As we reported last week and as everyone familiar with this website knows, our friend Kevin O’Brien, AKA “Hognose”, passed away. Kevin was a good friend of looserounds and we often shared info back and forth for a variety of gun related topics. Not 100 percent sure that weaponsman.com has will be available in the coming years I will be running a weekly ( or maybe more or less often) “best of post” of some of Kevin’s best stuff from his website to save it for all and as a tribute to our friend.
M16A1 Maintenance Survey in Vietnam
By Kevin O’Brien ” Hognose”
We’re looking at a declassified report from the US Army Weapons Command in 1968. The report is available to subscribers to Small Arms of the World in their archives. And we came across the following little gem, which we’ve already served with several Vietnam-SF buds. Emphasis ours:
The first USAWECOM survey team stayed in Vietnam from 21 October1965 until 2 December 1966. (4) While the primary purpose of the team (5) was to provide maintenance instruction to a nucleus of officers and men from each brigade, who would then teach their own units, direct support organizations wece also instructed.
The team taught maintenance in every major USARV unit except the 1st Air Cavalry Division. (6) Students brought their own weapons, magazines, ammunition, cleaning materials, and accessories to class. A detailed inspection of each student’s equipment revealed that with the exception of the weapons of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, and the 5th Special Forces, all the weapons were poorly maintained.
The footnotes (4) and (5) refer to the team’s report and describe the makeup of the team — led by an ordnance LTC with four experts from USAWECOM and three from Colt. Note 6 explains why the Cav wasn’t trained — they said they were having no trrouble with the M16A1, and asked only for instructors to work with its divisional maint battalion small-arms shop.
So what was jacked up about the GIs’ guns?
The most common faults observed were:
Excessive oil on the weapon
Carbon buildup in the chamber, bolt, and bolt carrier group
Overloading of magazines with 21 rounds of ammunition
Oil and grit inside magazines (frequently accompanied by lubricated ammunition); and
Failure to replace worn or broken extractors and extractor springs.
Other deficiencies noted frequently were shortages of technical manuals, cleaning equipment, and repair parts, and a general lack of knowledge of the M16 rifle among officers and noncommissioned officers.
At first it may seem strange that soldiers were unfamiliar with their weapons, but you have to remember how this report fits into American small arms history. The M16A1 was a standard — in Vietnam, only. The rest of the Army still soldiered on with the M14, and an awful lot of people in Army Ordnance still had their noses out of joint that Westmoreland had ordered a lot of weapons that were Not Invented Here (the M14, like the M1 before it, was developed in-house by the Army). Some of them wanted the M16 to go away. Others wanted it to fail. Still others were captivated by the small-caliber, high-velocity concept and the M16’s brilliant ergonomics, and determined to help make it work. And many were of a type with Army men of all nations and all times: given a mission, intent on carrying it out.
We thought it was interesting that three airborne units (the 101st was still nominally Airborne at this time, although it would only have the name as n honorific by the time it left Vietnam) had few worries with their M16s, although it seems like the 1st Cav didn’t either. So why were the airborne units squared away, when most of the legs weren’t? Turns out that it wasn’t due to the higher quality of troops in the supposedly all-volunteer paratroop units, but had a more mundane explanation:
The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, the 173d Airborne Brigade, and the 5th Special Forces were the only units surveyed that had received training with the M16 for a significant period of time prior to deployment to Vietnam. Men in other units had been given training in marksmanship but little or no instruction in care and cleaning of the rifle.
On a follow-up visit, intended to cover maintenance of the very maintenance-intensive XM148 grenade launcher, a subsequent team discovered that many of the M16s turned in for maintenance (which might not be typical of all M16s in the field; a working weapon doesn’t get turned in for maintenance) had pitting in the chamber. They did the math and came up with a statistical prediction that 10% of all 16s in Vietnam would need a replacement barrel every three months. That correlated nicely with field complaints of extraction and ejection problems. One answer was to add chrome plating to the chamber (later, the whole bore) of all M16A1 rifles, and this report seems to be where that suggestion was first committed to official writing. This suggestion was not exactly rocket surgery: at the time, the Russians had been doing it for 20 years.
