TriStar Pistols

TriStar Pistol L120

TriStar Arms added a number of new personal defense and target shooting handguns for 2013.  I am not terribly familiar with the TriStar line of firearms, but according to the company, they only recently got into the handgun market when they introduced their first pistols in 2012.

The new TriStar pistols are chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W and come in a variety of finishes and sizes.  Two of the pistols, the TP semi-auto handguns, are polymer framed guns.  The other pistols are traditional metal framed handguns.

MSRP on the TriStar handguns run from $429 to $469.  Street prices may dip below $400 on some models.  It will be interesting to see how these guns perform on the range and in sales when compared to other pistols in this price range.  There are certainly a number of players in this price range, and big names like Ruger and Smith & Wesson certainly have an edge on brand name recognition.

Each of these pistols ships with two magazines, a cleaning kit, a gun lock and hard case.  The guns come with a one year warranty.

TriStar C100
TriStar C100


The TriStar C100 is one of two models available in both 9mm and .40 S&W calibers.  This model appears to be a mid size gun with a 3.9″ barrel.  It has a traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) trigger.

The slide is steel and the frame is an aluminum alloy.  Weight is listed as 1.63 pounds for the .40 and 1.53 pounds for the 9mm.  Magazine capacity is 11 for the .40 and 15 for the 9mm.

TriStar P120
TriStar P120


The P120 is a larger gun than the C100, but it is only available in 9mm.  The barrel is 4.7″ long and the total weight (unloaded) is 1.87 pounds.  According to TriStar the P120 was developed for military use, but also is a good gun for the shooting sports.  Magazine capacity is 17 rounds.

TriStar L120 Chrome pistol
TriStar L120 Chrome pistol


The TriStar L120 is also a 9mm-only pistol with a 4.7″ barrel and 17 round magazine.  However, this pistol comes in a little lighter at 1.75 pounds.

TriStar S120
TriStar S120


The S120 is a heavier version of the L120.  Instead of the steel-alloy frame of the L120, the S120 uses a stainless steel frame.  That increases the total weight of the gun to 2.26 pounds.  Barrel length and magazine capacity remain the same.

TriStar T100
TriStar T100


Not to be confused with a Terminator model, the TriStar T100 is a compact pistol with a 3.7″ barrel.  This gun is only available in 9mm.  Magazine capacity is 15 rounds.  Total (unloaded) weight is 1.64 pounds.

TriStar T120 Chrome
TriStar T120 Chrome


The TriStar T120 is a full size handgun that the company describes as being “great for home defense and target shooting.”  It has a 4.7″ barrel.  The gun is only available in 9mm and takes a 17-round magazine.  Weight is 1.88 pounds.  Like the guns described above, it uses the DA/SA trigger.

TriStar TP9
TriStar TP9

TP-9 and TP-40

In the “one of these things is not like the other” category is the TP series of TriStar pistols.  These handguns are polymer framed and strangely different from each other.  The 9mm version is listed as having a 3.5″ barrel, a 1.39 pound weight and a 10-round magazine.  Meanwhile, the .40 S&W version is supposed to have a 4.1″ barrel, 1.65 pound weight and a 13 round magazine.

I don’t know if the company is planning on two different models: a standard and a compact, but those are the specs they have published, and the differentiator appears to be the caliber.  I would think the company would make a 9mm and .40 S&W version of both sizes, and eventually they might.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

28 replies on “TriStar Pistols”

I know it may just be the pictures themselves, but these look like lower quality than the actual Canik-55 models :/

I would not judge the Tristar pistols unless you have shot one, I picked up a Tristar L120 put a 100 rounds down range today with cheap ammo, not a single problem – no miss fires, no jams…no stove pipes…it fired great, easy trigger, shot straight…honestly this gun is surprising it feels and handle like my more expensive pistols. Well worth every penny spent and more.

Not cheap quality at all. I have a full size S-120 all steel and is one of the best buys out there. It is manufactured by Canik and imported by TriStar. The finish is top notch. A very accurate pistol and digests both FMJ’s and HP’s without hiccups.
All that is needed now is some enterprising souls to start making custom parts for the Canik/TriStar clones.

I Bought the T100 a few days ago from Academy ($349) and loved the way it felt in my hand. The CZ platform and weight are perfect for me. I picked this one over the Sig 2022 compact 9 because it came with two 15 round mags. The slide fits really well and “tight” on the frame. The magazine does not move at all when it is in place unlike the Sig. The safety was a little stiff but I am sure that will work itself out over time. We have numerous 9mm in our collection (Tanfoglio Witness , Taurus PT809, etc). The T100 will match up with the best of them in my opinion.
I finally took it to the range today and was very pleased with it’s performance. I ran about 200 rounds through it with no problems at all. The trigger was a work of art and made this thing very accurate at 15-20yds. A small bit of travel and the trigger eases into the “sweet spot” It is as accurate as my son’s Tanfoglio with a 5″ barrel. I was able to put 28 of 30 into a 6″ circle. The recoil was minimal for me but a bit heavy for my wife who shoots her Taurus quite well. This is a fairly new model and I am glad to have mine before the news gets out. For the price you cannot go wrong with the T100.

I purchased a C-100 a couple of weeks ago through the Fort Rucker Post Exchange. They had two in stock and, at $372 each, didn’t stay on the shelves too long, I will fire it for the first time either this afternoon or tomorrow. What impressed me was that the manufacturer included two magazines. I have watched people at gun counters handle a semi-automatic pistol they are considering as a purchase when they’re told it only comes with one magazine and additional ones are very expensive. What is the point of a semi-automatic pistol with only one magazine? I’d rather have a revolver and speed loaders.

Fortunately, I reload 9mm as factory ammunition is scarce and often quite pricey. A number of companies produce cast bullets in 9mm that are useful for practice and much cheaper than factory jacketed bullets. Also, cast 9mm bullets are not a bad choice for small game such as squirrels and rabbits, should you enjoy taking small game with a handgun.

Apparently, the 9mm cam also serve as a defensive gun against four-legged critters, when need be. I recently retired from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center and recall reading a report a couple of years ago where a soldier in Alaska protected himself and his buddy from a grizzly attack with a 9mm pistol, killing the bear. While the report did not indicate what kind of ammunition the soldier used, my guess is that it was a FMJ, possibly with a flat nose. The 9mm is quite a penetrator with FMJ. If I had to guess, it would be he made a head shot from the side, perhaps by the ear, where the skull is less thick. If the 9mm as a dangerous game backup handgun sounds bizarre, do some research into the Colt .38 Super, which was touted in its day as a useful weapon for sportsmen hunting large game. There is little to choose between the two rounds when it comes to factory loadings. Of course, reloaders can stretch the .38 Super beyond the 9mm, but not everyone reloads. That said, I’d rather have a powerful rifle in such situations, but there are times when you have to use what you have. In the case of the aforementioned soldiers, the 9mm proved enough.

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