Tara TM9 Review: Budget or Junk?

by Travis Pike

November 10, 2023

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Much ado has been made about the Tara TM9, but is this seemingly generic pistol worth all the hoopla? We ordered one for the low price of 184 bucks to find out. Is this polymer frame, striker-fired 9mm pistol worth the buzz, or is it better than the budget price makes it out to be? 

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Tara TM9 Specs

  • Caliber 9mm
  • Action Semi-auto
  • Capacity 17
  • Optics Ready No
  • Sights metal three dot
  • Frame Polymer
  • Barrel Length 4.5 in
  • Overall Length 7.4 in
  • Weight 26 oz

Tara TM9 Background 

The small Balkan county of Montenegro isn’t exactly well-known for its firearms. They were allied with the Russian and Soviet Union, so Russian and Eastern Bloc weapons have long been their go-to. Although recently they joined the United Nations and have adopted more Western weapons. Still, they weren’t known for domestic designs until the rather shady Henri Thomet purchased a former state-owned arms factory. 

This became Tara Aerospace, and Montenegro began producing modern firearms of their own design. Well, maybe not entirely. Tara Arms produces AR-15s and AR-10s as well as what appears to be a 9mm AR submachine gun. The only original design is the TM9 series. You won’t see the TM9. You’ll see the TM-X and TM-9X. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a disclaimer stating the first-generation TM9s were not real guns. 

According to Tara Arms, the TM9 was meant to fire rubber bullets. Somehow, they got released as 9mm handguns. These are not rubber bullet guns, but they were never meant to be sold in the United States. In fact, according to Centerfire Systems, the original importer promised not to sell these guns in the United States. However, something went wrong. 

They were imported and sent to a major retailer, who then decided to stop selling guns. The retailer sent them back to the importer, who then sold them once more. Tara Arms seemingly didn’t want American hands on their gun, and the big reason is why? Why not? Well, my assumption is that they aren’t great guns, and the American gun-buying public would ruin Tara Arms’s reputation. 

That story enticed me to grab a TM9 and find out if it’s worth even the 184 dollars I paid for it. 

Tara TM9 Features

Tara TM9 Features
1 Sights

Metal three dot sights.

2 Soft case

Soft case and 2 magazines included.

3 DARE Trigger System

Striker fired Double Action Rapid Engagement trigger system has a unique trigger system.

4 Picatinny Rail

Allows the addition of lights based on the standard picatinny rail.

Models and Variations of the Tara TM9

Tara has updated the TM9 and now has the TM-X series including a standard, compact, and sub compact size.

Tara TM9 – Review

Tara TM9 Hero

The TM9 comes with a nice case proclaiming “TARA Perfection”. Heck, they even engraved “TARA Perfection” on the frame of the gun. Going after Glock’s motto when you’re already using the striker-fired polymer frame design is quite courageous. Does the gun live up to the Perfection title? 

Not really, and you’ll see why. It’s not the worst gun I’ve ever handled, and it has some features I like. The sights are metal and usable. The Picatinny rail is fine and in spec. We get two mags that hold 17 rounds of 9mm with the gun. How does it shoot? Well, as you’d expect with a full-sized 9mm. 

Tara TM9 Perfection

The recoil isn’t bad, and the muzzle rise is plenty controllable. That is, until your hands get sweaty. In Florida, your hands get sweaty fast, and the almost complete lack of grip texture means the gun starts sliding around. There is just a hair of texture on the front and backstrap of the gun, and that’s it. When you fire quickly with sweaty hands, the gun starts to slide out of your hand, and that leads to control problems and accuracy issues. 

Ergonomically, the gun is functional outside of the lack of texture. It’s nothing great. The magazine release is incredibly small and sits deep inside the grip. This makes it tough to press quickly and easily. The slide lock is tiny, and with a thumbs-forward grip, it’s likely to be pinned down. Tara did include a nice overhang at the rear of the grip to encourage a high grip, but not much else. 

Ringing Steel 

The trigger is interesting. It’s not a DA/SA design, but it has DA/SA qualities. So, your first shot is a long double-action trigger pull. It’s stiff and heavy, but not terrible. The trigger doesn’t revert to single action, but it does have a very short reset. If you ride the trigger, you’ll find that the pull length is reduced by about 75% for the second shot. If you release the trigger fully, it will revert to a normal double action. 

