Day at the Range

Day at the Range: Three’s Company

I’ve been shooting my pistols a lot lately. I go through phases. Earlier in the summer I was focused almost exclusively on long range range precision shooting and spent a considerable amount of time shooting my rifles prone or off the bench working on that particular set of skills. Right now, my focus is on my handguns. Handguns are probably where I struggle the most. I’ve never been a crack shot and have had to work hard to get to the point where I can shoot reasonably well (for me anyway) and consistently with my handguns. 

I had a little spare time a few mornings ago and thought I would take a couple of my favorite pistols to the range and see how they stacked up against each other. The pistols included: the Grand Power K100, my recently reviewed Glock 17 and my newly acquired Canik TP9SFX. All in 9mm. For each pistol I warmed up with 20 rounds of my handloads: 124g Hornady jacketed bullets over 4.5 grains of Winchester AutoComp. My go-to load that has proved to be soft shooting, reliable and reasonably accurate with all of my 9mm handguns. I followed this warm-up with the Mozambique Drill, modified however with respect to the speed in which I did the drill. I was interested primarily in the accuracy I could manage with each of these pistols and therefore performed the drill a little slower than I might normally. Typically the drill is done with a quick double tap to center mass and then an aimed head shot. I tried not to slow down too much and would characterize the double taps as more like repeat fire, taking only long enough to get the sights reasonably back on target. For the Mozambique Drill I used Remington 115g UMC ammo. Cheap plinking ammo but plenty reliable. For each handgun I used two magazines of 15 rounds each for a total of 30 rounds. My results are below with a brief review of each firearm.

GP K100 Mozambique.jpgI started with the Grand Power K100 Mk12. Imported by Eagle Arms from Slovakia it is a duty pistol at its heart with an interesting set of controls.  It’s a single/double action pistol with a rotating barrel that lowers the bore axis and transfers recoil differently than a traditional tilting barrel design. It makes for a pleasant and soft shooting pistol with excellent accuracy. The gun is completely ambidextrous and it’s rear lever functions as a decocker and a safety, and can put the gun into single or double action only, allowing the shooter to use the gun in any manner they prefer. It has a very slim stock grip which works well for me. For those with larger hands it does come with several other backstraps that allow for greater customization if needed. 

I haven’t shot the Grand Power a great deal but have put enough rounds through it to conclude that it is one of my more accurate pistols. At least for me. It has a pretty light single stage trigger that breaks right around 4 lbs. It does exhibit the slightest bit of creep that is more noticeable when dry firing but can be felt occasionally during live fire. My only other complaint would be the magazine release. It can be stiff at times. You won’t be mistakenly dropping the mag out of this gun. 

Overall I shot relatively well with the Grand Power while feeling at the same time that it had been too long since I fired this gun and rusty as a result. My body shots were the best between all the pistols and with the exception of three flyers, the headshots grouped nearly as well. Nothing to feel bad about but nonetheless feeling like I hadn’t shot as well as I can with this handgun.

Next up was my Glock 17 Gen 4 with the ZEV trigger kit. If you have been following along you know that I have been shooting my Glock quite a bit lately and recently installed a trigger kit by ZEV Technologies. Overall I have been very satisfied with the kit even if it hasn’t particularly made me a better shooter with this gun. As promised in part 2 of my review I finally installed ZEV’s race connector and it has dramatically changed the feel of the trigger. The first and most notable difference is the break. The trigger now breaks consistently at just over 4#.  I finally got the trigger pull weight I’ve always wanted in my Glock. Unfortunately, I also lost most of what I really liked about the ZEV trigger. It no longer feels like a two stage trigger. Gone is the firm wall after the short pre-travel. The trigger now feels like a single stage trigger, and although the trigger has mostly consistent resistance throughout the pull, it can be difficult at times to tell exactly when the trigger is going to break. I suspect it will become increasing comfortable as I shoot with it more. The trigger in fact isn’t unlike the trigger in the Canik TP9SFX. The ZEV’s race connector does exactly what it says it will: give you a competition style trigger.Glock 17 Mozambique

So how did I shoot? Pretty good. For the Glock anyway. The body shots had the largest spread between all pistols but they were mostly all center mass. The headshots were grouped very nicely with the exception of three rounds that landed just left of the target. With my struggles with the Glock, it’s hard not to feel extremely satisfied with this target. I suspect I will shoot the Glock in this current state a few more times before deciding which way I want to go with the race connector. I was genuinely surprised by how much of a difference it made to the trigger’s feel. Disappointed though, I am definitely a fan of the trigger kit with the stock connector. If I could combine the ZEV triggers feel with the stock connector, with the light break of the race connector, I believe I would have the perfect trigger.

