For concealed carry: 9mm Canik TP9 Sub Elite in a field test

The topic of concealed carry is not as prevalent in Europe as it is in the USA, but it still has its justification on this side of the pond. The Turkish manufacturer Canik Arms, which has a branch in the USA, meets this requirement with the Sub Elite model from the proven TP9 series.

Features and characteristics of the Canik TP9 Sub Elite

In addition to the accessories shown here, the Canik TP9 Sub Elite case also includes a cleaning rod and brush, as well as the manual. However, the red dot sight on the pistol is not included. 

After opening the case, the first thing that catches the eye besides the gun itself is the generous equipment: the Canik TP9 Sub Elite comes in a very sturdy and high-quality plastic case with lots of accessories. In addition to the pistol, which has a 12-round magazine, the scope of delivery also includes a magazine with extended shoe that has a capacity of a full 15 rounds. Also included are a cleaning rod, brush, interchangeable backstraps, a tool kit, and a loading aid (similar to Glock's one), as well as an instruction manual. But that's not all, because it even comes with a matching holster, so the gun is immediately usable without the buyer having to go looking for a holster, or even getting into the embarrassment of stuffing the gun improperly into a jacket pocket or backpack. Canik is currently the only manufacturer I know of that offers a system that is ready for use "out of the box" or even "competition ready", since this full equipment is also standard on the other sport and service pistol models. 

The MeCanik MO2 red dot sight has a 3 MOA red dot with a total of 10 different intensity settings.  
Like all pistols in this series, the Canik TP9 Sub Elite is optics ready, so it can accept a matching Red Dot Sight after removing the cover plate. 

All pistols in this series are also optics ready (OR). The workmanship and finish of the metal parts are on a very high level and do not need to hide in terms of quality from other major manufacturers. No burrs or untreated areas can be found, the gun runs cleanly and without wobbling of any parts. The sights are perfectly adjusted from the factory and all accessories fit into their designated recesses in the case. The medium density foam insert in the case even holds some already prepared cutouts for additional optional equipment from Canik or MeCanik, respectively. The latter is the brand under which the Turkish manufacturer sells its own range of accessories.

The Canik TP9 Sub Elite with the "short" magazine, which still holds 12 rounds.

The Canik TP9 Sub Elite is a subcompact pistol, and the manufacturer paid particular attention to the robustness required for practical use. The gun has a double-stack magazine, the widest part of the pistol measures 28 mm at the slide, and 29 mm at the grip directly under the slide. Nevertheless, it cannot be described as bulky and the advantage of the double-stack magazines is also quite obvious: in the field (or on the shooting range), all large magazines of the entire TP9/Mete series can be used, which can definitely find its application especially for law enforcement officers.

The slide is very grippy thanks to the front and rear serrations, making it very easy to operate even with gloves on, as well as with wet or cold fingers. With the help of the included holster, the pistol can be carried inside the waistband (IWB) as well as OWB (out-of-the-waistband). In terms of feel, the gun is barely there when carried; at just 820 grams total weight (loaded with the extended 15-round magazine), it hardly weighs a thing. This makes it the ideal companion – because unnoticeable – for everyday shooting or for the professional gun carrier..

With the "long" 15-round magazine, the Canik TP9 Sub Elite offers the shooting hand significantly more grip surface than with the 12-round magazine.

Where there is light, there is always shadow: due to the short grip, when the gun is fitted with the 12-round standard magazine, a large hand lacks contact surface for the little finger. But this is already remedied in the scope of delivery: If the grip is too short for you, you can help yourself with the extended magazine that holds 15 rounds. This magazine connects seamlessly to the lower edge of the grip like no other compact or subcompact model I have tested so far and thus allows very fast shooting strings, because despite the compactness of the gun, a 100% stable grip technique can be used. This can currently be described as a unique feature of Canik, but also raises the question of why other manufacturers do not manage to do the same. The grip beavertail also makes it possible to create the desired high and tight grip, so that the pistol is very controllable when firing even with a short magazine. Another positive feature is the rough texture of the grip surface. It makes for comfortable and reliable operation of the pistol and gives even wet or frozen hands the necessary control over the gun. The magazine release button turns out large enough and supports reliable removal of the magazine. It can also be converted for left-handed users with the help of the included tool. The slide catch lever is basically ambidextrous, making this pistol a real favorite especially for left-handers when thinking about purchasing such a pistol. Stripping is simple: pulling down the catches, which are very reminiscent of Walther's PDP and are located above the trigger guard, the pistol can be disassembled into its components and cleaned in just a few simple steps. Reassembly is just as quick, and even minor modifications, such as installing a different trigger blade, can be easily performed by the user.

