Approximating the feel and manual of arms of the centerfire FN 509 series of handguns, FN’s 502 pistol is a fun, inexpensive-to-shoot .22 LR alternative that doubles as a great trainer. Available in black and FDE, the FN 502 Tactical is suppressor-ready and optics-ready right out of the box, and boasts 15-round capacity.
Multiple optics plates and assorted hardware is included, allowing the user to mount the vast majority of micro red dot reflex sights on the market. Installed from the factory is a blanking plate that nicely fills in the optics-ready portion of the slide for a clean appearance.
If you’re in a free state you’ll receive a 502 Tactical with one 10-round and one 15-round magazine. This is pretty cool in the world of .22 LR pistols, where 10 rounds has long-since been the norm regardless of state restrictions.
The windowed magazines make it quick and easy to determine how many rounds are on deck, and the thumb button attached to the follower makes it easy to load the 502’s mags to full capacity.
If you do mount an optic to the industry’s first slide-mounted-optics rimfire handgun, the suppressor-height iron sights will have no issue co-witnessing through the optic’s window. Front and rear sights are serrated to reduce glare and are all black.
If you’re familiar with the grip shape and texture of the FN 509, you’ll feel right at home with the 502.
While grip circumference is a little smaller, everything else about the ergos is a near dead-on match between 509 and 502, including the locations, shapes, and sizes of the controls such as the magazine release and slide catch.
Both of those controls and the manual safety are fully ambidextrous, appearing in functional form on the right side of the FN 502 as well as on the left.
Because the entire aluminum and steel slide on the FN 502 series reciprocates, running a 502 is extremely similar to running a centerfire 509. Shared ergonomics, controls, and basic operation mean the .22 LR rimfire FN 502 is a great trainer for anyone who shoots a 509, whether that’s a 509 LS Edge for competition (or Operations) or a 509 Tactical or 509 Midsize for self-defense or home-defense.
I have always loved the idea of rimfire trainers, whether bolt guns or pistols, as they’re not only extremely affordable to shoot and practice with but they tend to train away bad habits such as flinching and help ingrain better trigger presses. The FN 502 Tactical even fits most FN 509 Tactical holsters.
With the 1/2×28″ threaded barrel allowing for suppressed shooting, the FN 502 Tactical is also an ideal way to introduce new handgun shooters to the sport. Eliminating the blast and noise that comes with unsuppressed shooting, which allows for a range session free from on-the-head hearing protection, makes for a less intimidating, more pleasant, and safer experience.
Out of the box it was the 502’s trigger that perhaps stood out to me the most. While many rimfire pistols have marginal-at-best triggers, that isn’t the case with the hammer-fired, single-action FN 509. This bad boy’s trigger is clean and crisp, breaking at a little over 4.5 pounds as measured but feeling quite a bit lighter than that. It has a nice reset, too, that’s fairly short with a click that can be felt and heard.
I’ve shot dozens of models of .22 LR pistols manufactured by Umarex, and the 502 feels like the nicest level of product to come out of that factory. From the formulation of the polymer and how it feels in the hand to the quality of the machining and the finishes, it looks and feels like a quality firearm.
Issues related to cheap, bulk box .22 LR ammo aside (ammo-side problems like dud primers), the FN 502 Tactical ran reliably and accurately for me over the course of five-ish range sessions and almost 500 rounds of mixed types of ammo.
Nearly all of this shooting was done suppressed, which blows extra carbon and fouling into the action. Finally, on my most recent range trip with the 502, I noticed that slide speed was a little slow and eventually had some failures to go into battery with waxed .22 LR rounds. The poor gun was dry as a desert and chock full of carbon and copper flecks; it was past due to be cleaned and lubed and was letting me know it.
If I could change anything about the 502 Tactical I’d probably go with a stiffer recoil spring, particularly for use when shooting suppressed. That extra backpressure from the silencer runs the slide harder, and a stiffer recoil spring would have allowed me to abuse my poor pistol even longer before it started stopping.
Not to get too in-the-weeds nerdy, but these hammer-fired .22s rely a lot on the stiffness of the hammer spring to provide resistance to the slide under recoil. That works great, but it doesn’t help the slide return to battery. Given the distance the 502 fires empty brass, FN can [and should] get away with a stronger recoil spring.
The FN 502 Tactical is everything I want from a .22 LR pistol. It’s a standard-sized gun with matching ergonomics, controls, and general operation to that of a quality centerfire pistol (the FN 509 series) so it works great as an affordable trainer. It’s suppressor-ready and optics-ready, with the necessary adapters to fit the optic of your choice. It has great sights, a high-for-rimfire capacity, and is an absolute blast to shoot.
In a dystopian world in which I could only own one .22 LR pistol, I can absolutely see the FN 502 Tactical winning that spot.
Specifications: FN 502 Tactical
CALIBER: .22 LR
OPERATION: Single Action Only (SAO)
MAG CAPACITY: 10 or 15 Rd.
SIGHTS: suppressor/optics-height iron sights with optics-ready slide
WEIGHT: 23.7 oz.
BARREL: 4.6″ threaded 1/2×28″
OVERALL LENGTH: 7.6″
FINISH: all-black or all-FDE
TRIGGER PULL: ~5 lbs
MSRP: $519 (typically about $499)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * *
One star above average for a modern .22 LR pistol. The FN 502 is not ammunition-sensitive, which is a huge deal among .22 LR pistols. However, it does have a gentle recoil spring that won’t overcome less-than-correct rounds (clumps of wax, small burrs, etc) or my utter neglect at proper maintenance, and could also result in slow slide speeds with certain optics.
Accuracy * * * *
Tight little groups with lots of different ammo brands. Even first-time shooters put up impressive groups when equipped with a red dot. The crisp trigger and quality ergonomics help, too.
Ergonomics * * * * *
From the 502 Tactical’s grip shape and texture to the location, size, and texture of its controls and slide serrations, it earns top marks for ergos. If you’re already shooting a 509, the 502 is a no-brainer.
Customize This * * * *
Multiple optics plates, a threaded barrel, and some 509 accessories compatibility make the 502 a highly customizable rimfire trainer, indeed.
On The Range * * * * *
More fun than a barrel of .22 LR. Great shooter, great trigger, great ergos. Suppresses really well and ran reliably, typical .22 LR ammo problems aside.
Overall * * * * 1/2
Falling just shy of a perfect score, the FN 502 Tactical is definitely a contender for best all-around .22 LR pistol on the market.