Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

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We here at GunsAmerica first heard about what would become the FN 509 back in January, 2016 at SHOT Show. There were plenty of looks back and forth between the FN folks, followed by a polite “We’ll get back to you” when asked about it. Fast-forward 12 months to the 2017 SHOT Show, and FN responded with an invitation to a meeting at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas. At that meeting, we were given the opportunity to fire a few hundred rounds through the FN 509. We received our sample of the 509 a few weeks ago after promising not to discuss it publicly until April 17th, 2017.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The new FN 509 pistol brings 17+1 firepower to a reasonably compact package for EDC enthusiasts. Image courtesy of FN.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

Note the ambidextrous controls of the pistol. Image courtesy of FN.

The Birth of the FN 509

Army Contracting Command released the official MHS RFP on August 28, 2015. The XM17 Modular Handgun System competition was a request for a new Army and Navy handgun to replace the M9 handgun. The list of requirements was demanding, to say the least.

  • Compatibility with accessory items, to include tactical lights, lasers, and sound suppressors.
  • Fully ambidextrous controls.
  • Ergonomic designs that could accommodate female shooters.
  • Pistols that can service higher chamber pressures (over 20 percent greater than SAAMI specification for the cartridge) without degradation of reliability.
  • 2,000 mean rounds between stoppages, 10,000 mean rounds between failures, and a 35,000-round service life.
  • 90 percent or more chance of hitting in a 4-inch circle out to 50 meters, consistently, throughout the weapon’s lifetime.
  • Ergonomic design minimizing recoil energies and controlling shot dispersion.
  • Modular features to allow for the adaption of different fire control devices, pistol grips, and alternate magazine options.
  • Incorporation of detection avoidance by having a non-reflective neutral color.
  • Modularity, reliability, and durability in all environments.
Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The pistol proved to be rugged and reliable and delivered great results for the author.

There were eight entries to the initial test.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.The Army Times reported on January 19, 2017 that the competition for the new U.S. handgun had been won by SIG Sauer Inc. on January 18, 2017. The resulting P320 is a great gun, but more than one person has asserted that Sig Sauer owes its victory to the price point. The P320 comes in at $207 a unit—more than $50 cheaper than the M9. As expected, Glock is still protesting Sig Sauer’s win, as their pistol’s box clearly says “Perfection.”

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The pistol came in a zippered nylon case along with two steel 17-round magazines.

Why Second Place Might Be Better Than First

Sometimes, second place can be more valuable than first. If you are in second place, you have reason to improve and better yourself, as well as an example of what to work towards. If you’re in first, you have no incentive to improve. FN took a hard look at their pistol and decided to use it to pursue the civilian market with the 509. This pistol has plenty of potential to disrupt the current leader in consumer and Law Enforcement sales, especially considering that Glock came to the 2017 SHOT Show with approximately zero new pistols to showcase. I asked about the Glock 17M and was told we might see it next year.

The 509 is well-equipped for the task it has been assigned. It is a striker-fired, polymer-framed 9mm pistol. The four-inch, stainless steel, cold-hammer-forged barrel sports a recessed target crown. There is a slide and magazine release on each side of the gun, accommodating both right and left-handed shooters. FN offers three choices of interchangeable back-straps, and a tapered grip with texturing. The slide has cocking serrations both in the front and rear, along with a left-side-mounted takedown lever. There is an optional ambidextrous manual safety mounted at the rear and top of the frame. The dust cover has a Picatinny rail for accessories. The trigger guard is elongated and rounded, to allow firing with gloved hands. The trigger is a metal two-piece design with a pivot in the middle.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The dust cover area of the polymer frame has a strip of Picatinny rail for accessories.


