Gun Review: B&T TP9 Pistol

B&T TP9 review

photo courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com

The B&T TP9 started life back in 1989 as the select fire Steyr TMP (tactical machine pistol). Neutered semi-auto versions were later imported to the US as the Steyr SPP (special purpose pistol). Exactly what the “special purpose” is remains a mystery to this day . . .

Steyr only produced the SPP between 1992 and 2001, at which point Swiss gun maker B&T, then known as Brugger & Thomet, purchased the rights to make the SPP. B&T improved on the design, most notably by adding a spot for a folding stock, a suppressor mount, a trigger safety and Picatinny rails across the top, fore grip area and just in front of the ejection port.

photo courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com

B&T’s TP9 isn’t priced for the faint of heart. They go for around $1,800. Extra 30-round magazines run a staggering $80 each. Your hard-earned $1,800 will get a poorly made plastic box, an owners manual (with “hole” spelled “whole”), a cheap sling, the requisite lock, one magazine . . . and a Swiss-made plastic gun in either black, green,or tactical peanut butter.

I bought the tactical peanut butter version because I got an incredible deal. My LGS had a customer abandoned his order and let the gun store sell it on consignment. If I told you what I got it for you wouldn’t believe me.

B&T TP9 and cat (courtesy Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Reading the owner’s manual resulted in a minor existential crisis. That’s just not something I regularly do. However the TP9’s disassembly process is, well, unique.

B&T TP9 (photo courtesy Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

After clearing the weapon, you press down on the GLOCK-style forward takedown latch, which releases the bolt’s spring tension. Then you press in another two tabs, one above the barrel and one below the charging handle. Using your third hand, you separate the slide and receiver. At this point the barrel and bolt can be pushed reward and lifted out of the slide.

B&T TP9 (courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The internals of the TP9 are unique, too. The trigger mechanism resembles a crab’s pincher.

B&T TP9 barrel (B&T TP9 (courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The barrel has four locking lugs that run almost the entire length of the barrel.

B&T TP9 (courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The backup charging handle hole on the bolt is a thoughtful feature. In the event that the bolt gets stuck — requiring more leverage to manipulate than the small rear-pull polymer charging handle can produce — simply insert a 9mm round into the hole and use it as a makeshift charging handle. Ba-bam.

B&T TP9 (courtesy of Chris Heuss for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Some people are put off by the TP9’s charging handle. I’ve owned this gun for a few months; I’ve cycled the bolt hundreds of times. I haven’t noticed any wear and have grown to like the charging handle’s flexibility. Just be aware that when the bolt’s retracted, you can twist it dramatically, Gumby-like, without the risk of bending it.

B&T TP9 review

The TP9’s rear peep sight is windage adjustable while the front post sight is fixed. Although this gun is clearly meant for a red dot (B&T shows the TP0 with an Aimpoint T1 micro mounted as on its website), the simple low profile sights allowed for acceptable accuracy.

The trigger pull is heavy and long, but smooth. The tactile reset is also long, which slows follow-up shots. The conveniently located non-ambidextrous safety is of the push button variety.  It’s easy to disengage while moving your finger from the straight ready position to the trigger. I rarely use the manual safety; the TP9 has a trigger blade safety a la GLOCK.

B&T TP9 review

The grip has adequate serrations on all sides. The large palm swell fits me perfectly, but small-handed shooter beware: you may not find it as accommodating. The shape of the palm swell naturally keeps the shooter’s hand high on the grip.

B&T TP9 review

On the down side, only one of the three polymer magazines I have for the gun drops free. I normally use my left had to pull empty mags out anyway, but for $1800 I expect my $80 mags to read my mind and know when I want them to jump out of the gun.

All of the 30-round mags easily accommodate a full complement of 9mm round. Caveat loader: the feed lips are unusually sharp. If you stuff the magazine as you would a traditional pistol mag, you’ll cut your finger. Fortunately the mags can be loaded by pressing the rounds straight down into the mags like an AR magazine.

B&T TP9 review

Recoil is minimal — especially for such a lightweight gun. The TP9’s rotating barrel long lock time helps with recoil reduction. As does the fact that the gun’s a bit front heavy, due to the unique barrel locking assembly and suppressor attachment device.

