FNS-9 Compact, by Pat Cascio

If you’re old enough to remember back 50-years or longer, you’ll recall that guns we called “compact” back then, were quite a bit different than what we call “compact” today. Back in the day, a compact handgun was still quite large, compared to those made today. Sure there were some compact guns back then, but most were revolvers on a small frame that only held 5 or 6 rounds. Maybe back then, 5 or 6 rounds was more than enough to end a gunfight. Today, things have changed – a lot! We live in a very violent world, and odds are good that you might have to face down multiple attackers. A semiauto handgun with 10 or 12 rounds is a bit more comforting, and with spare magazine or two, you are well-armed.

I recall when the Glock 26 first came out – that was around 1992 – and they called it the “Pocket Rocket” for some reason – I never carried one in my pocket – it was still a bit too large for my tastes. However, place that same  Glock 26 in an inside the waistband holster or in an ankle holster and you had a lot of firepower, in a very small gun. Of course, these days, Glock and many other gun makers have even smaller pistols that hold a lot of ammo on-tap. And, of course, we now have sub-compact handguns, like the SIG-Sauer P365, that also holds 10 or 12 rounds in a very small and tidy package. Make you wonder how much smaller the gun makers can go with this…perhaps micro-compact?

Most days, I can be caught wearing my Glock 26, it’s one of my favorite concealed carry handguns. I added a +2 pinky catcher floor plate, that it turns the 10+1 mag into a 12+1 mag, all in a nice little package on my right hip. Of course, since Glock came out with the Model 26, most big-name gun makers have been playing catch-up with Glock, and they are producing their own compact handguns – most chambered in 9mm – the most popular pistol caliber in the world.

Today, we’re looking at the FN FNS-9C – that is their quasi-clone of the Glock 26–at least in terms of form and function. This is one tough little pistol. It appears to belarger than a Glock 26, but it’s only an illusion — since they are really very close in size. And, the FNS-9C seems to fit my hand a little better. So it feels more like a mid-sized 9mm instead of a compact version.

The FNS-9C Specifications

Let’s check out the specs on this FNS-9C. Of course it is chambered in 9mm, and FN says it is a double-action only pistol – there is some debate as to what this means, to many, this trigger pull is more like a single action, instead of a double-action – but we’ll leave it up to the end-user to determine what the trigger pull is most like. This little pistol can be had with 10-round, 12-round or 17 round magazines, The 17-round mag is from the full-sized gun, with a sleeve on it. That makes a dandy back-up or spare magazine, if you ask me. The gun only weighs 23.4 oz, but for some reason, it feels heavier than that. We have a 3.6-inch barrel, which is typical of similar sized handguns.

The sights on the FNS-9C are the outstanding 3-dot type, very fast to pick-up for a great sight picture. The rear sight is adjustable for windage only. Height of the pistol is 5.2-inches, and it is 1.35-inches wide – a little bit wider than similar-sized pistols, but you don’t feel the added girth. FN says trigger pull is between 5.5-pounds and 7.7-pounds. My sample came in dead-on at 5.5-pounds and it didn’t feel that heavy at all, and it was a consistent trigger pull. Last, but not least is this is a striker-fire handgun – not hammer-fired. More and more handguns these days are striker-fired. It takes a little re-training to get used to the trigger pull on striker-fired handguns, over hammer-fired versions.

The slide and barrel are made out of stainless steel that has a black coating on it, while the polymer frame is also black in color. The slide has front and rear cocking serrations, for a sure grip when chambering a round or when press checking. The FNS-9C comes with two interchangeable backstraps and one is sure to fit your hand nicely. They are easy to swap out.

The poly frame has MIL-STD 1913 accessory rails for mounting lights and/or lasers – outstanding – many compact pistols don’t offer this option. Then we have the ambidextrous slide stop, and an ambidextrous magazine release. Each of these guns ships with three magazines, one 12-round flat base mag bottom, one 12-round with a pinky catcher bottom, and one 17-round with a sleeve on it – that’s a great option – 3 magazines in all. Of course, if you live in a not-so-free state, you will have three 10-round magazines. You can also opt for night sights on this model. BTW, the trigger is hinged, and that is quite a bit different than the Glock style trigger with the little blade safety in the center of it.

My Range Tests

So, this little concealed carry piece has quite a few cool options going for it, that some other similar pistols don’t have or even offer. The big question is, how well does it shoot? I had a great selection of ammo from Black Hills Ammunition for testing as well as a mixed box of range ammo – that is a lot of different brands, and types off ammo for function testing. Needless to say, this little FNS-9C never missed a beat, no matter what ammo I put through it, or how fast I fired the gun, and I could empty a magazine in about a second and a half. In all, I fired more than 400-rounds of ammo through this FN pistol, and a lot of my shooting was at targets of “opportunity” – rocks, fallen trees, branches, etc. Just fun shooting, and if I was on my game, I could easily hit baseball-sized targets out to 50-yards – that is like doing headshots and nailing the “head” every single time.

For my accuracy testing, I used a bunched-up lightweight jacket as a rest, over the hood of my pick-up truck. My target was placed at 25-yards – an orange-colored paster on a white piece of paper. This was a mistake on that particular day, as the sun was at my back, and the orange paster would disappear and blur with the white paper it was stuck on. Kind of like a snow blindness situation, if you will.

From Black Hills, I had their 115-gr JHP, 124-gr JHP +P, 115-gr FMJ, 124-gr JHP, 115-gr Barns TAC XP +P, and their HoneyBadger 100-gr +P. The latter is is an all-copper bullet that doesn’t expand, but does a lot of damage just the same. Point of fact, my entire family carries HoneyBadger ammo in their self-defense handguns – we have that much faith in that ammo design, as a fight stopper.

Considering my “snow blindness” I was experiencing, I still managed some great groups, and to be sure, I wear eye protection, so it helped mitigate the loss of the orange aiming point on the white piece of paper. All the Black Hills ammo was giving me consistent groups of a little less than 3-inches, however, one load, the 124-gr JHP gave me the best results, if I stayed on my game, I could get 2.5-inch groups. And, remember, this is from a compact 9mm handgun, not a full-sized one.

Something I don’t often mention is that, every once in a while, a gun/ammo combination, will run extremely smoothly. This is kind of hard to explain, but you can “feel” it when firing. The gun and ammo just seem to run VERY smoothly with each round you fire. I don’t feel this all the time, but when it is extremely noticeable, you will know what I’m talking about. During rapid fire, not extreme rapid fire, you can feel that gun and ammo just running smoothly with each other…like they were made for each other…and this was with the HoneyBadger load – even though it wasn’t my most accurate load, the gun and ammo ran quite smoothly together.

I like the Black Hills 124-grain JHP load as a good all-around load. Why? It isn’t too heavy of a load, nor too light – it will give you all the penetration you need, and get you back on-target very fast. The 115-gr FMJ load is an all-time favorite, because it is accurate and light recoiling as well. Off course, this FMJ load is best reserved for target practice.

I didn’t have a holster for this FNS-9C, so I didn’t pack the gun around. Still, it is a fun shooter, and it will serve all your needs. Best of all is the price, full-retail is $649.99 and that’s a decent price, but you can often find the FNS-9C for less at many gun shops. (Or that is you could–up until the current “run on guns” began. Be sure to check one out, it might have all the bells and whistles you need and nothing you don’t need.