By Reader Matt M.
Sixty shots rang out over and over in my mind as I made the drive back from MAG 40. It had been a hard week, but a good one, learning and shooting alongside two dozen good guys and gals who take self defense very seriously. My palm was raw that morning from the Gen4 G19 I switched from the day before, but I couldn’t feel it. I was sore all over, but I couldn’t feel that either. I had just qualified fifth in the class with a New York trigger in my GLOCK. Fifth behind 1911s, GLOCKs with RMR sights, a custom Beretta, and a long-slide M&P. Life was good.
But those 60 shots kept ringing out, mile after mile, hour after hour. I came “this close” to getting that bill signed by Mas Ayoob. While shooting a New York GLOCK.
Here’s a pro-tip in mediocrity, kids: When you lose, you lose. Don’t go away mad, just go away. It’s your fault for not training harder, so suck it up, trade in a gun for a case of ammo, and get to work. Unless your barrel crown has been through a blender or the gun just won’t work, trust me…it ain’t the hardware.
Sixty shots. Six pissant little fliers.
Why? Why did I have that New York Trigger? I was shooting hot 9mm! Why didn’t I punch larger holes? Could I have balanced my regard for human life and fear of liability in any other way? Definitely the gun’s fault. Absolutely.
I don’t have a .45. Winter is just around the corner. Sounds like a Permit to Purchase to me.
The Gun: Its Origins
My budget was tight. I had already sold off a number of my bedside companions to pay for the Ayoob course — worth every painful penny — and another would have to bite the dust if I was going to scrape together $400 for a .45. Not much to work with, but I had a lead.
Someone told me about Turkish gunmaker, Sarsilmaz. Yeah, everyone knows that Turkey makes great stand-ins until you can buy a “real gun,” but this brand was different. Turkey’s largest small arms manufacturer, Sarsilmaz is the nation’s only private operation licensed to equip the Turkish military, NATO’s sixth largest. I started looking for their pistols around town, imported by European American Armory (EAA) under the “SAR ARMS” label, and was surprised to find beautiful machining, attention to detail, and apparent quality.
I still wasn’t sure, though. The blogs were quiet, reviews were mostly positive, and forum “horror stories” seemed more like grumbles. My range manager and FFL, a detached man of few words, surprised me with a positive opinion. So when I saw that CDNN had SAR Arms K2 45s for $379 out the door, I held my breath, sent in my money, and took a chance.
The Gun Itself
When I opened the box, I couldn’t keep myself from smiling. I wasn’t happy receiving only one measly Mec-Gar mag, but the gun was solid steel, smooth, tight, and drop-dead gorgeous. She was a CZ without the communist heritage, blending the powerful lines of a SIG P227 with some of the elegance of a 1911. The controls were proportionate, the grips ready for action, and the beavertail — high and wide with all the right curves — was everything a beavertail should be. She fit my hand well and shot perfectly. True love. Case closed.
But then Tam got involved, a good friend and .45 afficionado who doesn’t suffer fools lightly. After one week with your $300 import, you’ve found the perfect gun? Right. But Tam’s a lover, not a hater: Trust but verify.
Since the SAR K2 is clearly a high-capacity duty-gun, Tam broke out a SIG Sauer 1911 Scorpion and CZ 97B. The Turk didn’t have to beat a Wilson, but could it compete with guns two- to three-times its price? It didn’t have to be light or small, but could Leviathan be as user-friendly as these all-steel classics?
The Sarsilmaz K2 is clearly a full-size big boy for large mitts. The 1911 has a magic ability to fit all hands. Too small? Fatten the grips. Too long? Get a shorter trigger. Point high? Swap the mainspring housing. Most pistols have adjustable backstraps these days, and even the mongo CZ offers a choice between wood, rubber, and aluminum. Not so with the Sarsilmaz: She’s big to begin with and what you see is what you get.
No aftermarket options.
The gun’s grips, while porky, have a fairly organic contour. Given a nice short SA pull, the K2 is equally at home in medium and larger hands, but the long double-action pull is less forgiving. While the grip is clearly a fat double stack, the width was well sculpted, promising to spread recoil across your whole hand. Note well the 1911’s narrow spine and the needlessly sharp ledge on our CZ 97’s aluminum panels when viewed from behind.
