The FNH FNS 9 mm pistol.Photos Dave Spaulding
FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
Today’s American law enforcement has embraced the polymer frame, high-capacity, striker-fired pistol. The reasons for the adoption are usually that they’re easier to shoot and easier to maintain—both legitimate advantages.
When my former agency adopted the semi-automatic pistol in the late 1980s, I personally championed a double-action/single-action model (DA/SA) model, thinking the long first trigger made the gun safer, because an involuntary discharge would be less likely. Like many instructors, I focused on safety instead of “shootability,” which in itself is a form of safety—officer safety. In the end, I was wrong.
When shooting any handgun quickly and accurately (the type of shooting needed in a combative environment), the longer the first trigger, the harder it is to keep the muzzle aligned with the target. As resistance builds when you press with your index finger a 10–12-lb. trigger on a 2-lb. gun, the whole hand wants to join in, thus taking the muzzle off target. This “gorilla gripping” of the hand results in a low left or right miss, depending on whether the shooter is left or right handed. When you consider that one-fourth inch of muzzle movement translates to five or more inches of shot diversion at 20 feet, it’s easy to see how first shot accuracy can be affected by a long, hard first trigger.
Bottom line: A short action trigger like those found on modern striker-fired guns conserves time and ammo. Involuntary discharges should be addressed via training and not by a mechanical device, which I have found actually takes less time than it did to master a DA/SA trigger.
FNS’ Striker-Fired Pistol
Fabrique Nationale’ Herstal, better known as FNH, is one of the world’s oldest gun companies and they introduced their new FNS pistol at the 2012 SHOT Show. I recently had the opportunity to test this latest addition to the growing number of striker-fired pistols and have found it to be one of the best products out there. It took me a while to get one, but I’m glad I put in the effort.
The test gun I received was actually a kit that FNH plans to offer later this year. The kit included a complete FNS 9 mm with three magazines, as well as a complete .40 caliber upper, including slide, barrel and springs with two .40 magazines. To change calibers, you merely remove the slide assembly and magazine and replace both with the other caliber assembly. The process takes less than one minute and requires no special training or knowledge. This caliber convertibility could be an exceptional value for any LE agency because it allows the issuance of either caliber depending on what an individual officer desires or can handle.
The FNS is a service-size pistol—similar to a Glock 17 or Smith & Wesson M&P. It can be purchased in either an all-black coating or a nice silver/stainless-steel two-tone. The pistol is ambidextrous with all levers and buttons located on both sides of the frame. The slide is contoured to reduce weight. Forward cocking serrations are located on the indented portion of the slide and two back straps are supplied to fit the gun to a wide variety of hand sizes. The grip is nicely checkered, advantageous in wet and dry conditions, as well as with gloves.
The bottom of the grip is flared, creating a magazine funnel similar to a competition pistol, which enables fast reloads. The bottoms of the magazines are equipped with generous floor plates that not only ensure the magazine is properly seated and locked in the grip, but also cushion the magazine if it’s dropped. The rear of the grip tang has an extension that should keep large hands from being “bit” by the slide as it cycles back and forth. The dust cover has a molded MIL-STD 1913 mounting rail for lights and lasers.
The sights supplied on the FNS are a traditional three-tritium dot style. However, the rear sight has an extra wide window for fast front-sight acquisition and is serrated to help reduce glare. The front has a wide white ring around the front tritium vial to help pull the eyes toward it. If this gun were mine—my eyes are aging—I’d paint the front sight with either a florescent lime green or orange. This would be the only change I’d make.
The trigger is the best feature of the FNS. Although not a custom trigger, it’s darn good right from the box having a 6-lb. initial weight with a one-fourth inch reset that’s easy to feel. Having pulled the FNS apart, I noted the trigger system looked like it could benefit from a bit of polishing that would slick the trigger action. But after 1,000 rounds or so, the gun will slick up on its own. Regardless, the FNS trigger is easy to use and will be a real asset to new, old, experienced or problem shooters.
FNS Shooting Accuracy
I tested the accuracy of the FNS at 25 yards from bench-rest position using a number of street-proven loads. I also placed a Shooting Chrony chronograph 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle to chart the velocity of each load.
All of these loads would be a good choice for duty use in the FNS, but I was pleased to see the proven Speer 124 grain +P load led the pack. I’ve shunned the 147 grain loads in years past due to lackluster performance, but I’m quite encouraged by the more modern versions of the “heavy 9" like the Federal 147 +P. I’m aware of three recent shootings with this 147 +P load and I would have no qualms with carrying it in my duty gun, especially one like the FNS with its four-plus-inch barrel.
Bottom line: I like the FNS pistol a lot and think it would be an excellent choice for any officer or agency for duty use. FNH advises that a compact version of the gun is in the works and I’m going to wait for that model before I put down my money. But make no mistake, I will have a FNS at some point—the gun is just too good not to own.
FNS Pistol Specifications
Caliber: 9 mm or .40 S&W
Frame: Black polymer
Slide: Black or matte stainless steel
Sights: Fixed three-dot tritium
Capacity: 17 rounds 9 mm or 14 rounds .40
Weight: 25.2 oz. (9 mm) or 27.5 oz. (.40)
|Load Type||Group Size||Velocity|
|Corbon 115 grain DPX +P||2"||1,305 fps|
|Speer 124 grain Gold Dot +P||1.5"||1,235 fps|
|Federal 124 grain HST +P||1.75"||1,207 fps|
|Winchester 127 grain SXT +P+||2.5"||1,241 fps|
|Federal 147 grain HST +P||1.5"||1,047 fps|