TriStar Sporting Arms has built its reputation around the importation of quality Turkish sporting and defensive shotguns offered at reasonable prices. Not long ago the company decided to expand its product line to include a series of semi-automatic pistols built by Canik 55. Canik has a reputation for producing pistol clones that often rival the originals for quality and reliability, but without the sticker shock.
The TriStar C-100 is a compact double-action/single-action 9 mm pistol based on the famous CZ-75 pistol, originally developed in 1975 by Ceská Zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB) of the Czech Republic. The C-100’s design has also been influenced by the Tanfoglio Witness pistols, which are CZ-75 derivatives.
The slide is constructed of steel, features rear serrations and is fitted with full-length guide rails. It fits inside of the frame, instead of wrapping over the frame as in the M1911 design. Sights consist of a fixed three-dot night system with a pinned, replaceable front sight and a dovetailed, windage-adjustable rear sight. The dots have been treated with a phosphorescent paint that glows brightly for a few minutes when “charged” with a flashlight.
Because the frame is made of a lightweight aluminum alloy, the pistol’s overall weight is 24.5 ounces-in line with many of the polymer-frame pistols in the same size class. The generous trigger guard is formed with a flat, serrated finger rest along the front edge. One of the reasons the CZ-75 style pistols have remained popular is because of their comfortable and ergonomically efficient grip shape. The grip frame provides enough room for a full three-finger grip and is fitted with checkered polymer stocks that provide a positive gripping surface. A beavertail extension protects the shooter’s hand from being pinched by the exposed skeletonized hammer even when using a high grip.
The controls are located on the pistol’s left side, including the slide stop, magazine release and thumb safety. The safety can be engaged with the hammer forward or fully cocked. This gives the user the option of firing the first shot in double-action mode, or carrying the pistol cocked-and-locked like an M1911. The trigger was smooth and heavy (12 pounds) in double-action mode, much like a quality revolver but with a shorter stroke. The single-action pull had about a quarter of an inch of takeup before breaking at 4 pounds, 11 ounces.
Field stripping the C-100 for cleaning is easy. Start by removing the magazine and verifying that the pistol is unloaded. With the hammer forward, pull the slide back until the disassembly notches on the frame and slide, located on the left side, align. While holding the slide in that position, remove the slide stop. Pull the slide forward and off the frame. Remove the recoil spring assembly, which consists of a steel guide rod and a single braided wire spring, from the slide. Lift the barrel out of the slide and disassembly is complete. Examination of the 3.9-inch barrel showed it to be cut with traditional six-groove rifling, which allows for the use of less-expensive, unjacketed lead bullets.
The C-100 provided a shooting experience on the test range that exceeded our expectations based on the suggested sales price. It’s not uncommon with value-priced pistols to see or feel the cost savings in the form of a slightly gritty trigger, loose fitting parts or a just-acceptable level of accuracy. The C-100, on the other hand, had none of those problems. The overall fit and finish were excellent, with the frame and slide exhibiting an even matte-black surface free of scratches or machine marks.
The slide-to-frame fit was properly tight with no discernible looseness. The full-length rails and clean machining made the slide smooth to cycle right out of the box. The thumb safety snapped crisply in and out of engagement, instilling confidence in carrying the pistol with the hammer cocked. The round, serrated magazine release consistently dropped magazines free without being sticky or mushy. The two provided 15-round magazines, made by Mec-Gar of Italy, were sturdy and cleanly constructed.
The grip shape and low bore axis of the C-100 made for comfortable shooting with a wide variety of 9 mm Luger ammunition. Although the pistol can safely fire +P rated ammunition, the manufacturer does not recommend a regular diet of increased-pressure loads. The pistol proved to be utterly reliable with ammunition ranging from less expensive practice fodder to high-end +P defensive loads. No malfunctions occurred during the course of formal and informal testing.
Formal benchrest accuracy testing was conducted with targets posted at 25 yards. The five-shot groups fired at that distance did not exceed 3 inches in size, with some groups as small as 2.25 inches. The best-performing ammunition of the day was ASYM Precision’s 124-grain +P bonded jacketed hollow points with a five-group average of 2.50 inches.
Although polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols continue to gain popularity in the growing defensive handgun market, the old-school double-action/single action “wonder nines” still have their place. The TriStar C-100 9 mm pistol offers an excellent balance of form and function at a reasonable price. The grip shape and size is comfortable for most hand sizes, and the moderate level of recoil will suit new shooters as well as the seasoned. Loaded with quality ammunition, this pistol provides a level of accuracy on par with more expensive pistols.