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Fall’s almost here. I’ve been out in the not-quite-so-superheated Texas air, testing the next contender in my Perfect Truck Pistol series: the .45-caliber FNX-45 Tactical. For those who don’t remember how this whole thing started, I need a pistol that can reliably and ethically take game, but serve as a concealed carry firearm during short trips to town. After pushing 400 +P rounds of both handloaded and commercial ammunition through the FNX-45 Tactical, I was impressed . . .

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The FNX-45 Tactical looks and feels like a beefed-up CZ97B. I’m a huge fan of that chunk of Czech goodness, so I wasn’t surprised that FN’s Belgian-descended baby fit my hand well, with all the controls easily within reach. I should say I wasn’t surprised much. The FNX-45 Tactical looks huge. With its knobby rails, high sights, long grip, rounded magazine bottom and barrel extension, fitted with the large backstrap, the FNX seems like it belongs to a giant action hero.

The FNX doesn’t feel big. My fingers get a better grip and I have a farther reach on its trigger than I do with my Wilson Combat Beretta 92FS. The FNX-45 Tactical is the perfect size – for bear-pawed me – to get a solid wrap around the gun. Shifting my grip to manipulate the controls was as easy as Paris Hilton after two cocktails.

The FNX-45 Tactical’s decocker is its safety. All the way up for safe, one position down for fire, and all the way down to decock the gun. I like to ride my strong hand thumb on the safety to get as high a grip as possible; I was worried my grip would decock the gun. After hundreds of rounds, right- and left-handed, it never did. Oh, and the gun is completely ambidextrous.

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An unloaded FNX-45 Tactical tips the scales at 33 oz. Almost all of the weight is in the slide. So while the FNX-45 Tactical weighs slightly more than the 10mm GLOCK G20, it has a much milder recoil profile. Shooting standard pressure Winchester White Box .45ACP out of the FNX-45 Tactical is almost as comfortable as shooting 9mm out of a full-size pistol. Yes, but … launching a 230gr round at 850fps isn’t what I want out of this pistol. That round is likely to leave pigs to die another day. To see if the FNX-45 Tactical’s a good hunting pistol, I had to speed things up a bit with some hotter loads.

I also had to shell out some serious cash. Quality commercial .45 +P loads ain’t cheap. For this review, I shot 100 rounds of Remington Golden Saber 185 gr HPs at 1140 fps; 40 rounds of Double Tap 255 gr SWC at 875 fps; and 40 rounds of Hornady’s 230gr Critical Duty round at 990 fps.

I did all of my shooting either from a kneel or shooting off a bean bag I keep in my truck for just such emergencies. The commercial ammunition delivered perfectly satisfactory accuracy. Remington’s Golden Saber +P round printed 3″ groups, as did Hornady’s. Shooting DoubleTap 255 gr SWC at 875 fps through the FNX-45 Tactical from my truck, I was consistently getting 2 3/4″ groups. Sold!

This load gives me just about 400 ft-lbs of energy at 50 yards – enough accuracy to shoot a 6″ group at that range. That makes the FNX-45 Tactical a legitimate brush hunting gun for hill country deer, pig, or javelina. It also got me thinking about hand loads for the gun. Since I had decided that I’d buy the gun, I didn’t worry too much about breaking it. So I did quite a bit of load development for it.

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I fed the FNX with hand loads all the way up to a 255gr SWC at 900 fps. (Some of those are pretty stout, to say the least.) This pistol performs well with heavy Oregon Trails SWC pills and manages recoil surprisingly well. That frame-pounding 255 gr hand load above printed 1 1/2″ for my best groups off a bag on my window. I got the same group size for two other +P hand loads that were not quite as hot and not quite a punishing on the case or the frame.

I played with four different bullets, four different powders and lots of different OALs. I spent some nine hours on the range and a lot more time at the reloading bench. But that level of accuracy delighted me. No offense to the good folks at FN, but the FNX-45 Tactical rattles like a toolbox and the frame feels like a toy. And yet it shoots a stout .45ACP by any standard quiet well. Shooting off my truck with the bean bag out to 50 yards, I put eight out of 10 rounds inside a 6″ circle without much difficulty.

