RF’s tragic on-again, off-again love affair with the Caracal is the stuff of legend. Against all odds, after Caracal recalled and destroyed every pistol they sold in the U.S., the new, redesigned Caracal is now back on the market and ready for purchase. This time, the striker-fired object of RF’s EDC desire is drop safe.

For this go round, RF handed the once-loved, thrice-scorned EDC to me (break my heart once, shame on you; break it twice . . .). While I won’t redo all of the basics of the pre-recall version (read our review here), there are some features worthy of note on the new Enhanced F Limited Edition.

In this case, limited means limited. Caracal’s only made 150 of these pistols. Of the current run — all of which have been delivered to dealers — 60 percent have Caracal’s Quick Sight System. The remainder are equipped with a standard three-dot set up.

The frame remains made in the United Arab Emirates; the slide’s manufactured right here in the USA. Caracal expects to complete 300 more units with the split location manufacturing. One hundred percent of all future releases will be one hundred percent made in the America.

The Caracal F’s finish reflects current polymer striker-fired standards. There’s nothing shiny and nothing polished, but nothing faded or uneven, either. There are no visible tool marks or rough edges anywhere on the gun.

The Caracal F is a duty-sized gun. Its barrel length is a centimeter or so longer than the GLOCK 19 (lying on top of the Caracal F above). Its other major dimensions are somewhere in between the G19 and G17 — except for weight. The Caracal F is just a bit heavier than either, but shares the dreaded [for some] GLOCK grip angle.

The most striking feature of the Caracal pistol: its extremely low bore axis. Lower than any other pistol of a similar frame size. All other things being equal, a low bore axis should provide less felt recoil and muzzle rise over a handgun with a higher bore axis. [Click here for Nick’s explanation of the physics involved.]

Of course, “all other things being equal” on a firearm might as well be “all other things being equal, Pegasus is more dangerous than a Unicorn.” For my part, I’ve found that it takes a huge change in bore axis to make a significant difference in a gun’s performance.

The best example I’ve found is a standard revolver in a magnum caliber vs. a similarly framed Chiappa Rhino revolver. You can certainly feel the difference there. But some firearms with a high bore axis, like many of SIG SAUER’s pistols, can also be some of the fastest for recovering a sight picture after recoil.

Given the decent weight on the F’s slide and its low bore axis, I expected relatively little muzzle rise. And that’s exactly what I got. The gun creates more of a backward push into my palm, and less muzzle rise than you average semi-automatic handgun.

That said, I found myself fighting the gun, trying to find a good sight picture after each round fired. I could pour rounds out of the gun with some speed. If wanted to hit what I was aiming at past seven yards I had to slow it right back down.

The Caracal Enhanced F certainly feels different than other similarly sized pistols, both in terms of where it sits in your hand and the big honking handle. I like it. Single-handed, my fingers get a great wrap around the firearm. Oddly enough, my left hand struggled to find purchase on the pistol; it continually ended-up creeping down the handle.

The F’s swooping design allows for a few different grip styles. I found that my typical two thumbs high grip wasn’t the best for this firearm. Fortunately, the handle’s long arc provided plenty of real estate to alter my grip. When I tried the F with a high-handed grip, I had to fight the gun to keep it on target. Shooting the F with my right hand only, the high grip worked well to reduce recoil.

But I was still moving the muzzle too much. This was even more pronounced when I shot the gun with my strong hand only. It’s a bit too easy to move the F’s muzzle around. And with the short sight radius created by the Quick Sights, it’s hard to tell when you’re off.

The F’s ambidextrous magazine release has a solid texture change and stands out from the frame in the appropriate manner. The release is perfectly placed for instinctual and efficient operation.

The slide release took a bit of training. It’s in a great spot for me; not so much for shooters with smaller hands. It’s almost too stiff to hit with just my firing hand thumb, although that may smooth out over time.

Although the trigger guard is excellent for bare-hand shooting, it’s a bit too narrow to shoot with work gloves. So equipped, I could get my index finger in without moving the trigger, But it was difficult to get it back out again. The tip of the glove of either my work gloves and winter hunting gloves kept getting stuck in the trigger guard.

This particular model features Caracal’s vaunted “Quick Sight System.” It’s basically the old Guttersnipe, or Meprolight’s FT Bullseye sight– only in reverse.

There’s no sight behind the ejection port. Instead there’s a simple and much appreciated cut-out that lets you hook the slide on gear or clothing to rack the pistol with one hand. The front sight is in its normal location at the muzzle end of the slide.

Behind that: two outward angling walls that end in the opening of the rear sight, just in front of the chamber on the slide. This leaves the gun with a very short 2 1/4” sight radius. The stated goal: to put both sights on the same focal plane, simplifying the alignment between your sights and your target, presumably making your first round out faster.