While we’re here, take a look at those sights. The internet has two main complaints on K2s: They only come with one mag (grrr…) and the adjustable sights need adjusting from the factory. Huh?
Mine were dead-on and solid. The three-dot setup is well-executed in photo-luminescent paint, the front dot a hair larger than the rest. In daylight, they beat the SIG and were less stressful than the CZ’s tiny tower. Unfortunately, they’re all you get. No tritium, fiber optics, ghost-rings, big dots, trapezoids, or 30x scopes without some creative gunsmithing. I’ve tried almost everything and am very partial to Ameriglo CAPs.
No. Aftermarket. Options.
Cracking the carapace reveals some good and some bad. The machining is A+, much better finished than the CZ and a pleasure to behold. Unfortunately, the gun wasn’t as tight as I first imagined. You know what a good 1911 feels like and the CZ felt like a solid piece of steel. The K2 was merely in the duty pistol camp.
Tam stared at me while moving the slide from side to side. I squinted back, picked up his SIG, and did the same. We’d have to settle this score by shooting them.
Before heading to the range, we broke everything down for lubrication. Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but nothing left to take away. Unlike the 1911, the SAR has no bushings, caps, or links to break. Unlike the CZ’s, the Sarsilmaz guide rods are full-length and not made of plastic. Takedown was a literal pinch: Drop the mag, grab the slide with your thumb in the trigger guard or beavertail, align the dots, and pop the pin. Keep it simple, stupid.
The Gun In Action
So, we were off to the range with a gastronomically tortuous buffet of bullets. Our range day was full of pleasant surprises, at least for me.
Unlike some fancier guns, my Turk worked like a champ. There was a little side-play in the trigger that was noticeable during double action, but the single-action pull measured a crisp 4 pounds … NRA-spec for 1911. Unlike the CZ, the slide stop was long, generous, and accessible. Unlike the CZ, the safety was heavy and crisp, appropriate for condition-one carry a la Hi-Power. Unlike the CZ, the hammer had just enough texture on its wide face to keep our thumbs happy. Looks like CZ needs to step up their game.
Accuracy-wise, she did just fine: nothing good or bad to report. The 1911 semi-auto pistol was a pleasure as always, cutting ragged holes at reasonable distances. Far better was the CZ 97 which displayed a sort of magical accuracy. The K2 was less impressive, but still shot plenty fine. Here are some of my first shots on a lovely spring day; let’s pretend my little cousin shot the hardball on top.
Ah, but the CZ was really something. This is the best the 97B could give us this July … in my hands … after half an hour in a humid 96-degree indoor range with lousy ventilation.
Sorry Chaplain T: I didn’t ditch my .45 for a .46; those gorgeous holes are from the stubby semi-wadcutters on the left. Wadcutters so short the CZ choked every other shot. Wadcutters the 1911 ate with pleasure. Wadcutters my Sarsilmaz cycled only seven times out of 10 before being broken in. See those big holes on the right? More semiwadcutters, a bit taller. Yeah, CZ still had indigestion about 30% of the time. The K2 ran better than nine in 10. Sorry for my poor accuracy with the hardball, but take it easy on my little cousin.
What stunned all of us, however, was the recoil of this gentle giant. Remember my older friend? When I invited him to try out some low-recoiling handguns and included the .45 as a cruel joke, he preferred it to a CZ 75 (9mm), an all-metal USP clone (9mm), and — by far — a 23-ounce Beretta (.380). I believe the quote was “I’d take this over your nines any day”. He shot OK with it too…
So, how did the Sultan of Soothe not hammer like a 1911 or seek the ceiling like its Czech comrade? Four ways. First, at 51.25 ounces loaded, the Sarsilmaz is an anchor … but not much heavier than the competition. Second, the grip is wide and seamless, distributing recoil evenly over 1.5 inches. Third, a slide riding within rails sacrifices minimum width for minimum height, allowing the bore to sit lower in the hand. Fourth, the slide is low and squat, .15 inches shorter than the CZ’s kicker but nearly 3 ounces lighter: Yes, “bore-axis” matters!
