Gun Review: CAI Canik TP-9

When Mr. Bond grew tired of his German mouse gun, he “upgraded” to the Walther P99. I don’t know how many of you out there upgraded along with him, but if you’re like me you didn’t. My “excuse” for shunning the gun: I’m not a huge fan of the P99′s H&K style magazine release. You know, the kind located on the trigger guard? Its proximity to the trigger is as welcome as hot-sauce in saline solution. Ergonomically? Awk-ward. This made the gun a attractive to me as . . .

Isabeli Fontana is to Elton John. I could appreciate the gun’s objective beauty but it didn’t really appeal to me, personally. And yet, at the time, in the Bay State, it was the only gun available (and affordable) with pre-ban hi-capacity magazines.

And so, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away from uninfringed gun rights, I obtained a S&W Wather P99. I loved everything about the pistol but three simple things: the grip, trigger, and magazine release. Oh, and the cost. But that’s more of a testament of the lack of places to shop for guns in Massachusetts than to the pistol being over-priced.

I prayed that someone would answer my cries for ergonomic reprieve deep in the heart of Massive Taxes. But it wasn’t until after I made the blue state exodus that the Turks (yes the People’s Republic of Turks) answered my prayers with the TP-9.

Century International decided that Canik55′s take on the P99—the TP-9—was too great a deal to pass up for all us Americans. They imported a boatload of them and showcased thesemi at last year’s SHOT show, where they caught my eye.

The first thing I noticed about the TP-9 from the SHOT show coverage: the TP-9 had more bling than Lil Jon’s teeth. The slide sports a two-tone hard-chrome finish. Combined with the polymer frame, assuming actuarial longevity, it should easily outlast the user.

The TP-9 arrived at my FFL’s literally jammed into its hard case. Like the aforementioned sunglass-wearing British rock star, it was brimming with accessories. I’m fairly certain that someone over at Century or Canik had to sit on the thing to close it. After wiping off the packing oil, disassembling and re-oiling, I grabbed a few boxes of my favorite 9mm and headed out the door.

Handling the TP-9 at the shop I had no issues with its ergonomics. Out at the range, the gun’s edges dug into my hand. I blame a combination of gorilla grip and tiny hands. I fitted the included alternative back-straps to no avail. Then I made a discovery: when the TP-9′s striker is primed (by pulling the slide to the rear) it moves the trigger slightly back and into the comfort zone for those of us with less than orangutan-sized fingers.

Initially I was excited. I’d finally found the perfect P99 replacement! The TP-9 striker-decocker made me hesitate. Foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds but it’s what I want (what I really, really want) from a trigger pull. When you’re under stress, you want unconscious control; it’s why I prefer Glocks to to XD’s and 1911’s to Berettas. That being said, with enough diligent training a person could defend their home with a Nambu pistol or a Sharps rifle.

To make sure my gripes with the Canik’s grip weren’t the result of small-handed prejudice, I enlisted the help of my 6’3″ ham-fisted buddy. Steven found that the TP-9 points naturally. He said the grip was noticeably more comfortable than his Glock 19. I guess you can strike the TP-9 off the list of holiday gifts for the Mrs., unless your Mrs. is an Amazonian goddess.

The TP-9′s magazine release is where God intended: just behind the trigger guard. When depressed, the oddly placed decocker (just ahead of the rear-sights ) blocks the firing pin while de-cocking the hammer or in this case, striker. When you rack the gun the trigger doesn’t actually move. When the shooter applies a tiny bit of pressure it “clicks” and moves past its standard DA position and rests at a shorter one. This makes the trigger pull lighter and shorter. But the fact that you have to “stage” the trigger seems a recipe for disaster—unless you utilize the decocker.

The TP-9′s recoil is noticeably greater than it’s Austrian counterpart. I’m not sure if it’s down to the frame’s lightweight and heavy slide or a simple testament to the action’s violence. But we’re talking about relative recoil; I don’t know of a single flinch-making full-sized 9mm handgun.

Cleaning and lubricating the TP-9 is as easy (or easier) than a a Glock. After clearing the TP-9, pull down the disassembly lever, pull the trigger and push the slide off the frame. Canik55 does you a huge favor by chroming the slide of the pistol. You can simply wipe it down with an old rag then re-oil and you’re all set to sit back in your favorite EZ-chair and smile with pride at the glistening metal.

