Hudson H9: A Case for Practical Accuracy

Before I talk about the features of the gun, let me say that this gun and my time behind it has led me to rethink my immediate negative reaction when some gun writer pens the phrase, “Practical Accuracy.” When seen within context of most articles I have always winced, viewing it as a dog whistle indicating poor accuracy. However, my off-the-shelf Hudson H9 that I purchased from a retailer has me re-defining practical accuracy more generously, i.e., being able to hit targets of a size commensurate with the defensive use of a handgun, effectively at practical distances and speed. 

5″ Llama Max-1 38 Super Hudson H9

I love accurate guns and I adore really accurate handguns! They are great for range-time fun, and I do like to hit things! Accurate guns enable one to hit small things, far things, small and far things with less effort than lesser guns. It’s a lot of fun! Unfortunately, the H9 I bought is not one of those accuracy satisfying handguns. It is however a very fast gun to shoot, and thus, in gun games that place a premium on speed rather than pin-point accuracy, one can still have a good time! 

As many of you know, I am the originator of the “Out of the Box to the Match” review format, usually in a Steel Challenge-like competition. That is how I found out that my H9 was fast and fun and plenty accurate enough…even practically accurate.  A beautiful Idaho morning had me in the “shooter’s box” loading the Hudson for the very first time at the range officer’s command. The 5 steel targets in front of me were begging to be whacked in a hail of 115 Federal Syntec 9’s, and…Beep!  Stage one down, then another and another. At the end I had managed to take both 2nd and 3rd over all using the H9 in both LIMITED and OPEN divisions.  Given that this speed steel match was attended by three Master class shooters (me being one of them) I was pretty happy about my placement with this cool new blaster.  Heck, I even won a stage!

So the Hudson is awesome, right?  Well, it is damn easy to shoot well right from the box!  At the match I, had no idea that it would only produce 5” groups at 25 yards from a sandbag rest! And that fact did not matter on match day as the gun was accurate enough to hit 4”x10” rectangles and 10” and 12” disks out to 18 yards in a hurry! 

And that, Dear Readers, illustrates my new, kinder, gentler understanding of “Practical Accuracy.” It refers to a gun design that allows one to extract whatever accuracy level that the tool contains on demand and at speed.

Out of the Box to the Match means that I won’t know what any of the guns I review will or will not do, until after the buzzer sounds.  POA/POI could be left, right, high, or low; or I could end up with a gun laden with malfunctions. That all happens in real time on the clock while you watch. At my H9’s debut event I found out while competing that the gun shot WAY low!  Inches lower than a “Combat Sight Picture” (i.e. behind the front sight) would impact. I had to hold on the target hanger hooks to hit anywhere near the center of the target!  

 

So though I placed well at the match, I was not happy to find that the sights are poorly regulated. And then later, during accuracy testing, I discovered that the gun does not shoot worth a crap from sandbags at 25 yards. What next? Get ahold of Hudson’s Customer Service and send it back to get it squared away!

But before we get to the results of that interaction, let me tell you a bit about the company and about the gun itself. Cy and Lauren Hudson, from what I can tell, just up and decided to build a cool new all-American handgun from the ground up.  That is one hell of an undertaking and one I heartily applaud and support.  Most of you know the story at least as well as I do, as the gun was very well-marketed and promoted to all of us.

Llama Grip

Take a few minutes to look over some of the photos and I’ll fill in the details as I can. The machine work looks very good.  The gun to my eye is brutishly handsome. It sports a good, if somewhat gritty trigger. The H9 is smaller in size than a 5” 1911, but holds more ammo – even though the grip is smaller in circumference! That is a pretty cool trick. Again, I like how the gun looks (ya maybe I am weird) and love how it feels in my hands.

Hudson Grip

The mag release is reversible, but the ambidextrous slide lock flexes a lot before releasing the slide if the right side lever is used.  The sights and sight picture are excellent with a deep “U” notch rear and big beautiful Trijicon front. The magwell has a light bevel and the three mags hold 15 rounds.

