Canik TP9 Elite SC Review [2022]

A full and comprehensive review of the Canik TP9 Elite subcompact pistol. This gun was designed for concealed carry and home defense....

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Canik TP9 Elite SC Review [2022]
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canik-tp9-elite-sc-9mm-luger-36in-tungsten-grey-cerakote-pistol-121-rounds-1542801-1 Canik TP9 Elite SC 9mm Luger 12+1 RoundsCheck Price

Introduction

For those who are out of the loop, there has been an oversaturation of subcompact ‘Wonder Nine’ pistols on the market.

Models like the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, and Ruger Max-9, fight for the top pedestal, and even Taurus started making waves with their redeeming GX4 pistol.

The SIG Sauer P365 with a 10-round mag, which was unveiled back in 2018, might be one of the main culprits who popularized the single-stack, subcompact pistol.

These tiny 9mm ‘Wonder Nines’ have slowly become more popular than the .380 ACP pocket pistols. They offer more rounds for shooting and they’re less bulky, thanks to the “staggered column” stack design that retains high mag capacity.

While top manufacturers dogpile their subcompact entries, Canik unveiled their Canik TP9 Elite SC in 2021.

The TP9 Elite SC 9mm pistol brings a lot to the table with its excellent trigger, striker-fired mechanism, and a plethora of accessories that come with your purchase. Although a bit tanky, it offers a very pleasant shooting experience.

But does this “tanky” subcompact shoot well?

We’ll talk about the Canik TP9 Elite SC and review its main features, where it excels, its downsides, what makes it tick, and I’ll also list some cool alternative pistols that are similar in build and function.

Canik’s Idea Behind the TP9 Elite SC

Canik, pronounced “Jah-Nick.” is a Turkish company that partnered with Century International Arms (not to be confused with the CIA) to release their highly-acclaimed TP-series pistols on the US market.

Their first TP9 design was inspired by the work of the Walther P99, as can be seen by the double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger and tilt-barrel with a decocking button on the slide.

Canik kicked it up a notch and came up with buffed competition pistols like the Canik TP9SFX, law enforcement duty pistols like the TP9 Elite Combat, and of course, concealed carry pistols like the TP9 Elite SC that are made for discreet self-defense purposes.

It’s a very interesting addition to the world of subcompacts with its 3.6-inch barrel, 12-round magazine capacity, and Warren Tactical 3-Dot with an optics-ready red dot slide.

The Canik TP9 Elite SC has excellent cycling, trigger, and internal components that offer you a smooth shooting experience. Moreover, it’s listed at a very affordable price.

It’s Canik’s attempt to make a very reliable subcompact concealed carry pistol that demonstrates excellent improvements over the original design.

Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Canik USA
  • Distributor: Century Arms
  • Model: TP9 Elite SC
  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Action: Semi-automatic, striker-fired, single-action
  • Type: Centerfire
  • Safety: Left side manual safety, firing pin block, trigger safety, Extended ambidextrous magazine release
  • Trigger: Polymer with integrated safety
  • Trigger pull: 4.5-5 pounds
  • Capacity: 12+1; 15+1
  • Barrel length: 3.6 inches
  • Overall length: 6.7 inches
  • Overall height: 4.5 inches
  • Overall width: 1.45 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds (25 ounces)
  • Grips: Black polymer 4-side texturing
  • Front Sight: Warren Tactical phosphorous white 3-Dot
  • Rear Sight:  Drift adjustable, one-hand operation
  • Frame: Textured black polymer
  • Slide: Front and rear serrations
  • Accessory rail: 1-inch 2-slot Picatinny rail
  • Construction: Polymer
  • Finishes: Tungsten Gray Cerakote over Nitrided Steel Cocking

Overview – Canik TP9 Elite SC 9mm Luger 12+1 Rounds

canik-tp9-elite-sc-9mm-luger-36in-tungsten-grey-cerakote-pistol-121-rounds-1542801-1

Straight out of the box, you get those additional accessories I mentioned:

  • A foam-lined hard case for the pistol;
  • Two 15-round and 12-round magazines with a finger rest;
  • Two interchangeable backstraps;
  • An IWB/OWB convertible polymer holster;
  • Polymer base plate for the Shield RMS (Reflex Mini Sight)
  • Tool Kit with mounting accessories;
  • Cleaning accessories and brushes;
  • A trigger lock;
  • And of course, an owner’s Manual

It feels like a grocery list.

