Firearm & Gear Reviews

Review: Canik TP9 Elite Combat

I’ve become a bit of a Canik Fanatik over the last year or so. I only own two of their pistols but likely their best two by most people’s opinion. I’m a believer. These Turkish born firearms are some of the best value you can find on the handgun market today. They are feature rich, well made, good looking and once again, inexpensive in comparison. The TP9 line has grown very quickly and literally has something for everyone. Consisting of eight different models they range in cost from as low as $299 for the One Series TP9SF to the Canik Elite Combat at $849 MSRP.

The subject of this review is Canik’s flagship model the TP9 Elite Combat. If you’ve read my review of the TP9SFX with the Freedomsmith trigger you know that I am huge fan of that gun. It’s absolutely amazing for the money and my best shot on most days. So when I started shopping for another Canik I didn’t mess around. If I can get such exceptional performance out of a gun for around $550 bucks, imagine what I can get by spending nearly $300 more. Of course I didn’t pay MSRP  and the difference between the guns was closer to $225. So is the Elite Combat worth paying nearly 50% more? Yes and no.

The TP9 Elite Combat and the TP9SFX are fundamentally two very different guns and their difference in cost could largely attributed to this fact alone. The Elite Combat is marketed very obviously as a “combat pistol” and has the typical characteristics of a duty pistol. It’s heavy slide, shorter threaded barrel and compact frame make it’s duty purpose a foregone conclusion. It gets more interesting however when you add the Salient Arms threaded match grade barrel, extended slide release, magazine well, flat-faced trigger and red dot compatibility. It’s a pretty fancy duty gun with features that lead one to believe it could be a great competition pistol. Canik Elite CombatThe Elite Combat just feels solid. It feels robust and reliable. Where the TP9SFX is like a good fillet knife, the Elite Combat is like a KA-Bar. Like you can hammer in nails with it. So yes, you get what you pay for. The Canik Elite Combat is worth the extra money. It is a jack of all trades and Canik says it’s most advanced pistol yet. I agree wholeheartedly.

I’m not going to spend much time discussing all of the pistols features. Salient Arms is a reputable company that makes high quality parts albeit at a premium price. The match barrel, fiber optic sights and magazine well could arguably be considered over $300 in upgrades. The Elite Combat is a relatively compact pistol. It measures just slightly larger than my CZ P10-C which in turn makes it about the same size as the Glock 19. Clearly designed to be competitive as a carry pistol. The grip is a bit short for me but the magazine well makes up for it and gives me a confident, solid grip. Like the CZ P10 and Glock 19 it has a polymer frame and a steel slide. Unlike both the CZ and Glock though, the frame feels more solid with little flex. The mag well possibly lending to this stiffness. The slide of the Elite Combat seems to dominate the feel of the gun. It doesn’t make the gun top heavy, you instead just feel like you’re connected to the slide and to the barrel in turn. Which ultimately makes the Elite Combat very “pointable” and quick on target.

I didn’t do a lot of shooting using the stock Salient Arms fiber optic sights but they work well and look as high quality as you would expect. I instead topped the Elite Combat off with a Vortex Venom red dot using one of the included mounting plates. As with all of Canik’s red dot compatible pistols the Canik comes ready to take on just about any of the major brands of red dots available. The Elite Combat also includes two back straps to customize the grip to each shooter’s needs and two additional magazine releases of varying sizes that are reversible for those lefty’s out there. Canik has always been generous and rounds out the package with a cleaning brush, some tools, and a retention holster.  The only thing missing is a 3rd magazine and rear sights capable of co-witnessing with a red dot. But now I’m just being greedy.

Canik Elite Combat TriggerThe trigger is very much worth mentioning and when looking into the gun initially I found it was one of it’s most promoted features.  It’s a good trigger, especially as a stock trigger. It has a decent amount of take up, a defined wall (eventually) and a good positive break. The reset is outstanding and short. The trigger has some idiosyncrasies though. If you watch the video below you will see near the end of the video where I pull the trigger and make two distinct stops before the trigger finally breaks. Depending on the pressure you apply it’s possible to find two defined walls. The second being more firm than the first. The video also demonstrates that this fist wall can be passed through to the second without pause if the right pressure is applied. This is the definition of trigger creep. Once you go through the initial trigger take-up then you find yourself creeping along through an additional level of resistance until hitting the wall. This is a relatively minor criticism and is more common than not, but the trigger’s greatest weakness nonetheless. Honestly I think the trigger in the CZ P10-C is better. They have nearly identical characteristics but the CZ has little to no creep. Both triggers are quite controllable and break when you decide they should. Canik says it breaks at around 4.8lbs. and I found that to be very close to my experience.

 

In conclusion the Canik Elite Combat’s trigger is very good. Not better than the TP9SFX with the Freedomsmith trigger though. Not by a long shot in my opinion. The Elite Combat’s trigger though is far more suited for a combat or carry gun while the Freedomsmith trigger in the TP9SFX is more suited to competition or precision shooting.

So how’s it shoot? It shoots good of course. With just over 600 rounds through the barrel I haven’t had a single malfunction except for occasionally riding the extended slide release. Looking through my notes for various range sessions I’ve observed on multiple occasions that I tend to shoot it best with a faster cadence. Canik Elite Combat TargetWhen I slow down I see bad habits manifest. Low and left chief among them.  In some ways, the Elite Combat may very well be my most frustrating gun to shoot. I can be extremely accurate one day and far less the next. The truly frustrating part is that I nearly always feel like I’m shooting well with it. Nevertheless, like the TP9SFX, I truly enjoy shooting the Canik TP9 Elite Combat. Enough that I will patiently work through my issues with it, knowing that it’s both a worthwhile journey and a prize at the end. Ultimately with the hope that I can carve up targets like I can with the TP9SFX.

So is it worth the extra couple hundred dollars? In some ways it isn’t. The Elite Combat is kinda like a pistol without a defined purpose. In an effort to be good at everything it falls short of being best at anything. I think it’s my failing and not the pistols though. The Elite Combat has a higher ceiling than I am capable of at this time and more versatility than I can take advantage of. If I need a carry pistol I probably could do just as well with my Glock or CZ, and if I wanted a competition pistol the TP9SFX is my hands down winner. No regrets buying it though. At a street price of $650 it is an exceptional value and a great gun. I’m confident that as I grow as a shooter I will grow into the Canik Elite Combat.

 

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