My gun arrived wrapped in shipping paper to protect the plain cardboard box—Christmas came early! Upon opening the box, I saw a zippered black case that resembled a day planner from back in the era of pen and paper. The FN logo embroidered on the outside was a clear indication that the contents were not dreary notes and scribbled appointments. Instead, the case contained the FN 509 and two 17-round magazines. This gun was not your typical FN pistol; in fact it looked more like FN and Sig had worked together to design a Glock 19. The 509 was not big and boxy, but simple and compact. The fact that FN had built a pistol with a capacity of 17-plus-1, and yet smaller (in most respects) than a Glock 19, was impressive. The standard sights were metal, and all the controls were present on both sides of the gun. The gun fit nicely in my hand, and the trigger was better than I expected from a polymer service pistol.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The magazine of the FN 509’s steel magazine (right) holds 17 rounds of 9mm. Shown next to a Glock 19 magazine for comparison.


  • Chambering: 9mm
  • Barrel: 4 inches
  • OA Length: 7.4 inches
  • Weight: 26.9 ounces
  • Grips: Polymer, integral
  • Sights: Three-dot, luminous
  • Action: Striker-fired
  • Finish: Matte-black
  • Capacity: 17+1
  • MSRP: $649

On the Range

I was not able to get the 509 to the range for a couple of days, so when the time finally came I had my plan ready. I brought a slew of 9mm rounds to run through the gun, along with a few trusted friends who would not break the embargo on the new pistol.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.The 509 was passed around like a collection plate on Sunday morning, with each person trying it in the hand, working the controls, and finally testing the trigger before handing it down. The two magazines were loaded up and the fun began! I would guess that the first 200 rounds of my ammunition were run through the gun in a matter of a few minutes. Once everyone had had a turn on the New 509, I asked the “Well, what do you think?” question. Everyone responded with general approval, save one person who took issue with the feel of the trigger. I asked what he was referring to, we arrived at the conclusion that the trigger’s smooth rounded convex face was throwing him off. He had never shot a gun without a Glock style trigger before. His opinion was it was not bad, but different.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The pistol shot tight groups at 20 yards with loads from Sig, Federal and Hornady.

Next on my agenda was speed shooting. I had set up some steel plates and other steel targets down range. We all started at the 10-yard line and worked our way back. Our ability to keep control of the pistol under pressure was due in part to the three different kinds of checkering on the grip of the 509. We took turns shooting faster and farther away until we had all exceeded our abilities. I believe the gun had more potential than we did, in terms of speed and accuracy.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

The pistol features a modular, removable back strap system for customizing the grip to individual shooters.

As my merry band of helpers departed, I took stock. We had fired 500-plus rounds of practice ammunition, and the FN 509 had suffered no malfunctions. While I had taken the gun apart to inspect it prior to shooting, I did not apply any oil or perform any maintenance; it went from box to range without fail.

I wanted to test the accuracy of the FN 509, so I put a target out at 20 yards and made some marks with my sharpie. What I discovered was that the gun will do its part if you can do yours. I chose three loads from three separate brands, and the table of my results shows that the gun performed consistently with all the ammunition choices.

The FN 509 is going to be a factor in LE gun purchases. I also predict that it will be the pistol that gains FN widespread acceptance in the civilian market. I hope that FN has already loaded the distribution chain to avoid the wait time we often see for new guns.

Born for Combat, Refined for EDC: First Look at the New FN 509 9mm – Full Review.

Note the steel locking block and frame rails for strength within the polymer shell.

The Bottom Line

The 509 makes sense to me, and I welcome a new take on the polymer service pistol. It is clear to me that this gun is not lacking anything. This is a gun that I personally will be running, as it fits in a compact footprint with a full-sized capacity. You can get a gun developed for the military world, but refined for the civilian self-defense market. It will work equally well from either hand, without needing to change over parts. The price is competitive, and from a company that will stand behind their products. I think the 509 could be a serious competitor in the largest category going.

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  • Charlie December 18, 2017, 11:17 am

    The 1911 has been around for how long? It’s still going strong. You can not replace the best with these new plastic guns and expect them to last and be dependable. I guess time will tell.

