Throwback Thursday: The 6 Best Handguns From Turkey

op Row: Girsan MC28SA, SAR 9X Platinum, Tisas M1911A1 Bottom Row: Canik TP9SA, SAR B6, Stoeger STR-9C

Turkey’s role in world politics is important as it lies right on the border of Europe and Asia. The government of Turkey mimics ours — in many ways — with an elected president, parliamentary representatives from each of the 81 provinces, and a judiciary branch. The country is highly industrialized and exports products around the world.

The firearm business in Turkey is particularly robust. A Turkish business directory lists over 260 companies producing firearms. 85 of those companies list shotguns as the major product. Eight companies manufacture rifles and nine companies list handguns as the primary product. I was somewhat surprised to learn my new Winchester Wildcat .22 rifle was made in Turkey by Istanbul Silah.

op Row: Girsan MC28SA, SAR 9X Platinum, Tisas M1911A1 Bottom Row: Canik TP9SA, SAR B6, Stoeger STR-9C
The six handguns featured in this report are representative of many affordable pistols manufactured in Turkey and sold in the U.S. today.
Top Row: Girsan MC28SA, SAR 9X Platinum, Tisas M1911A1
Bottom Row: Canik TP9SA, SAR B6, Stoeger STR-9C

Many of the companies manufacture air guns and a few manufacture ammunition or gun parts. It’s not unusual to find a firearms manufacturer who also manufactures aviation parts. We are fortunate, in that several of the pistol manufacturers export products to the United States.

Good Quality — Fair Prices

I’m not sure what it is about the Turkish economy that allows it to produce firearms with quality equal to that of German, Italian, and American-made firearms but at considerably lower prices. It’s not unions, as there are no unions in Turkey. Perhaps it’s fewer levels of management and lower marketing costs. I don’t know, but I’m glad it’s the way it is.

Turkey not only equips its own military (strength over 500,000, and all males are required to serve) with firearms created in country, it exports firearms to a reported 70 countries. Many of the exported firearms are destined for military and police use. Firearms used by military and police are well-tested, which demands high quality and reliability standards in the design and manufacturing process. The volume also helps with pricing.

My first semi-automatic pistol was a Stoeger that was made in Turkey. It was essentially a Beretta 8040 Cougar. Beretta owns Stoeger, and shortly after the purchase, it moved tooling for the Cougar to Turkey. That Cougar is a delightful gun that is now owned by one of my sons. However, I digress. This report is about six modern handguns produced by Turkish companies, all sold in the U.S. and priced considerably below similar handguns made in Germany, Italy, and the U.S. I’ll discuss them in alphabetical order by brand and model.

Canik TP9SA 9mm handgun in tan and black, right, profile
The Canik TP9SA 9mm is imported by Century Arms. As a sub-$400 offering, the pistol proved to be as capable as it is attractive.

Canik TP9SA

First up is the 9mm Canik TP9SA in FDE. This gun is imported by Century Arms and was normally priced somewhere around $349–$389 at retail. The TP9SA is one of many models of Canik pistols imported by Century. This is the only gun in this report that doesn’t belong to me. I borrowed it from my good friend Alf Evans, who I sometimes play bass guitar for at the church where he is the worship leader. Alf has had this gun for several years, and it is his favorite of several 9mm handguns. I can see why.

As I shot it along with the other five handguns in this report, had I not recently put myself on a gun diet, I’d be looking for one to add to my carry gun rotation. The pistol handled nicely and proved to be quite accurate — in addition to being attractive. The TP9SA came packaged in a plastic case along with a paddle retention holster, extra magazine, cleaning brush, and exchangeable grip panels. Of course, the case also included the requisite trigger lock and owner’s manual.

The Girsan MC28SA 9mm pistol dressed in Coyote Brown left profile
Girsan may not be a household name, but EAA has been providing some of the best competition and self-defense guns for decades. The Girsan MC28SA promises to continue this tradition.