Usually, when you’re purchasing a new handgun, you convince yourself to buy the gun, then you scour the web for accessories with your leftover cash. Not here.

Canik generously packed this gun with lots of accessories that come with the purchase, and though the right-handed holster isn’t something special, the interior case is well-made and very convenient.

One more thing—Canik USA doesn’t mention the regular MSRP, and the price is from Century Arms, their main distributor. The prices vary a lot, so keep that in mind if you consider purchasing one.

The Elite SC provides a true out-of-the-box value, in fact, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. More importantly, it has the essential features for a very reliable subcompact pistol.

Let’s check it out.

Size, Magazines, Grips, and Ergonomics

holding in hand canik tp9 elite sc at SHOT Show 2022
Canik TP9 Elite SC review at SHOT Show 2022

To be honest, the TP9 Elite SC is a bit chunky and a bit wide for a subcompact pistol (that’s what the SC stands for). The TP9 Elite SC has a 3.6-inch barrel, but it has a shorter grip.

Although, it’s still an acceptable size for concealed carry, and you can find a decent Concealed Express holster for it. What’s more, it’s very easy to disassemble and clean.

It’s a bit wider than your regular double-stack compact, and it reminds me of the Heckler & Koch VP9SK, only cheaper.

The barrel has a standard land-and-groove rifling and is supported by steel dual springs for decreased recoil. The interior configuration is akin to the Glock “Safe-Action” design.

It’s pretty sturdy and the snapback when you pull the slide is strong and firm.

The 12-round magazine has a flush-fit base plate with a two-finger grip that’s strikingly similar to a Glock G26. Those with larger hands will find your pinky dangling at the bottom of the grip, so this can be annoying.

Most polymer pistols have slides with only one corrosion-resistant finish, but not the Elite SC.

It has a match-grade nitride-coated barrel, and a nitride-treated Tungsten Cerakote coating on the slide that’ll protect it from scratches. The internal parts are also nitride and high-wear nickel-coated for smooth operations.

The factory grip texture feels alright, and the backstraps offer comfortable shooting, but you can easily change them with the grips of your choice. Additionally, it comes with one big and one small palmswell strap.

Rails and Optics

The polymer frame has a railed forend for lasers and lights.

The Shield RMS 4 MOA Reflex MiniSight comes with the purchase. It’s a small red dot sight that can be co-witnessed, but any micro red dot optic like a SIG Sauer Romeo Micro will do.

It’s optics-ready, and the pre-milled slide has a single mount so you can attach your reflex optics. The beveled slide has multiple serrations at the front and rear.

But, if you prefer filler plate mounted rear sights that can be removable for optics, I recommend you pick the duty model, the TP9SF Elite Combat that has an 18+1 round capacity.

Check out our pistol red dot sight buyer’s guide for more options.

The sights are pretty standard: a dovetailed metallic white dot front sight and a drift-adjustable metallic rear sight with a square notch. It also has a hooked front that’s mounted onto the slide, which is logical for concealed carry.

Some expensive subcompact models don’t have this feature, so this is a big fat plus in my book.

Shooting and Ammo Recommendation

Canik TP9 SC sights
Canik TP9 SC sights

I’ve had lots of fun shooting the TP9 Elite SC. It really shoots well, the felt recoil is very manageable thanks to the weight of the gun, and I’ve only had a single misfire throughout my sessions.

Most people think a Canik is just budget-oriented and is prone to misfires, but this one can really change your mind.

At the ranges, the TCP9 Elite SC continuously impressed me with unwavering reliability, as it ate through 700 rounds without any failure to feed or eject.

I went with a wide variety of Hornady FMJs 115 gr, Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite 100 gr FTX, and defensive hollow point 9 mm loads.

There’s nothing in the owner’s manual for +P ammunition, so I decided to put some Speer 124 gr hollow points and Hornady +P 115 gr to the test.

All the bullets varied around the 2.8″ group average, but the Critical Defense 100g FTX averaged 1.62 inches with the best group of 1.59″ at 15 yards. For a defensive pistol, it really has great accuracy for close-quarter combat.

I noticed that the bullets went lower than average from 15 yards, so keep this in mind.

Safeties

I know that the original Canik TP9 had a tedious double-action/single-action trigger, and the decocking button was integrated within the slide. The single-action TP9SA model also had the feature.

It’s an obvious inspiration from the Walther P99, and most people hated it.

