A $400 Surprise: FMK 9C1 G2 Compact 9mm – Full Review

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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.

The FMK 9C1 G2 may be one of the best handguns for the price on the market.

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.

The FMK 9C1 is available in several frame colors and is one of the best values in the handgun market. Photo Courtesy: FMK

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!

THE SPECS

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 FMK seems to perform best with full power self-defense ammo, like this SIG Sauer Elite Performance. There’s a lot to be said about performing your best when the stakes are the highest.

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.

RANGE TIME

The author was pleased with what a good shooter the FMK 9C1 G2 is.

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 trigger 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.

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.

Magazines drop free and function great, but the magwell could use some bevel for easier reloads.

 

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

With the ejected case just inches from the gun, the FMK’s sights are back on target for the follow-up shot.

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.

From 15 yards, SIG Sauer’s V-Crown ammo punched the tightest holes.

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.

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Roger Bacon July 16, 2017, 3:19 pm

    It looks appealing except for the retarded trigger with a trigger on it. Can you get one with a real trigger?

  • Roger Bacon July 16, 2017, 3:16 pm

    Did you take down the gun, clean, and lubricate everything? Many guns are shipped “dry” or with storage grease, maybe even with metal shavings inside.

  • Matt July 10, 2017, 1:47 pm

    I agree with the writers overall findings, especially the grip feel and comfort. It fits in the hand like a glove. I bought their “Patriot” model with the Bill of rights printed all over the frame because I like “different” guns and the price was really “right”. When I got the gun in hand, it felt better than any handgun I had personally handled. So I ended up picking up another as a shooter. Everyone who has shot mine loves it. About the only neg was the trigger pinched one person, a new shooter, so I don’t know if it was their hold or the gun? When you read the manufacturers info that comes with the gun, you start to understand the heart of the owner and why the patriotic stampings the writer mentioned are included. He’s an American, a true gun rights defender, and a Vietnam Veteran and the stampings are very personal and not just bs intended to sell guns. If you get a chance to handle an FMK pistol, do it. There may be many things that resemble Glock but the FMK has some nice lines to it, not just a big square slide. It actually feels and looks like a compact pistol and no Glock ever fit the hand like these do. If you like Glocks, you’ll probably like the FMK a lot. If you aren’t a Glock fan you’ll probably love the FMK, especially for the way it fits your hand.

  • Jake July 10, 2017, 1:04 pm

    Just the description of the actual shooting puts me off. When you can get the amazing Ruger American in the $300 +/- range, or a Canik or Remington RP9 (sorry Clay but they shoot and have 5 lb triggers and great sights) this one will get passed on. I do like the way they have done the safety blade in the trigger.
    Everybody has to start somewhere. Maybe they can tune this thing up and surprise the market in the future.

  • P Hopcus July 10, 2017, 11:54 am

    So at 21 feet you could make a head shot ,but at 45 feet you cold miss their entire head. It needs a stronger recoil spring and bad sights. What am I missing here?

    • KMacK July 10, 2017, 12:59 pm

      Hmm… either stronger recoil spring or maybe a one or two coil longer spring, glow-in-the-dark night sights (maybe just the front one) and a wider takedown bar. Personal choice would be a two dot (8) set of sights with glow.
      Accuracy? I don’t train for headshots- I train for center of mass shots, and this pistol seems good for that.
      And definitely bevel that mag-mouth. It looks like it’s plastic, so maybe that could be done by the owner with a small file.
      If this sticks around, likely somebody is gonna make all the listed parts and maybe even a metal frame for it. We’ll see.

      • Paul Hopcus July 11, 2017, 9:05 pm

        I used to shoot center mass also. I found out that 10″ to 12″ hits made me feel like that was good enough. But what if you only have a 3″ shot because they are behind something. Or if they are wearing body armor? I don’t want to train to be good enough. I shoot at playing cards at 30feet. I would rather be better than good enough if the time comes

    • Justin Opinion July 14, 2017, 10:36 am

      If you take a head shot at 45 feet, you’d better have your lawyer standing next to you holding the notarized document in which he has advised you to do so. Moreover, if you are “training” to take head shots at 45 feet as your method of self-defense, I’m going to guess that you paid more than a few hundred bucks for your firearm.
      My expectations were “budget level gun” when I started my work with the FMK – and I stand by my conclusion that it is a nice choice.

