Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Technical discussions relating to specific firearms.

Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:54 pm

I recently took TacDynamics' Defensive Handgun 1 course at Ashaway. For the course, I brought my FNX-45 along since I had a bunch of 45acp on hand and not much 9mm (which would have let me bring my SP2022 which I carry much more often). In taking that class amongst a bunch of glock guys (minus an XD, a VP9, a CZ and a 1911), I started really questioning my firmly held belief that DA/SA was the way to go. This was mostly due to the fact that in double action, I was throwing my first shot mostly low and left. Granted, the FNX is not the nicest DA trigger I've shot (the 2022 is better, and some revolvers are way better), but it made me really think about how I'd shoot it under stress.

One of the biggest merits of a truly GOOD course (and good instructors, I'll add) is that you'll leave not only knowing what WORKS, but more importantly what may NOT work.

In single action, my shots grouped pretty well, given that it was the same trigger pull every time. Even the transition from DA to SA wasn't a problem. My DA shot would fly, but then transitioning to SA, the lighter pull helped keep my sights lined up and the consistency of pull kept my shots where I wanted them. Thus I began questioning whether I was handicapping myself with the DA/SA trigger system.

Now, on a better note the ergos and grip texture of the FNX really worked well for me. I did end up changing the radiused backstrap out for the flat one, because I figured the sheer size of the grip section of the frame from front to rear was keeping my trigger finger from getting good leverage on the trigger. All FN pistols do come with interchangeable backstraps, by the way.

So to make a long story short(er), I ended up ordering up an FNS 9mm in as similar trim to my DA/SA SP2022 as I could get. The only thing the FN doesn't have is a two-tone color scheme which I was not about to pay an extra $100 for. 3 dot night sights with a nice wide U-notch rear, fully ambidextrous controls including a manual safety and 3x 17rd magazines are standard with the pistol. There is a model available without the manual safety. I paid $575 out the door from Heritage. I chose the manual safety to keep the manual of arms as similar to the FNX as possible, and it certainly is. The tactile point of the safety switch on the FNS is in almost the exact same spot as the lever on the FNX, and it's big enough to be easy to operate, but low profile enough to not interfere with my firing grip like an extended 1911 safety or an HK45/USP safety.

Takedown is very easy, but it DOES require pulling the trigger to take it down. Drop mag, lock back slide, rotate takedown lever. Bring slide back forward, and keeping the rear of the slide aligned with rear of frame, pull trigger, then pull slide forward to disassemble. Reassembly is straightforward and the same steps in reverse.

The trigger is pretty nice, a long take-up but a very clean break and not super heavy. FN quotes that every pistol falls between 5.5 and 7.5 lbs, and I'd take a wild-ass guess that mine falls right in the middle of that range. Despite the long take-up on the initial pull, the reset is really, really short and very nicely audible and tactile. This is all in dry fire, and I have not yet fired the gun.

I cleaned it up, and loaded one mag with 17rds of Hornady Critical Duty 135gr+P hollow points to get an idea of the full weight of it. I cannot believe how light this gun feels. Truthfully, it feels lighter with 17 in the mag than my Sp2022 does with only 15 in the mag. The FNS is about equal in grip length/overall height but over half an inch shorter in overall length. Essentially, the SP2022 is closer to a 226 in size, and the FNS is a little more like a 229. The sight radius is about as long as it could be with night sights, with the rear sight basically flush with the back of the slide and the front sight slightly over 1/2" from flush with the front of the slide. I would still consider the FNS to be a full-size service pistol as its dimensions really don't fit into the 'compact' category. Certainly on the lower end of the full size spectrum, with guns like the FNX45, G21, 92FS and 226 at the top end of that spectrum.

They also happened to have a P320 when I was there today, which was even less money than the FNS. After handling it, it feel nice in the hand, but the trigger on my FNS is significantly better, which I was surprised at. I have also handled a VP9 and that definitely gets the edge in grip comfort and maybe even trigger, but I found the dots on the HK night sights to be pretty small, and it does not have a manual safety option which I wanted, and the HK is also a bit more money and only comes with 2 mags vs. 3, and with mags costing upwards of 40-50 dollars each, that's significant.

Overall I am extremely happy with the purchase. Trigger time will tell if this will end up replacing the 2022 as my main carry piece, and maybe even necessitate dumping the 2022 all together. I will however be sticking with the FNX45 for my nightstand/HD pistol. DA/SA and a gun that large just make sense in that role, and I shoot it very, very well. I'm hoping that functionality translates to the FNS as well.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby newportri » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:19 pm

Thanks for another great review and I look forward to hearing how it shoots.
Do you know if they offer after market triggers yet or if they are easy to tune? Dave Sevigny is a pro shooter with FNH and shoots the FNS-9 and I am sure he has better trigger than the factory?
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:37 pm

newportri wrote:Thanks for another great review and I look forward to hearing how it shoots.
Do you know if they offer after market triggers yet or if they are easy to tune? Dave Sevigny is a pro shooter with FNH and shoots the FNS-9 and I am sure he has better trigger than the factory?


