Some years ago, an affordable but well-made handgun was introduced to America. The Canik has earned a good reputation of providing plenty of value for the money. Constant upgrades and tightening of quality has given us a pistol offering an alternative to some of the big names in handgun manufacture.

The pistol illustrated is my favorite example and the only Canik I own. The TP9SFx is intended for competitive shooting. Whether an actual 3-Gun shooting contest or for range work, and the pure pleasure of firing an accurate, easy-to-use handgun, the Canik TP9SFx is a good shooter that offers a well thought out platform. For practice and learning to handle a pistol well, the Canik is a friendly handgun.

Canik TP9SFx 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
This is a clean design built on proven operating principles.

A word to the wise. Competition should be fun. Go to learn and to become competent. There are plenty of celebrity contestants and unfailingly nice folks. The best shooters all began somewhere.

You may not win your first match, but then again, you may. I should mention that then Sgt. Campbell, my younger son, did win his first IDPA match. He is a Major now and still shoots well, but we do not compete at present.

A race gun, in the basic sense, features a long sight radius, great trigger action, good sights, and other improvements to make shooting it faster and more accurate — given a competent shooter. We should all have a hobby we focus on. Guns, collecting reel to reel, vintage cameras, or turbo-charged Fusions, you can tap out the credit card quickly. But if you find something that does the job well and doesn’t break the bank, it is worth your time to explore.

TP9SFx Features

We like to explore a pistol’s DNA before commenting on its actual performance. The TP9 is in most regards a Walther clone. The pistol wasn’t as refined as the Walther, but it gets very close. Production in recent years has raised the bar. Folks are willing to pay for quality.

The modern TP9 is a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol. The single-action trigger features the typical blade-type safety that prevents the trigger from moving unless the trigger lever is pressed into the trigger face. The pistol once had the option of a long, double-action first-shot, similar to the Smith & Wesson SW 99 and Walther P99 these are older models.

Canik TP9SFx 9mm semi-auto handgun, right profile
The Canik TP9SFx 9mm pistol is well made of good material.

There is much value for beginners in the TP9 standard version. The pistol is supplied with a spare magazine, gun lock, magazine loader, bore brush, and a useful polymer holster. The upgraded model illustrated also features four optics plates for the popular red dot sights and a neat tool kit.

Also included are the usual extra backstraps we find included with today’s polymer pistols. My medium hands must be the common default, as the pistol fit my hands well without changing grip straps. A word to the wise. While many female shooters have small hands, they often have long fingers. The backstrap determines trigger reach.

Experiment with each backstrap for the perfect fit. The magazines in the competition model are 20-round units. You may use 18-round magazines as well. With the extended base pad, concealment isn’t a concern for competition. For home defense, this is a wickedly-effective pistol. With a RDS and combat light mounted, and a 20-round magazine, your castle’s typical boarder is easily repelled.

rear sight view of the Canik TP9SFx 9mm semi-automatic handgun
The black rear sight provides quick target acquisition given the red fiber-optic front sight post.

The pistol features a visible striker. When cocked, a red dot is visible on the striker. The slide is nicely machined — with forward cocking serrations, in addition to the nicely cut, rear serrations. The pinned-in extractor is, to say the least, robust.

I have been a fan of Warren Tactical sights for some time. The combination of a Warren Tactical rear sight and fiber-optic front post offers a precise sight picture for top accuracy. The slide features eight lightening cuts, four on each side, and top serrations that I fall short of calling a rib.

Two additional lightening cuts are found under the muzzle. The pistol is supplied with tools for changing the magazine release to a total of three configurations. That is attention to detail.

tool kit for the Canik TP9SFx 9mm semi-auto handgun
The Canik 9mm is supplied with a neat tool kit.

The grip frame features finger grooves to shorten trigger reach. The balance of adhesion and abrasion is excellent. The magazine well isn’t flared. Just the same, using the proper technique of letting the finger lead the magazine into the frame, speed loads are fast. A tapered magazine with a base pad seems to leap into the magazine well.

The slide lock is interesting. It may be operated by pressure on the rear of the slide release or the extended forward portion. If you are into competition, you will spend hours practicing the speed load.

This slide lock is positive in operation and very fast. The barrel is 5.2 inches long. This is just enough longer than most service-size pistols to dampen recoil and provide good velocity. The velocity increase over a Glock 19 9mm that I had on hand was about 55 fps.

The 4.9-inch barreled Glock 17 was slightly slower than the Canik, by about 15 fps. A 5-inch barreled Hi-Power ran 44 fps slower than the Canik. Barrel velocity is not the only important factor to accurate shooting. Extra weight, a long sight radius, and velocity are important.

Attendant with velocity is a full powder burn, making for less muzzle signature. The barrel is a ramped design. Nothing wrong with a measure of safety for those who hot rod the 9mm. The trigger action is clean with minimal take up and a sharp reset. The action breaks at 5.25 pounds.