Now, Canik went for something new. They ditched the decocker, added a loaded striker indicator with a red dot at the rear, a two-piece integral trigger safety that’s similar to a Glock, and I think these are well-made choices for safety operations.

There are no external safeties, though, but the cocking serrations help. There are ambidextrous controls that are a dead giveaway to a Walther-like design such as the extended slide stop, the square-shaped mag release button, and the takedown lever.

Lefties rejoice, I guess.

Trigger

Canik TP9 SC grip & trigger
Canik TP9 SC grip & trigger

I think the trigger is responsible for the “Elite” in this Canik.

As I mentioned above, the TP9 Elite SC has a polymer trigger that’s similar to the Glock, but it’s smoother than your average factory striker trigger with a 4.5-pound pull, and it has a much lighter take-up with a little bit of creep.

The blade is slightly curved, so it’s not a completely flat trigger. It’s crisp and not at all gritty, and the trigger reset is pretty short, tactile, and sound. Whoever owned an original TP9 knows what I’m talking about.

The oversized square trigger guard is integrated into the dust cover, and it’s big enough to be considered glove-friendly. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to upgrade it if the trigger isn’t to your liking.

If you want a DA/SA trigger, you can check out the TP9DA if that’s your thing.

Overall, the TP9 Elite SC has a trigger with a decent pull that’s perfect for an EDC. This is because the internal components are nitrided or nickel-coated, which makes the mechanism run like butter.

Pros & Cons of the Canik TP9 Elite SC

Pros

  • Impressive Canik build
  • 15+1 and 12+1 round capacity models
  • Excellent value for the money
  • Abundance of additional accessories
  • Highly reliable
  • Intuitive controls and tactile trigger reset
  • Suitable for competitive shooting
  • Left-hand friendly ambidextrous extended slide stop lever

Cons

  • A bit bulky for concealed carry with its 1.45-inch width and 3.6-inch barrel
  • Optics version might snag

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Canik TP9 Elite SC.

Is the Canik TP9 Elite SC a Good Self-Defense Handgun?

The Canik TP9 Elite SC chambered in the 9mm is a decent handgun for self-defense purposes.

It has a barrel with a grooved rifling, dual steel springs that decrease recoil, intuitive safeties, and a nitride-treated internal mechanism that runs like butter. The trigger is crisp and has a 4.5-inch pull.

Although it has a short grip with barely 2 inches in, it’s a great concealed carry handgun that doesn’t snag on your clothing. It’s wider than most subcompacts, but that’s nothing a good IWB holster can’t fix.

You can choose either the 12+1 with flush-fit base plate magazines or the 15+1 round capacity model.

What Are the Best Laser Sights for the Canik TP9 Elite SC?

The TP9 Elite SC only accepts micro red dots, and the Shield RMS 4 MOA Reflex MiniSight red dot sight that comes with the purchase works alright.

But, if you want to add a new optic to the optics-ready rail, I recommend a good old SIG Sauer Romeo Micro with a great price.

The Streamlight TLR-8 Red Laser combo light/red dot is also another great red dot optic under $300 that fits the Canik just fine. It has a white LED and 640-660Nm red laser with 500 Lumens and the batteries last 18 hours for the laser-only mode.

For lights with green lasers, there’s the rail-mounted Streamlight 69265 TLR-2 HL G with 2 CR123A Lithium Batteries.

Are Magazines on the Canik TP9 Elite SC Interchangeable?

Not exactly.

You can’t fit the TP9 Elite SC magazines in the Canik TP9 SFX and Canik TP9SA MOD2, but you can fit their magazines into the Elite SC.

Is the Canik TP9 Elite SC More Reliable Than the SIG Sauer P365?

The TP9 Elite SC shoots really well for its budget-friendly price. It’s well-machined and cycled perfectly through any ammo box I fed it with. It’s bulky so the recoil is manageable, and you can expect smooth shooting without misfires.

Of course, you can expect a classic subcompact like the P365 with a manual safety to shoot as intended. Both of the pistols are striker-fired, have a clean, crisp trigger, and both of them can shoot +P rounds.

The P365 is smaller than the TP9 Elite SC in every way, and it’s lighter with only 17 ounces compared to the 24 ounces from the Canik.

The overall width of the P365 is an inch, while the Elite SC is 1.45 inches wide, so the P365 doesn’t print as much as the Canik does.