As far as finding the sights between the target quickly, the system works as advertised. But for me, the Quick Sights offer no speed or accuracy advantage over traditional 3-dot systems, “lollypop” sights, or Heine Straight 8s.

I put an 8” target at 15 yards and tested my first round draw-to-fire time. I did this with the Caracal Enhanced F, a GLOCK 19 with stock sights, and an STI DVC Carry with Heine Straight 8s.

The fastest was definitely the DVC, but that’s my daily carry. So I compared the Enhanced F’s draw-to-fire time against a stock G19. After 20 rounds of each pistol, the average times for both were within .15 seconds of each other, with the slight advantage going to the Caracal.

I’d assign that advantage to the F’s better trigger. That said, I’ve been shooting for some time, and I practice regularly. I’ve learned to pick up the front sight with just about any pistol, even with GLOCK’s U-shaped “sights”. Caracal’s Quick Site system may make a difference for someone who hadn’t trained much, or a new shooter.

[NOTE: TTAG will be comparing draw-to-fire time of the F and GLOCK 19 with a new shooter and will post the results here.]

The Caracal Enhance F’s trigger feels like an good aftermarket GLOCK trigger. No more and no less. The pull is at 4.8 lbs, with very little grit, and a smooth pull all the way through a shallow ark.

It doesn’t feel like the trigger’s stacking, but there’s a small wall to break through at the end of the pull. I felt quite a bit of grit in the trigger moving forwards, resetting; more than on the pull itself.

With such a short sight radius, accuracy at distance was a challenge. The Caracal literature claims that this sight set up is “more than capable of accurate fire out to 50 meters.” I guess that depends on your target size.

It took me a while to get the hang of the sights. My first series of bench shot groups averaged 6” at 25 yards. The next day, I took a little more time setting up the gun and settling down behind the sites.

Taking my time, the Caracal Enhanced F shot and average of 3 ½” with five-round groups for 20 round of Cap Arms 115gr FMJs and Remington 115gr +P Hollow Points, at 25 yards.

Every round I shot, save the TNQ 100gr frangible round, shot between those two and 4”. The TNQ shot just over 4”. That makes a center mass 50 yard shot possible, but smaller targets unlikely.

You can buy the same gun in a two dot traditional sight radius set up. There are no night sights available, but Caracal says they’re considering this for the future.

The Caracal Enhanced F displays exceptional reliability. For the full 560 rounds I put through the gun, I had no issues whatsoever with firing.

I shot both FMJs as well as HP rounds from five different manufacturers, in 115gr, 124gr, and 147gr. I shot both standard and +P loadings. As always, I lubed the gun with Rogue American Apparel’s Gun Oil prior to firing, and never cleaned or disassembled the gun until the firing portion of the review was finished.

When it came to firing, ejecting, and loading another round to fire again, the gun ran flawlessly. There was, however, an interesting issue with loading the magazine . . .

With the action open, insert a magazine straight into the magazine well and the magazine locks firmly into place, with the action remaining open. Angle the magazine into the magazine well, with the rounds slightly pointing upward while inserting the magazine (AK style), the action closes, chambering a round.

To be clear, whether the action remains open or closed has nothing to do with how hard the magazine is inserted. It’s the angle at which it’s inserted. I seriously doubt that was an intentional design. And while it’s not a huge deal, it could be. A gun with an inconsistent manual of arms can be an issue in stressful situations.

RF loved the Caracal for its low bore axis and an unrivaled trigger. I didn’t get any appreciable benefit from the slimmer profile and TTAG’s jefe reports that the trigger is no longer a standout. He says the back-from-the-dead, now drop-safe Caracal F’s gone from a great gun to a good one.

I will certainly agree with the latter assessment. And that’s about it.

Specifications: Caracal Enhanced F Limited Edition

Slide Length: 7 inches
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Height: 5-5/16 inches
Width: 1-3/32 inches
Weight: 1 lbs. 12 oz.
Caliber: 9 x 19mm NATO
Magazine Capacity: 18
Grip Frame: Polymer
Trigger System: Double action
Trigger Pull Weight: 4 lbs. 5oz.
Trigger Travel: ~5/16”
Internal Safety: (drop and firing pin)
Loaded Chamber Indicator
Magazine Catch: Ambidextrous
MSRP: $599

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
Sleek. I like the midline position of the handle, as well as the overall look of the Quick Sight system.

Customization *
With this set up, the sights you get are the sights you keep. And there aren’t very many aftermarket options for parts, yet. I suppose you could paint it.

Accuracy * * *
With careful set-up, the Enhanced F delivers 3 1/2 to 4-inch groups. From a duty gun, that’s acceptable accuracy. I have no doubt the two-dot model with a full-length site radius would do better.