B&T TP9 review

The 25mm tri-lug suppressor mount is unique to the TP9, requiring a proprietary suppressor. The mount isn’t directly attached to the barrel; it locks onto the barrel via a cam pin. It’s all well made and doesn’t require the use of a booster. But the cost of buying a suppressor that you can only use with one firearm is a definite turn-off. Still, I plan on buying one. That long lock time should translate to an extremely quiet firearm when suppressed.

B&T TP9 review

The B&T TP9 just begs to be turned into an SBR. A slot to add a right side-folding stock is built into the rear of the lower receiver. The TP9 would be unusually small for an SBR. With the stock folded the whole package would measure just under 12 inches.

B&T TP9 review

Accuracy testing was done at 15 yards off of bags with a 12x Nikon p308 scope. (Mounting such a large scope on such a small gun definitely attracted some attention at the range.) We tested the TP9 with IMI 115gr, Magtech, Caparms target Match, Sellier & Bellot and Precision Delta ammo.

B&T TP9 review

IMI did pretty well.

B&T TP9 review

Sellier & Belliot was acceptable, too.

B&T TP9 review

With the right ammo the TP9 is impressively accurate. Using Precision Delta we got this five-round group. As will all guns, find the food it likes and stick with it.The other good news: the B&T TP9 was 100 percent reliable. Which, for $1800, is something a buyer has a right to respect.

So is the TP9 worth the money? Only if you love small, quirky, high-quality, pistol-caliber guns that like to run and run. A small market to be sure, but one that’s sure to be satisfied with the TP9.

Specifications: B&T TP9 Pistol

Caliber: 9mm
Overall length: 11.9 inches
Width: 1.96 inches
Height: 9.2 inches (with 30-round magazine)
Barrel length: 5.1 inches
Weight: 3.4 lbs.
MSRP: $1800

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style  * * * * *
Clunky, but cool.

Customization * * * 
B&T makes a brass catcher and a discreet shooting bag that allows you to fire the pistol in the bag suppressed. 15, 20, 25 and 30 round mags are available. Plenty of rail space to mount whatever you want. And adding that rear stock is easy…once you’re legal  You’re stuck with the stock trigger, and I suspect that won’t change. One full star off for that proprietary suppressor mount.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s been dead nuts perfect through well over 500 rounds of everything from steel-cased Russian ammo to high-end match grade rounds.

Accuracy * * * 
About two-inch groups at personal defense distance with most 9mm ammo. Mine really likes Precision Delta.

Overall * * * *
The TP9’s extremely expensive — and extremely well made. Add a stock and suppressor and it makes an outstanding personal defense weapon.

comments

  1. avatar Cliff H says:

    And then people wonder why cops can’t immediately tell the difference between a Nerf gun and the real thing.

    1. avatar epickett says:

      It *does* look like a toy, doesn’t it?

      1. avatar AZwild says:

        I was thinking it was from COUNTERSTRIKE.

        Yep, I was right.
        http://counterstrike.wikia.com/wiki/Schmidt_Machine_Pistol

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      They should make one in pink. For the ladies.

      1. avatar Shotgun Sam says:

        “I’ve owned this gun for a few months now and have cycled the bolt hundreds of times. I haven’t noticed any wear and have grown to like the charging handle’s flexibility.”

        Nice to know the gun will last for months. At $1800 you’d think it should at least last a couple years.

        1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          I am sure it will last a lifetime. I can’t test guns for years before posting a review. I was explains that the polymer charging handle seems to be good.

    3. avatar Madcapp says:

      So what’s the advantage of this class of weapon (in a non-NFA configuration – with no stock) over a Glock 34 with a 33 round magazine? Really, the same question can be asked about the MP5K. You give up a lot of advantage by running a short 5.1 inch barrel, you need a barrel more like 8-9 inches long, as in a Sig MPX or Zenith Z5-RS. There’s no reason to have a sub-7.5″ barrel in a PCC/PDW. And B&Ts plastic mags…all the way up to their PLASTIC FEED LIPS, no thanks.

      1. avatar YaDaddy says:

        In its hobbled (to import) pistol config the TP9 is pretty useless. NFA the thing and get it back into its original SBR configuration and it kicks the ass of anything trying to do the same PDW job. There’s a good chance it will for the same money or less.

