One of the things that prevents more shooters from entering competitive handgun shooting sports is the cost of the equipment. Guns, different calibers, and holsters designed for each specific sport can be overwhelming. Canik decided to do something about it and launched a one-gun-fits-most-sports solution at the 2022 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Using the TP9 as the starting point, Canik used input from professional shooters to develop the SFx Rival. It’s a versatile pistol that can be used for USPSA, IDPA, IPSC, 3-Gun, and Steel Challenge competitions.
The Canik SFx Rival
Designed from the ground up to suit the demanding needs of a competitor and provide flawless reliability through thousands and thousands of rounds a year, the Rival is, by far, the most cost-effective means I am aware of for shooters to engage in multiple shooting disciplines.
Century Arms is the importer of the Turkish-made SFx Rival. And it was my good luck to run into Nils Jonasson at their SHOT Show booth. Jonasson grew up in Mesa, Arizona, home to the famous Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club. This is where such shooting luminaries as Rob Leatham, Brian Enos, and Henning Walgren trained and competed.
In 2010, Jonasson added his name to the list of champions when he won the USPSA Limited National Championship. During the years since, Jonasson has won National and or World titles in IPSC, USPSA, IDPA, MultiGun, USSL and ICORE.
In 2019, Jonasson signed on as Team Captain for Canik Firearms. Since then he has won the 2021 USPSA Production Nationals as well as the 2021 Carry Optics National. He won both won with the Canik TP9 SFx pistol.
When he’s not shooting or showcasing the Canik firearm line, Jonasson spends his time developing and refining their products. In short, there is no one more qualified to give a run-down on the SFx Rival’s details.
The Pro’s Pointers
“The Canik SFx Rival is brand new for 2022, and our official launch date coincided with the first day of SHOT Show. We shortened the barrel from 5.2 inches to 5.0 inches to bring the gun into compliance for IPSC competition, so now it is legal for IPSC, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun competition—everything across the board,” Jonasson said.
In effect, Canik has developed a gun that is legal for each of the shooting disciplines above. In some cases, more than one division in each shooting sport.
“For example,” said Jonasson, “For the USPSA Production division, all you would need to do is take the magwell off. Or, add a red dot and shoot the new Carry Optics division. In IDPA, we can keep the magwell on and throw a red dot on there and shoot their Carry Optics division. It will also fit in the box for ESP or Enhanced Service Pistol division. It also fits the IPSC box.
“We designed it to fit every sport shooting category around the world. We developed the gun for the competitive shooter. All that really means is we designed the gun to be easier to shoot. If it is easier for me to shoot faster and more accurately, it’s going to be easier for the novice shooter to fire faster and more accurately,” he concluded.
The SFx Rival has a number of enhancements to help the competitor shoot more effectively.
The SFx Rival’s Enhancements
Jonasson continued, “We kept the fiber-optic front sight and we gave the Rival a fully adjustable rear sight. Shooters may use different weight bullets for different shooting sports. Plus, in this day and age, when it is so hard to get reloading components sometimes, we’re forced to take what we can get, and this will allow us to quickly tune the point-of-aim and point-of-impact for any weight projectile.
“The fully adjustable rear sight is built into the rear plate. The rear plate is removable and the gun comes with four optics plates that ship with the gun from the factory. They will accommodate just about any popular red dot available.”
Jonasson pointed to the Rival’s slide. “We have really aggressive cocking serrations on the front and back of the slide. They’re deep enough that the shooter can easily rack the slide to chamber a round or do a quick pinch check to make sure there’s a round in the chamber.
“The Rival also features bilateral slide releases that are easily reached by the shooter’s thumb. Our magazine release is also reversible, making the Rival southpaw friendly. This gun also shares the same frame redesign we did last year for the Mete pistol. We’ve incorporated the integral magwell and the interchangeable backstraps go all the way to the end of the frame.
“We’ve also redesigned the ergonomics of the tang to let you get a nice and high grip for muzzle control. The key point on this one, though, is the aluminum trigger that we set to break at 90 degrees to the frame with a goal weight right at 3.5 pounds. It’s not crazy light, but the pull is super consistent and crisp. It’s very predictable and shootable.”
Triggers & DIY Customizations
Jonasson and I discussed the importance of new shooters having a manageable trigger, and 3.5 pounds for a match gun is just about right. Nothing will discourage a new shooter quicker than a bad trigger. By starting them with a crisp, clean trigger, they’ll be encouraged by their progress.
One of the things I like about the Rival’s trigger pull is that it has a very short and firm reset. Both of which are critical for fast shooting.
Jonasson said, “The whole point of our enhanced trigger is to allow the gun to fire without moving the front sight. If that happens, the bullet is going to go where you want it to.”
The SFx Rival’s polymer frame has an integral magwell funnel. However, the gun also comes with a slip-on, machined aluminum funnel that basically doubles the size of the opening. As a result, this makes a speed reload with the tapered double-column magazines a sure thing! The Rival also comes with three different backstraps to customize the gun to the shooter’s hand.
Jonasson pointed to the bottom of the Rival’s trigger guard, “We double undercut the trigger guard, again, to allow the shooter to get a super high hold on the gun and place their hand closer to the bore’s axis for superior muzzle control.”
Holsters can also be an expensive item for the shooter, and each different organization has different regulations. Canik ships the SFx Rival with its own Kydex holster. Jonasson said, “We designed a holster specifically for the Rival. It is a very fast and functional holster that can transcend numerous shooting disciplines. You can literally take this gun out of the box and go shoot a match!
Ready To Race?
How much would you pay for a pistol that will allow you to shoot a myriad of handgun disciplines? One that comes optics-ready with four different optics plates? Two 18-round magazines, a loader, and slide-on magwell funnel? One that comes in a polymer, foam padded case along with three backstraps and all of the tools necessary to maintain the gun? Whatever you guessed, I am betting it was more than the SFx Rival’s suggested retail price of $680!
The Canik Rival is available in Canik Rival Grey with Cerakoted gold accents and in an all-black configuration called the Canik SFx Rival Dark Side. While I stood at Century’s booth, I heard one USPSA shooter say to another that he was going to buy two of them, so he’d always have a back-up gun ready to go. At this price, why not?
For more information, visit CanikUSA.com.
Canik SFx Rival Specs
Barrel: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.1 inches
Weight: 29.5ounces (with empty mag)
Grips: Three interchangeable
Finish: Rival Grey or Rival Dark Side
This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns May/June 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.
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