TURKISH MANUFACTURING QUALITY
Turkey is host to a number of firearms manufacturers that have a solid reputation for reverse-engineering and cloning firearms like the CZ75. I would also note that these companies in Turkey also have a strong reputation for incredible quality in manufacturing. Many big companies utilize Turkish manufacturers like Sarsilmaz, to make certain OEM parts. Beretta, for example, has their high quality shotgun barrels made in Turkey. Many people may not realize it, but Turkey has been responsible for many manufacturing and development projects for NATO as well.
If you know anything about Turkey and the Turkish people, you will know that they take alot of pride in their work, and this is directly reflected in the quality of machining that you find in their products, to include their firearms.
The SAR9 is a polymer framed pistol that was supposedly designed from the ground up to be better than the Glock. Apparently the Turkish government didn’t like the idea that their military was considering Glocks as their standard issue pistol. It would seem that they were insulted by the fact that their military was not satisfied with the domestic offerings, so they tasked Sarsilmaz with developing a pistol their military would be happy with. Perhaps the reason this pistol resembles the Glock so much is because the government went to Sarsilmaz and said “The military wants a Glock…So make a Glock, and in fact, make it better than a Glock.” On top of all this, the pistol was to be made to surpass the requirements of NATO testing. The pistol was then sent through official NATO testing. You know…just for a little overkill.
There is not much information on the testing the pistol underwent for NATO. But this is understandable since it is still fairly new. It is claimed that the pistol exceeded the performance of other foreign pistol designs from other big manufacturers based out of Austria, Germany, Belgium, and America. This is an interesting claim, and I personally am interested to read the reports, when they become available.
Supposedly, during the NATO testing, the SAR9 underwent a 90,000 round test and surpassed the other designs, as the pistol was designed to do. If you look at the different tests done on pistols such as the CZ P-01 and the M9, you will note that the pistols had to exceed at least 15,000 rounds in order to get a passing grade. After this, pistols do a long term test to find out where they actually fail at, and the P-01 apparently got to 30,000 rounds, for example. I would assume this test is a test on how long the pistol will last with only operator level maintenance, such as recoil spring changes. From my experience, this seems more realistic than just burning out a pistol without any maintenance whatsoever. Most pistols can withstand 15,000 rounds without maintenance, but 30,000 is a bit extreme, in my experience.
The SAR USA site even boasts that the factory tested the pistols to last up to 150,000 rounds. I assume that this number represents a single part that was capable of lasting this long, as long as the pistol maintains a regular maintenance schedule. This seems to be the most reasonable explanation for such large numbers, based on my knowledge of other tests.
All I know is that the SAR9 actually was awarded an NSN from these tests, and the documentation of the NATO testing is scheduled to come out soon. I look forward to posting the results of these tests and walking us through the data, when the time comes.
IN THE BOX
The SAR9 comes in a black, flimsy, polymer box with SAR USA on the front.
The inside of the box is very simple and it efficiently contains everything that you need, and some things that you don’t. With the pistol and the back/side straps, you also get an instruction manual, a lock(not shown), a punch for changing the back straps, a soft bore sponge(feels like microfiber), and a polymer punch rod for swabbing the bore with a patch.
You don’t get very much with the pistol. I find the cleaning rods and sponges to be useless for me, but the metal punch seems to be very useful. The instruction manual is not too bad.
The pictures are pretty detailed, but the book is thin and there isn’t much in it.
Just at a glance, you can tell the obvious inspiration that the H&K VP9 and the Glock 17 had on the SAR9 design. But other than the aesthetics and some internals, we are looking at a bit of a different animal here. Perhaps Sarsilmaz did make a Glock that is better than a Glock.
The grip is very similar to the grip you see on the VP9. It is not only familiar, but it shares the same modularity in side and back straps.
You are even provided with a little punch specifically for the back and side straps.
Just be warned that the roll pin holding the grip panels in is one of the tightest fitting I have ever encountered.
An interesting detail is that the individual side panels have SAR9 markers that pop out. I have zero clues about why this is even part of the design, but I am just gonna accept it.
You will also notice that even the finger grooves are oddly familiar to the VP9.
The one other thing that I did note about the grip is that the texturing pattern is a bit different from the VP9. It is slightly more slippery like a PPQ grip.
The slide of the pistol is very similar to the profile you would find on the Glock 17 in length and in the blocky profile it sports.
The slide features forward serrations, for those who like to use them for press checks, and such.
The slide serrations have relatively sharp edges, though they are shallow. I find them quite adequate for manipulating the slide quickly.
The 3-dot sights are more akin to Novak sights, with a rear sight that is windage adjustable, and it features a screw for making adjustments relatively easy.
You will note that the rear sight even has a shallow cut under the opening in case you want to apply some paint.
The slide uses an extended extractor with a sharp protrusion that acts as a tactile loaded chamber indicator. The red paint in it does not easily show itself, and doesn’t even really show when the pistol is loaded, unfortunately.
The pistol has an accessory rail with three slots on it for attaching a light or laser.
The manual safety is on both sides of the pistol and it is very stiff. The safety can only be engaged when the striker is cocked but you can operate the slide with it engaged. The dotted texturing seems to have a rubbery feel to it, making it easier to use. My recommendation is to work the safety repeatedly in order to help make it easier to use. It is generally considered a good idea to practice with your safeties, even if you don’t think you will ever use them. Something about Murphy’s law, and all that.
I understand that many people have grievances against striker fired pistols having a manual safety. They already have a trigger safety, so what is the big deal? I am in the same opinion that this pistols’ safety is pointless. But the funny thing is that this safety is not standard on the original SAR9. The safety was merely added for import reasons. What those reasons are, I am not sure. But, according to SAR USA, they are working on developing a pin, so you can replace the safety.