They’re both reliable as far as one subcompact pistol goes, but the Elite SC is a more cost-efficient option with a bigger round capacity.

Which Accessories Does the Canik TP9 Elite SC Offer?

The TP9 Elite SC has a wide array of additional accessories that come with your purchase:

  • A foam-lined hard case for the pistol;
  • Two 15-round and 12-round magazines with a finger rest;
  • Two interchangeable backstraps;
  • An IWB/OWB convertible polymer holster;
  • Polymer base plate for the Shield RMS (Reflex Mini Sight);
  • Tool Kit with mounting accessories;
  • Cleaning accessories and brushes;
  • A trigger lock;
  • And of course, an owner’s Manual.

What Do the Others Have to Say?

Here are some interesting testimonials and review snippets from customers that bought the Canik TP9 Elite SC.

ninemillimeters
Source: Reddit
mrshifter
Source: Youtube

Alternatives to the Canik TP9 Elite SC

If you feel that the Canik TP9 Elite SC isn’t your type of thing, check out these alternative handguns.

Springfield Hellcat Micro-Compact

springfield-armory-hellcat-9mm-luger-3in-black-pistol-111-rounds-1542963-1

The Canik TP9 Elite SC is very similar to the Springfield Hellcat, though the Hellcat has been often compared to the SIG Sauer P365 too.

The Hellcat has a 13-round capacity extended mag, a reversible mag release, adaptive grip texture which might be more comfortable than the TP9 Elite SC, and it has a similar dual adaptive recoil spring.

With its 18 ounces, it’s significantly lighter than the Elite SC, it has an accessory rail for various optics, and the mag release is reversible.

If you’re looking for a true concealed carry option with a smaller build and a 3-inch hammer-forged barrel, the Springfield Hellcat is a nice contender to the Elite SC.

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield Plus

smith-wesson-mp-9-shield-plus-9mm-luger-31in-black-armornite-pistol-13-rounds

And there it is, the successor of the Shield, at least according to some people.

The S&W M&P9 Shield Plus is a micro-compact 9mm pistol with a 13-round capacity, and it’s lighter than the Hellcat and Elite SC.

It’s an absolute improvement over the former Shield model and it’s very reliable, much like this Canik.

The trigger is flat, crisp, and has an audible, tactile reset. You can also find a lot of aftermarket options like lights and laser sights for the Shield Plus.

I recommend the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus if you’re looking for a tougher trigger.

Heckler & Koch VP9SK

heckler-koch-vp9sk-9mm-luger-33in-black-pistol-131-round-1703771-1

If you’re willing to spend a bit more on a high-quality Heckler & Koch trigger, here’s the H&K VP9SK.

It has a 3.3-inch barrel, but it’s smaller than the Canik, and still falls under this tiny category of subcompacts.

The ergonomics are kind of similar to the Elite SC, but the VP9SK has molded finger grooves on the grip, and the controls are ambidextrous and intuitive. It also comes with interchangeable grips and backstraps.

The H&K VP9SK is a bit wider than the Elite SC and it has 10 rounds, but expect a consistent trigger pull, light take-up, durable polymer frame, and smooth operations from this German machinery.

Conclusion 

Lately, I’ve been seeing CCW enthusiasts calling the Canik TP9 Elite SC “the final Glock killer.” I didn’t quite understand which Glock, but what I’m sure of is that the Elite SC shoots well.

Calling it subcompact isn’t exactly correct. It’s definitely a chunky gun and it’s not as concealable as most true subcompacts you can find like the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, or the Ruger Max-9.

It’s a fantastic concealed carry pistol that acts as a competition shooter.

Not only does it offer very good value, but its internal components, Goldilocks trigger, slide, and safeties work together like a charm.

The perfect blend of features is obviously well-machined for a really enjoyable shooting experience.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Canik top this one, and I think it’d be easy if they made it with smaller dimensions in order to fully incorporate the concealed carry frame it’s intended for.

Simply put, it’s a brilliant pistol with outstanding value. The TP9 Elite SC surpasses its MSRP by miles, and I strongly advise you to snag one before Canik realizes the mistake they’re making with the retail price.

Stay safe, shoot straight.

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Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.

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1 Comments

Frank
5/12/2022 10:49:22 PM Reply

Your review is very informative. Do You have a review for the Walther CCP M2 9MM Semi Auto? I’m trying to decide whether to purchase the Canik TP9 Elite SC or the Walther CCP M2 9MM.Thank You

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