I would like to begin this article and review with a list and discussion of the top 400 semi-automatic pistols for carry. Well, not really, but now that I have your attention I would like to tell you some details about one of them. And a really excellent one in my opinion. A few days ago on this website, I gave you my top 15 Compact 9mm carry pistols (which included the FNS-9C- the subject of this article), and about a month ago, I gave you my top 14 Subcompact 9mm pistols for carry.
While there are many very good compact and subcompact pistols for concealed carry on the market now, I prefer the 9mm and there are certainly many of them to choose among. I have reviewed several of them in depth in the past months; some on this website. But, I have not done a website review of the FNS-9 Compact, although it is analyzed, compared, and ranked with my Top 21 CC guns in my recent book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials.”
Several readers and students recently asked me to do an in depth review of the FNS-9C using my criteria, so this is it. I thoroughly analyzed the FNS-9C against my criteria, measured the trigger press, and put it to the test on the range. I was very anxious to compare it factor by factor to the other quality 14 compact 9mms on my list. You should know that I am not on the FNAmerica payroll, have not been paid by them for this article nor influenced to say certain things about the gun, and want to be honest and straight-forward with my opinions and ideas the way I see the pistol to sincerely help folks. I wanted to know how accurate is it out of the box, without modifications? And the big questions– what about the trigger press? Is it reliable? Is the trigger smooth and crisp? What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Are there special desirable features for this particular gun? Are there any issues or concerns that would prevent me from carrying this gun? Are there holsters available now for the FNS-9C? Is this a gun I would recommend for CC?
To begin, I want to give you two simplified lists with the Specifications and some of the Features for the FNS-9C. Then I want to give you my 10 criteria that I use to evaluate all guns. When you are evaluating your carry guns, be certain to compare apples with apples and not with oranges, so to speak. Finally, I want to give you my analysis and present how I evaluate the gun against my criteria. As always, set your own criteria, do your own research and check my data, information, etc. with yours.
FNS-9 Compact 9mm Specifications:
- Caliber: Model Number Tested: 9mm Compact #66719; Made in USA
- Barrel Length / Finish: 3.60″; Black Cold Hammer Forged Steel
- Sights: Fixed 3-Dot Metal (with Night Sights Available)
- Weight: 23.4 oz (empty mag)
- Frame/Finish: Polymer/Black
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel; Front & Rear Cocking Serrations
- Trigger: Striker-Fired Double Action Only; Rounded guard
- Trigger Press: 6.0 lb Crisp; Serrated Trigger Guard & Beveled
- Trigger Travel: Short & Quick Trigger Reset
- Magazines/Capacity: 3 Mags – Double-Stack Polished Metal with Witness Holes: 2 – 12-Rounds (Flat Base & Extension); 1 – 17-Rounds
- Height: 5.20″
- Width: 1.35″
- Overall Length: 6.70″
- Safeties: No External Manual; No Magazine Safety
- Grips: Polymer; Stippled Slightly Aggressive & Thick
- Lifetime Warranty
- Mil STD 1913 Accessory Rail
- 2 Interchangeable Backstraps
- External Extractor
- Loaded Chamber Indicator
- Fully Ambidextrous Slide Stop Lever
- Magazine Release
- MSRP: $599 ($649 – Fixed 3-Dot with Night Sights)
FNS-9 Compact 9mm Key Features:
- Stainless Steel Slide & Barrel
- Polished Chamber & Feed Ramp
- Large Front Sight Dot for Easy Target Acquisition
- Rounded & Serrated Trigger Guard; Side Beveling; Snag Free
- Fully Ambidextrous Slide Stop lever & Mag Release
- Low Bore Axis for Comfortable Grip & Easy Control
- 2 Interchangeable Backstraps; Lanyard Eyelets
- Available with Standard and Manual Safety
- Made in USA
I wondered if there were holsters and accessories available for the FNS-9C? I found this well-made Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) kydex pancake holster called “The Flapjack” manufactured by Alabama Holster & Gun that fits it very well. They use .093 very thick kydex which makes it very strong and with very good retention, while allowing it to ride high and close to the body for very good concealment. It was also comfortable and very concealable. Galco, Alien Gear, Crossbreed, Safariland, N82, Clinger, and others also have holsters to fit the compact.
