CANiK SFx RIVAL-S Review: A High-Performing Steel Frame Pistol

Canik SFx RIVAL-S perched near a fire decked out with Streamlight TLR-1 HL

At the SHOT Show 2023, CANiK announced the release of its latest competition pistol, the SFx RIVAL-S. Featuring a durable steel frame, the SFx RIVAL-S boasts the ergonomic design of its predecessor but now with an all-metal “FORGED FOR SUPERIORITY” construction. The SFx RIVAL-S is optimized for competition shooting, with features that include an optic cut and ported slide, fiber optic sights, an enhanced flat-faced trigger, an enlarged magwell, ambidextrous controls, and forward indexing points. This pistol is also available with or without the M02 optic and comes in a choice of either chrome or black finish.

Canik SFx RIVAL-S Specifications:

  • 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: 2x 18 Round Magazines
  • FINISH COLOR: Chrome or Black
  • ACTION TYPE: Semi-Automatic
  • HEIGHT: 5.75”
  • WIDTH: 1.41”
  • MANUFACTURED: Made in Turkey

Out of the Box

I have long been a fan of the CANiK pistols regarding the performance and accessories you get for the price. In addition to the pistol, from the factory CANiK provides two 18-round magazines, two aluminum magazine base plates, a magazine loader, an external magwell, a custom holster, a tool kit, a cleaning kit, five different optic plates, an additional red and green fiber optic insert, three grip back straps, three magazine release extensions, manual, and a durable hard travel case.

Talk about a run-on sentence but CANiK really does provide a lot of options for the end user. The included holster is a nice touch that is almost unheard of within the industry. For those who are not running weapon lights, this is a solid option that sits tight on your hip with great retention. 

CANiK SFx RIVAL-S in hard case with all included contents to include: two 18-round magazines, two aluminum magazine base plates, a magazine loader, an external magwell, a custom holster, a tool kit, a cleaning kit, five different optic plates, an additional red and green fiber optic insert, three grip back straps, three magazine release extensions, manual, and a durable hard travel case.
CANiK SFx RIVAL-S in a hard case with all included contents

Featuring a steel-forged Picatinny rail on the front of the frame, the SFx RIVAL-S is the perfect rigid host for weapon lights and lasers. One thing I haven’t seen people talk about is the benefits metal frames provide in terms of zero retention for lasers. Personally, I have seen how mediocre polymer frames are at holding zero due to the flex they have with different grip pressures while also being more prone to thermal expansion. This metal frame holds lasers rock solid and can provide real dependability. 

SEE MORE: Canik TP9 SFx Rival Grey Full Review

SFx RIVAL-S front Picatinny rail is the perfect host for lights and lasers
Streamlight TLR-1 HL mounted to the CANiK SFx RIVAL-S


One of the most distinctive features of the CANiK SFx RIVAL-S is its forged steel frame, which enhances the pistol’s durability, functionality, and strength. Utilizing the increased weight of the pistol, the forged frame helps move the center of gravity to reduce perceived recoil, making it a great option for competitive shooters.

In my testing, I was impressed by how flat-shooting this pistol was due mostly to the hefty forged frame. The overall weight of this pistol comes in at 42.7 ounces or 2.67 pounds. The checkered front grip and replaceable back straps feature moderate texturing which provides a comfortable and secure grip. This is less rough than I would prefer, but the lighter recoil impulse reduces the need for aggressive texturing.

SFx RIVAL-S forged steel frame
Checkered front face of steel forged frame

Magwell of the SFx RIVAL-S

While the forged frame of the SFx RIVAL-S has a slightly flared magwell, CANiK also provides a much larger additional magwell which can be mounted to the pistol with a single set screw. Utilizing a groove and fastener system, this magwell locks down tight. It also provides a great funneled surface area for achieving all the mechanical advantages needed to get quick reloads in time-sensitive environments. Working on 1R1 drills where I draw, shoot, then reload and shoot again, I can say this magwell works great. It was quite easy to feed the two 18-round mags directly into this pistol and get back to shooting. 

SFx RIVAL-S magwell extension
Included magwell installed and held down with a set screw


While this pistol is optic-ready, it also features a great set of adjustable iron sights. Utilizing my favorite style of irons, CANiK uses a red fiber-optic front sight, with a blacked-out rear with anti-glare serrations that can be adjusted for windage and elevation. For those who will not be using a red dot, these are quick and easy to use. 

SFx RIVAL-S front and rear sights
Red fiber-optic front sight and anti-glare blacked-out rear sight

In addition to these iron sights, CANiK provides 5 different baseplates to work with most red dots on the market. Of these options, one also features a rear iron sight that can be used in conjunction with a red dot as a failsafe. The rear sight may not sit high enough to clear the base of a red dot, but in my testing, it just barely was useable with the Vortex Defender-CCW. In this day and age, I believe all modern semi-automatic pistols should be optic-ready, so it is good to see CANiK offer this as well as the base plates straight from the factory. Throughout my testing, the optic plate holding the Vortex Defender-CCW locked down tight and worked without an issue. 

SFx RIVAL-S optic plate with the Vortex Defender-CCW red dot mounted
Vortex Defender-CCW mounted to the CANiK SFx RIVAL-S


In addition to being optic-ready, the slide for this pistol features both front and rear serrations. The front serrations are deep which provides great texture for press checks, and the rear ones are adequate when used in conjunction with a red dot. CANiK also includes top and side ports which show off the 5″ fluted barrel, while lowering the center of gravity to create a softer shooting weapon system. This model is the chrome version, so both the frame and slide stand out aesthetically while offering great corrosion resistance. 

SFx RIVAL-S slide with top and side ports along with aggressive serrations
CANiK SFx RIVAL-S top and side ports along with aggressive serrations


Featuring ambidextrous controls, CANiK will satisfy the needs of both lefties and righties alike. The slide release is easy to activate with my thumb, and the magazine release is prominent and reversible. A cool feature is the textured forward indexing point on both sides of the slide. This helps lock in my support thumb on the frame to solidify and encourage a high and tight grip. 

SFx RIVAL-S ambidextrous controls
SFx RIVAL-S ambidextrous controls


The trigger is one of the most interactive parts of a firearm, so having a quality interface is imperative. Featuring a 90° aluminum flat-faced trigger, I am happy to report the RIVAL-S feels great. The trigger safety bar is textured which does a surprisingly good job of keeping my finger indexed to the same spot when firing quickly. As I measured the trigger pull weight of the firearm, I consistently found that it fell between 3.5-4.0 pounds.

The takeup of the trigger is smooth, the wall is well-defined, and there is just a tiny bit of creep past that before the pistol fires. The creep is minimal and smooth while other pistols are more “gritty.” After the shot, there is a short and positive reset that puts the trigger right past the wall and is ready for the next shot. 

SFx RIVAL-S diamond checkered trigger safety bar
SFx RIVAL-S diamond checkered trigger safety bar

SFx RIVAL-S Accuracy

Throughout my testing, I was very impressed with the accuracy of the SFx RIVAL-S. From shooting groups on paper to shooting reduced-sized silhouettes out to 100 yards, this pistol made everything easy. From 10 yards, I consistently got close to 1/2 inch groups minus a few flyers I acknowledge were my own doing. I seemed to group the best with Norma Safeguard 115gr JHP, but everything shot great through this pistol.

SFx RIVAL-S shooting groups using Norma ammunition
Top left: Norma 115gr FMJ; Top Right: Norma 124gr FMJ; Bottom Left: Norma 115gr JHP; Bottom Right: Norma 108gr MHP


For the few hundred rounds of Norma ammunition, I put through this pistol for the review, I didn’t have a single malfunction. From 108gr MHP hollow points to 124gr FMJ training ammo, everything cycled flawlessly. My favorite target ammo is their 124gr FMJ as I find it to be the best blend of cost and performance. I have had no issues with it cycling, and I also find that it is softer shooting than 115gr ammunition.

SFx RIVAL-S being used for some shooting drills on a VTAC board
SFx RIVAL-S being used for some shooting drills on a VTAC board
SFx RIVAL-S being used to shoot a steel target at 15 yards
SFx RIVAL-S being used to shoot a steel target at 15 yards

In addition to great reliability, the SFx RIVAL-S is also very shootable. The steel frame makes this a very soft and flat shooting pistol. I had no trouble burning through rounds quickly while staying on target. Shot after shot, this pistol ran great and helped keep me on target. The increased weight also helped steady my aim and allowed me greater consistency, even at longer ranges. Working on quickdraws from a light-compatible Hush Holster, I averaged around 1.90 seconds for a draw and a hit on a C-Zone-sized TaTargets silhouette at 100 yards. 

SFx RIVAL-S mounted in a Hush Holsters light bearing holster
SFx RIVAL-S mounted in a Hush Holsters light bearing holster


Overall, I am highly impressed with the CANiK SFx RIVAL-S. As a long-time admirer of the value offered by CANiK’s other pistols, the RIVAL-S continues to deliver in terms of quality and performance. Throughout my testing, I experienced no malfunctions and achieved exceptional accuracy on paper targets.

The soft-recoil and flat-shooting capabilities of the RIVAL-S enabled me to quickly burn down various shooting stages. The SFx RIVAL-S is currently available in two variants; the chrome version that I reviewed with an MSRP of $949.99, and the blacked-out Dark Side model, priced at $899.99. In my opinion, this is a worthy investment for those seeking an optic-ready competition firearm.

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  • GABRIEL TORRES June 5, 2023, 1:21 pm

    Muy buena pistola tengo una CANICK 9mm con Cargador de 18+1, Felicidades por la Publicacion.Saludos, Soy Armero , Instructor de Tiro y Perito en Balistica.

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