Home » Reviews » Handguns » Kimber, HiPoint, etc. » Canik SFx Rival-S Review: Best Budget Competition Gun?

Canik SFx Rival-S Review: Best Budget Competition Gun?

Last Update:

The Canik SFx Rival-S is the latest offering from Canik, the Turkish firearm manufacturer that has made major waves in the handgun market over the past decade. Canik exploded onto the scene by offering feature-rich pistols at very affordable prices, earning the company a reputation for incredible value. As the brand matured, Canik focused on developing guns purpose-built for competition shooting, with the SFx Rival-S representing their new flagship model.

As an avid competitive shooter, I have had the pleasure of testing out various firearms and can confidently say that this pistol has exceeded my expectations. It is excellent value for the money.

Canik SFx Rival-S Review

In this review, I will look in-depth at the Canik SFx Rival-S, discussing its features, performance, and overall value. So, whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a first-time gun buyer, keep reading to see why the Canik SFx Rival-S may be your next go-to handgun. Let’s dive in!

Canik SFx Rival-S Specs

  • WEIGHT: 42.72 oz
  • CAPACITY: 18+1 rounds
  • FRONT SIGHT: Fiber Optic
  • CARTRIDGE: 9mm Luger
  • MAGAZINE TYPE: Canik Full Size Magazine
  • REAR SIGHT: Adjustable
  • MAGAZINE INCLUDED: Two 18 Round Magazines
  • FINISH COLOR: Chrome or Black
  • ACTION TYPE: Semi-Automatic
  • FRAME MATERIAL: Steel
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 8.09”
  • BARREL LENGTH: 5”
  • HEIGHT: 5.75”
  • WIDTH: 1.41”
  • MANUFACTURED: Made in Turkey
AMAZING VALUE!
9.8
Canik SFx Rival-S

Canik SFx Rival-S

$925

at Guns.com

(Price accurate at time of writing.)

Design and Build Quality

Canik SFx Rival-S left side

The design of the Canik SFx Rival-S is nothing short of impressive. It is the latest iteration of Canik’s popular Rival pistol line, now featuring an all-steel frame. This new steel-framed model builds on the proven design of the Canik firearm’s original polymer-framed Rival, with some refinements to enhance its performance and appeal, particularly for competitive shooters.

Aesthetics

Canik SFx Rival-S right side

The Rival-S has an eye-catching futuristic design, with extensive slide cuts and scalloping to reduce weight. The fluted barrel also adds visual interest. The pistol comes in two main versions – a flashy chrome finish with black accents or a more subdued black nitride “Dark Side” version. The chrome finish, which I like and used, is particularly striking but may not appeal to all users.

Materials and Durability

Canik SFx Rival-S serrated and ported slide

The most significant change on the Canik Rival-S is the forged steel frame, replacing the polymer frame of the original Rival. This adds considerable weight, taking the pistol from around 30oz to over 40oz. The steel construction brings enhanced durability and rigidity. This should make the pistol highly resistant to wear and able to handle high round counts. The fluted steel barrel should also be very durable. The rest of the pistol including the slide, utilizes Canik’s proven designs and materials. The hard chrome or nitride finishes should provide excellent protection against corrosion and wear. Overall, the Rival-S appears exceptionally robust and built to last through years of competitive use.

Ergonomics

Canik SFx Rival-S angled view

The gun felt very good in my hands. The steel frame allows more aggressive grip texturing since steel is less prone to wear than polymer. The texturing on the replaceable backstraps and front/back straps is quite aggressive and provides a secure grip. The trigger guard is undercut for a higher grip, and the beavertail helps prevent slide bite. The trigger is excellent – a flat face design with a clean, crisp break averaging around 4lbs. With the steel frame adding considerable weight, the felt recoil is very manageable. The balance is centered for a flat, controllable recoil impulse. Overall, I think the ergonomics and shootability are excellent.

Compared to other steel-framed pistols like my CZ Shadow 2, Walther Q5 Match Steel Frame, or Sig X5 Legion, the Rival-S holds up very well. It offers comparable ergonomics at a significantly lower price point. The Canik may lack some refinements or aftermarket support of more established designs, but it represents excellent value in its price tier.

Features and Customization

The Canik SFx Rival-S is a feature-packed firearm that offers various customization options to suit each shooter’s needs.

