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(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details – enter by December 26th!)

By ST

“Nice gun ya got there,” asked the grey haired counter jockey. “Reminds me of a CZ75.”

“Oh, but it’s not…..” was my response, for reasons soon to be clear.

“Nice. What is it?”

“Umm….”

The words died in my throat. For the first time in my gun-owning life, I was at a loss for words to that basic inquiry. Typically the answer to the question of what kind of gun you have isn’t this difficult to answer. Then again, this isn’t your typical 9mm pistol. Forged frame, adjustable sights, all metal construction, checkering on the front and backstrap…where’s the striker? Manual frame-located safety? Sixteen-round magazine? . . .

Much like Jason Bourne, this is a pistol with many identities. So let’s answer the basic question of what this thing is.

The story of the “Armalite Identity” opens in Cold War Czechoslovakia, circa 1975. Two men invent a pistol which in many respects advances the game on 9mm duty guns. They just had the misfortune of doing so under a socialist regime. Given the traditional communist attitude regarding intellectual property, their design was not safeguarded by international patent protection. A fortunate development for us, given the CZ 75 design was not available for mass import to the US or Western Europe.

Yet amidst the international intrigue, small arms company Tanfoglio spotted an opportunity. They built direct copies of the CZ 75 design and sold them to eager shooters craving the real article after Col. Jeff Cooper’s endorsement of the embargoed Czech pistol. As the years went on, Tanfoglio would redesign the fire control unit of their CZ copies, and made further evolutions which set their design apart from the parent gun in measurable ways.

Due to the aforementioned embargo, CZ could not seek military contracts with western nations for the CZ 75. Tanfoglio was under no such restrictions, and their partnership with Israeli arms manufacturer IMI (later IWI, importers of the delightful TAVOR bullpup) resulted in the Jericho 941, which has since evolved into its own lineup. Fun fact: the first series of those guns were made in Italy until the Israeli factory spun up.

The next part of the story takes us to Turkey, home of the ancient city Constantinople. Even there, we have an identity crisis — modern maps call it Istanbul. Tanfoglio sought to partner with the Turkish state arms maker Sarsilmaz in the same respect they did with Israel, but things went south. The specifics seem to be lost to history, but the result is easy enough to determine. Sarsilmaz, the oldest of the Turkish gun firms, broke off the association with Tanfoglio and made their own models based on those designs without Italy’s sanction.

In this fashion Sarsilmaz made CZ-based Tanfoglio clones for years. But they did it well, as a gun firm founded in the 1800s ought to. Armalite President Mark Westrom was impressed enough with the quality of Sarsilmaz’s work  that he saw an opportunity to import their wares under the Armalite brand.

Thus was born the AR-24.

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Styled after the SIG P210, it’s hard to argue against its aesthetic qualities. Devoid of polymer excepting the soft-touch grips, it stands out from the crowd of striker-fired contemporaries — an appealing feature for me, a shooter irrationally prejudiced against polymer. There’s a certain heft and old-school charm about its metal construction lost in an age of grip force adapters and changeable backstraps. Good features to be sure, but there’s no emotional replacement for making a pistol out of the same solid stuff which underpinned the good Colonel’s 1911, and the noble weapons of ancient Rome before that.

Leaving behind nostalgia, we come to the prominent Armalite engravings all over the pistol. It’s only sign of origin is the “Made in Turkey” subtly engraved beneath the Armalite markings prominently proclaiming “Geneseo, IL USA”. Given that Illinois barely resembles American republican government, there’s room for debate on that subject. A gun with this much text on it would normally be ugly as sin, but its muted black matte finish lends it a futuristic and purposeful appearance – and also makes the trademarks hard to view. How unfortunate (not!).

This is the AR-24-15-C variant. One was produced with fixed sights and non-checkered grips, but the one in my possession is the upgraded version, hence the alphabet soup name. The letter denotes the aforementioned grip enhancements, and LPA low profile sights in the rear which are windage and elevation adjustable. Not bad. Such modifications rarely ship on guns from the factory, unless there are four digits on the price tag.

Range impressions: splendid. A bad time shooting is hard to achieve, to be sure, but the combination of a forged frame and light Tanfoglio-derived trigger action make for an easy experience. Line up sights, apply fundamentals, press trigger, hit the target. The recoil is soft enough to prompt checking the slide to ensure you’re not accidentally firing a .22. Perhaps that’s why the left side of the slide is emblazoned “9mm Parabellum.” That settles any debate with incredulous bystanders marveling at your range performance. This is one of those rare guns which makes its handler look like a better shooter then he is.

