The reasonably-priced, sporty all-steel Canik Arms TP9 SFx Rival-S 9mm pistol in a thorough test

Canik Arms is part of the Samsun Yurt Savunma Sanayi and Ticaret A.S. (SYS) Group. The armaments manufacturer has also been active in the field of handguns since 1998. The 850 employees produce around 450,000 handguns a year, which are exported to 68 countries around the world, mainly to the USA. As a government supplier, the company also manufactures 2,500 M2 machine guns in .50 BMG (12.7x99 mm) every year. According to the manufacturer, more than three million pistols have now left the production halls. Currently, the handgun portfolio consists exclusively of polymer-framed striker-fired  pistols in all formats. But this was not always the case. The manufacturer, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary of handgun production this year, started out a quarter of a century ago with the P100 and P120 models. The P120 was based on the proven technology of the Czech classic CZ 75 and therefore had a steel frame. Now the circle is complete again, as Canik presented the modern all-steel Rival-S pistol at the IWA 2023. 

New S-Class: the Rival-S all-steel gun from Canik

The brand new all-steel 9mm Canik Rival-S pistol.

In 2022, we presented the Rival SFx, the first Canik pistol that we tested. This attractive polymer pistol impressed us with its good quality and a comprehensive accessory package, making it a solid value for money at a price of €1,150. In times of rising energy costs and inflation, it is almost surprising that the Rival-S all-steel gun, which also comes with a wide range of accessories, changes hands for as little as €1,499. The Rival-S weighs in at a whopping 1,200 grams, which is around 400 grams more than the polymer model, which has a significant impact on felt recoil and muzzle flip behaviour. Whether you prefer the hard chrome-plated version for €1,549 or the simpler black version with Tenifer coating for €1,499, is more a matter of taste than price. The Rival-S gets its striking appearance from the windows in the slide flanks and the many cosmetic decorative millings on the slide and frame. This kind of ornate pistol design is familiar above all from U.S. "tacticool" GLOCK clones from companies such as Shadow Systems or ZEV Technologies, to name just two examples.

The striking appearance of the Canik Rival-S is mainly characterised by the decorative milling on the slide and frame.

The mounting rail on the dust cover can be used, for example, to attach the in-house aluminium bridge mount. The mount in blue or red changes hands for just 69 euros. The impressive range of accessories also includes an optional thumb rest, also available for 69 euros, which provides more recoil control. The hard case of the Rival-S contains a wide range of standard accessories. These include a holster, a spare magazine, magazine jet funnels, additional magazine base pads, two easily interchangeable backstraps in different sizes, a loading aid and a tool and cleaning set. As if that were not enough, six adapter plates are also included with which all standard mini red dot sights can be mounted on the interface in the slide. Other manufacturers are now cutting corners here. However, the plates are made of a lightweight aluminium alloy with a steel threaded insert. Only time will tell how this will stand the test of time with frequent mounting and dismounting. The micrometer rear sight is supplemented by a fine 3-mm front sight with a red fiber rod insert. We measured the consistent single-action trigger of the striker-fired hammerless gun at an average of around 1,700 grams, with 950 grams already accounted for by the take-up.

With the in-house bridge mount, a red dot sight can also be attached to the frame of the Canik Rival-S as an alternative.

The fact that the trigger feels subjectively lighter is probably due to the fact that the flat trigger blade with a width of around 8 mm offers plenty of contact surface for the finger. This brings back memories of old rimfire sport pistols. The reset travel of the trigger – i.e. the distance required to fire the next shot – is pleasingly short and easily perceptible at around one millimetre. Disassembling the pistol into its main components is somewhat unusual. The takedown levers on both sides of the slide must first be pulled downwards, then the slide only needs to be pushed forward a few millimeters and removed upwards. The clean interior is then revealed. The grip with its fine-pored surface is made by investment casting. The slide stop lever can be operated from both sides at any time and can also be easily reached by shooters with short thumbs.

