When I learned SAR USA was offering a compact version of the SAR9 9mm pistol, I elected to check the pistol out as soon as possible. It isn’t often I am eager to spend more money than necessary, and the SAR9 is not only affordable but also formidable. I purchased the SAR9 and enough ammunition to snap the magnetic spine of the credit card. I am glad I did, money is made to be spent and used.
I find the SAR9 compact well suited to the rigors of personal defense. For most of my life, the threat of violence has been more than an abstract thought. Today, the statistical probability is lower, as I no longer actively hunt law breakers, but the possibilities are endless.
I test some sporting guns and a good many recreational firearms. This pistol is a reliable, personal-defense tool that will give peace of mind. A case of nerves affects the digestive system, but you get it. You can reasonably trust this maker’s products with your life.
I look for reliability, but increasingly I look to comfort. Easy recoil — but not a pipsqueak caliber — and unquestioned reliability in a piece that doesn’t drag on the belt line. Age has a way of taking the edge off like a stone dulling a burr.
You need a good handgun that compliments your abilities. The SAR9 C is manufactured by Sarsilmaz. It has manufactured firearms for many decades. To the best of my knowledge, the company dates back to 1880. It is involved in several types of manufacture, including the aerospace industry. The company has earned several military contracts.
The full-size SAR9 9mm handgun has endured several test programs and was adopted as the standard Turkish military handgun. I have previously tested the full-size SAR9 with excellent results. I tested the SAR9 X for many months with good results. The SAR9 X is a special model that is supplied with a holster, magazine carrier, combat light, and other accessories. There are features that have been carried on in the SAR9 Compact.
SAR9 Compact Features
The SAR9 C is a polymer-frame striker-fired handgun. The pistol features a well-designed grip frame with a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. The grip fits most hands well.
The slide features forward cocking serrations. The sights are good examples of modern combat sights. The sights are useful for rapid combat shooting as well as precise fire at longer ranges. The sights proved to be properly regulated for the six o’clock hold at 15 yards. The cocking serrations are angled properly for easy use but do not unnecessarily abrade holsters.
The grip angle is aided by an undercut trigger guard. This makes for a lower bore axis. The bore axis is the height of the centerline of the bore above the hand. The lower the bore axis, the less leverage for muzzle flip. The trigger action is similar to the Glock Safe Action, operating in the same manner.
The slide is racked, partially cocking the striker. A press of the trigger finishes cocking and releasing the striker. Trigger compression was six pounds even and consistent. A blade style lever set in the trigger face prevents lateral discharge. There is also a red indicator behind the trigger indicating when the action is cocked.
The trigger is controllable and allows good, fast, combat shooting. I am particularly impressed by the magazines. These are steel units with a base pad. They are heavier than most magazines and should prove durable. The springs are strong, but unlike several pistols I have tested lately, these magazines are not difficult to load without the assistance of a magazine loader.
The metal parts of the handgun feature a corrosion resistant black oxide finish. The barrel is a standard rifled barrel. There is no Glock-style polygonal rifling. That means you can use lead bullet handloads or commercial remanufactured ammunition.
Internally, the pistol is simple enough and the parts riding in a robust stainless-steel chassis should be durable. The pistol features modern-style grip inserts. The obligatory light mounting rail is molded into the dust cover.
This isn’t a Glock clone — save in the sense that any striker-fired polymer frame handgun is. The SAR9 is more similar to the Walther, but then again, it is a fresh design in other ways. An argument may be made for a resemblance to the HK pistols, but let’s see how the SAR9 stand on its own merits.
Before beginning the firing tests, I handled the pistol quite a bit. This included a few dozen dry-fire repetitions. The pistol’s side panels and grip strap were not changed, I found the piece comfortable enough as issued.
A bonus is the fact that the SAR9 Compact is supplied without the safety lever of the original SAR9. The lever on the SAR9 may be used or ignored, and I don’t miss it. When firing the pistol, I used mostly FMJ loads.
At the Range
I felt it appropriate to use the Turkish ZSR FMJ loading. I also used Remington UMC and Winchester USA Ready. The SAR9 C proved reliable and accurate enough for most any defense chore. While SAR USA recommends a break-in with several boxes of ammunition, I have never tested a SAR handgun that suffered break-in malfunctions.
The pistol gets on target quickly. Drawing from concealed carry and coming on target, the pistol is fast to an accurate first shot. At 26.8 ounces unloaded, the SAR9 Compact is heavier than some in its size class. Recoil was modest.
This is among the more comfortable 9mm pistols I have fired. Recoil is subjective compared to the SIG P226 or Beretta 92 class. Muzzle flip was limited. Getting on target and making fast repeat shots comes quickly. I have fired pistols, costing much more, that did not handle as well.
After firing the pistol with several hundred mixed loads during different range sessions, I called it good enough for personal defense and began the process of choosing a carry load. The 9mm is a powerful cartridge but has no energy to spare. Therefore, it demands careful load selection.
Allow me to digress for the moment… More than 150 years ago, a popular device was marketed for reviving drowning victims and those in a coma. A Dr. Mead was one of its proponents. The details are best left to medical journals, but the process involved tobacco and a bellows. A tube was inserted — where you don’t really need the intrusion. Hence the term “blowing smoke” – well you know the rest comes from the failure of this ridiculous device.
Today, some tell us that all calibers are the same. No, they aren’t. I don’t know if these folks don’t know any better, don’t care, or simply like to hear themselves talk. So-called stopping power stories either have poor methodology or are simply the product of an active imagination.
None of the evidence presented would hold up in a small town traffic court. A test program must be repeatable and verifiable and that means comparative testing. Testing is valid. Statistics are — for the most part — used by rascals to impress fools. (According to Colonel Jeff Cooper.)
I tested a good number of modern JHP loads. The Federal Hydra-Shok and Federal HST in 124-grain, Speer 124-grain Gold Dot as well as the Hornady 115-grain XTP were tested. I use water testing because it is as valid as ballistic jelly. (The advantage of gelatin is that a plaster case of the wound cavity made be made.) The loads averaged 1,100 to 1,160 fps, penetrated 16–18 inches, and expanded to 1.5 caliber. In other words, I would use any for personal defense.
I also tested the pistols for accuracy. Combat shooting and offhand fire is most important. However, we like to know how well-fitted a handgun is. I also like to know my zero and how close to the point of aim a bullet will impact if I do my part. At 25 yards, firing from a solid benchrest firing position, the SAR9 9mm compact will put five shots into 2.5 inches when I do my part. I have no complaints with any part of the pistol’s performance.
Overall length: 7.2 inches
Weight: 26.9 ounces
Barrel length: 4 inches
Carrying the SAR9 C is simple enough. I chose a Galco Sto-N-Go inside-the-waistband holster. With a reinforced holstering welt and good stitching, the Sto-N-Go is affordable but works well. I especially like the big bite the belt clips take on the belt. The SAR9 C makes a good defensive pistol, and the modest MSRP doesn’t hurt.
Currently, SAR USA is offering a $30 consumer rebate on all of its firearms purchased until July 15, 2022. Follow the link to check the terms and conditions to save even more on an already value-packed pistol.
According to the author, the SAR9 C is affordable, formidable, compact, and reliable. What’s not to like? Share your thoughts regarding the SAR9 C in the comment section.