FNH-USA .45 ACP FNP-45 Auto Pistol

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 16th, 2008

 

 

 

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Roughly one hundred years ago, the US Military expressed an interest in adopting a new .45 caliber auto pistol, and the resulting trials gave us one of the best fighting pistols that the world has ever seen; the Colt 1911 .45 ACP, which served honorably for decades, and can still be found in improved versions within some units of the US Military. A few years ago, the US again requested submissions for consideration of a modern .45 caliber auto pistol, and the result is that, while the military has failed to adopt one, we now have several good service sized .45 ACP pistols on the market. A common denominator with these is a magazine capacity of at least ten rounds, plastic frame, accessory rail, good sights, and a manual safety capability.

One of the best of these new pistols is the FNP-45 from Fabrique Nationale Herstal, or FNH. Made in South Carolina at the FNH-USA manufacturing facility, it is a robust, full-sized fighting pistol. FNH claims that seventy percent of the small arms used by the US Military are FNH products. I do not doubt this, as FNH makes some of the best machines guns currently in use world-wide. They are also the parent company of Browning and Winchester. FNH makes rifles, shotguns, pistols, machine guns, and many accessories for small arms. I have been testing one of their Patrol Bolt Rifles (PBR) recently, and a review of that rifle will be up on Gunblast soon.

The FNP-45 is a solid, well-built service pistol ideally suited for law enforcement, military, and as a defensive weapon for the rest of us. While large, it is not excessively heavy, having a lightweight polymer frame. The frame comes with interchangeable arched and flat backstraps to offer some adjustability to the feel of the weapon. One insert is easily swapped for another by using a small nail, paperclip, or wire to push into the hole in the insert. Weighing in at just slightly over two pounds, the FNP-45 balances very well, and feels good in my hand. I prefer the flat grip insert, but some other shooters that fired this pistol preferred the arched. The sights are of a sturdy three-dot design, adjustable for windage by drifting in their dovetails. Night sights are available, but were not supplied on this sample gun. The FNP-45 comes with three steel magazines, of either ten or fourteen round capacity, depending upon the politics of your local and state governments. The FNP-45 is of the traditional double action/single action design, meaning that the first shot is fired with a long, smooth trigger pull that measured nine pounds, five ounces on the test pistol, and all subsequent shots are fired with a shorter, lighter trigger pull, which measured slightly over four and three-quarters pounds on the test gun. The slide locks open after firing the last shot from the magazine. Unlike most competing designs, the FNP-45 is not a striker-fired pistol, but has a real hammer, which has a Commander type hammer spur. The FNP-45 has ambidextrous controls, consisting of a manual hammer drop thumb safety, magazine release, and slide release on each side. On the left side is a disassembly latch, which is easy to operate to take the FNP apart for cleaning and lubrication.

The FNP-45 has an overall length of 7.825 inches, and an overall height of 6.35 inches, including sights and magazine base pad. The maximum width measures 1.57 inches across the thumb safeties. The slide measure 1.125 inches in width. There is an almost two inch length of Picatinny compatible accessory rail at the front of the frame to mount flashlights and such, if the user likes such things on his pistol. The grip area of the frame has ample molded-in checkering for a secure grip.

The FNP-45 has a wide, smooth trigger and a generous trigger guard, which can accommodate a gloved finger easily. The pistol also has second-strike capability to pull the trigger again on a round that does not fire without having to rack the slide to cock the action. The sample pistol has a black frame and stainless steel slide, but the FNP-45 is also available with a black Melonite-coated slide and olive green frame.

Shooting the FNP-45 was a pleasure, and no failures of any kind occurred. I fired the test gun for function and accuracy using a wide variety of ammunition. The FNP-45 fed, fired, and ejected everything without hesitation. The empty cases were thrown to the right about six feet, and were piled closely together, proving very consistent in ejection. I found that a magazine loader, like the upLULA, was very helpful in loading the fourteen-round magazines to full capacity. Accuracy testing was done at the twenty-five yard target from a hand held rested position. Velocities were recorded from the FNP-45ís four and one-half inch barrel using a PACT Professional Model chronograph set at ten feet from the muzzle. Chronograph readings were taken on a cool, calm day with a temperature hovering around thirty four degrees Fahrenheit, at an elevation of approximately four hundred feet above sea level, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). JHP is jacketed hollowpoint. AF (Air Freedom) and EPR are very specialized bullets from Extreme Shock Ammunition. FMJ is full-metal-jacketed bullets. PB is Cor-Bon PowRBall. DPX is a Barnes all-copper hollow cavity expanding bullet loaded by Cor-Bon. SWC is a lead semi-wadcutter bullet used in my favorite .45 ACP target handload. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Velocity
Cor-Bon DPX 185 1033.2
Cor-Bon JHP 200 998.7
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1235.1
Cor-Bon JHP 230 931.9
Cor-Bon PB 165 1268
Cor-Bon FMJ 230 745.5
Extreme Shock AF 125 1422
Extreme Shock EPR 185 1082.7
Buffalo Bore JHP 200 1078
Buffalo Bore JHP 185 1165.4
Handload SWC 200 874.9

I was delighted by the fine accuracy displayed by the FNP-45. This gun thinks it is a target pistol. Most all loads grouped under two inches at twenty-five yards, and my .45 ACP target handload would put them all in the same hole if I could hold the gun still! The group pictured is five of those bullets into three-quarters of an inch, and several other groups were almost as good. This is an accurate fighting pistol.

There is a lot to like about this FNP-45. I like the feel and balance of the weapon. I like the easy to see sights. I like the grip angle and texture. I like the hammer-fired design, and the double action/single action trigger pull. I like the ambidextrous controls. I like that it comes from the factory with three magazines. I like the target grade accuracy, and I like that it is made in the USA. It ainít a pocket gun, nor was it meant to be. It is a full-sized fighting pistol that is meant to be carried in a holster. With the tritium night sight option, it would also be an excellent bedside gun. The FNP-45 is perfectly suited to ride in a copís holster, and could be carried concealed with a proper concealment holster such as the Cross Breed Supertuck. With a capacity of fifteen big .45 slugs, it should handle most any unsavory social conflict in which most of us are likely to be involved. This was my first experience with a double action FN pistol, and I am well pleased.

Check out the FNP-45 and other FNH-USA products online at www.fnhusa.com.

For the location of an FNH dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the FNP-45 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order any of the high performance ammunition listed here, go to www.cor-bon.com, www.buffalobore.com, and www.extremeshockusa.net.

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:

 

Jeff tested the FNP with a good variety of ammunition.

 

 

 

 

Twenty-five yard five-shot 3/4" group fired hand-held from a rest shows the fine accuracy of the FNP.

 

 

 

 

UpLULA magazine loader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 FNH-USA .45 ACP FNP-45 Auto Pistol.

 

 

 The FNP comes with hard case, three magazines, padlock, manual, and two backstraps.

 

 

 Grips are well-textured for a secure hold.

 

 

 All controls are ambidextrous.

 

 

 Like most modern pistols, the FNP sports a Picatinny accessory rail.

 

 

 Sights are of the "three-dot" pattern, and drift adjustable for windage.

 

 

The Author likes this feature!

 

 

 Flat and arched backstraps are easily interchangeable for a custom fit.

 

 

The FNP is easily disassembled for cleaning.

 

 

 

 

 Case head is well-supported.

 

 

Finish is excellent inside and out.

 

 

 

Single-action and double-action trigger pull weights are very good for a fighting pistol.