As it’s a Tanfoglio under the skin, it takes 16 round EAA Witness magazines, a useful feature because owning a pistol with impossible-to-find or $50 magazines isn’t much fun. Not having to refinance your home to buy mags is a feature in my book, a fact SIG Sauer and HK should take to heart one of these days.

Alas, this is the only weak point I’ve found. One of the magazines in the box refused to feed the last round propery, an issue I’ve encountered with Tanfoglios before. It’s an issue readily fixed with liberal application of “Mec-Gar”. I’ve yet to log a malfunction using quality magazines, so I’m confident the design itself is quite sound. I wish 1911 magazine troubles were so easy to isolate.

Another benefit of the Tanfoglio-based action — the safety can not only be engaged to operate the gun C1, but the safety can remain engaged whilst actuating the slide. The piece can be loaded, carried, and unloaded without once taking the pistol off safe. It can also be carried hammer down with the safety engaged. You may many wonder why someone would want to do that. The answer: newbies.

I’ve handed off striker-fired pistols to brand new shooters before. I don’t know how police rangemasters at LE academies manage to avoid stress-induced aneurisms, with ten plus people manipulating ready-to-fire pistols with only novice command of trigger and muzzle discipline. A safety which works in all modes of operation takes a lot of stress away from the necessary job of teaching newbies about shooting and the four rules. This way, being swept by said newbie shooter is less “dive for the deck” and more “educational opportunity.”

Speaking of rules, there are few more absolute than the amount we can budget toward gun expenses…or the spousal reaction when a ‘budget overrun’ takes place at the gun shop. New, these pistols sold for about $650. I procured my example for $430 including FFL charges, an absolute bargain given what you get — the most refined 9mm shooter this side of a SIG P226 pre-Cohen.

Alas, as with most unique products nowadays, the AR-24 has been discontinued. The reason isn’t the gun’s fault. Sarsilmaz has entered the US market under their own label now, importing the B6 steel and K2 models via EAA-who also import the Witness as built by Tanfoglio. One wonders how tense the meetings are at EAA these days. As folks of my generation say, ‘awwwkwarrd.’ In any event, Sarsilmaz has no reason to make a gun for Armalite which competes with their own products.

So those who want an AR-24 are left to Armslist and Gunbroker to procure one.

As far as holsters go, Beretta 92FS holsters seem to work great for this piece. The AR-24 will also fit a Miami Classic Galco holster for the Beretta with some adjustment, and CZ 75 grips fit – one should only check to make sure the magazine release clears the right panel. Small-frame Witness parts work for this design, so while not enjoying the aftermarket support of a GLOCK 17, it’s hardly an orphan of the aftermarket as an HK or Steyr would be.

Compared to modern polymer frame offerings,the AR-24 Tactical is heavier, with less capacity than modern polymer-framed offerings. But you don’t own one of these because it’s a logical choice. Sometimes, as Jason Bourne demonstrates, the principle is a good enough reason on its own.

My answer to the question, after a moment’s consideration of its lengthy history, was simple:

“Its great .”

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability: * * * *
Total rounds fired-150. 2 Failures to Extract, traced to a defective factory magazine. No malfunctions with MecGar magazine.

Carry: * *
Fits Beretta 92 holsters with some adjustment, but it’s a heavy gun. No such thing as aftermarket holster support.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Its built on a CZ design and has checkered front and backstraps.’Nuff Said.

Fit and Finish: * * * *
Sig better look out; the Turks can make good quality hardware.

Customization: * *
Tanfoglio accessories and parts such as safeties and such fit,but ‘drop in’ they are not. Don’t google “AR-24” sights unless you want to stump the search engine.
MSRP( before being discontinued) ;$650. Can be found online used for less then $450.

Overall: * * * *
A very underrated effort by Sarsilmaz and Armalite worthy of serious consideration.

37 Responses to Gun Review: Armalite AR-24

  1. “Fits Beretta 92 holsters with some adjustment, but it’s a heavy gun. No such thing as aftermarket holster support.”

    How different is the AR-24?