  • Alex July 10, 2017, 11:36 am

    Any pistol shooting 15 yards rested to 6 inches and 7 inches 5-shot group is no way considered to be an accurate gun. The accuracy between 5-shot group and 3-shot group differ so much that it indicated some possible causes: 1. the slide might not return to battery 100% and that misaligns the barrel to the slide and therefore the sight picture. 2, the barrel to slide fit was too loose and 3. the shooter probably didn’t how to shoot even rested. Glock-ish like? No thanks, I am keeping my Glock.

  • Randy R. July 10, 2017, 11:33 am

    Have been using my 9C1 G2 now for about a year. It took about 100 rounds to break in. It is accurate, the fast action trigger is as good as my XDs, my G19, and G23 and feeds everything I have tried, including my 115 gr reloads. My only gripe is that one of my magazines has a worn “bump” on the follower that will no longer enable the slide to stay open after the last round. Every holster for the G19 I have tried fits the 9C1, too.

  • Todd July 10, 2017, 11:32 am

    Giant “NO-GO” on that revised safety. Regardless of how one may feel about the Glock concept safety, these guys presenting a paddle over the trigger body itself is just begging for any number of things to get in there and queer the effective manipulation of the trigger. Dirt, grit, glove leather, pudgy finger pads, squirrels, whatever….

    Nope, I think the safety should be able to slip right through regardless of how “comfortable” this new arrangement is.

    Otherwise, I’m intrigued by the thought going into things like the recontoured slides.

    Todd,

  • dave July 10, 2017, 10:51 am

    For less than half of $400 you can now buy an excellent, IMO, Ruger 9e. Wonderful trigger, 17 round mags compared to 14, accurate as hell. I don’t think this piece is even in the same ballpark.

    • John July 10, 2017, 11:51 am

      I agree the Ruger 9e is great, but where can you get one for under $200?

  • Dale July 10, 2017, 10:38 am

    I picked up a 9C1 on a whim. It’s one of my primary EDC pieces now. If I am not carrying my Kimber, it’s the FMK. I’ve put hundreds of rounds through it without a failure, its been accurate as I can expect from a short barreled handgun. Due to the arthritis in my hands I do find it difficult, as the author stated, to take down, but I can with a little effort. Best of all it doesn’t have the GLOCK BLOCK look and feel. I have put several brands of ammo, mostly cheap ‘walmart’ stuff, just to see if I could get it to fail, before putting back my carry magazine. Magazines are not hard to come by. They are available either on the FMK website, or any day I walk into the store I purchased the 9C1, so far I’ve limited myself to 5, but I’ll be picking up a few more this summer.

  • Francisco Miyares Sr. July 10, 2017, 9:27 am

    I got one of these (US Constitution model) for my wife as a promo front Front Sight and found it to be a POS! Misfed almost every other round she was shooting (winter outdoors range)!

    I took it apart and all looked fine. I tried it out and was continuing to fail again when shot once more.

    Last time I use this crap! This gun will get you killed if used as CCL!

  • Tom July 10, 2017, 9:00 am

    For all the “Glock-ish” things going on, too bad it doesn’t take Glock mags.

  • Michael D July 10, 2017, 8:43 am

    I work at a LGS. I’ve seen 2 of these. Both had a laughably horrible trigger. I really wanted to like them, the feel and price are excellent. But, that trigger. No, thanks.

  • Jack D July 10, 2017, 7:50 am

    So why would anyone buy a “just like Glock” when you can buy the Glock. You get what you pay. Sure these may be a bit cheap and may even “almost” feel like a Clock but they are not Glocks. I am surprised Glock has not sued these guys into oblivion. Sure Free Market and all that.

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