Last but definitely not least we come to the Canik TP9SFX. Canik has released a plethora of budget friendly handguns in the last few years. All based off of the original TP9. Their pistols have been very well received and considered by many to be quality firearms and exceptional bargains. Canik in the BoxThe TP9SFX is no exception and likely the best example. I waited a long time to get this gun due to Maryland’s wonky handgun roster but it was worth the wait and unbelievably the least expensive gun of the three, costing only $520. An absolutely stunning deal just by looking in the box and even more so after shooting it. In fact, I’m going to list the manufacturer’s list of feature just because it’s so impressive.

FEATURES

  • Comes with industry standard dovetail sight cuts that are compatible with a large variety of aftermarket sights
  • Warren Tactical sights with red and green fiber optic front sight
  • Removable Red Dot cover – Rear sight installed in cover to eliminate interference with certain Red Dot sights
  • Four Red Dot interface plates
  • Match grade barrel
  • Improved single action trigger with 3.5 – 4 lb. pull
  • Lightening cuts on slide to reduce muzzle rise
  • Forward slide serrations
  • Reversible ambidextrous cocking lever
  • Extended ergonomic slide stop
  • Adjustable length reversible magazine catch
  • Two extra sizes of magazine catch extension (addition to standard magazine catch)
  • Striker status indicator
  • MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail
  • Tungsten grey cerakote over phosphate
  • AFC magazine coating

The TP9SFx comes with two 20 rd. mags., poly holster, paddle/belt attachment, interchangeable backstraps, cleaning rod, brush and a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.

 

Likely the most exciting part about getting this gun was its compatibility with red dot sights. I’ve had a Burris FastFire 3 red dot sitting around for some time now. I got it for free during a promotional sale and it has been begging for a permanent home since.  The TP9SFX is going to be that home. I have always been intrigued by the idea of having a red dot sight on a pistol and the Canik TP9SFX was all the reason I needed to give it a try.

This was only my second time shooting the Canik TP9SFX and I am still very much getting used to it. More specifically, what I’m really getting used to is the red dot. To be clear the TP9SFX doesn’t require a red dot. It comes with excellent factory sights and I suspect my initial accuracy with the handgun would have been even better with irons than with the red dot. Using a red dot sight on a handgun takes some getting used to, but I’m coming around. I think what has really opened my eyes about the advantages of a red dot sight is the speed in which you can re-acquire or switch targets. Doing the Mozambique Drill with this red dot equipped pistol was simply a joy. TP9SFX MozambiqueAs I mentioned earlier, I was intentionally slowing down the pace of the drill to focus on accuracy.  I quickly discovered though that the red dot had me nearly back up to full speed.  I found myself thinking more than once: I’m going too fast. The ease and speed, especially when switching from body shots to head shots, was almost startling. As you can see from the target below, I shot pretty well with the TP9SFX. The groups weren’t quit as tight of those of the Grand Power but unlike either of the other to guns, I didn’t have a single miss. All while shooting closer to full speed. A quick word about the TP9SFX’s trigger. It’s good. But not perfect. Earlier I compared the ZEV trigger with the race connector to the Canik’s trigger and they are very similar with a few key differences. The Canik’s trigger has a fair amount of take up and then almost a secondary amount of take up, or creep if you want to call it that, then stops at a fairly defined wall before a very crisp break. The difference between the two triggers is that the Glock doesn’t have nearly as much take-up and more consistent resistance, but it doesn’t have the Canik’s defined wall. The Canik to me has the superior trigger because of this fact alone. Regardless of the extra take up and the varying resistance, the TP9SFX makes you feel as if you are always in control and the pistol fires exactly when you want it to. One additional thing to note. Both the ZEV trigger in the Glock and the Canik TP9SFX have exceptional resets with the edge going ever so slightly to the Glock for better tactile feel.

This article could just have easily been called: Budget Pistol Shootout! These three handguns, though not inexpensive, could all be considered budget firearms. Each costing around $550 each. They all are excellent pistols in their own right and each has unique characteristics that make them very different than each other. The Canik TP9SFX deserves special mention though. This pistol is simply one of the best deals going on right now. It is marketed as a entry level competition handgun but would be very capable in a variety of roles with concealed carry the possible exception.  All in all a very enjoyable day at the range.  I don’t always leave the range feeling content and satisfied, especially when working on my pistol skills. Today was a good day though, and I didn’t even have to use my AK.

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