Gun Review: EAA SAR Arms ST10

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(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Matt M.

Germans drive me nuts. I’ll never forget that time a disgruntled frau took twenty minutes to decry the technical imperfections in the schnitzel I ordered at a local restauraunt. Or how my uncle can dispassionately sneer at any car touched by American hands. Or how H&K expects Americans to pay over nine big ones for their (truly exceptional) Teutonic Tupperware. So, when this independent Yank was offered a gently used all-metal version of the Über-Spendy Pistole for $350 out the door, I just had to say yes.

But first, a word from our sponsors. Gun people are good people, and at the end of the day, most of us just want to hit range with the usual suspects. But times are both uncertain and tough: in the past month, half a dozen friends have come to me looking for handgun advice given tight budgets. Can a new shooter who just re-entered the workforce get a home defense gun nice enough to share with his son? Is there anything for the arthritic grandpa who is left in pain after shooting a 9mm GLOCK? Can a blue-collar guy still find an honest value these days?

Humble fellow that I am, I knew research was in order. A $350 experiment? Why, it’s for the children!

The Gun’s Origins

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I’ve always been suspicious of Turkish pistols since the Canik TP9 craze. Everyone had to have one, but I just couldn’t believe that some Walther copy with no aftermarket support and a little miracle paint between it and the elements was a serious contender in the combat handgun market. I never took the opportunity to shoot one and was content to look the other way.

This all changed when friends started calling. They needed quality for around $300. After years of factory consolidations and recalls despite the progress of technology, I realized that there was no way the big names were the only game in town. When I started looking into US customs, I realized that a foreign pistol’s recognition had as much to do with procedural savvy and luck as being a quality piece.

Then someone told me about Sarsilmaz, the largest firearms manufacturer in Turkey and one of the best known brands across the pond. Hard at work since 1880, this company is the only private manufacturer licensed to produce small-arms for its country, NATO’s sixth largest military. FYI, its products exceed the same NATO standards as the Austro-Germanic volkspistoles you know and love. They’re also big into time-tested designs with a twist, satisfying any free-market rebel: let the best possible product be sold at the lowest possible price!

The Gun Itself

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H&K USP (left), SAR ST10 (right)

As even Diane Feinstein could tell you, the SAR ST10 looks awfully similar to that navy-seal gun Tom Clancy wrote about, and I hear that Sarsilmaz reps flinch when they hear “look, it’s a USP!” Get over it, gentlemen: creativity is overrated and you did a great job.

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The distinguishing feature of H&Ks MK23 and later USP line, beyond a legendary reputation for reliability, durability, and bankruptcy-inducing prices, was a buffer system inside the Recoil Spring Assembly. Only the Germans….

Designed to reduce recoil and afford a long lifespan for MK23’s fed a steady diet of .45 Auto +P, a very heavy spring soaks up the final snap in the slide’s last eighth-inch of travel: bullet leaves barrel, barrel drops a la GLOCK, and slide comes back until RSA is gently stopped by pin ala CZ. The buffer spring will supposedly outlast the gun, and in Turkish configuration is contained by a roll-pinned collar under a floating shroud.

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So: cool spring; what else? Not much. This is a boring gun, but as any 1911-ist will tell you, a boring day on the range is something to call mom about. What we have here is a full-size service pistol in traditional double-action without a de-cocker, as could be expected from a CZ-cloning facility. It’s dimensionally similar to a SIG and follows suit with steel on top, aluminum on the bottom.

Grips are a superb stippled plastic and as chunky as your average all-metal wondernine. Despite the hump on the grip, she points like a SIG; GLOCKsters like yours truly will have to unlock their wrist to bring the sights up.

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Unfortunately, nothing comes for free and that recoil-abating magic takes up space. Good grief! Look at the slide: it’s huge. Cavernous! It’s is a full quarter-inch taller than a G17’s but almost an ounce lighter. That’s all air, folks, and it makes for a much higher bore axis.

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Mercifully, the ST10 is taller than it is “big” and its snout is actually, well, kind’a svelte. All the girth is in the controls and grip panels. Given that this isn’t the gat for Thunderwear, your ability to handle the handle boils down to ergonomic preference.

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The best feature on this gun, however, is the machining. Not only is the tooling near-perfect, but the slide and frame (matching serials!) fit together better than $900 duty pistols of similar construction. The rails are made up of a steel locking block above the trigger and cutouts in the aluminum frame at the rear. Think Springfield XD without the plastic shavings.

