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Girsan MC9: Black Sea Blaster on a Bargain Basement Budget

If we learned nothing else from the great warrior-poet Egon Spengler, PhD, in the movie Ghostbusters, it’s that crossing the streams would be very bad. What does fictional ghost hunting have to do with the Girsan MC9? First we have a story to tell.

The time period stretching from spring of 2020 until the early part of 2021 (at the very least) was practically defined by the crossing of two streams. The first stream was triggered by the tide of uncertainty caused by the events of the past year. The pandemic, marches and protests during the summer, tumult surrounding the election … all these factors led to a huge number of people experiencing a newfound worry about their physical security. This newfound worry was addressed by many people via running out and buying their first firearm.

The second stream was caused by the hard realities of commerce. Lockdowns affected supply chains around the globe, supply couldn’t keep up with demand, and shelves at gun stores were frequently emptied in surges of panic buying. Even when merchandise was in stock, scarcity drove pricing up, and that was assuming that the buyers weren’t affected by record unemployment in the pandemic lockdowns.

This is when alternate sources of supply can shine. If you’re on a budget and there’s a panic-driven shortage, anything affordable and in-stock can be a lifesaver when those streams get crossed.

BACKGROUND

Over the last half decade or so, the Turkish firearms industry has exploded in prominence as one of these alternate sources, going from a source for a few older Beretta or CZ clones to fairly fully fleshed out range of license-built copies of foreign handguns as well as original domestic designs. 

girsan MC9
The similarities between the Girsan and the M&P are deeper beneath the skin than on the surface.

Basically, Turkey has filled the space in the American handgun market left by the collapse of Spanish makers like Star and Astra in the ’90s. Due to lower manufacturing overhead and the exchange rate between the two nation’s currencies (the Turkish lira was worth 13 cents at the time of this writing), Turkish pistols are extremely affordable on the U.S. market.

Turkish gunmaker Girsan got their start in the 1990s in the city of Giresun on Turkey’s northeast coast. Their first offering, the Yavuz 16, is better known here in the U.S. as the “Regard.” Recently reviewed on these pages, the Regard is basically a fairly straightforward clone of the Beretta 92 design. In addition to the Beretta clone, Girsan also manufactures 1911-pattern pistols in a variety of sizes, configurations, and trim levels. Like all Girsan products, these are imported into the U.S. market by European American Armory in Florida.

Straight-up clones aren’t all that Girsan manufactures, though. 

There’s the polymer MC28, which is less of a straight-up clone than … well, let’s call it a riff on the S&W M&P9 design. A duty-size striker-fired single-action 9mm pistol that echoes the size and shape of the M&P9 enough that it will share a bunch of the same holsters, it’s easy to see where the “clone” talk came from. It even sported wraparound interchangeable backstraps like the M&P. The non-cosmetic differences were mostly minor and internal except for the MC28 having a tabbed trigger safety instead of the two-piece hinged setup used by the M&P.

Now comes the Girsan MC9, which is basically a derivative of the MC28 model.

BASICS

Like the MC28, the Girsan MC9 is a short-recoil operated semi-auto pistol using a modified Browning lockup, with the square shoulder atop the chamber locking into the ejection port when the slide’s in battery. The lockwork is basically similar to the MC28’s …which is to say, like a Smith & Wesson M&P’s, and this can be noticed when taking the pistol down. 

girsan MC9
In an age when even high-dollar pistols are coming in cardboard boxes, the Girsan’s case is kinda deluxe.

Disassembly is, perhaps unsurprisingly, broadly similar to the M&P’s as well. Drop the magazine, check the chamber to ensure it’s clear, lock the slide to the rear, and rotate the takedown lever on the left side of the frame downward until it stops. At this point you control the slide as it travels forward, pulling the trigger to free it from the frame and remove it. No little internal takedown disconnector here to avoid needing to pull the trigger. The legal liability culture in Turkey probably isn’t like it is here.

Once this is done, the M&P-esque nature of the internals is immediately apparent. Like the Smith, it’s basically a Glock with a few things done backward so as to avoid the baleful legal gaze of the Eye of Smyrna. (The trigger return spring in this system, for example, is at the front of the trigger bar rather than the rear.)

The similarity to the M&P extends to the ambidextrous slide stops. Although with the slide off, it’s readily apparent from the asymmetry of their relative locations on the frame that the Girsan’s designers assume the average left-hander has longer thumbs than the average right-hander.

While the Girsan MC9’s serial number is embedded in the frame in the old-school fashion, rather than on some interchangeable chassis, the magazine catch at least follows the current convention by being reversible. After we lubricated the test gun with a couple drops of Lucas Oil, reassembly was as simple as popping the slide back on, locking it to the rear, and flipping the takedown catch back up. Easy peasy.

FRAME

Externally the frame differs in several visible respects from its immediate forebear. Where the MC28 had very M&P-like wraparound grip modules in small, medium, and large, the Girsan MC9 uses more conventional replaceable backstraps in three different degrees of swole to accommodate the various differently sized hands of end users. 

Where the frame on the MC28 had a smooth matte texture except for the more coarsely textured grip modules, the Girsan MC9 matches a coarser texture on the backstrap with permanent coarsely textured insets on the sides of the grip. None of these surfaces are going to be mistaken for skateboard tape or even the more aggressive texturing found on factory offerings from Sig, Glock, or FN, but they keep the gun from being a total bar of soap. If you’re aggressive with the sunscreen at the range, you might want to coarsen the grip up a bit.

girsan MC9
The accessory rail will accept your favorite WML.

