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Canik TP9SF Elite Review

Overview

The Canik TP9 series of pistols was introduced to the US market in 2012, when they were imported by Century Arms. Canik is a Turkish company. They are known for making their TP9 series of pistols, which is an indirect copy of the Walther P99, which the patents had run out on. 

The original Walther P99 came with a double action, single action, striker fired trigger, and the handgun added a decocker. This is a departure from the more common single action only system that block and most other striker fired manufacturers use. When the Canik TP9 was first introduced to the US market, it had a single action Striker, but it also featured a decocker. 

So when you would pull the trigger, if you had personally decocked the firearm, it was impossible to fire the pistol. A lot of people consider that a safety hazard, as you may not be able to fire the gun when you need it most. Canik installed the decocker to make disassembling of the firearm much easier since the Striker on the gun needs to be disengaged, before disassembling the firearm. 

The only way to disengage it without a decocker was to pull the trigger and Canik wanted to avoid that. This did not do well on the US market initially. So Canik introduced a variety of versions with different triggers, until they finally got to a normal setup. Which is just a single action only, striker fired handgun, without any kind of decocker feature on the firearm. 

The Canik TP9SF Elite is an evolution of the Canik TP9 series. It was designed to offer something that is a little more refined in their basic budget series at an incredible price. All the Canik firearms are pricing a more budget friendly zone, and the Canik TP9SF Elite is no exception coming in at just over $400. The gun itself includes a lot of features out of the box that we’ll cover later in this review. 

From a distance, the Canik TP9SF Elite appears to have a lot of high value features, but are those features hiding other issues of the Canik TP9 series? Or is it just one of the best values that exist in firearms today? 

Canik TP9SF Elite Role and Size

Canik TP9SF Elite is sized similarly to a Glock 19. So it’s that perfect compromise size, that makes a great gun for concealed carry, as well as a potential mediocre gun for duty use. I say mediocre, because if you have larger hands, you might have a little bit of trouble getting all your fingers on the firearm, just as you would with a Glock 19.

It makes a great gun for OWB carry, duty use, or range use. You’re not going to see this firearm in any police departments. So I take my endorsement of duty use lightly, but you get the role that the firearm can fill. Now for concealed carry, you can carry these multiple ways and we’ll go over every option. 

This handgun is obviously too big to do something like pocket or ankle carry, but it can be great for more traditional means of carry like IWB carrying from three to five o’clock, appendix carry or OWB carry.

IWB Carry

When we’re talking about carrying the Canik TP9SF Elite at the three to four o’clock position the overall size and form factor of the gun is a little thick. That’s going to be the biggest problem with this firearm. It feels kind of shortened and stumpy. When you’re carrying in that position. This gun is well over an inch thick, and unless you wear a properly sized shirt, the gun is going to print through the sides.

The grip itself is short, which helps a little bit, but it doesn’t help a ton when it comes to conceal this gun. The width is going to be your biggest issue for IWB three to five o’clock carry. 

Canik TP9SF Elite appendix carry

Appendix with the Canik TP9SF Elite is quite easy. The gun is really perfectly sized for it. The width isn’t as big of an issue as it is at the three to four o’clock. Just due to the way most people’s bodies naturally have a pocket where you normally appendix carry the gun. 

The overall length of the slide is long enough to get enough weight to the firearm, low below the belt line that it’s not going to want to tip out like crazy like short guns, like a Glock 26 would, but the grip itself is also short enough that it’s not going to present issues for printing as long as you have a properly designed Canik TP9SF Elite appendix carry holster. 

OWB concealed carry

OWB carry with the Canik TP9SF Elite is going to be a bit of a chore for the same reason that is for IWB appendix carry. The gun is just fairly thick for that size and that thickness is going to cause some issues for concealment. It’s certainly sized so you can conceal it. 

If you wear a large enough shirt and have a good properly designed holster that has built in cuts, you can optimize the placement of the gun against your body. But unless you do those features, this gun is probably going to be a little bit big to carry, without massively printing. 