Sights and Optics Readiness

Canik SFx Rival-S top view with sights

The Canik Rival-S comes optics-ready with a removable rear sight plate system. It includes five different mounting plates for popular optics like the Trijicon RMR and Leupold Delta Point. The removable plates allow co-witnessing of iron sights or optics-only setups. The standard sights are a blacked-out rear adjustable for windage and elevation and a fiber optic front sight, providing a clear sight picture. The optics mounting system is flexible for different user preferences.

Flared Magwell

Canik SFx Rival-S flared magwell

The Rival-S has a flared magazine well built into the steel frame itself. This aids in smoothly guiding magazines into the grip during reloads without needing an add-on magwell. The flared opening helps align magazines for faster reloads, which is advantageous for competitive shooting. While an extended magwell is also included, the flared well in the steel frame version provides functionality even without the extension installed. This allows the flared well to be used in competitions where a magwell extension may not be permitted. The flared magwell combines the steel frame construction to enable effortless magazine changes.

Accessory Rail

Canik SFx Rival-S rails

The Rival-S features a 1913 Picatinny accessory rail under the barrel for mounting weapon lights and lasers. The rail has four slots for secure attachment of accessories. This feature makes the Rival-S versatile for various shooting scenarios, from competition to self-defense and even home defense.

Ambidextrous Controls

Canik SFx Rival-S slide lock right side
Canik SFx Rival-S slide locked left side

A great feature of the Rival-S is the ambidextrous controls, which make the pistol easy to use whether you are left or right-handed. The slide stop lever is positioned on both sides of the frame allowing me to lock the slide back or release it using my thumb whether I am shooting right or left-handed. The takedown lever is also ambi, letting me disassemble the pistol from either side.

The magazine release is reversible, though not ambi. But the good news is you can quickly reverse it to the right side for left-hand operation with the included hardware. The ability to set up the controls on my dominant side is a big plus, especially in competitive shooting, where fractions of seconds matter. The Rival-S gives me flexibility as a shooter to configure the ambi controls for my specific needs.

Interchangeable Backstraps and Grips

Canik SFx Rival-S Close up

The Canik SFx Rival-S also provides a high level of ergonomic customization with its interchangeable backstraps and grips. This allows for a personalized grip fit, ensuring comfort and control during shooting.

The pistol has three interchangeable backstraps (small, medium, and large) to accommodate different hand sizes. I have small hands but liked the large backstrap the best–personal preference. The aggressive grip texture provides a solid hold. Aftermarket G10 grips are available for further customization. The removable wrap-around grip lets users tailor the grip feel and size.

Magazine Capacity and Availability

Canik SFX Rival-S magazing capacity 18-rounds
Canik SFx Rival-S magazine side view

The Rival-S ships with two magazines with polymer baseplates that hold 18 rounds each. It also includes two factory magazines with aluminum baseplates for easier magazine changes, especially with the magwell attached. Extra 18, 20, and 25-round magazines are available from Canik. The steel frame allows fast magazine changes. Mec-Gar also offers quality aftermarket magazines for the Canik platform.

Aftermarket Support and Available Modification

While not as vast as some of the more established brands, the aftermarket support for Canik pistols is growing. Companies like Apex Tactical offer trigger kits with different pull weights. There are lots of holster options from major manufacturers that fit the Rival-S. The removable grip panel also allows stippling or grip tape modifications. The pistol’s popularity for competition means continued aftermarket development.

Performance

Accuracy and Precision

Canik SFx Rival-S top view

The Canik SFx Rival-S truly impressed me with its shooting performance. The accuracy and precision were top-notch, with the pistol consistently delivering tight groups even at extended ranges up to 25 yards. I consistently produced tight groups around an inch with quality defensive ammunition.

Trigger

Canik SFx Rival-S trigger

In addition to its great aesthetics, the trigger was another great thing I noticed about the gun. The trigger quality was remarkable, offering a clean and crisp break that almost felt intuitive. The limited pre-travel and overtravel make for a very clean, predictable trigger press. The pull weight around 4 lbs was well within comfortable range, adding to the overall shooting experience. Trigger reset was short and distinct, which is a blessing for fast follow-up shots.

Recoil & Muzzle Flip

Canik SFx Rival-S muzzle rise

Regarding recoil and muzzle flip, the weight of the steel frame tames both substantially compared to polymer options. The balance of the slide helps the pistol return to the target quickly after each shot. Even rapid-firing strings stay right in the A-zone of a USPSA target at 15 yards. The weight and ergonomics make this one of the flattest shooting pistols I’ve tried in this price bracket.