The chrome chamber weapons have “MP C” or “C MP C” markings on their barrels. The later Vietnam-era chrome bore weapons are marked “C MP B.” After the war, the marking changed to “C MP CHROME BORE” and that’s what most of the small supply of surplus M16 barrels say. The bore chroming is not a sign of a particular model of M16, it’s simply a running change, one of many hundrendrds
A lot more interesting stuff in this report. There is a CYA aspect to some of it, for sure, but it’s a window into a problem (M16 Jamming, circa 1966) of which much has been written, usually without reference to primary sources like this.
Kevin O’Brien was a Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).
In the last year of of the US Civil war, US Grant had taken command of the Army and had began his efforts to maneuver R.E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia into a position to be destroyed or taken. After the efforts of the Wilderness, Grant learned why “Old Mars Lee ” was so feared and respected by the men of the Army of the Potomac.
The series of attacks and counter attacks and marched and counter marches had brought both Armies to Spotsylvania. As usual Lee had anticipated what Grant had in mind and had his men there to throw up earth works just in time. The union army assaulted the CSA works numerous time to be repulsed. A Junior Officer came up with a tactic designed to breach the Rebel line earlier in the battle and after showing promise it was decided to try again on a large scale.
After a rainy night delayed the attack, the Northern men assaulted In a sector of the rebel lines known as the “The Mule Shoe”.,one of the most horrific 24 hours of the war took place. In the 200 yard long area that saw some of the heaviest and gruesome fighting , it became known as “The Bloody Angle”
The intense action took place at a section of a rebel salient known as the angle where the fighting reached an unprecedented level or savageness. As the Union attacked and gained the muddy works the close fighting became hand to hand. The ground , already wet with the rain and now blood, churned under the feet of the soldiers of each side as they locked into combat. The Lee re-enforced as Grant sent more until a staggering amount of men crowded a small area fighting to break the line and to hold the line.
“Nothing can describe the confusion, the savage, blood-curdling yells, the murderous faces, the awful curses, and the grisly horror of the melee.”
The fighting in the bloody angle was non stop for near 24 hours before the CSA engineers built up works 500 meter to the rear and the units withdrew unit by unit. The Unions troops completely exhausted and no doubt mentally shattered even if only temporary, withdrew from the taken by now useless works.
For those 24 hours in the angle, the veterans of the war had not seen anything like it. Men fought hand to hand and fired at each other muzzle to muzzle. Balls flew through the air like a swarm o bees. The wounded fell and as they tried to regain their feet became trampled down and into the mud by the men still fighting. sometimes 3 and four men deep. Accounts of survivors tell of men brought up to a blood rage and fighting beyond exhaustion. Some killing beyond their own physical limits but pushing on anyway. Blood lust seem to over take many of the men as they attempted to kill and maim with by any means. All the while the fight taking place in mud. filth blood, body parts and internal organs spilled on the ground while the wounded and dead piled up.
This went on for 24 hours before the battle ended. Those in it or saw it never forget it.
Horace Porter, a member of Grant’s “military family”wrote of it later.
“The appalling sight presented was harrowing in the extreme. Our own killed were scattered over a large space near the “angle,” while in front of the captured breastworks the enemy’s dead, vastly more numerous than our own, were piled upon each other in some places four layers deep, exhibiting every ghastly phase of mutilation. Below the mass of fast-decaying corpses, the convulsive twitching of limbs and the writhing of bodies showed that there were wounded men still alive and struggling to extricate themselves from the horrid entombment. Every relief possible was afforded, but in too many cases it came too late. The place was well named the “Bloody Angle.”
One story that always turns up of accounts of the fight is of the unbelievable amount of firepower used during the fight. Tells of all the trees standing cut down by musket balls. Then those felled trees further getting shot up until nothing was left of them bigger than a match book. One tree that was noticed by all during the fight was a large oak hit by so many minnie balls, that nothing of it remained but a 22 inch stump. The stump was saved after the battle by a local and found its way later into the Smithsonian. That stump pictured above. The remains of a large strong oak reduced to a stump attest to the wall of lead those men fought in. You could say there was more lead in the air than oxygen and I doubt vets of the fight would think it a joke.
Photo above is from Smithsonian. Obviously I have let out much of the details just to take a look at the stump and some of the horrible hand to hand slaughter that produced it, The battle was part of a much larger story of the campaign and is as compelling as all of the Civil War and the men who fought it. I recommend further reading for a full appreciation of the fight because this post barely starts to scratch the surface.
