Over the last five plus years Canik's TP9 series of pistols have moved up the popularity scale quite a bit. Once seen as a budget import, implying reliability or warranty challenges, The Canik of today remains affordably-priced, but is trusted as a gun that not not only impresses, but that can be counted on to last.
While we haven't reviewed every model, we have covered most of them across 26 videos. We've also run Canik pistols in training courses at CENTER-T, Thunder Ranch, Front Sight, and VerTac without issue. With that in mind we'll try to break down the major differences to help you pic what's right for you and list where they're available.
Internet lore reports that Canik TP9s are unreliable with 115gr ammunition. This is a partial myth. The early models, being built around NATO ammunition were sprung for ammo with pressures closer to American +p pressures. As a result, a shooter with a soft wrist, or using weak ammunition may have issues with those guns cycling. This was compounded by the affordability of the TP9 which attracted newer shooters on a budget who were also more likely to use low-grade ammunition. Canik has since fixed this, having gone to a weaker recoil spring years ago. If you have any doubt if a particular gun is going to run a certain load just check our Shooting Impressions videos and jump to the What's For Dinner™ Test. As an extra point of argument, Teya ran the METE SFX in below-freezing temperatures at Thunder Ranch with 90gr frangible ammunition. Out of 1,000 rounds fired there was one failure to fire, likely likely caused by wet and cold ammunition.
Why are the Canik TP9s Loved So Much? If you ask any TP9 owner they're likely to list at least one of the following:
Great Triggers: Thanks in part to the design's borrowed roots, Canik TP9 pistols have a striker-fired trigger that rivals many hammer-fired guns. Light take up, a definitive wall, crisp break, and quick reset.
Great Value: With prices as low as ____ (as of the date of this article) it's tough to find a nicer pistol without spending a lot more money. Even among quality peers, Canik provides quite a kit. Depending on the model, you're likely to find a holster, tools, optics plates, and other accessories that are typically sold separately included in the box.
I shot one and was Impressed: Canik owners are proud, if you meet one at the range chances are they'll be happy to show off their pistol. Online there are numerous communities of owners also happy to share experiences and notes.
There have effectively been three generations of Canik TP9 series that we've handled. All three are still on the market, and while the guns have progressed over the generations, all three are still good options.
Generation 1: This includes the TP9 DA and TP9 SFx. They are recognizable by their single-sides slide release, lack of a loaded chamber indicator, and "skinny tail" interchangeable backstraps. "Optics ready" wasn't trendy yet.
Generation 2: Includes the TP9 SF Elite, TP9 SF Elite Combat, TP9 Elite Combat Executive, and TP9 Elite SC, the introduction of 15-round frames, backstraps that run all the way down the back of the grip, ambidextrous slide release, and inclusion of loaded chamber indicators. Some models are optics compatible. Older production guns include the Canik eagle on the grip.
Generation 3: Includes the METE SFT, METE SFX, and SFX Rival. Canik's eagle emblem has been replaced with the word, "Canik" on the grip along with a redesign of the grip which includes a double undercut of the trigger guard (more so than on the TP9 Elite SC), and new grip texture. All models optics compatible. The improvements are visually subtle, but really enhance the shooting experience. Complete disassembly is made easier with the use of dedicated dimpled pins, replacing the roll pins of pervious generations.
If you want to know more about a particular model, check our tabletop and shooting impression videos linked below each gun description.
At the time this was written there's only one Canik option, the TP9 Elite SC. With a 3.6" barrel and 12-round magazine this is as small as it currently gets. Going much smaller faces a tricky points system the ATF uses to ensure pistols are for sporting purposes. We can't explain more, to us life is a sport so self dense is obviously a "sporting" activity!
From $401.99 on Guns.com
From $411.99 on Grabagun
In the approximately 4" barrel, 15-round capacity size group are three options, the TP9 SF Elite, TP9 Elite Combat, and TP9 Elite Combat Executive.
