Bargain Hunting: the Caracal Pistol

Not too long ago the Vuurwapen Blog did a mini-review of the Caracal F, one of the newly-released handguns designed by Wilhelm Bubits, accomplished Steyr small arms designer and manufactured by Caracal, an arms company built from the ground up in the UAE in 2006.

The review was unsurprisingly positive. Not because the Vurwapen Blog is uncritical, but because it’s a Caracal. “The Caracal F shoots well. It is easy to control and easy to get back on target with. [To the right], the four groups are, counter-clockwise from bottom left, my first five shots from the pistol (which were fired using both hands), then strong hand, weak hand, and finally, top left, five more shots offhand. All shots were taken at 10 yards.

“I don’t have any other target photos, but it was incredibly easy to keep all shots in a small area when shooting rapidly, and accuracy at 25 yards was good as well. Perhaps I will have more time with a Caracal pistol in the future—for now, my interest has been piqued.”

There are very few complaints ever leveled at these upstart polymer pistols. There are several models, primarily a full-size Caracal F and a compact C. There is also a subcompact SC which has not yet been imported to the US. The F has an 18+1-round capacity in 9mm, the C 15+1. Other calibers are in the works.

They stand apart from the crowd with a very low-riding slide and sweeping lines. But it’s not about appearances, it’s about function, something that the Caracal pistols don’t falter on. Despite having minimalist controls we’ve found that they’re easy to manipulate and the grip texture is solid without being particularly aggressive.

These are very fast pistols. They’re soft shooters and easy to keep on target and they have incredibly nice triggers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the trigger is one of the best on the market, even taking into consideration some of the new striker-fired designs like the Walther PPQ and FNH FNS-9.

Internally the guns are very simple, with just 31 parts, including springs, pins, and the magazine. There have been few early reports of problems; mostly ammunition-related. This is because these guns are so mechanically simple there’s not a lot that can go wrong.

Everyone who has ever fired a Caracal will tell you that they’re accurate guns. This is because the guns have extremely long internal rails. Unlike Glocks which use separate tabs or XDs with their short internal block, Caracal pistols have a single full-length internal receiver that’s made of steel. The grip is just a shell that protects the receiver and holds the magazine. Still, they’re not heavy—the F weighs 26 ounces unloaded, the C 25.

They are available with three sight options, traditional 3-dot sights, two-dot “Figure 8” sights, and Caracal’s “Fast Sights.” Fast sights are milled into the front half of the slide just in front of the ejection port. While a longer sight radius helps with accuracy, the shorter radius paints a sight picture in broad strokes, and they work incredibly fast. With the sights offset towards the muzzle, they don’t give up a great deal on the accuracy front, either.

The rear sight is integrated into the striker retainer plate, so it’s not likely that we will see aftermarket sight sets any time soon. Caracal has promised to manufacture in-house fiber-optic and tritium-powered sights, although they haven’t set any sort of schedule for that.

Aftermarket support is just barely starting for these new pistols, which can sometimes be hard to find. It’s not a surprise why: they often retail for $400 or less. These have an incredibly low price precisely because they’re new and not well known. But we can attest to the fact that you could do a lot worse for $400 and spend a great deal more and not get a nicer pistol.

Make no mistake, as Caracal pistols gain popularity, they’re going to cost a lot more. If you’re looking for a compact, lightweight, accurate, high-capacity and well-made handgun, you owe it to yourself to check out the Caracal pistols.

Photo credit Andrew Tuohy/the Vuurwapen Blog.

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