Who doesn’t like money? Rich folks, poor folks, short folks, tall folks—everybody likes money. Families, industries and nations rise and fall on its vagaries. Of all the many-splendored idols modern American society worships, none are so greatly esteemed as the almighty dollar. Why all this talk of money? Because the Canik TP9SF Elite-S is arguably the finest mid-sized concealed-carry pistol in the country at any price. Specifically, it is typically $100 to $200 cheaper than its name-brand competition while offering a few features not available anywhere else. With that out of the way, let’s dive into the details.
I have followed the evolution of the Canik TP9 series with great interest since its inception. The earliest TP9 began as a franken-clone of the superb Walther P99. Sporting an 18-round magazine and blocky utilitarian lines, the TP9 broke new ground as an effective and efficient combat pistol priced for the common man. Every TP9 pistol, regardless of its particulars, always comes with a nice polymer holster, a spare magazine, cleaning gear and a splendid selection of nifty support stuff, all in a quality plastic case.
Over time, the TP9 took on a more Glock-like personality. The trigger always tripped a striker, but the original DA/SA sort of trigger gave way to a more predictable version with a blade safety built into the trigger itself. The TP9SA sported this striker-fired trigger but retained a manual decocking device that safely dropped the striker on a loaded chamber. The subsequent TP9SF—the current standard service model—dispenses with the decocker. For a striker-fired gun, the decocker doesn’t get in the way at all, but it can be a scant distraction. Canik’s new race gun, the TP9SFx, sports an extended slide as well as a 20-round magazine and a mounting cut for a mini reflex sight.
The TP9SF Elite-S is a mid-sized concealed-carry version of the larger TP9SF. This nifty new defensive gun shrinks all that is good and wholesome about the TP9 down into a compact package suitable for covert carry.
When compared to the earlier TP9 pistols, the TP9SF Elite-S is indeed stubbier overall. The magazine capacity drops from 18 to 15 rounds, and the barrel/slide assembly is chopped back a bit as well. There are two interchangeable backstraps to accommodate different hand sizes, and my copy has a cool baked-on tungsten gray Cerakote finish on the slide. Earlier 18- and 20-round magazines will fit in the Elite-S just fine.
The Elite-S just drips bells and whistles. The slide has forward serrations to assist in racking, and there is a dedicated loaded-chamber indicator that can be accessed both visually and by feel. The back of the slide includes a red button to indicate the state of the striker, and the oversized slide release is perfectly replicated on both sides of the gun. The magazine catch is readily reversed at the user level. The slide has an attractive trapezoidal cross-section that lends itself to concealed carry.
The frame is nicely stippled to enhance your purchase when sweaty or terrified. The dust cover incorporates an accessory rail. The gun’s Warren Tactical sights are top notch, and the front blade incorporates a fiber-optic insert. In a typically nice TP9 touch, the gun includes spare light tubes just in case they ever break.
When I first hefted the Elite-S, what initially leapt out at me was what appeared to be a spare magazine release in the bottom of the triggerguard. This trinket looks just like a miniaturized version of the magazine release lever made popular by the likes of Walther and HK. Though it is painful for me to admit, I actually had to consult the manual to figure out what that thing did. (C’mon, guys. Don’t judge.)
This nifty little bilateral lever is actually a brilliant manual mechanical safety. This trigger stop is trim and svelte enough to stay completely out of the way. If you don’t believe in manual safeties on your carry guns, just ignore it and it won’t hurt you. There is literally no way this device could be accidentally engaged.
They say that acknowledging you have a problem is the first step toward recovery from any addiction. I will therefore reluctantly admit that the TP9SF Elite-S is my fifth TP9 handgun. I just can’t get enough of the things. I love everything about them. Among these five guns, I have launched, conservatively, a whole bunch of ammo downrange. To my recollection, I have never had a stoppage in any of them with any sort of bullet geometry.
