I’ve previously reviewed the BUL Cherokee Compact “2nd gen” handgun. Spoiler alert: I liked it a lot.
But before the 2nd gen gun, there was the original “Gen1” BUL Cherokee. The 2nd gen gun has very distinctive looks – an elongated dust cover, finger swells and a rail. The first gen gun, however, looks very much like a Tanfoglio Force 99 copy.
But that’s OK, because I’ve never owned a Tanfoglio Force 99 before, so it’s all new to me. I recently bought a Cherokee Gen1; read on for my thoughts.
Except for the external styling differences, the Cherokee Gen1 looks exactly like the Cherokee Gen2, and shows some similarities to the Impact. The rail inserts are the same, and the slides are identical to my eye. They are presumably parts-compatible, which would be more useful if Tanfoglio and/or BUL parts were more easily available in the United States.
Speaking of parts-compatibility, one of the first things I did when I brought my Cherokee Gen1 home was try to swap the slide to the BUL Impact. It didn’t fit, much like the Cherokee Gen2 slide didn’t fit. I think this is reason to think that the BUL Impact isn’t really a predecessor to the BUL Cherokee, but was rather its own gun. You can, however swap the Cherokee Gen1 and Gen2 slides, which appear basically identical upon inspection.
Due to the previously-mentioned external styling differences, ergonomics are slightly different. While I do not generally regard myself as a finger-swells-lover, I did find the 2nd gen Cherokee to be more pleasant to hold. The checkering on the Gen1 simply feels a little less grippy, if that makes sense. On the plus side, the Gen1 has a red-colored front sight (ala my BUL Impact), which I found easier to shoot with. Unfortunately, the rear plastic sight seems to be more easily damaged on the Cherokees – my 1st gen had a slight dent impacting one of the dots.
Magazine compatibility was excellent. The Gen1 was compatible with all the CZ-75 and Tanfoglio magazines I had on hand. All mags dropped free.
Trigger pull felt roughly the same as the 2nd gen gun, which is a good thing. As with all factory guns, there is going to be some variability with trigger pulls. Tanfoglios are not known to be easy guns to do trigger jobs on, unfortunately… so what you’ve got is generally what you get.
On the range, the Cherokee Gen1 performed quite well. While I didn’t have a bench rest for accuracy testing, I did find it easy to shoot with combat accuracy at both 15ft and 50ft (ie, I could rapid-fire the magazine into a chest-sized target). The Tanfoglio trigger really spoils you – I found myself constantly short-stroking my Kareen’s trigger because it didn’t have that short sweet reset.
Two hiccups in terms of reliability:
- I had a misfeed early on. Not sure what happened, but it did not repeat itself. Perhaps magazine related?
- The magazine ejected itself on the last round near the end of the shooting session. This could be operator-error, or maybe the catch was a bit worn. Again, only happened once.
Otherwise, reliability was excellent. I tested with IMI 115gr FMJ, and Freedom Munitions 147gr FMJ RN, and put about a hundred rounds through the pistol. Neither had any functioning issues.
Conclusion? The Cherokee Gen1 was a respectable follow-on to the BUL Impact, but the Gen2 is a marked improvement.