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
Most striker-fire pistols use a trigger bar assembly that articulates, with the striker acting as both a trigger bar and a sear. The trigger bar in the Masada works a against a separate sear, which then interfaces with the striker. What does all this mean? The Masada has a very nice trigger pull, which is light and crisp. There is none of that spongy trigger-pull characteristic of other striker-fire pistols. Reset was short and positive. The trigger sold us on the Masada.
|Action Type||Semi-auto, short-recoil-operated|
|Trigger Type||Striker fire|
|Overall Length||7.5 in.|
|Overall Height||5.6 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.3 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||23.5 oz.|
|Weight Loaded||30.8 oz.|
|Barrel||4.1 in. long; 1:10-in. twist|
|Capacity||17+1 (double stack)|
|Slide Retraction Effort||16.0 lbs.|
|Frame Front Strap Height||2.8 in.|
|Frame Back Strap Height||3.7 in.|
|Grips||Textured, 3 modular back straps|
|Grip Thickness (Maximum)||1.2 in.|
|Grip Circumference (Maximum)||5.5 in. (small back strap)|
|Sights||Fixed, 3 white-dot pattern|
|Trigger Pull Weight||4.8 lbs.|
|Trigger Span||2.7 in.|
|Magazines||2; steel w/polymer base pad|
|Safety||Firing pin block; trigger safety lever|
|Chamber Loaded Indicator||No|
|Warranty||5 year limited|
The slide is machined for an optic, and four adapter plates come with the pistol for Trijicon, Vortex, Leupold, or SIG red dots. You can mount an optic without having to remove the rear sight. There are coarse forward and rear slide serrations that offer plenty of grip surface. The snag-free sights are white three-dot styles that are straight out of the 1980s. Old school, but they work. The pistol has a massive extractor that also acts as a chamber indicator and protrudes when a round is in the chamber.
The polymer frame has the mandatory accessory rail; it’s a Picatinny with four slots to mount a light. The controls are ambidextrous, with an enlarged slide stop that is serrated and easy to operate with gloved hands. The smallish magazine catch is also ambidextrous, so there is no need to reverse the magazine catch to suit your preference. The smooth-face trigger has a safety paddle built in. There is also a firing-pin-block safety that stops the firing pin’s movement unless the trigger is pressed all the way to the rear.
The grip texture is rather tame and offers a good grip. Backstraps are easily swapped out. Three sizes come with the pistol: small, medium, and large. You need a roll-pin punch and brass hammer to remove the pin to change the grip. The area of the frame behind the trigger, where your trigger finger rests, is tapered toward the trigger and offers not only a funnel to the trigger for your trigger finger but makes gripping the pistol comfortable, whether you use the pad of your finger or the first knuckle. The undercut trigger guard also makes this a comfortable shooter.
The butt has a triangular cut out that allows the user to strip out a magazine in the event it gets stuck. The magazine floor plate also has ridges for better leverage. Two metal magazines are shipped with the Masada. The 17 witness holes clearly indicate how much is left in the magazine. The magazine was easy to load to the seventeenth round.
Going hot, the Masada proved to have an average accuracy of 2 inches to just under 3 inches at 25 yards, which was very good. The sights are easy to pick up, and the trigger press was divine. Our best group measured 1.8 inches with the Remington HTP 147-grain JHP defense ammo. In fact, that was the best group we fired in this test.
In speed shooting during the Mozambique Drill, we experienced the usual muzzle flip we expect from similar-size plastic 9mm guns. Noticeable, but easy to control. The slide had a smooth recoil impulse. We noticed the interior of the slide was machined to reduce weight. We had no malfunctions. This gun ran well and the trigger allowed us to do good work, especially with the surgical shots. Our one complaint is the small magazine catch. We would have liked it bigger to help speed reloads.
Our Team Said: While the Masada is simple, it offers a lot of features found on better-known guns, and the IWI costs less. We like the option of being able to mount an optic and to swap back straps. We really liked the trigger.
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.|