Reliable EDC on the Cheap: The TriStar C100 9mm Pistol—Full Review.

The C100 pistol from TriStar offers shooters a CZ-75-style pistol from Turkey that delivers amazing performance at a good price.

The C100 pistol from TriStar offers shooters a CZ-75-style pistol from Turkey that delivers amazing performance at a good price.

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It is said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Nowhere is that more true than in the firearms world. In the US we see an ocean of pistols using the superb 1911 design brought to life by Mr. Browning. There is a similar phenomenon in Europe with the CZ-75. An extremely popular pistol, it can be seen in the holsters of police officers and military personnel across Europe. There have been multiple efforts by companies to create guns in that same mold but few have come as close to bringing a solid version to market as TriStar. The best part of this effort is the notably affordable price of their offering here in the US.  Say hello to the C100.

The C100 comes packed in a foam-lined plastic case and well-appointed with two magazines.

The C100 comes packed in a foam-lined plastic case and well-appointed with two magazines, lock and a cleaning kit.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 3.95 inches
  • OA Length: 7 inches
  • Weight: 23 ounces
  • Grips: Polymer
  • Sights: Three luminous dots
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Black Cerakote
  • Capacity: 13
  • MSRP: $460

A Closer Look

The C100 is a Turkish-made 9mm pistol brought to us by TriStar. It is an exceptionally good clone of the CZ-75 with some aspects that set it apart from its European cousin. The C100 is a double action/single action (DA/SA) pistol with an external safety. Like the 1911, this feature allows the gun owner to carry in “condition 1” (hammer cocked with safety on) if they wish. As a DA/SA it has two different trigger pulls for each action. In single action the trigger comes in at a whopping 12 pounds like many other DA guns. Unlike other DA pistols though, the complete travel of the trigger is relatively short, which offsets the bench press required to run the first shot. In single action that trigger pull drops to a very comfortable 4 ¾ pounds. It comes with an aluminum frame that allows it to be extremely light weight. Weighing in at only 23 ounces, it is a very comfortable carry. Add to this the attention paid to keep the gun smooth with little to hang up on and it quickly becomes a contender for every day carry. The sights are set up with snag-free rear dovetail and fixed blade front sight. This allows you to make any adjustments to the rear sight if needed. The grips are a comfortable checkered polymer that offer good traction without adding too much to the thickness of the grip. Wrapping it up, the pistol is Cerakoted, creating a good looking and durable finish. At this time TriStar offer three versions of finish on the C100, an all black version, an all-hard chromed version, and a two-tone model. The gun is offered in 9mm as well as .40 S&W.

Anyone familiar with the CZ-75 series of pistols will be right at home with the TriStar C100.

Anyone familiar with the CZ-75 series of pistols will be right at home with the TriStar C100.

Fit and Feel

Configured as a "compact," The 13+1 9mm C100 is not small enough for pocket carry but still suited for EDC.

Configured as a “compact,” The 13+1 9mm C100 is not small enough for pocket carry but still well-suited for EDC.

Handling the C100 was a very pleasant event. In fact, I will confess that I did not expect the gun to be as nice as it proved to be. As with the CZ, the bore axis on the C100 is very low, which makes it an easy shooting pistol. The slide height (due the fact the frame wraps around the rails of the slide, and not vice/versa) is fairly short though which took a little getting accustomed to as I racked the slide with my big paws. The safety is located on the left side of the frame behind the slide release. I found it to be a bit stiff during my time on the gun but am certain it would get smoother over time. Unlike some DA/SA pistols, the safety on the C100 acts purely as such. It is designed to block the trigger, hammer lever and the hammer which makes the firing mechanism immobile. There is no de-cocker system on the pistol. If you carry in condition 1, you will need to unload the gun to perform any administrative functions. You can, of course, ease the hammer forward, but know that that can be a dicey proposition.

The gun I received came with two metal Mec-Gar magazines. The name may not ring a bell, but they are a prolific OEM supplier of magazines to many major gun companies. If you shoot a lot, chances are that you have used their mags. The punch line of this is that they are good magazines. The C100 also takes standard compact CZ magazines as well so there should never be an issue in getting more to add to the range bag.

