Gun Preview: FNH-USA FNS-9

I picked up Nick’s FNS-9 earlier this week and I’ve got grand plans to test it out and write a review for this week. In the interim, I put together a short overview video showing some of the features as well as a demonstration of the trigger travel, break, and reset. My first impressions are . . .

It’s a finely made duty pistol that’s managed to handle whatever Leghorn has thrown at it over the last year and 4000-5000 rounds. It is totally filthy and a little dinged up which means I can’t do much more damage to it.

Things I like:

– The Trijicon Night Sights are bright in the dark, but still very clear and crisp in the light of day
– The frame is covered in aggressive checking which makes getting a grip very easy
– The trigger is fantastic. It breaks cleanly at 5.25 pounds and has the loudest audible & tactile reset I’ve ever experienced
– Even after thousands of rounds, it seems to be devoid of rattles and in good shape

Things I’m not excited about:

– The grip is too big for my hands. I’m not going to deduct any points because FNH has done their best to accommodate, but Nick hasn’t. FNH provides interchangeable backstraps. Nick didn’t give me the smaller one. [ED: FN’s sending the smaller backstrap special delivery.]
– It has a manual safety. Some people prefer it, but I’m not one of them.

I’m looking forward to shooting it and may just add it to the list of guns I’d recommend to people for their first defensive pistol…if all goes well. Watch this space.

comments

  1. I think the manual safety was included to bid for .mil contracts.

  2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    I’ve never understood some people’s aversion to safeties. Maybe it’s happened, but I’ve never heard a story of anyone getting shot or hurt because they fumbled trying to get their weapon off safe. But I have heard several stories of LEOs having their life saved when someone got a hold of their weapon and couldn’t figure out the safety. Seems to me if you do even a nominal amount of practice it will flick off without any thought.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      It’s a manual of arms thing. I got rid of all my manual safety guns because my primary carry gun became a safetyless gun and I didn’t want to switch my draw technique every time I changed guns. It would be a real drag to do the draw and fire bit when you really needed to do the draw, flick and fire routine. Also, I have had at least 1 or 2 instances of a safety turning itself on at some point, preventing me from firing my gun when I did draw it.

      1. avatar DanRRZ says:

        For me, it is completely the opposite. I started off with a commander sized 1911, thus the thumb sweep was an established part of my draw stroke. I was however a bit spoiled by the extended controls, and upon switching to a Shield I had a bit of trouble sweeping off the lower profile safety at first. With practice and breaking in the factory stiffness it became a non issue.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          +1

          It is so ingrained that I disengage the safety on guns that don’t have a safety. Automatically sweeping down on the safety is the reason I can’t carry a Beretta product even though I like shoot well with them. The safety goes the wrong way.. There is also the option of disengaging the safety when you are carrying it. You only really need it if you are securing the gun.

        2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          I carry a Beretta 92 and personally I like the slide safety because it’s less intuitive. Not an issue with even a little practice, but going back and forth could be a problem. I would however warn against carrying with the safety off because I have on a couple of occasions noticed that my safety was disengaged. If it can accidentally disengage it can also accidentally engage. Working the safety should only cost a tenth of a second or so, but it could take two or three seconds to figure out why your gun didn’t fire when you’re under pressure.

      2. avatar A samurai says:

        The key to muscle memory is consistency. Draw every pistol the same as every other and many problems are avioded.

        1. avatar A samurai says:

          Avoided **

      3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        Yes, it does make sense if your primary carry weapon is safetyless. If you’re going to switch around it would be best to keep the weapons as similar as possible. That said when choosing your primary carry weapon I don’t see a safety as a detriment. In fact I’d go so far as to say that where I live and the places I go, I’m a lot more likely to have a brain fart than to encounter an violent felon, so the more brain fart resistant my weapon is the better. Your mileage may vary.

        I do find it odd that firearms with the option of a safety or a decock only seem to have gone out of fashion. Probably has something to do with striker fired weapons taking over such a large part of the market share.

        1. avatar El Mac says:

          It speaks to the dumbing down of society to the lowest common denominator.

    2. avatar A samurai says:

      No matter what pistol it is, when you draw your thumb will have to traverse to the inboard side of the grip. Just practice that motion, in the manner that allows your thumb to fall past the slide to the grip in an arching motion. In this way safety or not every time you draw any pistol your thumb will disengage a present safety. If there isn’t one, no foul. You didn’t waste any time because your thumb has to pass through that general area anyway.

