It’s said that in life, one never gets a second chance to create a first impression. SDS Imports, the company that imports the Tisas firearms manufactured in Turkey, appears to have embraced that piece of wisdom, because I was extremely impressed from the moment I opened the box containing its new PX-9 GEN3 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Except for some ammo, the box contained everything you need to defend yourself and your loved ones.
Of course, there was the anticipated owner’s manual, firearm and magazine with its 18-round capacity. Also, there was the (sometimes expected) bore brush and cleaning rod along with different sized backstraps and grip panels to ensure the pistol could be modified to fit the new owner. But, the real surprise was the second 18-round magazine with a loading tool wrapped around it to make things easier for those new to the joys of loading double-stack magazines. Already installed on the Tisas was an extended magazine well to facilitate speed loads in training classes or enhance your survival prospects on the mean streets. The mag well is almost like having target-style grips wrapped around the bottom of your hand. Not expected, the gun was packed in a fitted, minimalistic IWB holster made of plastic. You’re ready to step directly from the store to the firing line for some serious training. If you have to drive to the training center, the pistol’s lockable hard-plastic case meets the transportation-security requirements of some strict states (like California) or TSA/airline air-travel requirements. Check with the airlines, though because I haven’t flown in quite a while.
The PX-9’s slide and barrel are both steel, while the frame is polymer. The entire gun is colored OD green, much like my old military fatigues. The slide has angled grooves both front and rear for easy manual operation. Sight setup is pretty luxurious, with a dovetail-mounted rear sight adjustable for windage, a non-adjustable fiber-optic front sight and a removable plate atop the slide that allows the mounting of a red dot just in front of the rear sight. For those who prefer red-dot sights on their handguns, the PX-9 Gen 3 Duty is cut for optics that use the Trijicon RMR footprint. Not having a red dot available, all test shooting was done with the factory-furnished sights.
Several safety features adorn the PX-9 (none of which are intended to replace the “Master Safety Feature” located between your ears): The external extractor serves as a loaded-chamber indicator, while a pin in the rear of the slide tells you if the striker is cocked. There is a trigger safety (the inner “trigger in the trigger” system) and a firing-pin block that prevents the gun from firing if dropped. The gun can only fire if the trigger and trigger safety are pulled all the way to the rear. An ambidextrous thumb safety is optional, but the test gun was not equipped with one.
Like most striker-fired pistols, the Tisas is easily disassembled. After ensuring the gun is not loaded (do this twice), lock the slide back and rotate the disassembly lever clockwise, let the slide move forward, pull the trigger and move the slide forward off the gun.
The backstraps, frontstrap and side panels all feature a rough surface to assist in maintaining control of the gun while firing. Admittedly, the 9 mm cartridge does not produce severe recoil, but anything that improves shot-to-shot recovery time is a good idea, particularly on a hot day when hands get slippery with sweat. Depressing the mag-release button is relatively easy, requiring less movement of the shooting hand than do most guns, and it is also reversible for those who are left-handed.
I was able to swing by Gunsite Academy and get some trigger time and input from Training Director Lew Gosnell. It was one of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce’s brilliantly sunshiny days, and both of us were a little overwhelmed by the brightness of the green fiber-optic front sight. It tended to wash away clear visibility of the rear sight, making a precise sight picture difficult to acquire, something necessary for shooting small groups. The effect is perfect for close-quarters defense because it’s impossible to not see the “ball of green fire.” It’s quickly acquired, and when placed on the threat, ensures repeated solid hits to the torso. If I was carrying the PX-9 in a non-urban setting, I’d consider a slightly narrower rear-sight notch as a possible improvement in making hits at longer range. In conditions with less ambient light and inside of 20 yards, the PX-9 does its job as issued.
The pistol proved 100-percent reliable, as long as you ensured the magazine was locked in place. With the flared magazine well in the gun, the base of the magazines is flush with the base of the mag well. When loading the gun, slamming the magazine with the palm of your support hand as taught in training ensures it’s locked in place. If you get tentative with a tactical or speed reload, you might find yourself with a class-one malfunction. If I were carrying the gun, particularly concealed, I might remove the mag well to ensure the magazine positively locks in place even with a casual smack, but the TISAS and I haven’t spent enough time together to be sure. For home defense, I’d add a weaponlight and sleep comfortably at night. But then, I have a 10-pound dog that thinks he’s a Rottweiler. He provides the alarm; the Tisas PX-9 provides the security.