Review: Sarsilmaz SAR 9 Pistol

Sarsilmaz SAR 9 pistol with slide locked back and loaded spare magazine in a gray t-shirt

Though not a familiar name on this side of the globe, Sarsilmaz has been manufacturing guns since 1880, when it opened as a small producer of shotguns. Today, in its fifth generation of family ownership, the factory has massive CNC machining capabilities and other modern equipment. It is also the only privately-owned gun factory in the country, as well as the only company supplying pistols for Turkish law enforcement and military use.

Sarsilmaz SAR 9 pistol right profile
The SAR 9 is one handsome pistol. I predict this one will be a hit—if some holsters become available.

I was fortunate to get my hands on one of the first 50 SAR 9 pistols imported from Turkey by SAR USA—the American division of Turkish gun and aerospace manufacturer Sarsilmaz. The Turks know a thing or two about making firearms—especially ones that are dependable and affordable. In my opinion, what Turkish producers do best is replicate the most useful features of existing models; most often cranking out products that mix traits of familiar American or western European brands to create a unique firearm that costs a bit less than their predecessors. The SAR 9 is an example of this approach to gun design.

This duty-size pistol is chambered in 9mm Luger. The sample in this test has two 15-round magazines; SAR USA lists 10- and 17-round mags as options. Mags have a generous floorplate that would’ve facilitated double-feed clearances had any occurred. They drop free from the well without help whether loaded or not—a trait that’s on my list of “musts” for a defensive pistol.

It has a 4.4-inch barrel, and a recoil sprint with captive guide rod. As expected with a modern polymer-lower handgun, there’s an accessory rail and textured grip. The trigger has a Glock-like safety lever, and drop-safe construction is included inside. On both sides of the slide, there is a thumb-operated safety. Overall, the SAR 9 is 7.5 inches long, 5.5 inches tall, and 1.4 inches wide. It weighs 26.4 ounces unloaded.

textured grip and takdown button on the Sarsilmaz SAR 9
Field stripping made easy. The SAR 9 uses the same procedure as Glock, but with a big, textured takedown button that’s much easier to manage.

Atop the rail is a pinned front/dovetail rear, three-dot sight setup. According to a SAR USA representative, the sights aren’t interchangeable with any other major brand, putting the SAR 9 behind the curve in comparison to some of its Turkish brethren, such as the Canik, which finally adopted interchangeable sights, albeit different brands front and back. Nevertheless, the steel sights are well made, highly visible, and the rear one is windage-adjustable.

As a great candidate for home defense, it would be nice to have to option to upgrade sights on the SAR 9. Its owner’s manual, currently in draft form, indicates tritium and holographic sights may also become available. The absence of any mention of milled slide options casts doubt on whether the latter will be a reality in the foreseeable future.

Operating the SAR 9 is mostly a pleasure. It has a ready striker indicator on the rear, reminiscent of the Springfield XD or Canik TP9 series. The grip comes with three sizes of backstrap and side inserts, making the grip fully customizable, a la HK’s VP models. The front of the trigger guard is textured, and there are cocking serrations on both the rear and front of the slide.

Magazine release on the Sarsilmaz SAR 9 pistol
And it’s mag release for the win! Sarsilmaz offers perhaps the easiest-to-operate standard magazine release of any duty-size pistol. It’s big, it’s textured. It’s easy to reach.

The ergonomics continue with a deep thumb groove, allowing for the firmest of grips for nearly all hands. Sarsilmaz got radical with the sculpting on the trigger guard too; it’s perfectly thinned and upswept right at the base, allowing the strong middle finger to be that much closer to the bore. The effect is better recoil management.

Some designer at Sarsilmaz must read lots of gun reviews, because they solved one of the most frequent complaints—a mag release that’s hard to reach. This one protrudes well, has a surface that provides plenty of traction, and is big enough to not cause pain or imprinting on the thumb. Other pistol makers should take note of the way this design resolves a common frustration.

Not being a fan of thumb-operated safety levers—especially ambi ones that can potentially be moved unintentionally from the outward-facing side of the holster—I really wish this were an option rather than standard. I respect that some folks derive substantial peace of mind from having a mechanical safety. I view it, and have experienced it, as an annoying detail that’s easy to forget in a high-stress moment. The lever is textured and easy to operate, however.

Sarsilmaz SAR 9 pistol with slide locked back and loaded spare magazine in a gray t-shirt
Ready for action. The SAR 9 comes with two 15-round mags. Ammo courtesy of LAX Ammunition.

The trigger, along with fabulous ergonomics, makes the SAR 9 a great first handgun. There is slightly longer travel than in a Glock or Springfield XD series. The trip is a bit grainy, and the wall is found with a consistent and solid feel. The break, at about five pounds, has a slight rolling effect, approximately 1/16 of an inch. Reset is clear, palpable, and again, the feel from shot to reset is grainy. Of the semiautos I’ve handled, the SAR 9 trigger is closest to that of the Smith & Wesson SD VE series.

These comments on trigger operation aren’t criticism. The point, it’s a trigger system that’s ideal for learning proper technique on a modern semi-auto. The grainy feel can help a new shooter be conscious of how far, and at what pace, the trigger is being pressed. The reset is far enough forward to develop a great feel with less risk of an unintended follow-up shot—something I see most often in new shooters trying to learn reset with a match-grade trigger.

2017 will see the importation of more than the current crop of 50 SAR 9s on U.S. soil as of this writing. SAR USA has speculated other color schemes are forthcoming too, but no promises are made about that timetable. With an MSRP of $495, look for real prices to hit at a very affordable point for this quality, enjoyable pistol. Here’s hoping Sarsilmaz will step up like some other companies have and produce a custom Kydex holster for this gun. Access to safe and fitted holsters should make the SAR 9 soar in popularity. It deserves to.

Have you ever fired a Sarsilmaz pistol? With a low price like this, will a SAR earn a spot in your collection? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (20)

  1. I have the SAR 9mm just looking to find a larger magazine. Most carriers don’t even show the brand SAR anywhere but I love it its a great gun I do have to say if it’s loaded it will fire with safety on. Also if anyone can point me in the direction of a selector for this gun I’d really appreciate it In Texas BTW thanks in advance!

  2. Looking to purchase the Sar9 however, coukd use some assistance locating one in AZ please.
    Thank you much, looking forward to this purchase.

  3. Edrogan, their new President is a jihadist. He was almost kicked out by the Turkish Army, but the rebellion failed. Half the country wants him, the other half doesn’t. Sounds a lot like our out last President. I am counting on the generals to oust him and bring in honest elections. Their was a lot of reported fraud about Edrogan’s jihadist followers fixing the election.

  4. I wouldn’t owns Turk made gun anymore than I would watch NFL football. Quality and price are not reason enough for me to support a country unfriendly to the US.

  5. I’ve been tracking this one since I first saw it on the Sarsilmaz website earlier this year. Looks like an updated version of the ST9. Very happy that it will be making it’s entry into the US. Bought the CM9 Gen 2 last summer and it is perfect! 1500 rounds firing everything from S&B to Winch White to Yavex to maxxtech. No failures of any kind, no ftf, no double feeds, no stovepipes. Like I said, I’m a fan.

  6. I have owned the SAR-K2P for two years. One of my favorite everyday carry. Dead on accurate. I found the Tagua EB-BH2-630 Springfield XD 40/9mm holster fits like a glove

  7. I used to own a SAR K2 – in .45 and loved the gun. This looks like its 9mm little brother and if that is the case then this will be an amazing piece. I own a Canik TP9 SF and my only complaint is trigger travel. It has a very long trigger stroke. I look forward to seeing one of these and possibly adding it to my inventory.

  8. I own a SARS CM9. Of the 10 guns I own, I would say it is one of three guns that are most accurate and never had a feed problem with. The other are a Sig and a Marlin rifle. The other seven are various manufacturers with recognizable names. Those seven I don’t have a good opinion of. The SARS CM9 fits my hand, is deadly accurate, and very dependable. I think it and the SIG are compatible in every way except the price.

    1. As the article stated, Eve received one of the first 50 to be imported into the U.S. While Sarsilmaz does expect more this year, I would expect them to hit the street widely around the first of the year. ~Dave Dolbee

  9. I don’t like safety’s either. Most I’ve fired bite into my thumb on recoil. The safety on the SAR 9 looks to be resting on your thumb. Not good in my opinion. I’ll probably pass on this one because of the safety.

  10. I understand the “first gun” aspect, but NOT being a Glock fan, but being a very experienced shooter, I have no use for “long, grainy” trigger pull. However, I am a fan of Turkish weapons. In a nutshell, Canik TP9SA. Best trigger, best “safety”, 18+1 rounds, laser accurate and under $350 w/accessories. What more needs to be said.
    As stated in the article, a good beginner weapon, or perhaps a girls gun (no offence).
    I’ll find one and give it a whirl, but chances are I’ll be selling it at the next gun show.

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