Like most of us if we’ve done our “homework” and researched our next purchase: be it a Smart TV, a camera, handgun or tires for your truck, we’ll end up eventually selecting an item knowing that it has “almost” all the features and qualities we had on our wish list. It is a pretty good bet that the guys who engineered the new SAR 9 from SAR USA have felt the same way. Being engineers, however, they are in a good position to actually do something about those “wish list” shortcomings. Enter SAR USA and with it the SAR 9.
For those unfamiliar, Sarsilmaz produces thousands of firearms for over 78 nations from its 1-million square foot facility in Turkey. Its the sole provider of the duty pistols to the Turkish army, which is the second largest force in NATO. The SAR 9 has been adopted by Turkish armed forces. With its long-standing tradition of weapon innovation, Sarsilmaz was founded in 1880 in Istanbul, Turkey. SAR USA has begun importing these pistols into the United States and pistol are expected to arrive on dealer shelves this week.
- Type: Striker-fired semiauto pistol
- Cartridge: 9×19 Para
- Capacity: 17+1 rds.
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 8 oz. (tested)
- Weight: 27 oz.
- Barrel Length: 4.4 in.
- Overall Length: 7.5 in.
- Height: 5.5 in.
- Sights: Steel 3-Dot; drift adj. (rear)
- Grips: Configurable with included inserts
- Frame Finish: Polymer
- MSRP: $449
- Manufacturer: Sarsilmaz
Now, you or I may not have considered all the following wish list items for a great handgun, but this layout really comes together. It’s a striker-fired pistol with an action described by SAR USA as, “a patented double-action-style trigger that is pounds lighter than traditional double actions.” I am thinking that “traditional double actions” must mean like a CZ75 SA/DA gun, as then the “pounds lighter” would certainly be correct. The SAR9 trigger stroke is about .300 inch long and pulls along at 5 pounds, 8 ounces, all the way to the striker let-off. Yes, I parsed my words there … the trigger pull, if drawn straight through as you would (should) a DA revolver is fully usable. How did I come to this conclusion? I shot a couple of “steel challenge” competitions with it right out of the box and neither the trigger nor the gun held me back from a win at both local clubs. That said, the trigger is, shall we say, gritty.
Next, we have the grip frame. SAR engineers must have had an HK VP9 (or something like it) nearby as the SAR9’s grip is VERY similar in shape and modularity. And that is a good thing. It feels really good in the hands. The magazine well definitely has a leg up on my favorite plastic fantastic Glocks as it is more generous in accepting magazines at speed. In other words, I love this grip frame.
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As you look through the photos you’ll notice some striking similarities to a very popular polymer gun’s fire controls. The trigger has a safety dongle: check. Trigger bar has a cruciform: check. The trigger has a trigger spring and a “connector” to roll the cruciform off the striker’s leg. Striker and striker spring: check. All very Glockesque. This is not a bad thing, in my mind. Especially if you know your way around “improving” a Glock trigger! Grit-b-gone!
The slide and barrel could be about any other design and that is just fine. If you are wondering about running lead bullets, you are in luck, the barrel sports conventional rifling. If you have concerns about supported chambers, no worries in that regard either. The front sight accepts those that would fit a Glock and the rear looks for all the world to be a Novak (at least in the dovetail size) and both are made of steel. Extraction is handled by a beefy unit that is reminiscent of one on my SIG Sauer 1911 and that works for me. If you need to know if you have one in the chamber, the extractor has a “bump” on it if you are so inclined to use that method of checking readiness. Return to battery is handled by a dual recoil spring assembly that runs on a steel guide rod.
Ok, now we come to the 300-pound Gorilla in the room — what are those funny wing things on each side of the frame? They’re ambidextrous thumb safeties. You may not want or need them, but I can tell you first hand they are not a hindrance in bringing this gun to bear on those pesky steel targets. Other than the off-side lever rubbing against my right hand, I actually like this setup. These safeties truly fall right where they should under the thumb and are neither prone to being bumped on under recoil, nor off when holstered. They are active safeties and it is up to you if you want to activate them and run it like a Glock. However, if you are opposed to them, word on the street is a model of this gun is available sans these units.
Digging a little further into this neat little 9mm you will see a “cassette” or “fire control module” but I wouldn’t call either description 100% correct. The folded steel “carrier” for the locking block, trigger, connector and ejector housing is open on one end so that the preceding parts can be removed for service. Removing this “carrier” is not difficult at all provided you have a 1/16-inch roll pin punch to drive the pin from the “off-side” safety level. After that you have two more push pins at the takedown lever, and a second crosspin lower and in front of that.
As you can see the “carrier” has 4 burly tabs, one at each corner, so the slide will travel “to and fro” with boring repeatability. A solid set-up for sure.
While blasting better than 400 rounds at two steel shooting matches this gun did not miss a beat. When I broke a shot with the sights in close proximity to the intended target, I was consistently rewarded with a satisfying ting. I will add that the point of aim versus point of impact was quite a bit right as the rear sight favors that side of the slide. While the SAR9 did point a little high for me at first, after a couple of presentations it “aimed” where I was aiming.
During my bench testing accuracy phase, I did have two malfunctions. They were not quite a classic stove pipe but I did have two fired cases get trapped between the breech face and the barrel hood. Not sure what the cause was, but it never happened again. Speaking of accuracy, I am hard to please when it comes to accuracy. I want every $400 dollar gun to shoot under 2 inches at 25 yards. Well, the truth is most don’t. That kind of accuracy is generally within the purview of handguns that cost considerably more than the full retail price of this econo-blaster. That said, the SAR9 averaged under 2.25 inches at 25 yards. And it did that using five different kinds of ammo.
Let’s wrap this thing up: yes, it has safeties, and yes, it takes some design cues from several good if not great guns on the market. Neither of those is a bad thing. What isn’t so good is the gritty trigger. Living with that is not a problem for me; I have shot it and shot it pretty well. The trigger may be a short-lived issue for you, if, as I said you have some “glocksmith” skills. It is reliable within the 400-plus rounds I fired sans the two malfunctions. Ergonomics fit me just fine and are adjustable to fit you. It feels great in the hand and is very “smooth shooting.” It is quick to reload “on the clock” so it can play well as a weekend competition gun, or after a few hundred more trouble-free rounds can be counted on to protect. Consider that it is within a quarter of an inch of passing my accuracy snob test and you get all that for an MSRP of $449. Yea, I am going to keep it. And you just might see a long-term test report before too long.
For more information about SAR USA, click here.
For more information about Federal & American Eagle ammunition, click here.
For more information about CCI ammunition, click here.
To purchase a SAR pistol on GunsAmerica, click here.