Reliability * * * *
Firing and ejecting any number of rounds from different manufacturers and of different types, the F ran without a hitch. But mind the angle of the magazine as it enters the mag well — it has a direct effect on whether the slide stays back upon insertion or moves forward to chamber a round. The chamber closing inconsistency is a matter of concern.

Overall * * *
I give credit to Caracal for having the cojones to make an innovative firearm. While the new version is a solid performer — comfortable and reliable — the Caracal’s low bore axis didn’t equate to superior performance. For me, the Quick Sight system had no real benefit.

39 Responses to Gun Review: Caracal Enhanced F Limited Edition

      • The UAE is one the United States allies in multiple theaters, and one of very few countries actually participating in kinetic strikes against our enemies in Afghanistan. They are, in fact, one of the leaders in the war on ISIS.

      • nah UAE bombs the sh*t out of ISIS really, they are the smart ones and know which side to hang out with

        Edit: Also, they buy a ton of US made equipment. It’s win-win really.

  1. That looks like a god awful trigger safety blade. Does that actually tuck in comfortably when running the trigger?

    • It thought it looked that way as well, but it feels fine during the pull. No issues with it at all. I’d rate the trigger better than the stock Glock, but not quite up to the Walther.

      • I just don’t get the point of a trigger safety to begin with, seems like a totally unnecessary feature. My SR9C has one and I’ve been tempted to take it out, fill it in with epoxy and smooth out the trigger face even though it’s quite unobtrusive already.

  2. I would like to know if RF has tried shooting one of the new Steyr pistols with thier trapazoid sights, extremely low bore axis and fantastic trigger.

  3. “Against all odds, after Caracal recalled and destroyed every pistol they sold in the U.S., the new, redesigned Caracal is now back on the market and ready for purchase.”

    Is it known as a *fact* those pistols were destroyed?

    Knowing the way Arab minds work concerning business transactions, they may well have boxed them up and sold them to a ‘less sophisticated’ customer.

    Like Somalia, or another backwards shithole country…

  4. What’s innovative about this gun? Seriously, I’m not seeing much in the way of innovation here. The sights? If you really want to get fast at lining up a square-shouldered pistol on a target, get rid of the sights completely. Seriously. Just sight down a corner of the slide or the top/side of the slide. When I do this with a Glock, I can get fist-sized groups at 15 yards.

    Broberg’s guns are innovation. The Carcal is just another cheez-whiz striker-fired pistol – there’s a dozen such designs in the market now.

    • The sights, low bore axis, and handle moved closer to the center of the slide are all things that we don’t usually see on Modern Plastic Fantastic striker fired pistols. Are they effective? I don’t think so. But at least it’s something new.
      It’s a low bar.

      • The sights have such a short radius, you might as well have only a front bead and a rib. Matter of fact, just eliminate the sights completely. Really, I can (and do) show people how to shoot a G17 or G19 without their sights all the time – and many times, their group size shrinks dramatically. I just put electrical tape over their rear sight to force them to look down the side of their slide and presto! They’re off and running.

        I’m still not understanding the obsession with the “low bore axis.” I’ve never really understood the obsession with bore axis heights relative to one’s hand – whether it is the upside-down revolver design or this. There’s all this obsession and chasing of bore axis – and none of it amounts to anything in the market – or in competitive shooting results.

        Does someone want to come up with something new and truly useful in the striker-fired pistol market? Then they should come up with a trigger that doesn’t suck – at all. Develop a trigger for which there need be no excuses made. Develop a trigger that equals the best hammer/sear triggers out there. If someone does this – for real, and I feel a striker-fired pistol that has the trigger of a S&W 41 or 52, and it is chambered in 9×19 or larger (ie, something useful), make it have a 4 to 4.25″ barrel length, and I’ll whip out my FFL where ever I’m standing at the time, and by-God buy it right there on the spot for cash.

        Until then, they’re all just more re-spins of the same crappy idea.

        • No, I haven’t.

          I’ve set a bar that would crimp their profit margins if they want to continue selling in the $600 MSRP price band, or they’d have to raise the price a bit.

          See, Glock has all the competition (and most of the consumers) convinced, if not actually brainwashed, that a cheez-whiz pistol should be no more than $650 MSRP, and you should be able to get them on the street for $500 to $550, max – and that the producers of these guns should be able to rake in at least $150 to $200 for each copy out of that street price.

          Too many people here at TTAG get their panties in a wad when I tell you that a modern, quality sporting shotgun (ie, blued steel, interchangeable chokes, rib, wood stock) should cost about $1K+. You’ve allowed yourselves to become conditioned into thinking that quality in firearms can be had for $500 – because you think of injection-molded cheez-whiz, aluminum or crap steel, as ‘quality.’ I know what’s involved in making a quality gun, I know what skilled labor costs, and I know what quality materials cost. People have this idea that putting out a quality firearm, with a viable profit margin, means the company is ‘greedy’ – when I can point to gun catalogs from literally 100 years ago that show high-quality “field grade” shotguns (which still had color cased receivers and rust blued barrels, with genuine walnut stocks) for $25.

