A Turkish Gem: The SAR9 9MM Pistol

For home defense, concealed carry, and recreational shooting, the SAR9 will do the job and then some.

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.

McCombie’s testing and evaluation SAR9 was Cerakoted with a Bronze finish and looked as good as it shot.

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.

Built on the iconic CZ-75 design, the SAR9’s slide rides inside the frame’s rails.

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.

Big center bullseye for longer distance, smaller bulls for self-defense ranges: Champion’s RE-STICK 5 Bull Blue and Orange targets used for accuracy testing.

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.

Best 20-yard group was shot with Hornady Critical Defense and measured 1.77-inches.

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 seven yards and shooting offhand, the SAR9 and Remington UMC ammunition pegged this very impressive .65-inch group.

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.

Aguila Ammunition’s 124-grain FMJ rounds did very well at seven yards, including this five-shot 1.13-inch group.

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.

The SAR9 features very functional low-profile, three dot combats sights; the rear dots really catch the shooter’s eye.

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 SAR9 features a bladed-safety trigger and an under-barrel rail.

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.

Finger grooves and tactical surfaces made for a very solid grip when shooting the SAR9.

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.

Functional but stiff: the SAR9’s manual safety could use a larger surface for better leverage.  

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.

Based in Alabama, SAR-USA imports Sarsilmaz pistols from the company’s manufacturing facility in Turkey.

Specifications:  SAR9

Caliber: 9mm

Action: Semi-automatic

Frame: Polymer

Slide: Chrome-moly steel

Finish: Cerakote, Bronze (as tested)

Capacity: 17+1

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

MSRP: $484.20

For more information visit SAR-USA

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About the author: Brian McCombie writes about hunting and firearms, people and places, for a variety of publications including American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, and SHOT Business. He loves hog hunting, 1911’s chambered in 10MM and .45 ACP, and the Chicago Bears.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Leslie Hendricks April 3, 2021, 6:40 pm

    I have 2 Sar’s, a ST10 & a 2000. The ST10 doesn’t like CZ75 mags but the 2000 seems to love them (read as lock and load). Since I have 3 different CZ’s ( 75, P07 and 100 ( they all are slide in frame, not on frame) the reference to CZ style of slide in frame is correct. The slide in frame is not unique to Sar but is also in use by several other manufacturer’s.

    • Joe Robertson April 8, 2021, 5:24 pm

      Your CZ 75 and p07 are slide in frame guns, your cz 100 and the sar 9 are not. May I suggest you take a closer look at your own firearms?😀

      • Joe Robertson April 8, 2021, 6:19 pm

        Your sar st10 is also not a cz75 design while your sar 2000 is….

  • Mike K. April 2, 2021, 9:32 am

    Unicorns do exist! I saw a box of 250 UMC 9mm. That means that Santa and the Easter Bunny are real too!

  • jeremy griffin March 30, 2021, 4:40 pm

    nice guns for the price, but the awful customer service (had a firing pin issue on mine) makes it pointless.

  • David March 29, 2021, 11:03 pm

    I owned a SAR K2-45 for several years, a high-capacity CZ-97 clone that was one of my favorite 45ACP pistols. Yes even compared to the several 1911’s I owned. I only got rid of it when I got rid of ALL of my 45ACP pistols to standardize on 9mm across the board. For now, my polymer 9mm itch is satisfied by Sig’s P320 series, of which I own several variants, but if I were looking for a lower-cost alternative I would not hesitate to pick up a SAR9.

    I will concur however that aftermarket parts are hard to come by. I was able to find custom walnut grip panels and magazines for my K2-45, but otherwise had to settle for CZ-97 or Sig DA/SA holsters and such. I would hope now that SAR is making a bigger name for itself in the US, that this will be remedied soon.

  • troy hansen March 29, 2021, 6:58 pm

    No support, no customer service, no parts! I have a useless K12 sitting in my safe. Never buy another SAR!

  • Mike Cornett March 29, 2021, 3:29 pm

    Looks like a very fine pistol. The Turks have been making fine firearms for years.
    My very own home protection pistol is a Canik-55 9mm Stingray-C that is made in Turkey.
    It’s a CZ-75 Clone. It’s no longer available. It’s at a premium price now…$700 – $1,000 used.

    • Joe Robertson April 10, 2021, 10:19 am

      I own a Stingray-C too. Great all steel CZ75 clone. Wish you could still get them at the sub $400.

  • Ewhen Skupejko March 29, 2021, 3:15 pm

    I have been trying to buy another magazine for a year now. Can you p;ease let me know how and where. .

  • Dr Don March 29, 2021, 11:24 am

    I have owned a SAR

  • Joe March 29, 2021, 10:30 am

    Great guns but not quite sure why you state in this article that it is a CZ 75 design. The slide rides on the frame like a Glock not in the frame like the CZ or SAR K2.

  • Nicholas March 29, 2021, 10:01 am

    Outside of the U.S. and Switzerland, which both provide in law that they must have Militia, how many other countries allow citizens to keep and bear arms?
    Here’s an idea. Why don’t we work on some of these countries to use their resources to move toward an armed citizenry all over the world?
    Here is another question. Where in the heck does the idea come from that a few people elected, appointed, or whatever have the right, or even the power to tell the citizen they can’t be armed against tyranny?

    • Nicholas March 29, 2021, 10:04 am

      I meant why don’t we work on some of these companies to use their resources, not countries.

  • Kurt March 29, 2021, 9:51 am

    Nice article. Based on my own and other SAR owners’ personal experiences, the issue with SAR is and will continue to be the lack of customer warranty support by SAR for customers in the USA. There are few after market parts for a SAR product and SAR’s telephone/email/instant messaged replies to customer service issues are fewer than there are after market parts for their firearms.

  • Frank Garza March 29, 2021, 9:17 am

    I have an all black SAR 9 and I like it a lot. It’s lefty friendly and I find myself carrying it more often than the 1911 I usually carry. For me it’s the best polymer handgun I’ve owned(even better than Glocks and others I’ve owned and carried in the past). I paid less than $350 for mine and it’s been one of the best firearm purchases I’ve ever made.

  • Donald James Howard March 29, 2021, 7:47 am

    Nice review. Judging by the targets in the photos, the SAR appears to have plenty of accuracy. I do like the look of the all black one though. This one looks like desert tan in the photos. SAR and Canick make good pistols, especially for the price. Couldn’t help but notice how much the grip area looks like the HK VP-9, right down to the 3 piece grip, back strap inserts, and roll pin. I own the HK and it has a very comfortable grip.

    • Joe Robertson April 10, 2021, 10:14 am

      It does look like a VP9 and Glock had a baby. 😀

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