Built for Speed – Canik TP9 SFx Full Review

Mounting red dot, or reflex, sights on handguns continues to grow in popularity.   Many of the most popular handgun brands sold in the United States now offer one or more models that will allow mounting of a red dot sight directly on the slide.  Additionally, custom gunsmiths have added new services to modify your currently owned handgun slide to accept a red dot sight.  Recognizing this trend, the Turkish manufacturer Canik has released their newest model, the TP9 SFx.

History

If you’ve never heard of the Canik brand, that’s understandable.  Canik started producing and selling the TP9 series of pistols globally as far back as 2009.  It wasn’t until 2012 that they formed a business relationship with Vermont based Century Arms to import, market, and service Canik handguns in the United States.  The TP9 SFx joins six other TP9 handgun model variants that are currently available in the US.

All Canik handguns are covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.  The limited part means the lifetime warranty covers only the original purchaser.

Features

After opening the impressive plastic shipping box containing the TP9 SFx, and the multitude of included accessories, I had to take a few minutes to admire how good the pistol looked.  This competition model has an extended 5.2-inch barrel length so the slide had to be extended by a proportional amount.  Lightening cuts and forward slide serrations have been added to the slide to reduce the slide weight for reliable cycling with light target loads.  The extended slide looks pretty racy with the addition of the lightening cuts and forward serrations.  The Tungsten Grey Cerakote on the slide, trigger safety, back straps, and magazine extensions give the pistol a unique look and blends well with the black polymer frame.  The picture of the pistol field stripped provides the most accurate color representation.

The TP9 breaks down quickly and easily for field maintenance and cleaning.

The TP9 SFx model was designed with competition shooting in mind.  It includes a long list of enhancements that have been added to this specific model that you won’t find on other TP9 variants.  Please be patient with me as I call out the most notable upgrades included with this model.

For sights, Canik includes upgraded Warren Tactical U-notch with a fiber optic insert in the front sight.

The slide stop lever and magazine release button are both extended width as favored by competition shooters for ease of use during competition.  The magazine release comes with three different sized release buttons for custom fitting based on owner preference.  The magazine release can be reversed for left-handed shooters.

The Canik TP9 SFx comes with three different magazine release options and it can be converted to left-hand release. Also, it comes with two back straps to fit most hands.

The grip includes two sizes of interchangeable back straps.  The back straps are labeled as large and small by Canik.  I think a better description would be arched (large) and flat (small).  The small back strap was installed in my TP9 SFx when it left the Canik factory.

Canik magazines are manufactured by Mec-Gar.  TP9 full-size standard magazine capacity is 18 rounds.  The two magazines included with the SFx model have an extended floorplate that boosts magazine capacity to 20 rounds.  The floorplates extend well below the magazine well and are contoured for easy “gripping and ripping” if that ever becomes necessary.

TP9 SFx comes with two magazines. The magazines’ feature plus 2 basepads that increase capacity two (2) rounds for a total of twenty (20) rounds.

SPECS

What you won’t see by visually examining the pistol is the competition trigger.  Canik marketing literature calls it “Improved single action trigger” with a specified pull weight of 3.5 to 4 pounds.  The trigger on our review gun had a pull weight averaging right around 4 pounds.  That alone is pretty darn good for a striker-fired pistol.  What makes the trigger pull even more interesting is the very short trigger reset.  Let’s break the trigger pull down in a little more detail.  Total trigger pull travel is 3/8ths of an inch with all but the last 16th of an inch being light take up.  After cycling, the trigger reset also right around a 16th of an inch.  It’s a trigger you will want to try for yourself because it is so much different than other striker-fired handguns on the market that I’ve worked with.

The feature that will most likely drive people to this specific TP9 model are the four red dot mounting plates that can be used to attach a wide variety of red dot optics directly on the slide.  Each mounting plate is clearly numbered and the Owner’s Manual lists which optics work with each mounting plate.  I’ve included that information with the TP9 SFx specifications.

Mounting plate options allow you to quickly change from different red dots to iron sights.

Having recently reviewed a Vortex Viper, I had one available to mount on the Canik.  Using the suggested mounting plate number 1, I removed the slide filler plate holding the rear sight and replaced it with the red dot mounting plate using the included mounting screws.  With that task completed, I mounted the Vortex Viper to the mounting plate, again using screws supplied by Canik.  The whole process was very fast and easy.  I decided not to install the optional charging handle on the optic plate.  I had no difficulty retracting the slide without the charging handle.

Specs

  • Type: Recoil operated semiauto pistol
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 20 + 1
  • Sights:  Warren Tactical U-Notch rear and Fiber Optic front
  • Barrel Length: 5.2 in.
  • Accessory Rail: Picatinny Rail (MIL-STD-1913)

Make It Your Own

With so many customization options included with the TP9 SFx, be prepared to make changes and try them out on the range before dialing in the exact set up that works best for you.  I found the large back strap insert made the pistol point more naturally for me.  I tried magazine release button extensions marked medium and small, but still found they made too much contact with the palm of my support hand.   Ultimately, I removed all magazine release button extensions as I really didn’t need them to reach and operate the magazine release.

