The Canik SFx Rival Dark Side is a Race Gun Shooters Will Love By: Todd Burgreen

The original Canik SFx Rival

Century Arms is well known for its manufacturing and import efforts related to firearms. These efforts give the US consumer opportunities to own weapons that would not be normally available via domestic manufacturers or other importers. This includes firearms like the Canik SFx Rival Dark Side, as seen at the Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous 2022.

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The Canik SFx Rival Dark Side

One of the more successful and well-received offerings is the Canik lineup of handguns. The Canik is designed and manufactured in Turkey by Samsun Yurt Savunma, one of Turkey’s biggest defense contractors. The specific model designation of the handgun highlighted here is the SFx Rival Dark Side 9MM.

The SFx Rival Dark Side has evolved from previous polymer striker-fired Canik models. This is a credit to the success of the design. Many imports are “one and done” affairs. However, the Canik lineup has thrived, which is a testament to its overall quality.

The original TP-series of pistols were the first standard issue polymer frame pistol of the Turkish Police Force. During weapon trials, the TP9 handguns underwent 50,000-round endurance testing multiple times without having to change out any damaged or failed components to keep them functioning as intended.

The Canik SFx Rival Dark Side has a reinforced polymer frame and steel slide with a significant design emphasis on ergonomics for ease of function. In addition, the slide is covered with ceramic coating for durability.

Stippling and raised grooves adorn both the front strap and the forward face of the squared-off trigger guard. Likewise, the double undercut trigger guard allows for the shooter’s hand to sit as high as possible. This assists in limiting muzzle flip during recoil due to the low center of gravity.

The SFx Rival frame features a redesigned beavertail to further manage recoil, especially during rapid strings of fire. Each pistol has an integral railed dust cover and comes with interchangeable backstraps to accommodate individual shooter requirements for feel. Aesthetically pleasing aggressive serrations and ported slide distinguish the SFx Rival.

Welcome to the Dark Side

Canik developed the SFx Rival Dark Side to serve as the premium version of the TP9 series in order to show off the potential of the platform. The user knows something is different as soon as the SFx Rival case is opened.

Multiple modular features such as grip size, front sight fiber-optic tube, magazine release button, and extended slide lock are noticeable.

What really gets your attention are the five mounting plates arriving with the SFx Dark Side that accommodate various optics. That’s right…the Canik SFx Rival Dark Side has the slide relieved and drilled/tapped to facilitate mounting several of the most popular red dot sights.

Adjustable rear sight mated to fiber optic front ensures that the user is taken care of if they do not choose an optic. Two 18-rd magazines were included with the SFx Rival Dark Side.

Picking up the SFx and manipulating it only further reinforces the good vibes created by its aesthetics. Slide serrations and cutouts on the front of the slide show some attention was spent on detail.

The lightened 90-degree diamond-cut aluminum flat trigger with short reset leaves no doubt that the SFx Rival Dark Side is not your standard Canik. Overall tolerances with the Dark Side are tighter.

The SFx Rival Dark Side was created to compete in IDPA, IPSC, and USPSA without restrictions. The SFx Rival dimensions reflect this with a total length of 8.1-inches, height of 5.7-inches, 1.41-inch width, 5-inch barrel, and an overall weight of 29.5 ounces.

Handling and Firing the SFx Dark Side

While familiar with other Canik handguns, my initial exposure to the Rival Dark Side happened at Athlon Outdoors’ 2022 Rendezvous. Adam Ruonala, Marketing Director, placed one in my hand and pushed me to the firing line.

After firing several magazines at various targets and running drills, the smile on my face told the story. I also polled my fellow attendees as they moved through the Canik station, asking for their thoughts/impressions of the pistol. The Rival Dark Side’s ergonomics and handling characteristics were quickly appreciated.

The full-size grip frame and overall balance of the Canik made felt recoil negligible. Correspondingly, the short reset trigger with a pull weight of approximately 3.5 pounds made rapid, accurate strings of fire more feasible compared to trigger arrangements found on other striker-fired pistols.

The quality of the SFx’s trigger is the real surprise and contributes to the feeling of getting more than expected. An envious position for any product.

The Canik SFx Rival Dark Side is an example of a handgun that pushes the envelope past “safe” norms. While still maintaining real-world applications. The SFx Rival increases the effectiveness of a handgun beyond what most thought capable.

For more information, please visit

The Canik SFx Rival Dark Side.

Canik SFx Rival Dark Side Specs

Caliber: 9MM
Magazine Capacity:
18 rounds (two magazines provided)
Barrel Length:
5 inches
Overall Length:
8.1 inches
5.7 inches
1.4 inches
Weight Empty:
29.5 ounces

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