A 9mm Turkish Delight? The Compact Canik TP9 SF Elite – Full Review.

For more information, visit http://www.canikusa.com/tp9sf-elite/.

To purchase a TP9 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Canik%20TP9.

When the Canik TP9 SF Elite compact pistol arrived, I unboxed it and underwent my usual inspection. I have not had much first-hand experience with the brand, in fact, I have only had one brief encounter while teaching a class. A couple of students had some sort of Canik and offered to let me shoot one. I was not strongly affected by my limited exposure to the gun, although I do remember that it seemed like the love child of a Walther PPQ and P99.

The Canik TP9 SF Elite is a top-quality polymer-framed 9mm for a great price. Image courtesy of manufacturer.

As I examined this new Canik, I was thinking “Is this gun really the giant-killer that people who are much more tactical and cool than me are calling it?” Well, I set out to determine that for myself.

The Canik has its roots in Turkey, where these guns are made. They were adopted by the Turkish Police Force in 2013, and they are imported into the United States through Century Arms out of Florida. I know what some of you are thinking: “Turkey? What do they know about guns?” Underestimate Turkey at your own peril; I think the British did just that, and you can research how that went for them. Do a quick search of major firearms manufacturers of the world, and you’ll find that Turkey is home to a lot of big players.

The Canik comes packed in a nice foam-lined case with two spare magazines, holster and assorted gear. Image courtesy of manufacturer.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4.19 inches
  • OA Length: 7.28 inches
  • Weight: 28.2 ounces
  • Grips: Integral
  • Sights: Warren Tactical fiber optic
  • Action: Semi-auto
  • Finish: Tungsten
  • Capacity: 15+1
  • MSRP: $459.99

As I unpacked the gun from its plastic case, I kept seeing what appeared to be parts of other guns. The two that came to mind most were the Walther PPQ and the Glock 19. The pistol is being billed as a “compact,” but we are talking compact in that a Glock 19 is a compact. This is not a pocket pistol by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a downsized version of a full-size pistol.

In regards to the Teutonic inspiration, the slide release, take down catch, back strap and beaver tail all came from Germany in my opinion. The grip, trigger and magazine release could have been born in Austria. There were other elements that looked unique, a few of them being the barrel, slide, and recoil spring.

The author found that the “compact” sized pistol (it is in the ballpark of a Glock 19) was a great shooter and a pleasure to use.

The TP9 SF Elite is offered in two versions; the Elite I received for testing and the Elite-S, the latter of which has a unique “trigger stop” lever system located in the lower portion of the triggerguard. The pistol came with a Warren Tactical rear sight and a red fiber optic front sight, along with extra fiber optic inserts. Also included were two 15-round magazines, a poly holster, a paddle/belt attachment, interchangeable back straps, a cleaning rod and a brush. The slide is finished with Cerakote’s Tungsten Grey over phosphate that looks great on the front and rear cocking serrations. The slide lock is ambidextrous, while the magazine catch is reversible.

The pistol sports Warren Tactical fiber optic sights and subtle forward cocking serrations cut on the slide. Image courtesy of manufacturer.

The Big Deal

So, what is the big deal? A nicely equipped polymer service pistol from a foreign country has hit our shores. The big deal is the full retail: $459.99. That is notably cheaper than other guns in the same category! This price point gives this gun the potential to be disruptive in the marketplace. I use the word POTENTIAL here, as price alone will sell some guns, but they won’t maintain popularity if the gun is junk.

A close look at the internals of the frame reveals a system that resembles that of the Walther PPQ.

How It Measures Up

To describe how a gun feels is not subjective, but to describe my personal preferences for how a gun should feel is (mostly) subjective. Until the Gen4 Glocks and the ability to add a beaver tail backstrap, Glocks would consistently give me slide bite. This was not a matter of preference, but rather one of fit. We all have guns that we like to shoot because we just seem to click with them. The difference between a gun we love versus one we can stand to shoot is in the small details. In an effort to demonstrate these differences, I have tried to analyze the contrast between the Canik Tp9SF, Walther PPQ M2 and Glock 19 (see chart below). These are not pros and cons, just facts.

