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SAR 9: One outstanding economy pistol

Think what you want about Turkey as a nation; the fact that they make some great handguns is undeniable. There’s one that’s been around a couple years now, and for whatever reason, it’s still relatively unknown. But you’re about to be one of the people in the know about the SAR 9, a stirker-fired 9mm distributed in the US by SAR USA.

SAR USA is the American-friendly company name for Sarsilmaz, Turkish producer of aircraft parts and firearms. The company rolled out the SAR 9 in the US in 2017. They’re not too hard to find online, though it’s unlikely your local gun store will have one sitting on its shelves. Over in Turkey, the gun has been morphed into several variants with different barrel lengths and capacities, as is typical for today’s pistol industry. Here in the US, the original all-black finish, duty-size model seems to be the only one available for now—but what a nice gun it is.

This gun incorporates several user-friendly features and is one of a growing number on the market that can accommodate just about everyone in the family thanks to modular design and excellent ergonomics.

The great handling begins with interchangeable grip components, similar to those on HK’s VP series. Choose both the sides and backstrap for a perfect fit. The grip is well-textured and doesn’t invite slippage. Divots molded into the grip where the firing hand thumb and trigger finger wrap around the gun make it easy for even small hands to reach the controls. The fattest backstrap keeps it from being too deep for large hands.

 


A large and easy-to-reach magazine release is another handy feature of this pistol. Anyone, but especially new shooters, will find the mag release easy to operate. The SAR 9 comes with two 15-round magazines, with 10- and 17-rounders optional. The mags drop clean without help from the magazine well, facilitating fast reloads.

Outfitted with a light on its rail, the SAR 9 offers great utility for home defense. Redundant safeties are built into the gun, two of which I’m fond. Although I didn’t test this feature, its construction is drop-safe, as we should expect of a modern handgun. There is also a trigger block, similar to that on a Glock or Springfield XD series, that functions as a passive safety measure.

A three-dot sight setup with a driftable rear sight is featured on the SAR 9, and is pleasant to use. Regrettably, Sarsilmaz decided to go with their own unique sight design so changing out the stock sights is not possible.

The trigger on the SAR 9 is a good, utilitarian one. I like it a lot for new shooters. There is slightly longer travel than in, say, a Glock or Springfield XD series. The trip is a bit grainy, and the wall is found with a consistent and solid feel. The break, at about five pounds, has a slight rolling effect, approximately 1/16 of an inch. Reset is clear, palpable, and again, the feel from shot to reset is grainy. Of the semiautos I’ve handled, the SAR 9 trigger is closest to that of the Smith & Wesson SD VE series.

These comments on trigger operation aren’t criticism. The point is, it’s a trigger system that’s ideal for learning proper technique on a modern semi-auto.  The grainy feel can help a new shooter be conscious of how far, and at what pace, trigger pressing is being done. The reset is far enough forward to develop a great feel with less risk of an unintentional follow-up shot, something I see in perhaps half of new shooters trying to learn reset with a match-grade trigger.

One of the two things I dislike about this otherwise great gun is that there is almost no choice but to have an ambi manual safety. It’s easy enough to operate, with a large, intuitively-located lever. But thumb-operated safeties are of no value in most defensive situations, in fact they can present an obstacle. SAR tried to be nice to consumers by putting the lever on both sides rather than making it reversible. This is a short-sighted move in that ambi safety levers, exposed to the outside while carried on-body, can be moved by objects in the environment. Seatbelts are a common culprit. So when drawing, it is always necessary to evaluate whether the safety needs “turning off” or not before firing, as its position can be unpredictable in real-world use.

The other concern I have about this gun is solvable. There are no mass-market Kydex or leather holsters made to fit it specifically. One made by another company we won’t discuss here does make a Level 2 holster that accommodates the gun well, but that’s the only choice on the market. Soft-sided holsters can be acceptable for bedside storage but are not functional and can often be unsafe for range practice.

As always, it is your responsibility to handle any firearm safely, keeping fingers and other objects out of the trigger guard and not allowing the muzzle to cover anything you’re not willing to destroy.

I believe the SAR 9 to be a great choice for a first gun, home defense, and recreational shooting. It is among the most economical guns in the striker-fired class that offers reliable performance. Although not a cake walk to find, a little effort in researching available guns can make you the proud owner of a brand new SAR 9 for less, maybe quite a bit less, than $300.  It’s a darn shame this gun isn’t better-known. Let us know in the comments if  you own one or purchase one!

SAR 9

SAR 9

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 15+1, with optional 10- and 17 +1

Barrel: 4.4 inches

Action: Striker fired

Overall Length: 7.5 inches

Overall Height: 5.5 inches

Width: 1.4 inches

Weight: 26.4 ounces, unloaded


Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and concealed carry instructor living in the American Southwest. Today she works full time as an instructor and writer in the gun industry. Flanigan loves helping new and old shooters alike to develop the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.


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