Review: FN 509 Pistol — A Favorite for Many Reasons    

FN 509 9mm pistol lying on a bed of grass

The FN 509 first caught my eye several years ago. I was meeting with a client to do her shooting proficiency exercise for the Texas License to Carry course. This young lady was pregnant and had been advised by her doctor to avoid the type of lead exposure she might find at a public gun range with lots of shooters. Consequently, we reserved some time, so she would be the only shooter on the range.

As we were waiting for our slot and talking about the upcoming exercise, I asked her what she would be shooting. Rather than answer me with words, she reached in her gun bag, pulled out her pistol, cleared it and handed it to me. I had owned an FNH pistol a few years earlier and currently owned an FNX, but this was my first exposure to one of FN America’s FN 509s.

FN 509 9mm pistol, left profile
FN 509 mid-size compares in size with the Glock 19, Smith and Wesson M&P, SIG Sauer P229, and other guns that fill the role of a mid-size carry gun.

When it came time for us to move to the shooting lane and for me to hand the client her gun, it felt so good in my hand that I didn’t want to. I jokingly said something like, “This is my gun now. I don’t know what you’re going to shoot.” Of course, I gave her gun back and she shot it well as she qualified for the License to Carry.

There was no justification at the time for me to get an FN 509 of my own. I had plenty of handguns, and this was before I was a regular gun reviewer and writer. However, I sure liked and remembered how that 509 felt in my hands.

Another Shot

Sometime last year, while I was in a local gun store for a transfer, I noticed a FN 509 on display and asked to see it. From that time until a couple of weeks ago, the gun had been on display just to tease me. I’m a low budget gun collector. I normally add guns to my collection when I’m able to purchase them at a reduced price from the manufacturers after writing a review. I can usually spring for a $300 or $400 gun, but a $600 gun needs a lot of justification.

This $600 gun was like a puppy at an adoption center barking, “Take me! Take me!” every time I went in the store. Finally, the day came when I’d had a strong week’s sales and one of the guys who went to the store with me was buying a gun. I looked at the little puppy, petted it a few times, and told the clerk who was filling out his part of the 4473 for the review gun I was picking up, “Go ahead and add this FN 509 to the transfer form.”

Now that I had this FN 509, I wondered what it was that made me really want it, and whether I made a good decision? For starters, my FNX pistol is a .40 S&W, and I’m leaning more and more towards 9mm handguns these days. Other than the FNX 40, I didn’t currently have an FN pistol, and to me that seemed a big void in the collection. But I wondered how useful the FN 509 would be to me?

hinged trigger safety in the FN 509 9mm gun
The hinged trigger safety guards against unintended discharge. The trigger must be pulled all the way back for the gun to fire.

509 Features

Well, it’s a good carrying size. At 7.4 inches length, 5.2 inches height, 1.35 inches width, 26.5 ounces weight, and a 15 + 1 capacity, the FN 509 midsize is right there with the Glock 19, Smith and Wesson M&P, SIG Sauer P229, and other mid-size guns that I’m comfortable carrying in an IWB holster at the 3 to 4 o’clock position.

I have several holsters that fit the FN 509. The gun draws well from the holster and its presentation is enhanced by several factors. Number one is the grip. My gun shipped with two backstraps, and the smaller one resulted in what I’d call a perfect grip with the correct reach for the trigger finger. The sights are bold and white in the daylight and have tritium inserts that glow in the dark.

The trigger pull is 5.5 pounds, with a smooth pull and a clean break. The slide lock and mag release controls are ambidextrous. My gun doesn’t have a manual safety, but that is an option that can be purchased. All FN 509s have three built-in safeties that remain engaged until the trigger finger pulls the trigger rearward.

Controls (magazine release, slide stop, takedown lever) on the FN 509
Controls on the FN 509 are designed to facilitate concealment, yet offer solid, easy-to-manipulate function for the user.

Other things that really set the FN 509 apart include the front and rear cocking serrations that are deep enough to provide a solid grip when racking the slide. A band of red at the lower rear portion of the extractor displays as a loaded chamber indicator when the tip of the extractor is displaced by a cartridge in the chamber. The Picatinny rail ahead of the trigger guard has four slots — plenty for mounting a light or laser or combination.

Taking the FN 509 apart for cleaning and maintenance is a simple process. After checking to ensure the gun is unloaded, lock the slide back, drop the magazine and rotate the takedown lever that’s just above the trigger guard clockwise about 100 degrees. Then, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, pull the trigger while pushing the slide forward. It will slide right off the frame. Compress and remove the recoil spring, then remove the barrel.