As of now the only trigger adjustment I know of for the FNS (or FNX for that matter) is by way of sear modification.

Polishing the sear surfaces in the FNX brings the SA pull from 5-1/2 down to 4 or less.

Midwest gun works doesn't really advertise it, but they will take FNS and FNX pistols in for an action package. They have stated that they can get the FNS down to a 4 lb pull, which IMO would be really sweet.

Truthfully, if my experience means anything the trigger should smooth over after a few hundred rounds or so. The FNX certainly did, as did almost all of my previous pistols. I have approaching 1000 rounds through the FNX45 and the trigger is noticeably better. I'm hoping the same will be true with the FNS.

I plan on buying 2 more mags for it (at $44.99 a piece), maybe a holster but one of my old 228/229 holsters actually seems to work quite well with it. I carried it today more for figuring out how it feels (would normally never carry a new gun without firing it first) and it's incredible how light it is on the belt even with a full 17rd mag.

I need to get it to the range to run a few of the rounds my uncle loaded for me to see what works. He loaded them with a few different OAL's, so once I fire off those first 50 and determine which ones don't work, I'll be able to have him load 950 more to throw in the stockpile from existing components. I plan to also get a case each of factory 9mm, 45acp and 223/5.56 to bring my total up to at least 1500rd on hand for each caliber I own, minus Shotgun.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby newportri » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:40 pm

I think you will be very happy shooting a striker fired gun. I was in the same boat as you with as far as preference to the type of action in a firearm and liked the DA/SA (my first handgun was a Taurus 92). I liked the idea that in case I had a light strike I could just pull the trigger again. I also liked a manual safety and I never really had any issues taking of the safety. It wasn't until I started shooting USPSA/IDPA that I realized how much more I liked shooting a striker fired gun than a DA/SA gun due to the constant trigger pull. I hope you also get a chance to start shooting USPSA/IDPA since that'a a lot of fun and REALLY good practice. The New England Regional match is a really good IDPA match with a lot of cool stages. For example, there was one stage you had to knock out the front window (was really just a sheet of plywood) and shoot bad guys through the front and also side windows. It is definitely different sitting down in a a cramped environment and shoot out of three different windows on moving (turning) targets. They also have low light and no light stages where you have to use your flash light.
The season is almost over, but they often has introduction courses at Rod and Gun Clubf of New Bedford that are very good that I can recommend if you are thinking about getting into action pistol.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:22 pm

Late update, I took the FNS and my new AR build out to midstate a week or two ago. Expensive but much needed range trip.

The FNS was great. Grip that I know I love from experience with my FNX45, the trigger started to smooth out within the 180rd I put through it, and the night sights are really nice, at least to my eye. Chances are it will get swapped to Trijicon HDs (I plan to on all of my pistols eventually), but for now they work.

The gun is definitely extremely accurate. The barrel is Cold Hammer Forged stainless steel, and it shows. If I do my part, the thing is a laser. FN advertises a trigger from 5.5 to 7.5lbs, mine was probably right in the middle if I had to make a wild guess. A little creep, and the initial takeup is long, but the reset is nice and short, tactile and audible. Double taps are boring with this gun. It's almost as tall as it is long, so the leverage in controlling recoil is really good. This even with some anemic handholds my uncle gave me (to check what OALs the gun likes, some wouldn't even lock the slide back on empty mag) or some slightly more potent federal range ammo. The gun doesn't like stuff loaded to short OALs, but upon clearing the malfunction and rechambering, it fired it just fine. I'm just thinking it needs to run in a little more before it'll eat anything you throw at it. The gun stayed very clean. I plan to run as many rounds though it as I can with nothing more than a wipe down with CLP and a microfiber towel in between range trips just to see how reliable it is in adverse condition. I've actually got a little bet going with a member on SigForum who likes to poke fun at my trading habits, that I will keep the FNS9 full size for (at least) one whole year, and put 2500 rounds through it in that time. Both as a bet on my trading habits and also because I've been a big proponent of the FN pistols where others have been automatically dismissing anything they come out with. If I win, the member will purchase 2 FN factory mags for me, at $44.99 a piece, either for the full size or the compact. I intend to win :mrgreen:

Carrying the FNS is very easy. Even with 17rd on board, it's still pretty light. It works best IWB or OWB in my opinion. I did purchase a High Noon appendix IWB holster for it and while it works for when you're standing, it's just a little too big for really comfortable AIWB carry, especially when seated/driving.