Reliability & Function

Canik SFx Rival-S muzzle rise with brass

Regarding reliability and function, the Rival-S performed exceptionally well with various types of ammunition. I experimented with various rounds – from standard FMJ to hollow points and +P rounds – and the pistol functioned flawlessly. The feeding, firing, and ejection were smooth and consistent across all types of ammunition, which is a testament to its robust design and superior build quality.

Ease of Use & Maintenance

Canik SFx Rival-S Rear View

Field Stripping & Cleaning

Having shot the Canik SFx Rival-S extensively, I’m impressed with its ease of use and maintenance. Field stripping the pistol for cleaning is simple – after ensuring the gun is unloaded, you just pull back the slide slightly, press down on the takedown tabs, and the slide comes right off. The recoil spring and barrel can be easily removed, allowing access to clean the internals. Reassembly is just as straightforward as reversing the steps.

Availability of Replacement Parts

The availability of parts and accessories for the Rival-S is excellent. The pistol has a tool kit containing punches, screws, sight adjustment tools, and more. Replacement parts like magazines, springs, baseplates, optics plates, and other accessories are readily available from Canik and many aftermarket companies. The wide accessory support combined with included tools makes maintaining and customizing the SFx Rival-S easy.

User-Friendliness

In terms of user-friendliness, the SFx Rival-S excels for both new shooters and experienced competitors. The crisp 4-pound trigger with short, tactile reset, large magwell, and heavy steel frame soaks up recoil and make shooting fast strings easy. Novices will appreciate the smooth trigger and soft-shooting nature. The excellent sights, weighted slide, and superb accuracy satisfy advanced shooters looking to shoot tight groups and transition between targets quickly. The ambidextrous slide release and reversible mag release work for all shooters. The grip texture and interchangeable backstraps accommodate various hand sizes, too.

Value for Money

Pricing and Availability

The Canik SFx Rival-S has an MSRP of around $899.99, but street prices are typically $200-300 less, in the $600-800 range. The chrome finish model costs about $200 more than the black nitride “Dark Side” model. The Rival-S was released in early 2022 and is still a relatively new pistol on the market. The chrome finish model in particular, has been selling out quickly, indicating strong demand. However, supply does seem to be catching up.

Included Accessories and Extras

Canik SFx Rival-S what's in the box

The Rival-S comes with an impressive array of accessories in the box. It includes a pelican-style hard case, two 18-round magazines, three interchangeable backstraps, an optics mounting plate kit with five plates, a slide racking adapter, a magazine loader, a cleaning kit, a holster, and other small parts like screws and hex wrenches. The removable magazine well is also included. This is a very complete package that contains most things a user would want or need without having to buy anything else separately.

Comparison of Cost vs Features and Performance

The Canik SFx Rival-S is priced very competitively considering its features and performance, especially compared to other steel-framed handguns marketed for competition. Its combination of all-steel construction, excellent trigger, ambidextrous controls, great fiber optic iron sights, included accessories and proven reliability make it stand out. The trigger in particular, is regarded as exceptional. Though not an inexpensive pistol, it costs hundreds less than comparable models from CZ, Beretta, Walther, etc., while offering similar or better performance by most accounts. Its balance of price and performance make it a great value choice within the category of full-size steel competition handguns.

Summary of Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Steel frame
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • Great, stock trigger
  • Flared magwell
  • Amazing value for the money
  • Interchangeable backstraps
  • Optics-ready
  • Ambidextrous controls
Cons
  • Might be too heavy for some shooters
  • Gun performs well, but may feel a bit ‘sluggish’ to some competitve shooters
  • Wish higher capacity magazines were included instead of 18 rounders
  • Included holster isn’t great

 

Personal Insights

Canik SFx Rival-S Review

Overall, I was impressed with the Canik SFx Rival-S handgun. It was accurate, reliable, and a pleasure to shoot. I was impressed with the crisp, light trigger pull. It is among the best stock triggers I’ve tried on a striker-fired pistol.

I liked the all-steel construction. It’s a significant advantage of the SFx Rival-S as it helps reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise compared to polymer-framed pistols. I like the ergonomic grip with interchangeable backstraps, aggressive texture, and generous undercut. Though ambidextrous controls were a plus, I preferred removing the extended magazine release. The hard chrome finish appealed aesthetically, and I appreciated the balance of slide weight for stability.

The gun is a high-value option for competitive shooting compared to other factory race guns, no doubt. However, it may be a little too much of a gun for some people. For example, I prefer the Glock 17 over the Glock 34 because the longer barrel of the G34 makes the recoil impulse a bit sluggish for me. I got the same feeling with the Canik. I prefer a slightly shorter barrel. It’s not to say that it’s terrible, but for my shooting style, it was not as ‘responsive’ as I’d like. Also, I wish the pistol came with 20-round magazines instead of the standard 18-rounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Canik SFx Rival-S worth it?

