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Chris Dumm writes:

As the writer who penned TTAG’s original review of the Caracal C, reading RF’s article about the new ‘enhanced’ Caracal just made me sad.

Sad for the astoundingly great handgun the original Caracal C should have been. Sad for the millions of dollars that have been spent wasted trying to resurrect it. And sad for all the shooters out there who will never know how well they would have shot with it.

RF and I first ogled the Caracal C at the 2012 SHOT Show media range day. Half a decade ago, it was like nothing we’d laid eyes or hands on. Smaller than a GLOCK and svelte in a way that the sci-fi Steyr M9 could never be, it handled and shot like a dream.

And I have never fired a pistol as quickly as the Caracal C. You and I aren’t Jerry Miculek, but you didn’t have to be to empty one downrange at five rounds a second.

It had a few rough edges (the impossibly-stiff magazine release was one) but it was a diamond waiting for a few final facets to be polished smooth. Or so we thought.

Instead of perfection, the Caracal C shattered like a flawed gemstone under the lapidary’s mallet. The trigger wasn’t drop-safe, we ultimately learned. And then, when that problem seemed to be solved, the slides started breaking in half.

The recall turned into a utter fiasco. Caracal was as good as dead with a nonfunctioning website and dead phone lines. RF’s favorite carry gun turned into a safe queen, and finally a paperweight.

Which brings us to today, nearly five years after our first encounter with the Caracal. I mean no disrespect to the entrepreneurs and engineers who have tried to fix the Caracal’s design, but I don’t know why they bothered.

After Caracal’s years of SHOT Show teasers that never materialized (like their carbine), defective and dangerous products and nonexistent customer support, the brand name is forever tarnished.

It’s like the trendy restaurant where you took your girlfriend that time and you both got food poisoning. You don’t care what the new reviews say, and you don’t care how carefully they’ve cleaned the kitchen.

Because you’re never going back.

[ED: The new Caracal website is up! Click here, before it’s too late!]

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  1. A friend of mine had one way back when. I liked it so much, I was waiting for my LGS to get one in stock, so I could buy it…then they got recalled. Then the recall turned into a buyback (an actual gun buyback).

    I’m excited about the CZ P-10 C. It should be much of what the Caracal C was (sans the funky sights), and a lot more.

  2. We also know that CZ will either make its guns correct from the start or will quickly make them right–as opposed to wherever Caracal comes from!! DMD

  3. Why take a chance on a no-name exotic with a problematic past when a Glock* works, and has a proven track record?

    *(Feel free to substitute Springfield XD or S&W M&P as you wish)

    • OT, but I’m wondering what’s up with the Trump-directed Second Amendment Coalition. Any activity happening?

      On topic, agreed. There’s no practical reason to buy one of these at this point. Unless your job is to test it. If you just want it as a range toy that *might* become something more, fine. But if/when I buy another pistol, it’s going to be something proven, along the lines of Springfield/S&W/Glock or similar. I don’t have the resources to buy anything that’s not going to be practical and dependable (if it’s also interesting, that’s a nice bonus).

    • Why try some upstart plastic gun when Colt, Browning, and Smith and Wesson have proven designs? circa 1982.

      • The difference being that Glock offered something new back then. The only thing the Caracal seems to be bringing to the table that the existing overcrowded plastic pistol market doesn’t have covered is a pretty sketchy history.

  4. It’s always a bit sketchy to me when the products page on the companies website is 3D renders rather than actual products….Just saying…

  5. I wrote up a TTAG shoot-off between the Caracal C and the Glock 19 back in 2012, and I preferred the Caracal (but not by a huge margin). I also advised against buying the Caracal until it had built a record for reliability.

    Which it never did. On the contrary, it built a bad reputation.

    I cannot say that I would never, ever, ever purchase a Caracal, but my initial reservations have only become more pronounced in light of subsequent events.

  6. Don’t forget that Caracal lost control of its facebook page and was pumping out spam posts. I think it’s way too late for this company/brand/gun. It’s been too many years of teaser to the point that they’ve become somewhat of a shot show joke. Why do they keep spending money to be there when they don’t sell anything? What do the Caracal staff members do all year?

