Review: Sarsilmaz SAR 9 Compact 9mm

A Best Buy 9mm Carry Gun

When I test fire new firearms I let each stand on its own merit. Just the same, company history and the reputation the company’s other products have some bearing on the opinion of the firearm I am testing.

I have found the original SAR 9 9mm handgun a good performer. Performance is comparable to the Glock, Smith & Wesson Military & Police, and Walther handguns. The pistol functions well and has good hand fit and good sights. The grip panels are Walther like with both an adjustable backstrap and side inserts for the grips. I was interested in SAR’s newest 9mm.

SAR 9C with Sig Foxtrot WML

The SAR 9 C is a compact version of the SAR 9. If SAR got it right the new pistol would be an interesting handgun. The pistol is generally available for around $350 retail. Occasionally the pistol will be on sale for a little less. When you approach a bargain pistol you have to ask what corners have been cut. In this case it appears concessions to economy are minimal. 

Reliability is most important. Next comes hand-fit and practical accuracy. Testing  a pistol for a simple evaluation is one thing, proofing a pistol for personal defense is another. I found the pistol good and went forward with a longer test to proof the pistol as a carry gun and home defense pistol. Nothing changed my initial opinion of the pistols suitability for personal defense. This handgun is among the best buys in the handgun world and should serve well for defending home and person.

The pistol is manufactured in Turkey by Sarsilmaz. They have been in business since 1880 with an impressive list of military contracts. The full size SAR 9 9mm is a standard Turkish military handgun. The SAR 9 C is similar to the original with changes necessary for a compact frame and slide. The SAR 9 C is a polymer frame striker fired handgun. In the modern fashion grip inserts and side panels may be changed to make the pistol fit your hand better. While grip inserts are common side panels are more rare.

The handle offers a good gripping surface whether the hand is cold or wet. The frame features a slight undercut beneath the trigger guard. This makes for a lower bore centerline.  A roughened patch on each side of the grip frame above the trigger guard makes for a useful finger rest. The magazine latch and slide lock are positive in operation.

Take down is simple enough. The large take down levers are easily manipulated. There is a molded in accessory rail to accommodate combat lights and lasers. The sights are standard three white dot insert types. The sights are well regulated for 124 grain loads using the six o’clock hold. The slide rides on steel rails. There is an internal steel chassis. There is no manual safety. The pistol features an internal firing pin/striker block and the trigger features a blade type safety lever. When the pistol is cocked and ready a red making is visible on the rear of the trigger. I have tested trigger break on several SAR 9 pistols including the new SAR 9 C. Usually trigger compression is less than six pounds, most break around five and one half pounds. This example went 5.75 pounds compression. 

The pistol is supplied with well made steel magazines with base pads. Magazine capacity is fifteen rounds. The pistol will accept the full size SAR 9’s seventeen round magazines. They protrude slightly from the handle. When firing the pistol’s felt recoil is low for a pistol of this weight, 27 ounces. Felt recoil was more pleasant than most handguns of the size and weight class.

SAR has managed to design a recoil spring system that efficiently handles 9mm Luger recoil. I have often pointed out that there is little that may be done tactically with one handgun that cannot be done with the other given a skilled user. Glock, HK, SW, or SIG, a steady hand and straight to the rear trigger press makes all the difference. A heavier gun with better sights and a lighter trigger may be easier to fire well at longer range. The SAR 9 C is a credible defense pistol well suited to personal defense in rapid fire shooting and accurate enough to shoot the X ring out of a B 27 target at 15 yards. The pistol is fast on target and aligns quickly. Despite the current ammunition shortage- getting a little better-I have been able to put over three hundred rounds of ammunition through the SAR 9 C. Reliability has been faultless without any failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. 

Carrying the pistol requires a good holster. In general holsters designed for the Glock 19 are an ok fit providing they are not too tightly molded. I find the SAR 9 C a good pistol. The affordable price seems to be a product of mass production and successful military contracts more so than cutting corners. 


Striker fired 

Polymer Frame

Overall Length: 7.2 in.

Weight:   26.9 oz. 

Barrel Length: 4 inches  

Average price- you should be able to find this pistol for less than $400