Girsan MC28SA

Girsan is known for its quality line of 1911 handguns, plus a few originals such as this MC28SA. This one captured my attention while browsing EAA listings for affordable carry guns. It’s not a S&W M&P clone, but it sure is a doppelganger in both appearance and function.

The gun arrived in a plastic carrying case with two extra grip panels giving the shooter the option of small, medium, and large grips, plus a tool for swapping the grip panels. The medium panel installed at the factory fit my hand the best. I was immediately impressed with how much the look and feel of the MC28SA matched that of Smith & Wesson’s original M&P, of which I own several.

The trigger is different because the Girsan has the blade safety trigger. Smith and Wesson handles that function a little differently, but the other controls closely match those of the S&W, including the grip texture. The dimensions were the same and so was the weight.

The features varied slightly. Girsan equipped its pistol with 3-dot sights — the rear one being a Novack style. Instead of the fish scale cocking serrations on the M&P, the Girsan has angled serrations at the back of the slide and abbreviated serrations at the front.

Sarsilmaz SAR B6 pistol chambered in 9mm
Sarsilmaz, known in the U.S. as SAR USA, took two spots on the author’s top handguns from Turkey. The SAR B6 (pictured) and the SAR 9X Platinum.


I have two guns — SAR B6 and SAR 9X Platinum — made by Sarsilmaz Firearms Corp., doing business in the U.S. as SAR USA. Sarsilmaz is a privately-owned company in Turkey that produces guns for law enforcement, military, and civilian use. It is the sole supplier of pistols for the Turkish National Police and the Turkish Armed Forces.

SAR introduced its B6 handgun to the U.S. market in September 2012. The B6 is a polymer-framed clone of the iconic CZ-75. It shares the easy handling, feel, and operation of the CZ with a decent trigger and sight. The B6 was, and still is, a fine handgun for personal use, including home and self-defense. It carries well, shoots well, and has been proven to be durable.

SAR 9X Platinum handgun chambered in 9mm, grey, right profile
Looks can be deceiving. The author first saw the SAR 9 at an NRA show and was not impressed. A couple years later, he saw a SAR 9X Platinum that quickly piqued his interest.

SAR 9X Platinum

I first saw a SAR 9 at the 2018 NRA Expo in Dallas. I was not impressed. My first thought when looking at it was “just another black gun.” The SAR 9 is different than the SAR B6, but I didn’t see it as an improvement.


Later, I read about the extensive testing the SAR 9 had been put through in order to qualify for military acceptance, but it still didn’t make me want one. However, this year I was captured by an ad for a SAR 9X Platinum. I reached out to SAR to see if I could get one and the answer was positive.

This is one beautiful gun. I didn’t pick up on it when looking at a totally black SAR, but it’s almost a clone of the H&K VP9. The Platinum edition came with lots of goodies — including swappable grip inserts, extra magazine, holster, magazine carrier, and even a light that will mount on the dust-cover rail.

I really liked the SAR 9X except for the trigger, which was meeting some kind of resistance during the pull. I studied the gun a bit and discovered the trigger bar was rubbing against the inside of the frame. It appeared to be bent. I straightened it with a pair of needle-nosed pliers and, lo and behold, the trigger became more than acceptable. It felt and fired great.

Stoeger STR-9 Compact pistol chambered in 9mm
Although Stoeger is best known for its line of quality shotguns, Stoeger is no stranger to quality handguns offerings such as its STR-9 Compact in 9mm.

Stoeger STR-9

Most of us know Stoeger as a shotgun company, but it has manufactured handguns from time to time. Stoeger also makes air guns, some of which are quite sophisticated. In recent years, Stoeger has been offering STR-9 and STR-9 Compact pistols. This made the STR-9 platform affordable by offering different configurations.

I opted for the STR-9 Compact packaged with one magazine and one backstrap. The all-up model includes three magazines, three backstraps, and Tritium sights. I would put the STR-9 up against handguns costing twice as much, as far as performance and reliability.