        It’s not for everyone, but if you have the need it fills the sub gun PDW role exceptionally well.

        Easy for me to say, because I got mine dirt cheap too, but I’d drip 1800 to get one knowing what I know now.

        1. avatar YaDaddy says:

          Thanks to stupid NFA laws and GCA’68 we can’t easily experience this gun the way it was meant to be. This thing equipped with the folding stock, suppressor and a good low profile red dot is a best in class gun. And oh if it could only be FA.
          Mine serves the truck/trunk gun role. I can also hang it under my right arm concealed like an MP5K, but the TP9 is much more compact.

      2. avatar Chris Heuss says:

        I plan on registering this as an SBR. Honestly I wouldn’t keep it as is.

        1. avatar Baldwin says:

          I’ve had mine for several years and it was under $1200 back then. It is useless unless you SBR it. However, with the folding stock, forward vert grip, MRDS it defines ROCK & ROLL. It will easily nail 8″ steel out to 100 yards in the blink of an eye. But that is where the fun ends. The trigger can’t be trusted to reset every time…maybe that is why there is that handy little manual reset push point on the front of the trigger that shows itself inside the trigger guard when the trigger is stuck in the rear of its travel. The magazine feed lips will not tolerate a forceful magazine insertion into the mag well…ask me how I know. The firing pin broke…but the gun continued to operate intermittently until full bolt disassembly revealed the problem. And the last straw, the unforgivable last straw, it won’t reliably feed flat tip and hollow-point rounds…shame on you B&T! All show and no go.

        2. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          I have not experienced any reset issues. Mine feeds hollow point and flat nose fmj no problem. B&T is good at listening to customers, maybe they have improved the design. I know the B&T GHM9 had hollow point and flat nose feeding issues. When we asked the factory about this they said they will correct the issue in new ones and send a retrofit kit out to existing customers. We are still talking to them about this issue. We will address it further in the GHM9 review.

  2. avatar pewpewpew says:

    Nice review, but I’d love it if you were a bit more specific about accuracy. Specifically, group size in inches and distance in yards.

    1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      Thanks for the feedback. On my future reviews I will be more specific with group size.

  3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    This is one type of weapon I just don’t get. If you’re going to have a 55 ounce, foot long weapon, why not just go with a 57 ounce, 15 inch one? Squeeze a little more juice out of that little rou nd. Otherwise, what does this do that a used Glo ck 17 and a couple of 30+ rou nd ma gazines can’t do?

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      It’s fancy and Swiss!

  4. avatar anonymoose says:

    mmm…tactical peanut butter…

    1. avatar anaxis says:

      mmm…. with strategic bread.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        With the crust cut off with a Zero Tolerance folder. . . .

        1. avatar Gunr says:

          Don’t forget the jelly!

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        get the eye bleach…

  5. avatar Noishkel says:

    Hmm, well I do actually like this design, although the color is just hideous. But man, that $1800 price tag is just a killer.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      The whole thing is hideous. It practically made my eyeballs bleed. The photo with the Tactical Cat was pretty cool, though.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Handled and shot the first gen.
    My first thought was, WTF?
    What a huge mis design for a pistol. Yeah, the large capacity was nice, but again, WTF?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Since it’s a similar vintage to the AUG, would its drop-in NFA FA trigger group go in that thing?

  7. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Modern version of a Tec9.

    I would rather have the Tec9.

    Especially at that price.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      You mean micro Uzi. And this gun is way lighter and more controllable.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        No….I mean Tec9

        About as useful.

    2. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      It’s not even close to a tec9. It operates completely differently and is made much better.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Hmmm….looks like a semi auto bastard weapon with a 30 round magazine.

        Too big for general carry and no stock to shore it up.

        The difference is the Tec9 was cheap.

        This is just a cool range toy for a lotta coin.

        Rather have a CX4 or a sub 2000 and a lotta ammo with the difference in price.

        1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          It’s meant for a stock.

        2. avatar Specialist38 says:

          And yet does not have a stock.

          Make an SBR and it becomes more expensive.

          But the bright side is the paperwork and wait time.

  8. avatar Em says:

    Funny you complained about a typo in the owners manual, Mr. Pot. :p

    Good review, but this toy is definitely not for me.

    1. avatar defens says:

      Good review of a meh gun! I liked the mention of the “tigger” guard – does that prevent your handsome little feline friend from pulling the trigger?

      1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

        She can pull the trigger but luckily can’t charge the weapon. She is a mean cat.

    2. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      Who is complaining about a typo? I thought it was funny.

      1. avatar Em says:

        I included a smiley face!

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    WHY?!? A gun I’d happily buy-for 300bucks😄

  10. avatar Geoff PR says:

    If we get the Hughes amendment repealed, a select-fire Glock 17 SBR suppressed is my dream range toy…

  11. avatar Hank says:

    What a ridiculous price. That’s more than a high end AR. Prices for weapons such as these should be in the 200-300$ range, like the semi auto MAC 10/11 series was. I don’t know if the company is still around, but a few years ago you could get a MAC style gun for 250 or so. Made a great option for a boat or truck gun.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      I take it you don’t know a MAC from a hole in the ground? This gun is nicer in every possible way than that turd, and is as sophisticated as those fancy ARs while made as nice or nicer. If you want to ask if a 9mm smg is worth this level of cost and quality that’s one thing, but don’t compare it to the Hi Point of subguns.

      1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

        YES! Thanks. You can get a Hyundai with leather but a Mercedes is still built better. Sure the Hyundai is perfectly fine but lots of people prefer the Mercedes.

      2. avatar Hank says:

        That’s far from what I gathered from the review. Looks more like an overweight glock. So, why not just by 4 glocks instead of this chunk of Shit?

        1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          Chunk so shit? Really? It’s beautifully made and well engineered. It’s long lock time makes it very quiet. Nothing against glock but they aren’t not great with a folding stock.

        2. avatar barnbwt says:

          What’s this lock time jazz? It’s as “slow” as any hammer fired action. The sears are just sideways is all

        3. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          Direct blowback guns have a very short locktime because the round starts to push the action rearward (typically) almost instantly. The TP9 has a rotating barrel that has to travel a long (for guns) distance before the bolt separates from the barrel. Having an action that stays locked to the barrel for a longer time results in a quieter weapon when suppressed because less gas exits the chamber.

        4. avatar barnbwt says:

          Lock time refers to the delay between sear release and ignition, every time I’ve seen it. Are you referring to cyclic rate? If so, a slower cycle time in guns like these is a huge asset, as guns like the MAC or Micro Uzi with their lightweight bolts and insane rate of fire are almost dangerously uncontrollable and barely contain their cartridges against blowout.

        5. avatar Chris Heuss says:

          Thanks for the correction. I have been misusing the term. What would you call the time it takes for the bolt to unlock from the barrel? It’s not cyclic rate. From what I understand cyclic rate refers to the time it takes to load, fire, eject an reload a round.

        6. avatar barnbwt says:

          I think that’s something more akin to ‘dwell time,’ though that usually refers only to the time between initial action movement and the start of unlock camming (the mechanical take-up or slop). I get your point, that the locked breech effectively seals chamber gasses from going backward or making noise a bit longer than pure case obturation in a blowback can. That said, and MP5SD can be extremely quiet for a certain pressure curve of ammo. It’s also sort of a safety issue, though not as much in modern guns (a famous example is the Mauser who lost an eye when a short-recoil rifle prototype exploded…he only worked in long-recoil actions afterward)

  12. avatar Grant says:

    I really don’t mind paying $1800 for a cool gun, I just can’t wrap my head around $80 magazines.

    That being said, I don’t think this gun is worth $1800. I’m thinking maybe $1200 tops, with magazines at $45 or less. Even at that price you would still have at least $2k in the gun after buying a $200 stamp, 10 magazines and a stock.

    It would also be nice if B&T partnered with a couple of US suppressor manufacturers to offer adapters for their proprietary mount.

    I’d rather have a MKE / Zenith MP5k, but I can also understand that it’s nice to have something a little different than what everyone else has.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      To give B&T, or rather Steyr, credit, they are really good mags. Lightweight, dual feed, plenty strong, and used in a half dozen B&T products at this point. We just need Lancer or Magpul or someone to step up and make a budget version. They’re basically polymer Uzi mags

    2. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      I have heard credible rumors that they are working on an adapter to allow their proprietary 25mm ( I think) tri lug work on standard mounts.

