By Rick Staples
The FNS is a 9mm, striker-fired, 17-shot pistol.
Right after the 2012 SHOT Show I received a call from a friend about a new striker fired handgun. He directed me to OMB GUNS in Olathe Kansas. It was there that I got my hands on the new FNS striker fired 9mm pistol.
First impressions mean a lot, even in the gun business. I picked it up handled it, and bought it.
Since I have owned the FNS I have now put a little over 400 rounds through it. There have been no stoppages of any kind with every brand of ammo I have shot through it.
I really wanted to like the trigger on this pistol, but I don't. On my copy the trigger breaks at 5 pounds 13 ounces, for all intents and purposes, 6 pounds, within the spec in the FNS owner's manual (range from 5.5 to 7.7 pounds). This does not mean that a person cannot LEARN this trigger. I was able to manage it. A really light trigger is a BAD thing to have on an issue law enforcement pistol. In 35 plus years in law enforcement I held a bunch of folks at "gun-point". When your heart rate is about 180 and that front sight looks like it is attached to a paint mixer you don't want a light trigger. With all that said, I think the trigger could be brought down to just under 5 pounds and be a bit more manageable.
The FNS 9 ships in a lockable plastic box with three-magazines.
I really like everything else. The gun comes in a really decent lockable plastic box with three
magazines. The manual is easy to read with good photos. There is a small lock and two interchangeable backstraps, basically a small and a large.
The pistols controls are ambidextrous; the slide stop, safety, and magazine release are located on both sides of the pistol. The ambidextrous controls will assist in streamlining training for agencies.
The pistol is very reliable. It has really good sights; mine is equipped with the factory night sights. The front sight is approximately .130 inches wide by .20 inches tall. The rear sight has a notch approximately .135 inches wide. The rear sight has a "U" shape to the bottom edge. On my pistol the front sight tritium element fits perfectly in that groove and lines up with the rear sight elements. The night sights on my pistol are made by Trijicon.
The magazines are made of metal and have a capacity of 17 rounds in 9mm. The metal magazines are slim making the grip slim. Seventeen rounds of 9x19 allow for less manipulation under dire circumstances.
The main controls (magazine release button, slide release, thumb safety) are ambidextrous, a good thing for agency issue).
I like the fact the FNS has a manual safety, it provides options. Keep the safety ON while loading and unloading. The safety does NOT block the slide when it is on. My rule is that I will not carry any handgun "off-body" (in a portfolio or briefcase) unless it is DA/SA or equipped with a manual safety. The safety is small, but workable. It operates like a conventional 1911 safety. There is a red dot for those that are vision dependent to indicate the pistol is OFF-SAFE. Like most modern striker fired pistols the FNS has a drop safety and a hinged trigger safety.
I contacted Neil Davies, of Hornady ammunition, at the NRA show and asked about his company's latest Critical Duty load for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge. He advised that he would ship some out. The ammo arrived and off to the range I went with the FNS and five different loads.
Even with the heavy trigger I was able to turn in some VERY respectable groups.
AMMO Velocity best 5 shot group
Hornady 124 gr. TAP FPD 1108 fps 2.2 inches
Hornady 135 gr. Critical Duty 1010 fps 2.3 inches
Hornady 135+P Critical Duty 1092 fps 2.4 inches
Remington 115gr. Ball FMJ 1114 fps 2.7 inches
Winchester 127+p+ Ranger 1221 fps 2.1 inches
These were the best of five, 5-shot groups fired with the ammo. I shot from a stable sandbag rest. Several of the groups had four shot clusters that were in the one inch plus range with the fifth kicking it open to two inches. The range was 25 yards.
All of the ammo fed without a single problem. The Winchester Ranger load is a real screamer and street reports attest to its effectiveness. I haven't shot the 135 grain Hornady ammo into any ballistic gel, but my guess is that it will perform.
I think the FNS would make a great issue sidearm for law enforcement. It would appear that the folks at FNH have listened to the law enforcement consumers and have responded. It is well made (made in the USA by the way) and above all reliable. I haven't seen an armorer's manual yet. My guess is that it is pretty simple on the inside. Field stripping the pistol is straightforward and explained well in the owner's manual.
I'd like a better trigger. Still, it shoots well, it is reliable, and it has great sights. I think it will make a great stock service contender for IDPA competition. It would make a great pistol for the licensed CCW license holder. It's ready to go.
Rick Staples served 35 years, 5 months and 29 days in law enforcement with a mid-sized city police department. He served in patrol, investigations, warrant service, SWAT, fugitive apprehension and training. His last eight years were spent at the Regional Police Academy as a full time trainer. He has been a "gun-guy" for over 46 years. He started his career in 1973, the "blue steel guns and wooden clubs" era, as he puts it.