  • Seagull December 18, 2017, 8:25 am

    Bought the 509, put about 400 rounds through it, it never got reliable, many FTF, FTE, sold it.

  • Bear65 April 28, 2017, 9:59 pm

    90 percent or more chance of hitting in a 4-inch circle out to 50 meters, consistently, throughout the weapon’s lifetime. Is this correct? Hit a 4″ disk at 164 feet? That is some accuracy. I think I’ll buy two.

  • Mark Tercsak April 19, 2017, 7:01 am

    Just another plastic gun who cares , In real combat conditions, most of these plastic guns will fail. …… There are videos out there the king of plastic is a turd, with a live round in the chamber, the operator simply shook the Flock and it discharged. Ladies that should never happen!

    The Glock was put up against a Armscorp, 1911…
    The Armscorp 1911 , blew the Glock right out of the water, in fact the Flock did not survive the 1st round

    Combat handguns are and should be considered different than police depth. Issued handguns, these are to entirely different functions, police enforce the laws of the land and are granted deadly force, but it is to be used as the last option, granted there are exceptions to the rule a police officer is ambushed or he enters a active shooting, violent crime scene.

    The U. S. Military are not Policemen, they are there to defend us, to kill assholes and to destroy military and civilian targets if need be.

    The main reason the Army wants a plastic handgun is for the ladies, because; they can not pack the gear.

    Not only can you shoot an asshole with a all steel handgun , but if need be you can crush a 💀 skull with one or bash someone’s brains out, try that with a plastic gun.

    • Doctor Moebius April 19, 2017, 11:11 am

      Hear that re: steel v. plastic, although some polymers are often strong enough. They’ve surely come a long way. But as a proud owner of a Colt 45 1911, and a Sig P938 (and a S&W 38, a Walther CCP, and a 92F Beretta, and a tac shotgun.. hey, who doesn’t like guns?) , well, in a real fight, sure, I want my Colt. But for everyday, I LOVE my P938. However, If it were legal for me to carry 17 rounds, well, this gun starts to look VERY Attractive for everyday.

      • M. Atkinson April 22, 2017, 8:03 am

        I love my Sig P938 also for every day carry when it’s hot and humid, I also love my 1911’s, but for full-size every day carry it’s hard to beat the new polymer guns with high capacity 15-17 round mags.
        My new full-size every day carry is an FNH FNS 9 that came with 3-17 round mags, night sights, interchangeable back straps, etc., very decent trigger, it’s an awesome handgun which fits my small hands very well, similar to a 1911, all for $385. I’m sure this new 509 will be able to be bought in the $400 price range when it’s been out for a while also.
        To the original post, new polymer handguns are more durable than aluminum frames, and while not as strong as steel is durable enough.

    • Captain April 28, 2017, 9:08 am

      Learn to write! Seriously, read your responses out loud. You obviously read to many gun magazines and have zero practical experience. Stop hanging out at the gun store! Your choice of a skull to end your comment was pure genius…..

    • Alex August 30, 2017, 1:06 am

      You are a fraud. Stop posting fake news and lies. They aren’t even good.

    • Merlin October 11, 2017, 4:04 pm

      1st, a “plastic” gun won’t rust under extreme conditions. 2nd, lighter, and easier to control recoil with the low-bore axis, (compared to “old ironsides”) 3rd, twice the ammo capacity. 4th. In case you weren’t aware, we have smaller statured LE today. (and yes, even females) The “plastic gun” can accommodate a wider range of users. And last, but not least…..VERY few, if any, LE or civilians are going to put their firearms thru anything CLOSE to a torture test. You don’t like “plastic guns”?? DON’T BUY ONE!

  • DaveGinOly April 17, 2017, 11:48 pm

    I heard a commercial for this pistol during Sean Hannity’s radio show. The announcer tells the listener to visit the web site “FN America.” Say that a few times. FN America! Yeah!

