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Brugger & Thomet TP-9.

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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 TP9 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 flame 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.

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.

The TP-9 comes in a hard plastic, foam lined carrying case with a sling and, where legal, 15- and 30round 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.

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This unusual looking semiauto is 1 1/2 inches wide 6 5/8 inches high and is 12 inches long with its Width of this unusual looking semiauto with its 5 3/8-inch barrel. The gun weighs 2 3/4 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.

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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 traditional 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.

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. ! found this method works quite well in tactical drills producing both accuracy and speed.

Testing Speer Gold Dot hollow-point, 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.

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 semiauto variant of a full-auto pistol used by special ops units, this is an interesting one to consider.

Brugger & Thomet TP-9

Type: Locked breech, rotating bolt,

recoil operated semiauto

Caliber: 9mm

Capacity: 15 or 30 1(10-round

mags available)

Barrel length: 5/38 in.

Overall length: 12 in.

Weight: 2 3/4 lb.

Sights: windage adjustable rear

notch, post front

Stock: polymer

Finish: blue

Extra features: top and bottom

Picatinny rail; sling

Price: $1,250

Manufacturer: DS Arms, www.dsarms.com 847-277-7258
ACCURACY RESULTS: GUN MAKE MODEL

                         Bullet    Avg.      Standard    Avg.
9mm Ammo Type            weight   Velocity   Deviation   Group
                         (gr.)     (fps)                 (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 muzzle. Accuracy tested off a sandbag rest, results are
averages of three five-shot groups at 25 yards. Abbrevations: HP
hollowpoint; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint
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Title Annotation:FIRING LINE REPORT
Author:Larson, Doug
Publication:Handguns
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:1100
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