While everyone and their uncle sings the continuous, angelic praises of other striker-fired pistols and seemingly never talk about any other brand, I am never one to walk with a crowd of people. I tend to take the road less-traveled, and I always shave against the grain–on the rare occasion that I do actually shave since I received my DD214. Meet the FNS9-C FDE, the one capable of knocking them all from their respected pedestals.
Before I get to the actual gun review of FN’s FNS9 compact in flat dark earth (FDE), let me tell you why I feel like I’m qualified to write this review for you. I have owned my fair share of striker-fired pistols, and have handled even more that weren’t lucky enough to be mine.
My name is Josh Gillem and I’ve been shooting guns since I was a little kid. I got my first shotgun, a 12 gauge single-shot, when I was just 10 years old. I actually still have that gun in my safe and won’t likely ever get rid of it. My old man and I went hunting numerous times throughout the years for squirrel, deer, and pheasant.
Though, sadly, I don’t ever remember hitting my target. Thankfully, I joined the Marines in my late teens where I learned more than Kentucky Windage.
I would eventually go on to qualify with a rifle, M9 pistol, and go through a 240 Golf machine gun course (Please note that I was not a machine gunner, just b-billeted).
I’ve since tried my hand in law enforcement as a state corrections officer, which, by the way, was the worst year of my life. I mention that experience because in order to graduate the academy, I had to qualify with a .38 revolver and 12 gauge shotgun. And finally, I’ve been working in the gun industry where my work can be found on several of the biggest gun publications in the industry.
Why do I mention all of this? Because there are some folks out there who give horrible advice, shady reviews, and some “gun publications” who, when you look deep down inside them, aren’t actually pro-gun in the least bit. I’m not going to point any fingers, or name any names, not now at least. For now, just know that anti-gun “gun websites” do exist and this is NOT one of them.
We are as pro-gun, pro-2A as you can get. Each one of us carries a handgun for protection and goes to the range on a regular basis to train.
Let’s move on …
First Impressions of this pistol from FN:
I remember opening the small, tan, soft case this little compact pistol came in for the first time while at my FFL. As is my general practice, I always open up the case and inspect my new test guns. I always run my finger over the entire piece, check out all of its contours and lines, do a chamber check, and then feel the trigger.
I was surprised at what I felt, but in a good way. The trigger shoe was large and beefy, leaving no doubt whether the pad of my finger was right where it was supposed to be.
This trigger was, for the most part, as crisp of a trigger as I’ve ever felt on a polymer-framed, striker-fired gun.
To my benefit, as a shooter, there is a tactile trigger break after a small amount of take up without any over travel. The trigger reset can also be felt and heard and I really appreciate the work FN Herstal put into this compact concealed carry gun.
Let me be clear on one thing, this is likely one of the best triggers I’ve ever felt on a gun like this. There are some that come close, but the FNS9-C, being what it is with an MSRP at under $600, this trigger is fantastic. Oh, and I almost forgot, while I didn’t measure its weight, I’d guestimate it somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 pounds.
The grip’s texturing may be a bit aggressive for some, but I can say that it didn’t bother me at all, and, actually, I liked it. I’ve had guns in the past, like the XD Mod.2, where the grip texture was annoying on my skin. While I haven’t changed the positioning of my carry gun, this one isn’t so aggressive that it rubs me the wrong way.
I guess now is a good point to mention that FN also includes two different backstraps for different sized hands. I can say that the one that came installed on this concealed carry gun hasn’t been changed because it works well for me. I have the distinct thought that says this: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I can hit my target well at ranges varying from 5-25 yards with ease, and the compact 3.6 inch barrel did not hinder me at all.
Let’s talk about how reliable the FNS9-Compact is:
The FNS9-C ran flawlessly the entire time I had it. This is the 9mm version of this concealed carry pistol, and this double-action compact handgun was reliable almost to a fault. I mean, how boring, right? To not have any malfunctions after running several hundreds of rounds down range?
Of course I’m being sarcastic here a bit. Seriously though, this is exactly the kind of pistol you want on your hip with the S hits the F because it works, without issue. Every. Single. Time.
How many times, exactly? Well, I actually lost count. But each time I go to the range with a test gun I bring 150 rounds with me. I’ve had this pistol for 3+ months and go to the range on an almost weekly basis. Granted, I didn’t take it with me each time because I can’t make ammo rain down like Manna from Heaven, but that’s a lot of rounds down range any way you slice it.
And, just so we are both on the same page, no gun belongs in my house unless it runs dirty. Plus, I know some folks clean their guns even less than I do and I want to give a realistic review of every firearm. So, I have not cleaned it a single time since I’ve had it. Have I put some Frog Lube on it to moisten her up a bit? Sure. But have I taken it apart to actually run cleaning brushes and junk through it? Not once.
Again, she ran like a top. So much so, in fact, that I’m not ready to give it back. Why else do you think I’ve had it for over my allotted time with it?
How is it as a carry piece?
Every single time I get a pistol in I carry it concealed, regardless of size. There are exceptions to this, of course. For example, I don’t carry guns for self-defense if they suck. If it’s a jam’o mattic, I will not carry it because it’s obviously not the best pistol around.
But, I digress … It doesn’t matter which gun it is, if it works I conceal it. Thankfully, this time the handgun was a compact gun that is designed to be carried for self-defense. It concealed nicely and with the short, 12 round magazine with pinky extender, I never even knew it was there.
Of course, I was able to slide the 17 round magazine into a mag pouch for even more bad-guy stoppers. Let’s see … 12 in the short magazine, plus 17 in the full-size mag, plus one in the pipe equals 30 rounds of 9mm. By the way, if you’re curious about the type of ammo I trust most, it’s this one.
This is where things start to get a bit tricky. Even though this gun has been out for a bit in another color, there is not a tremendous amount of holster support for it. In fact, I reached out to my go-to holster companies for help and they each said they don’t have anything for it.
That’s fine, because I did find someone to help me out. JM4 Tactical provided me with one of their newest magnetic holsters that’s a bit different than the one you saw me do a review on in the past. This particular leather holster allows the gun to sit up higher, so you can get that full, combat grip from the draw a lot easier.
This review on the holster I used for this FNS9-C is coming your way as soon as I can get it done. So stay tuned for that.
I wanted to dedicate a small section just to these magazines. The pistol FN sent out to me came with a 12 round mag and a 17 round magazine. I’ve heard many other people claim that their magazines did not drop free when the release was pressed, but I didn’t have any drop-free issues whatsoever.
This leads me to believe that one of four things happened —
- They fixed the issue
- I got a lemon
- Other people lied
- Other folks have no clue how to operate a firearm
I believe that the first one is the most likely option and that there was an issue at some point with mags not dropping like they should, requiring them to be stripped, but no more. Again, this pistol ran flawless in every regard. I will say this, however, if your fingers are effing ginormous like mine are with thumbs that don’t bend in the right spots, you will have a hard time pressing the tear-shaped magazine release.
That’s something I don’t like. But, this happens to me on all mag releases of this type and I generally need my mag release to stick out more. I’m guessing the reason why these are so low-profile, is because they’re trying to create a snag-free design. If that’s the case, which I believe it is, FN America succeeded because as far as I can tell, there’s nothing to snag except the 3-dot sights.
It’s bound to happen, because no single gun can be perfect. Plus, it’s my duty as a gun writer to inform you of any potential pitfalls to be aware of. Having the gorilla-sized hands I do, I don’t have a hard time grabbing the slide on any firearm and pulling it back.
However, those folks with weaker hands (both men and women of all ages), may have a hard time sending a round into the chamber because the recoil spring is a bit on the stiff side. Again, if you have at least average strength in your hands, you should be fine.
Also, any firearm that requires the trigger to be pulled for disassembly is a recipe for disaster. NOT because the gun is unsafe, but because people are stupid. Seriously, the more you handle a gun the more complacent you’re likely to get. If you remember the basic rules of firearms safety and then follow these additional rules for safety, this should be a non-issue.
But again, people are stupid.
And then, I believe this brings me to my final point …
Takedown of the FNS-9 Compact:
It’s simple. So simple, in fact, I’m not even going to show you how to do it. Simply remove the magazine, make sure there are no rounds anywhere in or near your gun, pull and lock the slide to the rear, rotate the take-down lever, release the slide, pull the trigger, and then pull the slide off. Of course, doing all of that with this 9mm handgun pointed in a safe direction.
To put it back together, just reverse the process. It is that simple. Just like many other guns on the market.
This is one of the best concealed carry guns on the market. Is it perfect? Uh, no. No gun is. But if you can get past some little things you’ll have no problem. All that really matters to me is that it can save my life when I need it to, and I believe that it will without failure, each time I have to put the squeeze on the trigger. For more information, you can visit FN’s page here, or …
Here are some specs, taken from FN:
- CALIBER: 9mm
- OPERATION: Double-action
- MAG CAPACITY: 10, 12, or 17 Rd.
- WEIGHT: 23.4 oz.
- BARREL LENGTH: 3.6″
- OVERALL LENGTH: 6.7″
- TWIST RATE: 1:10″ RH
- HEIGHT: 5.2″
- WIDTH: 1.35″
- TRIGGER PULL: 5.5 – 7.7 lb.
- SIGHT RADIUS: 5.6″