Stoeger put all the features into the STR-9C you would expect to find in a carry or home defense gun. The sights have large white dots, one in front and two to the rear, and are made of steel and dovetailed into the slide. Trigger manipulation is very solid with very little take-up and a crisp break at 5 lbs. If you shoot the STR-9, you’re going to like the trigger.

Tisas 1911A1 U.S. Army model 1911 .45 ACP pistol right, profile
The Tisas 1911A1 U.S. Army model is a historically correct reproduction of the original U.S. Military service pistol.

Tisas 1911A1

The Tisas 1911A1 U.S. Army model is a historically correct reproduction of the original U.S. Military service pistol. It’s the only .45 in my selection of Turkish pistols for this review. All the others are 9mm. From its Parkerized finish and hammer-forged barrel to its weight and feel, this pistol accurately replicates the original, military-issue, Government Model pistol.

The Tisas U.S. Army 1911 ships with one 7-round Mec-Gar magazine, cleaning brush, and manual in a factory box. It accepts any aftermarket magazine and accessories that would fit an American-made GI M1911A1. Tisas firearms are imported into the U.S. by SDS Imports of Knoxville, TN.

How Do They Shoot?

Several boxes of 9mm ammunition
Ammo is tough to come by — even for veteran writers. However, the author scrounged a good selection for this test.

Based on ammunition available, I took a measured approach to shooting these guns for this report. Except for the Canik, I’ve personally put several hundred rounds through each pistol. I had Norma Range Ammo, Armscor FMJ, Hornady Hunter, Pilgrim JHP, Red Zone JHP, IMI JHP, Geco JHP, and Norma MHP to shoot through the 9mm guns. I only had Pilgrim JHP for the .45.

I used EZ2C Targets with six circular targets per page. Using a different brand of ammo for each page of targets, I shot several five-shot groups from each gun into its own target. The photo you see with this article was my fourth in the series and was shot using Armscor’s FMJ ammo for all five of the 9mms and Pilgrim .45ACP +P JHP for the Tisas M1911A1.

I could have photographed any of the targets in the series, and the results would have been similar. The range was 10 yards, and I shot freehand from my wheelchair. I cannot explain why the holes in the Stoeger STR9C target appear larger than the other 9mm targets because it’s the same ammo. Perhaps it was the angle of the target path which was lower than the others.

Six Ez2C orange paper targets
The author tested each handgun from 10 yards while shooting from his wheelchair.

As you can see, every one of these targets shows excellent grouping for a personal protection handgun. I have carried both the SARs and the Stoeger as my EDC in the past. The Girsan is currently the gun I keep in my truck console. I gave the Canik back to Alf and the Tisas M1911A1 represents my historical WWII M1911A1 handgun.

Any One of Them Is Worth Buying

If you’re not able to locate or afford one of the better-known U.S. or German-made pistols, the pistols described here are representative of excellent alternatives being imported from Turkey on a regular basis. Canik, SAR, and Stoeger have U.S. locations that sell through distributors. Girsan is imported by EAA Corp., and Tisas is imported by SDS Imports of Knoxville, TN. All the guns described here were readily available when I wrote this — during the midst of the great Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ammo shortage.

For decades, shotguns from Italy have been some of the most coveted among shooters and collectors. Today, firearms from Turkey are gobbling up market share. What are your favorite imports? Share your answers in the comments.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November of 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (37)

  1. It has been some time since I originally wrote this article and I have since added a Girsan Regard, a Canik TP9SF, an ATI FSX-9 and a Tisas Zigana PX-9 to my collection. All great guns and very reasonably priced. The Girsan Regard is my favorite by far and I even favor it over the Beretta M9 I’ve owned for years. I’ve never been to Turkey so my comments about its government came from online research, not from firsthand information, so I guess I should have just left that out and stuck to my guns. For those of you who are concerned about Turkey’s government, so be it. I just know they have a strong firearms industry. Some of the Turkish companies, like SAR, have a US presence and others work through importers such as EAA.