    I carry an early 90’s EAA Witness that is also quite heavy. Carry in a IWB Crossbreed and find it comfy enough. Carried a Glock 22 OWB for years, and I’d MUCH rather have my trusty 9….for a lot of reasons.

    Nice write up of the history CZ and clones.

    I’m very tempted to make my next pistol purchase an actual CZ now that I can get one.

    • It fits a BladeTech Beretta 92 kydex holster, with some minor adjustment of the retention screw .

      Same with magazine carriers-the dimensions are similar there too.

    • If you want a nice introduction to CZs, get a well used 75B.
      I wanted a 75 frame that I could mount my Kadet adapter on (my Shadow, P-01, and pre-B have lighter mainsprings, so they can’t fire the .22 rimfire reliably), so I bought the retired 75B rental gun from my local range for $400 and replaced the worn out springs. While shooting it, I noticed the trigger was incredibly smooth and light, so I measured it with my trigger gauge. It’s 3lb. SA, 4.9lb. DA from half cock, and 5.2lb. DA from hammer down.
      I’m tempted to ask them to put my other CZs in their rental rotation, so their customers can polish those actions. And it never hurts to have a few dozen extra fingerprints on a gun. 😉

  2. One of my shooting buddies absolutely swears by his AR 24. I shot it once and it it was a pleasure, very light recoil as you said and very easy to keep on target. I’ve always been a Glock guy but I’m thinking I may have to track one of these down.

  3. I had never heard of these until last night, when the guy in the lane next to me at the range insisted that the CZ was a copy of the AR. I thought he was confusing AR for EAA or something like that. Well at least I know now that wasn’t what was going through his head. He’s still wrong as to who came first.

  4. I love my SAR K2P, I’ve been carrying it for a little over a year. It happens to fit really well in holsters designed for the Springfield XD. I like to tell people that it’s a Turkish copy of an Italian copy of a Czech gun, and watch the wheels start to spin.

  5. Not bad, but you lost me at “’nuff said”

    This is a review, sharing information. There is no such thing as ’nuff said. And if you have said all there is to say, just leave it off. “’nuff said” assumes that anything else is either common knowledge, or unworthy of attention. I personally find the phrase irritating, but that doesn’t apply to everybody.

    And as somebody who grew up in the 80’s, before the massive adoption of tupperware 9s, Your description of it as “isn’t your typical 9mm” left me raising an eyebrow. You perfectly described how everybody made 9mm’s for decades. (And how many, many 9mms are still made) You spent so much time describing and comparing it to other 9mm pistols, I’m left wanting a bit for information and an actual review of this gun.

    And you have only fired 150 rounds through it. That’s barely a handshake. And with rounds fired, and bragging about the accuracy, it’s a refined 9mm that makes you look like a better shot than you are… why no targets with holes in them?

      • Thanks, ST.. I didn’t mean my post to come off as all negative, you did a pretty good job on the writing part, it just felt like you got sidetracked often. I really do appreciate the follow up.

    • “That’s barely a handshake” – well, to be fair, it’s 9-10 mags through the gun. I think that’s reasonable as a reliability test, especially if the author is paying for the ammo themselves.

      I do agree that the review feels like it’s hyping the gun up, rather than really reviewing it. It’s a Tanfoglio clone, like a zillion other guns out there. When I read something like this:
      “The recoil is soft enough to prompt checking the slide to ensure you’re not accidentally firing a .22. Perhaps that’s why the left side of the slide is emblazoned “9mm Parabellum.” That settles any debate with incredulous bystanders marveling at your range performance. This is one of those rare guns which makes its handler look like a better shooter then he is.”

      … I’ve really got to question the author’s bias here. How about more discussion on why the heck I’d ever want to buy this over, say, a real CZ-75, or maybe one of those new IWI Jerichos coming out next year? Heck, there’s a whole passel of Tanfoglio clones out there at the ~$300 mark, is this thing really worth an extra $150 (used!)? Because, really, it sounds like a huge rip-off at MSRP.

      Maybe more discussion about things like controls and field stripping instead of hyperbole?

  6. I’ve been wondering about this gun for a while, Ever since I saw it while browsing Armalite’s web site. Thanks for the review.

  7. Was looking for a CZ-75 at a time when they were a bit hard to come by. Then Farago did a short video review. So I opted in.

    I have never been dissapointed.

    These guns, it was stated by Armalite early on, were produced on brand new tooling, and they look as if that is fact.

