Review: Sarsilmaz SAR 9

Review: Sarsilmaz SAR 9
Sarsilmaz SAR 9

Sarsilmaz may not be a house-hold name in the United States, but they are not new players in the global firearms scene. Based in Turkey, Sarsilmaz has been building and refining firearms since 1880 when the Ottoman Empire ruled the eastern Mediterranean. Given this longevity, they've built a reputation for building exactly what their customers specify. And that reputation continues with their latest offering: the SAR 9 pistol.

Made in Sarsilmaz's state-­of-­the-­art facility in Beköy Beldesi-­Düzce, the SAR 9 is the pistol Glock would make - gasp - were Glock listening to the American market. The SAR 9 is a full-­sized, polymer­framed, striker-fired pistol that's chambered in 9mm and is expertly engineered. Best of all, it's available with a very affordable sticker on its box.

G&A acquired two SAR 9 pistols for testing. One was all-black, and the other had a bare stainless steel slide. They came each in a lockable case, with a pair of 15-round steel magazines, three custom backstraps and panel sets (like the HK VP9), a lock, cleaning gear and an owner's manual - all the expected goodies.

I have to confess, as I opened the box the guns arrived in to checked to verify that they were unloaded and check the serial numbers for booking, my first thought was, Oh, another polymer pistol. Ho-hum. As I pulled the first gun out of its case, those thoughts changed to Whoa, that's a nice-­feeling grip!


Let the examination begin.


First Impressions

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Trigger
The trigger includes a safety familiar to Glock users. The red indicator lets us know the striker is charged and ready.

The SAR 9 pistol feels good in my large hands and points well. But that trigger? Yuck! As with a lot of polymer-­framed, striker-­fired pistols, the new out-­of-the-box trigger pull squeaked and presented hitches in its gait. These things sometimes work themselves out in dry-­firing and test-­firing. Sometimes you have to fire a pistol more than 1,000 rounds before there's a perceptible change in its trigger press. The second sample had a better trigger. So, try before you buy.

Looking at the SAR 9, you'll notice the not-so-unexpected angular slide, and its cocking serrations fore and aft. The sights are steel with a Glock-style front post attached by the familiar hex screw underneath and a Novak-style rear notch producing a clean, three-dot aiming pattern. The right side of the slide displays a hefty extractor and both sides have front and rear serrations.

The barrel lock-up resembles John Browning's tilt-lock design, which is a good thing.


I noted that the serial number appears three times on the SAR 9: on the frame, slide and barrel. That's not too surprising since such redundancy is common on firearms made overseas. Though the internal chassis is removable and suggests SIG Sauer P320-like modularity, the serial number is laser etched to a plate that's riveted to the Picatinny-railed dustcover of the polymer grip frame. The takedown crossbar is positioned just behind the rail and works like one on the Walther PPQ. It's used by pressing on each side of a pair of recessed polymer tabs that's flush with the frame, above the trigger. Like a Glock, with the slide slightly drawn, you have to pull the trigger before the slide assembly can be removed forward off of the frame. Behind the takedown crossbar is the slide stop, which is a steel tab protected by a molded fence.

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Barrel
The barrel looks common to striker-fired pistols, but the one in the SAR 9 features conventional rifling and a recessed crown.

The feature that jumped to my attention was the thumb safety. Yep, that's right, a thumb safety - on a polymer-­frame, striker-fired pistol. Even better, it's an ambidextrous lever. How long have users of striker-­fired polymer pistols been asking for a thumb safety? It's an option on Smith & Wesson's M&P series as well as some SIG Sauer P320s. Uncle Sam even called for one to appear on each candidate for the MHS contract, as well.

The magazine catch is not just a button on the SAR 9. Rather, it is a narrow, rectangular tab located behind and slightly below the trigger. On the far side, it is shielded from your hand by a raised rib in the grip contour. It is easy to hit when you want to, and highly unlikely to be pinned by your hand on the far side.


For those who want it, the front of the triggerguard is squared off a bit, and the front face of it is ribbed, also. Those who shoot with your other index finger on it - like G&A's Craig Boddington - can appreciate this feature. I don't, but some do.

The frontstrap is contoured for finger grooves. I've never found a groove arrangement that actually corresponded to my fingers, but unlike some, I did not find these to be objectionable. They were there, but once I got to shooting I never noticed them.

The top of the frontstrap is lifted, the curve there going higher than many pistols, which allows our hand perhaps the highest hold on a frame.

At the bottom, the frame flares out to both provide a magazine well funnel, and to create a finger lock against your grip's smallest finger. If your hands are large enough, this lets you lock your grip against the triggerguard and the bottom of the frame. Not that you need it to deal with the ferocious recoil of the 9mm, but the more-solid your grip, the better you will shoot and manage recoil effects.

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Grips
Like the HK VP9, the frame maximizes personal preference with its interchangeable backstraps and side panels.

Now we get to the absolutely fabulous replaceable backstraps. As with consumer demand these days, we can adjust the size and shape of the grip. But wait, Sarsilmaz didn't just include a set of backstraps, but added palm-filling side panels to the kit, too. Yep, you can swap out the backstraps and sides of the grip in any combination you want. Just drive out the retaining pin on the bottom back of the frame, pull off the backstrap and panels, and replace them with what works for you. Then reinstall the pin.

