Intro: What Is the TM-9?
The TM-9 is a polymer striker-fired handgun chambered in 9mm. Aesthetically, the TM-9 looks very close to the Glock 17 Gen 3, which makes sense considering that is what the design was modeled after. Glock’s patent on the Gen 3 expired a few years ago, and this has prompted a flood of Glock-a-like handguns to enter the market. As you can tell, Tara is gunning for the Glock market, going so far as to use a similar “Perfection” label on the case.
While certainly similar, the TM-9 is not identical to the classic Glock that has dominated the handgun space for decades. One differing feature is the presence of an ambidextrous mag release. While newer Glock’s can have the mag release switched from left to right, the Tara TM-9 is ready out of the box with the ability to release the mag from either side. Outside of the magazine release, the entirety of the handgun is not ambidextrous, as it only has a slide release on the left side of the frame.
Comparison: TM-9 vs. Glock 17
The TM-9 is a full-size handgun chambered in 9mm, making it a great candidate for carry or duty use. Now, as the G17’s name implies, the magazine holds 17 rounds and the same is true of the Tara. That 17-round capacity keeps it competitive in the modern handgun market.
Going back to the Glock, while it’s immensely popular, many people highly customize and change out parts on their stock Glocks. One of the first things people change is the cheap, plastic Glock sights. The Tara TM-9 features metal three-dot sights, offering something that is more robust than its Austrian counterpart.
The final aspect of the handgun is the trigger system, which offers a single/double-action function. If you’re experienced with the LEO triggers that are commonly found on law-enforcement trade-in handguns, this trigger may be somewhat familiar. However, if you are used to light single-action triggers and their resets, the TM-9 may be a bit of a finger workout for you, especially through a long day of shooting or training. More on that below.
I put a little over 500 rounds through the system, mostly 115-grain FMJ from Buffalo Cartridge and Remington. There were a few malfunctions with the gun, and especially in the first few magazines. It was obvious to me that there is a break-in period these handguns need to endure.
As mentioned before, the trigger leads to some fatigue through long days of shooting. The trigger resets into a “single-action” mode, but you must exert so much pressure to fight the spring tension that it’s a bit exhausting to take advantage of the shorter trigger pull. The trigger also does not offer a clear wall or break point, leading it to be very mushy.
Another interesting note is the erratic ejection pattern. Pattern is actually a strong word considering there was no real rhyme or reason as to where the brass goes. It may throw the brass, casings may barely fall out, or you might catch one coming back at your face. It’s hard to anticipate from shot to shot.
Something else I noticed after a lot of shooting was that there is a lot of space between the slide and the frame. This offers loose tolerances, which often leave powder-burn marks on your hands from shooting. While there were no actual “burns” per se, if you are not wearing gloves, it may look like you work on engines or in the coal mines for a living.
Moving on to the magazines, the steel construction of the magazine and the ambidextrous magazine release seem to affect the ability for the magazines to drop free. When shooting drills, the empty magazine has to be stripped out of the gun for reloads every time.
Overall, the handgun performed well, but it did not blow any socks off in its performance – again, remember it comes at a very low-budget price. At the end of the day, I am a believer that most guns are capable of better accuracy than most shooters. I ran a few drills and went through some basic shooting, and the handgun put lead on target fairly accurately, especially considering the trigger.
Why Get a Tara?
The Tara TM-9 is a great inexpensive, entry-level handgun that can easily land a spot as a good trainer. Hi-Point, SCCY, and Taurus are the other brands that fall into the peer level for this 9mm. This is probably not your cup of tea if you’re already rocking a $3,000+ Staccato, a Wilson Combat, or another expensive handgun brand. With the TM-9, especially for hard training and duty use, you don’t have to feel bad about running it through its paces with little to no concern for the finish.
Pros & Cons
When making a pros and cons list, especially comparing it to other options on the market, the grip on the first-generation TM-9 is something that is lacking. The sides of the grip feature no stippling or grip texture, making it difficult to maintain a purchase on the grip in adverse conditions.
Outside of the finger grooves, there is not much to hold on to while shooting. While the grip factor is lacking, the handgun does feature a deep beavertail cut that aids in keeping the bore axis very low during shooting, making follow-up shots and recoil control easier. Here were my takeaways:
- Very affordable
- Ambi mag release
- 17+1 capacity gives lots of bang for the buck
- Very low bore axis
- Train hard with it and don’t worry about scuffs or marks
- Long, heavy trigger can lead to finger fatigue
- Very little grip texture
Mags don’t fall free
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