  • Gus April 17, 2017, 7:35 pm

    PLEASE! The word is ambidextrous, NOT ambitrexious. If the gun advocates want some respect, we should at least learn the language!

  • Mike Cornett April 17, 2017, 5:32 pm

    There are so many nice pistols out there. It’s hard to pick just one.
    For my home protection, I picked the CZ 75 Clone, Canik-55 9mm Stingray in hard chrome.
    15 + 1, double action. Extremely accurate. Good for right hand or left hand. 3.75″ barrel length.
    Cartridge chambered indicator. All Steel ! I shoot better with a heaver pistol. Most people do.
    One other plus…..It’s only $350.00, but has all the quality of expensive pistols.
    Paying more doesn’t mean it’s better. Take a look at it before you buy. I go to the range every
    two weeks and shoot 100 rounds. It hasn’t failed me yet. Go to You Tube for a complete gun review.

  • Will Drider April 17, 2017, 1:36 pm

    Good article. Should have compaired a G17 mag to the FN509s not a G19. Even if the product is truly outstanding, it takes time to build a solid reputation. We have seen a lot of articles that proclaim this or that handgun will be the Glock Killer, it has not happened. What does happen is the new kid on the block has a feature or two that some apply weight to that draws them to it. However, if we add all those competing poly/striker guns market share combined and compare it to Glocks: they are not even close in my opinion. It may not last forever; Colts 1911A1 WAS the King for a long time, now Colt is just another 1911 Mfg.

    If Mfgs would quit trying to build a “better Glock” and focus on building a better handgun they would do better.

    • Chad Johnson December 18, 2017, 9:56 am

      FN Herstal has been around for over 125 years and used in over 130 countries, while Glock was started in 1963. FN Herstal is hardly a new kid on the block. Anyone who has carried a M16A2, M16A3, M16A4, M4 or M4A1 in the last 30 years has likely carried a Colt or FN Herstal. If you have ever carried or used a M249 SAW, M240, Mk-19 and .50 caliber machine-gun, those are all made by FN Herstal. Socom uses the FN SCAR. I think they have built a solid reputation established already.

      The article reviews that the pistol has a 4” barrel like the Glock 19. I’m a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (type 07 Manufacturer) and describe it a bit different. I tell customers that it has the slide length of a Glock 19 and the grip to sights height of a Glock 17. The FNS-9 long slide is closer to the Glock 17.

      Glock makes a great pistol but it has many faults in my humble opinion, case in point.
      a) If you don’t like the grip to begin with, all you can do is add another piece of polymer to make it thicker. On FN pistols, you can change out the backstrap like most modern pistols.

      b) It is not conducive for left handed shooters, to include the Generation 5 with only a single side thumb safety. FN pistols are designed for left and right hand shooters with completely ambidextrous slide lock and magazine release.

      c) Glocks do not offer an optional manual thumb safety. FN pistols offer this feature.

      d) Glocks do not offer a full length accessory rail. Sadly, they don’t even offer two notches in the rail. Not all accessories fit properly on that one notch. FN offers a full length rail.

      Being fair about it, Glock has a whole wide variety of drop in aftermarket parts to easily customize your pistol to suit your needs, FN does not. Glocks are the “me too” pistol that the common masses will buy and use. It’s lightweight, dependable and super cheap. All around it is a good pistol at good price. No real negative things to say about it. My wife has a Glock 19 and I did too. It work great for her but for my needs, it needed another $300 worth of stippling, spring kit, tritium night sights and a extended slide catch. My FN came perfect out of the box at $549.99.

      Besides the 509, FN makes the FNX-9/40, FNS-9/40c, FNX-45, FNX-45 Tactical, FN 5.7, FN PS-90 and FN-2000. Variety is the spice of life. I’m not saying sell your Glock. I’m not saying buy an FN. I am saying that if you think the barely changed basic 1980s designed Glock is the top of the food chain, you should go to rent more guns at your local range and shoot more. Glock has been surpassed in every way except people not realizing it.