The TP-9′s “night sights” are your standard three-dot fixed sights with phosphorescent (read: glow-in-the-dark) paint. Shine the beam on the irons for a few seconds and BAM! Instant tritium. Well almost. While obviously not the same quality or consistency of luminescence that tritium offers, the TP-9′s sights were still more useful than normal sights. Plus, who can afford tritium these days?

Cost is this bad boy’s real appeal. If you need a reliable semi-auto but you don’t want to drop serious change on something you’re not entirely sure is worth the extra dough, the TP-9 is a great choice. It ships with two 17-round magazines, a Serpa knockoff holster with two mounting options, a cleaning kit, and two back straps; all for a hair under $300. It’s like getting a P99 for the cost of a P22 and without the spotty reliability so prevalent in the little .22 automatic.

But all is not perfect in the land of foot stools and steamy baths. The TP-9 has one major flaw: a God-awful trigger. While it doesn’t exhibit any creep, it’s long and heavy as hell. My trigger scale tripped at 8.5 lbs. Mind you, this is a DAO striker-fired pistol not a match-grade 1911. Still, it makes accurate shots beyond 25 yards pretty damn difficult. Unless you’re accustomed to shooting revolvers in DA. Did I mention the strange trigger pull after the striker is first primed? I think I did.

Canik55 does a lot of good things with their TP-9. It’s a great value for someone on a budget interested in getting a striker-fired handgun for home defense. But if you seek a knock-off Walthar P99 that shoots like a Glock, this is not the pistol you’re looking for.

Specifications: CAI Canik55 TP-9
Caliber: 9mm
Overall: 6.75″
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
MSRP: $350ish

Accuracy: * * * ½
The TP-9 showed decent groupings using NATO spec 9mm and Aquila 124 grain. Combat accurate.

Ergonomics * *1/2
The gun felt like a spiky plastic brick in my hands, but the controls are all easily
reachable. The trigger is ideal for double-action revolver fanboys. Anyone else, not so much.

Fit & Finish * * * * *
The gun ran 100 percent with the ammo I tested (approx 350 rounds) and locked up tight with zero rattling. The hard chroming was attractive, durable, and easy to clean.

Accessories * * * * *
Standard picatinny rail underneath and not only includes a holster, but also fits existing Walther and S&W P99 holsters with little or no modification.

Value * * * * *
The guys over at Century / Canik55 nailed the price point on this gun. Bonus! You get more accessories than you do with guns twice its price.

Overall * * * *
Despite the tractor-pull-like trigger pull, I find it difficult to dislike the TP-9. The gun’s no wall hanger but if you’re looking for an attractive, combat accurate pistol for home defense, and you’re on a budget, the TP-9 is an excellent choice.

39 Responses to Gun Review: CAI Canik TP-9

  1. avatarKurt Peters says:

    I’ve always had the philosophy that everyone should own at least one combat hand gun and by that I mean a full size gun in 9mm or greater caliber that you can shoot extremely well.

    Mine is a Steyr M-A1, for a lot of people it’s a Glock, personal preferences vary. I looked at a Walther P99 and it was close but I think the Steyr has a better barrel. I considered a Caracal too but at the time they just were not available. Wilhelm Bubits worked for Glock before moving to Steyr to design the M and S series pistols and most recently the Caracal. Who says all the genius gun designers are dead?

  2. avatarArmchair Command'oh says:

    A gun review? I didn’t think we were allowed to have guns anymore. . .

    • avatarBrianS says:

      Review? Sure! But in a left-wing Liberal Socialist paradise of a perfect world that we are inching towards, reviewing the firearm is just fine!

      Just remember to bring it back to the gun club, where they will remove the firing pin and secure it in a locked safe. Turn in your brass and unused ammo and sign that you did not exceed the maximum allowed practice rounds (s?) for one day.

      And don’t forget to retrieve your generic (non-racist, non-tactical) round white targets to the rangemaster, pay your range and ammo tax, your safe rental fee, and renew your firearms tax stamp and permit on the way out.

      Oh, and you must be mistaken. Those are Feinstein approved 2 round “clips”.

      Somebody slap me.

  3. avatarRalph says:

    Nice review, James. As you noted, we are handgun deprived in the Commonwealth. This is because of the Attorney General’s “safety” regulations, not the oft-reviled but merely annoying Assault Weapons Ban. The piece you tested will never be sold in MA because the trigger, which you found too heavy, is actually too light to satisfy the AG’s regs.

    MA requires a 10 lb. trigger pull. If a dealer sells a pistol with a trigger of less than 10, it is considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice. One is free to futz with the trigger after purchase.