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The FNX-45 Tactical’s reliability was unimpeachable – after the first week. When I first took possession of the gun, I broke it down and cleaned it as per the instructions. On a full magazine, it had repeated failures to feed – both first rounds a subsequent rounds – but only for the first f0ur or five rounds in each of the three standard magazines. I was ready to give the gun a big fat zero for reliability. But a couple of people on an FN fan site suggested a fix: sit the gun down with the magazines full for a week.

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I was dubious, but there was no harm in trying. After a week’s time out I shot the gun again. I have no idea why that worked, but that fixed all my feeding problems. I had no failures with any of my home-brewed formulations or with any commercial loads. Well, save one.

The Hornady Critical Duty round generated occasional failures to feed, both first round failure to feed and simple failure to return fully into battery. I should also note that in the multiple range trips with this gun over about a month and hundreds of rounds – some of questionable safety – I never cleaned the weapon. I put more than 400 rounds of various +P rated rounds through the gun and at least several hundred standard pressure rounds through it without issue, save the Hornady round.

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The only significant criticism I have of the gun: the trigger reset. Not the trigger itself; the double action pull of the FNX’s trigger is heavy (10 lbs, as advertised). But it’s fairly smooth with minimal stacking. Like the FN pistols I tried at the Texas Firearms Festival last year, I was taken with the quality of the double action trigger. I played with it back and forth against a S&W Model 29 and I have to say the FNX-45 feels just as good as the bangswitch on the big revolver, with only a slightly heavier pull.

The single-action pull is, naturally, much lighter. (I plan on carrying the gun cocked and locked.) But there’s that reset. It’s way too far forward for me. Once I started moving faster, the reset slowed me down, not recovering the sight picture. If this was my only gun, I could train myself out of it, but it would still be slower than it should be. As I’m buying this gun, I’ll also be looking for a way to shorten up that reset with an aftermarket part or a good gunsmith.

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Despite great ergos, reliability and accuracy, the FNX-45 Tactical is not the Perfect Truck Pistol I’m looking for. I can’t conceal it well. I couldn’t find an angle where the gun was comfortable and concealed in either a home-made Kydex OWB nor leather IWB rig. That handle, with its big round butt, just seems to stick out no matter what.

That said, this pistol will certainly be going hunting. For pigs, this is the pistol. I wish I could make the period at the end of that sentence have more emphasis. Since so much pig hunting is done at night, the stock tritium sights, light rail and threaded barrel make it night time spot-and-stalk-ready right out of the box.

A new can for this pistol should finally clear the ATF in the coming month. When that happens I have no doubt the FNX-45 Tactical will get regular use for the nighttime elimination of my porcine prey. Full report to follow.

Specifications – FNX-45 Tactical

Caliber: .45 ACP
Operation: Double-action/Single-action
Magazine: 15 rds.
Weight: 33.3 oz. (empty)
Barrel Length: 5.3″ (with .578×28 RH barrel end thread pattern)
Overall Length: 7.9″
Sights: Fixed 3-dot night
MSRP: $1399

Style * * * *
The industrial look is not my thing. On this tan/coyote model, the tone of the slide doesn’t really match the tone of the frame. But knowing me, I’ll end up rattle canning the whole thing anyway. On the (very much) upside, the gun came in an exceptional case, holding everything in place,with space for three magazines as well as ammo and a suppressor. The case earns the gun a star on its own.

Customization * * * * *
I’d add more stars here if I could. Add anything you want on the front rail, exchange the supplied multiple back straps, put on the optics you want with the supplied exchangeable mountings, and the gun comes in two different finishes. It’s threaded out of the box.

Reliability * * * *
I had to take a star off for the initial feed problems. It baffles me how leaving the mags fully loaded for a week cured feeding issue, but after that the firearm performed [nearly] flawlessly, even with a wide variety of hand loads.

Accuracy * * * *
Factory loads shoot 2 3/4 to 3″ with some pretty stout +P rounds. And that’s not even off a “proper” rest. Playing with hand loads leads to outstanding precision.

