Concealed carry is more popular than ever, which has led to more models to choose from. Millions of people in the United States have permits to carry concealed handguns. Many more apply to do so each year, with nearly two million doing so in 2015 alone. This surge in carrying concealed is nothing short of a movement, and firearms manufacturers have responded to this rapidly growing market with many new offerings. Polymer pistols, in particular, have become popular carry guns.
FN America brings a new double-action, striker-fired, semiautomatic pistol to the concealed-carry market in the FNS-9 Compact. Its 3.6-inch barrel is cold hammer forged with a polished feed ramp and chamber. Controls for slide catch and magazine release are ambidextrous, as is the manual safety for models that come with that feature (the models tested for this article had no manual safety).
Even without a manual safety, there are several safety mechanisms. First, there is the trigger safety, which prevents a trigger pull without the full trigger being engaged. If only the upper portion of the trigger is depressed, nothing happens. Second, the striker is blocked by what FN calls a “firing pin safety,” which drops out of the way of the striker when the trigger is pulled. Finally, the gun won’t fire if it is out of battery.
The FNS-9C feels good in the hand, and fine-tuning the fitting can be done by switching the two included backstraps. Stippling is relatively aggressive on the back and lower side portions of the grip, allowing for good purchase. The front of the grip has thin serrations, but what is there provides a very effective gripping surface. The upper half of the grip is smooth, which should make extended shooting sessions easier on the hand. For a double-stack pistol, it feels beefy rather than skinny.
The top of the back of the grip is beavertail-like, allowing for a relatively high grip, so controlling the mild recoil is easy. There is a takedown lever on the left-hand side of the gun, along with a groove cut in the profile to allow this lever to pivot down. This creates a ridge that almost feels like a button on the left side of the frame. The ridge is a perfect index point for the support hand thumb for a right-handed shooter. This seems to be a consequence of design rather than an intentional feature; nevertheless, it is useful. The front of the trigger guard has some serrations for those who grip that area with the support hand.
The frame is reinforced polymer. The slide catch/release on each side of the gun is sheltered by ridges that rise out of the polymer frame. I was able to easily drop the slide on a fresh magazine by using the dominant hand thumb to depress the slide release. The magazine releases are flush but functional.
The gun is easily disassembled by dropping the magazine, emptying the chamber, locking the slide back, rotating the takedown lever clockwise 90 degrees, pulling the trigger (always while pointing the gun in a safe direction) and pushing the slide forward and off the frame. The slide is stripped down further by removing the guide rod/spring assembly and pulling out the barrel.
The stainless steel slide on the FDE version has a matte finish and is scalloped in the front half, with serrations near the muzzle and at the rear. The front of the slide is beveled on the sides for less snagging, as are the included rear sights.
The sights are white on black, with a larger dot in front and two smaller dots on either side of the notch in the rear. While sights are often the first item to upgrade on a pistol, I found the included sights functional and effective. Night sights are available as an option. A 1913 rail is found on the frame in front of the trigger guard. Despite being such a concealable gun, there are three slots on the rail. A Crimson Trace Railmaster Pro light/laser combination sight fits perfectly here.
At slightly more than 23 ounces in weight and 6.7 inches in overall length, the FNS-9C is easy to conceal. When compared to other pistols on the market, it fits between a few of them: The FNS-9C is smaller than the Glock 19, larger than the Glock 43 and very close to the size of the Smith & Wesson Shield.
The FDE (flat dark earth) version comes with one 12-round and one 17-round magazine. The black version includes three magazines—two 12 rounders and one 17 rounder (three 10-round magazines are another option). There are two types of 12-round magazines: flush mount and extended.
Everyone’s hands are different sizes, and how a pistol feels in the hand is very personal. My hands are small to average size, and I found that the FNS-9C pointed very naturally and really filled the hand with the larger backstrap installed and either the extended 12-round or the 17-round magazine inserted. The flush-mount 12-round magazine would not allow for the strong-hand pinky to grasp the grip, but the extended 12-round magazine did so perfectly. The larger, 17-round magazine not only gives the user more capacity, it really makes the gun feel more like a full-sized pistol than a compact. Of course, the tradeoff is that the 17-round magazine makes the gun more challenging to conceal. Each of the magazines has a polished metal body with a polymer cap and low-friction follower.
For testing, I used Fiocchi 115-grain, CCI Blaser Brass 115-grain FMJ and Hornady Critical Defense FTX 115-grain ammunition. Although it was not an endurance test, I fired 120 rounds using the three different brands of ammunition through both magazines and had zero malfunctions.
The FNS-9C performed well enough at the range to be taken seriously as an everyday-carry pistol.
I made five-shot groups at 10 meters with non-match factory ammunition resulting in groups slightly fewer than 4 inches (equivalent to fewer than 10 inches at 25 yards). Suffice it to say, the inherent accuracy of this defensive pistol is more than adequate.
- CALIBER: 9mm
- ACTION TYPE: Double action, striker fired
- SLIDE: Stainless steel
- FRAME: Polymer
- BARREL: Cold hammer forged, stainless
- CONTROLS: Manual safety or standard configuration (no manual safety); fully ambidextrous slide stop and mag release
- MAGAZINE/CAPACITY: 12-/17-round (also in 10-round compliant)
- TRIGGER: 5.5 to 7.7 pounds (factory specifications)
- SIGHTS: Fixed 3-dot; night sights available
- BARREL LENGTH: 3.6 inches
- OVERALL LENGTH: 6.7 inches
- WEIGHT: 23.4 ounces
- COLORS: flat dark earth, black
MSRP: $599 ($649 with night sights)
FN AMERICA, LLC
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.