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Best Budget Red Dot Ready Pistol? The Canik TP9SFx

Looking for an economical pistol that has a lot of great features and is Red Dot ready? The Canik TP9SFx might be what you're looking for!

Best Budget Red Dot Ready Pistol? The Canik TP9SFx

Looking for a red dot ready pistol which is on the affordable side? Century Arms may have what you’re looking for with their 9mm Parabellum Canik TP9 SFx.

Red Dot Ready pistols are growing in popularity and one economical offering to be aware of is the Canik TP9SFx. This is a 9mm polymer framed handgun made in Turkey and imported by Century Arms International. This handgun is based heavily on Walther's proven P99 striker fired system and comes straight out of the box with competition shooters in mind, along with practical shooters and those searching for a feature heavy handgun at an affordable price. So, just how good can the TP9SFx be? Let's find out.

Canik TP9SFx
You get a boatload of goodies with the pistol including four 20-round magazines, holster, cleaning gear, mag loading tool, spare parts, four red dot bases, lock and well-written manual.

In 2019, I was frequenting my local gun store, browsing as I typically do on a Wednesday lunch break. Nothing seemed to be catching my eye; the typical Glock 17 here, SIG Sauer P320 there, and Smith & Wesson M&P, it seemed to be another uneventful trip. One of my friends behind the counter that I typically strike up a conversation with told me that I just "had to try this handgun”. He was so confident I’d like it I could take it, try it and if I didn't like it, could return it with no questions asked (the perks of great people and high volume purchases).

The model in question was a lightly used Canik TP9SFx 9mm.I examined the handgun closely, noting the numerous features and merits of this handgun. I had noticed them before, but simply thought of them as nothing more than a long slide variant of the TP9 and TP9SA (much like the variants of a Glock 34 or M&P C.O.R.E.). I already had a Glock 34 and 17L, so long slide handguns practically flew under the radar at that time. I had tried and shot standard Canik TP9s in the past and found them to be an acceptable handgun with a good trigger, reliable and accurate enough. What really sold me on the TP9SFx was the trigger. It snuck up and startled me. So, a 4473 and $400 cash later, it was home.

The TP9SFx is part of Canik’s "premium line" of pistols, featuring a 5.20-inch match grade barrel that is Nitride finished. The slide is Cerakote coated in Tungsten, with matching Tungsten +2 magazine extensions. The included kit comes standard with: two 20-round magazines, varying length extended magazine releases (with replacement buttons) and extended slide release. Mounted on the top of the slide are premium Warren iron sights. The front blade features a fiber optic and included are replacement fiber optic rods.


Canik TP9SFx
This model features a fiber optic front sight and comes with replacement fiber optic tubes.

The slide is factory cut for Micro Red Dot sighting systems. The design utilizes interface plates for mounting and comes with a variety of them to fit most Micro Red Dot sights on the market. The handgun features replacement backstraps, much like other market offerings and receives high marks for ergonomics, especially in direct comparison to its established peers.


As of September of 2021, I have fired a total of 2,000 rounds through the Canik TP9SFx. Overall the performance has been great with good reliability and good overall accuracy. Using a mixture of foreign and domestic 9mm Parabellum commercial and NATO spec FMJ, along with several types of various Jacketed Hollow Points, I can report a total of 7 mechanical failures with the TP9SFx handgun. Of these 7, the majority were from underpowered 135-grain lead target hand loads and one lot of underpowered Armscor USA ball which has given me consistent problems.

Canik TP9SFx
Three different height magazine release extensions are provided. These are easily swapped out and you can run the pistol with no extension installed if you so desire.

Samples from Federal, Remington, Winchester, PPU, Sellier and Bellot, IMI and even Magtech were overall positive and the Canik worked well, clean or dirty. The TP9SFx has not been cleaned for the 1,000 rounds as of the last range visit. The only lubrication has been Springco's Machine gunner’s lube applied to bearing or functioning surfaces, and slide rails. The Canik continues to perform well, producing respectable groups at 7, 10, 15 and even 25 yards consistently, with no malfunctions. Shown here are a couple groups from my Canik TP9SFx at 10 yards, using 115-grain FMJ ammunition. During these trying times of material shortages, ammunition shortages and the ever worsening political climate, producing multi-thousand round evaluations are near impossible, both financially and due to product availability. So, I thought the to date results from 2,000 rounds may be of some interest.