The pistol performed extremely well with all the loads tested, which included

On the Range

The first range session was a winter day that seemed to be more London than Arkansas. It was cold and overcast, and the weather took a toll on my hands as I repeatedly loaded the two 15-round magazines. This would have been enough to cause me to pack it in and check the weather for a better day in most instances. Yet, I just kept shooting… not to gut it out, but because it was so much fun. I only regret that I waited until the end of my session to test accuracy, as I feel I could have provided some better data.

I started out by shooting an 8.5-inch plate at 50 yards. This was shot cold; just pull the gun out of the box, load the magazine and let it rip. The plate was punished by 11 of the 15 rounds. The Warren Tactical sights worked great, although I think I could have done better if I had put some sight-black on the front sight over the red fiber optic dot.

This gun was remarkable to shoot in every way. The trigger felt even smoother shooting than it did dry-firing. It felt more like a 3-pound trigger than its actual 5-pound pull. This trigger has a longer stroke than that of most other pistols, so it spreads the load out and it is perceived differently. In fact, I was questioning whether a trigger so light was safe for a carry gun for a minute there, but it clearly is.

The recoil normally kicked out by a polymer service pistol was simply not there; this felt more like shooting the all-steel Sig P226 ST that Ernie Langdon built for me! The gun was flat-recoiling and fast to shoot. I swear, it has been a long time since I last shot a striker-fired pistol this small that was so soft-shooting.

The accuracy was more than acceptable, with a 1.38” group at 10 yards from 5 rounds fired off-hand. I do not think that is nearly pushing the maximum accuracy potential of this pistol. Canik has touted the durability and accuracy of the TP9 SF Elite’s barrel, and I can see why after test-firing it.


I have always been fascinated by the pursuit of pin-pointing the reasons that something works well, and I think I know why the TP9 SF Elite is such a pleasure to shoot. The dimensions of the gun are a huge factor here; the grip is narrow, but widens at the point it meets the web of the hand. This makes for a comfortable but sure procurement and grip.

The rear face of the slide features a cocking indicator recess. Note the low-profile rear sight. The striker is uncocked in this image, but a metal tip is exposed when it is fully cocked.

If you compare this pistol to the Glock 19 or the Walter PPQ M2, you will note that the TP9 has a higher overall weight than the others, but a large chunk of that weight is in the frame, which goes a long way toward making the gun so soft-shooting. The weight and its distribution, along with the ergonomics of the grip, make for a shooting experience that you owe it to yourself to try, in my opinion.

The downside of this (correctly distributed) weight is twofold. If you are going to carry it all day, the added weight may not be worth the tradeoff to you. Secondly, although I did not have any issues with malfunctions using factory ammunition, I believe that shooting mouse fart loads will make the reliability problematic.

The TP9 breaks down easily and quickly for maintenance.

Can this Gun be a Giant?

I understand that lots of guns are good, but fail to establish themselves and take off in the American market. I would call your attention to a gun called the HS2000. Made in Croatia, it began to be sold in America in 1999. The HS2000 was adopted by the Croatian military and law enforcement as a standard-issue sidearm. In 2002, Springfield Armory negotiated licensing rights to the US market, and changed the name to the XD-9.

Wow. Take the TP9 and change the name of the American company to Century Arms. Will history repeat itself? I think it could, and should, for this fine gun.

For more information, visit http://www.canikusa.com/tp9sf-elite/.

To purchase a TP9 on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Canik%20TP9.

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • missourisam March 19, 2018, 1:22 pm

    To my everlasting disappointment I saw the Canik compact double action 9 mm advertised for a give away price, and not having had any experience with them failed to buy one. I did mention this deal to a friend of mine who had read a test result on the gun. He bought one, and after I shot it decided I really needed one. By then they were unavailable. I need to gt out and around more.