      • Russ H. December 18, 2017, 10:54 am

        That was a very well written comment and I agree with your observations 100%. I bought my first Glock earlier this year as it suited a very particular need. Fortunately, it was a Talo so I didn\’t need to replace the sights – they were steel with a big orange outlined front night sight and a plain serrated rear – perfect. I had to add a Pachmayr slip on grip and change out the trigger and connector to get a decent trigger pull. FN has introduced a very nice pistol here and I plan to get one soon.

      • fang July 13, 2020, 9:22 am

        lol. Glock was making curtain rods in 1963. glocks first handgun came out in the early eighties.

  • Chris April 17, 2017, 10:55 am

    How is this allegedly compatible with sound suppressors if it doesn’t have a threaded barrel?

    • JungleCogs April 17, 2017, 4:22 pm

      As with Sigs, you likely need to purchase a threaded barrel.

      • Doctor Moebius April 19, 2017, 11:22 am

        Can’t buy threaded in CT. Have to do your own die work.

  • Lee April 17, 2017, 10:46 am

    Probably a great gun, but like many other poly frame striker fire platforms just now entering the already dominated market, what do you have to offer thats special?

    I can tell you FN makes a great gun, but then again so does just about everyone else. Here is going to be the downfall. 1) The trigger pull sucks, and no one makes an aftermarket replacement or anything to drop in to reduce pull weight and shorten reset. 2) There won’t be any aftermarket stuff for it made, just like nothing came out for the much underrated FNS series.

    Advantages over existing products = none…
    Disadvantages other than previous stated = Another already faulted high barrel axis gun, going into an over saturated market.

    Other than barrel length, I don’t see how it could be compared size wise to the Glock 19. Unless the pictures are perspectively distorted or something, it looks HUGE. Maybe barrel length, but dang that slide just looks thick and that gun sits way high in the hand in the picture, and the grip looks as long as any full size gun.

    In all honestly, the only poly framed striker gun coming to market I actually look forward to, is the Arsenal Stryk B. Having actually got to shoot its predecessor, I know the platform actually has enough significant improvement over existing poly framed guns to bring something to the table. But its going to be a tough market if they can’t get the market availability handled.

    Sig was smart with the P320. I mean seriously, I don’t think its any better than any other gun that was already out there, in fact worse in some aspects. But they put it out there hard, and in the right way. Shortly after it hit, they pushed it for the competitive shooting community, put it out cheap enough to be a competitor against what was already available, and some how got aftermarket companies to start making triggers, base pads, and sights. And look at it go…

    FN sponsored a few USPSA shooters with the FNS-9, and they put the guns thru the rigors of national level competitive shooters. They held up, but that trigger pull, and the price point. Thats what killed it. The 509 will suffer the same fate.

    • Merlin October 13, 2017, 11:40 pm

      “The 509 will suffer the same fate.” You want to put money on that?

    • Russ H. December 18, 2017, 11:00 am

      LOL, you are shooting down the FN 509 and clearly, you haven\’t even HANDLED one – \”Unless the pictures are perspectively distorted or something, it looks HUGE.\” I suggest you at least go to a gun store and hold one before you comment on how big it is.

      • Tim Burke January 14, 2018, 3:28 am

        Have all three firearms
        Glock 19
        Sig p320
        FN 509
        When i first shot the 509 I was meh on the trigger.
        After some trigger time …I was impressed. It is crisp with zero over travel. Fast short reset. Zero chance to mess up the shot after the trigger is pulled… It is a very safe carry trigger yet easy to master and use .

        It is my carry as it has 18 rounds and isn’t hard to conceal.

        I like it

  • Tyler April 17, 2017, 10:44 am

    Another Glock, how interesting.

