CCW Weekend: TriStar Arms C-100
By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
The TriStar C-100 is something of a paradox. It’s a compact, but shoots like a full-size. It’s a clone of the CZ-75 Compact, so it’s an old design. However, it has a lot of modern appointments so it isn’t dated by any means.
It’s a value gun (and a great one at that) but doesn’t feel cheap at all and is actually better-made than its price point would suggest. This gun doesn’t do ballads; it’s all metal. However, it’s almost as light as many polymer pistols of the same size thanks to the lightweight alloy frame. It’s a hammer-fired DA/SA pistol in an era of plastic fantastics.
That makes it interesting, more so than a lot of other pistols out there. If you have a contrarian streak, if you want to break from the pack a little bit, it’s actually a great gun to consider.
TriStar imports the pistol from Canik, the Turkish gun company behind the TP9 series of striker guns that have gotten so popular lately. Canik (pronounced “jan-eek” if my information is correct) also makes a series of CZ clones. The C-100 is their clone of the CZ-75 Compact. The factory is ISO-9000 certified, and build quality is excellent.
Externally, it’s an almost exact copy. However, the internals are different so parts are not interchangeable save for grip panels, magazines and sights. You definitely get the same ergonomics that CZ pistols are renowned for, with the Hi-Power derived palm swell and extended beavertail for getting a good shooting grip.
Measurements are as follows:
Barrel length is 3.9 inches, and overall dimensions are 5 inches in height by 7 inches in length by 1.35 inches in width. It sounds a bit fat, but much of that is in the grip panels; the gun is 1.1 inches wide at the slide. Slim grips should bring it to about 1.2 inches.
It’s all metal, but the pistol is deceptively light; unloaded weight is 25 ounces. Carrying capacity is 15+1 of 9mm, with magazines by MecGar. Low-profile night sights sit atop the slide, which – of course – rides inside the frame rails.
The base model is offered in black Cerakote, though a tungsten gray finish is available as well.
The operating system is DA/SA with a manual safety. Unlike CZ’s thumb safety, it can be engaged at any time instead of only when the hammer is cocked. You can carry it cocked-and-locked or lower the hammer to half-cock if you don’t wish to fully decock the pistol for carry. The safety system includes a firing pin block, but that’s to be expected.
The gun comes in a hard black case with two MecGar magazines, an owner’s manual, lock, bore brush and patch tool. That’s more than what some bigger names give you for a higher price tag, so that’s something.
The double-action trigger is stiff but very manageable at about 12 lbs, give or take a pound as these things do vary between each individual gun. Single-action operation takes about ⅜ of an inch off travel and reduces pull weight to about 5 lbs, again give or take. You can also half-cock the gun for single-action travel distance but double-action resistance.
The single-action trigger has a bit of pre-travel, but that’s the case with almost any factory gun with a firing pin block, so there’s no point in whining about it.
Any CZ-75 Compact holster will work since it’s an almost exact copy. You probably won’t find one on the shelf at a gun store, but plenty of holster companies make them. Since it’s the same size and weight as many popular polymer guns of the same general type – compact double-stack – it is a very viable carry pistol.
Range testing found the pistol recoiled rather softly, so extended range sessions are no problem. What I’ve found with this and the other TriStar pistol I’ve tested – the T-100, a clone of a Baby Eagle compact – is they are far more accurate than I am. I apparently have a breaking-in period with pistols, so there’s no point in mentioning my terrible initial groups.
In better hands, I think they’d shoot 2-inch (or smaller) groups at 25 yards without too much issue. This gun rewards proper shooting technique (when I managed to practice it) with laser-like accuracy. The better you get, the better it will.
I haven’t put enough rounds through one to comment on reliability. Long term owners don’t seem to report many issues and even if there was an FTF or FTE, they don’t really count in the first few hundred rounds as that’s a breaking-in period. I have every confidence this pistol is reliable enough for use as a carry gun.
There are, however, some slight catches.
The sights – while being perfectly usable – are on the small side. They aren’t the brightest of night sights, either, so it’s more like they’re 3-dot that glow a bit too.
I prefer DA/SA guns with a decocker but manual decocking is easier than you’d think by virtue of a large bobbed hammer, which is easy to get good purchase on. Having handled the CZ-75 Compact, I wouldn’t do so with the genuine article as CZ’s bobbed hammers for the 75 and Compact are much smaller. With care, the TriStar can be safely decocked with relative ease.
MSRP is $459, but it’s rare to find them in stores marked over $399, which – all things considered – is more gun for the money than you get from some much bigger names.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.