Criteria and Considerations
Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, so I will use them for the FNS-9C. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. Here are mine:
1. Accuracy and Reliability – Performs well without reoccurring malfunctions and stoppages and results in consistent, accurate target hits with a 3″ inch hit group or so at 5-15 yards for concealed carry;
2. Trigger Press maximum of about 5.5-6.5 pounds – lessens force applied for less movement & better accuracy- and press that is crisp and identifiable (TRAIN to be Trigger Safe);
3. Trigger with short travel distance (a short travel distance increases the speed the trigger can be fired) and easily identifiable and short reset point; Trigger with a smooth consistent press for every shot (less need to transition between presses & make adjustments);
4. Barrel length of 3.0″-4.5″ (primarily for concealed carry); for compact pistol ideally prefer 3.5″-4.0″.)
5. Sights that are basic & simple (easy to use & see–I like Fiber Optic fronts); fast target acquisition; for my purposes– adjustable for windage; Night Sights for low-light situations;
6. Proper Gun Weight to minimize recoil (I prefer about 25 oz. or less for carry- but there are tradeoffs);
7. Caliber match to my needs, characteristics & abilities (consider medical & physical limitations); 9mm is my preference for carry;
8. Capacity – adequate for use & feature tradeoffs- usually prefer about 10 rounds or more (for compact) in a 9mm magazine for carry (but can carry a spare mag or 2 sometimes);
9. Ergonomics – Hand Comfort and Grip Fit, controls easy to work and easily accessible; rounded, low-profile;
10. Miscellaneous – Overall Finish, fit, & quality appearance & workmanship; mag release location & function to drop mags freely; ambidextrous controls; accessory rail as required; grip angle; bore axis; competitive market price; excellent customer service with friendly & helpful representatives; ease of disassembly-assembly; Hard Case; Extras (like a third mag, holster, pouch, extended & flush mags); warranty length & extent; etc.
Recognize that there are several features, characteristics, pros and cons, and personal criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your priorities, preferences, defined needs, and use.
FNS-9C 9mm Range Test
I had some rounds of Sig Sauer Elite V-Crown JHP ammo in 115 grain weight and a few rounds of Polycase RNP Polymer rounds it, so I could try different ammo to see how it handled the variety. While I only fired about 200 rounds to evaluate this gun (usually I shoot 500 rounds over a couple of days) to decide if I want to carry the gun or not, I had the information I needed after shooting it. Below are my evaluations for each of my 10 criteria for my concealed carry purpose. While this old geezer is not a top expert shooter by any means, I wanted to put the gun through its paces and check it thoroughly for malfunctions and performance with quality JHP and the new polymer ammo. Thanks to Sig Sauer and Polycase for providing a few rounds to test and evaluate the FNS-9C.
This FNS-9C compact 9mm has great ergonomics. It was very comfortable in my hand and the aggressive grip texture was just right for me, as I tend to perspire a lot. The stippling was good and it extended high up the backstrap to enhance my solid grip. I could easily reach all the controls. Its double-stack mag made it wider than some other compacts, but it holds several rounds.The comfortable grip was very nice, even though the mags did not always drop free for me and my medium-sized hands. The mag release button requires too much centered straight down deep pressure, requiring me to rotate my grip considerably. I believe the mag release is too flush, too smooth, and needs to be more prominent. The slide was very easy for me to rack and the felt recoil and muzzle rise were very manageable. The dual recoil spring helped. I was glad the gun did not have a magazine disconnect and it fired even when the mag was out. Be careful– Safety First Always! Well, below I will present my ideas for each of my criteria after my range testing.
Overall after my range live fire, the FNS-9C double action only striker gun impressed me as an accurate and reliable (with limited rounds fired by me) carry gun, with a very nice comfortable grip and extra features. I had no malfunctions or stoppages at all and the gun was very reliable for me.
At the range shooting the gun for the first time, my first twelve rounds fired rapid fire at 7 yards all hit in the black (see below.) For this old codger with eye and cataract issues it was very acceptable. My subsequent slow-fire shots were all in the 8 to 10 rings. Over different distances, accuracy was very acceptable, but shoot it for yourself to make your own decisions, based on your abilities and proficiency. Below are my rapid-fire hits on my first target at 7 yards with the FNS-9C.
Range Test Results for each of my 10 Criteria:
1. The Accuracy of the FNS-9C was very acceptable for me at distances of 7, 10, and 15 yards, given my aging eyesight. My groups at each of the distances were about 2.5-3.0 inches for the first time I ever fired the gun. The 6# trigger press; the aggressive grip, and the rounded trigger face really helped. I used my Modified-Isosceles Stance, a two-handed grip, & shot mostly Sig Sauer V-Crown 115 grain JHP and a few Polycase Inceptor RNP 65 grain Polymer Frangible Ammo … 10.