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Enough talk! For your reading pleasure I packed up four types of standard-pressure ammo—sorry, EAA’s legal team says no +P—and made a couple trips to the range. Along the way, I met up with a loving, arthritic grandpa and my pal Harry.

The Gun In Action

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“Holy crap! It can’t be this easy!” Such was our general consensus disassembling our ST10 for lubrication. The one thing I’ve always hated about CZ-style handguns are the blasted slide-stop pins, exorcised only by squinting, painful hand contortions and a rubber mallet. Idiot scratches abound.

Not so with this baby: drop the mag, line up the ample notch in the slide with the huge pin at the front of the slide release, apply pinky-pressure, and catch in your other hand. This is the easiest gun to disassemble any of us has seen, but locked up solidly during firing. Go Sarsilmaz!

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Lubed up and ready to go, we got to testing. Forgive my accuracy, the indoor range was 94, humid, and still, but the ST10 shot pretty well. Several times, I would put three shots in under an inch before the group fell apart. Why? I’m so glad you asked….

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As you can see, the serrated trigger is clearly intended for single-action duty, coming in on my Wheeler trigger gauge at a stout five and a half pounds. Actually, the SA pull feels heavier and is long by 1911 standards; the double-action was too ponderous for even this DAO revolver fanboy. That said, all agreed that the SA pull was spot-on for a duty gun. To Sarsilmaz’s credit, both single- and double-action pulls were very smooth.

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Now, about that fancy recoil spring. Don’t breathe the forum-farts: it works like nobody’s business. Our comparison is a CZ75 clone. Harry and I immediately felt a huge difference: the recoil impulse was the same but slower, missing that final snap when the slide rams into the frame. Our arthritic friend was very pleased but less impressed, preferring the CZ75.

If you’ll forgive the arrogance of youth, Grandfather’s observation of less CZ recoil was misguided: the ST10 had no snap, but the CZ had no kick, no muzzle rise. Also, he was wearing gloves. Bore Axis matters, kids, regardless of what ProphetBrowning45 wrote online. Take a peek at our skyscraper between the famously low-bored GLOCK and it’s one-up, the Steyr L9-A1.

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Moral of the story: Sarsilmaz’ ST10 is a pleasure to shoot and should be kid-, arthritis-, and newbie-friendly. However, you’re going to be slowed down by the “street-friendly” trigger and muzzle-rise of this gently-bucking bronco.

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The Gun in Retrospect

So, at the end of the day, what did we think of SAR Arms ST10? We had some quibbles.

The gun pointed low in my hands, but that’s what GLOCKs are for. The trigger was a little heavy, but in a comforting kind of way; with its fabulous, affirmative safety all of us would be comfortable carrying cocked-and-locked in a good holster. The slide was big, but that made it a pleasure to rack, even for arthritic hands longing for surgery this fall.

The gun was almost too easy to disassemble, but we had no problems on the line and wouldn’t expect any unless you’re grappling with an assailant over your gun: CQB with an autoloader is never a recipe for reliability; even then, you could expect to get a shot off before the works jam up.

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Less inspiring, however, were the sights. Customization is overrated and, as Hickok45 pointed out with his three-inch S&W 65, you don’t need fancy sights on a great platform. The ST10 has a nice photoluminescent adjustable three-dot setup, the rear being windage-adjustable and the front presumably replaceable for elevation. However, while the young buck of our trio did just fine, everyone else thought the sights were a little tight.

Furthermore, the German within me railed against the loose front sight, held in place with a spring-detent, not the dovetail. If you love this gun but hate the sights, our condolences: aftermarket parts are non-existent, and deep-pocket gunsmithing, while appropriate for a piece of this quality, won’t interest my target audience.

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Also frustrating were the grips. They worked very well and, like the gun, were of a very high quality. However, a gun this good deserves some G10, and there ain’t no stinkin’ aftermarket parts! This would be OK given that the grips really do work well, but… could they at least fit right from the factory? As you can see, the frame juts out sharply—just a bit—at the top of the grip panels. Thankfully, this was barely noticeable but for a little reddening of the palm after a long day.

The End of the Matter

Even with a street price over $400, the SAR ST10 is not so much “a deal” as it is an incredible value. Do a point test with a SIG. Grab one at the local gun store, close your eyes, and thrust it at the furthest corner of the ceiling with a white-knuckle grip. Do your eyes open to a perfect sight picture or at least good vertical alignment? If so, you’d be a fool not to pick one of these up for half the price of the thing you’re holding. If all ST10s are as good as mine, let it be known that Sarsilmaz makes serious hardware.