Trigger. The overall function of the trigger on the Canik TP9 Sub Elite can be described as outstanding. This is one of the top features of the gun, if not its best, and for me it lives up to its name "Elite". In terms of its characteristics, the trigger is very crisp, smooth, and has minimal pre-travel. It also has one of the shortest resets (reset travel) found on the market! This is a guarantee of fast follow-up shots for the skilled shooter, as the user only has to move the trigger finger back a very short distance to reset the gun's trigger mechanism and pull the trigger again. It's also very easy to feel the clear and short reset of the system, and the trigger has a consistent and very similar wall every time. I personally enjoyed shooting with this smooth and relatively light trigger, and the standard undercut trigger guard also adds a higher and better grip for better gun control.

With the Canik TP9 Sub Elite on the shooting range

The accuracy of this compact handgun with standard ammunition like GECO's 9mm Luger 124-gr SX is exceptional. It also probably shoots more accurately than most shooters can experience with dedicated ammo such as GECO Action Extreme or Hornady Critical Duty. A freehand 12-round group of 2.5x2.5 cm at 5 meters with open sights was easily replicable, and with the MeCanik Mo2 mounted, the matching red dot from the company's accessory line, the group size was reduced even further. 

The Canik TP9 Elite Sub in 9 mm Luger can be used to quickly shoot tight groups at short range. This is what the pistol was designed for and is its primary purpose. 

What is relevant for such a gun is the practical and typical operating distance of 0 to 10 m. At a distance of 15 m, I was still able to achieve groups the size of a beer mat easily and repeatedly, even standing freehand and with open sights; with the red dot mounted, these grouping sizes were even halved. At a distance of 25 meters, which is rather far removed from the practical context of such a short gun, the issue of accuracy is somewhat more difficult due to the short sight radius (the distance between the rear and front sights), but this is ultimately also up to the shooter. At this range, a red dot sight again shows its strength: with its hel, it was possible to repeatedly achieve beer mat-sized 10-shot groups at 25 meters without any problems. However, it should always be noted that especially subcompact handguns such as the Canik TP9 Sub Elite were not designed to perform precision shooting at 25 meters, but to accompany their owner unnoticed on all necessary occasions and perhaps even save his life in an emergency at a rather short distance. For this purpose, the Sub Elite is undoubtedly perfectly suited.

Canik TP9 Sub Elite in 9 mm Luger specs and price

TP9 Sub Elite


9 mm Luger 


12 + 1 and 15 + 1 rounds

Dimensions (LxWxH):

171x29x116 mm

Barrel Length:

3.6"/91.5 mm 

Barrel Twist:


Trigger Pull Weight:

1,700 g approx.


558 g

Price (RRP in Germany):
579 euro


OR slide, 2 magazines (12- and 15-round), loading aid, holster, interchangeable backstraps, adapter plate for red dot sight, cleaning kit, hard case.

The Canik TP9 Sub Elite features an ambidextrous slide catch and the magazin e release is convertible from the left side of the grip to the right. 

Canik TP9 Sub Elite: test conclusion

And here is the conclusion drawn by experienced hunting and shooting instructor Cristian Bender after intensively testing this Canik pistol: with the Canik TP9 Sub Elite, you get a subcompact powerhouse that need not fear comparison with the established "subs" from Glock or SIG Sauer, for example. When it comes to reliability, there is basically nothing to complain about with Canik firearms, and when it comes to accuracy, the gun also leaves nothing to be desired. As with any firearm, the hit result is primarily defined and limited by the user's skills. The workmanship, which can be described as very good, and the high level of corrosion protection provided by Canik's tried-and-tested coating, make the TP9 Sub Elite a serious contender for the established manufacturers in this market segment. So if you have the need for compact size and maximum reliability, the Canik TP9 Sub Elite is certainly not a bad choice.

To learn more about the Canik TP9 Sub Elite please visit the Canik website.

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