FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
The FNH 502 is everything you could want in a trainer.

In my opinion, perhaps the hottest new gun of 2021 is a rimfire. The new FNH 502 has proven to be everything we needed for this day and age. Why am I, usually the tactical nerd for GunsAmerica Digest, so hot and bothered for a pistol that shoots 22 LR? Well mostly because I have purchased ammunition in the last two years. And even before that, I was very intrigued by the idea of a training pistol in a cheaper caliber. The FNH delivers in a way no one else has to date.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Small, but functional, 1911 style safety

When we think of a training pistol, what do we need? First, it should feel like our duty pistol. For most of us, that means a striker-fired plastic fantastic. 1911 guys for decades have had access to first-rate caliber conversions or dedicated 22LR platforms. For the rest of us, we have been left in the cold. What was needed is a full-size 22 pistol, that does all the things our centerfire blaster does, and works. It is also a requirement that it have a TRIGGER that feels like our duty pistol.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Made by Umarex, renowned for rimfires, and FNH

I was initially concerned when I pulled the 502 out of the box, due to the presence of a hammer. I had a moment of pure disgust when I thought perhaps FNH had given us a DA/SA gun. I don’t hate DA/SA, but I also don’t carry one anymore. Fortunately, it turns out the 502 is a single action, much more to my liking. This could have also gone very wrong, as you all know a single action is not exactly the same as a striker-fired pistol. A quick couple of dry fires revealed that FNH did build a single action, but it feels not unlike a good striker-fired trigger.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
External hammer

Why would I want a striker-fired feeling trigger? Once again, the training value. I will readily admit that both a Browning Buckmark and a Ruger 22/45 has amazing triggers out of the box, better even than a 1911. Which is fine, if the goal is to shoot bullseye or plink in the woods. In my opinion, they are almost useless as a training platform solely because of the fantastic trigger. I can’t very well shoot 10,000 rounds of extra-crisp, light, perfect trigger and expect that to translate over to my 5.5-pound duty gun.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Red Dot ready out of the box

The 502 trigger breaks at about 3.75 pounds, with just a little take-up. It feels nearly identical to the FNH 509 series triggers, which I have to assume was the goal. The 509 family has arguably the best striker-fired triggers in the game out of the box, so that is not a slight. The objective was to make a 509 feeling trainer, and that has been met in spades. The presence of an external hammer, in this case, has no effect, except perhaps to make the 502 more reliable with bulk 22LR. And it does that very well.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Thread protector with O ring to keep it in place

The 502 features a footprint eerily close if not a perfect match for the 509. I really wish I had a 509 on hand to compare to, if only in the grip area. The grip feels like it might be slightly smaller than the 509, but I am working off of memory. If that is true, it is a minor change. This isn’t a scaled-down, 3/4ths size gun that we often see in 22LR platforms. So not only is the feel correct, in most cases, you can use a 509 holster.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Iron sight plate, with a replaceable rear sight.

The most important other aspects are the included bits. First, it comes out of the box with a threaded barrel. You are suppressor-ready, no need for a $150 add-on. It has a Picatinny rail, so you can use lights and lasers just like a real-duty pistol. Oh, and it’s optics ready. A not insignificant detail.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Suppressor height sights are the default setting

Inspired by the patented 509 low profile optics mounting system, the 502 comes with plates for all your favorite red dots. The 502 slide mounts are just like a real tactical pistol, which I was skeptical of, to say the least. Making a 22LR run with a reciprocating slide is difficult enough. The weight of a red dot on top should have given the engineers fits. However they did it, it works. Our test model ran all day long with an RMR in place, without a hiccup to be seen. Even when we were using subsonic rounds.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
10 vs 15 round magazine

Another important feature is the magazine capacity. Our test model shipped with both a 10 and 15 rounder, which is standard if you live in a free state. The 15 rounds on day one part are huge in my opinion. If I want to mimic drills I might run with my duty pistol, capacity is important. 15 is close enough for what I carry to work. 15 vs 10 isn’t a huge difference on paper, but it does matter a lot if you plan to train hard with the 502. Habits die hard, and you don’t want to get in the mental space of reloading every 8 rounds if you can avoid it.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Fit with the 10

The magazines themselves are also a brilliant engineering solution. They look like single stack Buckmark mags with a polymer shell around the base. Single stacks do feed better with 22LR, that is known. So this represents a great way to use a proven magazine design, but make it feel like reloading a “real” magazine. The motion of reloading the 502 is exactly like reloading a 509, to include how the magazine feels coming out of the pouch. Not to mention, you can once again use your duty set up for training.

FNH 502: Greatest Trainer of All Time?
Fit with the 15

To me, the 502 represents the absolute best choice available today for a training pistol. It ran everything we fed it, including Remington Golden Sabers. That is my ultimate reliability test. If a gun will eat bulk Remington trash, it will eat anything. It also eats subsonic like a kid on candy. Red dot ready, suppressor-ready, and appropriately sized. The 502 does it all.

Click HERE to visit FN for more information.

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  • Gene May 15, 2022, 11:54 pm

    What is the name of the Red Dot on the FNH 502 and what is the name of the suppresor? What was the cost of the two?

  • John March 1, 2022, 7:12 am

    ” I had a moment of pure disgust when I thought perhaps FNH had given us a DA/SA gun.

    Seriously?

    ‘ A quick couple of dry fires revealed that FNH did build a single action, but it feels not unlike a good striker-fired trigger.”

    A decent single trigger pull should feel BETTER than a striker fired pistol.

    You striker fired bros sure do cripple yourselves. A revolver would probably send you into conniptions.

    Speaking of revos, a word of advice: if you can shoot a double action trigger well, you can shoot anything well.

    But this world belongs to striker bros. Everyone else just lives in it. *shrugs*

  • Jake February 28, 2022, 1:32 pm

    This looks pretty nice. The Walther PPQ M2 .22 is pretty much the 12 round .22 version of the M2 or Q5. Also not striker fire with an internal hammer. I do see what Clay means about magazines that feel the same as the centerfires and all that.
    Those complaining about .22 prices must also admit before this BS got underway Winchester 9mm NATO 124 fmj was $9 a box delivered in 1,000 round lots. If you get lucky on an auction site it’s high teens. Low to mid 20’s otherwise. Doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon.

  • Mike USN Ret February 28, 2022, 8:28 am

    What is this “cheaper caliber ammunition” you speak of. Around these parts, .22LR is going for 20 cents/pop. Used to be 2 cents.

  • Kenneth S Ragan February 28, 2022, 8:25 am

    I agree on the Taurus tx22. They also have the competition version that takes red dots and it can hold 21 rounds in a magazine with the tandem cross mod.

  • Charlie February 28, 2022, 8:07 am

    Taurus TX is a dead on tack driver, need to see what the 502 does

  • Danielle February 28, 2022, 4:58 am

    I’m not going to argue this is a great training pistol, but what makes it superior to the Taurus TX22? The TX22 has 16 round capacity, a great trigger, threaded barrel, optic ready version, and is reliable. And bonus, a significantly less price point! Why would I pay $200 more for the FN 502?

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