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A Turkish Firearms Tour: Day 1

by James Tarr   |  June 18th, 2012 9

The view across the Bosphorus strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmar and cuts Istanbul in half. As it is the official boundary between continents, that means that half of Istanbul is in Europe and half in Asia.

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to travel to a foreign country, much less travel to Turkey to tour a firearm manufacturing plant, but that’s what I did last recently.


I’ve heard it said several times that guns made in Turkey are a great bargain, if they work.  That may sound a bit harsh, but it also is rather accurate….or, at least, it used to be.

RELATED: Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

There are several gun manufacturers in Turkey, but Sarsilmaz is the largest.  They recently opened a huge new facility two hours outside Istanbul, and wanted to show some U.S. gun writers that things have changed.  Their equipment is state of the art, and because wages are so low compared to wages in the U.S. or Europe, they can produce guns at a substantially lower price.


Sarsilmaz will be importing their pistols and shotguns into the U.S. as SAR Arms, as it is a little easier to pronounce.  Sarsilmaz, by the way, means “Unshakeable”, has been in business since 1880, and is a 5th-generation family business.  European American Armory ( is the exclusive U.S. distributor of their products.


The SAR ST10 is a 15+1 capacity 9mm which resembles the HK USP. There are plans for it to be imported to the US soon. In Europe it is offered with either traditional or polygonally-rifled barrels, and it has a forged aluminum frame.

This diary will be a travelogue as well as a preview of guns that either are or soon will be available in this country, as you don’t fly a third of the way around the world without doing a few touristy things, and the first day we were there we toured Istanbul.


Istanbul has been around so long that pre-Roman architecture is pretty easy to find.  We toured the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, and an underground Roman cistern bigger than some high schools.  What got our guide the most excited, however, was talking about how just a few months before Daniel Craig had been in town filming for the next James Bond movie Skyfall.  Apparently they were racing motorcycles across the roof of the Grand Bazaar, a roofed marketplace of 66 streets that is the mother of all flea-markets.


Knowing Turkey was predominantly an Islamic country, and knowing how America isn’t exactly making friends in a lot of Islamic countries around the world, I deliberately didn’t cut my hair before heading overseas.  I usually prefer a military-length hairstyle, and while I wasn’t willing to plaster Canadian flags over my luggage and clothing to confuse the haters, I did get on the plane with hair longer than an inch for the first time in quite a while……turns out I didn’t need to.


Predominantly Muslim or not, Turkey isn’t an “Arabic” country, it’s a Mediterranean country that reminded me more of Italy than anything else.  Just about everybody wore western-style clothing, and there were a heck of a lot of European tourists everywhere.  And my plan to disguise myself by having hair longer than a fingernail and wearing jeans?  It probably would have worked better if I wasn’t walking around with a bunch of guys dressed in Blackhawk and 5.11 Tactical clothing, most of whom looked like they run regularly.


“Are you soldiers?  You look like soldiers,” one of the vendors in the Grand Bazaar said to us.  Sigh.

this is the K12, a single action competition-style 9mm Sarsilmaz offers overseas, with a match trigger, compensator, and adjustable target sights.

We also toured Topkapi Palace.  This was the only place in the whole country where I saw any kind of military presence.  The guards at the gate bore HK MP5 submachineguns that are made in Turkey by MKE, an HK-licensed factory.  What I noticed was not only that the guards had the SMGs deployed on their HK slings, but that the stocks were extended and ready to go.  I wanted to take a picture of one of them, but my guide informed me that would be a very bad idea.  Istanbul isn’t bad at all, but Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and has a lot of problems with terrorists on the opposite side of the country.  Turkey has the 4th largest standing army in the world at 2 million, and their troops see action.


Check back for Day 2 to find out what sidearms the combat-tested Turkish military uses, and where to vacation if you like Russian or German women….