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        That’s a good idea to make the Rotex more marketable, but what they really need is simply a US domestic manufacturer to make some dedicated low-backpressure cans at a reasonable price and greater availability. Low back pressure cans aren’t really “en vogue” at this time, with all the K-baffle stuff being preferred for lower ideal decibel levels, but for certain applications like this they can certainly make shooting more pleasant (less gas face, recoil, and port pop)

    3. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      $1200 would be a great price. At current prices to get a suppressed sbr with red dot and mags you are looking at
      TP9 $1800 and tax so $1950
      Sbr tax and stock $300
      Suppressor and stamp $1400
      5 mags $350
      Aimpoint T1 $700
      Somyounare looking at $4700 all in. It’s going to take a long time but I am working on it.

  13. avatar barnbwt says:

    My experience with the SPP (with TP9 top cover; long story short, the previous owner had lost theirs and I got the gun & replacement part for like 700$ all told) is that it really, really wants to be an SBR, and that it’s almost comical that Steyr was set on making it an AOW. While it is very lightweight, the vast majority of what mass there is lies in the moving parts, so it really jostles in the hand when fired. It’s not recoil, per se, but a shifting of the gun’s center of mass way up in that high bore axis above the wrist. Lastly, that wrist has a decent but not ideal hold on the gun, since the lower/rear portion of the palm swell narrows. I find this makes it an ideal grip for holding the gun close-in just in front of the nose with a sharply bent wrist (PDW style) but doesn’t stabilize the forward/backward rocking motion of recoil when held further out. B&T hit it out of the park doing a decent stock-mount for the gun, even if it does remain a bit delicate, as that was what the TMP needed all along.

    The other design issues are the crossbolt safety (which B&T have also addressed now) and the trigger system. The original design had a two-stage selector-trigger, and the legacy of that system lives on in the super long, rather unpleasant pull of the current model (there’s a big tension spring to return the trigger that’s far heavier than needed, for instance). The odd crab-like sear arrangement allows the FCG to be very flat and wide to match the profile of the rest of the gun to take up little room, but naturally results in off-axis forces on the pivoting elements and greatly increases the friction of their operation. But, you get a hammer as opposed a striker FCG in the same form factor, and perhaps that’s worth the trade off.

    Disassembly is also needlessly bothersome, and I have to wonder if B&T won’t be addressing that in their updated version as well. I think a captive spring assembly would allow you to safely have it’s tail end alone hold the gun together (push in the tail of the spring assembly, tip the top cover up & forward). The guns are not ‘hard’ to suppress so much as they are more picky; since the barrel does not attach to the can, its cross sectional area becomes a Nielson Device or piston driven back ever harder by silencer back pressure. So long as a low-back pressure can is used, like the large volume Rotex, or I suppose the newer OSS-style cans, the cycle energy stays within safe limits and gas is not unduly vented back at the user. The advantage that seems to go unstated with this arrangement is that the silencer does not move in operation, so there is no way to impede the action’s cycle externally (not unimportant for a PDW weapon that can be fired from concealment or in close quarters)

    Despite these issues, it needs to be remembered that the only real peer of the gun is the H&K MP7 (holsterable locked-breech PDW) or now the B&T USW to a certain extent (being a stocked handgun, the USW is likely not nearly as optimized for automatic fire)

    1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      Yeah what he said.

  14. avatar ad-lib says:

    “If I told you what I got it for you wouldn’t believe me.”

    …$1800?

  15. avatar little horn says:

    this is a NPG, “no purpose gun”.

    1. avatar Chris Heuss says:

      IT has a very clear purpose. It’s meant to be an SBR but they can’t import them with a stock. As an SBR it’s a very compact PDW type weapon. I don’t know of another weapon in its class with such a small footprint when the stock is collapsed.

  16. avatar Grant says:

    I’ve heard they are coming out with a striker fired USW and I would be very interested in one of those. The current hammer fired USW is also interesting, but I prefer having a consistent trigger pull. I may get one eventually, but I still have 4 stamps to fund.

  17. avatar Gunr says:

    Lets all chip in and get one of these for Christmas, for our lovely lady of the evening, Dianne, sweetheart, Feinsteine. I’ll bet she would just love to cuddle with one.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email