If the brand names of the pistols listed above sound Greek to you, let us translate: The Canik and Girsan handguns are made in Turkey, and the IWI is made in Israel. While we recognize some readers might be turned off by these countries of origin, they won’t be turned off if they want a basic full-size striker-fire 9mm for self defense, especially if on a tight budget. All of these pistols are under $500, and that made us scratch our heads about why anyone would pay more, because these pistols provided good accuracy, ease of use, adaptability, and are hundreds less than many other striker-fire 9mms on the market.
- The Canik METE SFT HG5636-N, $499, is a new pistol series from Canik that incorporates design changes to the Canik TP9 series. The name, METE, is pronounced Met-Ay.
- The Girsan MC28 SA 390100, $329, takes some design cues from the S&W M&P, especially in the slide shape and the loaded chamber port on the top of the slide. The controls are also a bit like the M&P. The takedown lever is also like a M&P and nearly every SIG. The trigger uses a built-in safety lever like a Glock.
- The IWI Masada M9ORP17, $442, looks deceptively simple, yet it has great features. In hand, it is very comfortable and a nice Goldilocks size — not too small, and not too big — similar to the Glock 19X and G45 pistols, with a full-size grip and shorter compact slide. When we field-stripped the pistol to look under the hood, we found internals that resembled the SIG P320, M17, and M18 pistols as well as the Beretta APX series. The Masada uses a serial chassis that is stripped down and is less complicated than that of the SIG. While the action is similar to other striker-fire pistols, the chassis sets it apart.
We shot for accuracy at 25 yards using a rest. We used Thompson Target’s Sight Seer Red paper targets ($7/25; ThompsonTarget.com). The target is red and white and provides a nice sight-picture contrast because all the pistol sights were dull black and popped on the target. For speed shooting, we performed the Mozambique Drill on plain cardboard IPSC/USPSA targets (78 cents each; ActionTarget.com). These targets use perforated lines to identify zones, and even at 7 yards, it is hard to distinguish the A zones. One side is white and the other plain brown cardboard. We like these targets because it makes it difficult to see and keep shots in the A zone in rapid fire, which forces us to concentrate on the front sight. Plus, we are frugal, so we get multiple uses out of these targets by using masking tape to cover holes.
For ammo, we used both training rounds and defense rounds with different bullet weights and types. Ammo included Prime brand with 124-grain Hexagon-style bullets, Remington HTP with a 147-grain jacketed hollow points, and Streak Ammo with a 124-grain full metal jacket and a green fluorescent coating on the base of the bullet so you can see the bullet’s path. It’s like a tracer, but non-burning so it’s safe for all range types. The Streak ammo was visible in low light, but in bright light it is hard to see the streak. The Streak ammo was pretty hot, with a muzzle velocity over 1022 fps, depending on the pistol. We noted that the Canik had the highest velocities compared to the IWI and Girsan handguns. Here’s more on each pistol:
Gun Tests Grade: A-
Modular back straps seem to be the norm with striker-fire pistols, and the Girsan provides three options: small, medium, and large. A tool is provided to push out the plastic pin that holds the back strap in place. The back straps wear most of the grip texture, which is a bit insufficient. The front grip strap also has a semblance of texture, and this is where the MC28 SA loses points. The grip is slick, we think. In the area where your thumb and trigger finger grasp the grip, the pistol is thin, making it easy for a user with smaller hands to hold. There is no chunkiness in the Girsan grip unless you prefer the large grip strap. The lack of texture, though, makes the pistol slick. Is it a deal breaker? No. The trigger and the cost of the pistol make up for it.
