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)

  • Kirk

    |

    I have two FNS 40s. They are my favorite pistols. There is just something about the grip thickness, size, texture that makes it feel like part of my hand. I’m looking for a compact. My favorite for hand feel was the 1911. Now it is FN and I’m going to check out the rest of their line. I prefer 40 to 9mm. I think of the 40 as a smaller 45 with twice the capacity and not as a bigger rival to the 9mm. My FNS40 is 14+1 and the FNS 9 is 17+1. I’ll take the greater firepower over three more cartridges anyday. If I get in a firefight where I need more than 15 founds three more are not going to save my butt.

    Reply

  • Dave

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    I’ve carried S&W .40 for 20 years now. Started with a S&W model 410 and collected a few Glocks along the way. Never had any trouble with any of them. They all like the Hornady Critical Duty or Sig JHP just fine. Enjoy what you shoot and let the other guy have his. I don’t like the whole debate.

    Reply

  • Frank Vazquez

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    Seems like a good bread and butter type product. I like things that are well designed, well made and work. This whole obsession with upgrading and customizing seems like a waste of money and handguns are not cheap to buy even as pain Jane, off the shelf fare.

    Not truly sold on the .40 versus say the 10mm or the round more familiar to most of us, the old and proven .45 caliber. I’m not against it per se, but everything has it’s use or purpose and then we humans have preferences and concerns of recoil, noise, cost and so on.

    Reply

  • Mitt Radates

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    I bought the FNP9 for it’s amazing accuracy at the range and later the FNS40 for it’s effectiveness at things that go bump in the night (it’s still a better gun than I am a shooter at the range). Both are superb at their respective jobs.

    Reply

  • COplinker

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    Thank you for the write up. I have a FNS9 and a FNS9L (Longslide). I LOVE shooting both of them. Of all of our striker fired polymer handguns, they are hands down my favorite. That says a lot as my family does do a lot of shooting, so we have Glocks, HK’s (VP9 and P30) and S&W MP 9. the FN is cheaper than most of them, I bought mine used, have never had a misfeed or malfunction of any kind, and they always shoot at least as tight of group as anything else.

    Interesting when you put one next to the new Glock 19X, similar in that they both have a full sized handle, but shorter barrel than some other 17 rounders.

    I really do not know why these FNS’s are not more popular, but that seems to work in my favor as we are slowly moving over to FNS from the other brands.

    Reply

  • Dave

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    I’ve had an FNS-40 for over a year now. It’s a great pistol, very reliable and accurate. The articulated trigger does take getting used to – it just felt weird when I first got it. The mags are almost works of art – the coloring on them is possibly the most attractive I’ve ever seen on any gun or gun part. I’ve never regretted buying this pistol.

    Reply

  • Tom

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    Smith and Wesson .40 m+p pro series with apex trigger is my carry of choice with winchester pdx1defender loaded

    Reply

  • The SGM

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    If I was to make a purchase It would be a SIG or a CZ over the FN.

    Reply

  • Karl

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    If I was going to a 40 caliber handgun,I’d go for the 10mm.In NY with its idiot 10 round limitation,I go for 45ACP or 10mm.Currently that’s a full size Glock 30 with tritium front sight and Lone Wolf barrel[for unjacketed projectiles].

    Reply

    • James

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      Sorry Karl but the Glock 30 is a subcompact pistol.I’m carrying a glock 36 that’s chambered in the old 45ACP.Not much bigger than my 43 but a much larger projectile!

      Reply

  • HW Stone

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    A “contender” I could consider, but “Champion” seems more than just a bit of a stretch.

    Reply

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