Canik keeps throwing out one banger after another. I have followed Canik and watched eagerly to see what comes next. I bought a Canik TP9 Elite Combat recently, and I was very pleased with how it functioned. The latest thing from Canik to cross my path was the new SFx Rival 9mm, which is the subject today.
 

The SFx Rival

 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
My hands are familiar with the shape and feel of the Canik lineup, and that proved helpful in testing the new Rival. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


The Rival is being marketed as an IDPA competition gun, with both its size and weight restrictions meeting the standards for most competitive circles. The Rival does this while bringing all the many features from all its Canik siblings, including things like the ambi slide release, reversible and extendable magazine release, flat trigger shoe, undercut trigger guard, magwell flare, and a Picatinny accessory rail up front. In addition to these features, the Rival has deeply cut slide serrations and a fluted barrel. 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
The Rival is flashy with slide serrations to match its attitude. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


Like many of the TP9 family, it also comes optics ready with an assortment of base plates and sight options. All this comes with two custom Cerakote color schemes – mine has the Rival grey with gold accents.

As usual with Canik, the pistol came in a hard plastic case with an assortment of tools for cleaning and maintenance. It also came with a Kydex holster and spare magazine pouch alongside an extra 18-round magazine.
 

First Impressions
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
One of my favorite updates has to be the improved, flared magwell for fast and easy reloads. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


My very first thoughts of the Rival were that it was pretty flashy. It seems quite busy to the eyes. But I wanted to find out quickly if the busy looks matched up to my time shooting targets.

As I expected, the Rival felt nearly identical to my older TP9 model in the hand. That’s a good thing in my estimation as both of the pistols feel great filling the hand and giving a good textured grip for control. I actually rubbed the Cerakote off of my other Canik doing draw drills alongside shooting and reloading drills constantly. After all that, the Rival felt like an old friend. My fingers instinctively landed on every control with perfection, but it didn’t take long to notice just a couple of things.

The first thing was the ambidextrous slide release. I think, perhaps, the Rival uses a stronger spring because there is more felt resistance on the slide than on my other guns. This translated into just enough extra effort to annoy me, but that’s all.

I also noted that the extended magwell flare seemed to be a better fit than the one on my older Canik. This made reloading even easier than I anticipated. Magazines slid easily into place with little to no effort. The trigger also felt fantastic, which has been my typical experience with these higher-grade Canik pistols.
 

Sibling Rivalry
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
I took the new Rival out alongside my older Elite Combat, and the shared heritage between the two is clear. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


Once I was on the firing line with the Rival, I decided it would be a good idea to compare it to its well-known relative, the TP9 EC. With a stack of ammo on the tailgate, we went to town. The first order of business was to adjust the Holosun red dot for proper impacts, which didn’t take very long. In less time than it took to empty the magazine, I was hitting my pop-can targets. 

Going back and forth between the Rival and the Elite Combat, it didn’t take long to feel and see the differences between the two pistols. The triggers felt very comparable, as they should. It seems they are the same in everything but their colors. The grip area on the Rival was a bit more generous, allowing for more engagement with the grip. 
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
Some of the controls were a bit stiff, which could be because the gun was not yet broken in as much, but it was only enough to be moderately annoying. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


The mag release on all of the TP9 family seem to be reliable and easy to manipulate. The Rival shared that trait, but it did feel ever so slightly stiffer than the others. This could have simply been that it was newer and not worn in. The dual slide-release levers on either side of the frame felt significantly stiffer than other TP9s I’ve shot. 
 

RELATED: Review – Canik TP9 Elite SC for Range Days & Self-Defense


Then again, after shooting several magazines through the gun, that seemed to loosen up. One thing that I felt was a significant improvement on the Rival was its flared magwell. Blindly stabbing the magazine into the gun took nearly zero focus to get it right. I quickly became proficient at fast and smooth reloads. This was a definite improvement over the EC, and not an insignificant one.

The Rival plowed through an expensive pile of 124-grain ammunition, showing no failures or malfunctions during the shooting other than an ammunition malfunction confirmed in several other pistols. The bluish-grey Canik Rival finish was losing its shine in the afternoon sun, exchanging it for a powder-burned darker shade.
 

Pros & Cons
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
True to the company's traditions, the Rival rolled deep with extras. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


The overall experience shooting the Rival was an outstanding one. It offered flawless function and very predictable, accurate hits. The quality and just plain performance of this pistol is quite evident, as good as almost any striker-fired poly-framed pistol I’ve played with over the years. The aggressive serrations of the slide as well as the engraving details bring a bit of “noise” to the gun’s image, but for me, it just works. The ease of reloading the pistol, the filled palm with a great grip, the smooth trigger, and the short reset all just make this pistol feel like it truly is an excellent Rival for others. 
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
Optics options are nice and a great add for the price of this gun. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


Buying yourself a Rival is not, however, a sure shot to becoming the next John Wick. Still, at the price, it isn’t going to kill you either. The adjustable grip backstraps, extra magazines, and extra sight mounting options are also a fantastic value. The modularity of the mag-release buttons also help the shooter perfect their fit.

The Holosun 507 was a perfect companion for this pistol. I’ve used many slide-mounted optics now, and this one seems to be a great option for not just the Rival but any pistol. The various mounting plates that come with the Rival will allow you to mount whatever optic you choose.
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
The slide has porting in it. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)
Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
But the lack of porting in the barrel actually led to what felt like a bit more muzzle rise than I would have expected. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)


There are a couple of things I would change about the Rival if given the chance. First of all, it seems like a chance was missed to port the barrel to match the fancy slide cuts. Not only would that have added to the mall-ninja factor, but it would also have helped a bit with the recoil. For a full-size pistol, the Rival did seem to climb a bit more than I expected from a ported slide. Even a built-in compensator up front would help with that. The fluted barrel itself seemed fine, and I expect that friction is reduced as well in that weight loss.
 

Conclusion

For a pistol directed at the competitive shooter, I feel like the many features of the Rival are an absolute win. It is affordable but feels like you are getting so much more for your money. The many extras just keep coming as you get into it, and those included extras allow many gun owners to do what they love most – customize their gun.

The beauty of this pistol is that it is flashy and handsome right out of the box, and it is indeed ready to lay out one target after another with speed and comfort. I have to say, Canik continues to bring us consumers new options, and the Canik Rival is a great option to consider.
 

Canik Rival 9mm Pistol
No gun will just turn you into the next John Wick, but the Rival is a solid start as a shooter at a nice price. (Photo: Jeff Wood/Guns.com)

Loading