  2. Own a Turkish p-35 clone.
    Weapon is true to the real specs.
    J. Browning died before he finished the design.
    As a combat Marine from the Vietnam war, I have a prejudice toward anything that isn’t 1911a-1; but this Browning high-power clone is up there with my collection of quality 1911’s.
    Don’t care what country it’s from as long as it’s lethal and reliable

  3. The Caniks and SARs are excellent pistols. I own several. But, the Girsan Regard is better than all those listed and it’s not close.

  4. I have a sar b6 and it is my go to for accuracy.i have put 300 plus rounds thru it and has never jammed.not a flashy looking gun but it will get the job done

  5. Good article but there are so many turkish made pistols that are higher quality at budget prices then alot of these. Probably only the two sars and the tisas 1911 would have made my list of favorites if had to narrow down to 6.

  6. Happy that we “are not” discussing politics David… why then the comment about them having a “elected” president and representatives and so on. The elections are rigged, women’s rights are barely existent and family curruption runs rampant (a la Trump… there’s the similarity I guess). How do I know… I’m living in Germany where a large population of Turks live and some of whom I have as friends… with Germany being a better place to them to live than their own country of birth or ancestry. Enough said on that… perhaps next time we’ll just stick to guns… period. On the plus side… Turkey does make good shotguns… I’ll give into that… and I have one… 😂

  7. I bought a Canisius TP9SFX, wow does it have a great sweet light trigger pull for under 600$ one of the best guns out there

  8. I have owned many turkish guns. Currently i have a girsan regard beretta 92 clone and i absolutely love it. I have owned the sar9 and the stoeger str9 and the str9c. All of the guns run flawlessly. I also have a turkish bullpup shotgun that is also awesome. Overall the turks are making some great guns at even greater prices. My next one will be a turk 1911 clone.

  9. The Girsan 1911 6″ is when I cheaped out on the DW Bruin. Couldn’t find one. Couldn’t find a panzer and paid 2k for M1014 as it popped at bass pro.. I settled. Sucks. Glad the panzer is cool. The Girsan 6″ is great.

  10. I bought a Zigana PX 9 with the military and police shield and name on the slide I absolutely love shooting this gun over a 1000rds no failure yet

  11. Thanks for doing the research and publishing the information. I just acquired a Tisas PX-9 and was looking for info on it’s heritage. I found your article informative and answered most of my questions.
    Politics aside, these are affordable options for well made firearms. I plan to research the Girsan High Power clone next but I anticipate going with the Springfield SA 35. Thanks again

  12. We all have communist guns in our collection. A Russian SKS or a Chinese Polytech Kalashnikov maybe a Norinco 1911. Brazil is also a social country my brother is marrying a Brazilian lady she is a lawer there and lives entirely off the government obviously better than peasants bit Brazil isn’t all that free. Turkey is a Muslim nation but don’t use sharia law which is where the problems start as islam itself is just a branch off the biblical tree. Noone has a problem buying ex com bloc guns either so my advice is buy it if you like it and are able to the countries producing cheaper guns may bring the American offerings back down to 4-6 hundred not 1000+

  13. Turkey has labor unions and they are much stronger and influential than in the USA. Adde from that, this is a useful piece. Much appreciated

  14. I wrote about guns, not politics. I saw a Gisan Regard at a gun show this week end and it sure looked at felt nice. Guess I’ll have to check that one out.

  15. I re-read the article a few times and couldn’t find any “idiotic political statement about the ammo shortage having to do with Biden and Harris?” Whenever elections come around and a democrat may have a chance to be elected to the high office, ammo and gun sales go through the roof. Ammo and gun sales go up well before the elections and this has been getting worse since the party of the far left has had some luck getting into office. And by the way I will never buy anything from Turkey, especially guns. They don’t like us but they do like Russia.

