Canik Pistols - COVER

The Best Canik Pistols

Michael Crites
Michael Crites

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What are the best Canik pistols?

The story of Canik pistols is the age-old story of the underdog. When the TP9 was first introduced to the market, the price tag coupled with the then-unknown brand name meant that for many people the words “quality” and “Canik” couldn’t co-exist. 

Years after first being introduced to the US market, Canik is now one of the top manufacturers of quality pistols. We break down their pistol lineup to help you pick the right Canik for you.

Quick List: The Best Canik Pistols

1. TP9SA MOD.2

Canik’s base model is the ultimate bang for your buck. The first thing to note is this pistol has a single action trigger which offers a smooth pull and more accurate shot placement. 

The standard dovetail sight cuts are rear-adjustable so the shooter can sight the gun according to their preferences. In addition, the pistol features a match-grade barrel that will outlast lower quality material and provide better performance with a wide variety of bullet grains.

Canik Pistols - the striker status indicator
The striker status indicator is easy to see -- and almost more importantly -- easy to feel in the dark.

Finally, the TP9SA incorporates a striker status indicator that alerts the user that a round is chambered and helps prevent negligent discharges.

2. TP9SFX

If you’re a competitive shooter or want to get into shooting sports, the TP9SFX packs all the features in one to be ready right out of the box. 

Sight acquisition is quick and easy with the Warren Tactical sights, which include a red and green fiber optic front sight so you can customize for even better performance. The reversible magazine catch is included with the pistol allowing ambidextrous controls for both right and left-handed shooters. 

There are also a variety of release button sizes to tailor the release to your preferred feel. Interchangeable backstraps give you another level of customization — making the TP9FX work for those with small or large-sized hands. 

The box includes a reversible ambidextrous cocking lever that is easily mounted on either side of the gun. This feature gives shooters that struggle to pull the slide back more leverage to easily load the firearm. The extended slide stop also gives shooters more ease when manipulating the slide for faster reloads and easy lockback. Lastly, this pistol includes four red dot interface plates to mount your optic of choice.

3. TP9 ELITE SC

The TP9 Elite SC is the ultimate carry gun. It comes with interchangeable backstraps to customize it to your hand size as well as a reversible magazine release to include left-handed shooters. 

The match-grade barrel is nitride coated and the slide is nitride finished. This is designed specifically for every day carry as nitride resists corrosion of steel parts and improves wear and fatigue resistance.

This pistol is also available in an upgraded version — the TP9 Elite SC — with the addition of the Shield SMS2 optic, making it the ultimate carry optics choice.

4. TP9 ELITE COMBAT

This pistol features the Canik Enhanced Trigger (CET™) flat face aluminum trigger making it easier than ever to pull the trigger without affecting the shot pattern. The threaded barrel is  1/2×28 right-hand threads making it suppressor ready. This pistol also comes with a reversible charging handle to easily pull back the slide and load or unload the pistol. 

This gun is completely ambidextrous with the reversible magazine release and ambidextrous slide release. Two magazines comes with this pistol – a 15 round magazine with a +3 aluminum extension and a 15 round spare magazine. Finally, it includes a speed magazine loader and a cleaning kit complete with its own cleaning rod.

5. TP9 ELITE COMBAT EXECUTIVE WITH VORTEX VIPER RED DOT

This is one of the more luxurious Canik pistols on the market. As with all the other Canik pistols, this includes the standard dovetail sight cuts, Warren tactical sights with red and green fibers, a match grade barrel, the single-action trigger, reversible ambidextrous cocking lever, and reversible magazine catch. 

One of the upgraded parts included with this pistol is a removable red dot cover with the rear sight installed in the cover so there’s no interference with any dot sights. It also comes with a poly holster and paddle belt attachment so no need to buy aftermarket gear. The capacity of this pistol is increased with two 20 round magazines included with it. Finally, the under-barrel rail allows aftermarket accessories to be easily mounted to it.

Canik, A Turkish Armalite

If you’re familiar with Armalite’s beginnings in the aerospace industry, Canik’s story will sound remarkably similar. Think of Canik as the Turkish Armalite; they started in the aerospace defense industry and work with large corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Airbus, and Boeing on precision aerospace engineering projects.

The Canik pistol was developed on the back of the expertise gleaned from these partnerships through which Canik worked with Turkish law enforcement to develop a quality polymer pistol that could excel at the rigors of service life.

Fast forward to 2012 and Canik partnered with Century Arms to introduce Canik TP pistols to the U.S. market. As of 2021, the Canik pistol line has expanded to include competition models, subcompact, and red dot mounted pistols – all thanks to Canik’s original product’s ability to perform so well that it changed public perception of what to expect from a reasonably-priced striker-fired pistol.

Canik’s strength: unbeatable value

One of Canik’s strengths is the way they package a lot of value into their products. Canik takes innovation seriously and has already improved upon the original TP9 multiple times since launch.

Canik Pistols - COVER
Canik packages a lot into their standard product offering.

On top of the product innovation, Canik has, in a way, rendered aftermarket parts almost unnecessary — some of the features they include on their firearms right out of the box are a single action trigger with a short reset, interchangeable backstraps, warren tactical sights with a red or green fiber optic front sight, match-grade barrels, and more.

Canik Pistols - single action trigger
Single-action trigger goodness included.

They also include a slidelock retention holster and cleaning kit in most boxes with the firearm. 

Carry optics have been around for a while and are becoming increasingly popular, but most stock polymer pistols don’t come red-dot-ready. Canik listened to the market and, as a result, another strength of theirs is the inclusion of milled slides to allow for optic mounting but also including the optic with the pistol — offering the end customer both an incredible value and a handgun that is ready to perform right out the box.

Canik Pistols - milled slides & mounting plates
The included mounting plates and milled slides Canik pistols offer makes mounting optics easy.

Even if the included red dot is not what you fancy, Canik includes red dot interface plates with most of their pistols so you can mount your favorite optic with ease.

The last thing Canik does remarkably well is package all the features you need into a higher-capacity concealed carry pistol. Their two carry pistols are both chambered in 9mm Luger and are — in many ways — the same firearm — one featuring a red dot, and one with iron sights. 

But their focus on adding value isn’t just limited to flashy items like optics and adjustable triggers — some of their nicest touches are also incredibly practical.

Take, for example, their 12-round magazine features an optional finger rest base plate. How often do you pick up a compact-sized pistol only to realize your pinky falls off the grip without an extended magazine? 

The attention to detail and focus on what customers need is what makes Canik shine amongst all other polymer pistols.

Canik Pistols - Accessories packaged with a pistol in case
Canik pistols make a case for themselves.

Shortcomings

Like many other major firearm manufacturers, Canik has had its share of issues — the most noteworthy being a 2017 issue with pistols discharging when repeatedly dropped. 

For those using their pistols in more severe conditions, this was an issue Century Arms had to mitigate by offering a voluntary upgrade in certain models to add a trigger safety spring and firing pin block. 

Since then, Canik pistols have run reliably and have captured the market for affordable, yet high-quality polymer pistols.

Conclusion

An affordable price doesn’t always mean sub-par quality. Canik pistols have proven their value and are the best value offered for the price tag.

Sources:

  1. Canik USA, About Canik
  2. Personal Defense World, Century Arms Issues Safety Warning, September 1, 2017
  3. Corrosionpedia, Nitriding for Corrosion and Wear Fatigue Resistance
  4. Canik USA, Severe Duty Upgrade

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