When it comes to budget CZ-75 clones, the SAR 2000 wins.
Had things been different, Josef and František Koucký might’ve whiled away their days smoking big cigars in a villa overlooking the Vltava River. As it stands, the talented gun designers’ names are little more than footnotes. That’s difficult to reconcile, given their creation is perhaps one of the most prolific handguns of the last half-century: the CZ-75.
Why yes, one of the original “Wonder Nines” of the 1970s earned the Kouckýs little kudos … and even less money. Therein lies the rub, given the sheer number of CZ’s iterations of the recoil-operated, semi-automatic pistol and its throngs of mimics. Weak Combloc patent laws allowed the bird to fly the coop, and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a manufacturing concern popped off their version of the “Wonder Nine.” Perhaps no other gun of the past 50 years has been more copied; it took more than a century for John Browning’s 1911 to develop as many facsimiles. Alas, if there were only royalty checks for the Kouckýs.
The talented Czech designers’ loss has been many shooters’ gain. The CZ-75 clone wars spurred some true gems, many long on performance and some short on price. Which, for all intents and purposes, describes the Sarsilmaz 2000, more commonly known as the SAR 2000.
The Turks Are Coming!
The who and the what? You’re forgiven if Sarsilmaz isn’t part of your everyday firearms vernacular—it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like Browning, Glock or Sig Sauer.
But the Turkish company has the historic chops to hang with many of the top names, and it has proven that in the recent decade. Operating out of Istanbul, Sarsilmaz has turned out sporting and military-grade firearms since around 1880. Currently, the company’s claim to fame is outfitting the Turkish National Police and armed forces with sidearms—the country’s only privately held company that can make that boast.
If an American has heard of them, it’s been through Sarsilmaz’s more recent forays into the American market under its U.S. operation, SAR USA. Most notably, the SAR 9 striker-fired pistol has earned its share of kudos, offering one of the best-priced, no-compromise Glock 19 clones to come down the pike. The SAR Model 2000 does much the same for CZ clones, though this isn’t the pistol’s first time around the block in America.
Yanks have fawned over the Turkish double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol previously under the banner of Armalite, the somewhat forgotten AR-24. Though this latest iteration is more closely related to the original 9mm Sarsilmaz DA/SA—the Sarsilmaz Kilinç 2000—than the AR model. To that end, as for the pistol’s CZ-75 DNA, it has much more of an Italian accent than a Czech. The heater is an echo of an echo.
In particular, the SAR 2000 seems to more closely mimic Tanfoglio’s take on the CZ-75 more than the original. This isn’t only seen in the pistol’s Mediterranean aesthetics, but also some of its more weighty design points. In particular, the SAR 2000’s fire control adopts the Tanfoglio design.
At times, many shooters have contended the Italian pistol offered a better, more consistent trigger pull than what came out of CZ. That’s a barbershop debate point, not set-in-stone gospel. I could find few complaints about how the Turkish pistol tripped, so there might be something to the contention.
While it’s comparable to the Italian CZ-75 clone, it beats it in one of the most difficult categories—price. With a suggested retail price of $478, it’s among the most affordable options hitting gun store shelves. On top of that, there isn’t a lot of compromise in what a shooter receives.
Out Of The Box
I have a soft spot for hammer guns and plenty of steel, which is to say, I was taken aback when I unpacked the SAR 2000 for the first time. Sans the magazine follower and grip panels, the pistol is head-to-toe metal—good stuff to boot. Now, the 9mm isn’t quite stainless steel, but a high-quality, high-chromium alloy known for its toughness and corrosion resistance. But where the material mattered most, at least in this initial take, was its heft.
Make no mistake: The SAR 2000 is no lightweight. In fact, there’s a full 32 ounces of pistol to contend with, making it an out-in-out behemoth. The duty-sized pistol balances nicely in the hand, with its 4.5-inch barrel giving it a bit of front weight. Honestly, these are welcome attributes, though they break from the modern herd. The 9mm Luger is polite as far as semi-auto pistol rounds go and is a plum kitten out of a gun with the 2000’s bulk.
Despite the gun’s weight, it fit my medium-sized hands very well with enough room; small-handed shooters most likely will find it comfortable. Sarsilmaz puts curves and contours in the perfect places, allowing it to snake to the palm and intuitively form a fundamental high grip. The soft, rubber grip panels also do their part, keeping the pistol in place and on target. They’re needed, given there’s only a small patch of checkering on the front and back straps, so something has to make up the difference.
