The pistol market is always looking for innovation, but something truly new is rare. We’re talking hen’s teeth made out of unicorn horn rare. The good idea fairy runs rampant in the industry, but it usually yields highly suspect results. However, this week my own state of Idaho handed us a winner.
Caracal is back, and they are better than ever. After a very limited release and subsequent full recall a few years ago, new Enhanced F pistols are finally available again. You can tell a lot about a company by how they handle a problem, and Caracal was all class in the recall. They never denied they had an issue, although problems were not widespread. They also didn’t lower the price and move on like nothing happened. They bought back or exchanged every pistol, and implemented design changes even though that meant you couldn’t buy a Caracal pistol in the United States for years. I have good news: It was worth the wait.
Quick Sight System
The test model I received is the Quick Sight System. If you have never held an Enhanced F pistol, you need to. The ergonomics of the gun are mind boggling, and if you are a pistol ninja, you’re going to like it. The grip fits your hand like it’s an extension of your body, and the grip angle is reminiscent of the German influence on the firearm’s design. This causes the pistol to point instinctively at the target when you raise the gun, and the sights fall naturally in your line of sight. If you are coming from anything else polymer-framed, the learning curve is near zero.
- Type: Striker-fired, double-action
- Cartridges: 9mm
- Capacity: 18+1 rds.
- Overall Length: 7 in.
- Barrel Length: 4 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 12 oz.
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 8 oz. (tested)
- Grips: Polymer
- Finish: Matte black
- Sights: Quick Sight System
- MSRP: $599
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The second thing you will immediately notice is the incredibly low bore axis. It’s even better than the CZ P-10, and that was pretty low. I don’t have a mathematical certainty on this, but I would wager it is the lowest bore axis of any pistol I have ever shot. This translates into very low felt recoil and muzzle flip, which keeps the gun on target for fast follow up shots. This baby was built to be used.
The unique feature of the Quick Sight System is exactly that, the sights. This is pretty hard to miss as it gives the pistol a unique silhouette. The rear sight has been moved forward of the ejection port, which is unique to say the least. This results in a very short sight radius, which is very quick to acquire. The common wisdom has always been that a longer sight radius is better for accurate shots, but a shorter one is quicker to achieve. That’s the basic physics of a pivot point.
This reflects that Caracal built this pistol for a specific purpose. I don’t expect to see these at Camp Perry anytime soon, but pistols were never really intended to be a ranged weapon. Pistols are meant for engaging close-range targets quickly. The Quick Sight System excels at this task. The rear notch is wide, which also aids in acquisition. The really crazy part about this setup, however, was how accurate it shot. A 2½-inch sight radius should be less than ideal for tight shots, but I had no problem in failure drills or small plates at the range. I’m looking forward to further testing. I’ll take one for the team and run another couple hundred rounds through this pistol in the coming weeks to find out.
The sights are rounded for carrying, and the rear sight is built into the slide, which makes them great in that they are snag free. The problem with any smooth sight on a pistol is the same, it makes one hand manipulation of the slide extremely difficult. Caracal must have had some real gunfighters in the design process because they solved this problem. At the back of the slide, where a rear sight would normally sit, is a shallow shelf cut into the slide. This cut is small enough to not affect CCW, but sharp enough to allow you to do any one hand slide manipulation you can think of. It’s a small but important detail. Well played Caracal.
There are plenty of other features to be happy about with the Enhanced F pistol. Front and rear cocking serrations are aggressive and tall enough to be useful. The takedown lever and magazine release are fully ambidextrous, though the slide release is not. The trigger, considering it cocks the striker in the first phase of pull, is surprisingly crisp. Not 1911 good, but for a polymer striker fired pistol, well within the acceptable range. There is some takeup, but nothing outside the norm. Once it breaks, it breaks clean. The slide release is better than most. It protrudes about a .125 of an inch from the frame, which makes it easy to manipulate, but not big enough to snag clothing. The polymer frame has enough texture to assist your grip, but not overly aggressive. For a CCW gun it is great, but for a duty gun you will still want some skateboard tape, in my opinion. There is a front dustcover rail for lights or lasers, which is pretty much expected in this day and age.
The best way to describe the look of this pistol is sturdy. Looks can be deceiving, and we only ran about 500 rounds through the gun this weekend for initial testing. But sturdy best describes the design of this pistol. There are big, chunky steel metal parts for the extractor and locking block. And I mean steel; they’re not some of the pot-metal trash we have seen on cheap pistols in the last year. The slide parts are held in by roll pins. You won’t be taking this apart with a plastic punch. The recoil spring is both large in diameter and thick. The guide rod and barrel lug are much beefier that a normal 9mm. We will see how this pistol holds up to the abuse of daily use, but I have high hopes for it from a design perspective.
The limited-edition Enhanced F pistols currently on the market have a slide and upper parts made by Caracal USA at the Wilcox Industries facility in New Hampshire. The frame is made in the UAE. From the Boise, Idaho headquarters, we soon expect to see fully American made pistols, after this limited-edition run is complete. I don’t get excited about a new pistol often, but this one is unique. It shoots like a dream and carries like a much smaller pistol.
For more information about the Caracal Enhanced F pistols, click https://caracalusa.com.
To purchase a Caracal on GunsAmerica.com, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=caracal.
See below for an interactive dealer locator map with the dealers who have the
new Enhanced F available.