Turkey has the fourth largest standing army in the world and maintains large police forces, all of which require side-arms. In addition, almost half a million handguns are (legally) owned by civilians. The Turks began local production of handguns after WWII and today there are a number of companies producing pistols and revolvers.

In the 1980s the Turkish government began a programme to ensure that its military and police would have a reliable source of handguns. One of the corporations licensed to produce handguns was Samsun Yurt Savunma near the city of Samsun on the Black Sea coast.

In 1998 it introduced a line of pistols based upon the popular Czech CZ-75 which was adopted by the Turkish army and police. In 2009, in line with the majority of handgun makers in the world today, it introduced a series of pistols with frames made of high-tech polymer.

“Canik” is a word in the old Turkish language meaning “a place of refuge”. Samsun Yurt Savunma built a factory near a mountain bearing this name; accordingly, its new line of polymer pistols was called Canik.

The first Canik, the TP-9, was adopted by the Turkish national police and entered service with the militaries and police of more than 20 nations around the world.

The TP series now includes seven variations, all chambered for the 9x19mm Para, and designed for police and military service, Special Ops units, civilian home and self-defence and – the subject of this report – Action Pistol competition.

Over the years, I’ve seen many advertisements touting handguns as ready for competition shooting “out of the box”. Well, having tested and competed with several of them, I must admit that some were more match-ready than others. However, in the case of the Canik TP9SFx, the manufacturer’s claim of “out of the box” ready is not just advertising hype – it’s a plain fact.

The American importer, Century International Arms of Fairfax, Vermont, supplied me with a TP9SFx to evaluate for Magnum. On opening the padded carry case I was immediately impressed with the pistol’s slim and elegant lines.

I removed the magazine and retracted the slide to ascertain that the chamber was empty. Then I lifted it to eye level and aimed at an IPSC target I have stapled to the wall of my workshop, and again, was immediately impressed with its sighting equipment.

The Warren Tactical rear sight has a moderately sized square notch which allows quick alignment with the red fibre optic front sight. A nice feature is that the sides of the rear sight are relieved which provides a wider field of view when shifting between targets.

The steel slide has a tungsten grey Cerakote finish which eradicates any distracting glare. It has sharply cut grasping grooves front and rear, and an extractor of impressive proportions. Four ports grace either side at the muzzle end which not only look sexy as all get out, but reduce the slide’s weight to insure reliable function with a variety of 9mm loads while reducing muzzle flip.

The upper rear of the slide has a removable cover facilitating installation of four interface plates (provided) for mounting a variety of red dot optical sights. The rear sight is mounted in a dovetail on the cover so it does not interfere with the red dot sights.

The TP9SFx is a striker-fired pistol. As the slide runs forward the tail of the striker is caught by the sear and held in a semi-cocked position. Pressure on the trigger pulls the striker to full cock position and then releases it to fire a cartridge.

The rear of the striker protrudes and it has a red dot providing a visual and tactile indication of the pistol’s condition. The pistol also has a passive striker block safety, a disconnector that prevents firing if the slide is out of battery and a paddle on the face of the trigger that prevents trigger movement until completely depressed.

Since the TP9SFx is designed for competition shooting, the trigger pull is set to break crisply with 2kg of pressure, superior to many striker fired designs on the market today.

The polymer frame has an extended slide release lever and magazine release button (which can be reversed for southpaw shooters) and interchangeable back-straps enabling the shooter to fit the pistol to individual hand size. While not germane to Action Pistol shooting, a Picatinny rail graces the dust cover.

The magazine well is moderately flared for smooth reloads and ­magazines are equipped with +2 extended base plates allowing them to hold a comforting 20 rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Breech locking is by means of the barrel hood moving up into, and bearing on, the front edge of the ejection port. On firing, the barrel and slide recoil together a short distance before the barrel is cammed down, allowing the slide to continue to the rear, extracting and ejecting the spent case.

The recoil spring then pulls the slide forward, stripping the next round from the magazine and chambering it. As the slide goes into battery the barrel is pulled up and its hood enters the ejection port locking the two units together.

Disassembly is quick and straight forward. Remove the magazine and retract the slide to verify the chamber is empty, then, with the pistol pointed in a safe direction, pull the trigger to let the striker move forward.

Retract the slide slightly, pull down on the disassembly catches on either side of the frame and pull the slide off the front of the frame. Push the captive recoil spring unit forward slightly and lift it out of the slide. Pull the rear of the barrel down and remove from the slide. Reassemble in reverse order.

Canik supplies the TP9SFx with a variety of accessories. In addition to the extra backstrap and dot sight plates, it comes standard with additional extended magazine release buttons, a cocking lever for use when dot sights are mounted, spare red and green fibre optic rods, a polymer paddle holster that is adjustable for cant, plus a trigger lock, cleaning brush and owner’s manual.

The only other items you need to shoot in competition are ammunition, magazine pouches and – if so inclined – an optical dot sight. Becky and I test-fired the TP9SFx for accuracy from an MTM K-Zone rest at 25m with five different brands of 9mm ammunition. It shot close enough with all five to keep us happy and produced groups measuring 33mm to 50mm. Admittedly, the light crisp trigger and excellent sights contributed to this fine performance.

The following weekend I used the Canik to compete in a local USPSA match. Not being a fan of red dot sights, and although using a ‘minor power factor’ 9mm pistol put me at a scoring disadvantage, I decided to compete in Limited Division (IPSC’s Standard Division). I find shooting a lot without having to reload is fun, and wanted to take advantage of those 20 round magazines.

I had total knee replacement surgery this past February and this was only the second match I’d competed in since then, so I wasn’t moving with my usual (?) gazelle-like speed and grace. While my performance wasn’t up to par, that of the Canik’s was very satisfying. Out of a 150+ round match I experienced a single malfunction when a round of Hornady’s steel cased ammo failed to chamber fully. I quickly racked the slide to dispose of the offending cartridge and finished the stage clean.

I found the Canik TP9SFx to be a highly admirable pistol, perfectly suited for serious competition in Production Division or steel matches “out of the box”. It is truly a Turkish delight!

The TP9Sfx is available from Selwels in Stanger for R11 000. There is also a standard version available for R8 000. Contact them on 032-551-1350.