A free market, aka good old capitalism, can be a roller coaster ride for businesses, consumers and economies. We have learned over the past couple of centuries of our wonderful experiment of the American idea of a free man and a free market. Like the freedom that belongs to man, the freedom that belongs to the market carries with it no guarantees. It can be a hostile and dangerous thing, and hopes and dreams can be realized and shattered. It can create and allow innovation and new ideas to flourish. Take the healthy burning fire of a free market and pour some jet fuel on it, and you have something like the firearms industry of the past decade.
What in the world does this have to do with a handgun review? Were it not for the panic market of the last eight years or so, the established gun makers would have continued to have a “members only” hold on the market and many of the newer companies and innovations would not have had fertile soil in which to grow. There is a downside to that, too. We have seen a market where almost anything can and will sell, simply because it’s on a nearly empty shelf.
As the gun market begins a period of correction, we will see a lot of those products and the companies that make them wither and die. One company that emerged during this past volatile decade that I think will thrive and grow is FMK Firearms.
Until the FMK 9C1 G2 arrived for testing and review, I had never handled or seen one of their products. My knowledge of the brand was of the “in passing” nature — I’d heard of it. So, it was without any preconceived notions or expectations that I took the pistol out to the range, along with a few hundred rounds of all types of ammo, and started shooting it. What happened next was possibly the best surprise I’ll have all year!
In general, the 9C1 is very Glock 19-ish (G19). The slide length, height and width are comparable to the G19. The sights that are mounted on the pistol are also the typical sights found on Glocks. FMK also packages a set of three dot sights in the box if you prefer that sight picture. Other similarities to the Austrian giant include the familiar slide lock takedown method, some very familiar design in the fire control group and a trigger safety. The latter of these has been innovated a bit from the traditional protruding polymer blade in the center of the trigger, to a wider and nicely curved protrusion that accomplishes the same function without the sharp feel. It feels so comfortable that it’s like a smooth-faced trigger.
The backstrap of the pistol fits the hand very naturally, and the understated finger grooves provide solid purchase without that bicycle handlebar grip feel that some have. The backstrap of the polymer grip frame is a rubber insert. It keeps the pistol in place and prevents slipping during shooting and absorbs a good bit of recoil. The 9C1 is simply a very nicely produced ergonomic handgun that no one over-engineered. Its simplicity is a refreshing thing of beauty.
If anyone got carried away when designing the 9C1, it might have been the folks designing the signage on the pistol. I say this with tongue in cheek, but there are several patriotic and pro-veteran slogans “tattooed” on the pistol. I admit that they do evoke a certain sense of pride when you handle the firearm and none of them are gaudy or annoying. In fact, the brand name FMK appears in only one place on the polymer frame, and it is subtle.
There are many differences between a $400 gun and a $2,000 gun — but basic functionality is not one of them. There is no firearm to which I will “allow for some malfunctions” and give the gun a passing grade. I take guns to the range to shoot — and they either do or they don’t. This one does … boy does it!
The sights are literally Glock standard clones, with the squared “U” painted around the rear notch and the ubiquitous white dot front sight. However, FMK includes a full set of three-dot replacement sights if you prefer those. Neither set is night sights; nor would I expect that in this price category. I left the stock sights on it, and the sight picture was comfortingly familiar. The grip of the pistol is good. Really good. Better than many. Holding the FMK felt as natural to me as holding a large spoon must feel to Rosie O’Donnell. It is smooth where it needs to be smooth, and it grips where it needs to grip. My fingers fell naturally into the gentle grooves of the handle, while the rubber backstrap planted the pistol into my palm like a donkey descending the Grand Canyon. The familiar Glock-like grip tang gives a high hold and creates a low bore axis.
I mentioned the trigger briefly above. Here is where we start to separate the budget guns from the really expensive ones. I didn’t expect the FMK pistol to have a short, crisp, smooth trigger. And it doesn’t. What it does have is that not-like-the-other-guys trigger safety that forms a completely new trigger face. Rather than a blade that can be quite agitating to some pressing into the soft pad of your finger, the 9C1 employs the same style mechanism with a shape that feels natural and smooth, like a trigger should. This went a long way toward making me forget that the pull was on the slightly heavy side and there was some grit. The break was more like snapping a 2×4 than a strand of raw spaghetti. Once I started shooting the gun, particularly when I increased my tempo the trigger felt fine.
My evaluation of the gun’s accuracy was essentially shooting several ammo types and brands offhand at 7 to 8 yards, testing it as a defensive weapon. And this is where I was really impressed. This little pistol is accurate! I could not find any ammunition that it didn’t like, and all the groups could be covered with my fist. No jams, no failures to feed or eject. The FMK 9C1 is a shooter!
Rested groups at 15 yards produced interesting results. A couple of spreads reached all the way past 7 inches with five shots, but no best three-shot group reached close to 2 inches. Performing best by a considerable margin was SIG Sauer’s 124-grain V-Crown defense load.
JUST MY OPINION
I will raise one small complaint about the 9C1. The magazine well has virtually no bevel to it, and it is a straight rectangular hole that the magazine fits perfectly into. Speed reloads would be challenging. And that’s not just a competition consideration (I doubt many will be considering this pistol for a match gun), but in the stress of self-defense, you don’t need any tests of fine motor skills. Secondly, the recoil spring seems to be a little on the weak side. I would put a stronger spring in it to not only mitigate some recoil impulse but I noticed it just barely wanted to return fully to battery occasionally. No failures, but too close for my liking.
The controls on the 9C1 are minimal, well placed and function nicely. The magazine disconnect is smooth and easy, the slide stop is sleek but easy to operate for locking and releasing the slide. The “pinch and pull” takedown (slide lock type like Glock) was a bit frustrating because it is difficult to hold onto.
Fix the recoil spring strength, and have the next mold add some flare and bevel to the magazine well, are the two suggestions I’d make. That said, this handgun is solid and reliable, damned accurate, and made right here in the USA by folks that are proud and patriotic. I give the FMK 9C1 a strong recommendation.
For more information about FMK 9C1 G2 pistols, click http://fmkfirearms.com/firearms/pistols/.
To purchase FMK pistols on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=FMK.