  • Vanns40 April 17, 2017, 10:07 am

    I’d like to try one but my only concern is the listing of service life being 35,000 rounds. I understand that for the once a month shooter this number will never be achieved but there are those of us who keep our guns (not sell them after a year) and we really shoot them, far in excess of 35,000 rounds. (No, I’m not a competitive shooter)

    What is FN’s warranty? If lifetime, will they rebuild or replace the gun if we wear it out at, say 75 or 100,000 or more rounds? What happens when we wear out the replacement gun? Many of you may laugh but I have two Glocks and each has more than 220,000 rounds through it, as do guns that a group of folks I shoot with (not all Glocks).

    • Chad Johnson December 18, 2017, 1:49 pm

      FN’s customers service is first rate. Almost every firearms manufacturer will repair or replace parts at a fee for parts worn from normal wear and tear. FN like most companies will even repair stuff broken from shooters negligence. FN will always fix, repair or replace anything due to manufacturers flaws.

      I’m sure you also know that barrel life also depends on how you train and rates of fire. The government always lowballs the round count for contract purposes and drags the actual count out to absurd muzzle and throat erosion. I taught shooting 18.5 years out of 21 in the Marine Corps, trust me that Beretta pistols aren’t as good or as bad as people or contracts say.

      Any firearms manufacturer, myself included tends to do any and everything to make weapons better, fix weapons and cause no negative publicity. Try one at a range. You might like it.

  • Don Tros April 17, 2017, 9:38 am

    Looks like a Glock, Springfield and a Sig all mixed together. I like it though but wouldn’t pay $550 plus for it. And the statement “It’s very accurate” after saying it shoots high and to the right, well, hummmm?

  • Mister Ronald April 17, 2017, 9:33 am

    I like this gun, It looks very well designed and at 18 rounds with the one in the chamber is awsum.. This was a nice review except I gotta ask “””WHY DOES THIS GUY JUST LET THE EMPTY MAGAZINE DROP DOWN ONTO THE HARD SURFACE?????
    Dumb – Dumb – Dumb

    • Vanns40 April 17, 2017, 10:10 am

      You train the same as if you were in a real life situation, always. If your magazines won’t hold up to being dropped on the ground, no matter what the surface, you’ve got a problem.

      • Will Drider April 17, 2017, 12:52 pm

        You are 100% correct. When we train, we build muscle memory AND mental repetition of habits (good or bad). Let the mags and speed loaders hit the ground, leave them and the brass lay until preping for the next training cycle. There is a reason for retention of a partial loaded mag when you have time, cover or movement with minimal threat and you need to top off before a heavier engagement potential.

        • Vanns40 April 17, 2017, 3:25 pm

          I’ve dumped a mag with two rounds in it and I’ve dumped one with six rounds in it. The one thing I try never to do is run a gun dry. 🙂

          • Why June 19, 2017, 8:29 am

            Why do you leave rounds in the dropped mags?

  • Infidel7.62 April 17, 2017, 7:42 am

    Build one with a hammer and it might be interesting.

    • Cody April 17, 2017, 7:55 am

      They have been making hammer fired guns for quite sometime. Look at the FNX series….

    • chad April 17, 2017, 8:27 am

      They already do, the fnx.

    • MB April 17, 2017, 9:57 am

      FNX9 and 40. I have 9, so far about 4000 down range, zero FTF, FTE, or any other malfunction. It’s SA/DA, with decocker. Shoots better than I do.

  • Jay Abramson April 17, 2017, 7:33 am

    What is the difference between the 509 and FNS series pistols?

    • Robert W Eucare May 22, 2017, 4:52 pm

      One is called the 509 and the other is the FNS. ;p

  • DeBee Cirket April 17, 2017, 6:25 am

    The FN factory and sales staff have no apparent enthusiasm for it’s guns. Dave Sevigny wins with the FNS9.
    Dave doesn’t share info.

  • SmarterThanYou April 17, 2017, 4:41 am

    That isn’t the MHS submission, it was derived from it though.

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