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Canik SFX Rival S Review: A Budget-Friendly Competitive Edge

The thing I love about guns is every one of them has their own place in the world. There is a reason for them all, and if one gun doesn’t fit your exact needs, then just look at the next one. Not very often do I see a gun that I just must have. However, the Canik SFX Rival S was on my list as soon as I saw it.

The Canik SFX Rival S

Normally, I get excited about some features of a gun—the looks, a trigger, etc.—and then I look at the price and just can’t justify buying it. Because do I really need another? A unicorn is defined in the dictionary as something unusual, rare, or unique. Well, that unicorn showed up and stole the show at the 2022 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous event.

After all the gun smoke dissipated, the Tannerite residue settled, and the dust from shooting in a potato field cleared the air, there was one pistol that stood out to me. My unicorn, I guess you could call it. That one pistol was the new Canik SFX Rival S.

That little S on the end officially stands for Steel, as in a Steel Frame. However, I think it means Superior, as in the pistol is superior to anything else in its class as far as I’m concerned.

It was one of those unforgettable moments at the range. Adam from Canik was walking me through this new steel-framed Rival, and I had a bit of speculation. Everything seemed too perfect with the gun.

Then he showed me the package it came with. You have got to be kidding me. This gun in this package? I was just waiting for the excitement killer to come—the price.

Adam seemed very eager to share the package price. When you are talking to a rep for the company, that price could be $20,000, and they would make it sound exciting. However, this one was different. This price excited me more and made me obsess over the gun.

The package started at only $899.99 for the all-black Dark Side model and $949.99 for the chromed-out gun. Literally a fraction of the cost of anything in its class.

The Overall Rival S Package

I think the package itself is important in explaining this one. Normally, a hard case doesn’t really excite me that much. I don’t want to pay more just to get a case. I would rather companies pack more features and better performance into the gun than spend money on a case.

The Canik SFX Rival S is different, though. This incredible hard case immediately makes you think something very expensive is locked inside. The price tag doesn’t fit what you get.

The Canik SFX Rival S package includes everything you need to get shooting, right out of the box.

Inside the case, you immediately notice the pistol. Especially if you get the Chromed-out version like I got. It is nothing short of beautiful and, honestly, elegant. I don’t know if I have ever used that word to describe a gun, but this gun is just elegant.

Beyond the gun, the package includes every optic mounting plate you could ever imagine, a cover plate, a mini-Canik tool, a cleaning kit, a nice Kydex holster, extra grip panels, a flared mag well, different magazine release buttons, extra magazine, aluminum base pads for your magazines, and a speed loader.

You also get all the hardware you would ever need to work on the gun and customize it to your specific needs. The only thing missing from this case is a speaker that immediately starts playing heavenly music when you open it. Seriously, this package is the real deal, and I don’t think anyone offers anything close to it on the market.

A fancy case and accessories are great, but they don’t do anything for you if the gun itself is junk. So, I really wanted to run the Canik SFX Rival S through the paces once I got mine on the range back home. And I did just that.

The Competitive Edge

What is a rival? A rival is a person or thing competing with another for the same objective or for SUPERIORITY in the same field of activity. This is exactly what the Canik Rival is all about. Competing with the competition but proving to be superior, especially with the addition of the Steel frames.

The barrel and aggressively serrated slide are the same ones used on the original pistols.

The Rival S is designed to allow someone to get into the sport of competitive shooting and actually compete without breaking the bank. Likewise, it reduces the need to heavily modify a gun for competition.

I will start by saying I am not a competitive shooter and never have been. I am a regular guy who just shoots a lot and loves guns. For me, a gun designed for competition is equally fantastic as a fun range gun.

Going back to that purpose-built idea. Owning a gun like this and not shooting competitively might not make sense to some people. However, for me, a fantastic range gun holds a purpose. Likewise, knowing I have that gun in my arsenal allows me the ability to go compete in a weekend shoot if I ever just got the bug to try it.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Rival S

The Canik Rival S has very similar specs to the SFX. Specifically, it has a total length of 8.1 inches, a height of 5.7 inches, just under 1.5 inches wide, a 5” barrel, and an overall weight of 2.67 lbs. Yes, it’s a beast, and it shoots like one too.

With these specifications, the Canik Rival S is designed to compete in IDPA, IPSC, and USPSA without restrictions. In my case, it’s designed to destroy all my friends with better groups when we go to the range together.

The Canik Rival S is heavier than the original Rival but has all the same controls on the steel frame as the plastic frame. They all, for some reason, seem to function even better on this model, though.

An aluminum magazine well and different grip panels let you dial in the perfect feel.

The flat-faced aluminum trigger is simply awesome. You get a nice, light, smooth trigger pull with a very clean take-up and a crisp break. The trigger also offers a beautiful short reset, allowing for faster follow-up shots on target when at the range.

You also get reversible and extended magazine release options in the package as well as an aluminum magazine well, and different grip panels. This allows the gun to feel custom to each shooter without having to turn to the aftermarket world.

