Gun Test: SAR 9
By Michael O. Humphries, American Handgunner
While the polymer-framed SAR 9 may follow a well-worn path in gun design, this is not a bad thing. It is a solidly made, reliable 17+1 9mm pistol ready for defensive use.
The SAR 9 not only has interchangeable backstraps, but also side panels. It comes with small, medium and large sizes, as well as a handy tool for installation.
What’s that? A polymer-framed 9mm? Is it striker-fired? How about a double-column magazine? Accessory rail on the front end, replaceable backstraps on the back? Check, check, check, check, check … It’s all there. Everything we have come to expect in today’s world of modern handguns. Trust me, I know how easy it is to be underwhelmed by a new gun seeming to travel a well-worn path. Did someone say “AR-15”?
But this doesn’t mean it isn’t deserving of attention. In fact, you might just find a treasure you would’ve normally overlooked. It’s important to remember good design tends to follow basic formats — this is why all good cars have four wheels and not three, right?
Stripping the pistol is easy — Mike did it in 10 seconds with no help from the instruction manual. Next time, he’ll try with his eyes closed.
Here’s a secret for you — while the mag is marked for 15 rounds, it can actually hold 17.
While sitting at my office desk, I proceeded to dry fire the pistol over, and over … and over. I discovered I really liked the shape of the frame. I tried all the grip inserts but settled back on the medium originally installed. It settled nicely into my hands in a firm two-handed grip, and I discovered the textured pull-down disassembly lever above the triggerguard made a great indexing point for my support-hand thumb. The trigger broke pretty cleanly at an average weight of 6.5 lbs.
Also of note is the fact the SAR 9 has an ambidextrous manual safety — at the rear of the frame, just like God and John Moses Browning intended. I like to have this on a pistol. If you want to use it, great. If not, just ignore it. The only thing I would point out is I would like it to be a tad farther back and a smidge higher up, and the levers a bit larger, while we’re at it.
Within the face of the trigger is the now extremely familiar paddle-style safety, disengaging when you place your finger there. A magazine release located behind the triggerguard, and a non-ambidextrous slide release lever rounds out the controls. Pressing the mag release drops one of the two included steel magazines. Cheater’s note for you here — while they are marked as 15-rounders, the mags can actually hold 17.
The pistol comes packed in a nice foam-lined case with gun lock, cleaning tools, extra mag and grip inserts. Classy.
The SAR 9 showed a preference for the Black Hills 125-gr. HoneyBadger load, with this tight group fired at seven yards. Hey, it’s got to be accurate close since you need to hit well if the bad guy’s that close.
Does It Fly?
While I liked what I had seen so far, none of it mattered if it wouldn’t perform. I had some good defensive ammo to try out, specifically some Black Hills 125-gr. HoneyBadger and SIG SAUER 124-gr. V-Crown JHP. The range was sunny and peaceful so I went to work. I loaded the SAR 9 and began teasing the trigger to get a feel for it. Recoil was manageable due to the size and weight of the gun and muzzle flip was negligible.
During testing, I tried it out from ranges as close as seven yards all the way out to 25. The SAR 9 did well with both loads and showed a preference for the Black Hills ammo. I was able to get groups as small as 3/4″ at seven yards, with my 25-yard groups in the 2″ to 3″ range. Functioning was almost perfect, with me having one shell from the first mag refusing to eject and remaining held by the extractor. Once I locked the slide back and cleared the casing, I jumped right back in and the gun ran just fine. I’d call it a “break-in” glitch.
Although I prefer “big dot”-type sights where the front sight is large and the rear sight is minimal, I found the simple three-dot sights on the SAR 9 more than usable. The rear sight unit is drift-adjustable and has a retaining screw to affix its location. The trigger was pretty good, and I was able to get a “feel” for how I could stage it right up to the break to tighten up my groups.
Is there anything paradigm-shifting with the SAR 9? Are there any groundbreaking features making this pistol stand shoulders above all its competitors? Nope. Does this mean it’s not worth your time? Most definitely not. There’s a reason most cars have four wheels.
While the SAR 9 follows a basic design approach we’ve seen before, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a great pistol. I found it offers you a lot for its reasonable cost and has some solid design features on top of it all. If you want a gun that works and won’t break the bank, the SAR 9 definitely passes the test.
Specifications and Features:
Sarsilmaz USA SAR 9 Semi Auto Pistol SAR9BL
17 Round Capacity
Laser Machined Patterns
Overall Length 7.5″
Overall Height 5.5″
Overall Width 1.4″
Overall Weight 27.1oz
Price: Online for $385