Features

Capacity 

Canik TP9SF Elite comes with a 15 round magazine. Most of the other Canik firearms come with a 17 round magazine. So the grip is a little bit shorter on the Canik TP9SF Elite, which does make it more friendly for concealed carry. The firearm will take all other Canik TP9 series magazines. You can find magazines quite affordably at around 25 to $30 for the Canik TP9SF Elite. 

One thing I will mention is they are hard to find in stock. If you find them in stock, you might want to stock up on the magazines, as they don’t come in stock often. The magazines themselves are made by Mec-Gar who makes most of the magazines for the large name manufacturers. Mec-Gar magazines are definitely a solid quality product and magazines are probably the easiest thing to screw up on a pistol so going with Mec-Gar ensured that Canik did not screw that feature up. 

Magwell

The magazine well in the Canik TP9SF Elite is pretty standard. There is just the slightest bevel around the edge on all four sides, but it’s not really going to help you if you miss your reload by a couple millimeters. It is fairly easy to get a magazine in quickly, but if you miss the reload at all, it’s going to penalize you. So it would be nice to see it had a larger magazine well like the Glock 19 GEN5 MOS does. 

Ergonomics

Grip

The firearm comes with removable back straps so you can switch out to different back straps and change the amount of hump on the back of the grip. Personally, I find the ones that come on it from the factory to be quite good, but if you want to change it out, there’s always that option. 

Unfortunately it does not have the option for you to change the trigger reach on the firearm. That’s not a great feature if you have larger hands, if you have a larger hand, it’s really great to be able to increase the trigger link of reach on the firearm. 

Beavertail/Tang

There is no beavertail on the Canik TP9SF Elite, but there is a nice deep tang and it’s well-rounded on all the edges. So it’s easy to get a good, comfortable high grip on the firearm. I feel no discomfort when getting that high grip, unlike some guns like the Walther PPQ. Now the tang is quite deep and there are some down sides to that. 

If you grip your gun at the top of the sight, when drawing from your holster, the web your hand is going to have to fall quite a distance unsupported. So you might not get a consistent index on the firearm, but if you get a full firing grip before you draw your gun from the holster, this will not be an issue.

Texturing

Texturing on a Canik TP9SF Elite is mediocre. The texturing on both the front strap and the back strap. Visually look very similar to the texting texturing on the CZ P-10 C, but they’re nothing like it. Texturing on the Canik TP9SF Elite is much less aggressive than something like the CZ P-10 series. 

There’s light texturing on the grip panels as well. And the texturing does his job well enough. It just doesn’t do it great. The frame has kind of a cheap feel to it. And the texturing doesn’t help with that. If you shoot a lot and you have calluses built up on your hands, and then the texturing on the Canik TP9SF Elite will likely not be sufficient in your opinion. But if you’re a new shooter or a shooting that doesn’t shoot that often, you’ll probably find the texturing to be sufficient.

General Feel 

The general feel of the grip is quite good. One thing you will notice though, is the polymer feels a little bit cheaper than a lot of other options. But this gun also comes priced cheaper than those other options. 

Sights

Canik originally came with just standard run of the mill mass manufactured iron sights. One of the smart things they did was they’ve added warren sights to almost all the pistols they offer. And the Canik TP9SF Elite is no exception. The rear sight is a warren tactical new notch rear, and it has a front fiber optic sight. 

The sight picture on this is quite good, and this is arguably the best set of sights that comes on a pistol retailing under $500. Frankly, the sights on this are better than a lot of guns that cost almost twice as much.

Aftermarket

There aren’t a lot of aftermarket sights often. If you’re looking to add a different set of sights to Canik TP9SF Elite. Warren does offer a variety of sights for it. If you’re happy with standard night sights, a fiber optic or a blacked-out front. If you’re looking for something like XS Big Dots or Trijicon HDs, you might be out of luck. Although I do believe XS has some options for this firearm. 

