Range Report: Canik TP9SF Elite-S 9mm

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

A few years ago, the Canik TP9 pistol was introduced in America. A product of the Turkish arms industry, the pistol was a credible, but not exact, clone of a Walther design. The pistol has proven reliable and accurate enough. The price point is attractive and the pistol is well established.

Canik TP9SF Elite S pistol left

The TP9 SF Elite is a handsome pistol.

The TP9SF Elite-S is an improvement over the original in many ways, and is designed as the top of the line pistol among the Canik polymer frame pistols. (It also offers a CZ75-like 9mm handgun.) The new pistol is a single action only pistol and a compact design. The dimensions are attractive for concealed carry.

The TP9SF Elite-S is a 15-shot 9mm, so it isn’t as compact as a Glock 43. However, for those of us that wish to deploy a powerful, reliable handgun that handles well and offers a good reserve of ammunition, the TP9 is a wise choice. The pistol features a polymer frame and steel slide. A major upgrade is the gunmetal grey Cerakote finish the slide is treated to. This is an attractive finish done well.

The cocking serrations are generous The pistol also features modest forward cocking serrations. The machine work is precise. There are no visible tool marks under the slide. The pistol features Warren tactical sights. The U-shaped rear sight combines with a fiber insert front sight to make for an excellent sight picture.

New pistol safety design

This is the new design safety applied.

These sights are great for speed shooting but offer a good sight picture for precision as well. This is an upgrade that shooters have been performing on existing Canik handguns. The new Elite version is factory supplied with a custom grade set of sights.

The frame is a much better fit to my hand than the original TP9. The combination of pebbling and checkering offers good adhesion when firing but was never uncomfortable. The magazine base pad offers a portion of a rest and all but the largest hand sizes will find a comfortable purchase on these grips.

Finger reliefs on each side of the receiver make for a shorter trigger reach. The magazine release is positive and may be actuated without shifting the firing grip. The slide lock/slide release is ambidextrous. Take down is in Glock fashion by pressing two levers to the bottom of the frame.

TP9 SF Elite S fitted with a TruGlo light

Fitted with a TruGlo combat light the Canik TP9 SF Elite S is a formidable home defense firearm.

The rear of the slide tips over the firing mechanism in disassembly and must be angled back into battery. In practice, the pistol is simple to field strip and maintain. The magazines are steel units with a capacity of 15 cartridges. The trigger is single action. There is a modest amount of take up, and the trigger action breaks at 3.75 pounds—lighter than the advertised 4.5 pounds. The Glock, for comparison, usually breaks at 5.5 pounds and my well used Smith and Wesson Shield .45 at 6.0 pounds. And, these are double action only handguns while the TP9 is a single action.

There is a lever in the center of the trigger that must be depressed to fire the Canik. The Elite pistol features a new safety. It is a paddle type that is pressed upward to guard the trigger against inadvertent discharge. No amount of attempting to sneak around this cage to press the trigger was successful. This is an effective safety.

As the safety is moved to the off position, there is a positive snik. I would recommend plenty of practice with this or any other safety. The pistol is a single-action design and this makes for a lighter, crisp trigger and excellent hit probability. You also need to be familiar with the trigger to use it well and to use it safely. I would studiously avoid moving the safety to off safe with the support hand as you go into a two-hand hold.

Warren Tactical sight U-notch

The Warren Tactical sight U-notch is ideal for rapid fire and also precision shooting to at least 25 yards.

You may have only one hand to use in an emergency, and that hand should manipulate the safety. The pistol should be carried on safe. I am sure many will choose not to engage the safety as a matter of course. Trigger discipline and common sense mean more than the trigger action.

The Canik 9mm was lubricated, and the magazines loaded prior to testing. The initial work was done in combat-style firing at 5, 7, and 10 yards. There were a few malfunctions during the first 50 rounds. These were low powered practice loads—115 grains at 1050 fps—that function in some pistols but not all. Switching to a stronger loading, the Federal Cartridge American Eagle 124-grain, the pistol was 100 percent.

Softball handloads may not function, and perhaps the pistol needed a break in. The handgun feels good in the hand and tracks well on target. A 9mm this size doesn’t exhibit much recoil, but just the same, the pistol was very comfortable. This 9mm may be labeled soft shooting.

Bob Campbell shooting the Canik TP9SF Elite pistol

The fiber optic front sight is an aid in rapid sight acquisition.

A number of loads were fired including the Winchester 115-grain USA ball, Federal 124-grain HST and Hornady 147-grain XTP. All loads functioned well. The U-shaped rear sight proved to be effective in fast shooting. The pistol is clearly a credible, even superior, choice for personal defense.

I moved to rapid ammunition supply replenishment. Hit the magazine release and slap another magazine in, and the Canik is as fast any handgun. Driving a tapered magazine into a generous magazine well is fast, very fast. During these drills, I used the supplied plastic holster, which is packaged with the pistol. This paddle holster is fine for range use, but it is not service grade.

Firing for accuracy at 15 yards, I settled into a solid bench rest firing position. The crisp trigger is an aid in this type of work and so are the Warren sights. I fired for groups; firing two 5-shot groups with several loads. I wanted to confirm the zero with the likely carry load. The results follow. The pistol is accurate in both the tactical and target sense.

Load Average of two 5-shot
groups, 15 yards
Federal 124-grain HST 1.75 inch
Hornady 124-grain XTP 2.0 inch
Winchester 115-grain Silvertip 2.2 inch
Winchester 124-grain PDX +P 1.9 inch

The Canik TP9 SF Elite S is a handgun with many good features. There are no shortcuts taken with this handgun that I am able to discern. The pistol is affordable, reliable, and accurate, all we can ask.

Is there a Canik 9mm in your future? Which model? Have you fired the Canik TP9 SF Elite S? Share your answers in the comment section.


Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (24)

  • Cjive134


    The TP9SF Elite has a better trigger than the Walther P99, PPQ, HK VP9, and many others. It has been 100% reliable, better than combat accurate. Over-all, just a joy to shoot. There is something satisfying about point and click accuracy from a sub-$400 pistol.

    If you don’t mind the larger grip, the TP9DA with 18 round magazine is a wonderful pistol as well.


    • Jim Lake


      This gun without any doubt is better than my FN509 and Walther PPQ
      THE trigger is the best striker fired I’ve expierenced in 20 years period.
      And it isn’t a one gun deal my friends is exactly the same.

      Forget the bs gun writers. …youtube click seekers ….this gun is worth 3 times the msrp.
      Only con is customer service…it is completely devoid at century arms


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