A quick note on the Owner’s Manual.  It doesn’t mention how to change back strap inserts, or reverse the magazine release button.  I didn’t mess with the magazine release, but I can give you some tips for removing the back strap.  You will need a 1/8th-inch roll pin punch to remove the pin holding the back strap in place.  My back strap insert was so tightly fitted to the grip that it wouldn’t move until I used a thin-bladed jeweler’s screwdriver as wedge between the back strap insert and the grip frame.  A little prying got it started out of the grip frame with no damage to either part.

Range Time

After a quick cleaning and lubrication, I had the TP9 SFx out on the range.  I spent a few magazines getting the Vortex Viper red dot dialed in at 25 yards before starting the obligatory accuracy and velocity testing.  Initial thoughts were a general appreciation of that very sweet trigger, and also less recoil than I expected.

From the bench using the red dot sight, 25-yard accuracy was really good if I did my part.  I somehow found a way to introduce a flier into each test string that opened up the 5-shot test groups quite a bit.  Even with my flawed shooting, the average group size for all six tested loads came in under two inches.  Canik advertises this model has a match grade barrel.  Based on my accuracy testing, I believe them.

Average group size for all six tested loads came in under two inches.

Since Canik created the TP9 SFx for competition, I thought I should use it in competition.  With a Steel Challenge club match coming up in a few weeks I focused my range work on drawing from a holster and engaging steel plates at ranges from 15 to 25 yards.  I sent hundreds of rounds down range banging steel in preparation for the upcoming match.  Once I got accustomed to acquiring the red dot sight, it was very easy to blaze through a 5-target set with the TP9 SFx.  Recoil was light using full metal jacket target loads with the red dot barely leaving the sight window before settling back for the next shot.

The only issues I experienced on the range were intermittent failures to lock the slide back when the magazine was empty.  I determined the issue was operator induced whenever I let my thumb rest on the extended slide stop lever.  If I kept the thumb off the lever, the slide would lock back after the last round of a magazine was fired.

Off the range, I had a different issue to deal with when I found out the Steel Challenge club match I was planning to attend wasn’t going to be held in July.  I needed to find another competition venue for the TP9 SFx.

Competition Testing

The Canik TP9 SFx holstered up and ready for a match!

The day before I received the TP9 SFx for review, The USPSA– NROI approved several models of Canik handguns for addition to the Production Division handgun list.  This was a significant ruling because it allows Canik handguns, like the TP9 SFx, to compete on a level playing field with other popular production handgun models used in the Carry Optics and Production Divisions.  Prior to this ruling, the TP9 SFx was classified as an Open Division handgun if a red dot optic was mounted on the slide.  For me personally, the classification update was just the motivation I needed to join The USPSA and shoot my first match in the Carry Optics Division with the Vortex Viper equipped TP9 SFx.

If you’ve never seen a USPSA match, it’s a whole lot of running and gunning in a safe and controlled match setting.  Each stage has Competitors engaging multiple targets from several different shooting locations.  Expect to be on the move and changing magazines several times per stage.  A few days prior to my match, my wife let me borrow the John Wick Chapter 2 DVD before she returned it.  By match day I was ready to channel my inner Keanu Reeves and have some fun but without all the Hollywood theatrics.

The author shooting his Canik TP9 SFx at his first ever USPSA match.

I mentioned previously this was my first ever USPSA match.  My goals for the match were to be safe, learn the rules, and put my shots on target over trying to shoot fast.  I made all the usual rookie mistakes.  Finding myself backtracking to pick up targets I forgot to engage and losing a mighty battle with a swinging Texas Star steel target.  Ultimately, I finished 29th of 36 competitors and logged the most Alphas (highest scoring hits) of all handgun competitors.  I also had fun.  The Canik TP9 SFx ran flawlessly and proved to be capable of the reliability and accuracy needed for USPSA match shooting.

After the USPSA match, I removed the red dot sight and reinstalled the rear sight plate on the slide.  I wanted to make one more trip to the range and shoot the TP9 SFx with the Warren Tactical sights using full-power defense ammunition.  Shooting offhand at 10 yards, my groups centered perfectly with bullets impacting the target right where the fiber optic rod is positioned in the front sight.  No sight adjustment was necessary.  Just for fun I shot a steel 12 inch by 20 inch 2/3 scale IDPA target from 50 yards and had no problem hitting it consistently.

Conclusions

By the end of the review, my total round count through the TP9 SFx was approaching 1000.  For this newbie USPSA competitor, the TP9 SFx was ready to go right out of the box for Production Division or Carry Optics Division with the addition of a red dot optic.  I would have no concerns at all continuing to use this handgun as my primary USPSA match pistol.  In the future, if I decide to switch divisions, or stop competing in USPSA matches, the TP9 SFx could fill a home defense role.  It even has a Picatinny rail for easy attachment of a handgun mounted light.