  • Justin brower October 8, 2017, 10:56 pm

    Have the tpsa 9 full size dessert tan.
    Continues to perform flawless everytime I use it. Tons of compliments and interested gun nuts when I carry it open.
    18 of 18 rd on a 9 inch paper target at 50 ft rapid fire using blazer brass 124g fmj consistantly.

  • Troy September 5, 2017, 9:48 pm

    Have owned every manufacturer known to man in just about every caliber including many wildcats. I turn to my Glock 34 at the end of every shooting session. I consider it the truest “weapon” I have ever owned. Rugged, dependable, accurate as sin, I can go on all night. Good for Century to offer competitively priced pistols, it keeps the big guys honest and makes them pay attention to costs rather passing inefficiencies on to customers. Canik could be a death blow or a wake up call. Time Will tell. IE..big auto dudes in Michigan with cheap small cars

  • James April 12, 2017, 12:41 pm

    After all the customer service issues with their US distributor Century Arms, I sold my unfired Canik TP9SFx. If it’s so incredibly difficult to communicate to simply register the weapon, I can only imagine how much more difficult Century Arms is to deal with when I had a warranty claim. Spend your money on a quality firearm from a distributor that at least answers their telephone.

  • Matt April 4, 2017, 1:10 am

    While the British came up with the idea to mess with the Turks, I believe it was the Aussies that did most of the dying. Nice looking gun would make a nice range or bedside gun.

  • ADM April 3, 2017, 7:16 pm

    Better looking, better sights, better trigger, $150 less and most likely just as reliable as a Glock 19. Why would anyone buy one of these?

  • Robert April 3, 2017, 4:49 pm

    I had one of these guns and liked it a lot. It has a lot going for it. Then I had a problem with it and the company would not help me with it. Even when I told them several times that I would not expect them to cover it with their warranty, just sell me the parts so that I could repair the gun myself and use it again. They very reluctantly did finally sell me the parts, at an exorbitant price for what I got, and I managed to get the work done. Then I sold the gun. Actually, I sold the company because of their lousy service. I hate that it happened because I really liked the gun, but if that is what I am going to run into when I have a problem, then the gun is not worth the money. I bought a Glock. The trigger isn’t as good but it is just as accurate and just as reliable and I can trust the company.

    • Jon April 4, 2017, 10:20 am

      Get a 3 1/2 lb trigger connector kit from Wolf. Well worth the relatively inexpensive upgrade. http://www.lonewolfdist.com/Detail.aspx?PROD=1031

      • Robert April 5, 2017, 2:29 pm

        I have already done that and you are correct. It did improve the trigger a lot, but it still is not as good as the Canik was. I may eventually buy another one, but I will have to have a good indication that the company has changed. I am not sure if Canik is to blame or the importer but I suspect that it is the importer.

  • 1Braveman April 3, 2017, 3:20 pm

    My shooting friends and I have purchased over a dozen of these pistols. I got mine first so we could really test it out first hand. We have shot over 6,200 rounds through it and no failures as yet. All agree a very nice pistol to shoot and all seem to be better marksmen with it. We have frozen it in ice, baked it in an oven for an hour, ran over it with a 5 ton truck, and buried it in the sand for a real torture test. We all agree it is a very good buy for your hard earned dollar. But don’t take our word for it. Get one, maybe two for your self. We purchased our pistols for an average price of $390.00

  • Dan Forbey April 3, 2017, 1:42 pm

    These really aren’t bad guns, by most standards. The thing is, their U.S distributor is doing it a disservice by setting an MSRP so high there’s no longer any incentive to choose the Canik over a real Walther. Walther is long established. Canik, on the other hand, is still an unknown quantity, and you can’t ignore a fundamental of marketing.

  • Mike Madaus April 3, 2017, 1:17 pm

    I purchased a TP9SF over a year ago and just love it. I put Williams Fire Sights on it and it is much better. It takes a Glock 42/43 Rear sight and a S&W Shield M&P front. Williams will split the package and sell you what you need. This is a shooter. I looked at the Elite But have been waiting for the Canik TP9SFX. I do have a Walther PPQ Q5 and I will say this is the best handgun I own. I just did pick up the new Canik TP9SFX two days ago and it sure looks and feels like the Walther. I will shoot it this week and I expect it to be as good as the more expensive guns. I will be putting a red dot on this one.
    One of the best little known moderate priced guns out there.