Additionally, there is no need for a gunsmith when changing these parts. It is simple to work on using only the tiny Canik Rival model gun/tool, which is actually a very useful tool with all the bits you need hiding in the grip area.

The Slide Inside and Out

The barrel and aggressively serrated slide are the same ones used on the original pistols. Likewise, the serrations are deep, aggressive, and look incredible. Correspondingly, the front serrations and weight-reducing windows offer a perfect surface area to perform press checks and help balance the gun perfectly while shooting.

The slide hosts a decent set of sights as well. On the front is a thin blade with a small fiber-optic tube set in it and a blacked-out adjustable rear. The slide is precut with Canik’s optics-ready system and includes pretty much all the aluminum plates and hardware you would ever need to run the optic of your choice on the pistol.

The slide hosts a decent set of sights as well. On the front is a thin blade with a small fiber-optic tube set in it and a blacked-out adjustable rear.

You even get a metal cover plate that matches the serrations perfectly if you choose to run iron sights only. The only thing I guess I could say I don’t like is the plate system. It works fine, but I am not a huge fan of how tall most red dots sit on it when mounted.

For competition, it honestly is probably perfect. I just like my optics to sit a little lower on the slide, personally.

Rounds Downrange

On the range, The Rival S performed flawlessly. At the Rendezvous event, the guns just kept operating. I didn’t hear about one single jam or malfunction, even after being shot as much as it was by all types of shooters.

Once I got a production model back home, I set aside 550 rounds to test over a few range sessions. I shot a wide variety of ammunition through the Canik SFX Rival S with one malfunction out of 550 rounds.

The malfunction was a bad primer on some reloads I picked up from the local gun and knife show. The primer literally fell out of the cartridge—not the gun’s fault at all.

The Canik SFX Rival S is chambered in 9mm.

I ran a mixture of that crappy reload, 115-grain Pinnacle TAC-XP, 125-grain Hornady steel match, 124-grain Black Hills JHP, 100-grain Black Hills Honey Badger, and 115-grain Fiocchi FMJ. They all ran perfectly, other than that one cheap reload. Luckily, I only had 50 rounds of that stuff.

I mainly shot outside at steel because I just love shooting steel, even during a cold Michigan winter. I learned immediately why shooting gloves were made while shooting in the cold with a steel-framed gun. Let’s just say, don’t lick the thing in the cold.

I was able to reach out 100 yards with ease, banging a 12-inch steel gong first shot.

Shooting for Accuracy

I also shot indoors, running some simple accuracy tests on paper targets with just the iron sights. This allowed me to thaw my hands out a bit and make sure I could actually focus on true accuracy.

I started off my accuracy testing by shooting at 10 yards. My best groups were with the 115-grain Pinnacle TAC-XP rounds. However, everything I fed the Rival S was accurate and achieved tight groupings. The best 10-yard group I shot was sub 1 inch.

This thing just shoots so well. The steel frame offers great rigidity, so you don’t get that flex of polymer. Likewise, the added weight balances the pistol really well.

The front serrations and weight-reducing windows offer a perfect surface area to perform press checks.

Over longer distances, those groups really didn’t open up very much at all. Even out at 50 yards indoors, I was able to achieve around 4-inch groups with ease when taking my time, which is hard to do with this one. I just wanted to keep squeezing the trigger.

Those groups were achieved standing unsupported.

The Rival S in a Nutshell

I couldn’t believe how well this thing handled, and was extremely impressed with the performance. Full disclosure, I oiled and cleaned the Canik Rival S when I first got it because it seemed very dry. After that, I didn’t touch it until after the 550 rounds were shot in 2 range sessions.

The one thing with the chrome version of the Rival S is it draws a lot of attention at the range. I welcome that attention when testing a gun because I feel it’s important to get feedback from different shooters with different skill levels and shooting styles.

It was really no surprise when even the pickiest shooters I knew pulled the trigger and immediately started smiling. Once I told them the price, everyone had the same reaction—a huge smile and a little chuckle.

If you are looking for a gun to take to the range and probably win a few little bets between friends, the Rival S will easily get the job done for you. Furthermore, if you are looking to get into competition shooting or maybe you already compete but are looking for a new competition gun, the price point alone should make you investigate the Canik Rival S.

The gun is ready to win right out of the box. And it will prove to be forged for superiority every time you squeeze the trigger.

For more information, please visit CanikUSA.com.

Canik SFX Rival S Specs

Weight 2.67 pounds
Capacity 8+1 rounds
Front Sight Fiber Optic
Rear Sight Adjustable
Cartridge 9mm Luger
Magazine Type Canik Full Size Magazine
Magazine Included 2x 18 Round Magazines
Finish Color Rival Chrome
Frame Material Steel
Overall Length 8.09 inches
Barrel Length 5 inches
Height 5.7 inches
Width 1.41 inches
MSRP $949.99


Load Accuracy (Iron sights)
124g Black Hills JHP .90
115g Pinnacle TAC-XP .70
147g Federal Premium HST tactical .85
125g Hornady steel match   1.00
115 grain Fiocchi FMJ 1.10
100 grain Black Hills Honey Badger .80
The Canik SFX Rival S.

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