The SAR9 slide stop is a beefy, boxy, solid piece of metal.
It has texturing on the slanted top side for releasing the slide. It is easy to use and is hard to miss, but it lacks any truly sharp edges. The contact that the slide stop has with the the slide is very solid. There is a substantial cut out on the inside of the slide, specifically for the slide stop to engage.
My best guess is that it was designed this way in order to prevent foreign debris from being able to get into the action. Most pistols just have a slot cut out of the slide for the slide stop, and this could potentially let in foreign debris.
The magazine release reminds me of the release you find on the Steyr pistols. This control also uses dotted texturing, which is slightly rubbery in feel. The magazine release is reversible, and can be reversed in similar fashion to the Glock. This control definitely needs to be worked with right out of the box in order to get it worked in.
The disassembly tabs are very similar in concept to the Glock, but they actually seem to be more like the ones you find on the Walther PPQ or Beretta PX4. In order to take down the pistol, you merely pull the trigger and then pull down on the tabs. There is no need to release tension on the slide like on the Glock. The texturing, like all the other controls, is simple but very effective.
The trigger on the SAR9 is not unlike the triggers you find on the Glock, but I will say that there is an obvious improvement in the feel and function of the SAR9 trigger. First thing you will notice is the little red triangle on the sides of the trigger when it is cocked. This is simply a marker to show that the striker is cocked and the trigger is ready to be pulled
As far as trigger weight goes, my two trigger gauges are showing that this pistol has a trigger pull just under 5 pounds. The trigger does have a little bit of grit to it IF you are REALLY looking for it. The reset on this trigger is about the same as a Glock in how audible and tactile it is. It even gives you that nice forward nudge that you Glock fans are used to. Here are pictures for reference…
I may not be the best judge of trigger characteristics, since I never use the reset and I don’t make a habit of pulling triggers slowly. Being that I spend more time shooting DA/SA, most striker fired triggers have the same feeling to me.
The SAR9 comes with 2 15 round magazines that really resemble the pattern and look of H&K VP/P30 magazines.
In several places, the magazine capacity is noted to have a capacity of 17 rounds. Perhaps the 17 round magazines will become available some time soon. The magazines have zero compatibility with any other types of magazines on the market, so you are going to have that to consider. In the meantime, I noticed that you can easily load 16 rounds into the magazine, with room to spare.
The internal workings of the SAR9 are very close to what you might find inside of a Glock Gen4, but with some important differences. The main difference is that none of the internal components are actually interchangeable with Glock Parts.
The SAR9 has a 4.4″ barrel that uses standard rifling and closely resembles a Glock barrel. The rifling is a bit shallow, which may help the bullets keep a tight seal in the bore on their way out. All that is really important is the fact that this pistol grants you the ability to use cast lead projectiles safely.
The feed ramp has a minor polish and the mouth of the chamber is slightly beveled all the way around.
The barrel also has an incredibly well protected crown that is countersunk into the muzzle.
The recoil spring is very similar to the current Glock recoil spring, but it uses alot of thick metal, instead of polymer.
I will also note that this spring is very tight and seems to have slightly more tension on it than many 40 caliber recoil springs. This may be by design, so that the pistol will last longer with less maintenance.
The SAR9 uses a Grip Module, which works much like a chassis system in other designs.
This Grip Module is secured by 3 pins and houses the trigger, locking block, takedown system, and firing control group.
The Grip Module is just the piece that wraps around these parts. It also is the part that the frame rails are attached to.
Completely broken down, the chassis-like setup breaks down into few parts, making it a very efficient use of space.
You will notice that without the grip module, the grip is barren, save for the magazine release.
If you look at the Grip Module in relation to the rest of the grip, you will probably see that this design is incredibly modular and you could potentially have the same module and parts in different frame and slide lengths, if desired.
SAR USA stands behind the SAR9 with a one year warranty on the pistol. For myself, I trust that one year is going to be plenty of time to run the pistol to the point that any issues will pop up, should there be any. I have yet to use their customer service, but I have noticed that SAR USA always has someone answer the phone quickly when you call.
I picked up the SAR9 for $345, and only paid $25 shipping to get it to Alaska. This pistol has an MSRP of $450 roughly, and comes in a stainless slide version for about $50 more. I am quite satisfied with the black slide on my pistol, but at least there are options. As far as options, I am not sure if this pistol is similar enough to the Glock to share Kydex holsters.
I have spent some time shooting this pistol and I only found one issue with the pistol. The manual safety really hurts my hand if i try to get a high grip on the pistol. I found that the best way to grip the pistol is to have your hand as far forward on the grip, instead of being high up on the grip. I don’t subscribe to the whole bore axis theory, so I have no issue with my hand being one millimeter lower on the frame. It literally makes no difference except that your trigger finger knuckle doesn’t get beat up by the safety. I am really hoping that SAR USA is making a priority of developing that pin to replace the manual safety.
The pistol seems to have a sharp recoil impulse right out of the box. The pistol I shot at SHOT show was well broken in and had very light recoil in comparison. I think the strong recoil spring could be the reason for this feedback, as is usually the case.
I am really looking forward to shooting this pistol more and seeing what it can do. I trust that this pistol is every bit as durable as they say, and you can almost feel it when you handle the pistol. The tight springs and the beefy components just look and feel like they were overbuilt. When you handle this pistol, you can tell that it was built to be a combat pistol that you can trust and depend on. What is more amazing is that Turkey has managed to make a more durable, ergonomic, and affordable Glock.
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