  • Mr Shifter April 3, 2017, 12:40 pm

    The Turks have been making amazing weapons for longer than you could imagine. I, like some others own an array of makes of 9mm, compact/full size and in between including Glocks. I had to mention I own Glocks because their seems to be more asshole Glock owners than any other weapon made. Anywho….I happen to own Two Canik TP9SA models, two TP9SF models (Tan/Black) and both are spot on and have never had a problem with either, and I have fired the Bejesus out of all four.. Super easy break down, unbelievable accuracy, amazing trigger (sorry Glock) comes with a good holster paddle and belt, two very high quality mags (18+1…what), interchangeable back straps, etc. and the price is amazing too….are you kidding me….all this, low 300s. The best thing about it is the QUALITY of the weapon itself….insane!! And may I add, I own a lot of other great Turkish made weapons…..Sarsilmaz (SAR) B6P 9mm, two models, K2P 9mm, two colors, Girsan 1911s, two models, Tiasas 1911, and guess what folks….Winchester 12ga Marine Extreme, YEP, Istanbul, Turkey….oh my! If you are not familiar with any of these fine weapons (half mentioned are built to NATO standards by the way) you need to be. I’m no expert, but nor am I a dummy when it comes to quality, and marksmanship. The Elite model will be in my collection next week. One thing that irks me is people that say, “Great Quality for the Price”……..NO, Great Quality, is Great Quality, no matter the price…..get over it people who just have to have that 499.00 and up weapon for quality, when you can have two at the price of one……I too was a non believer until I gave them a try, no going back for me, Turkish weapons are all I purchase now……welllllll, almost. The TP9SA is in my rotation of concealed carry, and in my supplied holster on me as we speak….which by the way, I wear around the Kingdom, daily for almost two years and the holster is still hanging in there.

  • Da Prof April 3, 2017, 11:32 am

    I hated this review! You need to FORGET about Canik! Canik needs to be kept SECRET because everyone knows Turkish guns suck, right? I’ve been taking money from the Glock, Beretta, and Springfield owners at our local pin matches with my unknown Canik TP9. If you keep blabbing about this gun, EVERYBODY is going to go buy one. Then what? How am I going to buy my beer????

    • Mr Shifter April 3, 2017, 12:52 pm

      Glad I have already purchased four (more in the near future)……someone will buy them up like Springfield did the XDs……then you will pay 100.00 or more….lol. Loved your comment.

  • Lenny April 3, 2017, 11:11 am

    Beware of the older versions. The decocker disconnects the trigger. This leaves you with a dead trigger, with no double or single strike capacity. Decock it, pull it from the holster, pull the trigger-nothing.

    • Mr Shifter April 3, 2017, 1:02 pm

      Lenny, sorry, but I have to disagree, I carry the SA model you are talking about, all day, everyday (I’m retired) with supplied holster for two years…..and never have I had it happen, not even accidentally. Not sure, but I think it takes 7lbs of pressure on the sides of decocker and 10lbs on top….ain’t happening. I also own 2 SF models….same, same, just no decocker, and I still carry the SA without any concern of it decocking itself under any circumstance. Just my opinion Lenny, not harassing….

    • Chil April 3, 2017, 1:13 pm

      The decocker is a non issue. It will not decock on its own. If you decock it, then remembering that it is decocked is on you. To reset the striker charge the slide about a half-inch and your ready to fire. I personally don’t carry the TP-9 SA decocked. There is no reason to. The decocker was a leftover feature form the original TP-9. The Canik is an excellent weapon with or without the decocker. These pistols have one of the best triggers on the market, and the price is outstanding.

