Canik Pistols - single action trigger

The Canik TP9SFX: A Review

Michael Crites
Michael Crites

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A Review of the Choice of Champions

Canik calls the TP9SFX “The Choice of Champions.” And with all the features packed into its price point, it’s hard to argue with that sentiment. If you’re entering the competitive shooting world, this gun is ready to take home the gold right out of the box.

Who is Canik?

The box has seen better days, but it keeps the important bits safe.

Canik’s history originates in the aerospace defense industry before ever entering the firearms market. Its first firearm, the Canik TP9, was born out of a necessity for a reliable handgun for Turkish Law Enforcement, and in 2012 Canik partnered with Century Arms, who introduced their pistols to the U.S. market.

From that point on, Canik rose to the top of the competition with other major polymer pistol manufacturers.

At a Glance: Canik TP9SFX 9mm Pistol

Performance Scorecard:

Usability:
4.7/5
Quality:
4.5/5
Value:
4.7/5
Overall:
4.6/5

The TP9SFX pistol comes with Warren Tactical iron sights but is also optic ready with multiple adapter plates for whichever red dot you choose. This gun is completely ambidextrous, featuring an ambidextrous charging handle and customizable magazine catch button.

When you purchase this pistol, it comes with a cleaning kit, a retention holster, two magazines, a speed loader, interchangeable backstraps, four mounting plates, and additional sizes of magazine release buttons.

Canik Pistols - Accessories packaged with a pistol in case
The interior of the Canik's case has a place for everything and keeps the myriad attachments organized.

What is the TP9SFX & why is it popular?

The TP9 SFX is popular among competition shooters because it’s a versatile, full-size 9mm Luger pistol loaded with features that come stock on the gun — most importantly for a price other companies cannot compete. 

Whether you’ve shot a competition or not, you’ll quickly learn that stock guns are rarely used (except maybe by a beginner). A true competition pistol or race gun requires upgrades like a competition trigger, a fiber optic front sight or red dot sights, extended magazine release and slide release, slide serrations, match grade barrel, and even different grips to be truly competitive. 

Capacity for days

A competition pistol’s capacity is usually higher than a concealed carry gun or many stock polymer guns due to the gun’s goal — ensure you can get through the course with the fewest reloads possible.

The first feature that makes the Canik so competitive is the single-action trigger pull with a short reset. When shooting any kind of competition, this specific trigger can shave valuable time off the clock when shooting doubles or an array of steel.

Canik Pistols - milled slides & mounting plates
The included mounting plate means you can strap on your favorite optics without tapping, drilling, or altering the weapon in any way.

Sights for everyone

The front sight is the most essential visual on any pistol, as that is what you’ll focus on when shooting. The Canik TP9 models include standard dovetail sight cuts for adjustability and both a red and green fiber optic front sight to ensure you can choose the best color for your visual preference. I run a red fiber optic when not using a red dot, but I see plenty of greens at the range. With the TP9, you’ll have that option right out of the box.

Most pistol manufacturers design slides to accommodate a mounting plate for optics, and Canik followed suit, allowing the SFX to be converted from one division to another by adding a slide insert to mount a red dot or other optic.

Canik Pistols - single action trigger

Traction & control

The attention to detail Canik puts into their pistols is also what makes them unique. The slide serrations not only reduce slide weight but also give the shooter traction when manipulating the slide. The accessory under-barrel rail allows a weapon-mounted light or laser to be attached as well.

Competition shooters need to reload quickly and find their controls easily. To that end, Canik incorporated magazine release button options allowing shooters to dial in the pistol’s controls to suit their grip and thumb strength.

When an empty pistol goes into slide lock, instead of racking the slide, competitive shooters will use their support thumb to engage the slide release as they regrip the pistol after a reload. Canik intentionally built an extended slide release just for this purpose, and every competitive shooter I know praises this kind of thinking.

Canik Pistols-06
You don't just get one mounting plate -- you get 3. Along with mag extensions and alternate backstraps.

Capacity & Proven Performance

The Canik TP9SFX also wins the capacity race — with 20 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber, it dwarfs many polymer pistols like Glock’s, HK’s, and M & M&P’s of the world.

Nils Jonasson, a competitive shooter sponsored by Canik Arms, has won over 20 world and national championship events, and many of those using a polymer Canik pistol. Nils has gone head-to-head against competitors with guns costing triple and sometimes up to six times more than his Canik, and he still trounces them. 

His dominance isn’t limited to a single discipline either. He’s taken home wins in USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) and USSL (United Shooting Sports Leagues) Multigun Championships. This capability to perform speaks volumes to the Canik pistol’s reliability in all types of conditions and the versatility across multiple competition styles.

TP9SFX, TP9 Elite SC, or TP9SF Elite?

Canik offers a variety of pistol models to fit the specific needs of their customers. The TP9 Elite SC is a similar platform to the SFX but smaller and built for compact or subcompact concealed carry.

The TP9SF Elite goes back to the Canik design’s roots for law enforcement with a barrel length of 4.19 inches. It features a shorter and smaller grip and a lower capacity of 15+1 and works just as well in concealed carry or as a service sidearm for LEO’s.

Canik Pistols - the striker status indicator
There's a rear indicator to alert you to the fact the striker is cocked.

Lefties Welcome

If you’re a left-handed shooter, the TP9SFX is one of the few competition pistols on the market with ambidextrous controls already included. 

Most often, left-handed shooters would have to go to a gunsmith for custom work or learn unique ways of manipulating controls quickly on a stock pistol.

Canik ultimately engineered their product to be functional for all shooters without changing the gun.

A novel solution for racking the slide quickly

One of the most challenging maneuvers to perform quickly is pulling the slide back on a pistol. For many women and people with lower grip strength, this is an issue that can make or break a gun decision. We’ve seen Smith and Wesson design carry pistols with an EZ slide, but with added safety mechanisms in place. 

The Canik TP9SFX came up with an out-of-the-box idea to solve this problem. The slide includes two holes on both the left and right to attach the cocking lever included with the pistol.

By adding the lever, a person can get more torque to pull the slide back with ease. Similarly, the interchangeable backstraps were designed to provide hands of all sizes with a comfortable grip.

And then there’s the price point…

We can’t conclude this piece without talking about the price point of the TP9SFX. The cost of entry to competition shooting can be outrageous; from the firearm to all the accessory upgrades to the gear needed to participate in the competition.

As mentioned earlier, aftermarket accessories are a necessity for a pistol to be competitive against others.

These upgrades can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 after getting a slide milled for a red dot optic, adding serrations, adding a new front sight, installing a better trigger, and especially if ambidextrous controls are needed.

A new shooter just learning the ropes, going out to try different competition styles to gauge what they prefer may not want to (or be able to) invest over a thousand dollars just to walk through the door.

The Canik TP9SFX has an MSRP price of just $549.99 (without an optic) which is comparable to Glock’s, HK’s, M&P’s, but with features not included with those pistols.

The retention holster that Canik includes in the box is also a cost-saving feature allowing you to try it at a competition before investing in a (more more expensive) custom holster.

Canik Pistols-cover
The serrated slide gives you additional traction for speedy reloads.

Conclusion

The Canik TP9SFX is an easy choice for the ultimate competition-ready pistol. Without making any changes or upgrades, you’ll have a customizable pistol that you can be sure won’t hold you back.

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MICHAEL CRITES is el jefe around here. He has spent more than 30 years shooting, learning about guns, and collecting firearms old and new. He’s tried his hand at 3-gun, trap, and distance-shooting, but ultimately enjoys ringing steel in the back 40 of his farm. His mission is to make guns and shooting accessible for everyone, and American Firearms is a passion project to help make that a reality.

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