While I was writing this I chatted with my friend David Fortier who has had a Canik TP9SFx since 2017. I frequently pester him and he takes it in stride so, I asked him both what he liked and didn’t like about the TP9SFx. Here are his comments, “The TP9SFx surprised me, as I like it more than I thought I would. It is a fun shooter, especially with the 20-round mags. I agree with you, it has a good trigger, the controls are well placed and easy to manipulate and being able to adjust the height of the (reversible) mag release is nice for competition. Mags eject cleanly with the push of a button, and I like the extended base pads. Mine feeds, fires, extracts and ejects without issue and has seen a lot of cheap imported steel case ammunition. It runs great.

Canik TP9SFx
Four different optic bases are included allowing a wide array of red dot sights to be easily mounted.

One thing I really do not like though is the fact you lose the rear sight when mounting a Red Dot sight. Plus, due to the mounting plate system the Red Dot ends up higher than I’d like. I wish the mounting system allowed for the Red Dot to sit lower. When running just the iron sights I noted the front sight is a bit narrower than I’d prefer. This is obviously an individual matter though and some may prefer the narrower front sight. I’d also prefer a more aggressive texturing on the frame.




Regarding reliability, I ran 1,000 rounds of Wolf steel case 9mm through mine in two days with zero issues, failures or malfunctions. I tested loads ranging in weight from 65 to 147-grains without issue. Best accuracy from the bench at 25 yards was obtained using Hornady’s 124-grain XTP JHP. Overall a fun gun and I love the fact the actual street price tends to be quite a bit less than the MSRP of $549.99.”

Canik TP9SFx
The TP9 SFx is Canik’s competition model with a long slide, 5.2 inch barrel, extended controls and feeds from 20-round magazines.

While a solid handgun, with features that far exceed its price point, there are areas where the Canik falls short. The Cerakote work on the TP9SFx is fair, with a fair finish, but it does not last long. It wears prematurely in comparison to premium Cerakote work, found on products from companies such as Grey Ghost Precision. The Canik almost gets instant "holster wear" on sharp surfaces on the slide, simply from regular use. This is likely from an extremely thin coating of Cerakote on externals. While wear and tear happens on firearms over time, I would expect the finish to last a bit better than that on a range gun. Another area which has worn excessively is on top of the chamber block of the barrel. Within the first 250 rounds, the finish practically scraped off.

While the trigger is really nice and breaks cleanly at a measured 4 pounds 9 ounces it does have substantial travel, with an odd reset. It can be quickly learned, but it has a reset all its own and unlike any of the more commonplace striker fired handgun offerings. While it is likely that aftermarket triggers can be acquired that will quickly remedy this; it would also detract from the budget friendly nature of the TP9SFx.


Canik TP9SFx
Here is a group Michelle Hamilton fired offhand while running drills at 10 yards. Accuracy is good for the money.

All in all, the TP9SFx from Turkey is a very nice handgun, packed full of features that hit well outside of the handguns price range. It is an easy handgun to shoot, has a lower bore axis, a mild recoil impulse and is a great shooter straight from the box. Likely the first thing people will notice and be drawn in by on the TP9SFx is the crisp trigger pull and while the handgun has its shortcomings, they are few and far between. All things considered, it is a home run for the importers at Century Arms International.

Canik TP9SFx

Century Arms Canik TP9SFx Specifications

  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Type: Semi-automatic pistol
  • Overall Length: 8.27 inches
  • Barrel Length: 5.2 inches
  • Weight: 28.8 ounces
  • Trigger: Single-action
  • Height: 6.2 inches
  • Width: 1.3 inches
  • Magazine Capacity: 20
  • Sights: Warren Tactical with fiber optic front
  • Price: $549.99

Sources

Century Arms
800-527-1252 / www.centuryarms.com

Burris Optics
888-440-0244 / www.burrisoptics.com

Hornady
800-338-3220 / www.hornady.com

Polycase
912-335-5101 / www.polycaseammo.com

SIG Sauer
603-610-3000 / www.sigsauer.com

Wolf Performance Ammunition
888-757-9653 / www.wolfammo.com


If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com


About the Author:

Michelle Hamilton has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, is a serious student of wound ballistics, military history, small arms design and manufacturing and is a competitive shooter.

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