Red Dot Options

Unfortunately, there are no current red dot options for the canik TP9SF Elite, but they do have their SFX series. Which is their five inch competition slide series of handgun, and that has an optics mounting system. So hopefully we’ll see them add something like this, to this gun in the future. The Canik TP9SF Elite, currently ships with a mechanical loaded chamber indicator that sits on the top of the slide, right behind the hood of the barrel. 

That would interfere with mounting a red dot on the pistol. A lot of companies do not like to mess with the factory safety features on a pistol, because they consider it a liability. 

So it might be hard or expensive to have somebody add a dot to your Canik TP9SF Elite. And frankly, at this price point, you’re going to pay half the cost, the pistol or more to have a dot milled. 

Controls

There are no external safeties on the Canik TP9SF Elite, except for the trigger safety. I don’t really count that as an external safety, but if you do, it’s there. 

Magazine Release

Magazine release on the Canik TP9SF Elite is actually quite nice. It sits only on the left side of the gun, so it’s set up for right-handed shooters. And it’s easier for me to reach and press the magazine and release them without breaking my grip on the firearm. The magazine release is also reversible.

So if you’re a left-handed shooter, that’s a nice feature to have. Now when looking at the magazine release itself, it’s a square button with some nice texturing on it. They’re really nice minute features on this magazine release and it’s one of my favorite details on the firearm. 

It just really stood out in part due to the fact that the Canik TP9SFx has an absolutely horrible looking magazine release that is completely unrefined. So seeing how much they improve this design on this gun makes me really happy. 

Canik TP9SF Elite Slide Stop

The slide Stop on the Canik TP9SF Elite is actually ambidextrous and it’s very similar to the design on the Walther PPQ and P99 series of handguns. The levers are very long and provide ample space for you to reach unless you have very, very short thumbs you’re not going to have any problem using the slide stop on the firearm. It really is a great design improvement over the Canik TP9SFx which I mentioned earlier. 

Overall Ergonomics

The overall ergonomics of the Canik TP9SF Elite are pretty good. Although I will say the grip and the undercut of the trigger could be improved a little bit. If you get Glock knuckle, you might have the same thing with this firearm. When trying to get a good solid grip on this firearm, my pinky just barely fits on the grip of the pistol. 

I get slightly less space than with a Glock 19. Which has a similar overall footprint. So keep that in mind if you have larger hands. I wear a medium to large size glove, and I don’t have issues gripping this handgun, but somebody with slightly larger hands would. 

But overall, the gun feels good in the hand and it’s pretty easy to lock everything in, to have a good grip that gets constant, consistent, leverage over any recoil impulse the firearm may have.

Trigger

The trigger of the Canik TP9SF Elite is the star of the show. You probably hear people talk about how kind of triggers is absolutely fantastic. It’s in the budget price of the gun and they aren’t wrong. When you go in to pull the trigger. There’s a decent bit of take-up and that take up actually feels really heavy. 

This weight is necessary though, because once you get to the wall of the hand gun, the brake is incredibly crisp and light. I talked to many shooters. You feel this trigger might even be a little light for concealed carry use. 

Now, I don’t know if I agree with that because of the heavier take-up on this firearm. Sometimes I pull this trigger and when you get to that wall, it’s a definite wall. And I feel like the firearm has a dead trigger, but it’s just because I haven’t hit that wall yet. That’s how heavy the take up on the trigger itself is. 

The firearm resets authoritatively right at that wall and it’s easy to run the trigger fast. Honestly, this might be the best striker fired trigger that I’ve handled from the factory. I’ve reviewed almost every striker fired firearm on the market. This trigger has to probably be the best just in terms of a gun counter trigger. 

I myself prefer rolling breaks, which this is not, but even as somebody who loves a rolling break, they have to admit to this hard wall trigger feels absolutely amazing. 

Aftermarket

There is a small aftermarket for the Canik TP9SF Elite. It’s not huge, but there is enough to get things like magazines, extensions, an upgraded trigger shoe and a couple of different site options. Beyond that there really isn’t much, but frankly, the way this gun comes set up, you really don’t need more.

