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 Review: TriStar T-120 
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Location: Woodinville
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012
Posts: 30
Real Name: Jim Lange
I picked up a Tristar T-120 recently. It is a Jericho 941 lookalike made by Canik55 in Turkey. I had been thinking about getting a CZ-75 for a while and the Canik55 line caught my eye when Bud's Gun Shop started importing them last year. I've always liked the styling of the Jericho/Baby Deseart Eagle, and was immediately attracted to the Canik55 Shark in satin silver chrome. My intended use was as a home defense pistol, so size wasn't an issue and I wanted the accessory rail for mounting a light. Early reviews gave high marks to the Canik pistols, often comparing the quality to authentic CZs.

Unfortunately, Bud's sold out of the Shark full-size before I decided to buy. Then I heard that TriStar was expanding their line to include more of the Canik55 pistols and they were available through Davidson's (GalleryofGuns.com). The best part is that the prices were even better than Bud's (under $400)! Plus you get Davidson's lifetime replacement guarantee on top of TriStar's one-year warranty.

(Note: Each FFL that works with Gallery of Guns can set it's own retail markup, so use Gun Genie to get the price at your favorite dealer.)

The T-120 comes in a TriStar-branded plastic case with two magazines, cleaning rod, padlock, and manual (which is generic for all TriStar CZ variants).

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This is the non-ported version (Davidson's only sells the Shark FC full-size ported version), but it does have the rail, so it seems to be somewhat of a hybrid given that the non-ported Shark full-size shown in the Canik55 catalog doesn't have a rail. The frame is alloy with a steel slide and was lighter than I expected at 30 oz. I recently starting shooting IDPA, which doesn't allow ported barrels, so this model should be IDPA legal (although I'm not sure how to confirm annual production numbers).

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Out of the box, the gun was literally dripping with oil, I presume to prevent rust during the trip from Turkey, so my first task after getting it home was to clean off the excess oil. Fit and finish are excellent, inside and out with no obvious tool marks. Frame-to-slide fit is solid with no side-to-side or twisting movement. The long recoil spring helps make the slide easy to rack (which my wife likes) and the action is very smooth.

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Close up of the trigger mechanism. You can also see the striker block in the slide.

The barrel is manufactured by MKEK and is cold forged with standard rifling. The silver chromed models have a black barrel while [I believe] the black models have a silver barrel.

The only less-than-perfect finish was on the front of the gun where there was slight chipping of the finish on the ring around the barrel. I contacted TriStar about the issue (since the ring could be replaced) and they said that they looked into the issue and examined several other Canik pistols and all exhibited the same issue. They said that because of the tight tollerances between the barrel and the ring, the ring is finished with a softer coating, which results in the slight chipping as those two parts are worked in at the factory.

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If you look closely around the barrel in this image, you can see the chipping.

The action is DA/SA with a very long and heavy double-action pull. In fact, reaching the trigger with the hammer down is a bit of a stretch for my forefinger. Starting in the half-cock position is a nice compromise with a shorter and lighter pull that feels more like a revolver. Single action is not super light, but pretty short. I don't have a trigger-pull guage, but I would guess it is around 3.5 - 4 lbs. The trigger doesn't move perceptibly before the break. It just feels like pressure builds until it breaks with some over travel. Reset is very distinct with tactile and auditory feedback.

The cocking serrations are only at the rear of the slide and are a sort of inverse fish scale design that is both attractive and very grippy, without being sharp.

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There are no obnoxious warnings to read the manual before use, just a subtle "T-120" engraved on the left side of the frame and manufacturer info on the right side above the grip.

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The safety is on the frame, like on the latest generation IWI Jerichos with the same squarish design. It was extremely stiff when new. So much so that I could barely disengage it with my right thumb from a firing grip. So I sat in front of the TV one night working the safety on and off a couple hundred times to loosen it up. Now the safety is sufficiently easy to click off, but firm enought to reengage that I must change my grip or use the thumb of my support hand (certainly no risk of accidentaly flipping the safety on with this gun). The safety can be engaged with the hammer down, half-cocked, or fully-cocked. With the safety engaged, the slide will not rack. (Since this isn't a carry gun for me, the safety will rarely be engaged anyway--it sits in my quick-access safe next to the bed with the hammer down, safety off.)

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The slide release lever is just out of reach of my right thumb (did I mention I have small hands?), but is reachable if I have shifted my grip to drop the magazine. I'm in the habit of always sling-shotting the slide after a reload so I rarely use it. The side of my left thumb rests against the forward part of the release lever when gripping with both hands, but this did not interfere with it's operation during shooting.

The sights are three-dot style with a narrow rear notch. The rear is drift adjustable, but the front is fixed. The dots are filled with a glow-in-the dark material that has a yellow tint and, in my testing, didn't glow enough in darkness to be useful. I found the front sight to be difficult to see in lighted conditions, so I repainted my sights with flat white enamel, which improved the sight picture greatly.

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The discoloration near the rails is just dirt from a recent range trip that I missed while cleaning.

The grip panels are hard plastic with a fairly smooth texture. Other users have reported success replacing them with other CZ-75 grips such as the factory SP01 rubber grips, though some grips might require enlarging or elongating the screw holes. I put on a Hogue wrap-around rubber grip with finger grooves and it fit fine with no modification.

The front and back of the grip are textured with vertical ribs and the front of the trigger guard is knurled for those that prefer to wrap their forefinger around it.

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The Mec-gar magazines are metal with a polymer base plate and hold 17 rounds easily. Apparently, the 19-round CZ SP01 mags also fit (I have two on backorder). The mags drop freely, or I should say, are ejected from the spring force. The mag release is not reversible as far as I can tell.

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I've put about 100 rounds through the gun so far with no malfunctions (using Speer Lawman 115gr FMJ). Shell casings eject consistently to the right. It seems to be very accurate (more accurate than me), but shoots "on the dot", meaning that if you line up the three dots horizontally, the point of impact will be the center dot. This is fine for combat shooting, but is not great for bulls-eye shooting. I personally prefer the point of aim to be the top edge of the front blade, but I can adapt. This could also just be my sample and different ammo could also produce different results. The Canik55.com website claims that all pistols go through an accuracy test and must achieve a 16cm group at 25 yards.

Recoil is mild and rapid-fire bursts are easy to control. My wife has decided that this is now her gun, which suits me fine since she now looks forward to coming to the range with me.

My Streamlight TLR-1s fits perfectly on the rail using the 1913 key, which means I can move the light from the T-120 to my rifle without having to change the key. Here it is in it's HD role with the light and Hogue grip.

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In summary, I think the TriStar T-120 is an excellent full-size 9mm handgun, expecially for the price. I would consider buying another model and recommend it enthusiastically to friends.

Jim
Woodinville

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Jim Lange
Woodinville


Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:25 pm
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Location: I-5 /512
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Real Name: chris
interesting gun, awesome review you posted

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Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:29 pm
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Real Name: Matt
out-frigging-standing review and pics!
nice job :cheers2:

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Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:34 pm
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Wow! Great review!


Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:35 pm
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