Tonight we learned something we had feared was coming over the last few days. Kevin O’Brien, known to most of his readers as Hognose, has passed away. Kevin’s brother updated his brother’s website a few days ago with news that his brother was in bad condition in the hospital and gave an email address for people who knew Kevin more than as a reader of his website. The details received privately had us greatly worried. With no sign of recovery his family did what most would want their families to do, let Kevin pass on peacefully.
Kevin’s website weaponsman.com was started almost at the same time as this website, and we have been following him since the start and vice versa. Kevin wrote about us in his “Weapons website of the week ” column and the track back is how we found him. He said many nice things about our work on his website and it was much appreciated at a time when this site was a two man show.
I got to know Kevin a little more personally via emails thanks to the introduction made by Daniel. I often would send Kevin copies of pictures I or one of the others took at industry shows and he was usually the first person I shared new gun news with or inside info. I was glad to get to know him better.
If you have not read his website, please do so. His brother has announced he will take it down soon and much will be lost. If you are not one of his regular readers, you don’t know what you are missing. In my opinion his was the best gun blog on the web. He did not do reviews or have the same format as us, but his site was a true blog and it is very entertaining, It is filled with vast technical data on many weapons and has stories told from Kevin’s long Army career as he was a Special Forces ( Green Beret). The name of the site came from his job in the SF “weaponsman” among other things he did in the Army, “WeaponsMan is a blog about weapons. Primarily ground combat weapons, primarily small arms and man-portable crew-served weapons. The site owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified.”
Some of his most darkly funny posts are the “when guns are outlawed then only outlaws will have , knive, poison, trucks, pillows, gravity etc etc., He would often end those posts with something like “Hug your loved ones tight as you never know when it may be the last time.” Sadly this is true for all and we lost Kevin all too soon.
I am going to miss Kevin. I spent a lot of time on his website reading and commenting , If you go there you will most always see a comment from me or Daniel in the comment section of nearly every post. Indeed is commenters are often subject experts themselves and were always well behaved and spoken, It was like the barbershop for firearms and military vets and firearms historians to go hang out at instead of working on their own stuff.
We hope Kevin has found peace, and we offer our condolences to Kevin’s Brother and Father and offer whatever assistance we can give if we can some how help ease their grief,.
Below is the post from his brother and a link. If his brother updates with more info we will try to edit and add it to this post.
I’m sorry to have to tell you all that my brother Kevin O’Brien, host of this blog, passed away peacefully this morning at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Let me start with some housekeeping. First, the email address email@example.com remains active and you may get more and better updates there. I say this because frankly I’m having trouble posting here. I don’t know Kevin’s WordPress password and I’m afraid that if I restart his computer, I will not be able to post any more because the password will not autofill. Therefore I can’t guarantee I will be able to make more updates on the blog.
We are planning a celebration of Kevin’s life for all of his friends some time in early to mid-June, here in Seacoast NH. I will have details in a couple of days. All those who knew and loved Kevin, including all Weaponsman readers, are welcome, but we will need an RSVP. Again, I will make details available to those who write to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is not restricted to personal friends of Kevin, but space will be limited, and we will not be able to fit everyone. It will be a great opportunity to share memories of Kevin.
We will be looking for stories and pictures of Kevin! Please send to the email address.
I expect that some time after the celebration, I will be shutting down the blog. No one other than Kevin could do it justice.
Finally, you should know that Small Dog, whose real name is Zac, has found a home with other relatives of ours. Of course the poor guy has no idea what has happened to his beloved friend but his life will go on.
Now I’d like to tell you more about Kevin and how he lived and died. He was born in 1958 to Robert and Barbara O’Brien. We grew up in Westborough, Mass. Kevin graduated from high school in 1975 and joined the Army in (I believe) 1979. He learned Czech at DLI and became a Ranger and a member of Special Forces.
Kevin’s happiest times were in the Army. He loved the service and was deeply committed to it. We were so proud when he earned the Green Beret. He was active duty for eight years and then stayed in the Reserves and National Guard for many years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2003. He told me after that that Afghan tour was when he felt he had made his strongest contribution to the world.
Kevin worked for a number of companies after leaving active duty. He had always loved weapons, history, the military, and writing, and saw a chance to combine all of his interests by creating Weaponsman.com. I think the quality of the writing was what always brought people back. Honestly, for what it’s worth, I have no interest in firearms. Don’t love them, don’t hate them, just not interested. But Kevin’s knowledge and writing skill made them fascinating for me.
Kevin and I really became close friends after our childhood. We saw each other just about every day after he moved to a house just two miles away from mine. In the winter of 2015, we began building our airplane together. You could not ask for a better building partner.
