There is alot of hate put on the less expensive Turkish pistols on the market. In alot of peoples minds, time is money and that means that the more expensive a pistol is, the better quality that it must be. This is hardly the case. Paying hundreds and even thousands of dollars doesn't automatically translate to high quality. Reliable is reliable, and just paying more does not translate to more than 100% reliability or even longer life. Most of the time when you look at it, you end up paying for features and you sacrifice in other areas. However, Turkish pistols like the SAR CM9 Gen2 seem to have a bit of all the features people want, but without the hefty price tag. They aren't perfect but they work well and they get the job done.
COMBAT MASTER 9MM
In the name SAR CM9, it says exactly what they intended the pistol to be. CM9 stands for "Combat Master 9mm", which is interesting because the CM9 Gen1 was basically a direct copy of a Tanfoglio pistol. Sarsilmaz build this copy of the Tanfoglio and obviously thought that the pistol was worthy of being labeled as a combat pistol. However, I think as time went on, the prideful Turkish company decided that they wanted to take the Tanfoglio design and give it an upgraded and refined twist. I think this was done in order to improve on the pistol but also show off the companies' understanding of what makes a good combat pistol.
The size of the CM9 Gen2 is the same as the first generation. Basically, the shorter slide and full size grip is the new trend. This size is classified as "mid-size" but realistically, it is 'just right' for a 9mm duty/combat pistol. For one thing, if we look at 9mm ballistically, we will see that most ammunition is optimized for use in a 4" barrel. Some ammunition can get greater velocity out of longer barrels, but then we need to consider terminal ballistics in expanding ammunition. In general, hollow point ammunition is designed to give its best performance out of a 4" barrel. Now, this performance is really velocity based, which means that range will have a great effect on it as well.
Given that this pistol is designated specifically as a combat pistol, I would assume that this means that Sarsilmaz had an understanding of the role that pistols play in combat, to include the frequency of use, and the ranges at which they are used. Generally pistols are used with a 25 yard range and only when a rifle is not available. This means that the user will probably be working with a fighting distance that gives them just enough time to draw and fire. This means that added barrel length on the pistol will most likely be of little help or advantage. With this idea in mind, I feel that Sarsilmaz was wise to stick with this design.
The grip on the second generation of the "Combat Master" is one of the most unique features that sets this pistol apart from the first generation. The grip looks like it is covered in finger prints and it has finger grooves on it that are almost perfect for most, if not all hand sizes. I know that finger grooves are not really the hippity-hoppity trend as it once was, but this grip definitely has them, and I think it works out perfectly since the grip texture is a bit slim.
The CM9 Gen2 also utilizes replacement backstraps to help fit the pistol to the shooters hand better. This is a big departure from the first generation CM9. I like that we can see that Sarsilmaz is paying attention at least to some of the shooting trends. Being able to cater the pistols grip to your hand can definitely improve on your performance, especially when working between seasons where you may be wearing gloves for winter and then no gloves. Gloves can be thick and a thinner grip can help you control the pistol just as easily as if you aren't wearing gloves. Kudos Sarsilmaz!
The slide of the SAR CM9 Gen2 has some unique qualities to it that I like, such as the new and improved slide serrations. These serrations are unique and are really functional on this pistol. The greatest criticism of the CZ design is that the slide can be hard to manipulate due to there being less to grab a hold of. When you are working with less, it is best to make the serrations grab onto you and give you a good purchase on what little metal you can make contact with. But the serrations are not all that is improved on the pistol.
The slide was slightly beefed up in order to make it fit flush with the width of the slide. I think this gives it a good visual presentation, and also helps give it better durability and possibly less recoil. Who knows, but I definitely love what Sarsilmaz did with this. This is the kind of thing that gives me confidence in Turkish pistols. They seem to pay attention to these things, which speaks to the fact they really are trying to make quality products we can count on.
The sights on the SAR CM9 series are the same in both generations. I had no problem with the concept of adjustable sights at first until I really started hammering this gun. Typically adjustable sights are not supposed to walk themselves off the set point, but mine sure did. Even with a little Locktite, the sights still wanted to venture off to the right. I found that my pistol printed a bit low and right on with windage, right out of the box. I was perfectly fine with this, but it looks like the sight was drifted a bit left of the center indicator line on the sight. Not a big deal, but I am going to need to test my self defense ammo to verify if my reloads have the same POA/POI. If not, it will be okay for now, but if I decide to carry this pistol, I will simply make the necessary adjustments.
The controls on this pistol have gotten a fair amount of bad press. I think alot of it is misplaced because there seems to be a failure in understanding the concept behind this pistol. First of all, it is going to be wide, but the controls are a small part of the pistol, and should not be considered as a serious contributor to overall width.