Take it Out for a Spin

Fit and finish obviously matter, contrary to what some hard core gun owners may say. There have never been prideful discussions about how ugly their guns are or how terrible the finish is. The C100 scores high in this category as we have discussed. However, the proof of any gun is in performance. It was time to take our Turkish blaster to the range. The first press of the trigger on target was an X ring winner. This, even with the 12-pound press it took to drag the trigger to the rear. Following that were a succession of similar exceptionally accurate shots as the gun now fired in SA mode. The low bore axis along with good grips and sights allowed me to produce a completely unexpected group with the gun. This immediately gave way to a walk back drill with the gun to see what it was able to do. Granted, it is not a micro pocket pistol so I expected it to stay in the fight at traditional ranges. We moved past the “traditional” ranges of 25 and 50 yards pretty quickly. The pistol’s performance reminded me of Colonel Cooper’s belief that you should be able to hit a head shot at 25 yards and a torso at 50 yards with your pistol. This task proved simple with the C100., I have a few rounds under my belt and have spent more than one day on the range, but the C100 still surprised me with its accuracy.

The author ran a wide selection of ammo through the C100, including the Federal Syntech load shown here.

The author ran a wide selection of ammo through the C100, including the American Eagle Syntech load shown here.

The author was able to wring some really good results out of the C100 on the range.

The author was able to wring some really good results out of the C100 on the range.


The Results Are In

The non-ambidextrous primary controls are made up of a manual safety, slide lock and magazine release.

The non-ambidextrous primary controls are made up of a manual safety, slide lock and magazine release.

While the size of the gun does not put it into the pocket pistol category, it is a good for an IWB/OWB concealed carry gun. It is still small enough to carry quite comfortably. On that note, I did a variety of drills on targets at more urban-realistic distances. Ranging from 15 yards to close contact, I ran magazine after magazine. From failure to stop drills to a Mozambique the gun ran well. I mixed situations where the gun was initially presented hammer down as well as coked and locked. There is no way around the fact that any gun with two trigger pull weights will produce shifts in accuracy and or extended time spent on trigger. The SA/DA trigger just isn’t my cup of tea, yet I found my groups to be very good.

Manipulations on the gun such as emergency reloads were simple and easy to accomplish. The magazine release fit my grip well and had sufficient texture to allow my thumb a clean press with no slip. Magazines fell free with no hang ups and new mags seated easily. As with just about every gun that comes across my bench, I made time to gather data on its accuracy. This is accomplished by shooting five round groups at 25 yards. In each test I use three different brands of ammunition. Shots are fired from a bench with the shooter supported. With the test to measure the gun’s ultimate accuracy, all rounds were fired in a single-action setting. The ammo flavors for the day were a spectrum of rounds that included Aquila 115-gr. FMJ, Remington 115-gr. FMJ and America Eagle 115-gr. SYNTECH TSJ. The winner of the grouping was the unique American Eagle synthetic jacket rounds producing a five round group measuring one inch.

Yes…You Will Want One

Are there guns out there that can produce much better groups? Absolutely. However, you will need to visit with your financial planner prior to making many of those purchases. The accuracy demonstrated by the C100 is beyond sufficient for an everyday carry defensive pistol or even a home defense gun. It is on par with or exceeds the accuracy of most popular guns sold in this category today. So the underlying question that is likely on everyone’s mind is reliability. In the entire testing period I experienced no malfunctions of any kind and the gun ran flawlessly. There is no test beyond an industrial effort to measure durability other than time. Having fired more guns that I can count, I believe the C100 would be a long-term gun.

For those who want a compact pistol in the CZ-75 pattern for a good price, the TriStar C100 makes for a really good option.

For those who want a compact pistol in the CZ-75 pattern for a good price, the TriStar C100 makes for a really good option.

There is an unmentioned bias in the gun world against inexpensive guns and in some situations it is justified. “You get what you pay for” is the most painful cliché we see on this topic yet in some cases it is just not true. I remember vividly the day when the first Glock hit the shelves in my local gun shop. It was not priced anywhere near the revered 1911s it was displayed near and the cheap gun banter began. We all know how that turned out. The point is that I encourage you to look closely at a gun before you write it off because it is not expensive.

Note the very small slide height of the C100 pistol, due to the fact the frame wraps up and around rails on the slide.

Note the very small slide height of the C100 pistol, due to the fact the frame wraps up and around rails on the slide.

TriStar has led the way on bringing guns to market in the US at reasonable prices. They are an internationally successful business and know what they are doing. The fact that they offer a five-year warranty on their products shows their commitment to the product. The TriStar C100 is a great pistol and a pleasure to shoot. If you are looking for a solid CZ-75 style shooter at a decent price, the C100 needs to be on your consideration list.

