Sarsilmaz has been making firearms since 1880. In 2017 I first became familiar with some of their handguns when they were imported by TR Imports. In 2018, SAR USA was formed as an official U.S. presence and importer for Sarsilmaz. Since then the company has been releasing high-quality firearms like the SAR9 C, regularly.
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The Sarsilmaz SAR9 C
I own, and so, of course, am familiar with the Sarsilmaz 2000, CM9 Gen 2, B6C, P8L, SR 38 (not currently imported), and ST9 models. All of those pistols had one thing in common—they were all heavily inspired by existing guns from other makers.
Furthermore, aside from the larger-sized ST9, I had limited experience with what many would consider a modern, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol from the company. Sarsilmaz’s SAR9 C escapes the “clone” label and represents a truly new design.
Externally the SAR9 C looks like a modern rendition of decades-old Glock 19 design including America’s favorite 4-inch barrel and 15+1 capacity. The SAR9 C is a compact model of the famously torture-tested SAR9.
After development, the SAR 9 entered into Turkey’s “Original Indigenous Gun Project” competition. The test involved extreme heat, extreme cold, mud and accuracy testing among others. Fifty copies of each model were submitted, from which three were randomly selected.
Each of the three SAR9 pistols fired 30,000 rounds during the testing without a single malfunction. The test was extended to 50,000 rounds for one of the pistols before a malfunction occurred. Keep in mind that those 50,000 rounds weren’t the comfy 115-grain range loads we use here in the U.S. Instead, they were 124-grain NATO loads that are typically loaded to about 10 percent higher pressure than standard American-range ammunition.
Pressure-wise, the test was an equivalent of 55,000 rounds (most of a pallet load) of standard range fodder. The SAR9 was not only the most durable of the guns tested but also outperformed the competition in accuracy testing. These results earned the SAR9 the title of “Turkey’s Original Indigenous Pistol” from the Presidency of Defense Industries.
Yes, the SAR9 C is yet another polymer-framed, striker-fired, 4-inch-barreled, 15+1 capacity 9mm pistol, and that’s a good thing! This size has been found by many to be just right for range and carry use.
Larger guns are comfortable to shoot, easier to train with, yield less felt recoil, and have a longer sight radius for easier aiming. But they rarely make for good carry companions. Smaller guns may carry easier but are less enjoyable on the range. As a result, they are shot less by all but the most disciplined carriers.
The mid-size “compact” fits best for those wanting to carry a gun they can also use for heavy training. It’s like driving a hatchback because it’s both compact and has room for your cargo.
By creating yet another option for this crowded category of handguns, Sarsilmaz has increased the competition and provided consumers with another option that, for many, might prove to be the right one.
An Introduction to the SAR9 C
I first got my hands on the new SAR9 C at the recent Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous held in Victor, Idaho. There, I found out what sets the SAR9 C apart from the competition.
Since the HK VP70 was introduced 50 years ago, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols have seen trends come and go regarding features. But one “feature” that seems to never stop evolving is ergonomics.
Every shooter’s hands are different—longer or shorter, wider or narrower, meaty or bony, and every mix thereof. It’s virtually impossible for one handgun grip to fit everyone. Walther brought the interchangeable backstrap to the world with the P99. Thankfully that has become the norm, including on the SAR9 C.
Three interchangeable backstraps and three-per-side side panels are included, which can be mixed and matched to fit personal preference. Despite having larger hands, I found the as-shipped medium side panels and medium backstrap to be the most comfortable. The backstraps do not impact the tang of the grip, only how the mid-palm and lower are filled.
Complementing a good grip is a high undercut where the triggerguard meets the frame. That undercut reduces the chances of the triggerguard wearing a callus on your firing hand’s middle finger. Likewise, it also permits the whole hand to grip higher on the frame, boosting shooter recoil control.
Also helping recoil control is the extra couple ounces the pistol weighs compared to others of its same size class. A few extra ounces make little difference when carrying but make a notable difference when shooting.