  16. My daughter’s husband bought one of the Tisas in 45ACP shortly after I bought a Kimber Ultra Carry II in 45ACP. I’m surprised to find that out of the box, the Tisa had a much better trigger pull at about 1/3 the kimber. Who would have thunk it.

  17. Give the Turks a chance. With guns and ammo prices skyrocketing, we need companies that make good stuff at affordable prices. Lots of established American corporations have management heavy staffing drawing outrageous salaries and benefits. Perhaps the Turks bypass that and concentrate only on quality. I was shooting my Beretta Inox at the range when another member allowed me to shoot his Girsan clone. I couldn’t believe my eyes, all shots were in the small black NRA target in a tight group, much better than I did with my Beretta. You have to respect any country that makes amazing guns at much lower prices than the rest.

  18. I own the sar9x platinum and have to say its one of my go to guns at range. Came with multiple grips so adjusting your grip is very easy. Just feels right in hand and very accurate. Only 1 time did it not load after recoil due to lack of a good bullets had to use cheap bullets steel casing!! But since using good ammo never had any issues. Glad i added this to my collection

  19. I bought the Tisas 1911A1 in 9mm. I kind of bought it on a whim as the price was right and I’ve been wanting a full sized 1911 in that caliber for awhile now and I’m into history so I liked the GI touch of this piece. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and feel of this thing. It shoots straight and I have yet to have any failures of any sort. I only have about 500 rounds through it with mainly 115gr. Since it’s an all metal frame and slide, there’s barely any muzzle rise with the 9mm ball ammo. Mec-Gar mag was a nice touch as well. Currently there’s plenty of those on the market so I picked up a few. This piece has become one of my favorites to take to the range as it is just a fun gun to shoot with. I would not hesitate to ever purchase anything from Tisas through SDS Imports. The local dealer I bought this from said that these Tisas pistols were one of there best sellers.

  20. We’ve been very happy with our Turkish guns. I have a SAR and a Canik, and my wife loves her ATI C92 Beretta clone. Great guns at a great price. No complaints.

  21. Very informative and easily read. Why then is there an idiotic political statement about the ammo shortage having to do with Biden and Harris? I couldn’t get a decent price or any volume long before they were elected. Please, information and relative opinions only. Thank you.

  22. I bought the Canik Tungsten grey TP9SFx package in 2018 from for ~$620 – 2017 handgun of the year – which came complete with a red dot sight and so forth, and like it very much. Then in 2020 I WON the Sar9x Platinum package, along with 500 rounds of excellent 124-grain Black Hills hollow point ammo, a real delight to have sent my way right in the middle of the great covid induced gun and ammo shortage that year! The only caveat with the Sar9x Platinum package is that while it comes with a moderately decent little weapon mount flashlight and a holster, you can only actually use the holster WITHOUT the flashlight attached to the gun as otherwise it won’t fit. Imagine that. 🙂

    The TP9SFx is designed for competition and I love it. The Sar9x is more combat oriented and both fit my hands perfectly well (both firearms come with small / medium / large side grips and backstraps to fine tune to your hand). Both are very easy to shoot and very accurate as your article makes clear, but while the Canik has 20 round magazines I would prefer the Sar9x for self/home defense even though it has 17 round mags (19 with an extender), because it is designed for combat, and while I would be happy with either in a pinch, the Sar9x just inspires a little more confidence in me for defensive use. For one thing, the Sar9x is designed for combat with a roughly 5 lb trigger pull, as opposed to the competition oriented ~3.0 – 3.5 lb trigger pull of the Canik and so forth. Too light of a trigger under great stress may not be a good idea and all that. In a speed & accuracy target shooting contest at the range, the Canik would be a good choice, but in a heart pounding / adrenaline dumping emergency situation, the Sar9x would be what I would prefer to reach for. Just my opinion based on the two examples I have here, of course.

