Political Assassination in the Information Age

Andrei Karlov, the Canik55 TP9SF Elite-S, and Gory Death on YouTube

Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov was a distinguished Russian diplomat whose career included ambassadorships in both North Korea and Turkey.

The televised assassination of Andrei Karlov exemplified political violence in the Information Age.

Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov was born in Moscow in February of 1954. A graduate of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Karlov was a veteran diplomat with impeccable credentials. He served in various posts in Asia to include ambassadorships in both North Korea and Turkey. Karlov was fluent in English and Korean as well as his native Russian. On December 19, 2016, Andrei Karlov was gunned down on HD television as he delivered a speech at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey.

Photo Credit: AP

Mevlut Mert Altintas was a radical Turkish police officer who gunned down the Russian ambassador to Turkey on live television

Karlov’s assassin, a 22-year-old Turkish police officer named Mevlut Mert Altintas, intended to shine a light on Russian military involvement in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

Russia’s involvement in the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria served as the catalyst for Andrei Karlov’s murder.

Born into a secular family, this young Turk apparently radicalized into violent Islam while training in police school. The man had served two and a half years in an elite Ankara riot police unit. He had also been part of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s security detail on eight different occasions.

The Assassination

Unlike most political assassinations that grace our history tomes, you can watch this one unfold in gory detail on YouTube. The art exhibition was titled “Russia Through Turks’ Eyes,” and it came at a time when relations between Russia and Turkey were teetering. There had been recent protests by Turks against Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War, most specifically the Battle of Aleppo, and the region was festering.

Photos from Aleppo, Syria.

Altintas used his police credentials to gain entry to the event and stood in the background throughout most of Karlov’s speech. Those in the gallery presumed he was a member of Karlov’s security detail. The video of the event is undeniably poignant.

Altintas had been, by all accounts, a dedicated police officer prior to the assassination.

Altintas shifts from one position to another during Karlov’s time at the podium. He seems unnaturally calm. He fidgets a bit but gives off no real evidence of his intentions right up until he draws his weapon.

In the moments leading up to the murder, the assassin seems almost unnaturally calm.

Altintas moves to the left rear of the venue, apparently in an effort to establish a better angle for his shot. From a position behind, and to the rear of his target, he draws his concealed firearm, a Canik55 TP9 Compact 9mm handgun, and adopts a quick two-handed stance. He then fires several rounds, striking Karlov from behind and wounding three spectators.

Karlov’s killer was a trained Law Enforcement Officer whose proficiency with firearms is obvious.

The Canik55 TP9SF Elite-S is a proper facsimile of the compact TP9 pistol Altintas used to kill Andrei Karlov.

After the shooting Altintas walks about smashing pictures and shouting in both Arabic and Turkish. His diatribe (“Allahu Akbar”) translates into: “God is the greatest. We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad. Do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria.” And, “We die in Aleppo, you die here.”

Turkish security forces responded in short order and cut Altintas down. Andrei Karlov was taken to a Turkish hospital but succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter. The killing came at a particularly critical time.

World Events, a Communist Church, and Regional Fallout

The violence in Syria along with the various state actors who participated conspired to make the place a regional boiling point.

In 2015 Turkish forces shot down a Russian military aircraft that the Turks claimed had strayed into their airspace. This plane had been engaged in combat operations in Syria in support of Syrian government forces. In retaliation, Russia imposed restrictions on its citizens attempting to travel to Turkey as well as economic sanctions.

Russia’s response to the downing of one of their combat aircraft by Turkish air defenses was orchestrated at the highest levels.

Andrei Karlov was ambassador to Turkey at the time of the shoot-down, and he blamed the Turkish government squarely for the event. Diplomatic relations were not normalized between the two nations for some eight months afterward. Karlov claimed that Russian warplanes were not bombing civilian targets in Syria, a questionable narrative that drew criticism from around the globe.

As former ambassador to North Korea, Karlov was instrumental in the opening of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Pyongyang in 2006. For his efforts he was awarded the Order of Seraphim of Sarlov. Karlov received the title Hero of the Russian Federation posthumously after his assassination. The exhibition hall where the killing took place was ultimately renamed in his honor as was the Ankara street that houses the Russian embassy. Karlov’s likeness was reproduced on a series of Russian postage stamps.

Andrei Karlov was memorialized in a variety of ways after his death. His likeness graced a series of Russian postage stamps.

The Weapon

Though not terribly well known on this side of the pond, the Turks have a well-deserved reputation for building superlative functional firearms.

The Turkish Canik55 Company is a state of the art weapons manufacturing concern that produces handguns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. They also make parts for the international aerospace industry. Their aviation customers include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Airbus. Canik55 weapons equip the Turkish armed forces as well as Turkish Law Enforcement agencies.

The TP9SF Elite-S is a compact and effective combat handgun.

The imported Canik55 TP9 pistol has been a staple from Century International Arms for years now. The TP9 family of guns represents arguably the best value in a tactical handgun on the modern American market. I penned an omnibus article for GunsAmerica back in February of 2018 that covers all the variegated variants available at the time. The TP9SF Elite-S is a proper facsimile of the gun Altintas used to kill Andrei Karlov. A quick perusal of the offerings on GunsAmerica shows this particular weapon running between $388 and $469.

The TP9 family of guns combines sleek lines, modern features, and superb functionality.

The TP9SF Elite-S pistol sports a 4.19-inch cold hammer-forged barrel formed out of  32CrMoV12-10 steel rated for +P loads. The magazine accepts fifteen-rounds. The firing pin protrudes slightly from the rear of the slide to indicate the state of the striker.

An indicator on the back of the slide attests to the state of the striker.

The frame on the TP9SF Elite-S is undercut slightly behind the trigger guard to lower the bore axis. There is also a dedicated loaded chamber indicator that is detectable both visually and by feel.

The loaded chamber indicator is located atop the slide.

My gun sports a Cerakote steel-colored finish on the slide the company calls Tungsten. At risk of seeming silly, the steel color juxtaposed against the black polymer frame seems to strike a cool, sinister tone.

The TP9SF Elite-S is a thoroughly modern design.

The magazine catch is reversible, and the slide release is bilateral.

The controls are perfectly executed.

There are interchangeable backstraps as well as a front sight fiber optic insert. In classic Canik55 fashion they also include spare light rods in case you happen to break one.

The forward sight includes replaceable fiber optic light tubes.

TP9SF Elite-S has an intuitive and effective finger-actuated safety not found anyplace else. Use it if you want, don’t if you don’t. I personally like it a lot. If it offends you the standard TP9SF Elite model eschews it.

The optional manual safety on the TP9SF Elite is inspired.

All TP9 guns sold in this country come with a plethora of accessories. These include an excellent polymer retention holster with both paddle and belt attachments widely adjustable for cant. The gun has a single spare magazine and a mag loader along with a generous array of cleaning tools all in a nice lockable plastic case.

All TP9 handguns come with a nice polymer retention holster and a generous supply of well-reasoned accessories.

Trigger Time

The TP9SF Elite-S strikes a nice balance between concealability and effectiveness.

The striker-fired trigger on the compact TP9SF Elite-S is in the same league as that of a Glock or HK VP9. However, the TP9 typically runs at least $150 to $200 less than these more mainstream guns. I find the TP9SF Elite-S pistol to be comparably accurate to any polymer-framed combat handgun on the market today. The gun fits the hand nicely and is sedate on the range.

The gun points naturally and well.

The controls on the TP9SF Elite-S offer fast operation, and the compact chassis will pack anywhere a Glock 19 might. The slide is grooved both front and rear for easy manipulation when sweaty or rushed. Magazines drop away freely. The gun shoots straight and runs fast. It is also just stupid reliable. I love shooting mine.

These two double taps show how well the gun runs. Note the two empties suspended in mid-air and the relative lack of muzzle rise.

Ruminations

The TP9SF Elite-S is a state of the art modern combat handgun.

Ours is a fairly wretched world wherein you can pull up video of a man being shot to death on YouTube. Such violence as this has always been a lamentable part of the human condition, but it becomes somehow more personal and repugnant when you can watch it unfold while comfortably ensconced in your favorite recliner. In the murder of Andrei Gennadyevich Karlov, however, we see darkness ultimately fail.

In the televised murder of Andrei Karlov we see the gory aftermath of a radicalized Muslim policeman determined to give his life for a twisted cause.

Karlov indeed became a martyr, while Altintas joined the swollen ranks of misguided dead terrorists. Relations between Turkey and Russia were minimally inconvenienced, if at all. Blood was spilled, families grieved, and the world otherwise stayed pretty much the same. In the final analysis, both men died for absolutely nothing.

Technical Specifications

TP9SF Elite-S

Caliber

9mm Parabellum

Barrel Length

4.19 in

Overall Length

7.28 in

Height

5.27 in

Width

1.45 in

Weight

1.77 lbs Empty

Capacity

15+1

Finish

Cerakote Tungsten

The TP9SF Elite-S is a trim and powerful defensive handgun that was used for dark purposes in the murder of Andrei Karlov.

Performance Specifications

TP9SF Elite-S

Load

Group Size (inches)

Velocity (FPS)

Winchester Defend 147-gr JHP

0.75

948

Browning 147-gr FMJ

1.2

989

Armscor 124-gr FMJ

1.1

1121

Winchester White Box 115-gr FMJ

1.5

1156

Hornady 115-gr FTX

0.5

1134

Group size is best four of five shots fired at 12 meters. Velocity is the average of three shots across a Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph oriented ten feet from the muzzle.

The TP9SF Elite-S is remarkably effective for its size and price point.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next self-defense gun***

About the author: Will Dabbs was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, having been immersed in hunting and the outdoors since his earliest recollections. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and is the product of a traditional American nuclear family. Where most normal American kids get drunk to celebrate their 21st birthday, Will bought his first two machineguns. Will served eight years as an Army Aviator and accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours piloting CH47D, UH1H, OH58A/C, and AH1S helicopters. He is scuba qualified, has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning, and has summited Mt. McKinley, Alaska–the highest point in North America–six times (at the controls of a helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains). For reasons that seemed sagacious at the time he ultimately left the Army as a Major to pursue medical school. Dr. Dabbs has for the last dozen years owned the Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Mississippi. He also serves as the plant physician for the sprawling Winchester ammunition plant in that same delightful little Southern town. Will is a founding partner of Advanced Tactical Ordnance LLC, a licensed 07/02 firearms manufacturer and has written for the gun press for a quarter century. He writes solely to support a shooting habit that is as insensate as it is insatiable. Will has been married to his high school sweetheart for more than thirty years and has taught his Young Married Sunday School class for more than a decade. He and his wife currently have three adult children and a most thoroughly worthless farm dog named Dog.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Jim Larson August 20, 2019, 1:17 pm

    Will, as a Mechanical Engineer and gunsmith I appreciate elegant design and I love my two Caniks. The quality of manufacture is very good and the fit and finish is great. I have about twenty handguns spanning most popular brands and I shoot these two more than any of the others. I understand people wanting to buy American but given the value exhibited by these guns they should not be dismissed out of hand.

  • John Rogers August 12, 2019, 10:30 pm

    Thank you, I love this! Taking a political assassination, and turning it into a handgun review is brilliant. This is such a thumb in the eye to the libs, who demonize the firearm, rather than the shooter, after a shooting takes place.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to handle a Canik, but I’ve read some favorable reviews. Seems like a good gun for the money, even with the odd safety.

  • Todd August 12, 2019, 2:38 pm

    A loaded chamber indicator and a striker (cocked) indicatot, just like the Jiminez JA9 (formerly Jennings).
    I woner if it has a fixed barrel too?

  • Mike in a Truck August 12, 2019, 1:00 pm

    Two less jerks in the world. Who cares. I got to shoot the Canik. No complaints- seems like a good value but I dont need a bladed trigger pistol.

  • Tom August 12, 2019, 12:14 pm

    Thank you for your service to our country, medical community, and especially to God. You have quite a resume. I’ve never fired a Canik but may have to try one at the gun range. My most recent purchase is a CZ 75 D PCR compact. Good article and Hoddy Toddy to you.

  • davud August 12, 2019, 11:26 am

    have never handled a canik. i’m used to safeties on striker fired guns but i don’t like the looks of its paddle safety. i don’t want my trigger finger to have to do anything but press the trigger.

  • Marc August 12, 2019, 10:36 am

    Try and tear that pistol down; youtube has a disassembly of it.

  • Mike V August 11, 2019, 8:21 pm

    Seems like most of modern Jihad, a worthless waste of humanity, nothing gained for anybody, you die I die and life goes on.

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