FNS-9 Striker-Fired 9x19mm Semi-Automatic Pistol from FNH-USA

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 24th, 2014


Click pictures for a larger version.





The grip is well-textured without being abrasive.





Ambidextrous slide lock release.



Ambidextrous magazine release.





1913 Picatinny spec rail.





Three-dot style sights are standard, tritium night sights are optional.





Tactile and visible loaded-chamber indicator.



FNH has been producing quality semi-automatic pistols for decades, and their current-production hammer-fired pistols are among the best in the world. The latest design from FNH is their new FNS series of pistols. The FNS pistols differ from the FNX and other 9mm and 40 caliber FN pistols in that they are of striker-fire design, meaning that instead of a hammer being used to strike the firing pin for ignition, the striker (firing pin) is cocked and released to fire the pistol, eliminating the use of a hammer in the design. Striker-fired pistols are nothing new, but for FNH, these are their first striker-fired polymer-framed 9mm and 40 caliber pistols.

With their new FNS pistols, FNH-USA is entering a crowded field of similar polymer-framed striker-fired pistols. The market is flush with good designs of this type, so I was not expecting some kind of ground-breaking design when I opened the box containing the new FNS-9. I was not surprised, as at first glance, the pistol looks similar to many others. However, it is the details that set the FNS apart from much of its competition, and upon closer inspection, I could see that FNH got the details just right on this one.

Critical specifications for the FNS-9 pistol are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces, and includes the empty magazine. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine base with the magazine in place. Maximum width is measured across the ambidextrous magazine release.

Chambering 9x19mm
Weight with Empty Magazine 24.6 ounces
Trigger Pull 5.75 pounds
Barrel Length 4.01 inches
Barrel Diameter 0.500 inch
Overall Height 5.54 inches
Overall Length 7.25 inches
Grip Width 1.2 inches
Frame Width 1.15 inches
Slide Width 0.995 inch
Maximum Width 1.31 inches
Trigger Reach 2.76 inches
Magazine Capacity 17
Magazines Supplied 3
Magazine Disconnect Safety No
Manual Thumb Safety Optional / Ambidextrous
Accessory Rail 1913 Picatinny Spec
MSRP, as of July 2014 $599 US

Looking at the spec chart, the FNS-9 looks pretty close in size and weight to competitive pistols, and it is, but as noted above, FNH got the details just right. The trigger pull is butter-smooth, as in perfect. The grip portion of the black polymer frame is textured all around for a positive grip, but it is not abrasive to hands nor clothing. Both a curved and flat rear grip insert are provided, to better-fit a particular shooter's preference. Both backstraps have a lanyard eyelet at the bottom. The sights are not made of a cheap plastic, but are durable metal. They are shaped very well for a good sight picture, and the rear sight will not cut the operator's hand as it is raked across the top of the slide to chamber a cartridge or to clear a malfunction. Also, the sights are dovetailed into the slide, so switching them out for tritium night sights is relatively easy to do. Night sights are offered as a factory option as well. The slide is serrated front and rear, and the slide is also easy to cycle to chamber a cartridge. The trigger reset is positive, and never failed to reset at any time.

The magazine release is ambidextrous, and drops the mag by pushing inward from either side. The slide lock is not obtrusive, and is also ambidextrous. The pistol shown here has no manual safety, but a manual safety version is offered at the same price, if preferred. There is, thankfully, no magazine safety. The heavy-duty extractor serves as a tactile and visual loaded-chamber indicator. The magazines have a capacity of seventeen 9x19mm cartridges, for a total capacity of eighteen, and FNH-USA ships the pistol with three of these steel-bodied magazines. Ten-round versions are available as well, if you live somewhere that you would probably rather not.

The FNS-9 sits low in the shooter's hand, and even when shooting Buffalo Bore +P+ ammunition, the weapon is very easy to control. Perceived recoil is relatively light, compared to most other 9mm pistols which I have fired. The weapon is very tight, with excellent frame-to-slide and slide-to-barrel fit. The trigger guard is plenty large, even for a gloved finger. The front of the trigger guard is textured for support, if that suits your particular shooting style. A 1913 Picatinny spec rail is provided for the attachment of a light or laser sight, if desired. The stainless steel slide wears a durable matte black finish, and a silver-finished version is also available, for those who prefer a bit more flash.

I fired the FNS-9 with a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap Tac-XP  are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall, a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of fifty-nine percent. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP +P 95 1441
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP +P+ 115 1158
Federal Guard Dog 105 1182
Double Tap TAC-HP +P 115 1131
Double Tap FMJ +P 147 1066
Remington Home Defense 124 1112
Atomic HP +P 124 1201
WCC NATO FMJ 124 1116
Fiocchi FMJ 115 1055
Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN 124 1271
Buffalo Bore JHP 115 1288
Buffalo Bore +P+ JHP 115 1355
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 147 1062
Cor-Bon Glaser +P 80 1619
Cor-Bon JHP +P 115 1323
Cor-Bon PB +P 100 1311
Cor-Bon +P DPX 115 1154
Cor-Bon JHP +P 125 1289
Stryker JHP 115 1013
International Cartridge FP 100 1068
Stryker FMJ 115 1065

Shooting the FNS-9 pistol was a real pleasure. There are no sharp edges to abrade the hand, and perceived recoil is mild, even with the high-performance +P and +P+ ammunition. The pistol functioned flawlessly throughout the tests, with all ammunition listed above. Every round fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. There is no break-in period required with this pistol. It ran perfectly, right out of the box. Accuracy was very good, with the pistol hitting to point-of-aim with most ammunition from five to twenty-five yards. The pistol possesses the needed accuracy to make a head-shot at twenty-five yards easily, if necessary. As noted above, with the striker-fired FNS-9, FNH got the details just right, and in the highly-competitive market segment into which this pistol falls, the details make a big difference. 

One very important detail to many potential purchasers is the price. As of the date of this review, the FNS-9 has a suggested retail price of only $599 US. That is right in there with its closest competition, but the wholesale price on the FNS leaves the dealer plenty of room to discount, if they like. Also for that price, compared to some of its competition, the FNS has better sights, a smoother shape, better trigger, ambidextrous controls, a steel recoil spring guide rod, better magazines, softer felt recoil, and a better-quality hard case. Also, its accessory rail is not proprietary, accepting Picatinny spec accessories. It also ships with three magazines, instead of two. I keep coming back to the details, and as I stated above, the details make a big difference, and FNH nailed the details on this pistol. The FNS-9 pistol is built right, and built in the USA.

Check out the extensive line of FNH 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 FNH pistols online, click on the Gun Genie at www.galleryofguns.com.

To order quality 9x19mm ammunition, go to www.buffalobore.com, www.doubletapammo.com, www.midsouthshooterssupply.com, and www.luckygunner.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



FNS pistols ship with three high-quality steel magazines.



The FNS pistols ship in a quality hard storage case.





A very good mild 9mm load is the Federal Guard Dog.



One of the author's favorite carry loads is the Buffalo Bore Lead Free Hollowpoint.



18-shot group, fired standing offhand at 15 yards with 124-grain WCC NATO FMJ ammo, demonstrates the FNS pistol's practical accuracy.



Disassembly lever.