Magazine well

The gun is all steel except for the lower backstrap (a 1911-esque mainspring housing), yet it weighs 5 ounces less than the Llama 38 super 1911 I compared it with. The fine checkering pattern on the front and rear of the grip does its job pretty well.

Front Strap Checkering

Back Strap Checkering

SPECS From Hudson Mfg.

  • All Steel Construction
  • Length 7.625”
  • Height 5.225”
  • Width 1.24”
  • Barrel Length 4.28”
  • Weight 34 ounces
  • Trigger pull 4.5-5 pounds.
  • Mag Cap 15
  • G10 VZ Grips
  • Trijicon Front sight with “U” notch rear
  • MSRP $1147

And thus concludes our brief intermission, if you would all please return to your seats, we will continue with the results of our contact with Customer Service.

In a scant 3 weeks I get my H9 back, and off to the range I go to see if this gun can do it all and hopefully earn a spot among my favorite guns. Aaaand…there was no change in the gun’s accuracy. No change. At all.

From Customer Service via email.

“Mr. Kelley,

Thank you for working with the Hudson Customer Service Team to diagnose and fix your H9. We found multiple machine marks in the bore of your barrel .  We have replaced your barrel, worked with our supplier, and created a quality alert with our team internally.  Thank you for your attention to this and for helping us resolve the issue.

This condition would have certainly impacted the accuracy of the system. We have tested your pistol in a ransom rest and zeroed it with a combat-sight picture (point of aim/point of impact will be the tritium vial) at 25 yards w/ 124gr black hills ammunition.

Your H9 has been test-fired to ensure function, cleaned, and is on its way back to you.  The FedEx tracking number is XxxxxxxxxXxxx. If you  experience any issues or have any questions about your H9, please reach out to us.  We sincerely appriacte [sic] the opportunity to support our customers. 

Thank you for supporting Hudson Mfg and we look forward to you enjoying your H9 experience.”

Well then. It’s been “zeroed with a combat-sight picture,” yet there is no change in POA vs. POI. And it still shoots, as a fan described, “Minute of Pie Plate.” And the return packaging contained no test target. I will however acquiesce to Customer Service as the bullets do impact behind the front sight at 25 yards, but understand that the POI is 4” to 6” below the top of the front sight!

Accuracy Data is as follows.  Sandbagged 25 yards. Sixteen 5 shot groups with the Hudson H9.  Four groups each with Federal American Eagle 115FMJ, Federal Train and Protect 115HP, Hornady 125 HAP Steel Match and Federal American Eagle 147FP.  Additionally, I shot “proof groups” using two other striker fired handguns of similar sight radius and trigger quality.  This can be seen on the test target photos, where the upper-most 5 shot group is either a Canik TP9SA or a Grand Power Q100, along with the Hudson’s effort. 

The average for group for the Hudson over the 80 rounds was 4.61”.

The average for the two proof guns combined (40 rounds each) was 2.68”.

Taking the average of the ammo the H9 liked best (Fed AE 147FP) we arrive at 3.74”.  While the two proof guns averaged 2.77” with the Hudson’s ammo choice.

So, off I go to my own shop to find out what’s going on. Because now, “I gotz to know!” In working to find the root cause of the accuracy issues, I checked slide to frame fit as well how the barrel fits in situ. Looking at the photos you will see that the muzzle end of the slide to frame fit is on the sloppy side in both the horizontal and vertical axes. That fitment alone is not helping the H9 to put bullets in a group rather than an apparent shotgun pattern. Adding to that is the notable vertical deflection of the barrel at the chamber end!  However, both of these measurements may not be telling the complete story.

Slide movement at muzzle in the vertical.

Slide movement in the Horizontal

Vertical barrel movement at lock-up.

