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Canik TP9 vs. Smith & Wesson 3913 Ladysmith: A Gun Showdown at the Range

Canik TP9SFx 9mm. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Canik TP9SFx 9mm. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Timing is everything.

In recent weeks I have written articles about two highly popular 9mm semiautomatic pistols, the striker-fired Canik TP9 and the traditional double-action Smith & Wesson Model 3913 LadySmith. 

Alas, at the time of those writings, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to fire either weapon, so I instead went with the assessments provided by my wonderful girlfriend Lisa, who happens to own both pistols and has used them both as CCW pieces in her home state of Florida (though she uses the Canik for concealed carry duty more often nowadays).

Well, as luck would have it, this past weekend, lovable Lisa came up to the Beltway and brought both pistols with her, helping me make up for lost time.  

A Brief Recap of the Weapons’ Histories

The American-made S&W M3913 is the old-school pistol of the pair, debuting in 1990 as part of Smith’s Third Generation series of autopistols and remaining in production for nine years before being discontinued to make room for the Sigma, and later on the M&P series. It had a factory-standard 8+1 magazine capacity and a slide-mounted hammer-dropping safety. 

In turn, the Turkish-made TP9 Elite SC (Superior Concealment) is the Johnny-come-lately, but has made quite an impact in a short space of time, winning the 2020 Industry Choice Awards Concealed Carry Pistol of the Year. Being a striker-fired pistol, there is no manual safety or decocking lever. Standard magazine capacity is 12+1 rounds, and a 15-rounder is available as well. 

Laying the Basic Groundwork

So anyway, Lisa and I were off to the top-notch Silver Eagle Group indoor shooting range in Ashburn, Virginia, so I could test-fire her two gats. (In exchange, she tried out my WWI Colt M1911 and 9x18mm Makarov.) 

For ammo, I used the Winchester 115-grain full metal jacket load, and the targets of choice were ICE-QT paper targets. I started off with 25 rounds of head shots at 7 yards, followed by 25 rounds of center torso shots at 25 yards. All shooting was done from the Classic Weaver Stance.

Range Report Part I: The Canik TP9

The Canik has been getting hyped quite a bit as of late, so I decided to indulge my curiosity. Since Lisa’s piece came with both the 12- and 15-round mags, I tried both to compare & contrast the ergonomics and balance.

As other shooters have pointed out, this pistol has one of the crispest triggers of any factory-stock striker-fired pistol out there. I daresay it is considerably nicer than a typical Glock straight from the factory. (Yeah, I know, sounds sacrilegious for a Glock fanboy like me, but then again, most of my Glocks have the aftermarket 3.5-lb. trigger connector.) 

I shot slightly better with the 12-rounder than I did with the 15+1. At 7 yards, the overall group was delightfully tight, but pulled decidedly low — low-center to be more precise, so I ended up literally shooting the paper bad guy’s mouth off. 

It was at the 25-yard line that the Turkish gun gave me the most pleasant surprise. At least when using the “dirty dozen” magazine, with which I achieved a wonderfully centered group. Twenty-four out of 25 shots struck the 5-zone, with eight of those taking the dead-center tie-breaking 5x-zone. The lone 4-zone hit happened with the 15-round magazine, and five other rounds were “5s,” but I strayed uncomfortably leftward with the higher-capacity mag.

The Canik never failed to extract or eject. However, it did give me one hiccup (and it happened to Lisa twice as well) wherein the striker failed to fully reset, and I had to cycle the slide in order to remedy that situation.

Range Report Part Deux: S&W M3913 Ladysmith

Next, it was time to temporarily get in touch with my feminine side by firing the LadySmith.

The DA pull was quite smooth. Not as smooth as the manufacturer’s DA revolvers, mind you, but still quite pleasing. The single-action was surprisingly stiff, more so than the TDA 9mm semiauto pistols in my personal collection (namely the S&W M39, Beretta 92FS/M9, Walther P-1, and CZ-75). Not excessively so, mind you, but not as crisp as I had expected it to be. 

At 7 yards, with the slightly more challenging SA pull, the Smith pulled slightly left, but not as low as the Turkish gun. The group wasn’t as tight as the Canik’s, but I did shoot the target’s right eye out, prompting one of my Facebook Friends to joke, “I didn’t know you were an eye surgeon!” 

At 25 yards, the first string strayed way to the left. Three rounds barely stayed in the 4-zone, two went into the 2-zone, and three whiffed completely. Blecchh! So, I took some major Kentucky windage, taking a 5 o’clock hold, with far more satisfying results. Final tally at this distance was 16 hits in the 5-zone – five 5xers – four 4s, two 2s, and the three misses.

The gun functioned flawlessly, with zero hiccups of any kind.

Final Verdict

The Canik was definitely the sweeter shooter of the two in terms of trigger quality and practical accuracy. Not to mention it’s still in production, unlike the M3913, which makes warranty service and spare parts availability much more viable. That striker reset is a bit concerning though. If any of you readers out there own a Canik, please advise in the Comments if you’ve had this same issue. 

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).