Last Thursday night was our last “normal” night working on the airplane. I could not join him Friday night, but on Saturday morning I got a call from the Portsmouth Regional Hospital. He had called 911 on Friday afternoon and was taken to the ER with what turned out to be a massive heart attack. Evidently he was conscious when he was brought in, but his heart stopped and he was revived after 60 minutes of CPR. He never reawakened.
On Saturday, he was transported to Brigham and Women’s where the medical staff made absolutely heroic efforts to save his life. Our dad came up on Sunday and we visited him Sunday, Monday, and today. Each day his condition became worse.
As of last night, it was obvious to everyone that he had almost no chance of survival; and that if he did by some chance survive, he would have no quality of life. Kevin’s heart was damaged beyond repair, his kidneys were not functioning, he had not regained consciousness, and he had internal bleeding that could not be stopped. We made the decision this morning to terminate life support.
I’m not crying tonight. I got that out on Saturday. What I feel is a permanent alteration and a loss that I know can never be healed. I loved Kevin so much. He was brilliant, funny, helpful, kind, caring, and remarkably talented.
At dinner tonight, we agreed that there are probably many people who never “got” Kevin, but there could not be anyone who disliked him. Rest in Peace.
Please feel free to express your thoughts in the comments and to the email@example.com email address
I want to apologize to Doc Kibbey. In my article regarding him I wrote that he did an event using Airsoft equipment. That is not correct. Doc was using and demonstrating UTM Non Lethal Training Ammunition and conversions. It was very interesting. This equipment allows the user to easily convert their own actual firearm to one used against masked and padded training partners. This allows a greater degree of realism in training over other methods. It seemed a little pricey to me for use by the average guy but does have benefits over that of other gear for this purpose. It might be very good for police and military use. After practice, the guns can be quickly return to their regular configuration. All safety precautions apply here as with any similar mode of training. UTM.
The last few years I have had the opportunity to attend a goodly number of firearms and related courses. Some of these I have written about, and there were many more of which I should have written about but alas I am under no requirement to do so and am getting lazier in my old age.
While studying under ‘big name’ nationally recognized instructors is great, sometimes there are others who are worth being given ‘a shot’, so to speak. A problem currently, is that the ‘market’ is flooded with instructors and ‘wanna be’ instructors. I witnessed one who was especially bad and what was worse was that his students were so new that they didn’t know he was bad. For those who have not seen this short article it is elsewhere on this webpage. Many of these ‘teachers’, new to the task, may often have been former military or law enforcement. What they are teaching may not really be relevant to the average guy. The class might be lots of fun, you learn new and interesting things, but they are things which may not apply to you, things which may never be useful to you. Or the methods taught may work only with specific equipment or only if you take them to a high level of skill. The teachers may be knowledgeable and skilled at their art but that does not automatically mean that they are good at transferring that knowledge to you. Remember the difference between the pro athlete and the coach. The pro might or might not make a good coach. The coach played that sport, maybe not at a pro level, but can bring others to that level.
Today I want to mention C.R. Williams and ‘Doc’ Kibbey.
C.R., I have seen off and on for several years when attending classes by the big boys. I have never attended any classes taught by him but have attended a ‘training group’ weekend which he organized and orchestrated. He has written four books, the first three of which have been consolidated into one. I have purchased these and find them to be quite similar to what I might have written. One of the things which I respect about C.R. is that he teaches only what he knows and is confident of. This is in contrast to some in the business. who try to determine what paying customers want, then try to learn enough about it to claim to teach it.
C.R. is located in Alabama but sometimes travels. His business is In Shadow In Light. (www.inshadowinlight.com) His books are: ‘Gunfighting, and other Thoughts about doing Violence’ (vol. 1-3 combined), and number 4, ‘Facing the Active Shooter’. This last one is updated annually. The books are worth buying.
Pierce Kibbey, I’ve only met recently, it was at an event given by C.R. ‘Doc’ (a title we once both shared) organized scenarios using Airsoft equipment For those not familiar, Airsoft guns use air powered plastic pellets so that (while wearing suitable protective gear) participants can simulate actual defensive situations against other participants. While the situations we did were well thought, what especially impressed me was his insistence on debriefings of the participants: ‘What did you see, What did you hear, At what point did you decide to…?, etc. Previously, ‘Doc’ Kibbey and I spend a couple hours one evening comparing our military experiences and discussing how we got to where we are.
