As usual, I like to remind our readers that I’m a real stickler when it comes to buying just about anything. If what I’m looking at is a steal-of-a-deal, I have to pass on it. My finances demand that I spend every penny as wisely as I can, all the time.
I certainly appreciate some custom firearms or very expensive guns, and I’ve owned a few over the years. I didn’t have the cash to buy them, but I worked deals, trades, or barter. While I think we all can agree that there is a certain amount of pride in ownership, we don’t all need custom or very expensive firearms to achieve certain goals. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t “need” any more firearms. Yes, I do want more, but I don’t need them. So I’ve all but cut back on buying or trading into new firearms. I have enough firearms to serve my needs for the rest of my life, I kid you not. Once more, let me clarify that I don’t not have a gun collection, far from it. Most readers would be surprised at how few guns I actually do own.
Enter the Canik-55 TP9SF, which is a single-action model. I previously reviewed, for a different publication, a similar Canik that had a de-cocker for single/double action fire that most people didn’t care for, and it was difficult to operate. The Canik-55 is imported by Century Arms International, who has a long history of importing surplus military arms as well as assembling many different types of guns, with their most famous being the AK-47. They’ve had many problems along the way. I don’t understand this, as the AK is one of the simplest guns ever, but they assembled them from new and surplus guns and just didn’t get it right. It was a hit or miss with them. But these days, their AKs are outstanding.
This Canik-55 is manufactured in Turkey, and I’m here to tell you that they are producing some outstanding firearms in that country, bar none. The best thing is, they are a bargain to buy and they aren’t junk guns; they’re far from it. The original Canik-55 had a plastic front sight, and it came with several replacements so you could adjust the point on aim with elevation. However, those sights were easily damaged. The new Canik-55 TP9 SA has a steel front sight that is dovetailed into the front of the slide with a white dot. The rear sight is also steel and has two white dots as well as a vertical line, and this makes for a fast combat sight picture.
This outstanding handgun comes in 9mm, and it will handle the hottest 9mm loads you care to put through the 4-inch barrel. The gun weighs in at 1.7 lbs with the black polymer frame, but it can also be had with a desert tan frame and slide. There are two back straps that are easy to change out, and one will surely fit your hand. A magazine loader is included, but I found the 18-rd mags that are made by MecGar easy to load with the mag loader. There is also a holster in the box, but I don’t care for it. It can be worn as a paddle holster or you can thread your belt through it. The original had a great belt holster with the gun. There is a second 18-rd mag, too, and both a cleaning rod and cleaning brush in the nice polymer case the gun comes in.
The trigger is ala’ Glock. It has that funky safety lever in the face of the trigger. It works well enough and is passive; no thought is needed other than a proper finger on the face of the trigger and a straight pull to the rear. The trigger on my sample broke at 4.5 lbs with a lot of take-up, and that’s not always a bad thing. There is also a Picatinny rail on the dust cover for attaching lights and/or lasers. The gun is striker-fired, as are so many polymer-framed handguns. When the gun is cocked, you can see in daylight the red tip of the striker in the back of the slide, but it is recessed far enough inside the slide that you can’t feel it if the gun is cocked. There is no manual safety, nor, in my humble opinion, is one needed; the best safety is between our ears.
I could live without the squared-off trigger guard that many polymer guns have today. The slide serrations on the rear of the slide offer a good grip, so racking the slide is easy enough under all weather conditions. There is a take-down lever for disassembling the gun, and it is on both side of the frame, just like the Glock. A loaded chamber lever is behind the barrel’s chamber and in the top of the slide; it sticks up a little bit if there is a round in the chamber, or for that matter even an empty case. The extractor is huge; I love it. It will pull out the most stubborn empty case or loaded round. The sides of the frame, behind the trigger, are concave, and your trigger finger just naturally fits in there and places your trigger finger where it needs to go– on the trigger.
The front and back strap are nicely textured, not too aggressive but with plenty of purchase there for a firm hold on the gun. The sides of the grip have some “sandpaper” type of finish on it. It’s not actual sandpaper, but it will feel like fine sandpaper when your hand grips it. The slide release is recessed into the frame of the gun, and it’s a bit difficult to reach if you release an opened/locked back slide. I prefer to release the slide by grasping it over the top and pulling back on it.
The magazine release is right behind the trigger guard, where it should be. It is squared and large and easy to reach. Magazines, loaded or empty, readily drop free from the gun. Magazines are easy to disassembly and clean, too, and as mentioned, they’re manufactured by MecGar. A spare 18-rd mag can be had for under $25.00 each, which is a bargain, if you ask me.
For testing, I had Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition . I had a good selection of ammo to run through the Canik-55. My wife decided that she liked the way this handgun felt, and she had the first go ‘round when it came to testing the gun. She loves the trigger pull, and after the first mag through the gun, she turned and gave me “that” smile. I told her, “No, you can’t have this gun.” We’ve been down this road a few times, and she says we can “share” the gun. Then that’s the last I see of it.
From Bufaflo Bore, I had their outstanding 147-gr Hard Cast FN +P round, and you need to read about this round on their website, how it stopped an Alaskan Brown Bear. I also had their 115 and 95 grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point rounds, and their 124-gr FMJ FN +P+ hot round. From Black Hills, I had their 115-gr JHP +P load, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr EXP (Extra Power) Hollow Point load, their 124-gr JHP and last, and their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point load. Without any fanfare, the gun never missed a beat, and well over 500-rds was run through it in my shooting sessions. Even the +P+ loads were a real pussycat to shoot in this service-sized 9mm pistol. BTW, Canik just came out with a compact version, but I haven’t seen one, yet.
Accuracy testing was conducted at 25 yards with the gun rested over a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my truck. The outstanding trigger pull was giving me groups of three inches or less, if I did my part, which wasn’t all the time, I’m sad to say. I had one group that was dead-on at 2½ inches, and that was with the Black Hills 124-gr JHP load; however, the Black Hills 124-gr JHP +P load was hot on its heels, as was the Buffalo Bore 147-gr Outdoorsman load. There were no “losers” when it came to accuracy. I was also able, if I was on my game, to plink at watermelon-sized rocks out to 100 yards and hit them with regularity.
The Canik-55 is just a lot of fun to shoot, and recoil was no problem. It comes with two 18-rd magazines. Wow! This is my new bedroom gun. I have that much confidence in it that if something wakes me in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t hesitate to reach for the Canik-55. And with 18-rds in the magazine, it should take care of whatever trouble there might be.
I paid $340 for this gun. Well, okay, I didn’t pay cash money; I worked out something with the gun shop with some barter stock. This is a steal-of-a-deal, if you ask me. I know that many security officers are on a tight budget. If allowed to carry a semi-auto pistol, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal and a more reliable brand-new gun. It’s ready to go right out of the box with a holster and spare magazine. So, before you lay down your hard-earned money for another 9mm handgun, check out the Canik-55 TP9SF. It would be a welcome addition to your survival battery with plenty of rounds on-board to keep you safe.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio