FNS 40: An Overlooked Champion

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Reviews

Among the oldest and most respected firearms manufacturers is Fabrique Nationale de Armes de Guerre. FN is a company that has housed some of the most innovative firearms of the age and great inventors including John Browning and Dieudonne Saive. Thousands of FN firearms are in use worldwide with our military. Many of them are manufactured in South Carolina, USA. FN produces police, military, and sporting rifles. With the bonafides out of the way, how it performs at the range still has to be answered?

FNS 40 pistol atop a Syntech ammunition box

FN and Federal Syntech proved a good combination.

The pistol illustrated is a thoroughly modern polymer-frame striker-fired pistol called the FNS. It is manufactured by FN branch FNH USA. This is a world-class pistol that offers good performance. The FNS in 9mm is a good choice for use in any nation. The .40 I recently tested is foursquare an American pistol.

The FNS is supplied with a hard case that contains the pistol and three magazines. In a day when some pistols are delivered with a single magazine, three magazines are good to have. The pistol features an ambidextrous magazine release, an ambidextrous slide lock, and no manual safety on my version.

The pistol is relatively snag free. The slide is nicely machined with a well-defined FN look. I liked the forward cocking serrations and used them in preference to the rear serrations. The magazines hold 14 rounds in .40 S&W, 17 in the 9mm version. The magazines are well machined of good steel and feature base pads for easy insertion into the magazine well.

Field stripped FNS 40

Field stripping the pistol is easy enough with the turn of a lever.

The pistol is light enough at 27.5 ounces. The trigger is a double-action-only type—similar in operation to the Glock and other striker-fired pistols. The slide action partially preps the striker. Pressing the trigger to the rear breaks the striker against the sear and fires the pistol. There is a hinged trigger safety.

The sights are large and highly visible featuring white outline inserts. The rear notch features a deep cut out that aids in quickly acquiring the front post sight. The trigger guard is large enough for gloved hand use. The forward frame section features a rail for a combat light.

The pistol has the usual extra grip insert for those with large hands. The grip offers excellent adhesion and abrasion when firing. The trigger action broke consistently at exactly 5.4 pounds. Reset was rapid and the trigger is as good as any striker-fired pistol.

dust cover on the FNS 40 with ammunition in the background

The FNS 40 never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject.

I lubricated the pistol on its long bearing surfaces and cocking block before firing. Initial firing was accomplished with the Federal Cartridge Company’s Syntech load. This version of the .40 Smith and Wesson cartridges features a 205-grain bullet at about 850 fps. This loading meets USPSA power factor demands and produces excellent accuracy.

The effect on steel plates was resounding. I fired 100 of these cartridges in testing the FNS. I properly pressed the trigger until it broke and then allowed it to go forward during recoil recovery. You cannot stage this trigger.

Practical accuracy is excellent. The pistol comes on target quickly, and the sights are an aid in quickly getting X-ring hits. I fired most of the rounds at 5, 7, and 10 yards. The pistol struck slightly above the point of aim with 205-grain bullets.

Bob Campbell shooting the FNS 40

With a case above the ejection port, the author is getting back on target.

The sights were well regulated for 180-grain loads. The pistol was also fired with a magazine of Federal’s 180-grain JHP from the Train and Protect line. This loading has proven accurate in the past, affordable in a 50-round box, and reliable. I also fired a 20-round box of Federal’s 180-grain HST. At 940, fps this load is controllable and hard-hitting.

The FNS proved controllable, perhaps surprisingly so, but then it is a service-size pistol. I prefer the .40 to the 9mm and continue to get good reports on .40 caliber performance. It isn’t a big bore. Instead, it is a mid bore and has good points. The .40 isn’t regarded as a tack driver, but it has won many pistol competitions.

The FNS is accurate enough for any reasonable chore. I brought along my own handloads using a hard cast 180-grain lead bullet. I fired these and the factory loads at 15 yards for accuracy. The handload went into 1.9 inches while the Federal loads averaged 1.8 to 2.4 inches.

FNS .40
Action Type Recoil-operated, striker-fired, double-action-only, semi-automatic centerfire pistol
Frame Polymer with steel inserts
Barrel 4″
Rifling 1:16″ RH twist (.40 S&W)
Magazine Detachable box; 14-round capacity (.40 S&W)
Sights Dovetailed front and rear
Trigger Double-action-only; 5.5 pounds pull
Overall Length 7.25″
Width 1.35″
Height 5.5″
Weight 25.2 ounces (9 mm Luger); 27.5 ounces (.40 S&W)

The pistol offers 14 rounds of .40 firepower, dual magazine releases, ambidextrous slide locks, and well designed sights. It is clearly a viable personal and home defense handgun. Tucked into a Clinger holster, the FN 40 rides high and offers good concealment.

Are you a fan of the .40 S&W? How many magazines do you have for your daily carry or home defense pistol? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell


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Comments (14)

  • Biff

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    I have an FNS9C and several G19s, G23s. The .40 is a really nice round that I actually would like to shoot more than 9mm if it weren’t more money. The FNS handguns are really nice and as author indicates very accurate. I like that you don’t get case-in-the-face when shooting FNS9 as you do with G19 (I never thought that it would happen, thought those reports were on the fringe, then it started happening to me). Only things I don’t like about the FNS are price of mags and upgrade components. $44 for a mag is robbery. Also if you’re trying to upgrade with night sights, you’ll pay $50 more than you would for a comparable set for a Glock. The standard front sight of the FNS is really nice (BIG), suits my older eyes.

    Reply

  • Kierre Shoots

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    I would love to receive one

    Reply

  • Tom

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    My first .40 was a Sig P229R police trade in I got for a great deal. I was indifferent to the caliber and now I find myself shooting it more than 9mm which is what I exclusively had for many years. It’s a buyers market now for .40 pistols and ammunition since great deals can be had on trade-in target and hollow point rounds. If you’re on the fence with .40, do what I did and pick up a trade in pistol.

    Reply

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