Tara TM9 Patch Magazine

In terms of accuracy, the gun is completely fine. Mechanically, it’s accurate and capable like any full-size 9mm. The double-action trigger takes practice to master, and it will be an issue for some. My recent practice with revolvers has helped me maintain accuracy with double action-only triggers. In a slow-fire situation, you’ll see tight groups, and I can hit a 6-inch gong at 25 yards easily enough. The sights are fine. Simple three-dot sights. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s completely functional. 

Does It Run? 

Tara TM9 Patch Hands

So far, it’s just a below-average pistol with a unique trigger. Not bad, especially for 184 dollars. In terms of reliability, the gun isn’t up to par with your Glocks or S&Ws. It’s not as bad as the USFA Zip, but I wouldn’t trust it for serious use. I didn’t get a malfunction in every magazine, but every few, the gun would fail to go into battery. 

The slide wouldn’t fully close, and the gun couldn’t fire. Most of the time, I could press it in with my thumb and fire again. However, more than a couple of times, the projectile or case would get awkwardly stuck somewhere, and I had to do an immediate action drill to rectify the situation. The Tara TM9 did this through 400 rounds of brass cased 9mm. 

There were no predictors of when this would happen. It just would happen randomly. Even after the gun has been cleaned, the weapon would still malfunction. For 184 bucks, I knew what I was getting, and now you know it’s not worth trusting your life to. 

Tara TM9 Review

Tara TM9 Pros and Cons 

  • Cheap
  • Nice case
  • Interesting trigger
  • Unreliable

Report Card

Shootability

It was fine. It is fairly standard for a full-sized 9mm pistol.

B
Reliability

It went bang most of the time but clicked when it should have gone bang far too often.

D
Ergonomics

Small controls that are difficult to reach and the lack of grip texture make the gun fairly un-ergonomic.

D
Accuracy

Again, it’s fine and what you expect from a full-sized 9mm pistol. The double action trigger will throw some for a loop.

B
Value

Sure, it’s cheap, but it’s not like you’re getting a great gun for the money. The Tara TM9 is an interesting oddity, and that’s it.

C
Tara TM9 Final Grade

Our Grade

C

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Tara TM9 Starter Pack

These items are must haves for all firearms owners and range trips:

Tara TM9 Gun Deals

Upgrades and Accessories for the Tara TM9

I’m not sure why you want to upgrade the Tara TM9. It doesn’t have a big aftermarket, but it has a rail! 

The Streamlight TLR-1 HL is a bright and powerful weapon light that is the most affordable, trustworthy light on the market. Just because your gun is unreliable doesn’t mean your light has to be. 

Holsters for odd guns are tough to find. The Omnivore offers a polymer holster that can retain your weapon based on your weapon light or a small block included with the holster. It has a thumb-driven release and is a rather nice holster for very little money. 

Upgrades and Accessories for the Tara TM9

Streamlight TLR-1 HL
  • 1000 lumens
  • 283 meter beam distance
  • 1.5 hour run time
Buy on Amazon
Blackhawk Omnivore
  • Polymer OWB
  • Fits handgun with TLR 1/2 weapon light
  • Belt loop and paddle option
Buy on Amazon

Best Ammo for the Tara TM9

Winchester White Box was my ammo of choice, and it seemed to work fine when the gun wanted to work. Normally we would suggest a defensive use ammo, but we dont suggest this handgun for defensive use.

Range Ammo

Winchester FMJ 9mm 115gr

Winchester Range Pack 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Gun Deals $0.27
Gritr Sports $0.27
Optics Planet $0.39
Target Sports USA $0.30

Other budget 9mm Handguns to Check Out

If you are interested in a good 9mm handgun, we have our best 9mm handgun article for you to check out.

1 Canik TP9SF

CANIK TP9SF

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonmics B+
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 118 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

2 PSA Dagger

PSA Dagger

A compact-sized polymer-framed pistol, the Palmetto Dagger with Extreme Carry Cuts introduces game-changing ergonomics and controllability.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A+

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 49 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Handgun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

How to Care for Your Tara TM9

Check out this video showing you how to disassemble the Tara TM9 for cleaning. In fact, this is a full disassembly video. He shows more than you probably need for basic maintenance, but it never hurts to know more.

Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website and a video from Forgotten Weapons on the Tara TM9 which includes another disassembly along with the history briefly discussed in this article.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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