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.