Long term, my deepest concerns boil down to aftermarket support. What if I accidentally over-torque a screw and crack the grips? How long will it take to get replacement springs? Will I ever be able to change the sights? Given that GLOCKs and CZs point better for me, I’ll probably sell this fighting pistol before the Clintocalypse, but what if we were a perfect match? Perhaps the issue will resolve itself if enough of you find Turkish delights as I have.

Specifications – SarArms (EAA) ST10

CALIBER: 9mm
CAPACITY: 15 (feels right) 17 (max)
MATERIALS: Painted aluminum, matte stainless
WEIGHT UNLOADED: 33.25oz
WEIGHT LOADED: 40.75oz (Fed. 9BPLE)
OA LENGTH: 8”
OA HEIGHT: 5.6”
WIDTH: 1.34” (controls), 1.08” (frame)
SLIDE: 1.04” high, 12oz
SIGHTS: Photoluminescent adjustable Three-Dot
SIGHT RADIUS: 6.3”
GRIPS: Stippled Plastic
TRIGGER PULL: 5.5 lbs (SA)
ACTION: D/SA
PRICE: $350

Ratings (out of five stars):

Aesthetics: * * * *
Think H&K without the chintzy plastic. All-business machismo is marred only by imperfect grip fitting and inevitable dings on aluminum frame.

Accuracy: * * * *
I think I could shoot sub-one-inch groups at respectable distances if the trigger was lighter or I shot it more. Older shooters had no complaints here, but hated the tight sight picture. Either way, not perfect.

Ergonomics-Handling: * * * *
Points like a SIG with a sharp spot on the grip. Once Hogue makes G10 grips, she’ll be perfect. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Ergonomics-Firing: * * * *
The recoil control on this gun is AMAZING…but for the bore axis. If you think SIGs aren’t prone to muzzle rise, five stars. A solid four for the rest of us.

Reliability: * * * *
No news is good news, but the notion that this can’t take SAAMI-spec +P 9mm is offensive. All shooters felt that the frame was better suited to full-power 10mm or .45 Auto fare… just like the USP it’s derived from. On that note, EAA has three interested buyers if they’ll introduce the ST10 in more substantial calibers.

Customization: * *
Oooh, so sorry…no customization. It does have a rail, there are some grips and holsters on the dark corners of the internet, and it is cheap enough to play with a Dremel tool as much as your heart desires. It could be worse, but I can better customize a DAO snubbie with fixed sights.

Overall: * * * *
This gun is a great gun. It deserves five stars, but is merely almost perfect. Come on, don’t make me do this!

comments

  1. avatar gs650g says:

    After the failed coup on Turkey I would not expect much support from their fsctory.

  2. avatar Michael says:

    At that price, I might buy a 9mm

  3. avatar FormerWaterWalker says:

    Nice review but no +P makes it junk to me. That said I’d buy a Turkish shotgun-oh well…

    1. avatar Julian says:

      Literally every gun EAA imports says no +P, I take it with a grain of salt. I have A SAR K2P, and the spring setup is already what people say you’d need for firing +P in a Witness/CZ.

      1. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

        But I can fire +p from a lowly Brazilian Taurus-no grain of salt needed. I’d buy a Sar shotgun for sure(but not if they go full Moose-lim retard).

        1. avatar Julian says:

          It’s just lawyer-ese CYA BS that they state on ALL their imports. SAR Witness clones can handle 9mm +P just fine, as can the real Tanfoglio Witness.

    2. avatar Frank in VA says:

      “No +P” just belies a lack of confidence in the product from the manufacturer to me, especially on a full-sized gun which has no excuse for that limitation in 2016. Even my comparatively tiny LC9 was approved for +P.

      1. avatar Frank in VA says:

        implies not belies

        1. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

          Either description works! Some really crummy guns have a “no +P” warning…

        2. avatar Gail Martin says:

          “Belies” is correct.

      2. avatar Julian says:

        It’s not the manufacturer, it’s the importer. No +P is just lawyer-ese CYA BS that EAA states on ALL their imports, regardless of capability. SAR Witness clones can handle 9mm +P just fine, as can the real Tanfoglio Witness. I can’t see any reason this would be any different.

  4. avatar Anner says:

    Turkeys membership in NATO is declining by the day…that factory may be producing arms for other customers very soon.

    Nice review, though!

    1. avatar Don Martin says:

      So what? You have a house full of Chinese crap don’t ya? Look who their pals are.

  5. avatar TravisP says:

    Bore axis matter probably less than a percentage when it comes to shooting accurately.