    MY only possible criticism is that this pistol, full loaded, is a little heavy.

  8. On another thread, I had asked what the diff was between the CZ-75 and the IMI 941 was. And you’ve now answered my question – many thanks.

    This is a well-written review. All I would ask on top of this are some groups in paper at 25 yards.

    My race gun when I shot IPSC was a EAA Gold Team Witness. This was purchased before DiFi’s first “assault weapon ban” went into effect in ’94. I always liked the handling of that pistol in 9×21. It too was based on the CZ-75, just lengthened, given a 21-round mag capacity and a four-port comp.

  9. While stationed at Nuremberg in 1987-91,I visited the Nuremberg Rod and Gun Club. There I was introduced to the CZ 75 from Czechoslavokia. Liking what I saw, I bought that and a Ruger P 85. I left Germany in 1991 to Ft Riley Ks. Like a complete moron, knowing nothing about the value of the gun after the Wall came down and Czechoslavokia ceased to exist, I sold the gun cheap at the Manhattan Pawn shop.I still regret that to this day.

  10. Ooohhh… I REALLY like those grips on the first image… anyone know where to get those and if they’ll work for CZ copies? Specifically an EA Witness 10mm.

  11. Great review. I confess I never heard of this. Tonfoglio yeah…I almost got one at Cabelas on sale(cheap). I was concerned about mags and service.

  12. Dang it, I wish you hadn’t given this review. This one is tops on my to-buy list and no one knew about them. Now it will be harder to find.

  13. Ratings chart says 2 failures to EXTRACT, cause by magazine? Article text discusses failures to feed, nothing about extraction. Please clarify.

  14. The author lost me when he started praising Tangfoglio, or “jamfoglio”as we used to call them back in the day (mid 90s). If you want CZ-75 style pistol, buy the original.

    There are certain brands I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole due to their unreliability, these include EAA, Tangfoglio, Taurus and Charter Arms.

    • Wow, I’ve never had a single issue with any Tanfoglio made gun, or a Sarsilmaz made gun. I have 4 of each. My EAA experiences have all been good, unlike most other people. My favorite gun of all I own is an early Witness. I would carry it if it wasn’t so big (I don’t care about the weight).

  15. Again, regarding the weight of the AR-24 @ 34.9 ounces, it’s only a fraction of an ounce heavier that the aluminum frame Beretta 92 @ 34.4 ounces, or the Sig 226 @ 34 ounces. And you get forged steel.

  16. I’ve handled one several times and always thought they where quality pieces. I especially like the raised serrations on the front of the grip. But since they don’t/didn’t make a decocker version I’ve never given up my CZ for one.

  17. Turkish made guns more superior over the CZ or Tongofolio because Sarsilmaz forged lover receiver and forged upper receiver and state of the art CNC machining gives better tolerances . Therefore, Sarsilmaz gun more accurate and durable than “Cast” CZ, Tongofolio, Baby Eagle’s. Please don’t make mistake CZ 75 is Browning Hi power clones.

  18. I have one of these ar-24 pistols and love it love love it… I purchased it new and got an excellent deal I paid $400 out the door they had it priced at $729. I have put about 800 rounds thru it and have never had a jam or misfire. I have had chl instructors handle and shoot it and they all said they couldn’t believe how comfortable its to handle and fire. I have a good friend who is a police officer he has tried to purchase it from me and I tell him it’s not for sale find your own. It’s a shame that armalite discontinued such a fine fire arm as they are known as a world class fire arms manufacture. I just wish it had a picatiny rail for a light or laser

  19. I bough an AR-24K13 11 months ago. I own plenty of other 9mm firearms…1 SWs, 3 CZs, 2 Glocks, 1 KelTec, 1 RI, 1 Kimber and this one. I have been thru approx 600 to 700 rounds and not once had a failure. I have shot mix 115g-124g of reloads along with purchased rounds (Federal, Winchester, Remington and Hornady). My choice is the Remington. I LOVE THIS GUN!!! If in a critical defense situation I choose this one over everything else in my safe. I will admit that I have slightly better accuracy with the Kimber but it has had several failures. The only disadvantage is I have not been able to find night sights for the AR24.
    Now to the Turkish firearm bashers out there…. Learn to read and then how to shoot. After you manage that you will be less likely to ‘shoot’ off your mouths exposing your insecurities??? Maybe its your small hands and weak grip causing the jams?

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