Kibbey has a business called PRACTICs, which is located in central Florida (www.practicsinc.com). He offers more than just another ‘how to shoot the gun’ training. Simply participating in scenarios organized by Doc Kibbey was enough to show me that he is not simply a teacher but a teacher who thinks, there is a difference.
C.R. in Alabama, Doc in Florida, both are worth looking into and more than just a little consideration.
I think the Ruger Precision Rifle will be a keeper. I think this is good start.
Had my friend Jeremy Paynter over at Gulf Coast Armory Cerakote my PredatAR upper burnt bronze to match my FDE anodized Colt lower. I took a few pictures but they didn’t really turn out well and do the job justice. Once I get a better picture I’ll post up a hi-res one.
Also Shawn and I recorded the first episode of the Loose Rounds podcast. Once I figure out how we are going to handle hosting and the like, I’ll have it up so you all can listen to us mangle the English language. If you have any questions you would like us to discuss in the future, reply to this post or put them on our Facebook page.
Shortly after the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) first came out, a close friend of mine asked me what I thought about it. I’m pretty sure my response was something like, “Ruger is not generally associated with precision”
Later, much to my surprise, when I was talking to my VA doctor he pulled out targets he had shot with his RPR and he had some pretty impressive groups. I started reading about the rifle and found most everything I was reading was saying that the RPR is pretty outstanding. So when I saw one in 6.5 Creedmore for sale at Gulf Coast Armory I had to pick it up.
Sadly, I don’t have ammunition for it yet, so I haven’t gotten to see its true worth yet. But that has given me some time to pull it apart and examine it.
Overall I am very impressed with the rifle. I have the Gen 2 RPR that comes with a different handguard, muzzle brake, and aluminum bolt shroud. Sadly the Gen 2 rifles are $200 more then the older ones, and I think I would have preferred to have the Gen 1.
It looks like Ruger’s initial plan was to make a 1000 yard gun at $1000 dollars. The rifle is packed full of features that you don’t see elsewhere. The ability to use AR15 handguards and grips , A folding adjustable stock that can be replaced with any AR15 stock, a good adjustable trigger, threaded hammer forged 5R barrel. The barrel can be removed with an AR15 barrel wrench. 20 MOA rail, etc.
Lots of features. Now to get all that in that price, the rifle does have plenty of machining marks and a few sharp edges. I think the lack of perfect fit and finish is a negligible price to pay compared to what all else you are getting. However if you are a perfectionist, this may not be for you.
The RPR comes with a carbine buffer tube installed with a fully adjustable stock. Length of Pull, Cheek Riser height, can be adjusted along with the ability to cant the recoil pad. It also include a couple of places to attach a QD swivel. I really like this stock, but I find if you are trying to quickly make an adjustment it will bind up. Very adjustable, but not quick to adjust.
I really like that the RPR uses an AR15 safety with a reduced throw, about 45 degrees. Sadly this safety seems like it was added almost as an afterthought. While fully functional, it is kind of loose and actuating it feels sloppy. Instead of using a detent and spring like on the AR15, Ruger just relies on friction and a wire spring to hold the safety in place. When I had my rifle disassembled I found the Ruger safety looked like a rough investment casting coated with the cheapest black spray paint available. I swapped it out for an extra Colt safety I had laying around and that greatly reduced the slop and play in the safety. At some point I intend to get an Ambi safety for this rifle.
The Gen 1 rifles came with a keymod handguard with a full top rail. This interfered with some scopes that have a large objective lens. The newer RPR have a keymod handguard that omits that top rail. Some claim that you can put ANY AR15 handguard on the RPR, but that simply isn’t the case. Between the RPR receive and the hand guard nut, is the RPR’s barrel nut, which is about .2 inches long. This prevent any AR15 rail that uses the AR15 upper for alignment from fitting correctly. Some companies, like Midwest Industries and Seekins have made new handguards specifically for this Ruger rifle.
The muzzle break was added as part of the $200 upgrade on the Gen 2 rifles. First was that mine was installed crooked. This break is covered in burrs and looks like someones first machining project. I’ve already pulled it off as I intend to mount a Surefire Silencer. This is the only part of the rifle I really feel is unacceptable.
I am really excited about this rifle. I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.21
The Canik TP9SF is a firearm I have wanted to test out since it was released about a year ago. Canik has built a decent reputation with its TP9 series of pistols. The Canik TP9SF is imported by Century Arms and Century Arms was gracious enough to send us the pistol to test and review.
