Visit to Canik in Turkey: insight into the history, development and production of the successful manufacturer of pistols, long guns as well as accessories and clothing

View of the modern equipment with several CNC machines in the largest production hall of arms manufacturer Canik in Samsun.

We at all4shooters/all4hunters have already shown several times that Turkish arms manufacturers are currently on the rise. This is not least thanks to the ultra-modern machine parks and manufacturing methods that they now use. One of the largest and most successful pistol manufacturers in the world in recent years operates under the Canik brand. Behind this is the SYS Group, which is owned by the Aral family of industrialists, who are very successful not only in the firearms sector. And it was this group that invited us to a factory tour followed by practical tests on the shooting range.

On a tour of the Canik plant in Samsun

Cahit Utku Aral, General Manger of SYS, introduces the group of companies, which includes Canik, before the plant tour.

With the general manager and board member C. Utku Aral, a representative of the third generation now at the helm at SYS, we had a competent guide who took us through the plant facility spread over three production sites in the Samsun city area. We were able to see highly motivated employees and state-of-the-art CNC centers as well as an up-to-date process optimization system. This also includes a quality checking system which, in addition to computer-aided control tools, also makes repeated use of manual checks during ongoing production. 

Digital control of manufacturing tolerances with a computer-controlled 3D measuring machine.

Canik is one of the few companies in the firearm industry that has a 3D measuring machine with an accuracy of 1/10,000 millimeter. Nevertheless, Canik continues to use the tried-and-tested gauges, dial gauges and calipers in addition to the digitalized measuring processes. However, the company has not neglected to use modern, computer-aided means to prevent employees from confusing gauges. The company also relies on computers for process optimization. Thanks to appropriate software solutions, the design engineers and quality assurance specialists have an insight into all processes at all times and can access the data from all company locations, i.e. also from the headquarters in Istanbul or the subsidiary plant in the USA, in order to introduce optimization solutions. But before we get too lost in the depths of modern industrial production, you can take a look at Canik's production for yourself in the video linked above.  

Canik's success story began in 1998, almost a quarter of a century ago, in Samsun on the Black Sea coast

While in the early days of Canik only 50 to 100 pistols were built per month, today it is one per minute. Canik delivers the pistols with plenty of accessories.

There, the Aral family acquired the Samsun Silah Sanayi (Samsun Armament Industries) production facilities, their production permits and licenses, and established Samsun Yurt Savunma (Samsun Homeland Defense), or SYS. The Arals had acquired the machinery and permits of a company that produced handguns, but none that were also in demand. So for about 10 years, SYS focused intensely on research and development. During this time, the new owners financed SYS from the revenues of their other operations. By 2005, the first own products were made under the brand name Canik, and they were able to produce about 50 to 100 handguns per month. Today, by contrast, Canik produces about one gun per minute – what a difference!

The M2 QCBs manufactured at Canik in 12.7x99 mm caliber are the only MGs approved by the Turkish Ministry of Defense. Here almost finished M2 QCBs, still without barrel, can be seen in production at Canik.

By its own account, Canik has thus become the seventh-largest manufacturer of 9mm pistols in the world. In addition to around 450,000 pistols, Canik also manufactures around 3,000 M2 QCB heavy machine guns in 12.7x99 mm NATO caliber (.50 BMG) at the Samsum plant. Incidentally, the M2 QCB, which is descended from the Browning M2 or more precisely from the M2 HQCB, is the largest and only Turkish Ministry of Defense-approved and qualified MG in the country. 

A Canik M2 QCB designed for very high rate of fire on the test range. It is intended for use in helicopters.

So it's no surprise that Turkish defense contractors also own Unidef, which has been developing firearm integration solutions for air, land and naval platforms since 2013. In 2020, SYS founded Unirobotics. There, in addition to developing a mount with an active weapon stabilizer for the Canik M2 QCB, they are also working on the "Smart Fire Arms" project for the TP9 pistol series. In this project, handguns are to be equipped with special software as well as movement and pressure sensors in order to send information not only to the user, but also to the higher command levels as required, for example about the ammunition level in the magazine, reaction times or maintenance information. Last but not least, the company recently acquired the British weapons manufacturer AEI Systems, which manufactures automatic cannons in 30x133 mm caliber.

Canik focuses on US market and becomes a global player

Success in the USA started in 2009 with the first model of the TP9 polymer pistol family. The gun was well received by the U.S. market. By the way, to date SYS has exported more than 2.5 million Canik pistols to the U.S. In 2010, SYS joined forces with U.S. manufacturer Century Arms to form a joint venture called CanikUSA and has since been tackling the huge U.S. pistol market from Vermont and Florida. While the full-size and compact versions of the Canik pistols will continue to be manufactured in Samsun, the subcompact and ultracompact models will probably be produced in the USA, where demand is highest.

Before these gun parts are allowed to go through the next production step, Canik employees check the dimensional accuracy using gauges and dial gauges.

Canik's success in the United States is also fueled by the fact that the company's TP9 family of pistols has won the coveted ICA pistol awards four times in the last five years. Most recently, the SFx Rival was named "Pistol of the Year 2022." Speaking at the awards ceremony, Canik CEO C. Utku Aral said, "As our Canik brand expands from Turkey to global markets, it confirms its quality worldwide and further increases its recognition through the prestigious awards it has received. With our products reflecting our deep-rooted history and innovative face, we not only showcase the quality of our company but also that of the Turkish defense industry in particular. With our products, developed by our team of experts through many years of studies, we provide users with a better shooting experience. We see this prestigious award that we have received in the USA as a reflection of our success in the most demanding market of the gun world. With the award we have received, we can represent the high level we have reached in research and development and innovation in the world, while continuing to increase our market share in the U.S."

Approximately 95% of the pistols manufactured in Samsun are exported. In addition to the USA, Canik pistols currently reach 68 other countries, according to SYS. 

Accessories and clothing under the brand MeCanik

The Canik Store next to the main factory in Samsun sells all kinds of accessories and also MeCanik branded clothing.

In the meantime, another brand has been added, MeCanik. Under this brand, the up-and-coming company sells firearm accessories and clothing. Here too development, design and production are in the hands of SYS. The MeCanik catalog is very extensive and ranges from open and optical sights, gun lights, tactical lasers as well as bags, holsters, belts and tactical clothing to classic tuning and spare parts such as magwells, or extended magazines, recoil springs, interchangeable barrels, silencers, muzzle brakes or comps. But also grips and stocks as well as everything needed for gun cleaning can be found in the Canik store attached to the main factory in Samsun. Much of this is of course also available through international sales, e.g. in the USA, but also within the EU. 

Canik marketing manager Gençay Gençer explains the function of the TP9 pistol's trigger safety at the shooting range.

In addition to the Canik Rival SFx, which all4shooters has already tested and which we were able to try out extensively on the shooting range during our visit to the factory, as shown in the video above, another pistol from the TP9 family is coming to the European market. This is the METE pistol, which has been introduced by parts of the Turkish army as well as police and special forces. 

For more  information on the company and the TP9 family of pistols please visit the Canik website.

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