The FNS-9 from FNH-USA is a sexy pistol that is made in America, and has a retail price under $650. If you look closely, you will see that this gun is completely ambidextrous, and it has a manual safety. This is the first we have seen in a high end striker pistol. The FNS is a flawless gun that is everything you could ever ask for in a practical, duty-sized pistol.
The manual safety and slide stop look very small on the gun, but they function very well ergonomically in the hand.
FNH-USA has their own version of the trigger mounted safety device for the FNS, but none of these little gizmos are as comforting as the manual thumb safety to protect against accidental discharges.
The FNS field strips like many other polymer pistols. You lock the slide back, rotate that lever, pull the trigger, and slide the slide off of the frame. You can actually leave the safety on when you jack a loaded round out of the chamber.
This target is similar to most 5 round group we tried. Most shots are within an inch and half or so at 10 yards, with an occasional flier, probably due to human error not the gun.
This is a rapid fire, rested group of the whole 17 round magazine. It gets boring when most bullets go through the same inch wide ragged hole.
Very few guns have everything. These days there are so many polymer, striker fired pistols on the market, it is difficult to tell them apart sometimes. But if you are looking for a gun that truly has everything, you have to look at the FNS from FNH-USA. It is made in America, has a street price under $650, and one by one, you can count the features that are unique to this gun. It is completely ambidextrous; the magazine release, slide stop, and safety lever appear on both sides of the frame. The drop safety itself is a revelation of sorts and should make a lot of people jump up and down screaming “YES! FINALLY!” Few companies have dared put a manual safety on their striker pistols and this is the first in a gun that can compete with the big boys. And with a rail on the front, double useful slide serrations, an external extractor, stock night sights, and downright good looks, there is little you could want in a full-sized duty pistol that the FNS doesn’t already have right out of the box.
We got to shoot the 9mm version of the FNS, but it also comes in .40 S&W. Ergonomically, the FNS is not unlike other double stack 9mm pistols, but the manual safety adds a completely different dynamic to the gun you don’t normally expect in a gun like this. FNH calls the FNS a “double action,” which is correct. Over the years we have been fed other terminology for a trigger pull that both cocks and fires the gun, but double action is double action. Prior to the striker pistols, most pistols were controlled in one of two ways. They were either a double action first pull – like a revolver or Beretta 92 – or they were single action and had a manual drop safety, like a 1911. The two systems were equal in regards to safety because despite being very different in function, they both prevented accidental discharges in their own way.
Glock and the other subsequent striker pistols made us believe that a longer, softer, partially-cocked pull was just as safe as a heavy, double action pull without the need for a manual safety, simply because of the center safety button on the trigger. In addition to the safety trigger, internal mechanisms prevented the gun from firing when dropped. The FNS is the first gun from a high end manufacturer that breaks this mold and boldly admits that many of us would rather have a manual safety on our double action guns. In a duty situation, your gun may be drawn and pointed several times a week, you may be tackled or have things thrown at you, all while pointing your loaded firearm at someone, there is nothing like the confidence of a manual safety to protect you from shooting someone unintentionally.
Our test gun came in the two tone variation, and whether you get the two tone or the all black, the slides are stainless steel. The FNS does have its own version of the trigger safety lever, and it weighs 25.2 ounces empty (The .40 is two ounces heavier). Though it is light, the ergonomics are good and the 9mm recoil isn’t too snappy for a plastic pistol. With the standard backstrap, the FNS has a grip circumference of five and 5/8 inches, and it comes with a slightly thinner replaceable backstrap for smaller hands. It comes with three magazines, each with a 17 round capacity in 9mm, or 14 in the .40 S&W. The barrel is four inches and slightly protrudes, giving it a slightly different and somewhat sexy look, and the trigger has about a half inch of travel and breaks clean at about 6.5 lbs.
The small controls on the FNS could be perceived in two ways. You could argue that the slide stop and manual safety are, well, small, but stop by a gun shop and try the gun before you pass judgment. Small can be good when it comes to controls because small doesn’t catch on clothing or other things when you draw. The main thing is whether the controls are functional, which they are. The safety is ergonomically as comfortable as a 1911, while retaining a snag-free profile. The slide stop, which is also the release when you drop the slide on a new mag, looks like it would be a fingertip operation at that size, but because the control is protected on both sides, you can drop the slide with the side of your thumb without much effort. Locking the slide back with no magazine for cleaning is more of a task. As for the magazine release it is larger and protrudes, which begs the question, is it prone to accidental magazine drops? We didn’t have any drops in the course of shooting the FNS for an afternoon, so the magazine release is probably not prone them. About the only complaint I have with the gun is that the take up on the trigger is a little bit scratchy. The reset is about 1/8 of an inch, with the same feel as many other striker guns, but the takeup on the first shot could be smoother. There is no cocked indicator on the FNS, but since there is no second strike capability on the gun anyway, this would be redundant, since it has a loaded round indicator. If there is a round in the chamber, it is either cocked, or you’ve already discovered that it’s a dud.
The accuracy of the FNS was as good as we have seen from an out of the box pistol. At ten yards, five shots printed into about two inches on average, and the whole 17 round magazine shot into about the same two inches in a ragged hole with a couple fliers (human error most likely). Several different types of ammo had zero failures and shot to different points of impact as you would expect, but the results were consistent across the board. The gun isn’t finicky at all and performed well with inexpensive roundball range ammo, expensive carry rounds, and even +P. We put a total of about 250 rounds through this test gun, and even slamming three mags through it to heat it up didn’t seem to throw off the accuracy whatsoever. The night sights that come stock on the gun are the three dot type, and both the front and rear are steel, and drift adjustable. Serrations on the front of the trigger guard and the grip surface make it easy to hold onto, with better than average shot to shot recovery, at least with large male hands.
The FNS is proof that you can make a high end, competitively priced polymer pistol in the U.S.A. that will match, and possibly best, the popular imports. If until now, you have stayed away from striker pistols for duty use due to the risk of accidental discharge, the manual safety on the FNS truly gives you the best of both worlds. There are other guns out there that have this feature, but they are not in the same class as the FNS. For now, this gun comes in very limited configurations – just the 9mm you see here and the .40 S&W – in full size. But if this pistol sees the success it deserves, we would hope to see versions in a compact, concealed carry size as well. Too many people are out there buying the knee-jerk, popular polymer pistol without doing their homework. If they did, they would find that there are better guns out there in the market, and one of them is the FNS from FNH-USA.