Sarsilmaz SAR 9: Your Budget Glock 17 Alternative?
Sarsilmaz’s SAR 9 is a 9mm, striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol that boasts a 17-round magazine and trigger safety. Sound familiar? While it’s ostensibly a Turkish production gun based on the H&K VP9, it’s tough to miss the similarities to the Glock 17 in areas like size, capacity, and takedown.
If you’re in love with your Glock, I’m tempted to tell you to look away now because you’re probably sick of seeing “similar” guns. But don’t jump ship just yet. After spending time with the SAR 9, I’ve come to appreciate some great characteristics, not to mention reliability, that could really appeal to American shooters if you give them a chance.
There are some things I’m not thrilled with (more on that later), but the gun does have its own unique feel and several features that set it apart. More importantly, it does one thing really well – It shoots. So let’s jump into the specs and guts of this gun.
Specs and Function
The pistol is large, but not obnoxiously so. It’s nearly identical to the Glock 17 in width, height, and length, while weighing in at about 2 ounces more. It’s certainly a full-size gun, but within the realm of concealed carry, particularly given the more curved features on the pistol grip.
The guts are also similar to the Glock, as is the takedown process. It boasts a dual captured recoil spring, bull barrel, and side-mounted takedown levers that function exactly like a Glock – Yes, you do have to pull the trigger to remove the slide.
However, the takedown levers are oversized and covered in three rows of raised bumps for added grip, which is a nice touch. They double nicely as a shelf for your trigger finger when shooting as well. I’ve listed some more basic specs below:
Weight (No Mag): 1.54 pounds
Barrel Length: 4.4 inches
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Height (With Mag): 5.5 inches
Slide Width: 1 inch
Trigger Pull: 6.3-pound average
Add in the standard capacity of 17+1 and you have a pistol that is, as I said, very akin to a Glock 17 in form and function. But the gun starts to really stand out when you get past the specs.
Where the SAR 9 Shines
Sarsilmaz paints a pretty bold picture of the SAR 9 on their website, claiming the gun might be “the most rigorously tested pistol ever developed” having “endured 150,000 rounds of live fire at the factory.” I can’t speak to that, as I’m just now passing 300 rounds of testing during this great ammo shortage. However, the gun has been reliable with no malfunctions or issues. We even dumped several full 17-round mags during rapid-fire tests without the slightest hiccup.
Beyond reliability, the first and most obvious thing that stands out is the price point. SAR 9s routinely come in a good $200 below Glock 17s these days. They were originally well below the $400 mark, but those prices have sailed away over the last few years unless you buy a used one. (Note: Some variants do come with a thumb safety, so pay attention when you’re doing your shopping).
But the real difference comes when you get one in your hand. The SAR 9 is like a blend of Glock 17 function with Walther PPQ ergonomics. It fits into my hands like I had grabbed a ball of clay to form the shape. Add in a 20-degree grip angle – putting it squarely between a Glock and a 1911 – and the balance feels great in the hand with easy pointing for me.
The rounded features of the grip fill the hand nicely. While pre-Gen 5 Glocks did have finger grooves, they are a bit more like finger shelves. The SAR 9 finger grooves are deeper but with a gentle rounded shape. The shape of the grip heel also connects well with the heel of the palm of your hand, neither pushing the gun upwards – as I find with Glock grips – nor leaving a gap between the hand and grip.
There’s also a deep cutout for your fingers behind the trigger guard that makes it easy to slide your hands higher up on the grip. I’ve seen a few people actually take a Dremel tool to their Glock trigger guard to achieve the same effect.
Angled front and rear slide serrations are cut into the slide, and the magazine release is oversized with a thin profile. I can easily drop mags without adjusting my grip, and the thin release makes accidental bumps less likely. The slide serrations were plenty positive even with sweaty hands.
SAR 9s also come with metal three-dot sights from the factory, a cocked trigger safety indicator, and two additional backstraps and side panels with a metal punch to customize the grip. It’s all housed inside a decent hard case with the common addition of cleaning gear and a safety lock.
Areas for Improvement
If you have weaker hands or generally struggle racking a standard Glock slide, I recommend avoiding a brand-new SAR 9. The recoil spring is heavy and racking the slide back is noticeably harder with the SAR 9 than any of my Glocks. Sure, that might smooth out over time, but you aren’t going to easily break in a gun you struggle to load.
I’d also like to see more aggressive stippling on the grip. The stippling that is there is in all the right places, but it’s underwhelming in its grippiness. It works alright, and the actual shape of the grip locks your hand in nicely. I’d just like to see more texture to really hold my hands in place.
A stiff slide and non-aggressive stippling are one thing. My real gripe – sort of – is the trigger. It’s a love-hate affair between me and this SAR 9 trigger. The gun features the same trigger safety as a Glock, but that’s about where it ends. Mind you, Glocks aren’t known for outstanding stock triggers, but I prefer those triggers over the SAR 9. There’s a small amount of creep in Glock triggers, but they’re quick to the wall and the break overall.
The creep on the SAR 9 trigger is quite noticeable. It’s not unpleasant to shoot really, and the break is crisp. Still, if you play with it a bit, it’s almost like it’s slowly and somewhat creakily rolling to the wall. It’s better than some of the test pistols I’ve gotten in recently, but the trigger is probably my least favorite part on this gun.
Then again, I actually shot the SAR 9 quite well. Consistent hits on steel at 30 yards while shooting at a quick pace was not difficult. The creep was just a bit annoying at first. You can train to it and even make it an advantage. After shooting for a while, I was able to start my shots by predictably pulling through the creep to the wall, holding, and then gently breaking my shots when ready. That shooting process was enjoyable enough. Plus, the reset is positive, and the gun didn’t skip a beat when mag dumping all 17 rounds repeatedly. So it’s hardly a deal breaker for me.
If the final testament for a gun is actually firing and hitting targets reliably, the SAR 9 certainly passed for me. I’m sitting at 300 rounds with this pistol right now, with more on the way for further testing after a much-needed resupply of my 9mm stock. So I’ll probably come back with a post 500-round review.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed the SAR 9, especially the contoured grips and ergonomics. While I can’t imagine many gun lovers looking at the sea of polymer-framed pistols and chanting, “Thank the heavens, we got another one!” I’m certainly not complaining. It’s a great entry-level gun or Glock alternative.
Is it some sort of budget nail in the coffin for Glock 17s? Nope. In fact, the price on these has been on the rise in proportion with their growing reputation alongside other Turkish-made firearms like the Canik. Still, the SAR 9 features a lot that may appeal to those who are turned off by Glocks.