TP9 SF Elite: You perfect all-around gun. Sized just small enough for most to carry and just big enough to be comfortable on the range. Ours likes to hold on to magazines, requiring the support hand to remove them, but it may be an exception rather than the rule. Warren blacked-out U-notch rear sight and fiber optic front sight combination makes for both quick and precise aiming. 4.19" barrel. There was also brief availability of the Elite S model which features a Bubbits-style safety on the trigger guard. We reviewed a loaner sample of this in 2017 but haven't seen one since.
From $399.59 on Guns.com
TP9 Elite Combat: In collaboration with Salient Arms, these pistols include a fluted and threaded barrel (4.73"), aluminum flat-faced trigger, and aluminum add-on magazine well. The threading for some reason on the early ones was not one common in the US. According to Century's website that has been changed with the current models. The aluminum has a shape that will only help if you're really terrible at reloading, but for large-handed shooters is an excellent "bottom limit" to keep the hand pressed into the grip. The trigger in this model and the Executive trim are flat-faced and aluminum featuring vertical serrations for traction. Functionally the same as other Caniks, but with a different feel that some prefer.
From $619.99 on Guns.com
From $699.99 on Grabagun
TP9 Elite Combat Executive: Same build as the regular Elite Combat, but in subtler, more-business-like colors. This model originally introduced American-friendly 1/2x28 threads on the barrel to Caniks. The barrel's Titanium Nitride coating gives it a nice gold color and on our example has held up very well.
From $751.99 on Guns.com
We're creating this size category for pistols on the larger side for concealed carry, but not necessarily intentional competition pistols. This is where the TP9 DA and METE SFT fit in.
TP9 DA: The original! These pistols are essentially alternate-universe versions of the famous Walther P99 AS including the brilliant (but under-appreciated) three trigger modes. One of the few striker-fired pistols that can boast both single and double action. 4.07" barrel, 18-rd magazines
From $389.99 on Guns.com
From $384.99 on Grabagun
METE SFT: Part of Canik's most modern line, with a 4.46" barrel and 18-rd magazines. Among the goodies included in the kit is an aluminum magazine well that really works to funnel misguided reloads and also features a nice toe to control hand placement on the stock.
From $469.99 on Grabagun
These pistols include 20-rd magazines (18+2) and have barrels over 5". For target shooting the longer sight radius makes for easier precision while the longer barrel creates more muzzle energy for definitive hits on steel. The long slides also stretch recoil impulses with their slower cycling. Combined you can expect to make quicker follow up shots with more definitive impacts on target. Usually pistols in with these features cost much more, it's my belief that the Canik SFX line is partially responsible for Canik's image gaining respect as their affordable pistols perform well and reduce the cost entry-barrier of competition.
TP9 SFx: A classic staple of the Canik line and one of the most affordable 5"+(5.2" to be exact) guns available. Lightening cuts on the front of the slide aid in reliability as well as reducing the mass that has leverage on your hand during recoil. Upgrades that came in the third generation are nice, but the original is still no slouch.
From $400.99 on Guns.com
METE SFX: All the benefits of the 3rd generation Canik as mentioned on the SFT, but with a longer barrel. A truly pleasant shooting experience.
From $524.99 on Guns.com
Rival SFX; Available in two color schemes (Darkside pictured). Nice and deep front slide serrations and plenty of material removed. Subtle fluting on the barrel. These are sexy guns without a doubt. Interestingly enough the reciprocating mass comes out to be about the same as the METE SFX, but the balance is more rearward for an even greater reduction in nose-diving as the slide returns home. We went overboard and outfitted ours with a PVD gold-coated 5.75" barrel that looks sharp and really makes a difference on steel targets. This model also brings back the flat-faced aluminum trigger from the TP9 Elite Combat models, but a slightly different design and featuring crosshatching for traction.
That's our experience with the Canik pistols so far, as we get our hands on other models we'll be sure to add them. Let us know in the comments what you experience with Canik pistols has been as well as any questions you have.
UPDATE: By popular demand here is most of the above information in video format: