First Shots: The Canik SFx Rival

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Canik pistols. My first experience with them a few years ago resulted in my purchase of a TP9 SA Mod.2. That gun is now one of the first guns I have new shooters use as a confidence builder. So, when I had the opportunity to put a Canik SFx Rival through its paces, I had pretty high expectations. Spoiler alert: It did not disappoint.

What Makes the SFx Rival Different?

The SFx Rival is based on the slightly larger TP9 SFx. The Rival was developed for competition shooting. While the SFx could be used in USPSA and some other matches, it couldn’t be used in IPSC Production Division or IDPA matches. The SFx Rival can be used in all those because of the size reduction. The SFx is 8.27 in long, 6.2 in tall, while the Rival is 8.1 in long and 5.7 in tall. That tiny bit of difference allows it in the Production Division.

The SFx Rival is a polymer frame, striker-fired pistol that features a 5 in barrel and an overall weight of 29.5 ounces. The slide is optic-ready, has serrations front and rear and is ported. The slide release is ambidextrous and the mag release is reversible. As a left-handed shooter, I appreciate that. The frame has a good undercut at the trigger guard. My sample had a fiber optic front sight and a blacked-out rear sight that is adjustable. It was in Canik grey with a gold accent.

Shooting the Canik SFx Rival

I went into this with pretty high expectations. Canik triggers are superb. Period. The only gun under $1000 that I feel rivals (no pun intended) their trigger are Walther pistols and word is that Canik based their trigger on Walther.  The SFx Rival did not disappoint at all. The trigger broke crisply at 90 degrees. The reset was short and positive. The gun comes with 18-round magazines and they performed without a hiccup. I put 200 rounds of Magtech and Blazer aluminum, both in 115-grain FMJ, through the gun.

The porting and the weight made recovery between shots super easy. The gun shot very softly, and the grip texture was just right. It comes with 3 backstraps to customize for your grip. I tend to be a medium-grip guy and that worked here too.

Where Does it Fit?

As a competition pistol, the SFx Rival is a great entry point. They retail for under $800, and they shoot like a much more expensive gun. Don’t let the price fool you either. Canik Team captain Nils Jonasson used a Rival to win the USPSA 2022 Carry Optic Nationals. We often hear something is “good for the price”, but when it comes to the SFx Rival, it’s just good, no price qualifier is needed. If you are looking for a way to start competing without spending a ton, this should be on your short list of options.

Could it be a home defense gun? Absolutely. It has a Picatinny rail if you want to mount a light on it. There is nothing that would make me hesitate to pick an SFx Rival up to defend my home and family.

Could it be a carry gun? Well… it could, but it’s not super concealable. Hey, if you can conceal it and want to use it in that role, rock on.

Final Thoughts

Ok, I have to say it…I’m not a fan of the gold accent. It’s just not me. If that’s your speed, then you do you. Just my preference. Canik makes an all-black version called the SFx Rival Darkside which is very much my speed. This pistol was a pleasure to shoot. If I decide to hit the competition trail, this will be on my shortlist for certain. If you want to know more about this pistol, visit their website.

Have you shot the Canik SFx Rival? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

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