The Turkish firearms manufacturer Sarsilmaz or SAR has been in the gun-making business for 180 years, and outfits police forces and NATO militaries around the world. But SAR is not terribly well-known in this country, and this is a situation SAR-USA of Opelika, Alabama, is working to change with imports of SAR firearms into the U.S.
That change could easily occur once American shooters get to know the SAR9, SAR’s flagship 9MM semi-automatic. After several hundred rounds, I know the SAR9 is a fine pistol, very accurate, rugged, and reliable. For home defense, concealed carry, and recreational shooting, the SAR9 will do the job and then some.
And if you are as tired of black-on-black guns as I am? The even better news is the SAR9 is now available with a Cerakote finish in three color options: Bronze, Platinum, and Safari. I requested my testing and evaluation SAR9 in Bronze and it looks as good as it shoots.
The SAR9 is a full-sized 9MM, with a 17+1 round capacity. It’s a striker-fired and single-action pistol, featuring a polymer frame, a steel slide made from a chrome-molybdenum mix, and a 4.4-inch barrel. The slide sports handy and deep serrations front and back on both sides to aid in racking and unloading.
The SAR9’s poly frame incorporates a handy rail under the barrel for attaching a light or laser, plus has a serviceable ambidextrous safety on the frame.
The SAR9 ships in a hard plastic carry case with two 17-round magazines, and three insertable back straps and grips to customize the fit for the particular shooter’s hands.
Built on the iconic and very functional CZ-75 design, the SAR9’s slide rides inside the frame’s rails. On many semi-automatic pistols, including the workhorse 1911, of course, the slide rides outside the frame. The inside-the-rails placement allows the SAR9’s bore to ride just a bit lower than it otherwise would, providing a better alignment of hand to pistol for improved accuracy.
But, unlike the Czech favorite, the SAR9 has a polymer frame, making it lighter and less expensive than an all-steel CZ-75. A CZ 75 B from CZ-USA, for example, with essentially the same length barrel as the SAR9, weighs in at 35 ounces. The SAR9? Just 27 ounces, making it much more comfortable for concealed carry, to this shooter at least.
For testing, I used three brands of ammunition in the SAR9: Aguila Ammunition firing a 124-grain full metal jacket round; Hornady Critical Defense firing a 115-grain FTX poly-tipped bullet: and, Remington UMC and its 115-grain FMJ load.
I shot at distances of seven yards offhand, and then 20 yards from a rest. For targets, I used Champion’s RE-STICK Targets, specifically the 5 Bull Blue and Orange variety.
As I expected, the Hornady Critical Defense shot the tightest groups at distance. My best five-shot group with the Hornady at 20 yards measured just 1.77-inches, with a three-group average right at 2.0-inches. I term this “expected” as past Hornady handgun offerings almost always have shot the best in the pistols I have reviewed, at distance and closer.
What surprised me was that the best groups I shot at the seven-yard mark offhand were with the Remington UMC. Now, the Hornady was no slouch here, pegging 1.0-inch groups repeatedly. But the best five-shot groups at this distance were from the UMC with a really impressive .65-inches and another group at .89-inches.
At 20 yards, the UMC did a respectable 2.40 inches on average, for three five-shot groups.
The Aguila did well at seven yards with best groups of 1.13- and 1.30-inches, and at 20 yards did a 2.14-inch group, with an average closer to 2.6-inches with three five-shot strings.
I also chronographed ten rounds of each on my RCBS Ammo Master Chronograph, with the muzzle approximately five feet from the unit. The rounds averaged: 1,157 feet per second (fps) for the Aguila; 1,142 fps with the Hornady Critical Defense; and, 1,174 fps for the Remington UMC.
Clearly, if the shooter does his or her part? The SAR9 will put him or her on target time and again. Here, the pistol’s three-dot, low combat sights are a huge help. There’s nothing exactly special about the sights, front or rear. They just work, with a rear notch cut wide enough to let me see and align that front post even at the 20-yard distance I shot. And all the dots are very visible.
Of note, two shooters and myself put at least 300 rounds through this pistol before my accuracy testing, and we used three other ammunition brands. We didn’t have a single failure to feed or to eject or any other functional mishaps. I did re-lubricate the SAR9 right before my accuracy testing and wiped it down but performed no other cleaning to the barrel and inside the slide.
The single-action trigger on the SAR9 broke, on average, at a crisp 3 pounds, 10 ounces of trigger pull, according to my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge. There is some take up in the trigger. But it’s not terrible and brings your finger right to the wall, providing that split second for you to pause, if needed, re-align the sights and fire. The trigger also features an integrated blade safety.
The finger grooves on the pistol grip fit my hand and finger perfectly, and part of the reason for that fit is that the grooves are rather shallow. Not like some pistols where the grooves are cut so deep, your fingers either fit or don’t—and if it’s the latter, your fingers never really will fit. The rough surfaces molded into the poly front and back straps, and both sides of the grips, provided a very secure hold while shooting.
The magazine release popped out the magazine very positively.
The manual safety, as noted, is serviceable, but not great. It was quite stiff and didn’t loosen up noticeably with use. A larger, more ergonomic surface on the lever would be a big help and give the shooter’s shooting hand thumb (closest to the safety lever) better leverage and purchase.
The MSRP of the SAR9 is a very reasonable $484. Before our current guns-and-ammunition buying surge (one which shows no signs of letting up), I’d expect the SAR9 to sell for $75 below that MSRP and maybe even more of a discount. Today? With gun prices often fluctuating daily, and rarely down, you will likely pay at least full suggested retail and maybe more.
But it will be well worth it.
Slide: Chrome-moly steel
Finish: Cerakote, Bronze (as tested)
Trigger: Single Action
Barrel Length: 4.4″
Overall Length: 7.5″
Overall Height: 5.5″
Overall Width: 1.4″
Weight: 27.1 oz.
Sights: Low profile, three dot
Safety: Bladed Trigger Safety plus Manual Safety
Misc.: Also available in Platinum and Safari Cerakote finishes
For more information visit SAR-USA