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  • Rocky December 24, 2018, 8:06 am

    The Tri-Star S 120 is not a cheap pistol. It is a very well made and inexpensive pistol with a great finish and tight tolerances. Cheap means pot metal and will fall apart. Inexpensive means a great product for less cash. My S 120 digests everything I feed it. It has more than acceptable accuracy also. There are plenty of holsters out there that works for the pistol. I’m sure that soon there will be custom parts being made for these pistols.
    The Norinco 1911 suffered the same animosity until writers started reviewing the pistol and having them customized.
    I do wonder if any of the Turkish Kazaks build these pistols ?

  • K. Bernstein November 12, 2018, 5:21 pm

    For a few bucks more, the CZ Rami or PO1 are the real deal and not a decent replica.
    Canik/triStar’s gun works is ISO 9000 certified and running a CNC program is the same
    In Trukey as it is in The Bronx…that being said; I’ll still buy the real deal and never look back.
    I would add that one of the guns I compete with is a 5.5″ compensated Canik TP9sfx…a gun
    almost as good as the Wather PPQ Q5 Match…I own both.
    Imitations are really as good as the original…buy wisely…cry once.

  • Hitman55 April 26, 2017, 3:37 pm

    I have the tristar c-100 and the Sig p250 can’t go wrong with eather top knots pistols .

  • VA Gunner April 2, 2017, 9:18 am

    ” If you carry in condition 1, you will need to unload the gun to perform any administrative functions. You can, of course, ease the hammer forward, but know that that can be a dicey proposition.”

    More importantly, if you carry condition 2 (round in chamber, hammer down) as 99% of people with DA/SA guns do, you will have to thumb the hammer down every time you load up the gun for carry. The lack of a de-cocker is ridiculous in 2017.

    • greenwood January 3, 2020, 8:07 pm

      your fear around manually decocking a da/sa pistol reveals your lack of experience with these weapons. decockers can and do fail.

  • Donald Silvernail January 16, 2017, 9:10 pm

    This gun does look nice for the money but I don’t see the point of the double action function with no decocker. I just don’t trust myself to manually lower the hammer on a live round. Given enough different circumstances – an AD just waiting to happen.

  • R, J. Moncuse January 16, 2017, 6:12 pm

    Why would I want one? I’m left handed. This pistol is manufactured for the 75% of males who are right handed.

    • Allan Rennie January 16, 2017, 10:09 pm

      I agree, when are the companies going to get it? Lefties shot too. FN is the only pistol to be fully Ambi. Best guns I have ever shot. Why even bother building for right only? Stupid and no de cocker? Stupid.

    • J December 4, 2017, 1:14 pm

      Only 10% of people are left-handed, with males *more* likely to be than females. So left-handed male shooters would be a very small portion of the population, and I guess they don’t think it’s profitable to target them.

    • Christopher Jones April 26, 2018, 5:18 am

      Tristar and Canik names are synonomus – The Canik 55 Stingray is a Ambi version of the CZ P01 if you can find one, they are all steel. Not as great for EDC but one hell of a tack driver for range and home defense.

  • LG January 16, 2017, 11:15 am

    I do not mean to sound or appear to be hostile to anyone, but being a proud and Free PI (Politically Incorrect) I’ll be damned before a buy a mo=SS=lem gun. I understand that will attract the ire of many and perhaps will get me banned from this forum, but well that’s the price of Free Speech. Thanks.

    • Stars&stripes January 16, 2017, 12:06 pm

      I wouldn’t think someone who claims to be proud and politically incorrect would censor their own beliefs, thoughts and free speech. Just say Muslim, there’s nothing wrong with not want to buy something from anyone you don’t want to

    • Kenny Smith January 16, 2017, 9:28 pm

      LG , that is the same reason why I will not buy one, overall it looks like a really good gun , but I refuse to give any monies to the same people who refuse to live in our country without supporting terrorist. I might be banned right there with you. Peace brotha !!!

    • John February 3, 2017, 7:18 am

      Why would you buy a gun made in Connecticut or Massachusetts or Maryland for that matter. $$$ going to support anti-gun politicians…

      • Dabottum line February 10, 2017, 5:37 pm

        I really dnt give a fuck one way or the other as long as its not a highpoint.. it will protect you n urs… turkey. Russian china made who gives a rats ass ? All dat energry spent texing sum bullshit… muslims. Support terrorist. .. emm get ur Aim better so u wont hit a un unintended target asdwhole. Band me i dnt care

        • K. Bernstein November 12, 2018, 5:25 pm

          Well said…NOT!!!