Overall * * * *
Accuracy, reliability, ergonomic excellence, fifteen round capacity, tritium sights and suppressor-readiness makes the full-size $1300 FNX-45 Tactical a superb value. This is my first FN firearm. Based on my experience with this one, it won’t be my last.

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56 Responses to Gun Review: FNX-45 Tactical

  1. “Reliably take game…”

    What game is one hoping to take with a .45ACP? Rabit? Coyote? Armadillo? Or was that just a clever reference to Homo Criminalis?

    • Pigs, hill country white tail deer (which are usually only 90lbs), and javelina. I’ve taken all of those with the .45ACP. You just have to use the right bullet, and get closer.

        • For the big pigs or over longer distances, absolutely. But the reality is that most of the pigs I kill, and there have been many years where I killed over a hundred pigs, are under 100lbs and are within 35 yards, and moving. It’s fast fire in low light on a small to medium sized target up fairly close. People always talk about the giant pigs, but I’ve seen maybe 4 wild pigs over 250lbs in my life. Most are little. Plus, they always look bigger than they really are. I’ve seen a whole lot of pigs people swear are 200lbs weigh out to be half that.

  2. I have the “plain Jane” FNX45. Love it. So does my daughter. She actually shoots it better than I do 🙂 She just need to work on her grip strength so she can rack it.
    A friend who has another brand 45ACP shot it and said if I was selling it he’d buy it 🙂
    So far it has eaten everything I put through it. Even the Federal Aluminum case ammo from Walmart.
    I chose it because it is the only fully ambidextrous 45ACP I know of, and the 15 rnd mags is a good point too (unless one lives in an anti state like MA)

  3. Fnx.45 is my edc,2 +years…had 2 fte with reloads..no issues with new ammo.
    Never experienced the mag thing, I’m glad i purchased this weapon for my edc 15 +1 is nice to have in .45 acp.
    Now i seldom feel it there.
    Nothing but good things to say about FN so far.

  4. Since my only other handgun is a Five Seven, I sure wish that they’d put the manual safeties in the same place. I’d like another caliber but don’t much feel like confusing myself on that matter.

  5. Maybe my hands are just soft, but I found the aggressive stippling to be a bit much. It’s funny, because I put grip stickers on Glocks to make them more grippy, but I find the FNX to be kind of pokey/stabby without being all that grippy. Otherwise I agree with your review, and especially how the frame/slide weight ratio is even more extreme than a Glock.

    • Soft hands…

      I really like the aggressive texture, gives me the feeling that there is no way this thing will fall out of my hands!

      -Chad

    • Came with the gun.
      From the article: ” …”the gun came in an exceptional case, holding everything in place, with space for three magazines as well as ammo and a suppressor.”

  6. The FNX is one of the most accurate pistols I’ve ever fired. (Doesn’t mean much because I’m not the be-all-end-all shooter) I had the non- tactical model, it fed everything you could put in it. The only thing is, if you were looking for a part time concealed gun, why are you going to bother with a 15+1 .45?

    • This is the “tactical” version, which basically means FDE and threaded barrel. A regular FNX-45 or FNX-9 can be had for ~$650.

      • int19h wrote:

        “This is the ‘tactical’ version, which basically means FDE and threaded barrel.”

        You are overlooking the ‘suppressor-friendly’ raised tritium night sights of the ‘Tactical’ version.

  7. Re: “I wish I could make the period at the end of that sentence have more emphasis.”

    That would be called an “exclamation point”! 😉

    • It’s an FN, not a Raven or a Jennings.Anything “operator” automatically comes at a premium. You can get a very nice handgun in the 5-600ish range, and these FNs are not the most expensive pistol in the world to buy by a decent margin. Some higher end 1911s run $2,000 plus.

  8. I really like that pistol. I’ve got kinda big hands so it fits really well. And that longer barrel should give just a bit more oomph to +P rounds.

    • I was getting regular low 900’s for the 255 an 260grain bullets. High 900 for the 930, chrono’d. I’m at 1300f above sea level at it was in high 90s for most of that shooting.

  9. I have this gun in black and love it. The initial feed problems you describe are typical I think, and so is the fact that they go away by initially keeping mags full for a couple weeks. I’d sure love it if FN made a 10mm version of this gun.