    3. avatar don says:

      There was a video from a jewelry store robbery going around a few years ago that showed exactly that. The clerk had the jump on the robbers but couldn’t shoot the gun because the safety was on and he was too stressed to get it off. Shot dead right there on the video. Really sad.
      I don’t disagree though that there are a lot of positives to a safety and training with it can easily overcome the issue.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        I don’t doubt it’s happened, but then there are a lot of people who buy guns and never shoot them. They stick them in a drawer and think they’re good to go. Personally I love shooting and I believe I’m very familiar with the functions of my firearms, so I suppose a little more personal information would be needed to know if those cases have any bearing on what I might do in such a high stress situation.

    4. avatar Steve says:

      I don’t care for safeties on my carry guns. IMHO, firearms for that purpose should be stupid simple (“just point and click,” I like to say). However, I honestly regret that my nightstand gun doesn’t have a thumb safety. Even though it has a long, relatively heavy, double-action trigger, I don’t feel comfortable keeping it loaded, especially not with one in the chamber. I like to dry fire my guns, but I also like to drink beer (disaster waiting to happen), and even though I don’t have any children of my own, my 7 year old niece often comes to visit us (also a disaster waiting to happen). Flicking off a safety is easier, quicker, and much quieter than slamming in a magazine and racking the slide.

    5. avatar Michael says:

      My Glock has two external safeties. One is a holster and the other is my trigger finger.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        Covering the trigger with a holster is one of the most effective safeties you can have. There was a case a little while ago where a guy had a pocket gun in his pocket without a holster and a toddler managed to fire it right into his chest and died.

    6. avatar Accur81 says:

      I went to a shooting where one of my buddies inadvertently tripped the safety on his sidearm. He had a chance to shoot, and was justified in using lethal force against an armed robbery in progress. Thankfully his partner was able to shoot and kill the robber – armed with a .22 revolver – before anyone else was hurt or killed.

      I’m not a fan of manual safeties on handguns. YMMV.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        As I mentioned above keeping a safety equipped firearm off safe is a bad idea for that very reason. Flicking the safety off should be a natural part of your draw, whether it’s engaged or not.

        The counter argument is that I have to ask myself how many IGOD winners would continue in their blissful anonymity had they had a safety engaged on their firearm. Not that either argument isn’t a legitimate opinion IMO.

    7. avatar sagebrushracer says:

      I like a safety as a training tool for people who are completely unfamiliar with firearms. IF they make a mistake with trigger or muzzle discipline, the safety is always on until they are standing ready to fire. That way you can bring it to their attention with less risk of a ND.

      For my bump in the night guns, they stay loaded, chambered and safety disengaged (if it even has one). the less things I have to remember while sleep fogged, the better.

  3. avatar Andrew says:

    How does the “loaning” of a firearm work if you guys aren’t face to face? Did Nick send it to your FFL for a sales price of zero dollars?

    1. avatar Tyler Kee says:

      We live close enough to do a face to face. And we’re Texans.

    2. avatar michael nieto says:

      Maybe they are both in Texas

  4. avatar El Mac says:

    IMO, the FNS is one of the most underrated of the polymers. It is an outstanding pistol. While it owes many design features to the Glunk, it far surpases the Glunk in most respects.

    The only downside for me is the undersized thumb safety. I love having the thumb safety. I just wish it were bigger. Are you listening FN?

    1. avatar rawmade says:

      Released at $650ish, now they still kinda sit on shelves for $450 WITH night sights.
      I dont get it. They are one of the better polymer guns IMO

      1. avatar El Mac says:

        Agreed. They simply don’t have the propaganda to go with it unlike “Handgun Perfection”…….but, there is a chance of a large contract coming which if it happens, could launch them like a Saturn V rocket.

      2. avatar tfunk says:

        Please tell me where I can buy it for $450 with night sights. I want one of these but at anything near me they are still over $600

  5. avatar Twinkie says:

    BO-RING. Come back when we have a FNS-9 Long Slide.

    1. avatar Lauderdale Vet says:

      I’ve got one. I love it.

      It’s a far better firearm than I am a shooter.

  6. avatar emfourty gasmask says:

    Had one and didn’t like the over aggressive texturing at all. Replaced it with a Steyr M9-A1 and I can say I like the Steyr alot more, really.

  7. avatar OMGWTF10MM says:

    If you get a chance, weigh the slide without the barrel and RSA. I noticed that the old FNP in .40 cal was too snappy because of the low slide weight. I do realize that you are testing the 9mm, but I still feel this information would be interesting when evaluating how “soft” shooting a particular pistol is.