The H9 is unique in how it employs a version of the Browning tilting barrel locking system. It appears that the barrel locks up via an angled lug that bears up against the frame mounted cross pin.  I included photos that show the barrel in lock-up, both fully assembled and without the slide in place. I am only speculating here, but I don’t see how this set-up can provide enough horizontal dwell time at firing for the bullet to leave before the barrel begins to move in the vertical plane.  This might explain some accuracy issues. Of course, I am only postulating at this point. While I don’t have a full answer now, I will. So, be on the lookout for a “part two” here at GunsAmerica.

Barrel at lock-up with slide and without.

Barrel Lug to Cross Pin reference at Lock-up

Barrel Lug to Cross Pin contact.

Given what we know about my particular Hudson H9, is it a Good or Bad or just a “Meh” gun? To answer that you have to decide for yourself what makes a handgun a good gun.  Is it intrinsic accuracy? Is it ergonomics?  It is economics? Is it reliability? How it looks? How it feels?  For me, it is a balance of all those elements. You might have a different list.  For my money (and it was, my money, that is.) it comes down to reliability and how it performs in my hands.

The H9 is STEEL!

I like the H9, it was dead reliable and fun to shoot. It was easier to shoot with competence than the “mechanicals” would otherwise indicate, but Damn Sam, it should shoot like the $1100 dollar handgun that it is! Hell, it should shoot at least as well as most sub 500 dollar blasters I have purchased and tested! I “hear” some H9s are very accurate, so mine could be too.  If that takes welding and refitting, then that is what I will do. But I will do it myself, I like the gun that much! 

Learn more about the Hudson H9 by clicking here.

***Shop GunsAmerica for you next Hudson H9***

About the author: Patrick Kelley is a champion shooter, noted competitive shooting authority and brand ambassador for several companies. He loves to share his extensive knowledge of guns and his competitive shooting experience (which spans several decades) and runs the entire gamut of the shooting sports.Patrick has earned numerous first-place finishes at major matches in 12 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, including two Gold Medals at the Pan American Shotgun Championship in 2013. He has mastered several shooting disciplines, from NRA Bullseye and Metallic Silhouette to the world of Practical Shooting. Patrick is also a member of the NRA 2600 Club and was ranked in the USPSA’s top twenty early in his shooting career. Patrick’s deep-seated interest in firearms has led him well beyond the basics of routine maintenance into gunsmithing and competition tuning.Mr. Kelley is also a respected and prolific outdoor communicator. His articles on shooting and firearms, as well as his photography, have been published in Shooting Illustrated, Outdoor Life, 3-Gun Nation, USPSA Front Sight and most recently GunsAmerica. His YouTube channel features instructional and exhibition shooting videos, as well as his very own “Out of the Box to the Match” gun reviews. This very popular format has Patrick shooting guns for the very first time at shooting competitions around the Pacific Northwest.

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • DocHendo July 31, 2018, 2:21 pm

    In my Navy days in the early 90s my (then) new ship was assigned armory reworked 1911s. Their accuracy was at least this good, and you could almost make the barrel rattle in the bushing by just shaking the pistol from side to side. Those were WWII/Korean/Vietnam multiple reworks, with LOTS of miles on them, but were all extremely reliable. I remember having to set up a stovepipe just to teach how to clear one, but never remember having experienced one with any of the 20 or so we had abord.

    Reliability doesn’t have to be expensive, and I have EAA Witnesses, Baby Desert Eagles, Kahrs, Sigs, Ruger LC9Ss, and 1911s that are all count-my-life-on-them reliable and will all easily outshoot this, and many of these are half this price or less. Hell even the Taurus 709 slim I picked up for $200 will do at least this well.

    If reliability does it for you, well good for you, but for that kind of bling I would expect better than 2″ at 25 yd accuracy to go along with dead-nuts reliability. Something tells me P.O. Ackley would have never owned one.

  • Michael M July 27, 2018, 11:59 pm

    Patrick thank you for an excellent review. I am curious to see your update when you resolve the accuracy issue.

    • Patrick Kelley July 29, 2018, 8:38 pm

      You are most welcome Michael. My H9 will shoot better and you will hear about it.

  • DaveR July 27, 2018, 8:34 am

    Really appreciate this review! The H9 has been surrounded by such conflicting reports that I’m glad to see some truly empirical data! I will look forward to learning what you learn about the accuracy problems. Also about what you learn about long term reliability (there are reports of some guns coming apart, and of internal parts wearing out prematurely). Really appreciate the honest, candid, and competent reporting.

    • Patrick Kelley July 29, 2018, 8:47 pm

      I am working to get my H9 accurate enough to want to shoot it enough to wear it out! I will report my findings and hopefully a fix as well.

  • Jake July 24, 2018, 12:27 pm

    It took me years to shake off all my old Bullseye shooter prejudices and hangups about accuracy. For Bullseye we must have a pistol which can take out the X ring. For a gun fight gun we must have first, a gun which goes bang every time and never ftf’s or fte’s on us. I would not accept a piece willingly which could not make a head shot at 25 yards or a center mass hit at 50 yards but that is about as picky as I get with a carry gun.

  • Jay July 24, 2018, 8:24 am

    One has to appreciate an honest review that doesn’t pen like a sales sheet! Thank You! With accuracy like that I would never even consider spending my hard earned money on it though!

    • Patrick July 24, 2018, 12:37 pm

      Jay, that is why I spend my money in hopes of you being able to make a better informed purchase.

  • Scott July 23, 2018, 10:04 pm

    Hmmm. The performance seems to belie the cost.

  • Alvin J Reber Jr July 23, 2018, 3:03 pm

    First off, I, want to thank you for the honesty shown… I, am older.. not as prone to being accurate as when I, was 24 years old.. hopefully after Cataract surgery.. that will change. I, have thought about the purchase of an Hudson H9 since I, saw the first shot show video.. and will purchase one when the accuracy becomes tolerable.. for me, a firearm has to be accurate as heck as if I, want to shoot a varmint thru the head.. it better be capable of making that shot as I, am going to try like hell to do all the things necessary to make that shot. I, realize that it is the shooter and not the gun.. but the gun has to be first and foremost capable of accurate shot placement, even the Navy required that for 16 inch guns. again, hats off to you for your honesty, that is something that seems to be at the bottom part of the list anymore… sometimes not even on the list in today’s society.

    • Patrick July 26, 2018, 11:11 am

      Thank you for your comment Mr Reber. Honesty is what I want from others in all matters. I demand it from myself.
      Cataracts are just starting for me, but the Doc says I got a few more years before they have to go!

  • Doc July 23, 2018, 2:19 pm

    Superbly well-controlled and informative review. I very much look forward to your additional comments after working on the pistol a bit more.

  • Graham Baates July 23, 2018, 1:59 pm

    Excellent write up. This is why in my tabletop videos I take look at slide-to-frame fit, and part of why I like to test “practical accuracy”. Most guns can shoot ok or better in a rest, but how they interact with the user’s hand, sights, controls etc also impacts what we experience when we hit the range with one.

  • Chip Burnette July 23, 2018, 1:45 pm

    I changed out the front sight on mine, easily fixed the POA/POI issue. It does not have match accuracy, it never was designed for that. It does allow me to get accurate follow-up shots faster than any other pistol I have shot. I easily get rapid hits on a 5″ plate at 25 yards.

    Is the Hudson H9 the perfect pistol for everyone? Of course not – no pistol is. I am happy with mine.

    • DaveR July 27, 2018, 8:24 am

      I’ve yet to see anyone prove to me that this gun is any “faster” shooting than any other 9mm semi auto (let alone any other 36oz 9mm pistol!). Sure, it’s maybe “flatter” FEELing, but that’s a different question.
      As far as split times, there’s only so fast that a human can operate a trigger, and must semiautos out preform their human operators, with even really “flippy” guns coming back on target well before the shooter has time to reset the trigger.

      I’m glad you like your H9, and I’m sure that it FEELs faster. However, $1100 is a lot to pay for just for a perception of an advantage, nevermind a lot to pay for demonstrably poor accuracy. $1100 is also a lot to pay for a gun that required you to replace the premium front sight (you paid for that stock Trijicon you replaced, ya know)

      That said, maybe yours is more inherently accurate? Hudson has had rampant quality control issues so it’s possible that you H9 is better. I hope it is. I know that I would be very unhappy with a high dollar gun that could not deliver sub 5″ groups at 25 yards

  • Sheepdip July 23, 2018, 12:47 pm

    I simply do not see the need for this weapon. Just another 9mm, without the accuracy, but a significant price tag.

  • buhbang July 23, 2018, 12:21 pm

    I always love how you compare the 9mm mag capacity with a .45 cal 1911 and then sound amazed that a gun that uses bullets half the size is able to double the capacity. …..if I cut my .45’s in half, I too could load twice the amount. why does this always amaze you writers?
    the H9 seems to be all marketing hype, It caught my eye when they said they had a 1911 style trigger, and stores ran ads saying it was a 1911, but then I found out it only looks like a 1911 trigger, and it is not a 1911 trigger at all.
    it felt like they are trying to trick you and hope you arent smart enough to know.
    and the gun cant back up all the hype they are putting out there.
    doesnt look like a winner with the price that high and the accuracy that low. just get a hipoint and save yourself some money and maybe better accuracy. I will stick with my .45 cal 1911 !!

  • Michael July 23, 2018, 10:01 am

    I would not like to compare but basically not a fan of the Hudson. If I have go route to choose in this category of similar steel frame pistols I would say a CZ75 is comparable in some respects. So my choice would be on a 9mm CZ75. This looks to be heavy and flat. And of coarse you have your Sig guys out there waving their flags. Sig this and I will Sig that.. That why most Police and military dropped the Sigs and are going with Glocks.. Sorry to stray but had to say that.

    • Scotty Gunn July 23, 2018, 8:46 pm

      Actually , now many departments are dropping the Glocks and going with the Sig 320. It’s all about budgets, and salesmanship.

  • MB July 23, 2018, 9:44 am

    Although I like the company, I would not buy this gun. In a self-defense situation ( that’s what guns are meant for ) I would not want a gun this inaccurate. I think a $300 Walhter or Ruger would be a better choice, less chance of hitting something or someone not the target. This is a safe queen, a gun that someday someone will say “Wow, you found one of those, they are rare, did you ever shoot it? ” No.

  • Boba Fett July 23, 2018, 9:32 am

    I want to love the H9, because it’s so damn cool looking and I always appreciate ingenuity and departures from the norm. I was very tempted to buy one for that reason alone, and was recently shopping around for prices. Unfortunately, all the reviews I’ve read on this gun basically say the same thing: It’s very flat-shooting, trigger’s a little weird, but the accuracy sucks. That’s a deal breaker, especially for that price.

  • Gem Gram July 23, 2018, 9:02 am

    The ONLY thing that matters in a gunfight using pistols is getting two (or three) rounds into a body as fast as possible. That IS practical accuracy. Some people using a very accurate pistol can easily hit a golf ball at 25 yards when taking their time. Such shooting is wonderful but has nothing to do with pistol fighting. What matters is being able to hit a target the size of a cantaloupe sitting on top of a watermelon with real speed two times (or what is called a “double tap”). Can you do MOM accuracy (Moment On Man), every-time, with real speed, after spinning around and acquiring the target at 50 feet or less. AND being able to depend on that pistol functioning to do that no matter what and under ANY conditions. EVERY used Glock pistol I have ever bought from the used police market for $300 (or less) can do that better (faster) than any other off the shelf pistol I have ever tried. Other than being expensive big boy and girl toys, pistols are tools for fighting, simple as that. Can that tool allow you to spin around acquire three different man size targets at 50 feet or less and double tap them in less than four seconds each and EVERY time without fail. If not it is just a toy, and sometimes a very expensive toy, but just a toy. I have about 20 of those fun toys and four or five “tools”.:-)

  • Darren Meacham July 23, 2018, 8:44 am

    With all the good guns out there I can’t imagine why you would waste even one minute messing around with this over-priced POS.