The ambidextrous safeties are relatively wide, but I think that the levers should not have been tapered as early as they were. I am barely able to get a purchase on the safety levers in order to sweep the gun off safe out of the holster, let alone to rest my thumb on the safety during shooting. However, I do like how extended and aggressive the safeties are since the original safeties on the CZ pistols were small nubs and didn't have much in the way of texture for good manipulation.
The slide release is also pretty well extended but it functions pretty well. Between the large and deep cutout in the slide, and the strong recoil spring, I find the slide stop to be dang near perfect. I personally don't like to rely on the release for reloads, but for those who do, I think they will find it to do quite a treat.
The magazine release is the only control that really takes on a low profile. This seems to be a reasonable design since we never want the risk of ejecting the magazine by bumping it during manipulations or against gear. I find that the release is not that hard to get to or use, regardless of the relatively low profile. Not bad in my opinion, but you can't make everyone happy, especially in the gun community.
The trigger on the SAR CM9 Gen2 is a huge point of controversy for those who have owned it, and you will find differing opinions in the many reviews on this pistol. Some people do not like the double action weight or even the single action. It is constantly harped on for being gritty and having a bit of weight to it. Now I will say that pulling the trigger on this pistol can be a pain if you are going slow on both double and single action. However, this is where I will sound like a shill for this pistol. I honestly don't like to judge triggers too much on how it FEELS when pulling it slow. I like to use and run my guns, which means I tend to pull the trigger with conviction and with haste.
Being that this is supposed to be a combat pistol, I think that the trigger characteristics are not the best, but it is not the worst. It could have a smoother and lighter double action, and even a smoother and more crisp single action. Sig was one of the smoothest double action triggers on the market, right there with the Beretta 92 series of pistols. However, I think that having the hammer at the half-cocked position greatly improves the trigger pull. It shortens the distance and that makes it easier to put up with the weight of the pull overall. Just my two cents, if anyone is wondering.
Turkey is not a pushover when it comes to manufacturing. They have a pretty solid reputation for producing quality products. Sarsilmaz is one of the largest contributors to the Turkish police force and international firearm exports. This experience and dedication to competing in the international firearms market makes me feel more confident in this pistol and others made in Turkey. It doesn't mean all of their guns are COMBAT MASTERS, but it means that when they are designating a pistol as one, I am inclined to take them seriously. They may not be as intimately versed in the American firearms market, but they hold their own very well. The build quality of this pistol is a great example.
Lets look at the components of this pistol. The barrel is a highly polished stainless steel barrel that is cold hammer forged. This makes it a pretty strong barrel, which is no small achievement. They could have gone cheap on it, but you can clearly see that they put work into it. There are some failures to make the barrel perfectly and entirely polished, but those areas are not really wear areas and therefore they are not something I care about. Realistically, I just see it as excessive and overkill when EVERYTHING has to be polished. It can seem like the manufacturer may not understand the wear points of the platform, or that they prioritize looks over function.
Next thing on the list is the springs. Springs in general can be the hardest thing for manufacturers to get right. After 2000 rounds, I think I can confidently say that Sarsilmaz got it right in this pistol. I have also noticed that this spring durability also extends to other pistols in their lineup as well. In my experience, springs tell a story about a manufacturer and where their priorities are.
CHANGES I WOULD MAKE
As with any pistol or rifle, we are not always going to be totally satisfied. There are a couple of things that Sarsilmaz could do to up their game on this pistol and make me pretty much completely happy with this pistol. First thing I would want to see is the safety levers be extended slightly rearward to allow my little thumbs a chance to use them with ease. That is a big and fundamental requirement if I am going to use this pistol seriously, and this is where it falls short in execution.
Another change I would make to this pistol is I would get rid of those terrible adjustable sights. Give me fixed sights and I will be golden. Don't slack on giving me a shelf on the front of the sight for one handed manipulations, but please get rid of them or offer a fixed sight. Perhaps they could at least encourage aftermarket companies to make different sights for this pistol.
Is the SAR CM9 Gen2 a good combat pistol? well, with the information I provided, I will let you decide for yourself. You could get the Sphinx duty pistol for four times the price of this pistol, but would it really perform four times better? I don't know, but that should be a consideration. This pistol has a pretty low price tag on it and I think the concept is well executed, as well as the construction to give you a pistol with long life. However, there are a few things that make this pistol less than optimal as a supreme "Combat Master" in 9mm. Just my opinion...now go forth and do great things!
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, Firearm and Gear Tester.