The TP9SF is the fourth pistol of the TP9 line. With each new TP9 pistol released, Canik is trying to answer consumer concerns and feedback about the TP9 line. With the Canik TP9SF’s release, the pistol now seems to be a serious defensive firearm contender, compared to other more expensive firearms in its class. Throughout this review I will post pictures and videos of the TP9SF so you can decide if the TP9SF is right for you and your needs.
When the Canik TP9SF showed up and I opened the box, I was really surprised at how nice the accessories and pistol were. As soon as I pulled it out from the case, started to handle and visually inspect the Canik, I could tell this was a very nicely built and machined firearm. The finish looked really nice and I quickly compared it to a few other firearms I had nearby (H&K VP9, Sig SP2022 & Glock 17). I found it felt, and visually was on par with these firearms. The slide finish actually looks as nice as the H&K. The polymer frame and stippling was also on par with these firearms. The Canik TP9SF is no ugly duckling when it comes to its overall finish/look compared to any other quality firearm I have. I was now very excited to get to the range and test it out. The Canik TP9SF made me feel like it was going to shoot as good as it looked.
The price of the Canik TP9SF is extremely good. I have found at full retail prices; you are looking at $349 dollars. Recently I have found some sales here and there, at very close to $300 dollars for the TP9SF, with the new Warren Tactical Sights, delivered to your FFL. While you might think you are not going to get a nice firearm at these prices, believe me, you are getting a very nice firearm with a lot of accessories. The Canik TP9SF comes in a nice case; with two magazines, a holster, cleaning patch rod, bore brush rod, extra larger back-strap, back-strap replacement tool, magazine loader and a full color gloss instruction/maintenance manual. This package pretty much sets you up with everything you need to initially get started with the Canik. While some of these items will need replacing, (mainly the holster), Canik has put forth a large effort to give you a very nice package. You really don’t get any of these included accessories with any other handgun out there, especially at the Canik price.
The Canik TP9SF has a 1913 Picatinny rail, enlarged heavy-duty external extractor, loaded chamber indicator and thumb and index finger stippling.
Slide & Frame
The Canik slide is machine cut/milled from a solid block of high carbon steel. The slide has a smooth even black Cerakote over a phosphate finish. The slide is rounded and beveled on the edges, across the top, front and back. The rear slide serrations are generous enough and allow you to get a sure grip on the slide when racking or manipulating the slide of the firearm. I would like to see more aggressive slide serrations but the serrations are deep enough to get the job done.
The Frame is a polymer design similar to other striker fired firearms. The Canik TP9SF has a Picatinny rail that can accommodate any aftermarket weapon light or laser. The polymer of the frame is very thick. It does not bend or flex like other polymer framed firearms. The lock up of the frame and slide has a very slight wobble from side to side, but you have to physically move the slide side to side with your hand to notice it. The takedown lever in the TP9SF operates like a Glock.
Barrel & Guide Rod
The Barrel on the TP9SF seems to have the same Cerakote over phosphate finish on it. After over 2000 rounds it has some of the classic barrel chatter marks. After cleaning and whipping it down, both sides of the chamber also have just a slight sign of wear.
The Canik TP9SF has a match grade steel barrel. The barrel is cold hammer forged and has traditional lands and grooves. The barrel has performed very well in testing and is very accurate. It has a very nice polished feed ramp.
The Canik TP9SF has a metal guide rod with a captive flat recoil spring. I was expecting the Canik to have a polymer guide rod but to my surprised it had a steel one. Yet another quality feature you are getting in the firearm at its price.
Grip Panels / Ergonomics
The stippling on the Canik TP9SF is similar to a Gen4 Glock on the front and back straps. The stippling is aggressive enough to notice but does not beat up your hand during extensive and long strings of fire. The three (3) included changeable backs straps give you the option to fit the grip size to your hand and adjust your length of pull for the firearm. The side grip stippling is very similar to a Gen3 Glock. Overall, I really like the grip texture and it is very comfortable while providing a positive grip during use.
The Canik TP9SF magazines are one of the obvious shinning features of the firearm. Canik used Mec-Gar magazines in their firearms. Mec-Gar makes the OEM magazines for several well-known firearm manufactures, like Sig Sauer and Beretta so you know you are getting quality magazines. Not only are the magazines hi-quality, they hold 18 rounds. The magazine capacity is more than any other standard Glock, H&K, Sig or any other full size pistol I have owned.