    • Patrick July 26, 2018, 11:16 am

      I “wasted” my time and money to bring others the info.

  • Infidel762X51 July 23, 2018, 8:37 am

    A SIG 226 would be less money and much more accurate.

  • John July 23, 2018, 8:27 am

    I’ve wanted one of these for quite a while. I joined their social media page, and there are still reports of accuracy issues. I will say the manufacturer is responsive to those problems, at least on facebook. It’s unfortunate the gentleman who posted above can’t get resolution. I just can’t justify spending 1100-1200 on a pistol with a 50% of not shooting accurately. Practical accuracy? I appreciate this review for being open and honest. The term practical accuracy is semantically a nice way to describe a pistol that is very mediocre in the accuracy department. For crying out loud if a Glock or Sig shot this way there would be all kinds of complaints. Don’t let the H9 developers off the hook for accuracy.

  • George Wright July 23, 2018, 8:07 am

    What it sounds like to me as far as the gun shooting 4-5 inches low, it seems that the manufacture miss matched the sights. But I’m sure you all figured that out. My question is? Is it possible to replace the front sight with a lower one? Are the sights marked with any numbers? I do not own a H9 so I am only going off of the review. Maybe the rear sight is a #6 and the front is a #8. Which would account for the lower shots on your point of aim. This is just my 2 cents in this conversation. I am interested in what you have figured out and if you were able to get the gun to shoot closer to the POA and POI?

  • Jason July 23, 2018, 7:25 am

    Can’t wait to hear what you find out, more so then the POI the group size is kind disconcerting.

  • larry Abrams July 23, 2018, 7:23 am

    Great review,, Thousand dollar sidearm that shoots 4″ low.. Damn my old military 1911s were not that bad… Good to know we have honest testers out there Patrick.. Keep up the good work.

    • Patrick July 26, 2018, 11:20 am

      Thank you Larry! I really appreciate it!

  • Craig July 23, 2018, 7:16 am

    Pistol looked interesting, bought it for $1,044 (plus tax)…shot it, hated it…as in it sits in the box and I won’t be shooting it until somebody comes up with an after market trigger. The pistol truly sucks to shoot, I’ve contacted Hudson several times…no response, nothing, nada…so I’ve given up on the manufacturer.

    Problem, other than poor accuracy and badly regulated sights, is the trigger. The trigger angles up when pulled, leaving a lovely wedge space between the bottom of the trigger and the trigger guard…which mean, it pinches the trigger finger on the follow-up shot. After 2 mags, I headed to the car for a pair of leather shooting gloves.

    The pistol does fit some hands, but the internet has comments about the pistol pinching. So, this problem isn’t a, “one of” concern. So I’m stuck with a pistol that is: inaccurate, has poorly regulated sights, a pinching trigger, don’t want to take a several hundred dollar loss selling it and the company doesn’t stand behind their product. Nice. But, I’m more than willing to lend it to people to shoot it, average comment is, “Meh, was thinking of getting one, not now”. There is a manual vs. trigger safety, unfortunately, made out of, “unobtanium.”

    C’mon after market, make a trigger for this thing.

  • Daniel July 19, 2018, 12:58 pm

    Mine is the same and your return letter is the same as mine, just change the name. It does shoot a little more accurately upon return and barrel replacement. But no where it needs to be for the price point. Please figure this out.

    • Patrick July 19, 2018, 1:28 pm

      Daniel, you can bet I will do my level best to figure this out and report my findings. Thanks for letting me (us) know about
      your H9 and its current status.

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