Maintenance

The Canik TP9SF Elite takes down just like a Glock firearm. You’ll need to take the magazine out, ensure that the firearm is unloaded by checking the chamber, and then you’ll want to lock the slur back, lock the slide back, check the chamber again, and then pull the trigger to deactivate the striker. 

Then you want to slightly pull back the slide and pull down the take down tabs on the frame from there, the slot of the slide right off, and you can field strip the firearm and clean and lubricate as you wish. 

Aesthetics

The overall look of the Canik TP9SF Elite in my opinion is quite good. The length of the slide and the relatively short grip seem to balance each other out nicely. I really liked the gray cerakote on the slide as it provides a nice contrast with the black frame. The red trigger safety is also a nice touch, that contrasts well, I guess with the rest of the firearm. But matches with the red fiber optic that comes installed from the factory.

I have to say, honestly, I’m not a big fan of the way the rest of the Canik TP9 series look, but the Canik TP9SF Elite is a very symmetrical firearm that seems to have its proportions in the right places. 

Shooting

Shooting the Canik TP9SF Elite is not exactly what you would expect. The Canik TP9SF Elite has a very heavy slide and thus it’s a pretty snappy firearm that pulls the gun up and recoils quite a bit. The gun is also slightly over sprung. So it’s just very snappy and frankly not quite as pleasant as you would expect to shoot a firearm. This gun has a full set of features that make it accessorized better than any other gun out there.

But the recoil impulse itself leaves a little bit to be desired. It’s like Canik spent all their money researching what features will sell people at the gun store counter, but not on the range. That said, if you’re looking for a gun that you carry out of the box, just the sights it comes with are a great advantage over other options, and might actually allow you to shoot it better. 

Sights are thoroughly underrated when it comes to shooting a firearm effectively for most people. You can definitely shoot a handgun great with a crude set of sights, but having a nice set of the sights takes a lot of the mental games out of it. That gives this Canik TP9SF Elite an advantage over many of the firearms out there. 

If you’re looking for this gun to be a definite Glock killer CZ killer HK killer, et cetera, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere. That said those guns don’t necessarily kill this one either. This Canik TP9SF Elite just has a different set of features than those guns. And while it loses some points on the way it actually shoots, it has some other features that make the shooting experience more even with those other options. 

The recoil impulse just isn’t quite as good as I would like it to be. It’s what you’d expect from a gun at this price point. Closing thoughts. Overall, I really liked the Canik TP9SF Elite. I just wish it was as good of a shooter from my recoil impulse standpoint, as it performs in all other areas. The gun does feel a little bit cheap, but it’s one of those guns you just have to be impressed with considering the price point. If this was a 700 or $750 gun. 

I would definitely be complaining about the recoil impulse, but considering MSRP on these guns is $429 and you can often find them on the street for just under 300.

Final Thoughts

There’s not a lot to complain about. If you’re looking for an awesome full feature firearm that you can pick up out of a box, throw in a good holster, like our Harry’s Holster Singleton and carry it or go to the range. 

Then it’s going to be really hard to beat the Canik TP9SF elite. And one thing I’ll also mention is cheap magazines or affordable magazines for budget guns are not that common. A lot of times companies will have an affordable firearm and they’ll try to charge 40 or $50 for the magazines. 

Canik was really smart and that they didn’t do that. So if you’re a high volume shooter, you can afford to provide all the parts and accessories you need for the Canik. I really liked this gun and I think it will work great for a lot of people.

5 Replies to “Canik TP9SF Elite Review”

  1. Tim Thurby says:

    Love these in depth reviews, when considering a new purchase

  2. Donald Packard says:

    Always insightful, as usual. I was considering a canik, maybe shop a little after reading this article

  3. I had heard good things about Canik. Some review sites will only tell you the good things about the firearm, but this review was well balanced.

  4. Brian Amback says:

    Thanks ror the in depth review.

  5. Ryan McAdams says:

    Very in-depth. Was looking at canik to maybe replace my glock but it doesn’t seem like they are much different.

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