As to the SAR 2000’s aesthetics, it’s a racy-looking gun. First off, it sports a traditionally shaped dust cover, another way of saying it’s sans an accessory rail, lending traditional appeal. Next, its classic lines are set off by an unconventional beveled slide, which reminded me of another famous CZ-75 mimic—IWI’s Jericho. The comparison is furthered given the more aggressive cocking serrations—rear only—which is similar to many versions of the Israeli pistol.
The 2000 I handled was finished matte black thanks to the Turkish company’s proprietary nitrocarburizing process. This gave the pistol a tactical and rugged look, as well as protection from the elements. However, for those who need a bit more bling, Sarsilmaz offers an equally attractive flat, stainless steel finished model.
Lefties, you might not care for what’s coming. Pleasant as the SAR 2000 is, it won’t play nice with your wrong-handed ways. All the controls are on the left side of the frame and non-reversible. However, there’s plenty of utility in what’s offered up to run the gun.
Here I speak primarily of the thumb safety lever. What a relief! A thumb safety, in my humble opinion, vastly improves the utility of a DA/SA pistol. Simply put, you can carry such a piece cocked-and-locked, skipping the long-and-heavy, double-action stage. That’s an advantage for anyone who values greater accuracy on the draw.
My Wheeler trigger pull scale averaged around 5 pounds flat with a very sharp and consistent break in single action. In double-action, the pistol required nearly 12.5 pounds of rearward force to crack off a shot. So, the advantage of the safety is obvious.
That said, if you prefer the insurance against missteps hastened by sympathetic nerve responses, the DA trigger is respectable. Smooth goes a long way in defeating heavy, and the DA pull on the SAR is slick. The steel trigger does its part, too. Sporting a traditional steeply curved shoe, it proves very responsive no matter what stage the pistol is in. The reset is terse as they come and picks up the pistol’s pace.
There are some other minor points worth touching on that enhance the control and manipulation of the SAR. An ample trigger guard makes getting onto the switch hassle-free; though I didn’t shoot with gloves, its large enough mitts shouldn’t prove a barrier. An ample beavertail not only protects from slide or hammer bites, but also offers a solid landmark for fast and proper hand placement. A well-sized mag release picked up reloads considerably. Well, that and the fact the magazine dropped like ripe apples.
Sarsilmaz At The Range
I was excited to see what the Turkish heater had to offer in live fire … and I wasn’t a bit disappointed.
Through 200 rounds—no torture test, to be sure—the gun didn’t have one hiccup, and I challenged it in this facet. In addition to three Federal SynTech loads, I also pitched Wolf steel-case 115 FMJ—not always the easiest stuff to extract.
As for accuracy, it was spot on. At 25 yards in single action, the best showing came from Federal 150-grain SynTech Action Pistol, which printed the tightest group of the day—3.25 inches. However, through all the ammo I ran, none veered much over the 3.5-inch mark when shooting supported off sandbags. This is more than adequate for a pistol and greatly aided by the 2000’s top-notch forged and crowned barrel.
I ran several dot drills and target transitions with the pistol. The SAR 2000 shined through it all. As expected, the copious iron was gentlemanly in recoil, allowing me to move quickly between targets, and the trigger more than did its job. I didn’t walk away a fan of the double-action trigger. The weight is challenging and a polar opposite of its impressive single-action trigger. That said, for what it is, I didn’t hate it and found it more than acceptable for this style of gun.
As to sights—typical steel three-dot—they’re more than familiar to any modern shooter and were easy to run. For most, they should prove a solid option; if not, the rear is dovetailed and easily upgradable.
Affordable and ready to run, the SAR 2000 might be the top budget CZ-75 clone out today. That’s a steep statement, but one I feel my time with the pistol backs up. This is a good thing beyond penny pinchers adding a version of the classic to their collection.
While the gun is more than up for home defense duty and would excel in this role, where I think it best fits is as an entry-level competitive pistol. I imagine the practical-pistol competitor in the market for his or her first dedicated race gun—with a tab in the hundreds, not thousands—will appreciate what Sarsilmaz has accomplished. But at the price the Turks are asking, really you don’t require a set-in-stone objective to enjoy what the SAR 2000 brings to the table.
It’s no genuine CZ-75, nor one of its high-end clones, but it doesn’t have to be. The SAR 2000 more than represents the lineage—only at a fraction of the price.
SAR 2000 Specs:
- Caliber: 9mm
- Action: DA/SA
- Sights: Steel Three-Dot
- Barrel Length: 4.5 Inches
- Weight: 35.2 Ounces
- Capacity: 17+1 ; 10+1
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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