remedies these issues while retaining its affordable price point.

Since my grasp of the Turkish language is fictional at best, I can only assume the “SA” at the end of the gun’s name stands for “single action,” despite it being striker-fired. Upon closer inspection of the TP9SA’s inner workings, the trigger is more single-action than most striker-fired handgun. Although this sounds contradictory, the TP9SA basically pre-primes its striker further than most competing designs. This, combined with a more-scalloped, better-polished sear, achieves a shorter, lighter trigger pull that feels more like a single-action gun than the typically spongy, striker-fired one.

What’s amazing is just how effective this is. The original TP9 has a pull reminiscent of a double-action revolver, doing the shooter no favors for accurate shooting. The trigger is one of the main reasons I passed up on the previous model of this Ottoman automatic, despite its affordable price and impressive reliability.

Aside from a great trigger pull, the TP9SA also sports a slew of other improvements over the original TP9 that make it a much more comfortable pistol for shooters. Interchangeable back straps, a slimmed grip shape, and omnidirectional back and front strap checkering demonstrate that the TP9SA engineers incorporated lessons learned from the previous model, resulting in a surprisingly comfortable sidearm.

This is especially impressive given the size of my hands; small Mechanix gloves are barely too small for my mitts. If the gun fits me, it is a suitable choice for smaller-handed shooters of the fairer sex. So when you come home from your FFL with two, you can insist one is for her. And unless she’s only accustomed to SIG P210s or Hämmerlis, she’ll love it. Additionally, thanks to the interchangeable back straps, larger shooters can increase the size of the gun’s grip to better facilitate their massive meat hooks.

Obviously, good ergonomics and a quality trigger greatly aid in both usability and accuracy, but the barrel and the sights are just as important. Thankfully the TP9SA has a cold hammer-forged 4.4-inch barrel and effective three-dot, adjustable sights. The latter is a lifesaver for shooters using different grain ammo than the gun was originally zeroed with. The front sight post also features a white vertical line between the two dots of the rear sight.

Also keeping with other modern designs, the TP9SA features an accessory rail on the frame right below the muzzle.
Also keeping with other modern designs, the TP9SA features an accessory rail on the frame right below the muzzle.

Just forward of the rear sight is the TP9SA’s most controversial feature: a decocker. Since the gun lacks second-strike capability, decocking the pistol renders it useless until racked again, even with a round chambered. On the previous TP9 model this made sense. It allowed shooters accustomed to guns like the SIG P22X series the ability to decock their handgun, giving it a heavier trigger pull on the first shot. While I’m not personally a proponent of this manual of arms, some shooters swear by it.

That said, on a gunwhose trigger can only drop the striker and not rearm it, this button is a liability. While this feature is absent in the next evolution of the TP9, the TP9SF, shooters should not be overly concerned with it so long as they acknowledge and train around it. Especially since the button itself is difficult to accidentally activate due its location and the force required to do so.

Below the muzzle is the TP9SA’s accessory rail, a must on all modern semiautomatic pistols. Many shooters never take advantage of this feature, but if they’re looking for a perfect bedside gun for home defense, the addition of a tactical light could save their lives. Not being able to see your assailant makes neutralizing them prohibitively difficult, as does a gun with poor accuracy. Good thing this wasn’t the case with the TP9SA.

Two-inch shot groups at 15 yards seemed to be the norm for the TP9SA,.
Two-inch shot groups at 15 yards seemed to be the norm for the TP9SA,.

Accuracy from the TP9SA was good, but not astounding. Firing from a table at 15 yards, the grouped under two inches with all the varieties of 9x19mm ammo ranging from 115-grain to 124-grain. When employed with heavier rounds like the 147-grain CCI Lawman TMJ ammo, the groups more than double in size and shifted a full three inches right. In all fairness, this is a fairly uncommon round, and even with sub four-inch groups at 45 feet, the TP9SA would still be an effective home-defense gun. However, unless a shooter only has 147-grain ammo at their disposal, I would advise against its use in this handgun.

Last, but certainly not least, is the gun’s finish. One of the strangest trends in Canik’s line of handguns is the extensive finish options they offer on them, ranging from classic coats like black, olive drab, and desert tan to oddball colors like gold and titanium. Currently, the only two colors imported by Century Arms are black and desert tan. On all models, the finish appears to be a baked-on Duracoat-like finish. It’s even throughout and reasonably resilient to wear and tear.

With an MSRP of $368, and a street price even lower, the TP9SA offers budget-conscious buyers a tremendous amount of value. Shipping with a magazine loader, Serpa-style holster, and two magazines gives the average shooter the perfect home defense gun without breaking the bank. While there are certainly better handguns available on the market, most are at least $150 more expensive.