I think the Canik SFX Rival-S is a pistol worth strong consideration. The switch to an all-steel frame seems to make a noticeable difference in terms of shootability and control. I like that the added weight helps mitigate recoil and muzzle rise, which should make the pistol very flat shooting. This sounds ideal for competitive and recreational use.

The ergonomic grip with aggressive texturing appears comfortable and secure, especially with the option to install different backstraps. Ambidextrous controls are always a plus in my book as well.

I’m very impressed by the trigger quality on the SFx Rival-S. A light, crisp break with minimal overtravel and a short, tactile reset seems superb on a striker-fired handgun. Accurate shooting demands a good trigger, so this is a significant draw.

I also liked the thoughtful balance in the slide design and the overall accuracy of the pistol. I like that it accepts existing Canik magazines and has a solid optics mounting system. The accessories and case provided in the box add value, too.

Considering these positive attributes, I’m inclined to think the Canik SFx Rival-S merits strong consideration as a competition-focused pistol or just a highly capable range gun. The price may exceed past Canik models, but it seems to deliver on performance.

Is the Canik SFx Rival-S reliable?

It’s a very reliable handgun. I put over 4,000 rounds through it without any malfunctions. This included various ammunition types like hollow points, copper solids, and standard target loads. Canik has a good reputation for quality and reliability in general on their current pistol models.

I would feel confident in the Canik’s ability to cycle and function without issues under repeated fire. Reliability is critical for any defensive or competition pistol, and it appears to deliver on this front.

Is the Canik SFx Rival-S better than a Glock 34 for competition?

It depends. Out-of-the-box stock, I think the Canik is far superior. Most people who compete with a Glock 34 upgrade many parts of the gun, like the trigger, sights, and springs.

However, comparing a stock Rival-S to an upgraded Glock 34 would be another story.

Ultimately, it will come down to what feels more comfortable in your hand and which performs better for you as a shooter.

AMAZING VALUE!
9.8
Canik SFx Rival-S

Canik SFx Rival-S

$925

at Guns.com

(Price accurate at time of writing.)

Conclusion

In conclusion, after thoroughly evaluating the Canik SFx Rival-S, I must say it’s a handgun worth considering. It delivers exceptional accuracy, reliability, and comes with a full suite of accessories, making it an excellent value for money, especially compared to other steel-framed competition handguns in the market. Its crisp, light-trigger pull and all-steel construction make it a joy to shoot.

However, it may not be the perfect fit for everyone due to its weight and size. While its robust nature and overall length may be a bit much for some, for those looking to get involved in competitive shooting, this handgun could very well be an ideal choice.

As for improvements, I’d like to see future versions come with larger capacity magazines, but overall, the Canik SFx Rival-S is a well-rounded, high-performing firearm that lives up to its promises.

Photo of author
About the author

Myles

Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

6 thoughts on “Canik SFx Rival-S Review: Best Budget Competition Gun?”

  1. Thank you for your detailed review of this firearm. I appreciate how you broke it down into specific categories so that we could understand it for ourselves. I also like that you were able to come up with some cons that might be perceived by some users.

    with you having over 4000 rounds through it, are there any other sub 1000$ handguns that you would prefer in a competitive setting?

    I am picking up a Darkside version in a couple of days. That is after a long time searching for any version. I originally wanted the Chrome version due to its corrosion resistance, but after having found a new Darkside for 850$, I wasn’t going to pass it up hoping that a Chrome version would become available, let alone at MSRP.

    I picked it up specifically for some IDPA and Steel Challenge competitions for me and my wife. I am glad I have a friend at the range that had a Rival S for me to try. After feeling how good the trigger is (the reset is incredible), and seeing how accurate it was, I knew I was going to start researching the model. After one review after another that praised the gun, I started the long search. I can’t wait to see my wife’s reaction after shooting it for the first time.

    The only thing I wish reviewers would stop saying is that “It’s a great for the money.”. I really think that needs to be changed to “It’s a great gun.”.

    Keep up the great work, I enjoy your videos as well.

    Thank you,

    Dex

    Reply
  2. I have the Dark Side I find it nose heavy not well balanced. I notice it more with fast shots. Second shot almost always its low. I was told to replace guide rod to a W74 with 14/15 lb recoil spring. Any comments on that would be appreciated

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Index