An Internal Chassis
I suspect the extra ounces come from the modern construction style of using an internal chassis. We first saw this construction style in Grand Power pistols over a decade ago, but other companies are catching up.
This construction style adds rigidity to the gun, but most importantly, it increases the longevity of a handgun. Mainly because it’s a lot harder for pins to wallow out steel than polymer. As an added benefit, these chassis can also improve trigger feel as they permit less internal flex when shooting.
In the Box
While some pistols ship with the bare minimum, SAR USA provides a fairly complete kit. In addition to the nine potential grip setups, a metal punch is included to drive out the roll pin to facilitate those changes.
Two 15-round magazines are included with witness windows for each round along the spine. One magazine has a flush-fitting plastic base plate, and the other a slightly larger steel base plate. Additionally, a polymer cleaning rod and a nice bore brush are included.
After reviewing hundreds of guns, I’ve come to see the owner’s manual as an indicator of sorts. A well-written and illustrated manual shows manufacturer pride and a desire to have well-educated owners. A manual of low quality demonstrates the opposite.
Pistol owners both experienced and new will appreciate the attention to detail expressed by SAR USA. The manual is well-written and includes smartly-shaded renderings explaining everything an owner needs to know about the gun. The manual also applies to and refers to the rest of the SAR9 model family. Just in case you would like to see how they differ.
The SAR9 C In Hand
The added heft from the steel chassis, steel dual-spring recoil system, and steel magazine base plate give the SAR9 C a solid, reassuring feel. Some polymer-framed pistols can feel toyish, but the SAR9 C feels like a tool.
Thanks to the high undercut of the triggerguard there’s ample space for proper finger positioning in the finger grooves without larger hands being forced off the gun. Controls are all easily within reach, and the slide lock/release is sized and fenced to avoid inadvertent activation.
Barrel lockup is tighter than many pistols. Likewise, when combined with the dual recoil spring, it requires a little extra effort when racking. It feels like a pistol built for NATO loads. However, range testing would let us know if it handles softer, American plinking ammo.
While dry firing, there is some creep and grit to the trigger with an audible clue that it’s friction between the trigger and frame. This is likely to smooth out over time. At 1.4 inches, the SAR9 C is a bit wider than many other pistols in the size family. I’ve come to appreciate that as extra material to both grip and distribute recoil.
On The Range
I had reservations about how the SAR9 C would perform with standard American-grade 115-grain ball ammo based on how firmly the gun locks up and how strong the recoil system is. Imports of the past designed for 124-grain NATO loads have historically had issues with softer 115-grain range ammo.
The first magazine load of 115-grains did not lock open on empty. A couple of magazines later, everything was fine. The pistol’s strong system didn’t mind 115-grain loads and even ate some +P loads without complaint.
For our accuracy testing, we kept things realistic for a carry pistol with various ammo. This includes range, and defensive loads shot freestanding from 15 yards.
The trigger did indeed smooth out after a couple of magazines of ammunition. The pull weight and feel are appropriate for a multi-purpose pistol as it is both heavy enough to be responsible for carry and crisp enough for precise shooting on the range.
Who’s It For?
Perhaps the more accurate question is, “Who is the SAR9 C not for?”
Sized to perform as a duty or carry gun, adaptable ergonomics for most hands, and with a recoil-soaking weight and operating system, the SAR9 C easily fits many roles. Priced to beat most of the competition and with a reliability track record that instills confidence, this pistol can do about anything one would ask of it.
The stiff springs and lack of a red-dot option may dissuade those with weak eyes or wrists. But aside from that, there aren’t many shooters who won’t find the SAR9 C to be an excellent pistol.
For more information, please visit SARUSA.com.
SAR USA SAR9 C Specs
Barrel: 4 inches
Overall Length: 7.2 inches
Weight: 26.8 ounces (empty)
Finish: Black oxide
MSRP: $452 (black); $484 (stainless)
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns March/April 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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