|Action Type||Semi-auto, short-recoil-operated|
|Trigger Type||Striker fire|
|Overall Length||7.6 in.|
|Overall Height||5.7 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.1 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||24.6 oz.|
|Weight Loaded||31.9 oz.|
|Barrel||4.2 in. long; 1:10-in. twist|
|Capacity||17+1 (double stack)|
|Slide Retraction Effort||17.0 lbs.|
|Frame Front Strap Height||2.8 in.|
|Frame Back Strap Height||3.6 in.|
|Grips||Textured, 3 modular back straps|
|Grip Thickness (max)||1.2 in.|
|Grip Circumference (max)||5.6 in. (small grip module)|
|Sights||Fixed, 3 white dot|
|Trigger Pull Weight||6.1 lbs.|
|Trigger Span||2.7 in.|
|Magazines||1; steel w/polymer base pad|
|Safety||Firing pin block; trigger safety lever|
|Chamber Loaded Indicator||Yes|
The gun’s steel sights are a white three-dot set and are easy to acquire. The rear sight is snag free. At the rear of the slide is a cocking indicator. A red pin is visible when the pistol is cocked and ready to fire. The frame sports an accessory rail on the dust cover.
The slide stop is protected by a ridge in the polymer frame, so you need to be very deliberate when pressing it. The magazine catch is reversible. It is also a good size and protrudes enough for a fast reload. The problem with a fast reload is the MC28 SA only comes with one magazine. Another 17-round magazine will cost you $40 (store.EAACorp.com) and a 19-round magazine is $59. Supplying only one magazine is a way to keep the cost of the Girsan down. The metal magazine sported 17 witness holes, and the floor plate was flush with the grip sides. We would prefer a larger floor plate or a notch on the grip’s side to strip the magazine in the event it gets stuck in the pistol. FBI stats say the average number of shots fired in a defensive situation is three. With 17 rounds in the tank, the Girsan has enough for five gun fights of “average” length.
The MC28 SA uses a trigger bar that interfaces with a sear, and the sear trips the striker to fire the gun. We noticed the trigger feeling a bit smoother after a hundred or so rounds. At first, we could feel the trigger bar dragging in the groove of the sear. We felt two distinct stages prior the trigger breaking at about 6 pounds. Team members pressed the trigger using the pad of their finger as well as the first knuckle and found the trigger fairly easy to press.
In accuracy testing, the Girsan shot best with the Streak 124-grain FMJ ammo. The smallest group averaged 2.26 inches. On average across all ammo, the pistol shot 3-inch groups. Not bad for an inexpensive pistol. In speed shooting, we encountered muzzle flip, and we needed to concentrate on our grip. Shooting the speed drill at 7 yards, we were able to shoot fast and surgical. We did note that the bore axis sat slightly higher compared to the IWI and Canik. The recoil pulse was pleasant and easy to control, but recoil was not as soft as the pulse from the IWI and Canik pistols. The Girsan never malfunctioned and was thoroughly reliable.
Our Team Said: While the Girsan could be placed in the category of Just Another Striker Fire, it has a decent trigger, is reliable, and has decent accuracy. For the price, we don’t think you’ll find a better striker-fire pistol.
9mm Luger Range DataTo collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 25 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
|Prime Match+ 124-grain Hexagon||Girsan MC28 SA||Canik METE SFT||IWI Masada|
|Average Velocity||979 fps||1046 fps||1005 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||264 ft.-lbs.||301 ft.-lbs.||278 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||2.49 in.||2.15 in.||2.26 in.|
|Average Group||2.74 in.||2.31 in.||2.30 in.|
|Streak Ammo 124-grain TMC||Girsan MC28 SA||Canik METE SFT||IWI Masada|
|Average Velocity||1022 fps||1079 fps||1059 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||288 ft.-lbs.||321 ft.-lbs.||309 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||2.26 in.||2.57 in.||2.80 in.|
|Average Group||2.59 in.||3.09 in.||2.94 in.|
|Remington HTP 147-grain JHP||Girsan MC28 SA||Canik METE SFT||IWI Masada|
|Average Velocity||862 fps||912 fps||914 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||243 ft.-lbs.||368 ft.-lbs.||273 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||2.79 in.||1.91 in.||1.80 in.|
|Average Group||3.05 in.||2.01 in.||2.09 in.|