    • Christopher Jones April 26, 2018, 5:20 am

      Just for the record, Turkey is a NATO Ally.

    • woody January 3, 2020, 8:23 pm

      I’m not sure what price you think you are paying– were you charged a fee for making this comment?
      Your assumption that every human being working in the plant that produces these pistols follows a particular religion is ridiculous. It shows that you don’t understand how real people live in different places around the world. What do you really know about people “different” from you going about their daily lives? If you took the time to truly look into it, you might find out that most of us want the same things: to live in peace with our friends and families, make a decent living, and to do good works. Turkey may be currently suffering under an authoritarian regime, but the Turkish people are historically a diverse and highly cultured people advanced in arts, science, agriculture, and manufacturing to a degree that we could only hope to imitate.

  • Rick January 16, 2017, 10:23 am

    I purchased a Canek S120 a couple years ago and still have not had one FTF, FTE or any problems with this gun after firing close to 1000 rounds through it. I have tried jamming the gun by mixing round points, flat points and hollow points and still no jamming. IMO the Mec-Gar mags that come with it are just as good as my Wilson Combat mags that I use in my Remington 1911. I read an article that compared the CZ75 to the Canek and they had pictures included. I don’t know how they can legally produce this gun since everything about them is exactly like a CZ. Here in America they would not be able to do that. I absolutely love everything about my Canek S120.
    A poster commented if you want a cheap 9mm buy a HiPoint. I own a 9mm HiPoint and I have no problems with the gun. Great warranty, good price and American made. With that being said I have never used it as a CCW pistol. I carry my big heavy metal Canek for a several reasons. One is the high capacity 17 round mags. Secondly I believe the only way you could make it jam is if you shoved dirt in it. Third, if I have to defend my self and shoot someone the police will take my gun immediately. It would not bother me so much to lose a gun that cost a few hundred dollars versus my stainless Remington 1911. Last but not least my Canek is deadly accurate. If you can’t afford a 600.00 to 700.00 handgun (not many can) then by all means buy this C100.
    I would like to add since gun prices are dropping an individual might be able to purchase a similar USA made 9mm pistol. When I purchased my Canek all similar USA made pistols were at lease 100.00 more and if I had the choice I would go with a USA made firearm. If you can’t find a USA made pistol in your budget then this is a perfect replacement.

    • LG January 16, 2017, 11:50 am

      Rick, I believe that if you/I/anyone shoots someone and the shooting is adjudicated as *justified* the police has to return the gun. Should I be mistaken, please advise.

    • Christopher Jones April 26, 2018, 5:24 am

      The CZ was designed in Czechoslovakia in 1975, behind the iron curtain. No pattent laws applied. Clones began to appear from Italy, Isreal, Switzerland, Turkey etc. To this day Isreali defense forces still carry CZ clones, made by IWI in the form of Jericho. Its is, in fact, one of the most accurate and reliable designs on the planet.

  • John January 16, 2017, 10:16 am

    Have a C 100. Reliable, Barrel bushing did shoot out, Tri Star replaced it,n/c. used loctite when I replaced it, no problem since.I still prefer a 1911 trigger.Other than that, can’t find a better pistol for the price.

  • Andrew White December 10, 2016, 7:49 pm

    Buyer be warned – google “Tri-Star lost barrel bushing”. I have a new Tri-Star T-120. I shout out the barrel bushing on the 3rd range outing with the gun – in the 250-300 round range. Barrel bushing was lost somewhere on the indoor range and couldn’t be found. Pin holding it in was also nowhere to be found. I contacted Tri-Star, and they weren’t surprised to hear about it. Its a known problem, and lots of tri-star owners, of various models (see the google results), have had it happen. Tri-star’s remedy was I either send it back on my dime (I pay to ship to them, they ship back to me = $$) or they ship me a replacement bushing and pin and I install it. I am waiting for the replacement to arrive, but am not happy that they are still selling guns with a known problem. Buyer beware

    • Ralph Celia January 16, 2017, 2:32 pm

      FYI: I personally think it’s a common practice w/ MFG’S to overlook defect’s they knowingly have a problem with, Example: HK , Bought a brand new VP9, had trigger finger bite on my gun. Tried everything to cure the bubble under my triggger finger to stop bitting,changed position of my finger, still no luck. Tried a glove and that helped but was worried about w/o glove for a EDC gun. Called HK they said send it in, I did, they said gun was ok, and they never heard of this problem. Told them to check HK FORUM,It’s on there. Asked if I could sand down the well a little, they said I loose my frame warrany. I said it will be on Armslist and Illinois Carry and Guns America in 1 hour. Only shot about 2-3 magazines through this gun.That’s where this gun is at now. FOR SALE Thanks HK.