    1. avatar Tyler Kee says:

      Will do

  8. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    Re: Use of manual safety:

    +1 for not using a manual/thumb safety on a carry gun. If you’re carrying it, it will be in a retention holster. That’s your ‘safety’ mechanism (besides your brain and finger of course). If you need to ‘clear leather/kydex’, no worries about any additional steps before you can engage and defend yourself. You can practice the same way every time. Same trigger pull every time (assuming you’re running a striker fired gun of course).

    However, there are always exceptions… The one gun I do prefer to have a manual/thumb safety is my ‘home defense/night stand handgun’. It coincidentally is an FNX-45 tactical. No worries about size at home (this is FULL sized). Great night sites, 15+1 rounds of .45 JHP on tap – and it has a manual safety. I like this because I don’t keep it in a holster (but in a nightstand), so I like a step between me and discharge, especially when going from completely asleep to having a gun in my hand. I’m also not presumably in a wild west style ‘who can clear leather quicker’ scenario from my bed, as with many Carry scenarios. Presumably, I would hear a bump in the night and be able to put it from safe/safe, to cocked and locked, then to fire – if needed.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    1. avatar Max says:

      Ok. Imma go shoot and carry a pistol with a manual safety now…

  9. avatar P. Nessman says:

    I have never understood all the discussion about safeties on handguns. I like to be safe so I carry without one in the chamber. Sometimes I also don’t have a mag in there – but extra mags on my belt.
    I practice every day – draw, tactical mag insert, tactical racking, dry fire, look around in an exaggerated manner, drop mag, reholster… sure, people say that may be too slow to get sights on target but I feel that it looks so cool doing all that it’s much more likely the assailant will see my skillz and flee.
    Actually, can anyone tell me how to figure out if I have a safety on my pistol… I don’t get to the range often…

    1. avatar the ruester says:

      I do all of this stuff all the time, also. Think it’s crazy to chamber a round. Don’t get me started on magazine-disconnects, I love them to death. Come to think of it, we might want to duck…

      1. avatar Max says:

        Just don’t ever assume that your setup is best for everyone else and I think you’ll be safe. I completely disagree with both of you, but unless you get all up in my face about it we can be completely civil to each other under the understanding that we’ve found what’s best for us individually.

        It’s the same thing with all of the safety vs. no-safety BS going on above. Different (draw) strokes for different folks! Deal with it!

        1. avatar Dan A says:

          Max, pretty sure they were both being facetious

        2. avatar max says:

          Dammit! And now I look like the slow one…

  10. avatar Rimfire says:

    If the manual safety is a concern, couldn’t it be pinned to remain off?

    1. avatar El Mac says:

      If the manual safety scares you, the FNS can be had without a safety.

  11. avatar Friendly Neighborhood Gunsmith says:

    FNH must have made some impressive improvements to the FNS line in the past year or so. I jumped on the FNS wagon when they first hit the market and was EXTREMELY underwhelmed by 7+ pound, gritty pulls with massive overtravel. This was common among several examples of the pistols in both calibers here at the shop, and they all had a massive MIM injection point crater on the striker blocking plunger contact surface that made the takeup feel like a bunch of potholes. FNH’s support said that was “normal” and since it was a striker based gun it would “never have a great trigger like a 1911”. That is almost verbatim.

    I’ll have to give them another look at the lower price they seem to be sitting at if that is indeed the case. I’d be more than happy with a 5-ish pound pull I can work with, instead of badly manufactured MIM parts with craters too deep to polish out without affecting fit. The internal design is really rather clever and has a lot of potential, just the first batch I got my hands on deeply soured my view of the pistol.

    Additionally, thinking at first the crater on the plunger was a defect I requested an RMA for the pistol. Had to pay my own shipping and keeping track of it was a real pain. Three weeks later I received the gun back exactly the same as I had sent it in, MIM crater and all. I sincerely hope FNH has changed their customer service and support since then.

    1. avatar Dan A says:

      I can’t speak for their CS but I work at a gun store and the first FNSs we got in had horrible, awful triggers. The triggers on the ones we have now aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re at least workable.

  12. avatar user3369 says:

    I wouldn’t rush to deduct points for the safety. A quick search of gun broker can find you an FNS without a manual safety for not much more. Call it a premium feature.

    You probably won’t find one (you shouldn’t, as it is LEO only) at the gun shop without one, but it can be had.

    As thus the whole “safety vs no safety” argument, in reference to this particular firearm, is invalid.

  13. avatar Paul W says:

    Can’t you just not switch the safety on, or does theirs automatically set?

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