Next, we went to the concrete bench with a Caldwell Matrix rest on the 25-yard line, with test ammo encompassing the three most popular bullet weights in 9mm.
Federal 9BPLE is an old-school 115-grain +P+ jacketed hollow point, currently available from online ammo sellers at prices barely more than practice hardball. It earned an outstanding reputation as a “man-stopper” with Federal (U. S. Border Patrol), state (Illinois State Police), and county (DeKalb County, GA) law enforcement over the years. From the little FNS, measuring the farthest apart hits center to center, it punched five holes at 3.50 inches apart, with the best three in 1.70 inches. When shooting hand-held from the bench rest, that “best three” measurement seems to compensate for unnoticed human error and gives a very good approximation of what the same gun/ammo would do in a machine rest for all five shots.
Black Hills 124-grain jacketed hollow points came next. The FNS Compact put five rounds into 4.55inches, and the best three in 3.40 inches, with measurements to the nearest 0.05 inches.
Finally, we tried Winchester Winclean subsonic 147-grain full metal jackets—the most accurate low-lead cartridge I’ve found in 9mm Luger. This hit the little FNS’ sweet spot: the five-shot group was a snug 2.20 inches, and the best three were nine-tenths of an inch tighter, at 1.30 inches.
Next, we went to shooting drills. In rapid fire, the palpable trigger creep seemed to disappear. The 3-dot, dovetailed fixed sights delivered a good sight picture that was quick to pick up in daylight. As the FNS Compact came from the factory, elevation was spot on, with 147- and 124-grain bullets hitting just a little to the right of aim, but curiously, the FNS-9 Compact centered the 115-grain, 1,300 foot-second velocity Federals.
One thing we noticed with the FNS-9 Compact is something common to short-gripped autoloaders with pinky finger extensions on their stubby magazines: when we hit the mag release button, the spent mag didn’t always want to eject. Those little flanges at the bottom tend to catch on the little finger, or the heel of the hand. The full-length mag dropped clear every time.
Recoil was mild, as expected. The bore axis sits higher than the Glock 26, and in slow-fire, the muzzle seemed to rise just a little more (also expected). In rapid fire, though, it settled right down and was back on target by the time the trigger re-set.
We shot the FNS-9 Compact lefty and righty, one hand and two, male and female, size large and size small. We experienced no malfunctions of any kind. No feed failures, no extraction failures, no ejection failures, not even a thumb over-riding the slide stop lever and keeping the slide from locking open when the little pistol ran dry. For us, functioning was 100 percent.
I am not aware of any long-term torture tests such as have been done on the Glock over the years. The FNS is “a new kid on the block,” and needs time to prove itself in long term, high-shooting-volume service. Still, from what I hear, some top shots like world champ Dave Sevigny are kicking butt with the larger FNS pistols, and top-tier shooters don’t risk their reputations on guns that fail.
Carrying the FNS-9C
I spent a day carrying the FNS-9 Compact, with thirteen rounds of the Federal +P+ on board and the 17-round magazine for spare. The holster was a Ted Blocker 5B thumb-break for a Glock 30. The mag pouch was a Comp-Tac built originally for a Springfield XD(m), which fit perfectly. It is worth noting that both types of magazines that came with the FNS-9 Compact are steel-body. Both—particularly the shorter 12-round—were easy to fill and, with the slide forward, both lengths of FNS magazine inserted and locked into place easily.
These last two points are more important than they might seem. Many high-cap magazines (both steel and polymer) become difficult to load as they fill up. This is a particular concern for users whose hand strength is lacking. Many people keep their guns unloaded, with the slide forward at rest, and any shooter may have to perform a “tactical reload” with the slide forward on a chambered round. Many magazines (again, both steel and polymer) won’t insert easily under those circumstances and may not lock in place, which can lead to disastrous consequences in a life-threatening emergency. The FNS-9 Compact left me confident that neither of these problems will occur with this pistol.
With an MSRP of $599, and the optional caliber choice of .40 S&W (ten and fourteen round mags, respectively), the FNS-9 Compact is a new and viable contender in the hot market for subcompact, high-capacity, concealed carry pistols chambered for potent service-level rounds. It comes with an attractive list of both options and standard features. I expect to see more of them on the firing lines at shooting classes.
You can see the FNS-9C at your firearms retailer, or for more information contact FNH USA, Dept. OT; Tel.: (703) 288-3500; Web: www.fnhusa.com
Win a Chance to Train With Your FNS-9 Compact!
In addition to the limited-time offer to receive a free VERTX Transit Sling Bag with your purchase of an FNS-9 Compact pistol, you can also enter for a chance to win The Ultimate FN Experience Sweepstakes. The prize includes three days of machine gun, pistol, rifle, and shotgun training at the Gunsite Training Academy in Paulden, Arizona, plus an FN Prize Package that includes an FNS-9 Compact, FN SCAR 16S, and an FN SLP Tactical. For details on how to enter, go to http://www.fnhusa.com/promotions/fn-ultimate-experience/