The grip feels a little longer, fore and aft, than the MC28’s, but this is mitigated somewhat by deep reliefs on either side behind the trigger guard to ease the reach to the trigger. The pronounced beavertail of the MC28 frame is gone as well. We didn’t notice a problem, but if you’ve got meaty hands and/or use a freakishly high grip, this thing’s likely going to touch up your Glock callous.

The frame features a Picatinny-style accessory rail with three longitudinal slots and immediately abaft that is the most striking visual difference from the MC28: The trigger guard on this thing is gigantic and very pronouncedly square in profile. Chewbacca could get his finger in there even with heavy winter gloves on. This thing won’t be going in any M&P Kydex, that’s for sure.

SLIDE

The reciprocating part of the pistol is again similar to that on its predecessor with a few minor differences. Unlike the simple dovetails used by the MC28, the rear sight on the Girsan MC9 uses a lateral dovetail while the front uses a longitudinal dovetail and a threaded screw. If you’re looking for aftermarket tritium sights on the shelf at your local gun store, you may be looking for a while. The factory sights use a simple painted non-luminescent three-dot sight picture.

The slide features a stepped contour similar to the M&P or Sig classic look, with angled, square-cut cocking serrations on each side at the rear and four more vestigial ones up front. The large, flat pivoting extractor doesn’t really move enough to serve as a tactile loaded chamber indicator, but there’s a witness hole at the rear of the chamber hood up top that’ll give a glint of brass if the chamber’s loaded, and there’s enough light to see it. Alternatively, you can chamber-check it old school.

So that’s the package: A pistol on the smaller end of duty-size, with a 4.2-inch barrel and a full-size … except wait a minute, the grip isn’t full-sized at all. It’s short, perhaps shorter than a Glock 19’s, but the test gun arrived with only a single magazine that had an adapter collar to fill it out to full-size length. MSRP is $430 according to EAA, but street prices are running under four bills, even mid panic.

ON THE RANGE

Taking it to the range was a necessarily brief affair, what with it being early in 2021 as this is written. Ammunition is tight, even direct from the manufacturers, so the total round count was limited. Three-hundred rounds of full metal jacket, two thirds of it 124-grain FMJ by Turkish manufacturer Sarsilmaz, because it seemed appropriate to try some Turkish ammo in a Turkish blaster, with the remainder of the FMJ being 115-grain CCI Blazer of questionable vintage. The remainder of the test was 100 rounds of mixed jacketed hollow-point: Speer 124-grain Gold Dots, Remington Golden Saber Black Belt 124-grain +P, and Federal 147-grain HST.

The first thing we noticed at the range was that, while the magazine had 15 witness holes in the back, the actual capacity was 17 rounds. There’s probably some reason why the manufacturer didn’t think the last two rounds deserved witness holes of their own, but it’s a mystery to us.

girsan MC9 disassembled field stripped
Popping the hood makes the S&W design cues apparent.

Loading the magazine, even to capacity, wasn’t a thumb-busting chore, and the feed lips lacked the shaving-sharp edges so common in this price bracket. The magazine is made of fairly heavy-gauge metal and polished blue. The “Made in Italy” markings might have something to do with this, and we approve.

The sights and trigger were completely adequate. The latter was very obviously single action, with an almost weightless take-up that ended in an abrupt wall and fairly heavy (but consistent!) 6.25-pound break, according to our RCBS scale. While nothing to write home about, it was certainly up to the basic chore of wearing out 8-inch steel plates at 20 yards all morning. The Girsan experienced zero malfunctions of any type with any of the five different loadings tested.

When done with the range sessions, there’s a wire-handled copper brush in the case for cleaning chores. As an added nice touch, the golf tee-looking object in the case is a punch for drifting out the pin that secures the backstrap in order to swap it out. There are more expensive pistols that don’t include one of these, and maybe they should start.

LOOSE ROUNDS

While the Girsan MC9 isn’t likely to have you bragging on the ’Gram, it seems to be a perfectly serviceable pistol for not a lot of money. If we were looking to put a ton of rounds through a gun in training classes or pistol matches, we might spend more to get a known quantity with a larger aftermarket, but the Girsan MC9 is proof that we’re in a golden age of serviceable-if-unglamorous pistols. If you’re looking for that first pistol in a pinch and on a budget, the MC9 will serve the purpose. 


EAA Girsan MC9

Weight (unloaded): 27.6 ounces
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Barrel Length: 4.2 inches
Caliber: 9x19mm
Capacity: 17+1 rounds
MSRP: $430
URL: eaacorp.com


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3 responses to “Girsan MC9: Black Sea Blaster on a Bargain Basement Budget”

  1. Matt says:

    Are the mags proprietary?

  2. Jeremy Abrams says:

    Good gun, and good price, but I can’t ignore that I’d be supporting a very bad government if I bought it.

  3. Mark Andrew Edwards says:

    Looks a lot like a Springfield Armory XD9/HS2000 to me.

    Don’t need one but if I was starting from nothing, I could see it, if you don’t have a problem giving money to Turks.

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  • Good gun, and good price, but I can't ignore that I'd be supporting a very bad government if I bought it.

  • Looks a lot like a Springfield Armory XD9/HS2000 to me.

    Don't need one but if I was starting from nothing, I could see it, if you don't have a problem giving money to Turks.

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