There are very nice (Canik Shield) markings on the magazine floor plates, that match the grip, the magazine loader and the case. The magazines are stamped (MEC-GER MFG. FOR CANIK – TP Series) on the magazine body. All of this just adds to the overall theme and quality of the pistol. The finish is very smooth, allowing for a nice, smooth insert and drop from the pistol. In the magazine quality and capacity department, the Canik TP9SF is absolutely killing it for the pistols price.
The Canik TP9SF has some new features on its sights compared to previous versions of the TP9 series. The front & rear steal sights are, dove tail sights. The dove tail is a new feature on the SF series. The steel sights are an upgrade for the Canik line, from their previous models plastic/polymer sights. With the dove tail sights, after market sights are possible. I have heard from several reliable sources, that there are a few sight companies working on sights for the TP9SF. This is a really good thing in my opinion because the stock sights are really busy.
The Canik TP9SF sights are accurate, once you get adjusted to them, then they hit right where you want. While very accurate, the sights did take a long time to acquire and slowed down follow up shots. I found the rear sight distracts your eye from quickly acquiring the front sight, due to the added vertical line on the rear sight. The two dots with the vertical line draw your eyes to the rear sight. The rear sight notch is also very shallow and it is hard to line up the front sight.
Rear Sight Distraction:
The stock rear TP9SF sights are very distracting for fast pick-up and shooting. There is just a little too much going on with the rear sight. I took a sharpie and blacked out the rear sight post line. This improved overall sight acquisition during shooting, to a traditional three (3) dot sight configuration feel.
Very recently Canik has started offering Warren Tactical sights on a few of their pistols. The new TP9SF’s seem to be coming exclusively with Warren Sights, at the same price points mentioned before. This is a huge improvement from the standard sights we have been talking about.
Loaded Chamber Indicator
The Canik TP9SF does have a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. The loaded chamber indicator is finished in the same Cerakote as the slide and has two bright red dots on each side to visually identify you have a round in the chamber. Another small nice touch on the Canik.
Firing Pin/striker Indicator
The Canik TP9SF also has a cocked striker indicator on the back of the slide. This visual indication shows that the firing pin/striker is in the cocked position, ready to fire, by a red indicator painted on the back of the slide. This is another feature you see on several other pistol on the market, that are at least twice the price of the Canik.
So far I have put over 2000 documented rounds of mix ammunition, (Blaser Brass 155grn FMJ, American Eagle 115grn FMJ, Fiocchi 115grn FMJ, Speer 147grn TMJ, Federal 147grn HST & Speer 147grn Gold Dot), through the Canik TP9SF. It has well over the 2000 round count; I just stopped counting after the 2000 round mark. I am confident it is over 2500k now. I have found the Canik TP9SF to be extremely reliable, just as any of my other firearms.
I spoke with Mrgunsngear a few months ago and received his permission to link his 1000 rounds test video to this article. Check out that video below for TP9SF reliability.
One week it was particularly humid and rainy, so I decided to take the TP9SF out in the rain and let it sit for the day. I then let it sit for 24 hours to see if any rust would show itself on the outside or inside parts of the pistol. After stripping and inspecting the TP9SF I found no rust on anything in the pistol.
note:I did observe one unexplained malfunction with the TP9SF. In the first 200 rounds fired, the TP9SF had a dead trigger on the 192nd round. My wife was firing the Canik during this time. The 192nd round chambered but the trigger was dead. The primer did not have a firing pin strike on it and for some reason the trigger did not reset after the previous round had been ejected. This was the only malfunction with the TP9SF out of all rounds fired and I could not reproduce the malfunction.
I found the TP9SF was very accurate and could do everything I needed it to do. The sight radius on the TP9SF is full sized, approximately 6.75 inches, by my measurement. I felt the sight picture was not that good, as stated before, but it does get the job done when you do your part. The angle of the sights had some glare from time to time as well. Even though the sights were not ideal for me, the TP9SF had great accuracy. With some aftermarket sights or the new Warren Tactical sights, I feel it will perform even better.
The 147grn Speer Gold Dot had several very impressive groups and it is one of my two defensive loads of choice. All shooting of the TP9SF was done off hand or from the holster. Not going to cherry pick groups here, you can clearly see some shots I pulled.
