Put Your Faith in 380ACP?

   09.07.16

Put Your Faith in 380ACP?

Tisas Fatih 13 is a blowback .380 imported from Turkey by Zenith Firearms. In Turkish, “Fatih” means Conqueror. I was attracted by the original erroneous description of it, which promised “long recoil” (locked breech) design, since corrected on the web site. Instead, it turned out to be a close clone of Browning BDA and Beretta Cheetah FS, only selling for roughly half as much money. Considering the tendency of anything blued to rust around Tennessee summer humidity, I picked the chromed version.

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A well-considered package

The gun arrived with three (!) 13-round magazines, an extensive cleaning kit, and a bottle of lubricant. That’s pretty good for just under $400 MSRP. The carry case even has openings for loose ammunition. At first, I lamented the absence of a loading tool, but the magazines proved easy to load without one.

The first surprise was the strength of the slide spring, since I expected a locked breech gun. Unusually for blowback pistols, Fatih 13 barrel isn’t fixed into the frame. The sheer strength of the slide wasn’t an issue, but the slide serrations were sharp enough to make gloveless racking problematic even with the hammer cocked. Disassembly for cleaning is super simple: once the lever on the right side of the frame is turned 90 degrees, the slide comes off to the front.

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Leheigh 90gr Xteme Penetrator

The gun can be fired double or single action and may be carried cocked and locked. When engaged, safety permits just enough slide movement to verify a chambered round, a nice feature. Trigger pull is Glock-like in single action, and heavier but fairly smooth in double. Reset is obvious, with an audible click.

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I tested the pistol mainly with Aguila 95gr FMJ, a little HPR 100gr ball, Winchester 90gr JHP, Leheigh 90gr Xteme Penetrator, 65gr Xtreme Defender and 100gr hardcast lead loads. It cycled all but the cast lead perfectly, but locked up hard on the first round of semi-wadcutter. Later, that ammunition shot fine in other .380 pistols. Felt recoil was mild with all loads.

Typically, I report accuracy results sorted by ammunition type, but that would be pointless with Fatih 13, as all loads shot roughly the same 2.5″ groups at 21ft. The limiting factors appear to be the sights and possibly the barrel. The bright, shiny sights were the main drawback of the chromed variant. They reflected enough ambient light to make a consistent sight picture difficult. Further, aligning the tops of the front post and rear notch produced point of impact about 3 inches above point of aim, while aligning the red dots of the sights raised the point of impact–a beaten zone would be more accurate–to nearly five inches above point of aim. Perfectly adequate for bullseye or center mass up close, not very helpful for precision shooting further out. I guess that the blued version would have black sights with higher contrast and less glare. Other people reported much better accuracy, but I only had one sample on hand. Other shooters, including a national bullseye champion, had results similar to mine.

Faith 13 (right)
Tedna 12ga Coach gun (left), Fatih 13 (right), The pistol’s controls are well spaced even for smaller hands.

On the plus side, the design is reliable, has a decent trigger, and comes well accessorized at a nice price. On the minus side, it’s not very accurate and needs grip tape to tame the aggressive edges on the slide. Overall, I would recommend Zenith’s other products, such as the excellent Girsan MC28SAa more accurate 9mm at a cheaper price–unless you need the smaller size of the Faith 13 or have to use 380ACP for some reason.

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