    Vektor crashed and burned in a similar fashion and never returned to the U.S. market.

    • “Why do they keep spending money to be there when they don’t sell anything? What do the Caracal staff members do all year?”

      If they’re from UAE, it’s a .gov jobs program.

  7. I guess I wouldn’t recommend it as a first gun for a new buyer, but for those with larger collections, I can see somebody getting it for the novelty. They can prove its reliability, and in time, if it has market support, it could be a success.

    What’s funny is that with government financial support, Caracal could be a success. It’s cheaper to churn out barrels and night sights than Teslas and Solyndra solar panels.

  8. The only maybe handgun I’m waiting for a track record on is the Remington R51. There is just something about that one. My LGS has one in stock that might be mine soon. Maybe

    • Go for it. I will too.
      Based on the most recent YouTube vids we can say two things: avoid steel-cased ammo and you’ll get better with disassembly/reassembly with LOTS of practice.

  9. I’ll be buying one. I have faith in there US manufacturer that has been supplying the military for a long while now (Wilcox Industries).

    This thing had too many great reviews to not to give it a try.

    • Wilcox has nice stuff. I have a Stubby Steady Grip on my milled Arsenal AK. It’s so much nicer than the cheap garbage out there for sale.

  10. I am waiting for an “enhanced” C model if it ever comes. By then we should know if the US manufacturing of the F is up to the task and identify any issues. Caracal screwed up big, I heard a rumor they did have a huge run of guns they wanted to import into the US , some even almost made it over but then they got some huge offer to supply them to a military buyer in the middle east for a premium price so they turned the guns around, full size F models, about a year or so ago and the rest is history.

    In fairness they are offering to buy the recalled guns back ABOVE MSRP. Buddy of mine just traded his C in for $100 above MSRP, that is a $200 PROFIT on a defective gun. It took a long time but no one can complain they were not made whole in this situation.

  11. Lets see; poor record, offers nothing over proven designs and it comes from a questionable muslim country.

    There is no reason to by these unless you are a dedicated collector of all guns.

    • Hey Ben, you wrote “it comes from a questionable muslim country”

      I don’t understand but would like to understand what you mean by this statement, please explain. Thanks

  12. And then, when that problem seemed to be solved, the slides started breaking in half.

    Perhaps every new gun should come with a metallurgist’s seal of approval.. pardon the bad pun, but broken slides are a dealbreaker.

    A pot metal gun is not a real gun.

    • In Europe, this is what “proof houses” do in their gun trade.

      We, in the US, do not have proof houses. The closest thing we have for proving a firearm will hold up is the HP White Laboratories, and they’re not like a proof house.

      In the UK, you cannot sell a newly made gun that hasn’t been proofed.

      • In the UK, handguns for the most part are illegal unless that have barrel length over 30cm and an overall length of 60cm. So you have 1989 Batman’s Joker level handguns with massively long barrels and odd coat hangers welded to the frame. For those that don’t speak metric. 60cm comes out to 1.9685ft. A “handgun” there is a two foot long firearm. Also they are restricted to .22LR and usually Taurus made revolvers of GSG .22 1911s with fake suppressors welded to the barrels to bring the barrel length up to snuff.

        The UK does not use CIP Proof Houses. Our closet thing to CIP is SAAMI.

        • Since June of 1980, the UK has been a member of CIP, and has accepted other CIP members’ proof houses’ testing as the requirement for handguns sold in the UK. I know that’s not many handguns, but even the handguns sold to police and military in the UK must meet the proof requirements. The UK military has recently purchased Glock pistols; these will need to be proofed. One of the ways you know you have an Austrian-made Glock, is that you will find Austrian-registered proof marks in the frame, on the right side, above the trigger guard. One of them will be the “NPv” proof, which means it was proofed for smokeless powder.

          Other members of CIP therefore also recognize the UK’s proof houses’ (London’s & Birmingham’s) proofs as complying with CIP proof requirements.

          Here’s the CIP document on proof requirements, member nation’s proofs, etc:

          I keep this document among my piles of gun documents to refer to when checking European proofed guns.

