Firearms

Range Report: K12 Sport — Sarsilmaz’s Straight Shooting 9mm

Bob Campbell firing the SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic handgun with a two-handed grip homed in on the target.

The pistol under review today is among the most enjoyable handguns to fire and handle that I have tested. While concealed carry handguns are important, the larger target-grade guns are more pleasant to use. They also serve a real purpose in competition shooting.

I would not hesitate to trust this handgun for home defense — and why not? It is as reliable as any handgun or pistol caliber carbine (PCC), and more accurate than most.

SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic 9mm handgun, left profile
This is one fast-handling, accurate handgun.

SAR K12 Sport Features

Compared to the average striker-fired pistol, well, the K12 dots the I on the target. The pistol is based on the CZ 75 9mm (among my favorite handguns). Introduced in 1975 by česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod of the Czech Republic, the CZ 75 has become one of the most respected handguns in history. Inevitably, the pistol has been redesigned into both compact and extended-slide versions.  Also inevitable, the pistol has been cloned by other makers. Some of these handguns are cheapened to sell at a lower price point, others are meant to be an improvement on the original.

Sarsilmaz of Turkey is a respected maker of service-grade weapons. With over 100 years of experience, it has secured military and police contracts in Turkey. Among the more popular handguns are those based on the CZ 75.  Sarsilmaz also manufactures a striker-fired handgun that I have found reliable and useful.

The company refers to the all-steel, competition-grade K12 Sport as its crown jewel. I have no fault with that. In common with similar pistols, the K12 is short recoil operated and features a locked breech. The pistol unlocks via angled camming surfaces.

The slide and frame are stainless steel with a nicely-polished finish. The controls and sights are blue finished. The stocks are aluminum, similar to custom Alumagrips. The pistol features a 17-round magazine. The sights feature a post front and fully-adjustable rear sight.

Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm handgun on a paper bullseye target with bullet holes
The K12 9mm is a great shooter and produced accurate groups from 25 yards.

Instead of the slide riding over the frame, the slide rides inside the frame. This achieves several things. The slide’s long bearing surface are more in contact with the frame. There is virtually no lateral play. The slide riding in the frame also provides a lower bore centerline to the hand. This low bore axis reduces muzzle flip. There is simply no leverage for the muzzle to rise.

Specifications

Overall length: 8.5 inches
Barrel length: 4.7 inches
Action: Single-action
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 17 rounds
Weight: 44 ounces

The monolithic dust cover extends to the end of the slide. The barrel is 4.7 inches long. SAR has achieved a good slide-to-frame fit and a generous sight radius. The safety is crisp in operation and ambidextrous.

Unlike most CZ 75 variants, the safety may be applied with the hammer down. This locks the slide in place. With the hammer to the rear, the pistol may be loaded with the safety engaged. The magazine release is sharp in operation. This elongated magazine release, coupled with a generous magazine well, makes for rapid magazine changes.

Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm pistol with the slide locked back resting on a box of ammunition
SAR’s K12 Sport never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

The trigger was clean. The single-action-only trigger breaks at 6 pounds. I imagine a competition shooter would desire something lighter. As for myself, it is ideal for most uses.

The grip is comfortable, despite the height of the handle. Both the front and back straps are nicely checkered. The slide features forward and rear cocking serrations. The only downside to the low-riding slide is that the slide is difficult to rack, due to the CZ design. I found myself using the forward serrations most often.

The barrel is nicely crowned, if not a true target-grade crown. The recoil assembly is designed for reliability and handles heavy loads well. The pistol uses a full-length guide rod. The pistol uses the standard CZ 75-type takedown.

aluminum grips and magazine well on the SRA K12 Sport semi-automatic handgun
Every piece of the K12’s design is well thought out. Note the aluminum grips and magazine well.

Fieldstripping

Clear the magazine and chamber. Lock the slide to the rear to visually inspect the chamber. Release the slide and manipulate it to line up divots on the frame and slide. Press the slide lock out and the slide will be easily run forward. The recoil assembly is then pulled out and the barrel will easily run from the slide.

The pistol is heavy at over 44 ounces. This weight is well-balanced, and the pistol is neither slide heavy nor handle heavy. When the pistol fires, recoil is modest. There is a significant difference in recoil between the K12 Sport 9mm and a moderately-sized handgun such as the SIG P226 or Beretta 92.

The magazines are easily loaded to full capacity. Some modern pistols are a chore to load, this one isn’t. The barrel isn’t especially long at 4.7 inches. The Beretta 92 barrel, as an example, is 4.9 inches. The pistol generated greater velocity with a given load than most, however. As an example, a S&W M&P 2.0 9mm that I had on hand clocked 1,160 fps with the Hornady 124-grain XTP +P. The K12 generated 1,201 fps — a useful increase.

Most of the shooting was accomplished with ball ammunition. I don’t mind a modest break-in period, but there was none with this handgun. The SAR K12 never exhibited a short cycle. I never had to nudge the slide shut. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

The trigger takes some getting used to. If you have fired a good 1911, or you are used to striker-fired guns, the K12 demands a few hundred dry fire repetitions to groove in. Once you are familiar with the trigger, the pistol will provide excellent accuracy.

SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic 9mm handgun, right profile
The SAR K12 Sport is a well-designed, reliable, and accurate handgun.

Firing offhand using a mix of Remington UMC 9mm ball, the pistol sent these bullets into the X-ring. Line the sights, press the trigger, and you have a hit. Grooving into the pistol, steel plates at 25 yards were not much of a challenge. I simply ate the X-ring out of bullseye targets out at 25 yards as well. I may not be a competitor, but this pistol made me feel like one.

Moving to a solid, benchrest firing position, I settled down for accuracy testing. I have often said this type of testing isn’t relevant for a combat gun. For a competition and target gun, this testing is very relevant. With more experience, I am certain that I would be able to perform better. But that is true of any handgun.

Accuracy results, 25 yards, five-shot groups.

Factory Loads

Load

Velocity (FPS)

Group (inches)

Federal Train and Protect 115-grain JHP1,1722.65
Remington 115-grain FMJ1,1602.6
Hornady 115-grain XTP1,1482.5
Hornady 124-grain XTP +P American Gunner1,2011.9

Handloads

Load

Powder

Velocity (FPS)

Group (inches)

Hornady 124-grain XTPTitegroup1,0801.85

The K12 is clearly well worth its price and should give a shooter on a budget a leg up into the shooting sports. It would double nicely as a home defense handgun. Quite a few of us like taking small game with a handgun. This one will do the business in that role as well. I am carrying the pistol for range work in a Galco belt slide with good results.

What’s your impression of the K12 Sport? Would you use a “target gun” for self-defense? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • Bob Campbell firing the SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic handgun with a two-handed grip
  • control on the SAR K12 Sport 9mm handgun
  • Galco belt slide holster with a Sarsilmaz K12 Sport handgun
  • Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm pistol with the slide locked back
  • adjustable sights on a pistol
  • Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm handgun on a paper bullseye target with bullet holes in the lower left corner
  • SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic 9mm handgun, right profile
  • Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm pistol with the slide locked back resting on a box of ammunition
  • Sarsilmaz K12 Sport 9mm handgun on a paper bullseye target with bullet holes
  • SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic 9mm handgun, left profile
  • aluminum grips and magazine well on the SRA K12 Sport semi-automatic handgun
  • Bob Campbell firing the SAR K12 9mm semi-automatic handgun with a two-handed grip homed in on the target.
  • MAgazine well on the SAR K12 handgun

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
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
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. Well I bought 2 $300 Sar9 pistols and love them. I finally decided to pull the trigger and get the infamous k12 that I have been reading about! Can’t tell you how disappointed I was that the $300 Sar9 out dot the k12? Figured there was a defect in the gun and reached out to Sar. The customer service is horrible Felix finally replied back and told me that the Sar k12 is I very accurate gun, then told me I was shooting the wrong ammunition even though I sent him pictures of the Sar9 vs k12. It doesn’t matter what I shoot through it it is all over the place. Instead of asking to look at the gun that I think could be defective he told me that the specs on the k12 are a 3”-5” group! Bad luck on my gun I assume but if you get a bad one too they will not back it up. I will keep the 2 Sar9’s I have cause they are great but I will be getting rid of the k12 and never taking a chance on Sar again. So if you are having a hard time finding a K12 there is a used 1 for sale!

  2. First of all I’m a SAR nut….I have seven different models (all steel) including this one. I really like them all……no complaint. Their prices are very reasonable and reliability and quality is impeccable. I can’t say how well the K12 shoots though, haven’t taken it to the range yet. Purchased a while back, paid 672.00 at Sportsmansguide.com. I like Turkish made weapons, Canik being my favorite. Girsan and Tisas has awesome 1911’s.

  3. While I can honestly say that I have never had the pleasure of owning or shooting the SAR K12, I am thoroughly familiar with the SAR K2 full-size in 45ACP! The K2 high-capacity 45 (14-round magazine) is truly one of the finest weapons I own! The fit, finish, functionality, reliability and ease-of -maintenance cannot be denied all of which make this Turkish-made firearm an incredible firearm to own! I also own a CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical in 9mm which incorporates an 18-round magazine. The CZ is a Czech Republic made, superbly built firearm that I cannot say enough good things about also!! My point to all of this is that these foreign-built firearms are extremely worthy of American ownership and will serve you well for many years to come!!

  4. Bought mine and paid about 800.00 for it. I love it low to almost nonexistent recoil . I have had many 9mm and couldn’t stand them. This one I’m keeping. It’s a heavy but fun shooting pistol.

  5. Sweet looking pistol. I have a Jericho so I’m probably not going to be in a hurry to buy this but if I didn’t it might be on the short list.

  6. Mr Willis

    Thanks for reading.

    The hard part is finding the gun, doing the research, and then a credible evaluation
    finding the gun for sale takes 1 minute or less on the web.

    Bob

  7. I rarely read reviews any longer. But, when I do… I never read the same author again IF there is no link or mention of the MSRP ANYWHERE in the article.

    If all you’ve done is your research, a test fire and an article….
    how do you call yourself done if you haven’t anything to complete the article.

    PRICE is and always will be HALF the driving force of any market.

    1. W.D.,
      The problem with printing MSRPs is that the articles live on the web for years. People them find an article, the price has changed and they are upset and yell at Customer Service thinking we switched prices. We have tried it on multiple occasions and it has been more of a hassle than benefit, so we encourage our readers to please just click a link and check out the current street price which is more accurate than an MSRP anyway. ~Dave

  8. I’ve no experience with the K12, but it is based upon SAR’s K2 which I have considerable experience with. We used SAR K2s and B6s as loaner guns for students who had not yet purchased a firearm to use for the Texas LTC shooting proficiency test. The SARs could always be counted on and it was not unusual for the people who had shot our loaners to come back and buy on for their personal EDC gun. SAR makes great guns and this one sure looks fine.

  9. Two notes–

    I have been told by several users that this is the only “worthy” successor the the Browning Target High Power if you want 9x19mm, and it is a long term keeper.

    As for carrying “targett guns” in real life, I feel they give you a major edge over the “we made this to be conceal carry” pistols, but I am prejudiced– earlier this year I made it to the half century mark of one Gold Cup National Match pistol with a heavier recoil spring, a final rearward movement buffer, my second replacement barrel bushing, and a pair of the first model thumb groove Pachmayr grips being the only changes.

    I’m still tempted to buy one or two of these, but I have HP and Colt, so it is not high priority.

    .

  10. I picked up a K12 earlier this year. It’s a decent pistol, but it doesn’t equal a CZ Shadow 2. Then again, neither does its price, which is about half that of the CZ.

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