The Elite-S is indeed more compact than its full-sized brethren, but it still shoots like a dream. The trigger is the equal of guns costing hundreds more, and everything about the system is executed to a superb level of quality. I have and do trust the safety of my family to these Turkish-made guns.
The Elite-S is comfortable enough to be fun to shoot yet adequately small for painless concealed carry. My standard is always whether or not I can carry a gun underneath my surgical scrubs through a full 13-hour day at my clinic without being inconvenienced or unduly encumbered. As scrubs are essentially souped-up pajamas, this seems a decent yardstick. The TP9SF Elite-S carries at least as well as the mid-sized Glock 19 and maybe a bit better.
The holster that comes with the gun is a great open-carry solution, but it is a bit bulky for concealed duty. I use a CrossBreed SuperTuck IWB rig for the TP9 at work. This top-quality leather holster conforms to your particular anatomy over time and sports indestructible steel fittings. Additionally, my one SuperTuck accommodates all five of my TP9 pistols regardless of their barrel lengths. Toting the thing as described on
a proper belt was fairly painless.
On the range, the trigger sported a predictable take-up with a crisp break and that coveted short reset we all seem to be so rabid for these days. The trigger is sharp enough for precision work while remaining sufficiently positive as to minimize the risk of an accidental discharge. Like everything about the gun, the trigger represents a splendid compromise.
The niche the TP9SF Elite-S occupies is indeed that of the Glock 19. Larger than a pocket pistol but smaller than a service gun, the Elite-S is purpose-designed for concealed carry. The frame is relatively thin and compact while remaining sufficiently generous to allow for a comfortable grip. The slide and barrel are short enough for comfortable carry yet long enough to yield proper velocities and good control under recoil. The Elite-S is indeed that elusive effective compromise.
The TP9SF Elite-S offers literally everything, and I do mean everything, the big-name guns do as well as a unique manual safety system not available anyplace else. The gun comes with its own DIY gunman kit including everything you need to start packing heat except a box of ammo. The gun looks cool and runs like a scalded ape. I genuinely tried to find something to gripe about and just came up empty.
The Turks supply much of the world with quality firearms, but their presence on this side of the pond in years past has been sketchy at best. As a result, they market their wares to sell vigorously and well. TP9SF and SF Elite series pistols typically wholesale for a bit more than $300. I have seen them leave the gun shop for under $400, even in upscale locales.
You may have all the money you could want or need. You may have closets full of the stuff and use it to both fluff up your pillows and wallpaper your garage. If that is the case, then I am truly happy for you. May you live long and have many fat children. For the rest of us, however, money is something for which we typically have to work hard.
There have been seasons in my life when I struggled to pay the rent and buy stuff like infant car seats. The TP9SF Elite-S is for just such folks. This superb Turkish combat pistol allows American shooters of modest means to get into a proper defensive handgun at a very reasonable cost.
The truly amazing thing, however, is that the TP9SF Elite-S is actually better than most other polymer-framed name-brand handguns costing markedly more. The Elite-S includes that marvelous manual safety while shooting and carrying just as well as any of those other guys’ guns. Feel free to put your money in a pile and set fire to it if that’s what trips your trigger. However, out here in the real world where I live, the TP9SF Elite-S offers you literally everything you might want in a compact concealed-carry pistol, all at a price that will leave you some left over for ammo and snacks. I was genuinely impressed.
Canik TP9SF Elite-S Specs
|Barrel: 4.19 inches
|OA Length: 7.28 inches
|Weight: 28.32 ounces (empty)
|Sights: Warren Tactical
|Finish: Tungsten gray Cerakote, matte black
Canik TP9SF Elite-S Performance
|Armscor 124 FMJ
|Browning 147 FMJ
|Hornady 115 Critical Defense FTX
|Winchester 115 FMJ
|Winchester 147 Defend JHP
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best four-shot groups at 12 meters.
For more information, centuryarms.com.
This article was originally published in “Personal & Home Defense” #204. To order a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.