    1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      Agreed. As far as hardware is concerned, Bore-Axis is more of a speed and confidence thing. Both Gramps and I felt ready to go to town with the CZ and instinctively shot faster with it. It feels good to have a gun fight against you as little as possible. If the buffer spring is good for anything, it’s making sure the frame lasts a long, long time.

  6. avatar Ben says:

    They make nice guns those Turks, but they are taken over my Muslim extremists at the moment, so I won’t be supporting that by buying their guns and ammo.

  7. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Well. I certainly won’t pay for HK snootiness.

    No +P is a deal breaker. I imagine some of these will be found at gun shows for much less down the road.

    For bargain bullet launchers, I usually recommend Walther PPX from CDNN (best price I’ve seen) and S&W SD 9 or 40.

    The PPX trigger is scary good and the SD can be learned with a little trigger practice.

    I’ll pass on the Turkish pistol just because of support and parts. My Beretta 92 fills the roll of big metal. And shoots +P.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    As Grand Funk Railroad one asked in song — “Can I get a Witness?”

  9. avatar Stephen J says:

    Great review. I’ve also been impressed with the quality of the firearms coming out of Turkey in recent years. They are slept on too often and are comparable to a lot of top marquee budget choices on the U.S. market. The aftermarket and factory support is definitely the killer for some of them. The good manufacturers generally have an office in the States to handle QC problems and parts. It’s hard to justify picking something up from South America at the same cost as these.

    1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      Thanks Steven! While I’ve had good experiences courtesy of South America, mainly Brazil, Sarsilmaz pistols just smack of quality out of the box. Their K245 is one of the best pistols I own – stay tuned for a review – and deserves a huge following among big American guys. Any other Turkish brands I should look into? For the children?

      1. avatar Stephen J says:

        TriStar is an importer that caught my attention. They had a mixed reputation 6+ years ago but the factories that make their products changed and the quality jumped. Canik makes all of their CZ metal clone pistols and Kral makes their shotgun line-up. I think Kral has edged out any Chinese manufacturer for the quality of their shotguns. I picked up a Cobra recently to replace my old 870 Express and I’m happier with the build quality and machining on that piece over Remington’s offering.

      2. avatar Gunner442 says:

        Matt: I’m a fan of my Stoeger Cougar Compact 13+1 9×19. Turkish built Beretta Cougar. All metal construction, reliable, accurate, and the ball bearings on greased glass Beretta smoothness when racking the slide.

        1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

          I always wanted to try the Beretta but never put two and two together. D’oh! Thanks for the heads up.

          What does recoil feel like with that rotating barrel? Rapid fire?

        2. avatar Hoosier Budget Gun Guy says:

          I just picked up a used Stoeger Cougar in .45 ACP from my LGS for $300. I’m happy with it, I just wished it had better than an 8 + 1 capacity. It takes Beretta CX4 (Cougar) mags.

  10. avatar DickDanger says:

    I’ve never even heard of this thing before, but now I gotta have one.

    1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      There’s one on Gunbroker right now for $350 shipped+ffl… Not yet ready to give mine up!

  11. avatar Brian Fulmer says:

    Well done review, good focus on the primary pistol but leavened with a lot of comparative info. Look forward to your next review (of another pistol we can’t buy in CA).

    1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      Thanks Brian! Let me see if I can find something that won’t put dear aunt Diane in a tizzy. Is there anything else you’d like in future reviews? Stay safe out there. And sane. ~Matt M.

  12. avatar DMD says:

    Very iffy on what continuing support and our relationship with Turkey will be !! For the same money I would rather go Ruger American !!! DMD

  13. avatar Crowbar says:

    Great review. I bought the Canik TP9v2 ( even though I am hardcore team glock) just to see what all the hype was about. I put 1500+ rounds through it with no failures of any kind. I sold it to another curious gun guy who put another 1000+ through it with no complaints. One drawback though is if you would ever need aftermarket anything, your hosed.

    1. avatar I1ULUZ says:

      Don’t tell anyone but Walther and their clone parts will work. How I have a threaded barrel TP9V2. If the Canik is a 2015 or earlier model CZ 75 sights work. 2016 they went to dovetail on the front, I believe possibly SW spec’d.

  14. avatar Mikial says:

    Review.

    Article: Fun to read, if a little too cute at times. Still, well written and informative. Pictures could have used some captions.

    Gun: We like Turkish guns around our house, so no arguments about the quality of the gun itself.

