By Mike Keleher
Canik is a company in Turkey that has been turning out modern pistols for a couple of years, and got into the American market with some budget priced 9mm polymer framed pistols with a funky decocker/safety and SA/DA actions that did not garner much attention in the U.S. market
A couple of modifications later, they introduced the TP9SF with a striker fired system and a lot of curves and improvements loosely based on the Walther P99 and S&W 99-two of the best ergonomic grips I have ever laid hands on. Coming in at less than $400 they were now in the ballpark for U.S. shooters willing to deviate from Sig/Glock/S&W for a modern fighting handgun for a lot less money.
Then Canik brought out their direct-to-competition super gun, the SFx with an MSRP less than $500. I have been very interested in them ever since they hit the market, but always worried about the price being too low to be able to reflect a dependable and quality pistol. My guns have to work. Period.
I need not have worried. The SFx is a 5" barrel, polymer frame, striker fired pistol that goes head to head against the long barreled Glock 34. The SFx can walk on to any 3 gun or USPSA field with no embarrassment.-at a third of the cost of a "real" competition pistol. The manufacturer has run the pistol to NATO specs and survived a 60,000 torture test with no degrade in accuracy.
I first started coveting a SFx while watching my friend Corrine Mosher, shooting one for two years in 3 gun competitions as a factory sponsored shooter. Corrine is a serious pro-shooter, and ran her SFx against all the top shooters and top competition guns all across America and came away with many many awards.
Remember when Gaston Glock brought out the Model 34 with a one inch longer barrel and a 3.5 lb trigger and said it was ready to go out of the box as a competition gun? They changed only those two things (same poor sights) and it was pretty darn good on it's own, and compared to a 1911 pistol the G34 did not need $1000 or more in parts and gunsmith devotions to make it a competition gun.
Well the Canik TP9SFx beats that out of the box idea all hollow. It brings advanced engineering beyond the original Canick pistols, features lots of competition grade features, and a storage box chock full of user switchable components and was selected as the high prestige Industry Choice Awards pistol of the year in 2017.
I finally bought one this fall after taking a long time rationalizing the "need" for yet another polymer frame, striker fired 9mm pistol at my house. What finally tipped the checkbook was the idea I could mount a red dot sight on a SFx and shoot USPSA and 3 gun with it. (Yes, yes, such a purchase would also necessariy lead to the purchase of a new magazine fed shotgun to compete in 3 gun open class- oh my life and hard times…and yes I'm working on it next!)
The SFx is a "large" full sized pistol, having the 5.2" match grade barrel and measuring 8.2 " long overall. With most EDC guns being 3" or 4" barrels this Canik seems pretty long. However the SFx size is instantly comparable to the Glock 34/35 at 8.82" or a Government size 1911 at 8.25", and if you have ever wandered about with a 1911 .45 on your hip it feels pretty darned good.
The list of factory included features is nothing short of amazing when compared to the paltry $442 I paid for a brand new SFx. It starts on top with Warren Tactical red/green fiber optic sights. They remind me very much of Dawson Precision offerings- you know…good sights you would have to pay for! The sights are standard dove-tail cut in case you want to replace them. The slide has lightening cuts and forward serrations- more custom bits you could put on your Glock. The striker fire system is advertised as 3.5-4 lbs of pull- it is a little gritty to me but better than factory Glock or most other striker fire guns I shoot. It might smooth up with some more rounds down range.
It has an extended slide stop of course and has an undercut trigger guard. The magazine release is reversible L/R, and there are actually 3 mag release buttons included to fit your own preference of small, med, large.
On the back of the slide a striker status indicator shows when the gun is cocked, and of course there is a picatinny rail on the polymer frame. The frame as mentioned has good ergonomics to fit human hands and they throw in two removable frame backstraps for your best fit.
Imagine opening the storage box on this competition grade pistol and finding two 20 round extended magazines already included. They are made by Mec-Gar in Italy, the manufacturer of mags for Sig and Beretta. Spare mags from www.GunMagWarehouse.com are $30 for a 20 rd 9mm, and I bought a flush fit 18 rd mag for $25 to have a third mag on hand for competition and makes it concealable in a good holster and cover shirt if I want to carry it off range.
Less sensational, there is a magazine loader, a kydex holster and cleaning brush included in the box. But back it all with a lifetime warranty and this gun is already pretty impressive.
It gets even better. Anticipating the people who want to shoot this gun at a higher level with a red dot sight, the Canik designers built the rear sight onto a user removable plate-and included four mount plates to accommodate all of the popular red dot sights on the market. These plates are usually something you would have to purchase for $100 each when you bought your red dot micro sight. Let's check that math again- you get $400 worth of plates included on a gun that was purchased at bargain price off of www.gun.deals for $442.
I shot the gun with iron sights and could not say a single thing bad about it. Front sight was narrow and contributes to intense sight picture. I monkeyed with mag catches and backstraps and after settling my trigger finger down the gun shot as well as any other polymer frame production gun on the market.
I saw a "value priced" and "user rated" red dot on Amazon and ordered it and of course kicked my own ass. I knew better. It did not survive the first shooting session. The dot shut off after about 100 rds. It went back to Amazon the same day. There is no getting around it, cheap optics are not good optics. I got a Black Friday priced Vortex Venom with lifetime warranty, screwed it on top of the SFx and we are quite happy together.
The gun shot everything I put through it and I was impressed with the accuracy and distinct lack of recoil from some red polymer coated truncated cone Federal Premium Syntech 124 gr bullets I won somewhere this year. They were really sweet in the 5" barrel. I will be getting more of those red BB's for my new Daisy.
Being on the market for a few years now, there are a number of holster makers with Canik models in stock, and may also fit in Walther PPQ holsters. The magazines fit just fine in Sig/Beretta/S&W M&P double stack mag pouches. The gun disassembles similar to a Glock …and no you don't have to pull the trigger first before starting to disassemble it.
If you don't want the 5" barrel on your packing gun, Canik's next developed model is the SF Elite which incorporates most of the SFx features with a 4" barrel. MSRP is also under $500. The guns are solid, accurate and a dead sexy bargain! The hardest part may be getting over the fact it is an imported gun…gee like Sig Sauer, Glock, H+K or Beretta!