FNS 40: An Overlooked Champion

FNS 40 pistol atop a Syntech ammunition box

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.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (15)

  1. I own three FN FNS-40s. It is nearly a perfect gun. THE ONLY complaint I have is that while shooting, over the years, I squeezed the handle funny and dropped the mag. Happened a total of three times. So the mag release buttons could use deeper recession. Other than this issue, it is a dream to shoot. It is my favorite handgun, displacing my Colt Mark 4 series 80 Wilson Combat.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. IÔÇÖm looking for a compact. My favorite for hand feel was the 1911. Now it is FN and IÔÇÖm 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. IÔÇÖll 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.

  5. IÔÇÖve 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 donÔÇÖt like the whole debate.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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].

    1. 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!

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