I've often posted here with high praise for the Caracal pistols so I figured I'd knock out a review of the guns with the Caracal C going first. The C model seems to be the one people ask about the most and frequently the question is, "Is it better than a Glock 19?" We'll get to that a little later but first I'll lay out some of the pros and cons of the gun.
-Reliable. The gun has well over 1,000 rounds (not sure on the exact count, I've let many people borrow the pistol to try out) with only 1 malfunction which was a bad primer with Brown Bear ammo. I put the same round in my G17 and it didn't fire with that gun either so I'm putting the blame solely on the ammo
-Price. This gun is available online for $399 shipped with box and two mags. In my opinion it's the best handgun deal on the market today (CZ 82 second).
-Accurate. This gun is like a 1911 in that it tends to make average shooters shoot like good shooters
-Very low bore axis (see comparison pictures with my P229 below) resulting in the softest shooting 9mm (along with the F model) I've ever shot
-Excellent trigger. It's smooth with no stacking. It breaks extremely cleanly and has a positive reset
-Great finish. The Plasox (with nitriding) finish is holding up very well thus far
-It has a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide allowing the user to check that it is loaded without having to conduct a press check
-Very good ergonomics. Everyone that has shot the gun seems to comment on how good it feels in their hands
-15+1 capacity while only weighing 25oz
-Passed the WTD 91 (German armed forces) testing in 2006
-Has been adopted by several nations' standard military sidearm; many police agencies in Italy and Germany have adopted it as well
-It's classified as an IDPA production gun
-Easy to clean and maintain. Requires very little lubrication as well
-Interior parts are coated with the Plasox finish as well
-Ambi controls (except for the slide lock)
-Spare parts including springs are available from Caracal-USA now (this is relatively new)
-The Caracal C can use F 18 round magazines
-Little aftermarket support
-Night sights are not available in the US currently. I spoke with Caracal USA last week and they said they are working with several manufacturers currently but they don't have a date yet as to when they'll be released
-The rear sight is part of the firing pin assembly. This will either make aftermarket sights more expensive or limit some to front sight only
-The guns are made in the UAE and Germany. The UAE made guns are the only ones available in the US currently. (I don't care about this but it's a common point brought up so I'm including it so people don't say "you didn't mention where it was made....")
-In order to detail strip the gun you have to deal with roll pins. Not a big deal but I'd prefer not to if I didn't have to
-The slide lock protrudes to far. I hit it with my thumb about 50% of the time if I'm not conscious of it and many people I've let shoot it have the exact same issue
Now, back to the original question---is it better than the G19? In terms of familiarity, factory customer service support, sight availability, and aftermarket support---no, it's not. In terms of factory trigger, cost (non-blue label program), and perceived recoil---yes it is. I'll give them a tie for reliability, simplicity, and accuracy.
The best way I can answer the question is to say if I never fired a handgun and was given a Caracal C and a G19 to shoot for a day and asked to pick only 1 which would I pick? I think I'd pick the Caracal C. That said, I've been shooting Glocks for years and am very comfortable and relatively proficient with them so now I slightly prefer Glocks but I wouldn't have any reservations about trusting my life to a Caracal.
Here's a video of me shooting the gun, a tabletop review with some comparisons to other 15 round 9mm guns (G19 and SIG P229R), and a chronograph test with some popular defensive loads:
Speer 124gr Gold Dot JHPs: 1127fps, 350 ft/lbs energy
Federal 124gr HST JHPs: 1092fps, 328 ft/lbs energy
Winchester 115gr Ranger JHPs: 1095fps, 306 ft/lbs energy
Caracal bore axis:
SIG P229R bore axis: