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Canik Rival-S Full Review

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The idea of a steel-framed Canik Rival seemed to shock a lot of folks when it was first announced to the public not long ago. I think some had forgotten, or maybe not even known that Canik was producing steel-framed guns before they started polymer-framed guns. Although those CZ-75-based guns haven't been imported into the US for some time, Canik is no stranger to steel.

The suspense that had me hanging was wondering what the MSRP would be. When Walther released heir steel-framed Q5 Match SF and then Q4 it marked a significant price increase from their polymer guns. I suspect that was largely because the Walther steel-frame guns are a different frame design and appear to be mostly CNC'd. That's design & development cost plus machine time that has to be passed onto the consumer. Canik's approach was different.

Maintaining their position as a champion of high-value pistols the Rival S frame is much more similar to the polymer models aside from of course wrap-around grip panels and different texture. The surface of the Rival S also hints that the frames might be cast rather than machined. If true this cuts cost down significantly which makes for a more affordable handgun to consumers. This is all conjecture and may be wrong.

The Canik Rival-S has excellent checkering on the front strap.

Why Steel? Is a question I've seen asked by many. The answer is that steel is heavy! This pistol weighs in just under 43 ounces. That's over 2 1/2 pounds of recoil-absorbing, hand-steadying mass. In the competition world, for which this pistol is intended, landing two quick shots on target (for full points) is often faster than slowing down for one perfect shot for the same score. In a game that ultimately favors speed this has become the modus operandi and is why you see most shooters fire quick pairs and moving to the next target as quickly as possible. A heavier gun settles better, shifts less under recoil, and swings smoother than one than a light one.

The Canik Rival-S case might appear over-sized, but inside are two layers of cut foam full of goodies.

With competitors in mind the Canik Rival S comes very-well equipped in it's own travel case that I dare say would likely be accepted by TSA with appropriate locks, etc. Inside you'll find:

  • (2) 18 Round Magazines

  • (2) Aluminum Magazine Base Plates

  • Magazine Loader

  • External Mag-Well

  • Custom Holster

  • Canik Punch & Tool Kit

  • Cleaning Kit

  • (5) Optic Plates

  • Additional Fiber Optic

  • (3) Grip Back Straps

  • (3) Magazine Release Extensions

  • Gun Lock & Manual

Take a look at how everything comes presented in the Tabletop video below.


If you don't mount an optic the blacked-out rear sight is excellent and adjustable.

Happy to have the Canik Rival-S in hand, and add to our experiences with 9 other models of Canik we hit the range for our standard battery of experiences. As our viewers have come to expect we evaluate every pistol the same way regardless of its intent. This allows us to create notes on pistols using an even playing field.

  • Cold Shots: Truly our first rounds through the gun. For Teya also her first time handling the gun.

  • Full Magazine +1: Not all guns perform well when "fully stuffed", adding challenge we attempt this with the included extended magazine to see if the springs are proper.

  • What's For Dinner™: A test to see what ammunition the gun will eat. Does the gun feed the round from slide lock, will it cycle and feed another round of the same type, does the slide lock to the rear on empty, and is there any notable point of impact change with different loads.

For the Canik Rival-S the What's For Dinner portion included (pricing as of 2FEB23):

  • Sights & Trigger Control: on a 6" spinner target at a distance of 12 yards. We got this from Titan Great Outdoors and use it to gauge how learnable the trigger is and usable the sights are for forced, timed, precise shots.

  • Practical Accuracy: Five shots from a distance of seven yards at a one inch target. This isn't so much about printing a tight group as it is a culmination of our shooting experience and time for us to collect thoughts prior to making a conclusion.

  • After Shots: Final impressions from two shooters. We both have different interests, backgrounds, preferences, and approaches to shooting. We don't always agree, but that's why we present you with two opinions.

Filmed unscripted and single-take (unless we make an egregious error), you can watch the process and decide for yourself how the Canik Rival-S might suit your needs in our Shooting Impressions video:

This was the first Canik of the models reviewed that had any malfunctions. Does it concern us? No. We had feeding issues with Liberty Ammunition's Civil Defense 50gr, Koenig 110gr JHP, and Nosler ASP 115gr JHP. Those are all defensive rounds and this is a competition gun. If one really wanted to use the Canik Rival-S for self defense they could chose from the other defensive loads we tested. The extractor slipped once on a steel-cased round, but there's no telling if that was the gun or the ammunition.

The performance we did note was that every load tested felt softer in the hand thanks to the extra 13 ounces (over the Rival Darkside) soaking up energy and resisting movement. The front strap checkering was very effective and pistol very comfortable to shoot. Canik continues what has become their tradition of delivering excellent pistols at prices below competitors who arguably offer the same or less of a gun.

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Jonas Blane II
Jonas Blane II

Isn't this gun Walther P 99 based instead of CZ 75 based?

Graham Baates
Graham Baates

Yes, the original striker-fired Caniks were Walther P99-based. The CZ-75 reference was to Canik's hammer-fired guns which are currently not imported to the US. For a few years they were available through TriStar Arms.


The Canik/Grand Power Review Of The Week!

Doesn‘t anyone else make guns anymore?

Graham Baates
Graham Baates

Do you mean like the Stoeger, Arex, BUL Armory, Tisas, and S&W guns we've recently covered? Or something further back like the Sig, Springfield, and Bersa pieces? On the channel we've covered roughly 400 guns, so I'm not sure which ones you're talking about.

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