The gun was dry (as it came from the store). I put a drop of oil here and there, reassembled it, and texted my shooting buddies to schedule a range trip.

Field stripped FN 509 9mm pistol
Taking the FN 509 apart for cleaning is a simple process facilitated by a rotating takedown lever on the left side of the gun.

Range Testing

For testing, I gathered 100 rounds of reloads, three brands of FMJ, and four brands of JHP defensive ammo. Two shooters were there to share the shooting fun, and fun it was. You’d think a guy who shoots holes in paper a couple of times a week, week in and week out, would get tired of the repetition. Sometimes I do, but it’s the different guns that make it interesting. Shooting a gun such as the FN 509 keeps the game interesting because it operates like a well-oiled machine.

I did oil it, right? I’m not sure the oil was responsible for the fun we had, putting round after round in tight little groups on our targets. The sights were easy to see and align properly, the trigger never got in the way of a smooth shot being fired.


Reset was quick and easy, and recovery was almost automatic. I’m attempting to use these words to explain the smiles on our faces as we put the FN 509 through its paces. It’s a gun that makes a decent shooter look good and could make a good shooter become a champion.

Although FN Herstal is a Dutch company, pistols such as the FN 509 are made in America at the FNUSA plant in Columbia, South Carolina. A model of the FN 509 — like the one I have but with a mini red dot sight added — is now the firearm in use by the Los Angeles Police Department. I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsement.

I’m impressed enough with it to make it my carry gun for a while. I’m using a DeSantis Gunhide Vanquisher IWB holster, which is a generic, medium-frame, semi-auto holster that is comfortable to wear and carries the gun securely when mounted on my nylon, tactical ratchet belt made by Nexbelt.

FN 509 9mm handgun with a bow of Norma ammunition on a paper target with bullet holes
The FN 509 makes a decent shooter look good and could make a good shooter become a champion.

Final Thoughts

When picking a FN 509 from an online catalog (CheaperThanDirt!), there are lots of options. Compact or full-size, black or FDE, standard model or tactical with threaded barrel. Then there’s the Edge model that is set up for competition. With any of them, a certain amount of pride of ownership goes with owning a gun built by the company John M. Browning partnered with for his foray into Europe. Today’s FN pistols have all the European emphasis on utility and quality but are made in America by Americans.

What do you think of the FN 509? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

  • FN 509 9mm handgun with a bow of Norma ammunition on a paper target with bullet holes
  • FN 509 9mm handgun atop a zippered canvas carrying case
  • FN 509 9mm pistol lying on a bed of grass
  • Sight picture showing tritium might sights
  • FN 509 9mm handgun, right profile
  • hinged trigger safety in the FN 509 9mm gun
  • Controls (magazine release, slide stop, takedown lever) on the FN 509
  • Field stripped FN 509 9mm pistol

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
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 (6)

  1. So… it basically looks like the S&W SD.
    Before the M&P and Sigma but similar to the SDVE. I’d buy it but, and that’s a big butt….🤣 it doesn’t look all that impressive. Can’t justify the purchase of the FN… wife won’t let me.

  2. Dear all;
    In the past 3 years bought 3 FN509C, two black one FDE.

    We are super happy with them because they are reliable, and easy to maintain. Keep them always oiled and ready.

    Why FN? Of course the look of those babies, simply elegant, but deadly: and because Walther disappointed us, did not like SiG for 1 minute, and everyone plus their cousin have a simpleton Glock.

    All 3 babies have gone through more than a 1000 rounds each with zero disappointment.

    Thank you all

  3. I always thought Fabrique Nationale was locayed in Liege,Belgium. That is certainly not Dutch,as in located in Holland or The Netherlands. With that being said,I thought the rest of the article was good. It does make me interested in the FN509

  4. FN pistols maybe similar in size to glocks,S&W etc,but not in price.I will stick with my glocks and S&W.

  5. Looking at the FN 510 currently.
    I’m an owner of the FN FNX.45, And I’m Quite happy with it. This is my Daily Carry in a Crossbreed OWB holster, yes, a 16 shot .45 under a Tshirt and it conceals well on my large frame.

  6. “The Herstal Group, based on the same location as FN Herstal in Belgium, covers the operations of two distinct divisions:
    the Defence and Security division, through FN Herstal brand
    the Hunting and Sports shooting division, through its Browning and Winchester firearms* brands, designs, develops, manufactures and sells firearms, ammunition, clothing and accessories to hunting enthusiasts and sports shooters worldwide.

    I had the great honor of touring the FN Columbia, SC plant with my father-in-law, a WWII Battle of the Bulge veteran. The barrel hammer-mill was most impressive!

    Belgian… not Dutch…

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