Sometime around five years ago, Century Arms rocked the polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol market with the introduction of the Canik TP9 SF. This robust handgun boasts features like interchangeable backstraps, Picatinny rail, a blade-in-trigger safety that rivals my Walther PPQ in both pull weight and reset, and even a holster, all for just $375. The big news is that recently the TP9 SF pistol got a new baby brother: the TP9 SC (for sub-compact), and it’s designed just for concealed carry. Make no mistake, the TP9 SC includes all of the features that made its bigger brother a smash hit, including a similar price point.
For our testing, I requested the TP9 Sub Elite with the sleek tungsten slide finish. This version of the pistol comes optics ready with slightly elevated Warren sights that allow for the co-witness of most red-dot optics. I like this trend because if your battery fails, or you don’t have a red dot with an auto turn on, you are not completely up the creek. It also includes a 12-round magazine for your tightest carry option, and a 15-round magazine should your dress allow it or you are looking to do fewer reloads during a training session. Although these are double-stacks, neither was a problem to conceal. While this configuration is typically bulkier than the single-stack magazines that have come back into style as of late, it fit my medium-sized hand quite nicely. If you have a slightly larger hand, there is a backstrap in the box to help accommodate that.
The new sub-compact from Canik also took the southpaw into consideration by utilizing an ambidextrous slide stop. Again, this is another feature that I’m big on, because not only does it address the lefties who make up 12 percent of the shooting world, but who’s to say your right hand is going to be available for an emergency reload? The magazine release can also be set up to work from either side depending on your preference.
I say preference because not all lefties like to reverse it, like yours truly. I prefer keeping it on the left side of the gun so I can use my trigger finger to actuate it. I guess it’s a nod to the first guns that I have ever learned to shoot and I will always go there for a reload under stress. Although the gun can be set up to accommodate either hand, the holster that is included can only be used for righties. However, I did enjoy that it can be configured for IWB or OWB carry simply by reversing the included J-clips. It also had many of the features you would want such as adjustable retention strength, variable height, and even the ability to be worn with a tucked-in shirt.
Before hitting the range I conducted a few dry draws and some basic function tests. During this time I measured trigger weight with a Lyman Digital Trigger Gauge and found an average break at just 3 pounds,15 ounces. I loaded up my range bag with 115-gr. Hornady Critical Defense and 124-gr. SIG FMJ ammunition. I kept it to lighter weight loads, because the gun weighs just 24.5 ounces…I figured it was likely to have a little snap to it. I took this opportunity to test the TAT 3D Humanoid Target System pictured above (https://tat3dats.com/). This realistic three-dimensional target utilizes self-healing materials to comprise a proportional figure that looks and even bends like a human threat.
After setting up, I took a few minutes to get an idea of how accurate that little 3.6-inch barrel could possibly be. To my surprise, it was quite the tack driver. From an improvised benchrest position, I fired both the Hornady and the SIG ammunition from a distance of 15 yards and gathered an average of five five-shot groups of 1.56 inches and 1.68 inches, respectively. The Critical Duty narrowly beat out the SIG Training ammo for the best group, with a five-shot cluster that measured only .97 of an inch. The SIG rounds were right behind them with a best group of 1.06 inches.
Honestly, I wouldn’t leave either round on the shelf at the gun store. My thought is, who could ask for more out of a sub-compact? Both rounds also fed just fine, but neither are of a problematic profile so there weren’t any surprises there.
I finished out my range day practicing a plethora of self-defense techniques to include double taps, Mozambiques and firing from both retention and retreat. As advertised, getting rounds on target under these conditions was an effortless and snag-free venture. If you are looking for a great little carry gun that feels good and has the capacity you want for range us,e give the Canik TP9 SC series a try. MSRP is $429; dealer prices are likely to be lower. Get more information at https://www.canikarms.com.