  • Stan Rogers December 9, 2016, 6:44 pm

    The C100 & P120 both look like quality hand guns that I should be proud to have in my gun safe. Will look for both hand guns in my local gun shop.

  • Bill Pohlman December 8, 2016, 2:18 am

    My c100 has a 15 round magazine capacity-not 13. The actual length of the hammer forged barrel is 3.7″ and not 3.95″. The TriStar imported pistol is manufactured by canik55-an iso 9000 certified and nato approved plant. I have 1400 trouble free rounds through my c100 and TriStar has parts in stock although the only thing you will probably need is a recoil spring at 5-7000 rounds. The Turks have new cnc machines and the fit and finish of the pistols is every bit as good, if not better, than the cz75 its parent. I highly recommend this pistol-it’s a jewel!

  • Dave December 7, 2016, 7:30 pm

    I bought one of these a couple years ago. It cost me $360 out the door from Academy Sports. It has been a great pistol. The heavy DA trigger is not bad, honestly. The only thing I was unhappy with is the fact that the Turkish pistol has tritium sights and the TriStar import does not. Keeps the price down I guess. This is an inexpensive gun, but definitely not deserving of the terms “cheap” or “budget”. The quality is there in spite of the price.

  • Glennsixtyone December 7, 2016, 4:48 am

    If you want a CZ75, then buy a CZ75. ,,,,And how long do you think it will be before the Tristar Turkey gun is made in a tactical version with an accessory rail under the barrel..?,,,Then all the cheapos who bought the original version will have buyer’s remorse for not having the insight to see that this is a test market gun.
    I say just buy a Sig Sauer and get all the quality and add ons done right. If you want a cheap 9mm that you can tell yourself it was a bargain, then go buy a High Point C9, new, in the box for $139.95 and have a really cheap gun to impress your frugal friends.
    If you’re going to compromise, then go deep or don’t compromise at all.

    • Texf6 January 16, 2017, 7:50 am

      Simply not true. I have owned the chrome cerekote version for several years. If you want the rails go with the P100 version instead of the C100; have that one also. 15 round mags for the 9mm is correct. The mag will also hold 11 .40 cal which they use interchangeably for the .40 cal that I own. You can interchange mags between these 2 C100s without any issues. How many can make that interchangeable claim? I also have CZ75B and CZ75 B compact so I think that I am qualified to make this statement, at least in my hands; equal quality. Cajun Gun works trigger springs solve the heavy DA trigger pull. Fairly easy DIY install. The Tru Glo TFX night sights for CZ75 fit and make this package an all around winner. Don’t hesitate, make the deal.

    • Michael Keim January 16, 2017, 11:09 am

      Ooh, a Sig snob! Not everybody has the money to buy a Sig so instead of being an insulting jerk why not just skip the article. I have a large number of guns including Sigs. I also own some inex pensive guns that work each and everytime. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but some very accurate rifles these days are low end offerings from various manufacturers. The same is true of pistols. As far as your snark comment about buyers remorse about rails and other accessories, not everyone is a wannabe armchair commando. Some people just want a pistol for carry. My point here is that you should stop being a judgemental dick and enjoy the articles.

  • Dave Hicks December 6, 2016, 6:33 pm

    Good article but this pistol is close in price to a real CZ 75 ,which I already have. 1st try out with it (bought new) NO failures and stared to get better after 500 rounds. I like my CZ 75 Omega 9 M/M.

  • Will Drider December 6, 2016, 2:43 pm

    Good article but i missed anything on Failures? No failures? Nothing referenced on this and a cheap EDC gun is only good if it works. 12 Pound DA first pull: yuck!

    • Texf6 January 16, 2017, 7:59 am

      I will contest that I own several and have experienced the extreme reliability that I have experienced with my CZ’s. $18 spent on the Cajun Gun Works for the replacement trigger springs which is a fairly easy DIY will make you smile. I love CZ’s and the CZ design. It has been stated or rumored that when the CZ 75 was design in the Czech republic in the 70’s in,which they were part of the communist bloc of nations, that filing for patents to protect the design were not available to them. Truth or folk lore, who is to say but it is stated that this is the reason the designed has been faithfully cloned by other country’s. EDC? All day long….

    • Texasdocholliday January 16, 2017, 8:16 am

      He said that it had no failures…..mine hasn’t either.