Canik 55 Shark 9mm Pistol, a Handy, Accurate Choice

I have to admit to a bit of gun prejudice. Blue steel and walnut, chrome and cocobolo are what catch my eye. I do own and use a few black polymer handguns and find them useful, but when it comes to pride of ownership there is nothing like a 1911, High Power or CZ 75. This brings us to the subject of this review.

An Example of the Gun Maker’s Art

The Canik 55 pistols are clone guns. That simply means it isn’t the original: that is the CZ 75. Just as Kimber handguns are 1911 clones, the Canik 55 is a clone of the CZ 75. A company manufacturing a handgun on a certain pattern may make changes and these may be beneficial or not. The handgun may be built to be sold more cheaply or it may be improved to meet higher standards.

The Canik 55 is a good example of the gun maker’s art. It was designed to be a good gun at a certain price point and arguably we get a little more than we were willing to pay for in this handgun. The handgun compares more than favorably to the original.

For some time, I was involved in an occupation that demanded the best life saving gear. Everything I owned had to have a purpose. I have moderated the stance on the handgun pictured and own and use quite a few handguns with no clearly defined purpose. However, there are times when I rely upon a handgun and the Canik 55 is part of my defensive battery and a trusted piece.

A Handy, Accurate Choice

When I do not feel like going cocked and locked and feel that 15 rounds of 9mm +P is sufficient, and perhaps I do not feel like carrying a spare magazine, the Canik 55 is a choice. The handgun may not be your choice, but it works for me with good reliability and accuracy. The accuracy part is especially important for recreational shooting.

The pistol is often at home ready and handy, or in the truck without a holster. You cannot do that with the Glock or a cocked and locked 1911. And perhaps I should not with the double-action first shot pistol either, but it is a handy go anywhere, do anything handgun. As for the 9mm Luger cartridge, I will not insult your intelligence by claiming modern ammunition development has made the 9mm an equal of the .45.

Of course not, and anyone that claims so has no experience in interpersonal combat, or just doesn’t understand physics.

Just the same, there have been improvements in the way the cartridge is loaded and modern 9mm defense ammunition offers respectable performance. As for using a pistol from a company I had never heard of until a few years ago, a bit of research showed that the manufacturer is world class. Canik 55 is a division of one of the largest defense contractors in Turkey, Samsun Yurt Savunma.

Simply put they do not make inferior products. The pistol you purchase in America is in line with military and police forces in Turkey.

A Bit of History

I have been accused of writing biblically, as in the beginning there was—but a bit of history is in order. While the pistol may be taken on its own merits we need to know a little about the original. The CZ 75 was designed by the brothers Josef and Frantisek Koucky. The CZ 75 combined a double column magazine with a double-action first shot trigger. The pistol is said by some to owe much of its design to the Browning High Power, but I see more of the Petter pistols in the CZ 75 than I do the Browning.

The pistol uses a bushingless barrel lockup and angled camming surfaces, true, but so do many other handguns. The Browning system is excellent. A better description is the CZ is an original design based upon the Browning principle. The CZ differs in featuring a slide that runs inside the frame instead of the reverse as used by most modern handguns. This gives greater slide-to-frame contact than most pistols and may be a source of the often excellent accuracy demonstrated by these pistols. The slide configuration also results in a lower bore axis that limits the leverage available for the recoil arc.

The combination of straight to the rear recoil and little muzzle rise makes for superior control even with heavy loads. While the 9mm isn’t usually thought of as a hard kicker with +P and +P+ loads a lightweight 9mm may exhibit snappy muzzle flip. The CZ 75 is among the most controllable of handguns, even in the compact versions. The CZ pistol maintains the advantages of the type when modified into a compact short slide pistol.

The Canik 55 pistol (as tested) features a frame design, which is modern, stylish and a bit different from the standard CZ Compact. I like it a lot. The pistol resembles the Baby Eagle, a once popular and acclaimed pistol. The pistol only weighs 27 ounces and features a 3.9-inch barrel. The double-action trigger breaks at about 14 pounds and is very quick, so quick it is almost abrupt. With practice, this type of trigger can be very fast to a center hit at close range.

The single-action trigger is very nice at four pounds—crisp. There is a bit of backlash, as is characteristic of the CZ trigger action.

A few words on selective double action:

  • This pistol does not feature a decocker.
  • Once the pistol is loaded, you must manually lower the hammer by carefully controlling the hammer as the trigger is pressed.
  • There is a manual safety that you may press “on” after you lower the hammer. Most shooters will find the long double-action trigger press a sufficient safety feature for concealed carry.

The selective double-action feature is sometimes misunderstood. It is true that the manual safety gives the user the option of cocked and locked carry, but the majority of shooters will carry the pistol hammer down and ready for a fast reactive shot. The advantage of the manual safety is in tactical movement. Whether in a pistol competition or in a defense situation, once the first shot is fired most double-action pistols require the pistol be decocked to make it safe.

The Canik 55 pistol is made safe by placing the safety on. You may then safely engage in movement and if you must fire again simply thumb the safety off. This is an advantage in a pistol that places the tactical over the technical. The safety was stiff out of the box and required considerable but consistent effort to manipulate, but with several dozen deployments smoothed up.

The pistol is delivered in a lockable box with two 15-round magazines. In this day when many handguns are supplied with only one magazine—and that is ridiculous—the Canik 55 is well appointed. The example tested was the chrome version. I like this very much. The plating is even and the finish excellent. The pistol is supplied with rubber grips that do exactly what they are supposed to do—provide good purchase.

A word to the wise: A slight difference in dimensions between this and the original CZ 75 means the grip panels do not interchange. I can live with this but be careful if, like myself, you enjoy custom grip panels.

Nice Enough, with a bit of Flair

The Canik 55 is nice enough and offers enough flair to give the user a generous portion of pride of ownership. A neat trick is that the three dot sights are supplied with luminous green fill in paint. Once hit with light they will glow for a few minutes in the dark. Since tritium sights add significantly to the price of a handgun this is a good addition. The sights are good examples of iron sights.

The combination of good sights, good trigger action and a low bore axis add up to a pistol that is pleasant to use and fire. The pistol handles more like a single action than a double action and combat shooting was natural and effective. The double-action trigger press takes some effort to master, but it is useful to perhaps seven yards with practice, much the same as any first shot double-action pistol.

The Canik 55 Shark is a 50-yard Pistol

In the single-action mode, man-sized targets may be addressed to 50 yards or more by those who practice.

That is correct: the Canik 55 Shark is a 50-yard pistol, not a 25-yard pistol in trained hands. It takes a lot of practice to maintain your skills and that means a lot of ammunition. We all have a budget and that budget is stretched by handloading. The RCBS Rock Chucker was kept busy loading up a few rounds for practice, and the Oregon Trail 125-grain RNL bullet over enough WW 231 for 1000 fps was useful. This combination proved accurate enough for meaningful practice.

I also tested the pistol with a wide variety of personal defense ammunition. Some of the results are posted in the accuracy table. As you can see this handgun is more accurate than the general run of short barrel, short sight radius handguns. It is accurate enough to perform all-around duty as a home defense or personal carry gun, to dust off pests in the wild or serve in IDPA competition.

I am not easily impressed, but this handgun impressed me favorably. Had it been more expensive I would have expected this performance, but this handgun retails for less than $500. We seldom get more than we pay for but in the Canik 55 9mm pistol, we have just that.

Accuracy Results

Average of two, five-shot groups from a solid bench rest at 25 yards.

 Factory Ammunition

Load fps Group Size
CCI Blazer 115 grain FMJ 1090 3.0 inches
Federal 124 grain Hydra Shock 1101 2.0 inches
Speer Gold Dot 124 grain +P Short Barrel 1140 2.5 inches
Speer 147 grain Gold Dot 956 1.9 inches


Load fps Group Size
Oregon Trail 125 grain RNL / WW 231 1000 3.25 inches
Speer 115 grain TMJ / WW 231 1101 2.0 inches


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (15)

  1. I have both the Canik 55 Sharl C and a Canik TP9SF. These are 2 guns I wont sell.. they are very well made and consistent shooters.. great prices for them and after lots of rouds through them.. no issues whatsoever.. I cc both of them (not at the same time). I purchased the Alien Gear Tuck Cloak 2.0 for IWB and have the shells for each.. and yes the shell I use for the Canik 55 is the same one I use for my Desert Eagle .45 “Baby Eagle”..

  2. Nicest firearm I ever fired canik 55 shark c tp9 is one that I will never get rid
    Of it is one greatest ever

  3. “The Canik 55 pistols are clone guns.” This very broad statement is inaccurate. Not all Canik firearms are clones. The TP9, for example, is NOT a clone of a Walther P99 or PPQ. It has similarities to both handguns, but has plenty of re-engineered features and improvements to make it a gun in its own right. It has a handle shaped similar to the Walther weapons mentioned, but it is longer, accomodating 2 more rounds in its incompatible mag. The slide is unique, a heavier thicker design much like a Ruger, but not a clone of any particular firearm. The polymer parts are thicker and more robust. The mechanics are very similar to the P99, but even the springs are reengineered (fatter, thinner, longer, shorter, depending on which spring you compare).

    “Clone” is a tricky term. It is synonomous with replica in most uses of the word, and in the case of Canik, they are not replicating anything to my knowledge. Rather they are roughly copying features and shapes in some cases. They take tried and true designs from various sources and combine them into very well made guns. Having the Walther-style handle on the TP9 is just a good call – it is ergonomic and modern. Having similar workings to a Walther is a good call – the firearm can be double or single action, with a decent trigger. In most cases, Canik is no more cloning anything than Chevrolet is cloning Nissan by putting out a 4 cylinder engine with similar specs and design. There are ways to do things well, and as firearms evolve, ideas converge on proven technology such that in time firearms tend to keep good designs. A Kimber 1911 is not a clone of a Taurus 1911. A Sigma is not a Glock… well that last one actually was damn near a clone, sufficient enough that a law suit came out of it. But even in the case of Smith and Wesson versus Glock, only a small variation in one particular part was sufficient to settle the issue. Canik’s designs vary from other manufacturers by a higher degree while keeping to certain traditional aesthetics that are known to work.

  4. Any holster for the Jericho 941 will fit it. Many for the CZ 75 Compact, Baby Eagle, Witness, and other clones. The T-120 is the longer, full size, version of this Shark C. Do a search for CZ Clone Club for more, much more, info.

  5. Bought the Tristar version T-120 Cerakoted desert tan model looks good haven’t shot it yet but sure it’ll be sweet ! would really appreciate some holster suggestions for this one Tristar T-120 thanks y’all peace out !!!!!!!

    sorry for the fat fingers typo !!!!!

  6. Bought the Tristar version T-120 Cerakoted desert tan model looks good haven’t shot it yet but sure it’ll be sweet ! would really appreciate some holster suggestions for this one Trista T-120 rganks y’all peace out !!!!!!!

  7. Now, I do know what I’m writing about. I did massive research renting, reading everything I could find regarding 9mm with a hammer. I ruled out Sig 226, CZ 75b, Baretta 92FS, and a few others I cannot recall, in favor of Baby Eagle(Jericho 941).
    What I did find out the BE which is (IWI/Magnum Research/Kahr) a clone of the CZ which intern is a clone of BHP. Actually wanted the BHP, but I had a $ limit. IMHO BE is probably the most sound gun I have, which now includes 2 BHPs, XDM an STI all in 9mm. Canik seems to be a new kid on the block and I would have considered. It does have the nose of the BE.

  8. Oh, one more thing worth mentioning about the chrome brushed finish, it is really much more of a silver than a chrome. In most the pictures I see, probably because the finish reflects light, shows it as being much lighter in color than it is in person with the naked eye.

  9. I apologize to Canik,
    and Canik owners, would-be owners. I was confused it is Caracal that was recalled. I haven’t heard why? All the best, JMB

  10. Browning,

    I tried to search up any information on Canik 55 recalls and I can’t find anything for a recall or refund. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Caracal?

  11. I own two 9mm Canik 55’s (model TP-9); quite similar to the 55 Shark in this review. I love them! First, they are very well made; they are a dream to shoot, reliable (zero jams or other problems), highly accurate and are surprisingly inexpensive. The fit, finish and overall appearance are well on a par with weapons costing far more. All the good things Bob Campbell says about the Canik 55’s are certainly true from my experiences.
    If you are having any qualms about buying a foreign firearm, fear not. This is an outstanding weapon and I do not feel you can go wrong with a Canik (By the way, it is pronounced Can-EEK).

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