As a relative newcomer to the US competition handgun market, Canik has priced TP9 SFx well below other brands with similar models.  If you are willing to be creative with competition gear as holster makers ramp up new models for the Canik brand, I would encourage you to check out the TP9 SFx.  Here’s a tip.  I’m using a holster model for the Glock 34/35 and my magazine pouches came with a Springfield XDm 9mm.

For more information about USPSA  (United States Practical Shooting Association) Click here.  

For more information about Canik, click here.

***Check out GunsAmerica for your next Canik pistol***

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Timothy Norville March 30, 2018, 8:13 pm

    I am looking for a 9mm and have been the owner of a 380, i wanted to know whats the advantages of yours compare to the glock 43 that would make me feel more confident and safe also the cost

  • cisco kid March 21, 2018, 1:11 pm

    Sorry no manual safety no buy. Manual Safeties have saved and continue to save many people from being crippled and or killed. I do not want to handle or walk around with a loaded firearm that goes bang if the trigger is accidentally snagged. I would not walk around with a revolver with the hammer cocked back so why would I be dumb enough to do it with an automatic pistol which is also ready to go off with a snag of the trigger.

    The Israelis that have been at war since the founding of their country do not even allow their troops to carry single action automatics with a round in the chamber which is going to the extreme but they have proven it saves lives and they are trained to get a round in the chamber after drawing the pistol and they do it with lightening speed.

  • JohnBoy March 20, 2018, 7:19 pm

    Well all that is the good info. Check return rate for repair or replacement. Sent my SFx back twice for ftf and fte issues. They are sending me a new gun this time but it has been 3 weeks and nothing yet. Still waiting Century Arms.

  • JustMe March 19, 2018, 8:26 pm

    I don’t have this pistol, but I do have the tp9 st elite, also in the same black and tungsten grey. It’s not only a beautiful gun, but also has a sweet trigger and shoots lights out. I love mine and would not hesitate, money permitting, to buy another Canik. The prices are remarkable for these guns. Beats the he77 out of the fan boy gun.

  • Mr. Sparkles March 19, 2018, 4:26 pm

    The author should be proud that so many folks red his article and that they are so expert as to feel it necessary to offer such specific and heartfelt critique.

    Layoff guys. Remember what Thumper’s Dad said, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothin at all.”

  • Randy S March 19, 2018, 12:16 pm

    First of all racial remarks do no one any good, aside from that, the article was fine for a *NG on USPSA. I noticed that the commented ‘As’ looked like shots to the head box. Most competitors will choose the much larger A box unless blocked by hard cover. I have tested the same pistol and found your comments fairly accurate. As a side note, I think a Leupold DPP is a far superior choice as shown In the USPSA magazine for the results of the Carry Optics National where the DPP was highly rated, the Vortex, not so much. Just my opinion after 40 years ‘downrange’

  • Vincent Brady March 19, 2018, 9:51 am

    The author is way behind the learning curve on this pistol. This pistol was introduced in 2016 and won the 2017 handgun of the year award. See numerous great reviews with and without the red dot on YouTube.

  • Steve McAdams March 19, 2018, 7:12 am

    The article states the author used. Vortes Viper red dot, but the picture shows a Vortex Venom. Which was it?

    • Steve McAdams March 19, 2018, 7:15 am

      Forget it. My mistake

  • Ken March 19, 2018, 5:59 am

    I find that trying to decipher the difference in the canik website is difficult it would be nice if they would do a graph to show you the upgrades or difference between models
    But that is just my view

  • jdmo February 27, 2018, 10:25 pm

    their website avoids mentioning it, but canik is made in turkey; not a country whose economy i would like to support.

    • Richard Long March 19, 2018, 7:33 am

      I agree, the last thing we need to do is support those people with any kind of business dealings. I’m all for a better mousetrap, but honestly Haji, MoeHamHead, and Abdullard can go shove it.

    • Mr shifter March 19, 2018, 4:10 pm

      I bet you and Richard have a Glock in your safe right now….don’t forget at least Turkey declares their alignment with military alliances…….NATO….lets see……,Austria…….Well, I be darn, NOPE. You should be thankful the country allows us to have our military personnel stationed there. if not for Incirlik Air Base (long story short) ours asses might have been handed to us when air support was required so many times. Now Richard, different story than jdmo’s…..you have racism written all over you. Personally, I have four TP9 series pistols, best striker fired pistols I have, and I have plenty. The SFx will be my next. A friend of mine that competes switched over to it recently and isn’t looking back. By the way, I’m a born/bred white southerner whom actually lived in Adana Turkey for nearly five years……Proud people, good people, trustworthy people. Don’t judge a country on radicals that live there, like we do here…..we have our own homegrown terrorist right at our back door. I, and many others do not have a problem, as you say, “supporting their economy”.

  • Bruce Flemings February 27, 2018, 12:30 pm

    The correct barrel length is 5.2 inches. I’m sure this will be corrected in the specifications soon. Also, Comp-Tac now catalogs their International Holster for the TP9 SFx.

    • JustMe March 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

      Correction: I have the tp9 sf elite. Stupid auto-correct, always changing something.

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