    • avatarJim B says:

      “MA requires a 10 lb. trigger pull. If a dealer sells a pistol with a trigger of less than 10, it is considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice.”

      I hope you’re joking. If that is really the case I wonder why any outdoorsman would live in the state. I never could understand anyone wanting to live in the east to begin with but that is simply crazy, if true.

  4. avatarjwm says:

    Exactly why I bought my Sigma at the time. A full size service 9mm for about 300 bucks. It’s a simple reliable design and since most of my shooting is with double action revolvers the transition to the Sigma is pain free.

  5. avatarKoop says:

    How much do the magazines cost?

  6. Wow, it has a dolphin! That’s awesome!

  7. avatarMark N. says:

    I’ve seen ads recently for a Turk knock off of the M1911 that Bud’s reviewed positively. I think they run under $400, which if it is a well made gun, as the other Turk pistols seems to be, is a real steal. I don’t thnk I’ll be seeing them in Californistan, but I would like to see a real world review. These Turkish made guns are being well received.

    • avatarjwm says:

      My step son has a Hatsan? pump shotgun that was made in Turkey. It seems to be every thing a bargain pump gun should be.

  8. avatarphilthegardner says:

    I’ll stick to my Rock Islands, thanks

  9. avatarSusan says:

    I guess DC has different fiearrm laws than ol’ Virginia, huh? I don’t read political websites that much, but is this a big deal amongst conservative bloggers? I don’t really see why it is a big deal at all.

  10. avatarPatrick Henry says:

    What a poorly written review. Was this the writer’s first attempt at prose?

  11. avatarIntrigued says:

    Thank you for this review. James Grant, what magazines does this gun take and where may I purchase the same? Thank you in advance.

  12. avatardem says:

    This gun passed 50000 rounds test and it is $1350 in Turkey.

  13. avatardem says:

    this gun has 15 and 18 rounds mags.

  14. avatarKillerthedog says:

    Is their a cross reference on the mags who’s will fit?

  15. avatarjwc007 says:

    “Mind you, this is a DAO striker-fired pistol”

    Wrong!!! This is a DA/SA Striker Fired Pistol with a Decocker. It would not need a Decocker if it were DAO. This calls into question as to whether you’ve actually fired this Pistol or know how to write.

    Note that the TP-9′s DA Trigger pull runs about 10 lbs and the SA Trigger pull about 5 lbs.

    • avatarMike Stone says:

      I concur. The TP9 is SA/DA. It is designed to operate in single action, with the option to decock it, making the first shot a long, hard double action pull, like any SA/DA gun. Follow up shots are all single action, also like any SA/DA gun. If you did indeed fire this gun, and it operated only in double action, you need to send it back for service. It is defective. And noted the single action pull is short and about 5 pounds. With a very short reset that is quite crisp. Follow on shots are very quick.

      I wonder further when you say this is the same reason you prefer Glocks to XD’s. The internal mechanics are quite different, and there is a somewhat different feel to the triggers on the two guns. But Glocks and XD’s function almost identically. They are both single action only guns that have to be cocked before they will fire. And both have a two stage trigger with a light takeup pull, followed by a short, firm release at the end. Neither is comparable to the TP9.

      Having said that. I did note that the main striker spring is extremely tight on this gun, which is why the double action pull is quite hard. I intend to see if it loosens up after break in, but I suspect this gun would benefit nicely from a slightly lighter striker spring. But please note I am a certified gunsmith and I am NOT recommending that anyone change the spring in their guns. This could affect the safety and reliability of the gun. Do not attempt to tune the springs on any gun unless you KNOW what you are doing.

  16. Pingback: P99 clone ? Canik 55 TP-9 - Page 4 - WaltherForums

  17. avatarMike Stone says:

    A comment concerning the safety of this gun. I have had my TP9 for a few days now, and I have yet to fire it, but I have given it a thorough going over, as I do any new gun. Note that I am a certified gunsmith. The trigger mechanism on this gun is pretty complex, in order to provide the double action/single action functionality, as well as the decocking ability. When examining the mechanism I noticed something that concerned me. It has a two stage sear. This is an ingenious system, which is what makes the light single action pull on this gun possible. However, there is absolutely no mechanism to retain the sear in place when the gun is cocked, beyond simple friction. Any sudden vibration, or jolt to the gun, especially to the rear can cause the sears to slip and release the striker WITHOUT THE TRIGGER BEING PULLED. I confirmed this by simple drop tests. I loaded the gun with snap caps and racked the slide, chambering a round. I did not decock the gun but left it in single action mode. Dropping the gun, barrel up, from as little as three feet above a firm surface resulted in the striker releasing. Now granted. The gun would not have discharged because the firing pin safety blocked the firing pin. But I’m not entirely comfortable with a gun that can accidentally release the striker, relying solely on a firing pin safety to prevent accidental discharges. Other guns such as Glocks, XD’s or even my S&W SD9VE are designed so there is absolutely no way to release the striker without an intentional trigger pull. You could drop them from an airplane and be 100% certain they will not fire. The TP9, maybe not so much. I am NOT saying the gun is dangerous. Just saying it could have been made safer.

  18. avatarChill says:

    Very good pistol why I am saying so is the price which u are paying In return u get awesome pistol finishing gr8 shape gr8 and performance gr8
    Shape 10/10
    Finishing 10/10
    Performance 10/10

  19. avatarthomas ricks says:

    I have owned my tp9 now for a few months and i have to say that I absolutely love this gun. I have probably put close to 1000s rounds so far and have yet to have any issues. I keep reading reviews that say its a 17 round mag but its an 18 round mag. Great gun.

  20. avatarmark says:

    I have just received my 55 , and have put about 50 rounds down the tube,and it works great.. every thing was in the case like they said…BUT I AM LEFT HANDED… and the holster is for RIGHT HANDED but i make do …if any one might know wear i might get one for a left hand i can use your help????
    thanks!

    mark

    • avatarBob H says:

      Mark, it has been my experience that any holster that will fit a Walther P99 will also fit the TP-9. You should have little trouble finding a left handed holster for a P99. Good luck!

  21. avatarKen says:

    I just bought a 55. Tried to put 115g rounds through it. It stove piped every time. Tried 50 rounds. Was wondering what everyone is using for ammo? Not sure yet if it was ammo issue or gun defect. Any info would be helpful.

  22. avatarpaul says:

    to ken get nato 124 grain rated ammo and lub very lightly with CLP ….

  23. avatarJered says:

    I have had mine for a month or so and I really like it. I have very large hands and this may be the most comfortable gun I have ever held ( I can even use the decocker one handed). I have noticed that it doesn’t like really cheap ammo. I was using some cheapo ppu and had a similar issue. I do not know if it is due to the really thin cartridge walls they use or the heavy spring in the gun. I have switched to shooting white box win and have had no issues at all.
    I bought the titanium color and it looks great.

    • avatarSteve says:

      Can you tell me if this gun has double strike capability? If you have a light primer strike, can you just pull the trigger again to try to make it fire or does the round have to be ejected by racking the slide to fire again?

      Thank you

      • avatarJered says:

        I have not had any issue with this issue. You cannot cock the gun again without racking the slide so I would have to say no to the double strike.

      • avatarbeantownshootah says:

        Walther p99 on which this is based DOES let you do a “double strike” if you need to, as does the SW99, the joint Smith/Walther made copy.

        This one should allow you to do the same.

  24. avatarshoreshot says:

    Mine will be shipped to my ffl soon, any recommendations on ammo for this one? Any manufacture not wanting to feed well, vice versa? Thanks yall!

  25. avatarFranz says:

    I just purchased one and am very impressed with the shooting results. 100 rounds with no malfunctions at all.

    The group size was what surprised me. From what I have read they are combat guns. Mine was literally drilling a hold in the middle of the metal man target. With PPV 9mm it shot to the left slightly but with Federal Red box…and I love this stuff, it shot dead center and damn near the same place shot after shot.

    Body armor drills same results. It is nice to shoot a gun that is very accurate and well made not to mention all of the stuff you get. Holster for belt or pancake style. Two extra front sights, 2 back strapes, two magazine that hold 18 rounds each, a cleaning rod, cleaning brush…what’s not to like, heck even the price is good!

    Very impressive indeed. I, by the way am a POST certified firearms instructor and a Navy firearms instructor. I have done firearms instruction for 20 years. So I am well versed in the use of firearms.

    Great gun! Ready to carry off duty. Shoot I would like to carry it on duty.

    Be safe and have fun.

  26. avatarMatt says:

    I went for one of these. I disagree about the grips. I am average sized and they are quite comfortable. Mine experienced a detached trigger spring after the first shot. Sent it back, they ‘fixed’ it, I happened again. Still waiting for an exchange.

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