If you remove the magazine jet funnel, the Canik Rival-S can also be used in the IPSC Production (Optics) divisions.

This also applies to the enlarged and extended magazine release. Incidentally, the gun has been on the IPSC Production (Optics) list for some time now, naturally without a magazine funnel and thumb rest. As an all-steel gun with a consistent trigger pull weight and travel, it could be an alternative for shooters who have difficulty with the otherwise predominant DA/SA trigger combinations. There is no doubt that top results can be achieved with the classic double action trigger (for the first shot, all subsequent shots in single action), but this also requires some training. The sheet steel magazines hold 18 cartridges and engage easily and cleanly – even at full capacity. The tolerances between the grip and slide were pleasingly low and the fluted barrel also sat in the slide without any noticeable play.

On the shooting range with the Canik SFx Rival-S

View of the Canik Rival-S checkering on the front strap and the wide trigger blade with integrated safety, which subjectively reduces the trigger pull weight.

In the absence of a suitable Ransom Rest adapter, the Canik Rival-S had to be shot freehand from the sandbag. We could also have used the bridge mount from the same stable for this, but the tolerances between the grip and the bolt – albeit small – can have a negative effect on the results. We therefore mounted a Leupold DeltaPoint mini red dot sight, which has served us well, on the slide. We tested the handsome striker-fired all-steel pistol with ten types of factory ammunition, with bullet weights ranging from 95 to 140 grains. We achieved the best accuracy result from two averaged 5-shot groupings with the Hornady American Gunner 115-grain XTP, with 32 mm. A very respectable result.

Canik also offers the Rival-S with a plain, black Tenifer coating.

This means that the Rival-S could certainly be used in precision disciplines. There were no malfunctions to report during testing. As with the accuracy test, we noticed the smooth surface of the blue grips and the checkering of the hard chrome-plated version somewhat negatively in the dynamic section. However, these blue grips in S/M or L are part of an optionally available set, which also includes an extended magazine release, slide stop, magazine jet funnel and two magazine base pads in the same colour for an additional €189. This set is also available in red and bronze colors. We like the black standard grips of the Rival-S with dark Tenifer or light hard chrome coating much better in terms of controllability when firing. Of course, this could be remedied by simple, inexpensive tuning measures, such as the application of skateboard tape. Personally, we were somewhat annoyed by the overly large magazine release, which literally dug into the heel of the support hand. The range of accessories also includes grips made of various natural woods for 69 euros or a compensator that can be fitted to the frame for 298 euros.

9mm Canik SFx Rival-S specs and price

Model:SFx Rival-S
9mm Luger
Magazine Capacity:
18 rounds
Steel hard chrome (Tenifer) coated

Steel hard chrome (Tenifer) coated

Barrel Length, Profile:

121 mm, 6x grooves

Rear Sight:Micrometer, 3.85 mm
Front Sight:Ramped with red fiber insert, 3.00 mm
Sight Radius:
197 mm
Safety:Trigger safety, automatic firing pin safety
Trigger Action, Trigger  Pull Weight:*

Single action, 1,702 g

1,196 g with magazine
Dimensions (LxWxH):
206x35x146 mm

1.549 euro (1.499 euro black Tenifer version)

Accessories: hard case with spare magazine, additional magazine base pads, holster, MRDS adapter plates as well as tools and cleaning kit.
* Average of 10 measurements with the Manthei Trigger Scan System.

Test summary of the Canik SFx Rival-S pistol

The Canik Rival-S in 9mm Luger has a lot to offer: a solid all-steel construction paired with good trigger characteristics, as well as high functional reliability and inherent accuracy. With the optics interface on the slide, it can also be used in many disciplines. The standard black version costs €1,499 and the hard chrome-plated version €1,549. This is an extremely fair deal, making the Rival-S a real recommendation in our opinion.

Further information on the SFx Rival-S is available from the manufacturer Canik.

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