Field stripped Canik TP9SFx 9mm handgun
The Canik TP9SFx is simple and easy to disassemble.

The pistol is supplied with a Kydex holster, which I used during the evaluation. The holster features adjustable retention and offers a sharp draw. It is useful for most types of competition.

The initial evaluation was fired using several types of full metal jacketed (FMJ) ammunition. The well-designed magazines are not difficult to load to about eighteen or nineteen cartridges. The last round may need the speedloader to fully seat. I loaded the usual way with four cartridges at a time, tapping the back of the magazine to seat the cartridges, then loading to full capacity.

The slide is locked back, a magazine is inserted, and the slide lock released to run the slide forward. This is the program for reliability. The pistol is pleasant enough with a well-balanced weight bias.

Bob Campbell loading a magazine into the Canik TP9SFx 9mm handgun
Speed loads are not a problem with the Canik TP9SFx.

The Canik TP9SFx comes on target quickly. Most of the ammunition fired was FMJ. The pistol functions well with bullet weights of 95 to 150 grains, everything loaded in the magazines fired without a hitch. The pistol seems omnivorous, feeding a mix of hollow point loads in the magazine.

Drawing and getting on target, the pistol turned in satisfying combat groups. I fired at 10, 12, and 15 yards, getting excellent results at every turn. I truly enjoy firing an accurate, and easy to handle, pistol. I could run through a 20-round magazine and get good results in rapid fire. Fire, allow the trigger to reset as you control the muzzle, and get back on target. Then, you are ready to repeat the process for another hit.

Function was good, and practical accuracy was outstanding. Next, I elected to fire for absolute accuracy. I set the pistol in a steady rest and was as careful as possible to take every advantage for accuracy. I fired five-shot groups. Here are the results at 25 yards.


Average of Two 5-Shot Groups

Federal 124-grain American Eagle 2.0 inches
Federal 124-grain HST 1.9 inches
CCI Blazer Brass 115-grain 2.4 inches
Speer Gold Dot 124-grain 2.2 inches
Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P 2.2 inches
Winchester 147-grain Defender 2.5 inches
Fiocchi 147-grain Extrema 1.75 inches

I am pleased with the pistol on all counts. Mounting an optic was easy enough. The pistol is supplied with four plates covering the popular RDS types. I chose the TruGlo XR21.

I have enjoyed good results with TruGlo for many years. I have been well pleased with this particular RDS. The XT21’s specifications are enumerated below.

  • 21x16mm multi-coated objective lens
  • Ideal for mounting on RMSc optic-ready pistols
  • Digital push-button brightness controls with 10 brightness settings
  • Remembers last used brightness setting when powering on
  • Motion-sensing “wake” feature
  • 1-MOA windage and elevation adjust
  • CNC-machined from aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Auto-off‑ feature preserves battery life (4-minute idle from last button push)
  • Waterproof (IPX7) design
  • Picatinny rail mount (included)
  • Battery included (CR1632 3V)
  • 20,000+ hour battery life
  • Lifetime limited warranty

TruGlo sights run from entry level to advanced quality. No failures and good service are the norm. When you test many firearms during the course of a year — often more than 50 — it is good to have affordable optics to quickly change from one firearm to the other.

TruGlo X21 red dot sight mounted on a handgun
TruGlo’s X21 is affordable but useful. Note stubby back up sight.

You can purchase a nest of TruGlo optics for your firearms without becoming insolvent. The XR 21 features a nubby set of back-up sights for guns such as the Canik that do not co-witness. This is a good feature. I removed the rear sight plate and bolted on #04. It is good to mark the plates as some footprints look very similar. I recently dealt with a big name, branded pistol that was almost confusing when choosing plates. I learned my lesson.

On the Range

I returned to the range, this time with a supply of handloads using the Speer 124-grain Gold Dot at 1,120 fps and the 147-grain Gold Dot at 900 fps (a bit under factory load standard). The XR 21 was sighted in, and I proceeded to tear the center out of the X-ring. The pistol seems to slightly prefer 147-grain loads.

Two magazines and a Kydex holster are supplied with Canik TP9SFx 9mm semi-auto handgun
Two magazines and a Kydex holster are supplied with the Canik TP9SFx pistol.

I fired a couple of groups off the standing barricade and put five shots into about 1.5 inches at 15 yards. The pistol runs right and will make an excellent entry level pistol for competetion. A good shooter might even take it to the top.

Canik TP9SFx Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Barrel: 5.2 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.27 inches
  • Weight: 29.28 ounces (empty)
  • Grip: Polymer
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front, Warren Tactical rear
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Finish: Black, tungsten
  • Capacity: 20+1

Home Defense

As for home defense, load the pistol with 20 HST hollow points and relax. Mount a combat light. If you prefer home ready with an empty chamber the Canik is supplied with a slide racker that screws into the optics mount.

I cannot recall the last time I encountered a more well thought out pistol.

Have you ever considered a ‘competition’ handgun for home defense? How would you use the Canik TP9SFx? Share your answers in the Comment section.

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