As a matter of fact, I like it so much, that I ordered the newly released FNS compact. It's sitting at heritage on layaway as we speak, didn't order it with night sights since I'm likely going to swap them anyway, street price was $480 out the door including heritage's cut and 7% RI sales tax. It's about a half an inch shorter in length and height, but still has 12rd on board and can use the same 17rd mags as the full size, with an adapter which is included. It's pretty much G26 sized, but with enough extra length on it to get the pinky on it. I held a G26 and hated it because of it's combination of width and 2 finger grip, so I'm thinking the FNSc is going to be better. Truthfully, the best size comparison for it is a Sig P239, which only holds 7rd of 9mm being a single stack.

All in all, I'm very pleased with my two FN pistols and look forward to much of the same with the compact.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby newportri » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:01 pm

The FNS9 compact also looks like a nice pistol and I think it will be popular. FNH doesn't list the width, can you measure it?
The G26 with a pinky extension gives you pretty much the same grip as the fns-9 compact.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:42 pm

newportri wrote:The FNS9 compact also looks like a nice pistol and I think it will be popular. FNH doesn't list the width, can you measure it?
The G26 with a pinky extension gives you pretty much the same grip as the fns-9 compact.


Once I have it in hand, I certainly will. Probably won't be home with me for a couple weeks, though. I'm guessing though that it's basically the full size frame just cut down, which would mean the full size's 1.55" width would also apply to the compact.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:06 pm

Can't believe I forgot to update this. Was able to bring home the FNS9c the other day and man do I love this little thing. I still need to get it out to the range for some proving rounds, but initial impressions are incredible.

In regards to the width, it is in fact identical to the full size at 1.55". FYI, Glock lists the G26 at 1.18, but that's SLIDE width, not overall widest point, which is how the FN is measured. Here's the full size and compact side by side:

Image

With the 17rd mag and gap plug inserted the grip is the same exact length as the full size, but with a 3.5" barrel instead of a 4" barrel. It also came with 2x 12rd mags, one with a finger extension and one without. The extension is a separate part and can be swapped from mag to mag as you see fit, and hopefully can be ordered separately as well. The flush/flat baseplate does not allow a full 3 finger grip on the frame.

Grip length comparison minus mag:

Image

I actually held it next to a G26 at Heritage and they're pretty identical in size. Also very close to an M&P9c. You can also see in this picture that the full size has a little more of a tail on it than the compact does, which I really am glad they shaved away because it is one less thing to add to the dimensions of the smaller gun.

And of course, a new family photo:

Image

The angle makes it a little hard to see, and truthfully even looking at them side by side the difference doesn't look massive. But I'm here to tell you, in terms of off-body (backpack pocket etc), AIWB, jacket pocket carry, the compact is light years easier to conceal. This will likely relegate the full size to IWB only duty, because the compact is just that much easier to carry.

You can see the differences in length if you look at the muzzle ends of the slides, and the bottom portions of the grips. That's where it got cut down, about .75" in grip length and .5" in slide/barrel length.
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby newportri » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:56 pm

Nice family photo!
Is it a FNX-45 on the right with a safety/decocker?
Is it a safety only on the FNS9 (middle pic I believe)?
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Re: Lap Top Review: FNH FNS-9

Postby jcat » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:53 pm

newportri wrote:Nice family photo!
Is it a FNX-45 on the right with a safety/decocker?
Is it a safety only on the FNS9 (middle pic I believe)?


Yes, from left to right:

-FNS9c, no manual safety

-FNS9 full size, manual safety

-FNX45 (non-tac) DA/SA w/ decocker


Explanation on the presence (or lack thereof) of the safety. I went with the manual safety on the full size 9 because it's a similar muscle memory to the safety on the FNX45, but mainly because it's my first striker gun (2nd technically, though I never shot the M&P40 I had) in the carry lineup and I wanted to make sure that I could put it on safe for holstering etc. at least for a while. I also will likely use the full size in further training courses and it's nice to be able to throw it on safe if need be. It's so low profile that it doesn't get in the way and can be left off all the time as if it wasn't even there, so I figured why not get it (zero additional cost) and use it as a training aid. It would be impossible to accidentally activate. For the compact, I knew it was going to be a carry specific piece, and so I decided against the manual safety with the KISS principle in mind. Eventually I want to get away from using the safety on the full size, and so it's one more step toward a basically identical manual of arms across all 3 platforms (manipulating the safety lever becomes the exception rather than the rule) while giving me a little peace of mind in between.

I have to say that the 45 is still my favorite but also the one I have the most experience with. So long as it stays reliable (I imagine that if something was going to go bad, it would have within the first 1000 rounds) I just don't think it can be beat by anything on the market right now as a nightstand pistol. That may rapidly change though, as I get more into the striker fired realm.

I've already said that should anything go wrong with these pistols, the 9mms will get replaced by Sig P320s, and the 45 will get replaced by an HK45 in light LEM. For right now though, and 1700 rounds worth of experience between the 45 and full size 9, they look like they will be just fine.
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