The pistol in question is a striker-fired polymer frame pistol. That may seem ho hum in today’s world as there are many such handguns, although few with the pedigree of the Fabrique Nationale FNS 9.
For many years Fabrique Nationale Herstal produced the Belgium-made Browning rifles, pistols and shotguns sold in America. Today they manufacture modern handguns in Columbia, South Carolina. They also produce military wares in daily use by our warriors. The FN competes in a crowded market against good competition.
In the end, the FNS gives up nothing to its worthy competitors.
FNS 9 Features
The FNS 9 features a four-inch barrel, making it a little shorter than the Glock 17 as an example. It gives up little in velocity, balances well and clears leather quickly. The slide is stainless steel with a black coating. The pistol weighs just over 25 ounces empty. This gives it a good solid feel, makes it light enough to carry comfortably, but not whippy. It is among the best-balanced polymer-framed handguns. With an overall length of 7.25 inches and a height of 5.5 inches, it isn’t too large to conceal in a proper holster.
The FNS isn’t treading new territory in design and has good features that show intelligent engineering. The author’s range test notes included these features in particular:
- The ergonomics are excellent.
- The pistol feels better in the hand than most polymer-frame handguns.
- The combination of stippling and pebbling of the grip is ideal for good adhesion while not causing discomfort when firing heavy loads.
- While the gun includes two backstraps, I used it as issued and got along just fine.
- The pistol also comes with a lockable hard plastic box along with three magazines. Three magazines is a minimum for meaningful practice and service use.
My initial evaluation included a considerable amount of dry fire. After recently testing several compact and sub compact handguns it was nice to be able to wrap my hand around a pistol grip that was comfortable and hand filling. Trigger compression was on the heavy side at 7 pounds, clean with slight take-up and no hard spots. That is simply the double action only action that has become popular. It is a combat-worthy trigger as reset is fast enough and efficiency in rapid moving drills is there. After some evaluation, I like the trigger better than ever because there is no discernible over travel. Coupled with a rapid trigger reset, this allows good work on multiple targets and in rapid fire. The sights are low mount, with the popular white three-dot configuration. Nothing not to like and accuracy was good with these sights.
The pistol is friendly for use with either hand. The well-designed magazine release and slide stop is accessible from either side. The magazine release manipulation differs a little from most. It is straight in but it is larger than most buttons while remaining unobtrusive. The result is the ability for a trained user to make very rapid magazine changes.
This handgun has been fired a goodly amount to this point, at about 350 rounds without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. The pistol has demonstrated good handling and combat accuracy. I fired at man-sized silhouettes as quickly as possible at five, seven and 10 yards with good results.
With the proper cadence of fire, pressing the trigger, allowing the trigger to reset as you regain the sight picture, and continuing to fire, the pistol demonstrates good combat accuracy. You may fire the FNS as quickly and accurately at close range as any handgun. Without a decocker or a cocked hammer, it is not necessary to decock between firing strings…
- Change position
- Fire again
I accomplished most of the range work with the HPR 115-grain FMJ load, but also used a few HPR 9mm 115-grain JHP loads. Loaded in the ideal range for practice, this ammunition burns clean. It doesn’t take long to burn up 50 rounds when loading a 17-round magazine! Affordable ammunition is a lifesaver in training.
Moving to service grade ammunition I felt it necessary to proof the FNS with several types of ammunition, including 115-, 124- and 147-grain standard pressure loads and the +P load as well.
- I used the premium grade Fiocchi EXTREMA loading in 115- and 124-grain weight. The 115-grain load struck slightly below the point of aim at 10 yards, with the 124-grain EXTREMA striking dead on for point of aim. There were no failures of any type.
- Switching to the 147-grain JHP control was good; this was the mildest load test fired. I fired a 3-inch cluster for 10 rounds at 10 yards, off-hand, with this loading, showing the combination has excellent accuracy potential.
- Switching to loads from Hornady Custom, I fired a magazine of the Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain load. Results were good.
- The only +P load I have fired to date is the Hornady 135-grain Flex Lok +P. This load demonstrates an excellent combination of expansion and penetration. Results were good and despite heavier recoil, the FNS remained controllable.
In the end, I find a handgun that is reliable, accurate, well made and well worth its price. The FNS is a first class service grade defensive handgun.