2. The Trigger Press averaged a hair over 6.0 pounds with 10 readings from my Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. This was within my acceptable press range for my carry guns. It will improve after break-in and shooting it more. I prefer that my carry guns have a max. of 6.5 pounds press or less, so this is very good. This is personal preference and a training issue, but I know some of my recommended and actual 9mm carry guns have lighter presses, e.g. 1911 SAOs. I analyze and compare 21 of them in my recent book. The trigger press was crisp and easily identifiable. The polished chamber and feed ramp helped… 9.
3. The Trigger had a tactile and very identifiable click and consistent reset. I liked the fairly short and positive reset and very crisp trigger. My shots were consistent each time and I could easily recognize the reset point. I did enjoy shooting it. It has an excellent striker-fired flat and smooth trigger for rapid fire… 9.
4. The 3.6-inch Barrel with its dual recoil spring helped control muzzle flip and the recoil. The cold hammer forged steel barrel was of high quality and the short barrel helped make it very concealable… 10.
5. The over-sized large front sight really helped my sight acquisition, sight alignment & sight picture. The sights have front and rear dovetail mounts. With my color blind eyes, I prefer the bright green fiber optic front sight for a better lock on to the front sight. The sights were certainly acceptable. I do like the option for night sights... 9.
6. The overall 23.4 ounce unloaded weight was acceptable within my range, but 4 of my 6 guns in my carry rotation have less than that weight unloaded. Just a tad heavier than I prefer, but certainly OK… 9.
7. It was easy and comfortable to shoot the 9mm Caliber. Felt recoil was relatively low and easy for me to control. It digested the various weights of 9mm ammo easily without a single malfunction or stoppage… 10.
8. There were three magazines included one with a 17-round capacity and two with 12-round capacity. I liked that 3 quality polished mags were included, with extended, flat, and pinky adapter. The capacities were great for a compact and provided flexibility for range use, home defense, and carry purposes. My medium-sized hands were comfortable with all 3 mags… 10.
9. The Ergonomics of the FNS-9C were overall very nice. The grip was outstanding with its aggressive texturing and the not smooth surface which was just right for me. The grip’s body was ample to allow me to acquire a firm and comfortable grip. Its contours fit my medium-sized hands great. One concern I had when I first pushed the mag release button was that all 3 of the included mags I tried would not drop free. The mags themselves were polished with a smooth mirror finish, so I thought this would really help them drop smoothly. The size of the mag release button could be larger to help with a free mag drop & it was too flush and smooth. So, regularly the mags did not drop free. The bottom heel of my medium-sized hand kept touching and blocking the bottom of the mag well and mag. Eventually, I was able to get the mag to drop free sometimes, but I still cannot regularly do that each time I hit the mag release. A definite rotation of my shooting hand and grip were necessary each time so as to not touch the mag’s bottom. From this layman’s perspective, I think the design of the mag release button needs to be modified for easier mag release. Most (not all) of my other compact 9mms do not have this problem… 9.
10. Miscellaneous. As always before shooting any new gun, I disassembled, lubed and cleaned, and re-assembled the FNS-9C before I shot it. I did have to press the trigger to disassemble it, but it was very easy and quick to do. The slide release at first was stiff, but after shooting it there was not any concern. The price of the gun is reasonable for what you receive in the box. The hard case is very nice and high quality. It does not include accessories like some have, e.g. a holster, mag pouch, loader or other accessories. But, there are several nice features for this very quality gun. There is an implied lifetime warranty for defects in material & workmanship… 9.
Total Points = 94 out of 100 Possible. I certainly RECOMMEND this handgun for consideration as one of your concealed carry guns, especially because of its accuracy, outstanding grip, smooth slide movement, dual recoil springs to help ease felt recoil, smooth and rounded lines for easy concealment, rounds capacity, ambidextrous controls, large front sight, and its reliability. I was very impressed with its accuracy out of the box, excellent mildly-aggressive grip texturing and feel, reduced muzzle flip, the inclusion of 3 mags, and that it had no malfunctions or stoppages whatsoever. I was disappointed that the mags did not regularly drop free, but maybe after more practice time they will drop freely. These are just my opinions and ideas, so handle and shoot it for yourself. I hope this review of the FNS-9C double action striker-fired compact 9mm has helped you gain some information you did not previously have. Consider that these are just my opinions with limited live-range fire and shooting myself only about 200 rounds of ammo.
Like always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, and what features are important to you and you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always.
McLean, VA 22102
Sig Sauer for Elite V-Crown 9mm JHP-FMJ ammo:
Newington, NH 03801
Daphne, AL 36526
Polycase for Inceptor 9mm RNP Sport Utility Ammo:
Savannah, GA 31408
Photos by Author.
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2016 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].