  10. I have the FNP-45 Tactical (the predecessor to the FNX), and it’s my favorite pistol. It is a beast of a gun, but my size medium glove hands shoot it just fine. It is my primary home defense gun. No can for it, yet. But I couldn’t resist putting an RMR red dot on it.

  11. Illegal to carry any fixed blade knife concealed in NC. C
    The law regarding folding blade knives is rather vague. But LEO’s I have talked seem to agree that assisted opening that are biased toward closure are legal.
    But then it gets into deciding what is and is not an “ordinary pocket knife” without actually defining what is an ordinary pocket knife.
    Every state should be like NH at least as far as the NH gun law. Only criminal activity with a knife is illegal. Anyone can carry a Mick Dundee if they are not otherwise engaged in criminal activity.
    All firearms laws should be that way too.
    I dd not know that my leatherman wave is an illegal weapon in Boston. Screw them. I’ll take it with me next time I am up there to visit family.

    • Considering the feed problems were fixed by literally leaving it alone for 7 days, and then it ran hundreds of LSWC hand loads without cleaning, I’d say taking a star off for reliability was, if anything, on the harsh side. If you can find me another gun that will reliably shoot a steady diet of .45acp very +p hand loads with that kind of accuracy, fully ambidextrous, optic ready, with a threaded barrel, with a case and 3 magazines, and tall night sights, for under a grand (the cost listed at dealers) please let me know. Because that too would be a great deal.
      Zero breaks given here.

    • Kimbers as well. Always need a break in. You should never carry a handgun without putting a couple hundred rounds down the pipe.

  12. I just bought one and the very first thing I noticed was how the magazine would stop half way up if you had any pressure on it toward the back of the pistol. This is a problem that has been known for at least two years and I didn’t learn about it from reviews like this one. If you want to know something about a pistol, google “problems”, not “reviews”. I sent the pistol in at the expense of FN after complaining but I wonder why a company doesn’t address a problem like this when it is well known on the internet.

  13. Great review of a great pistol, I’m sorry I had to retire mine but you nailed it on the single action reset – its too long and too vague.

    I’ve found that the leaving mags loaded “trick” resolves a lot of new 1911 issues – especially FTF on the first round that plagues many Kimbers and older GSR Sig’s out of the box.

  14. I have several of the FNX series & absolutely love them. I use my 45 as my CC, and would have to agree that the standard magazine floor plate is a problem. I ordered the FNS-45 floor plates and that fixed the problem. You lose 1rd of capacity, but that’s alright with me.

  15. “Late to the game”. Read this review. Bought gun. Went to range. Put target out to ten yards. Wounded in War, so had a hard time putting just 12 rounds in mag. All 12 rounds in six inch group. Not one failure, trigger problems, nothing. Am very pleased with this weapon. When I get my new back. Yes “Back”. After operation, then recovery. I’ll let you know how it hunts.

  16. I recently purchased at the Quantico MCB Exchange for a little over $900.00. I’ve only taken it to the range once, and had no problem other than the last round’s casing being caught as it ejected. I’d never loaded the magazines until that trip to the range, so I’ve now loaded and stored and will see if that takes care of the problem. 99% of my handgun experience came from my military time, as the M1911 and later the Beretta 9MM were my assigned weapons, due to my occupational specialties as an investigator and later as a JAG. The FNX felt similar while firing, to the 9mm Army Berettas I’m accustomed to firing, and with 15 rounds to fire I don’t lose any time to reloading. Since I recently retired from the Army and won’t any longer be moving in and out of countries where handguns are banned, I finally took the opportunity to buy a personal firearm and the FNX45 was my choice. I was looking closely at the Ruger All American, having desired a Ruger from my time assigned in Arizona, where they are built. Since the FNX45 is stamped with Fredericksburg, VA, it also supports my local community here in Virginia, and Belgium was where I attended HS so I have an affinity for that tiny nation as well.

  17. Purchased mine about two weeks ago after 50 rounds had (2) FTF problems. So I have loaded up the mags to sit for a week to detention the springs. Will give a report back in a week on that process and yes the gun needs a good cleaning right out of the box do to preservative oils used during the packaging.

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