The magazines that the SAR 9 uses are steel and hold 15 rounds of 9mm. The tubes have slight creases down the sides, which appear to be adjustments to allow the tubes to work with 9mm ammo. This usually is an indication of the tube being originally proportioned for .40-­caliber rounds, and then were altered for a skinnier cartridge.

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Magazine
The magwell is flared and scalloped at the sides for grabbing the magazine basepad. Two 15-round mags are included.

Building A Relationship

The SAR information that came with the guns explains that the trigger system is not like a usual two-­stage striker system, with a lighter take­up and a heavier finish. The design is intended to offer a clean double-action (DA) feel all the way through the pull. It's supposed to be lighter than traditional striker-fired systems, too. It may well do that, but right out of the box neither of ours were all that smooth.

In spite of the rough triggers, test­-firing the SAR 9 was easy. Felt recoil in any full-sized 9mm pistol is not something to worry about, but neither sample failed to feed, fire or eject, or to lock open when the magazine ran dry. Even the hot loads were comfortable to shoot, which is why many of us desire full-­size pistols.

I've said it before; every firearm is a law unto itself. If you want to get the most accuracy out of one handgun, you really need to test it. Just because a given load is the most-accurate out of your buddy's pistol, that doesn't mean it will be out of yours. The recorded velocities were within 20 to 30 feet per second (fps) of each other, and around 1,100 ­fps, that's a couple of percentage points different. One or the other was not always the faster of the pair I tested.

With the preferred ammunition chambered, each SAR 9 was more than capable of printing groups that were no larger than the apparent width of the front sight. You could win more than your fair share of matches with a pistol this accurate.

The triggers did ease up, but they never did settle to a clean trigger press. In that regard, I suspect that all gunwriters are a bit spoiled. Spending entirely too much time with tuned, slicked-­up and competition-­oriented firearms, I sometimes forget that a new pistol might benefit from more time breaking it in.

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Performance

Is it a Glock buster?

Why did I start out this read by suggesting this is the pistol Glock should be making? Let's start with the thumb safety. Want it or not, the SAR 9 is available either way. Secondly, this is a pistol intended to undermine a Glock 17, I have no doubt.

Thirdly, there are replacement panels on the SAR 9. On the Glock frame, you have the choice of grabbing big or bigger. (This is a feature that we find on a more expensive HK pistol!) Interchangable grip panels means that the SAR 9 offers you more ways to make the pistol shoot right for you. Here's an idea: If you want something different, take the spare panels and experiment on the set that least-­fits your hand. Next, dry-­fire the heck out of it, and learn to get its trigger under control. Not only will it be an accurate pistol, but one you can shoot quickly. You will find that the SAR 9 is both self-defense ready and suited for practical competition stages.

If you purchase a SAR 9, you'll get a solidly-­engineered pistol that's made on similar modern CNC machines you'd find in any modern industrial enterprise. And then there's the price. Suggested retail is $449, meaning SAR 9s are priced at that or less. When was the last time there was this much pistol for so little money?

Sarsilmaz-SAR-9-Specs
 
 

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and an erector assembly unlike any other on the market. The Z5(i) is an excellent choice for an all-­around hunting scope. Optics

Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm Scope Review

Tom Beckstrand - September 09, 2020

The Swarovski Z5(i) P BT L 3.5-­18x44mm has a unique and versatile multiple-­zero system and...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why. Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other. Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions. Accessories

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 24, 2020

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a forged slide and frame. The crowned muzzle is cut flush with the bushing, which was given flats around the edges. Few curves were left untouched by flats; even the bottom of the triggerguard has corners leading to the high-grip undercut. The scale motif adds striking functionality. Reviews

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander Review

Eric R. Poole - July 28, 2020

The Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander is an abbreviated version of the Agent 2, built on a...

Concealed carry is on the rise, and the demand for variety has never been greater. Competitive shooter Jim Tarr joins Guns & Ammo Editor Eric Poole in this segment of “At The Range” to review the Kimber EVO SP, which is currently available in four unique models to meet Kimber's market demands. Handguns

Guns & Ammo TV: Kimber EVO SP

Guns & Ammo Staff - July 31, 2020

Concealed carry is on the rise, and the demand for variety has never been greater. Competitive...

Though the KelTec P17 is not perfect, it does offer great value potential. And while its plastic styling and plethora of Allen screws could be a hang-up for some, if you're still reading this, you're probably not one of them. Reviews

KelTec P17 Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 25, 2020

Though the KelTec P17 is not perfect, it does offer great value potential. And while its...

Langdon Tactical Technologies (LTT), a custom Beretta 92 gunsmithy, which has worked hand-in-hand with Beretta for years, released a red-dot optic (RDO) modification for these pistols. Handguns

Langdon Tactical: Beretta 92 Red Dot Mod

James Tarr - July 22, 2020

Langdon Tactical Technologies (LTT), a custom Beretta 92 gunsmithy, which has worked...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now