  • Kalashnikov Dude April 3, 2017, 11:00 am

    Looks like a very nice pistol in a popular chambering that happens to be relatively cheap to shoot. Ill take one or two. But I get mine through a different outlet where the price is in the $300 range rather than $400. Nice pistol, nice price.

  • Mark S. April 3, 2017, 10:57 am

    The biggest problem with Canik pistols is Century Arms is the importer. I previously owned the Canik tp9sf pistol. To me the gun was ok but I tried to buy a spare recoil spring assembly from Century because they are unique to the gun. The service department wouldn’t sell me the recoil spring assembly. Really? They said the parts they have are only for warranty repair. The warranty is only for original owners too so don’t even think about buying a Canik used. So I will pass on Canik and wait for the new CZ P-10C. It will be a great gun with customer support in the same price range as the Canik Elite.

    • Dan Forbey April 3, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Customer service is everything. Some companies never learn this.

  • Mike Price April 3, 2017, 10:10 am

    I own glock’s and I own this gun. I shoot better with the Canik than I can with my glock 19 and 17. My Canik is not going away ever. You can’t match the gun in value for dollar over the cost of a Glock. Yeah! It is a giant killer.

  • James Fabanich April 3, 2017, 8:59 am

    If I weren’t so heavily invested in my 1911’s and xd platforms, I would seriously consider buying one. I need to be careful were my shooting funds are spent due to a tight budget.

  • Mark April 3, 2017, 8:28 am

    Why would I want to trust this pistol over a Glock?? It’s certainly NOT the price. All my Glocks have been..perfect. So,why buy this new kid on the block? That’s the question I can’t get around to ever purchase one. I’ve held one..dry fired it..and still come back to that same question. Why?

    • Chris April 3, 2017, 9:04 am

      This article was for people who love guns, not Glock-only lovers. Why did you even read the article, since you knew your opinion wouldn’t be changed by it? Did you think we everyone who read the article was secretly hoping for your pearl?

    • Jim April 3, 2017, 9:19 am

      Because for me the Glock’s unconventional grip angle causes me to shoot high if I am practicing defensive shooting. Sure I can shoot a Glock very well if I take my time to adjust my sight picture from high to on target; but why should I do that when a conventional grip angle does that automatically. Also, 90% of the world’s handguns use approximately the same grip angle while glock has to be “perfect”.

      • Gustavo April 3, 2017, 10:50 am

        if you rotate the shoulders into the target your sight alignment will be there

        • Dan Forbey April 3, 2017, 1:49 pm

          Guess I shouldn’t mention my love of my Lugers or my Lahti, since the perfect grip angle is now apparently determined.

    • Scott April 3, 2017, 8:32 pm

      Sure- because “everybody” knows that there has NEVER been a Glock to jam, misfire, fail to feed, fail to fire, fail to eject, etc. A Glock is the absolute most perfect handgun to have ever been manufactured, period, end of discussion.

  • Kygunner April 3, 2017, 6:43 am

    Captain Chicken leg or Pfc birdbrain? Have you handled one? Shot one? I guess your uneducated opinion is superior to massad ayoob’s experienced opinion of the full sized variant of this pistol. If you owned one or have shot one then I’m the jackass. I’m guessing you haven’t. I have colts, hi powers, glocks, Springfield’s etc etc etc. The TP9SA is arguably my favorite full sized 9mm. I’ll eventually try out the SF as well.

  • captain chicken leg April 3, 2017, 5:58 am


    • roger April 3, 2017, 6:42 am

      Says some troll named captain Chicken Leg

    • Jay April 3, 2017, 7:14 am


    • Chil April 3, 2017, 1:17 pm

      Not Junk.

  • Lloyd Dumas April 3, 2017, 5:36 am

    I would be open to buying a gun regardless of country of origin as long as the quality as well as price being the prime properties. I’m sticking to my guns with my decision not to buy any guns that are polymer, just me being old fashion, I also prefer single action or single double hand guns. With me being an old and stubborn fart it is not for me.

    • Hey Jimmy Crack yo' Head April 3, 2017, 8:51 am

      Cool. It will make it easier for us to snatch them up old chap’

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