          Yet these same people will brag on their $40K F-150 pickup truck today, that would have cost only $2K when I was born.

          People should be pissed off at the Federal Reserve – but seem to mis-direct their ire at a company trying to put out a quality product into these contrived price targets that aren’t being adjusted upwards for inflation and currency devaluation.

  5. Eh. I respect JWT, but this site is about more than information; it’s about entertainment and clicks. Which I don’t have a problem with, in fact it’s why I come here!

    Unfortunately this review was missing… something.

    I won’t be satisfied til this soap opera puts the caracal back in Robert’s hands, and I get to feel like I’m watching a gun telenovela.

    • True, and a follow up by RF could be quite amusing. But undoubtedly biased given his past with this pistol. So they passed it to someone who prefers 1911s- it’s good, more honest. But yeah. Where’s the Israeli supermodel joke-link?

    • This is a fairly common back and forth between RF and I. I think a gun review should be just the observable and quantifiable. If I had my way, I’d just post a photo of my evaluation notes and score sheet and leave it at that. But, many people, like you and RF, want to be entertained. I look to everything else on this site for that, but I’d rather the reviews be “just the facts, mam, just the facts.” So, and as a particularly boring person with little to no imagination, I do my best. You know, for “you people”.

      • JWT, this shouldn’t be seen as a knock on your review, or your work.

        I am VERY glad there’s an ACTUAL *unbiased* review on the Caracal.

        I just ALSO want a review from Robert.

        That’s how you have entertainment AND information.

        I’m smart enough to know a RF caracal review is all entertainment, no real useful information; but maybe for the less knowledgable you insist on a disclaimer for all articles with RF-Caracal coverage.

        Thank you for your review; for your work, etc. I’ll refer to this review if I’m ever in a position to buy a caracal, but after I read the downside hearing the teenage-heartbreak-angst of RF over caracal again makes me giggle too much to not want it.

        I mean, I wish TTAG would help spearhead efforts and phonebanks for National Reciprocity, as NRA isn’t pushing the effort with anyone that hard, if you want to talk “just the facts”, but RF runs this as a business and I respect that advocacy/activism goes away from core brand and destroys business, even if that isn’t helping reciprocity.

        All I’m saying is, if I can’t be happy over NRA or TTAG making a massive operation overlord push on reciprocity, I’ll settle for a livejournal/myspace update from RF on his on-again, off-again relationship.

  6. “The most striking feature of the Caracal pistol: its extremely low bore axis. Lower than any other pistol of a similar frame size.”

    It looks very similar to the bore axis of a Steyr M9-A1. I’d be curious to see if this is actually lower.

    • I am very familiar with the pistol, and yes, I do think this one is even lower. The Steyr is a neat gun, but the Caracal’s grip feels even higher, with a flatter, but deeper cut into the beavertail.

  7. I’ll wait until they recall it and release it’s successor, the Caracal F.U…

    But seriously, there are at least a dozen competitors out there that are functionally identical to this gun, without the busload of baggage that comes with Caracal. “Full size striker-fired polymer pistol with a half-ass trigger” is a market niche that has been fully exploited already, and mostly at a better price point.

  8. Ummmm…vaporware I assume. Where would one buy this?Or have it worked on or get mags? It’s a pretty crowded 9mm duty gun field. It IS kinda’ cool looking…

  9. Innovative? Hardly.

    It’s a fancy Arab redo of a rehash of the Steyr M9. I still think the Austrian original is better, (and cheaper)…. except for those who can’t/won’t work with the Steyr’s sights, don’t find the grip comfortable, and/or don’t like the lack of US presence & aftermarket support (Caracal definitely has Steyr beat on that front *rolls-eyes*).

    I inherited one when they were almost new, from an Army buddy; he’s a target-focuser (with at least 20 assorted Glock & XD sights in the junk drawer), and consistently strung shots vertically with it. He constantly complained about not his eyes not being able to index the triangle on target clearly, and finally kinda rage-quit on the Steyr.

    But for me, it’s almost like it was made to alleviate my pistol handicaps. I have nearly no distance vision (even corrected), on some days carbine front posts start to get lost in the fuzz too.

    But that weird setup let’s my eye “rest” and put rounds where I want, even at distances where I have to sit the front sight on a target like a paddy-worker’s hat. It’s a pistol that has let me focus on other skills rather than fight my eyes, and because target shooting with it gets boring fast (although pistol-jenga could be fun).

  10. It seems that every gun manufacture is trying real hard to ambush the Glock 19 or 17. The heat is on! Maybe it will lead to something positive and maybe not. Time will tell.

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