  15. avatar Tile floor says:

    I love reading about guns I’ve never heard of, I get to learn about (and consider purchasing) the gun itself in addition to seeing how it shoots. I wouldn’t mind getting one of these

  16. avatar Swobard says:

    Well written, and good job of adopting the smart-ass “voice” of our beloved TTAG founder and his insubordinate minions.

    Will watch for opportunity to pickup my first Turkish gun, albeit at a fire sale price.

    Thanks for the review!

  17. avatar Timmy! says:

    I have a Sarsilmaz SAR K2 in .45 acp. Love it! My one complaint is the lack of a de-cocker. It also doesn’t have that nifty recoil-reducer thingamabob so the bore axis is much, MUCH lower. But I guess that’s the CZ clone vs HK(? Can’t remember and too lazy to scroll back up) clone nature of the two guns.

    1. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

      I’d classify the K2 45 as a CZ-75 derivative. It’s got many of classic CZ-75 features like the grip profile and the slide-in-frame design, but it deviates from the CZ-75 in most other ways. Not certain if the trigger mechanism is the same.

  18. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

    Where did you find 4 extra magazines? I know EAA lists them, but they’re awfully damn proud of them and they’re out of stock at the moment. I’d love to find some alternate sources.

    Do you know if the ST-10 magazines are proprietary to just that model, or did they reuse a magazine from another pistol?

    1. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

      For reference, I found one locally here in DFW for $275 with some holster wear around the front edge of the pic rail, but otherwise in excellent shape. Gentleman had kept it as his truck gun, and switched to something else, so it got unholstered / reholstered quite a bit, with a low round count.

      IMO, it looks like the love child of a H&K USP and a SIG P226

    2. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      Hey Reef: mags came with the gun, perhaps a consolation prize for the missing factory box and paperwork. If you look closely at the left side of the feedlips, you’ll notice a deep 5mm wide cut for the slide stop. This is unique to the ST10, unlike the SAR B6 which uses Witness and some CZ mags. I remember some online armory had spares in stock, but the url escapes me. Also, the EAA website isn’t the best bet right now if pennies matter.

      +3 on your other observations. A K2 45 review should appear at the editor’s pleasure. 🙂

  19. avatar ChiGurh says:

    You’d be better of with a Ruger P95. Literally the same gun with a few minor difference. Same price range, but with Ruger’s durability and reliability.

  20. avatar Michael R says:

    I bought St 10 two years ago from Buds. I took some risks, but reviews were good and I make a plunge for $350 with life time warranty from Buds. The gun looked great, BUT, the double action could not be activated with one finger, single action was heavier than 8-9lb by Lyman. After 500 dry fires (very painful) and 500 life round the double action was still above 12 lb (limit of my Lyman), single action became manageable with 6-7 lb. Not a great pleasure to shoot,
    so I sold the gun with some loss and a year ago bought Sar B6 Hawk from CTD for $300. What a great gun!!! Out off box single action is $4.5 lb. The gun fits a shoots on par with Witness and CZ, even better. This is a steel gun. I tried plastic Sar B6p, much worse. Sight are similar to ST 10 and there are no ready to install after market FO or adjustable sights for the Hawk, but after some improvisation I install FO front and adjustable rear and have a great gut now.

    1. avatar Matt Matteson says:

      Man, that sounds like a brutal break-in period! At least you got it new for a steal.

      I’m curious, what did you use to jury-rig the FO/ADJ sight setup?

      1. avatar Michael R says:

        For Sar Hawk I used for the front sight CZ 75 new model FO from Dawson, for the adjustable rear sight I used LPA CZ 75 old model or LPA Tanfoglio TZ/75 TA 90. Both sights require some fitting, but the result is great.

  21. avatar Vince Brandolini says:

    FWIW – regarding EAA parts support. Some time ago I purchased a used Astra A90 9mm at a local gun store, but it had a weak recoil spring. Since the pistol was such a good fit for me, I decided to try to get a replacement.

    The A90 is almost identical to the A100 which EAA imported years ago, and they still had the recoil springs in stock – and reasonably priced. I was able to order that, a spare hammer spring, and that little torsion-spring for the trigger which simply flew away like a little birdie when I disassembled the pistol.

    I’m not too concerned about EAA’s parts support…

  22. avatar Ray Anderson says:

    EAA may well kill any chances the ST-10 has in America by failing to make magazines available for this firearm. They have not been available for months.

    1. avatar Ray Anderson says:

      As a footnote TR Imports of Fort Worth has apparently taken over importing the ST-10 as well as the 9mm & .45ACP Sarguns. They tell me there will be mags in stock sometime near the middle of April 2017. Great news for owners as these firearms are way to high quality to be paper weights.

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