  • 'Fox Hunter

    The guards you ve seen are the Police special forces, similiar to the SWAT teams. The army is protecting terrain and not towns… You do not use a sword to make a surgery…

    Here is a video of the scalpel

    And the sword:

  • Roj Welat

    Dear James,
    I am sure it was a exciting trip for you to Istanbul to visit a new facilities of one of the gun manufacturers. And, all what you wrote about this trip is understandable. Yet, I think there is problem when you say ''…and has a lot of problems with terrorists on the opposite side of the country.'' It seems to me you do not have almost no knowledge about those ''so called terrorists'' are matter affect giving a freedom struggle of the Kurdish people who have been the target of the colonialist policies of Turkish state and as a result even their basic rights of being a distinct people faced denial and force assimilation. I suggest, as you get a lot of experiences and knowledge through being a writer and as a traveller, not to write something that might insult other people that you do not know, please. There is a Turkish state terror against a one of the historically oldest inhabitants, that is Kurds, for decades now. This is widely known. Yet, despite this international powers plays three monkies because of their economical and political benefits and, as a result they label the FREEDOM STRUGGLE as 'terrorists''. Nation has a everyright to defend themselves when they are under attack, this is a rule internationally excepted rule. Thanks. All the best.

    • sean

      First of all,they are not freedom fighters they are TERRORISTS..United states, state department also listed them on their website as a Terrorist group.With respect to your understanding about "freedom fighters"is absolutely ridiculous and i tell you why,Turkey is a democratic country ,just like in the U.S you can be all you can be if you put enough time and afford into it.Turkey does NOT discriminate between their people regardless of their ethnic origins ,Turkey had Kurdish Prime ministers and Presidents in the past,it just goes to show that Turkey never oppressed their people."Freedom struggle "is a very fancy word for killing innocent children ,women and countless Turkish soldiers in the name of trying to divide Turkey and establish a Kurdish state inside Turkey.Turkey will never allow that,IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN..The sooner people realize that the better it is gonna be.Here is an example for you,,,what do you think U.S government would do if 1 million Italian Americans in new york raised up and said" we want our own country here in new york,and this way or that way we will take it,we will speak our own language and have our own rules.We do not wanna be part of America anymore??" and further more what would happen if they picked up the guns and start terrorizing the area and killing innocent people? yeah,I think the answer is pretty obvious ..Now if you want your own country,you are more than welcome to leave Turkey and go to IRAQ,i am sure you will have a better shot at founding your own dream country.Just do not mess with Turkey cos otherwise you will pay for it..

      • Tom Turner

        Tell that part about Turkey DOES NOT discriminate, to the millions of Armemians they exterminated around 1900 after they were disarmed.

        And it’s not the Italians wanting to establish their own state in the US, it’s the Mexicans, with their dream of creating Matzalan or whatever the name is. Converting parts of Texas, Colorado, and California, and all of New Mexico and Arizona.

  • jeashua

    Dear Roj
    first of all i have to say that, if one of the groups attact to citizen, they are terrorist.
    nobody cannot tlk about -your terrorist and mien terrorisr- .
    terrorist are terrorist. and thats not legal way keep to land.i dont know u now, today 8 soldiers died by terrorist attack by pkk (kurdish terror team).
    american people should live in town safely, soo turkish people should live in sefely.
    pls be carreful about the comments.
    dont applush the attack of terror…

  • John

    Who care if the guns is cheap and good, not my problem where it came from or the people well-being. I myself am very interested in that SAR ST10.

  • Joeblk

    Americans cannot afford expensive protection. GLOCK is selling 700 dollar handguns is ridiculous. I would be interested in buying a couple of the B6P 9 mm. and i think its actually 17 plus 1 in chamber.

  • shotgun

    many shotgun model turkish shotgun manufacturers

  • George Malo

    n have owner all three model M chambered im 9mm / 357 sig klinda rare / 40 S&W these bare great fire arms its too bad most shooters don’t know about them. CDNN was selling a ton of them cheap when steyr bailed out of the usa. I wish them well but going up against the SARsilimas line from turkey and canik line it a rough world/. I just ordrerd a new SAR b6p 17 rd 9mm, for under $400.Bucks And they get great write up on you tube. should be a good truck gun for that KIND OF MONEY Take care troops !

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