          SAAMI is not a proof house. They conduct no destructive testing on guns or ammo for suitability for sale, and publish only chamber/bore/ammo standards & recommendations. SAAMI does provide some recommendations on how to test ammo for pressure, as well some safety issues with bulk ammunition. CIP doesn’t provide proofing – the proofing is done by national proof labs in the member countries. CIP does maintain the testing protocols, chamber dimension standards, ammunition standards, etc.

          A proof house has the ability to stop production of a gun long before it ever reaches the consumer because they find dimensional change in chambers/bores/barrels after firing a proof load.

          The only lab I know of that in the US that conducts destructive testing of firearms and firearms ammunition is HP White. They also test body armor, firearms safety mechanisms, etc.

  13. Not having fired one of these pistols, yet having fired dozens of pistols in my life, I utterly fail to comprehend the obsession here at TTAG about this piece.

    The number of virtual “column inches” filled up by this particular company/pistol is approaching a level of irrational fretting, fixation and folly usually reserved for women who have infested a man’s heart, then turned it into pate’.

    When one gets older and a bit more jaded, we learn to not ever allow a woman to have that level of control over us. So it is with handguns – especially a cheez-whiz, non-match pistol such as this.

    Guys: It’s just another cheez-whiz pistol. This one, unlike some of the others, won’t be successful. Let it go.

    Really. Have a wee dram of single malt and just let it go.

    • thanks. doggone it, i will!
      scuba diving at pennekamp one year, the cuban unleashed a concealed can of cheez whiz towards shwink dinklemans crotch. the ensuing swarm of blue and yellow fishies that suddenly materialized caused an instant ejection of the dual respirator and a panicked sprint to the surface. the ambient water temperature rose noticeably.
      a much better application of plastic aerosol food.

  14. If Wilhelm Bubits is such a noted designer. How could he design such a failure in this line of pistol. I was working for one of South Florida’s largest FFL when the original Steyr M9 came out. It was dog shit. Crap trigger, odd ergos, little to no factory support, and of course since it was released during the AWB. No normal capacity mags for the common serfs. For Mr. Bubits is always credited as an employee of Glock. What many don’t understand is that his career with Glock wasn’t as a designer. Mr. Bubits was a agent with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance as a Customs Investigator. He was on the selection panel when Austrian Customs was looking to adopt a new pistol in the 1980s. It was between the Styer GB and the Glock 17. He swayed the panel to go with Glock. Mr. Bubits and Gaston Glock knew each other very well. Hence the favoritism shown. (I’m not saying the Glock is a bad pistol. It did beat the pants off Styer’s GB.)

    He later retired from the agency and worked with Glock as a sales rep and armorer training instructor. Nothing more and nothing less. (Sound familiar to current US Armed Forces personnel getting jobs with HK after they swayed a panel to adopt HK?)

    He then left Glock after a short period of time and went with Styer where he had a hand in designing the Steyr M9. Which as I stated when it first came out was a piece of crap. It was very similar to the first generation of the S&W Sigma. He then left Styer and went to Walthert and assisted with the PPS. His credence is the fact that for Austria, he was in charge of training for his agency and marketed on that he knew what street cops needed. Luckily for Walther, they just took design cues from him and produced a single stack 9mm striker fired pistol on their own.

    After Walther he went to Caracal. But here’s the kicker….. he claims he is an Small Arms Designer and hired via independent contracts.

    In the end… he isn’t hat grand of a designer. For someone to have claimed such a storied background in design to then make such a mistake in design. For all my dislike of the HS 2000, I give it’s designers credit. The grip safety is there for a reason. It works as a sear block since the pistol is a fully cocked striker fired gun. If the grip safety wasn’t there. The HS 2000 would fire if dropped. If two guys in Croatia could figure that out, how is it Mr. Bubits not able too.

    In the end, nothing is overthrowing Glock from the thrown.

  15. They went dark after the recall. This alone can easily kill companies in various industries, without communication, when you come back, you can find yourself met with indifference and apathy. Even five years of vaporware is better than nothing at all.

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