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Handgun Reviews

Brugger & Thomet TP-9

by Doug Larson   |  September 24th, 2010 0

The British SAS (Special Air Service) is a well-known elite military unit, so when it recently adopted the MP9, the fully automatic version of the TP-9, it likely portended a boost in sales of both versions of the gun, even though it isn’t cheap.


DS Arms, Inc. of Barrington, Illinois, imports the Swiss-built TP-9 from the manufacturer, Brugger & Thomet. In 2004, it introduced the MP9, which it describes as a compact, lightweight submachine gun that is perfect for personal protection and self-defense. The gun’s design follows Steyr’s TMP with a few minor improvements to the frame and sights, although the gun is essentially the same.

The semiautomatic TP-9 has an interesting recoil operated, rotating barrel, locked breech action that is machined on state-of-the-art CNC equipment from 4140 steel. Upon firing, recoil drives the bolt and the barrel to the rear as one unit–which is locked together via lugs on the bolt that engage eight splines on the barrel–while a locking pin at the top of the barrel guide rides in a control cam cut in the barrel.


If the bolt becomes difficult to retract with the charging handle at the rear of the gun, a 9mm round can be inserted in the round hole in the side of the bolt.

This cam, or groove, follows a precise curve, and once the bolt and barrel have moved to the rear about a quarter inch, the barrel begins to rotate clockwise about 15 degrees. This action unlocks the bolt and allows it to travel the rest of the way to the rear, where it extracts the spent brass and carries it to the extraction point. Then it cocks the hammer, reverses course, strips a fresh round from the magazine and feeds it into the chamber.

The TP-9 is equipped with an ambidextrous polymer charging handle, which is located at the rear of the polymer top cover. The top cover also supports the adjustable rear notch sight and a front post, and a Picatinny rail runs the length of the top cover for mounting scopes or other optics.

The black polymer frame, also available in tan or olive drab, has a rail beneath the barrel for mounting a light or laser. At the rear of the frame is a bracket for the full-auto MP9′s buttstock. Adding a buttstock to the semiauto TP-9 would make the gun subject to registration with the BATFE, so don’t add one. (Don’t put a vertical foregrip on this gun for the same reason.) However, the rear of the frame also features a handy attachment point for a sling. More about that later.


SPECIFICATIONS
BRUGGER & THOMET TP-9
MANUFACTURER: DS Arms, 847-277-7258
TYPE: Locked breech, rotating bolt, recoil operated semiauto.
CALIBERS: 9mm
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 or 30 +1 (10 round mags available)
BARREL LENGTH: 5 3/8 inches
OVERALL LENGTH: 12 inches
WEIGHT: 2 3/4 ounces
SIGHTS: windage adjustable rear notch, post front
STOCK: polymer
FINISH: blue
EXTRA FEATURES: top and bottom Picatinny rail; sling
PRICE: $1,250

The TP-9 comes in a hard plastic, foam lined carrying case with a sling and, where legal, 15- and 30-round magazines, both made of see-through smoked polymer to allow for a round count. Ten-round magazines are available for states that limit capacity. The operator’s manual suggests downloading magazines by one round to assure reliable functioning.

This unusual looking semiauto is 11⁄2 inches wide 65⁄8 inches high and is 12 inches long with its Width of this unusual looking semiauto with its 53⁄8-inch barrel. The gun weighs 23⁄4 pounds unloaded, although it looks like it should weigh more.

The TP-9 is equipped with a lever-type trigger safety, a firing pin drop safety and a manual safety located at the top of the grip that is activated by pushing it to the right. The trigger on the sample had a great deal of take-up and broke at 9.6 pounds with no overtravel. The bolt is held to the rear after the last round is fired by the bolt catch, which is located on the left side at the seam of the top cover and the frame at the centerline of the grip.


The muzzle is actually recessed within the barrel guide that protrudes past the end of the top cover and in which the barrel rides. the takedown catch levers are on the side of the lower reviever.

The magazine release is an oval button located where Americans expect it to be, on the left side where the trigger guard meets the grip. Because the grip circumference is large and my hands are small, I had to shift my grasp slightly to activate it.

Shooting the TP-9 is unlike shooting most pistols because of its configuration. A traditiona
l Weaver or isosceles stance with a two-handed grip works with this gun, but there are other options–including gripping the fore-end with the nonfiring hand as you would a rifle, but I didn’t find that to be very steady.


The charging handle for the TP-9 is found at the rear of the gun. An attachment point for a sling is also located here — as is one for a buttstock, the additional of which would require BATFE registration.

Besides being a great carry aid, the optional sling
provides another way of shooting that is very stable and allows for extremely fast follow-up shots. The right-handed shooter loops the sling over the left shoulder and under the right arm so the gun hangs at the right hip. The sling should be adjusted so that it is tight when the gun is held in the shooting position at eye-level, and the gun is pushed forward firmly with both hands.

The nonfiring hand can be placed on the grip behind the strong hand or at the rear of the top cover. With both hands pushing hard against the sling, the gun recoils little and the sights return rapidly to the target–making it easy to make fast follow-up shots. I found this method works quite well in tactical drills producing both accuracy and speed.


ACCRUACY RESULTS: KIMBER GRAND RAPTOR II
9mm AMMO TYPE BULLET WEIGHT (gr.) AVG. VELOCITY (fps) STANDARD DEVIAION AVG. GROUP (in.)
Speer Gold Dot HP 115 1,185 8 1.81
Federal Hydra-Shok JHP 124 1,112 12 1.87
Hornady TAP 124 1,152 6 1.20
Velocities are averages of five shots recorded 15 feet from the muzzie. Accuracy tested off a sandbag rest; results are averages of three five-shot groups at 25 yards. Abbreviations: HP, hollowpoint; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint.

Testing Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint, Federal Hydra-Shok and Hornady TAP FPD from sand bags off the bench at 25 yards, all loads produced good accuracy. Speer Gold Dot 115-grainers shot the smallest average groups at 1.81 inches. Muzzle flip and recoil were minimal because of the gun’s size and weight. There were no malfunctions of any kind.


The carry sling proved to be a very handy shooting aid. By pushing forward against it, the gun returned to point of aim quickly and was easy to hold on target.

Carrying this oversize handgun can be a challenge, but
holsters are available. DSA furnished two samples for testing–a belt and a drop leg–both from Blackhawk. They worked fine.

If you have an interest in a semi-auto variant of a full-auto pistol used by special ops units, this is an interesting one to consider.

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