In my mind, there are certain handguns with a well-defined role. The best of these may be pressed into use in a chore they were not expressly designed for. A .22 for plinking may be minimal. A .22 pistol for target shooting must be more accurate.
A rabbit shooter should be accurate and light enough for field carry. A .22 for tactical training should mimic a defensive centerfire handgun as closely as possible. The FN 502 may be the latter, intended for use as a tactical trainer.
At the same time, the FN 502 is a sterling plinker and accurate enough for small game. It is a versatile and useful firearm. It is pricier than most .22 caliber pistols, but then, it is among the most useful. I like this piece a lot and find it a well-mannered, reliable, and accurate handgun.
Design and Features
The FN 502 reflects FN’s desire to offer a rimfire version of its successful centerfire handguns. The pistol is similar to FN’s 9mm handguns in outline and profile. The pistol features a suppressor-ready barrel and optics cut, in the same manner as the more expensive centerfire handguns.
Hammer-fired rimfire handguns are more reliable — according to engineers. The 502 is a single-action, hammer-fired pistol. It takes more force to ignite rimfire priming compound. Realistically, a rimfire will never be as reliable as a centerfire cartridge.
The 502 features a rowel hammer and ambidextrous safety levers. The pistol features a compact grip with a 10-round flush fit magazine. The extended magazine holds 14 cartridges. The pistol features an optics mounting platform with adaptors for the popular red dot sight footprints.
Disassembly is simple enough. Be certain the pistol is unloaded! First, remove the magazine. Then, lock the slide to the rear, and check the chamber. The takedown lever, located in front of the slide lock, is rotated to release the slide.
While the pistol is a simple blowback action, the barrel is not fixed and may be removed from the slide along with the recoil assemblies. So, the Umarex-built pistol is similar in profile to the 509 series but features a design that is friendly to the .22 Long Rifle cartridge.
The utility of a .22 caliber handgun for practice is a valid modern concept. The pistol allows firing drills that would be more expensive with centerfire ammunition. While this is true, it is also true that a good quality .22 opens the door to a world of shooting opportunity. Plinking and small game hunting are among these.
The FN 502 is accurate enough for any of these pursuits. I originally purchased the FN 502 based on experience with other FN products. I admit that I begrudged the price a bit, but you get your money’s worth with this pistol. Accuracy and reliability are well above average. There is an attention to detail and quality that equals the price point. Handling is simply superb.
The steel 4.6-inch barrel is nicely rifled and finished. Lightweight material was used throughout the 502. You don’t need heavy, forged steel to contain the pressure of a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. However, you do need a lighter mass slide to ensure reliable function with the light recoil impulse of the 40-grain .22 Long Rifle.
A neat trick is that the FN 502 runs well with a wide range of ammunition. Getting proper function with a .22 Long Rifle is a tough engineering feat. Add the additional weight of an optic and you’ll have another issue.
The handle is similar to the FN 509 9mm compact. The handle features a good balance of adhesion and abrasion. The single-action trigger breaks at a clean four pounds with good reset and little loose motion. The pistol features a threaded barrel.
Accuracy and Handling
The evaluation was done in two parts. First, I fired the pistol without a red dot sight. Accuracy and function were excellent. However, due to the pistol’s suppressor ready (tall) sight, which allows the shooter to co-witness sights and dot, the pistol fires high. No matter the range or the hold, the FN 502 fires at least two inches high.
Accuracy potential is high. You may purchase standard height sights for less than $60 or go all the way with XS night sights. I continued the initial firing session confirming reliability with a good mix of .22 Long Rifle High Velocity.
The magazines are easily loaded featuring a button that depresses the follower. Load the magazines one cartridge at a time and you will enjoy complete reliability. Don’t attempt to hold the follower down and dump ammunition into the magazine.
MeoSight IV Specifications
Objective diameter: 24×17mm
Dot size: 3 MOA
Battery: CR1632 3V
Battery lifetime: 30,000 hours
Transmission: ≥ 80%
Impact per click (in/100 yds): 1.04
Impact per click: 1 MOA
Elevation range (in/100 yds): 126
Elevation range: 120 MOA
Windage range (in/100 yds): 126
Windage range: 120 MOA
Length: 1.89 inches
Depth: 1.41 inches
Width: 1.22 inches
Weight: 1.2 ounces
Anti-reflective coating: Yes
Anti-scratch coating: Yes
Hydrophobic coating: Yes
After the initial evaluation, I chose to mount a Meopta MeoSight IV red dot. I have enjoyed excellent results with Meopta products. Using one of the pistol’s supplied plates, I mounted the Docter footprint MeoSight. After a minimal effort in sighting in, I had enjoyed superior speed and accuracy.
FN 502 Specifications
Caliber: .22 LR
Mag capacity: 10 or 15 rounds
Sights: Suppressor/optics-height iron sights with optics-ready slide
Weight: 23.7 ounces
Barrel: 4.6 inches, threaded 1/2×28″
Overall length: 7.6 inches
Height: 5.8 inches
Width: 1.4 inches
Finish: Black or FDE
Trigger pull: 4.0 pounds
Firing out to 25 yards, the 502 delivered excellent accuracy. Using the dimmest dot setting at 25 yards, I was able to fire several groups of 1.5 inches for five shots. Most of the ammunition expended was the Remington Golden Bullet.
We also fired a couple of boxes of Aguila RNL load. At this point, the pistol has gone 420 rounds without any problem — sort of a record for a self-loading rimfire handgun. I am pleased with the FN 502. As we may say, quality remains when the price is forgotten.