    Anyway, having bought a Turkish Canik TP9SFx, and having won the Turkish Sarsilmaz Sar9x Platinum, I can definitely and positively affirm your opinions that these Turkish firearms are very good dependable shooters and definitely very much worth the money and more.

  23. I have the Canik Tristar C-100. It is a CZ 75 Compact clone. I absolutely love it. Quality is every bit as good as the CZ, at 2/3rds the price.

  24. I love good quality inexpensive gun no matter where they are made. Not everyone can afford a $1200 gun. But to say that Turkey in 2021 is like the United States is un-informed. Even though we have had some questionable elections, we at least have two or more real candidates to choose from. Turkey has turned into a dictatorship, with elections that are about as fair as Russian,Cuban or Venezuelan elections. And has turned to be more of a supporter of Russia than the United States. As I said I love inexpensive guns, but will not be supporting Turkey with my dollars. Please save up and buy American. Palmetto state makes a nice little Glock clone for $350 including night sights.1

  25. “The government of Turkey mimics ours — in many ways…”
    Not the least of which is increasingly authoritarian.
    Turkey is becoming an authoritarian Islamist country and is becoming more friendly towards Russia than fellow NATO members.
    In a few years, Turkey will be an adversary and will be why Russia gains defacto control of Middle East oil, taking defacto control of world energy production.
    From a geopolitical context, buying from Turkey now is like buying from China 25 years ago.
    I just bought a new Beretta A300, made in Pennsylvania, great fit and finish, great reliability. It cost about 30% more than a slightly inferior Turkish gun, and to me that was worth it.

  26. You left off the best value of all the Turkish pistols. IMHO The Girsan Regard MC is better than all those. And I own 4 of the six you mention. The regard MC is a Beretta 92 clone that is actually better than the 92.
    Bad omission.

  27. Absolutely love my Canik tp9sf. I bought 2. wish I’d known about canik before I bought my Glock 19. Woulda saved myself a couple hundred dollars.

  28. I bought a Tisas 1911 a few years ago when ammo wasn’t playing a disappearing act or took a heavy investment. It had Walnut grips which I changed out with Hogues and after cleaning it went out to plink in a field nearby. Spent an hour pushing a target ball around, even out to 25 yards. It’s a sweet gun and when my son-in-law, a SEAL, came to town, we went out plinking. He loved it. So much he bought one himself. He said H&K had nothing on them nor did Sig. Sweet gun for under $400 back then.

  29. Oh boy… where do we start? Turkey is a M***** country, they are nothing more than an American airbase to alot of folk. Beautiful country but alot of the Turkish don’t like us. Here’s the thing, I have better firearms. They’re not “Americanized”. Which is fine, most of “America” isn’t either now. Fine again. Nobody can find anything built in America by Americans that can actually afford squat. It’s nothing personal but I think there’s nothing special about their stuff that warrants me buying one. The last new thing I bought in years was the Shield Plus.

  30. I,my son and my friends all have Caniks. We all have SF models that have proved reliable with 124gr ammo, which they were designed for. Running 115gr becomes brand specific as some brands will not cycle reliably. Not mentioning names but one is a less expensive, very popular brand in a black and copper box. They handle well and a few of us EDC them. My son just picked up a Canik SC as his new EDC which handles and shoots well too. Globally there are a lot of reliable pistols out there from many countries. I always enjoy taking a new, different one for a test run. Sometimes you don’t know how much you like some models until you’ve used it…

  31. I bought a Stoeger STR-9 last January and another one in February. Great shooters, accurate and no hangers/missfires using brass and steel ammo, about 300 rounds through both so far.

  32. Don’t own a Turkish handgun, but for $hits n giggles and below $500 I got a Panzer (Turkey) Benelli M4 clone. Works amazing. Love it. ARGO system, reliable, etc. They have the tooling and with the exception of some religious philosophy, they Turkey is more like the US once was. In the US, look around your current surroundings. From your keyboard, monitor, floors, chairs your sitting on. Everything has been touched by our government in some shape or form. That will always drive the cost UP.

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