All of the controls on the TP9SF feel like they are in the right place for my hands. The slide release and magazine release require no shifting of the hand to hit.
The Slide Catch/Release Lever, or whatever you want to call it, is not ambidextrous but easy to use from the left side of the frame. I found I did have to adjust my grip to avoid riding the top of the lever with my strong hand thumb while firing. In the first 100 rounds video, you can see I had this issue, on the first magazine. I usually find myself contacting the slide stop/release with other firearms, making the slide not lock open on the last round in the magazine. This is something I do on several firearms and I know I have to adjust my grip slightly. I prefer to use the (over the top / sling shot method) when doing a reload for consistency across multiple platforms, so the slide catch lever does not get used that much for me on reloads.
Takedown Lever/Field Stripping
I will not spend a lot of time on this. If you have taken down a Glock, its exactly the same. Pull back slightly on the frame while pulling the takedown lever down. Release the slide and pull the trigger. The slide then pops forward and you pull it off.
The magazine release is metal and is reversible for left hand shooters. It has a very positive push/ release and aggressive checkering.
The trigger on the TP9SF is very nice. The trigger looks and operates like a Glock and other similar striker fired handguns. It has a smooth but a little long take-up before you hit the wall, then it has an extremely small amount of creep before it breaks very cleanly. If I had to nit-pick it would be on the take up being too long. The trigger reset is very short and I really like it. The reset is audible and strong, (similar to having a NY1 trigger in a Glock). For a $300-dollar firearm, there is really nothing to complain about with this trigger. It is giving several well known firearms a run for their money. Personally, I think it is actually a little nicer than the stock Glock trigger and if you have followed us for any length of time, you know I’m the Glock guy here. The break is cleaner (not spongy) and the reset is shorter than the Glocks.
The Canik seems to have a little more recoil than some of the other striker fire firearms that I own, but just slightly. The TP9SF bore axis is a little higher than on a Glock, with the large slide, this seemed to make a difference in the recoil. It just snaps a little more. Fast accurate follow up shots are still very easy to make and the sights come back on to target relatively quickly. As stated before, improved sights over the stock sights would improve sight acquisition. After a few rounds and adjusting to the TP9SF, I found the recoil to be a non-existent factor. Once again you can see some rounds I pulled, I will not cherry pick the best groups.
Accessories/Holsters – Shoutout:
The Canik’s have been around for several years and it is still hard to find quality holsters for them. During this review Kenetic Concepts Tactical http://kctkydex.com/ (KCT) was kind enough to make me a holster for the TP9SF. If you are going to carry the TP9SF, ditching the supplied holster is a must. I use less than handful of holster companies for my firearms, KCT was the only place that had the mold for the TP9SF. Some other companies did have holsters for the Canik but they were well over $100-dollars (special order) and that just does not keep in line with the TP9SF’s price. KCT will get you quality holster and magazine pouches, at a low price, and they are one place we highly recommend.
Throughout this review I found myself comparing the Canik to my H&K VP9, my Sig SP2022 and several of my Glocks. The Canik TP9SF has very similar characteristics and features close to these firearms. In-fact I might get a lot of blow back for this, but I am going to call the Canik TP9SF the poor man’s VP9. This is not an insult to the Canik but high praise. I let several of my co-workers handle the Canik and one in particular mentioned to me, “It kinda feels like my VP9”. He liked it so much, especially the price, that he bought the tan TP9SF.
I really like the Canik TP9SF. It has preformed and handled well above my expectations. If there is anything to complain about, it would only be the stock sights. Since the TP9SF is now coming with Warren Tactical sights, standard with the same price, I think that issue is fixed. The size of the TP9SF is very close to a Glock 17/22. It holds a few more rounds than most handguns that are the same size and I think that is the big advantage to the TP9SF. At it’s very low price point, it is a awesome truck, car or home defense firearm, if you are on a tight budget.
The Canik TP9SF is a very hard firearm to beat in its market. It is doing things as good, in fact better than some pistols in its price point. If you look at all firearms in the 350 or under category, there is no one doing as well as the TP9SF. It really does give firearms like Glocks, S&W M&Ps and Sig (SP2022/P320s) in the $450 to $500-dollar price range a run for the money. I would have no problem recommending it to anyone.
Thanks again to: http://www.ammoman.com/ for supplying the ammunition for this review. Without that support we could not complete these reviews. Also thanks to: http://kctkydex.com/ (KCT) for making us the custom holster for the review.