Recently, I wrote a review of six pistols made in Turkey. I came away from that exercise impressed with the quality of the guns made there, and the value they offered, when comparing prices to guns made in the U.S., Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, and Belgium. While attending a writer’s conference in early November, I was introduced to another Turkish pistol — the FXS-9 — this one being imported by American Tactical. Naturally, I wanted to review it.
There was a delay getting the guns to the U.S. due to the supply chain difficulties resulting from lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. All I could do was put in an order and wait. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long, and I got a sample just before Christmas.
When I opened the case and first held the gun in my hands, I was reminded of a time a few years back when I met a woman at a local gun range to conduct her shooting proficiency exercise for the Texas License to Carry. While we were waiting for a lane to become available, I asked her what pistol she was going to use for the exercise.
She opened her range bag and pulled out a handgun which she cleared and handed to me. Her pistol was an FN FNX 9mm. The gun felt so comfortable in my hands that I didn’t want to give it back to her. I handle a lot of guns, but I don’t recall any other handgun that had that effect on me. I can’t describe it any other way than to say the gun felt as if it were a part of me.
This gun, the FXS-9, made by AĞAOĞLU HAVACILIK VE SAVUNMA SANAYİ (AGAOGLU Aviation and Defence Industry) (shortened to AHSS on the slide) and imported by American Tactical, Inc., of Summerville, SC, had that same effect on me.
I’m not weird (at least I don’t think I am), but it’s now three weeks since I got the FXS-9, and the entire time I’ve kept it close by and picked it up often just to hold it. I dry fire it a lot. Sometimes, I just hold it across my chest. Other times, I switch it from one hand to the other.
I know some of you who really love guns know what I’m talking about. You may not admit it, afraid you’ll find yourself on the way to the funny farm, but I know in rare instances you do. Something about the engineering and design of certain guns that gives us a real appreciation for them. I can understand that with a $6,000 custom gun, but this is a $350 import.
ATI FXS-9 Features
Okay, time to come back down to earth and give you a professional assessment and review of the AHSS/American Tactical FXS-9 handgun. The FXS-9 is a striker-fired handgun weighing 29.5 ounces with an empty magazine. It is 7.45 inches long and 5.6 inches high.
By comparison, a Glock 19 Gen 4 weighs 23.63 ounces with an empty magazine and is 7.28 inches long and 5.04 inches high. So, the FXS-9 is ever so slightly larger, and heavier, than the world’s most popular defensive handgun. However, the difference is not substantial enough that you would notice it while shooting or carrying either gun.
The FXS-9’s grip was formed perfectly for a comfortable and secure handhold. Three interchangeable backstraps were also included — small, medium, and large. The medium-sized one fit me perfectly. The backstrap was easily swapped out using a hammer and small punch to drive out a retaining pin. The retaining pin doubles as a lanyard clip point, which may be helpful in some police/military applications.
The side panels texturing was similar to the surface on a scooter or skateboard — offering enough friction for a secure grip but not so much that it was painful. The front and back strap both had horizontal grooves with a checkered surface. The combination provided a secure grip that was not harsh enough to hurt my hands during long shooting sessions.
At the top of the grip surface are grooves for your thumb and trigger finger that guides them to the right place. There was just enough of a beavertail to help with recoil, without getting in the way.
The trigger guard was undercut where it joined the frame at the rear. The undercut design allows the shooter to get a higher grip on the frame. The front of the trigger guard was straight with grooves that matched those on the front strap.
There was a brief hook at the bottom front. These design features accommodate those of us who like to stabilize our grip by extending the forefinger of our non-shooting hand to the front of the trigger guard for added stability. If you don’t think that’s a good idea, just ignore what was done there. It won’t stop you from wrapping your finger around the grip.
Moving forward, I noted a three-slot Picatinny rail where it was supposed to be. The front of the slide was beveled to assist in holstering and there were cocking serrations on the front of the slide to go with those on the back. The front serrations are only on the bottom half of the slide. Looking at that, I thought it was a disadvantage. However, when I tried it, I was surprised at how well it worked for a press check or to fully rack the slide.
Speaking of racking the slide, a quick inspection revealed that the slide stop lever was rather small. However, it was shaped in a way that extended slightly from the frame and was easy to operate with my thumb.
At the rear of the slide, I found an ambidextrous safety lever that flipped on and off easily. I tend not to use that type of manual safety on a pistol. That being said, this one was located in such a manner that it was easy to use. All I can say is, if you want to, use it. It will be easy enough to ignore if you don’t.
At the rear of the slide was a striker-cocked indicator in the form of a small button with a red tip. There was also a chamber-loaded indicator on the right side near the ejection port.
The trigger was slightly curved with a blade safety. It broke at 5 pounds — after a .25-inch take-up. You’re going to love this trigger. It reminded me of the Walther PDP trigger. It was done nicely. There was a tactile reset after the .25-inch let off, making it easy to squeeze off follow-up shots as needed. The sights were steel, mounted in dovetails so they were both drift adjustable. The sights were easy to see. They were a three-dot sight type that is common with tritium night sights. While they looked that way due to the color, they were not night sights — just well-made and easy to see.
Accuracy and Handling
My grandson and I took the FXS-9 to the range the first time to determine reliability and accuracy as a carry gun. The gun range was crowded, because school was out and the weather was nice, so we wound up on a 50-yard range with electronically moveable targets. All our shooting was freehand and most of it at the 10-yard line.
Our 4-inch targets were filled with holes and there weren’t many strays. We had 200 rounds to shoot — a mixture of hollow point and ball, most of it Norma because that’s what we’ve been able to get lately. No complaints about Norma ammunition. I like Norma’s MHP rounds for personal protection and its range ammo for practice. This time a new frangible round was added to the mix.
After that first range session, I knew I would carry the gun, so two questions remained. I needed to find a holster, and decide on the best defensive rounds from today’s currently available sources to carry in it. Whenever a new gun hits the market, there is usually a wait for fitting holsters unless it’s from a major brand and had a lot of pre-release promotion going on. This is a gun that will have to make its way in the market, which I’m confident it will. Meanwhile, I tried some of my old standby holsters made for the SIG P226, and they all worked fine.
You know how a gun sometimes has a favorite ammo; one that it groups just a little tighter than all others? It may be the brand or bullet weight that you credit the better performance to, so I decided to put this gun through its paces with an assortment of 115-, 124-, and 147-grain FMJ ammo. Then I switched to hollow points with the same grains weights to test the performance, just to see if there was a trend.
I ordered the needed ammo, and when it arrived I had marked and arranged my targets so I was ready to breeze through the exercise. I probably should have cleaned the gun first. However, it ran fine with the 115-, 124-, and 147-grain FMJ, but twice it refused to load the first round of 124-grain hollow point into the gun.
I’m pretty sure it was the magazine, but since the gun only shipped with one, I didn’t have another to try. It was a nosedive issue which was resolved both times by raising the nose of the cartridge with my pocketknife.
It’s a shame the problem manifested with the 124-grain hollow points because that was the cartridge that grouped best for the gun. In fact, one of my five-round targets had four rounds overlaying and the fifth just a flinch away. My fault on that one. Is American Tactical’s FXS-9 a good carry gun? Yes. I’ll clean it and run some more 124-grain just to verify. There were no other failures of any kind, and the accuracy was what is expected from a self-defense gun.