Putting it all together, the K2 was a sweet-shooting gun all of us could run fast and effectively. It’s taken some time, but now that we’re aquainted, we’re on cloud nine. She’s my perfect size and a natural pointer (between a CZ and a GLOCK). The two of us enjoy ripping cloverleafs and vertical lines together on the weekend. Tam begrudgingly permitted me to like the piece. My arthritic friend is now thinking about getting back into .45. Life is good.
The Gun Reconsidered
All in all, the K2 handled like a champ. She is a champ. My champ. I’m very unhappy that .45 auto is this much fun given its cost.
There are problems. Bertha’s on the big side. The omnivore lost its appetite for square fare in weaker hands. Little people struggled with the long length of pull. And, good grief, if you want to customize this piece, there are NO AFTERMARKET OPTIONS.
The K2 is hardware made for big guys facing extremes. She’ll see the professional engravers at first precinct if she ever serves her intended purpose, defending innocent life. She feeds anything remotely resembling a ball, with or without a hollowpoint, 100% of the time. She easily hits a minute of bad guy at bad breath distances as fast as your booger hooker can yank the bang-switch.
Yeah, fancy sights and G10 grips would be nice, but the sights and grips are pretty good as she stands. Can’t find a holster? Where, at the drugstore? Masc produces some fine Turkish gunleather made to fit that’s comparable to Galco in quality.
Oh, but what if it breaks? How ever shall we maintain our guns? Look, parts don’t break that often, especially the way 95% of us shoot, and EAA is just a phone call away. And heaven forbid you put some bread on a local gunsmith’s table. Besides, a complete Sarsilmaz parts kit can be had for $389 and comes with a free magazine.
The End of the Matter
If you like .45s, you need to look at this SAR K2 45. If you own a range, this had better be a rental option. If you have large hands, just do yourself a kindness and buy one; while you’re calling in the order, add a few mags.
Maybe this is all too good to be true. I only have 500 rounds down range so far, but this puppy smacks of quality. I’ll do my best to get back to you once she’s seen more hard use.
Specifications – SarArms (EAA) K2 45
Caliber: .45 Auto, .45 ACP, .45 Auto Colt Pistol
Materials: Epoxy-coated forged steel frame
Weight Unloaded: 40 ounces
Weight Loaded: 51.25 ounces (230-grain ball)
Barrel Length: 4.7 inches
Overall Length: 8.3 inches
Overall Height: 5.8 inches
Width: 1.48 inches (controls), 1.12 inches (frame)
Slide: .79 inches high, 11.25 ounces
Sights: Photo-luminescent adjustable three dot (removeable dovetailed front sight, adjustable rear sight)
Sight Radius: 6.3 inches
Grips: Stippled plastic
Pull Weight: 4 pounds (SA)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Aesthetics: * * * * *
The best of a CZ, SIG, and a 1911 all blended together. Look at that fabulous trigger guard! Look at that snout! Oh, that beautiful beavertail! Home defense? Truck gun? You can always guild the lily, but she looks mighty fine for less than $400 bucks.
Accuracy: * * * *
She shot better than we could. She’s not a target 1911. She also won’t jam like one.
Ergonomics-Handling: * * * * *
A big guy in a world of small guns, the K2 was a revelation. Finally, I have a great gun that points naturally that isn’t plastic. The grips are amazing. Not for those with small hands.
Ergonomics-Firing: * * * * *
The recoil control on this gun is fabulous. Knock stars off if you’re concerned about making an expensive round too comfortable to shoot.
Reliability: * * * * *
Besides a few partial feeds with bullet profiles it wasn’t made for, I had one failure to feed with a semi-wadcutter on the last round of a magazine that was gummed up with burnt bullet lube. Chillax. No problems with anything remotely resembling a ball.
Customization: * * *
You can hang your heart’s desire off the rail, buy wood grips on Amazon, and pick up some fabulous gunleather online, but that’s about it. Unlike SAR’s ST10, quality mags are reasonably priced and easy to find online while the design is close enough to a CZ that some parts have to carry over. Given the factory setup, customization is overrated.
Overall: * * * *
I speak for the large- and strong-handed out there: You’ll save on shipping if you buy two.