By Chris A. Choat
FNH-USA introduced their line of FNS pistols a couple of years ago with the first being their Standard Model. It was then followed shortly thereafter by their Longslide version of the same gun. The FNS models are different from FN’s existing line of FNX pistols in that they are double action only and are striker fired instead of single/double action and hammer fired. The FN Five-SeveN pistol is also striker fired but is chambered in the somewhat odd for a pistol caliber of 5.7x28mm; this is a potent submachine gun caliber but a little odd for a handgun. Sales of this handgun have never been brisk as the cost of the 5.7 ammunition makes the gun very expensive to shoot. Regardless, in this author’s opinion, the FNS line of handguns was introduced by FN to compete with Glock handguns, which are also striker fired. Being a polymer striker fired handgun, the Glock has steadily gained acceptance with military, recreational shooters and especially law enforcement worldwide. Like other handgun manufacturers, FN wanted a bigger slice of this handgun buying pie especially with the law enforcement and recreational consumer. Striker fired, polymer handguns have proved their safety and reliability now for many years.
FNH-USA has now gone after another segment of the handgun market with their new FNS-C models. Sales for guns like the FNS-C, designed for concealed carry, have been brisk for the last couple of years. It is the smallest of the FNS models with a 3.6-inch barrel and an abbreviated grip. As the FNS and FNS Longslide were geared toward the full sized and competition handgun markets respectively, the FNS-C models are geared toward the concealed carry market. The new FNS-C pistols are offered in either 9mm (FNS-9C) or .40 S&W (FNS-40C). They come in either a matte black or matte silver models and are available with or without an ambidextrous manual safety. The gun that SAR received for testing was chambered in 9mm and was the model that did not have a
The FNS-C features a stainless steel slide and barrel with the frame being made of polymer construction with replaceable steel slide rails. The slide has an external extractor with a loaded chamber indicator consisting of a red dot that is visible when viewed from above. It has front and rear serrations that provide a very good gripping surface for cocking the gun. The sights are dovetailed into the slide and are drift adjustable for windage only. The rear sight is serrated on the rear to prevent glare. They are the three-dot type with white dots and are also available with 3-dot Trijicon night sights. Both front and rear sights have been beveled and rounded so that they are snag-free. This allows for better concealment and a faster draw. The whole slide and barrel assembly has a matte black finish. Like the barrels of other FN pistols, the FNS-C barrel is cold hammer-forged and has a polished chamber and feed ramp.
The frame has a long list of features and has an overall slightly textured finish, which makes the gun very attractive. The grip itself has molded-in checkering on the front and back and horizontal grooves on the front. The front of the trigger guard also has these same grooves for a non-slip two-handed hold. The frame’s dust cover features a molded-in three slot length of Mil-Std 1913 Picatinny mounting rail for adding lasers or lights. Fire controls are minimal, which is typical for double action only pistols. The gun has an ambidextrous slide locking lever, a left side mounted take-down lever and ambidextrous magazine release buttons. The backstrap of the frame is replaceable (the gun comes with two) that can be exchanged to custom fit the grip to the shooter’s hand. You get the best of both worlds; a larger grip for shooters with larger hands and a compact grip just right for concealed carry. The pistol, with the larger of the two backstraps installed, fit the author’s medium sized hand perfectly as it did with other shooters. In fact, we never installed the thinner backstrap.
The gun is box magazine fed and it comes with 3 magazines – two of which hold 12-rounds while the third holds 17-rounds. The magazines are made from steel with polymer base pads and low friction followers. The base pads on the 12-round magazines are the finger hook style but the 17-round magazine is obviously longer and has an extension on the bottom that mimics the look and feel of the upper part of the grip. With this magazine inserted, the gun has what feels to be the same size grip of the full-sized FNS. All of the magazines drop free positively when the release is pushed. The magazines are double stack but single feed type and the backs of the magazines have round count inspection holes.
Disassembly of the gun is typical for this style pistol. The slide is brought fully to the rear and locked using the slide-lock lever. The take-down lever is then rotated 90 degrees down and while holding the slide let it go forward until it aligns with the frame. At this point pull the trigger releasing the striker. The slide can then be removed forward away from the frame. Turn the frame upside down and pull the recoil rod and spring forward away from the barrel lug. Lift it up and out and then the barrel can be lifted up and out of the frame. This is all the further the pistol needs to be taken apart for routine maintenance.
Testing of the new pistol consisted of speed drills and accuracy shooting from a sand bag on a bench. Several types of self-defense 9mm hollow point loads were used as well as some standard FMJ blasting ammunition. The pistol fired every type of ammunition that it was fed from the FMJ to the largest of hollow points. Some +P ammunition was even fired with absolutely no problems. In fact, we never had a single issue with any of the loads that were tried. The FNS-9C is just what you would expect from FN: Quality throughout. When the slide is released from a locked open position it sounds like a vault door closing. The pistol’s fit and finish was flawless with the slide to frame fit perfect with no play whatsoever. The pistol felt like a solid piece of steel in the hand.
Accuracy with the compact 9mm was very impressive as well. At 25 feet the gun would tear one ragged hole in the target about the size of a silver dollar as long as the shooter did his part. Right out of the box this pistol had a decent trigger and it seemed the more it was shot the better it got. This double action only trigger is much better in the FNS than in other pistols of its type and helps produce this type of accuracy. The trigger has about a 1/4 inch long initial pull then a crisp break, at 5 pounds, with no over-travel and a fairly short reset. The trigger is the two-piece pivoting style; much like a lot of striker fired pistols are incorporating these days.
The FNS-9C felt very good in the shooter’s hand. It seemed to be a toss-up which grip was preferred, the longer one with the 17-round magazine or the shorter one with the 12-round magazine in the gun. Some shooters like the full-size grip; others like the compact grip that is provided with the 12-round magazine – either way it seemed to fit everybody.
In conclusion, this author believes this is one of the best pistols of its type. Hundreds of rounds were put through the gun with not one problem. If you are looking for a carry gun that offers high capacity and total quality throughout then you need look no further. It is utterly reliable, very accurate and built like a tank; exactly what you want for a concealed carry personal defense weapon.
P.O. Box 9424
McLean, VA 22102
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V19N4 (May 2015)|