Image by Jim Grant

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  • FLOYD

    WELL, I OWN ONE OF THESE PISTOLS, AND CAN TELL YOU THAT IT IS ON PAR WITH WHAT YOU CALL “BETTER HANDGUNS” I AM ASSUMING THAT BECAUSE A PISTOL COSTS 500-600 DOLLARS, IT’S THOUGHT TO BE BETTER… I NEVER CRITIQUED FIREARMS ON ANYTHING BUT THEIR PERFORMANCE, AND THIS PISTOL MUST BE EXPERIENCED. THIS CANIK TP9SA IS SIMPLY AMAZING AND HAS, AND DOES, EVERYTHING GLOCK OR EVEN HK CAN DO….THE PHENOMENAL TRIGGER ITSELF LEAVES THEM IN THE DUST…… I’LL TAKE IT OVER THE GLOCK, ANY DAY

    • don

      a lot of complainers say the decoker is its killer–forget the decoker an its just like the glock with a better trigger an does not look like a hi point like a glock–an it shoots every thing

  • supersoundmind

    I agree with Floyd. The trigger and trigger reset in this firearm set it apart from the rest. I’ll take my canik over ANY other polymer gun any day. My accuracy with my Canik is far superior than my Glocks or Smith’s. It’s on par with my CZ and witnesses. I’d take a Cz or witness over a glock as well. I’ve owned or own just about every big name you can think of, my Canik has quickly became my favorite, the quality is amazing.

  • TriggerTaiChi

    I recently purchased this pistol in April when I went to pick up a different pistol that they no longer had in stock. My brother recommended and I did I little research on the Canik / Century Arms 9mm and when the opportunity presented itself, I put my card down and made the purchase. I had buyers remorse about 30 minutes later due to me walking into a different gun shop and seeing the original pistol I wanted to purchase in the gun case… but decided to give this pistol a chance, throwing the negative talk about the decocker in the wind and take her to the range and try it out. I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY I MADE THE DECISION TO KEEP HER!!!! THE TRIGGER IS AMAZING, ITS ACCURATE, BATTLE ACCURATE. THE PRICE IS JUST THE ICING ON THE CAKE FOR A EXCELLENT GUN! 1000 ROUNDS THROUGH IT, NO HICCUPS SO FAR WHAT SO EVER….. As far as the decocker is concerned, I train with mine, and not once have i hit the decocker by mistake, or caused a dead trigger, it is a non issue for me. I think this is a great gun, and that you should have one! I have fired and used FN, Glocks, Springfields, CZ, Beretta, Rock Island, Bersa, Sigs, HK’s, Ruger, Full sized & compact, and I can say….. this is easily one of my fav’s!

  • Randy Horrell

    Wow, this $340.00 weapon with ALL the toys that came with it? Man, what a bargain, I was so happy to get rid of my G19 because it is suppose to be the best? Well for $500 to $600 dollars, you can buy this SWEET gun and 1000 rounds of ammo? Head to the range and enjoy. I bought 3 extra mags and 1000 rounds of http://www.freedommunitions.com and can’t believe how sweet it is running all 6 mags, reload, keep going, reload, it’s awesome !!!. The trigger? Best I have ever had. Color? Desert Tan, had it 4 months, wearing normal, but I do use my IWB leather holster I had that I used on my G19 and it fits perfect 🙂 I could go on for ever. The de-cocker is a NON issue, but I am getting a black TP9SF in a few months. man, I love this stuff. and, Century Arms are great folks. they distribute and service, good stuff that can only get better, same with http://www.preppergunshop.com too. If you don’t get one of these for carry, home defense, shooting range fun, you will be bummed you didn’t get one. Fit and finish is great. man, I love this gun, GO BUY ONE !!! Only complaint so far is NO after market sights. So, for MY eyes, I used day glo orange paint and painted the dot on the front site and blacked out the rear dots and the line, it was just to busy for me. GO BUY ONE !!!

  • Scott

    One of the pictures on this page shows the handgun with a tan lower and a black slide (https://cdn.outdoorhub.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/03/outdoorhub-new-canik-tp9sa-lives-hype-2015-03-02_21-27-03.jpg). Can it be purchased this way somewhere? I asked Century Arms and they said they do not, and will not be, selling it in this configuration.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Jay T

    I own several 9mm pistols that cost anywhere from 500.00 to over 2000.00 dollars and this pistol in my opinion ranks up there with the high dollar one’s. I was introduced to this pistol by a friend who brought to the rifle range and asked me to shoot it. He said nothing about the price he had paid ,he just loaded up two mags and laid it beside me. Long story short after I ran the two mags and about twenty more through it he told me what he paid for it and when I walked thru the front door of my house after the range session was over I bought one in about 5 minutes. This is an outstanding pistol at any price.

  • Scott

    Most amazing reset and trig is on my Slavic Grand power mk7 makes gen 1 PPP walther look slow

  • Scott

    That’s the Ppq walther sorry for the typo

  • Scott

    Mk7 is now the mk12. A tool worth 7 going for 5