Review: Canik-55 TP-9
Pat Cascio 12.15.15
Anyone who has followed my gun and knife articles for the past 20+ years knows that I love a bargain. Not too long ago I came upon a great bargain in the form of the Canik-55 TP-9, a high-cap 9mm handgun made in Turkey that cosmetically resembles the Walther P99. (The Canik and the Walther do not appear to have any interchangeable parts, and the Canik-55 TP-9 is a larger handgun overall. )
First of all, before you turn your nose up at a firearm being manufactured in Turkey, you should know that they make some outstanding firearms, and those guns can be had for very little money. I’ve owned several other handguns and shotguns that were manufactured in Turkey, and they were all outstanding firearms.
The Canik-55 TP-9 is a double/single action 9mm pistol with a 4-inch barrel. There’s an adjustable rear sight for windage, interchangeable front sights for elevation, and an ambidextrous decocker on the top rear of the slide. The gun also sports a loaded chamber indicator in the rear of the slide, and interchangeable back straps to fit different sized hands. The Canik comes with two 18-round magazines and a polymer holster that will fit on the belt, or you can use a paddle attachment that slides between your pants and body. There’s also a mag loader and a cleaning brush. The instruction manual is well written and it comes in a nice polymer handgun case. That’s a lot to take in.
My sample Canik-55 TP-9 is in desert sand color. They are also available in all-black, Titanium (in color), and two-tone (black/silver). Sights and operating controls are in black, which really gave the Canik a nice combat look to it.
I honestly didn’t know much about this Canik-55 TP-9 until I purchased it. Sure, I’d seen them on various gun seller websites, and it looked like a solid gun, but it wasn’t until I handled the gun at my local gun shop that I felt and actually saw the overall quality. Simply put, the gun was outstanding with one exception: the double action trigger pull was a bit gritty.
Once you insert a loaded magazine in the Canik-55 and chamber a round, then if you’re not going to shoot immediately, you can use the top mounted decocker to decock the pistol. From there you have a longer and heavier double action trigger pull; there is a little bit of take-up as you pull the trigger and the trigger pull is gritty. However, the single action trigger pull was very crisp. If your gun is decocked and you wish to use the single action trigger pull, then you can pull the slide back (carefully) just a fraction of an inch or so, and the trigger will reset to the single action trigger pull.
If you look at the rear of the slide, you will see the loaded chamber indicator; it has a red tip, and if you see the red tip you know there is a round in the chamber. My sample Canik-55 came with three different back straps, and I installed the shortest one for the best feel and easiest trigger reach for my medium/large hands.
As already mentioned the gun comes with two 18-round 9mm magazines, which are manufactured by Mec-Gar in Italy. Mec-Gar is one of the top magazine manufactures in the world; many big-name gun companies have their mags made by Mec-Gar. The mags were easy to load until the 15th round, then it took quite a bit of thumb pressure to get those last few rounds into the mag. I used the magazine loading tool, but it seemed to take longer to load the magazines. After the mags were left loaded for several weeks, they were easier to load.
The rear sight on this pistol was easy to adjust for windage with a small screw driver. However, the front sight is another story if you are having problems with elevation. You have to remove the polymer front sight. It’s not that difficult, but it takes a little bit of time. My gun wasn’t shooting where I wanted it to. It shot too high so I removed the front sight, which is sorta “staked” in from underneath the slide with a tiny screw. (I don’t even want to go into how many times I lost the screw.) You must be careful when screwing in the tiny screw as it will easily strip going into the polymer front sight if you screw it too tightly. Ask me how I know.
The Canik-55 feels really good in the hand. Everyone who handled it said the same thing. It’s also a chunky gun. It’s a big gun and not one I would choose for concealed carry, even with the supplied polymer holster. I don’t especially like paddle holsters, so I installed the belt attachment to the holster; this was easy to do with just three screws. The gun rode high and tight to my body, but it still seems too big for me to properly conceal under my concealment garment, and I’m a big fellow and I can conceal some big handguns as a rule.
In my youth I worked at some uniformed security positions. As you probably know, most security officers don’t make much money, and many have to supply their own handguns. The Canik-55 TP-9 would be a great buy for such folks. I’ve checked around and the guns are selling for $299.99 to $339.99 in many areas, which is a bargain in my book for a firearm with all the features this one has.
I ran a mini-torture test on this gun to test for reliability. I ran 1000 rounds of various 9mm ammo through the gun with zero malfunctions. The good folks at Black Hills Ammunition supplied the majority of the ammo in 115-gr FMJ and 124-gr +P JHP fodder.
Buffalo Bore Ammunition Buffalo Bore Ammunition supplied me with some of their 115-gr Barnes TAC-XP +P+ 9mm ammo, and the gun gobbled up the +P+ fodder with zero problems.
Accuracy was outstanding–a total surprise to me for such a budget-priced 9mm handgun. I could easily keep most shots inside of a 3″ circle if I did my part. There was absolutely no clear winner in the accuracy department, as the Canik-55 didn’t seem to prefer one brand or type of ammo over another in my testing. Accuracy testing was conducted over the hood of my pick-up truck using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. I did manage to ever-so-slightly break that 3″ group a few times with the Black Hills 124-gr +P JHP load, but I really had to give it my all.
Now for the good/bad news. As already mentioned, I just found the Canik-55 a bit too big to properly conceal. Then there’s the front sight problem–tightening it down too much and buggering up one of the front sights.
I’ve heard (unable to verify) that Canik is discontinuing the TP-9 model and they now have a single-action only model, of sorts. There is no capability to fire the gun from a double action mode. When you chamber a round, the trigger is set in the single action mode only. However, there is still a decocker on the top and you can literally decock/uncock the pistol. Only thing is, in order to fire the pistol you have to do one of two things: either slightly pull the slide back to re-cock the gun or flat out jack the slide, ejecting the round in the chamber and placing a new round in the chamber. I don’t see the sense in a decocker on a single action pistol like this; it’s a bit too confusing and you can decock the gun and forget you did that. Then when the time comes to fire it you’ll pull the trigger and nothing happens. Why not do away with the decocker altogether on the single action version?
If you’re on a tight budget like I am, take a look at the Canik-55 TP-9 or the new Canik-55 SA-9. I think you’ll really be impressed with the high quality of the gun(s) like I was. I like it when I’m surprised and I get a lot more gun for a little bit of money. I think the Canik-55 shines on the range as a home defense handgun or for open-carry.