One of my favorite modern weapons is the FNH FNX-45. And I suspect I’m not the only one, as my review of the FNX-45 is one of my most frequently searched for and read blog posts. In the past year alone that review has garnered nearly 5,600 hits, second only to my review of the classic Walther PP chambered in .32 ACP. The FNX-45 is, quite simply, a near-perfect home defense weapon especially when combined with a Beretta CX4 9mm Carbine. If you’re a rancher located two hours or more from the nearest sheriff substation, these are the two weapons you want guarding the ol’ homestead against any potential two-legged predators.
So, imagine my delight when my local favorite gun store — Collector’s Gun Exchange owned by my good friend Paul Lee — had a slightly used FNH FNX-9 on sale for about $150 below typical new prices. Apparently the previous owner only ran a couple of magazines’ worth of 9mm ammunition through it before he discovered that the FNX wasn’t on the El Paso Police Department’s list of approved duty weapons. Subsequently, the previous owner traded it in on a Glock. That’s too bad for the EPPD, because in my view the FNX is far superior to the Glock in every respect.
FNH products come with a substantial number of goodies that you’ll pay extra for with other brands, including even my beloved Walthers and SIGs. With the FNX series you get not two, but rather three 17-round magazines. That’s a lot of firepower at no additional cost to the buyer. The FNX-9 also comes with four interchangeable back straps — two different sizes in two differing textures — each incorporating lanyard attachments.
The pistol itself comes equipped with a MIL STD 1913 rail and a serrated trigger guard. Internally, as with the FNX-45, the slide rails attached to the frame are replaceable in the unlikely event that you wear them out.
Controls are simple, straightforward, intuitive, and easy to manipulate. These include fully ambidextrous slide releases, magazine release buttons, and safety/decocker levers. The FNX-9 is a hammer-fired, double-action/single-action pistol that also allows for cocked-and-locked carry using the ambidextrous safety. Depressing the safety lever downward beyond the firing position safely decocks the hammer to place the weapon into double-action mode.
That is simply a lot of versatility for the money, and in this the FNX exceeds by a wide margin most other modern polymer handguns currently on the market, even those approaching twice the FNX’s price.
Disassembly is SIG-simple. Just lock back the slide, rotate the take-down lever above the trigger (the one control not ambidextrous), unlock the slide while while firmly holding it, then ease the slide forward off the frame. Once the slide is dismounted, simply remove the recoil spring assembly and barrel. Reassembly is just the reverse, and can either can be accomplished in mere seconds.
So, how does the FNH FHX-9 shoot? Once again, as with the FNX-45, the barrel and slide remain locked for far longer travel distance than with any other semi-automatic handguns I’ve handled. This in conjunction with the low bore access seems to result in an extremely light and controllable recoil that allows for very quick target reacquisition and fast follow-up shots. Aim is intuitive, but point of impact seems just a tad high. I wasn’t really trying to evaluate aim on this outing, as I was firing this day at a target previously set up for the new Ruger Mini-14 Tactical 300 AAC Blackout. That target sat about 60 feet/18 meters downrange. But with that in mind, not only was I on the paper, I was also only somewhat high and just slightly left of my point of aim. Groupings were good for a handgun (and my rather pathetic level of talent) for the distance, but I definitely want to give the FNX-9 a more controlled look at the standard 21-foot/6.4-meter defensive shooting range before delving any further into this pistol’s accuracy.
The trigger is good, but not great. The FNX-9 is a combat weapon, and the trigger reflects that. Double-action is long and moderately heavy, but probably less so than the SIG P22(x) series of double-action/single-action pistols. The FNX trigger also lacks any real tactile feedback before the hammer trips. At defensive ranges that’s not really what I would consider a factor, and the trigger is not overly heavy to the point where you wouldn’t be able to keep aim on target at any reasonable range. For instance I have no problem keeping on target out to a range of 15 yards with the FNX-45 in double-action, and the triggers between these two pistols are pretty much identical in most respects.
Single-action is okay, but it’s not match grade by any stretch. You’ll get a better single-action trigger out of a SIG P22(x), and certainly much better out of the Walther PP-series or a P99 AS. Don’t even think of comparing the FNX single-action trigger to the Colt M1991A1; they’re not even close.
Still, the FNX single-action trigger is far better than partially cocked striker-fired pistols such as the Glock. Trigger take-up is about ⅜”/10mm before your finger encounters any resistance. After that point the trigger mushes along for around ⅛”/3mm before tripping. These numbers are again nearly identical but ever-so-slightly better than what I measured on the FNX-45. The trigger reset point equals the FNX-45 at around ½”/13mm with a positive tactile indication and barely audible click, but then you’re back to the previously mentioned slightly mushy trigger creep before reaching the trip point.
While the FNX-45 is too bulky and hefty for concealed carry, not so much with the FNX-9. And at 17+1 rounds, that’s a good thing. I’ve not yet carried the FNX-9, but I have obtained a Don Hume H721 Double Nine holster (my favorite for both the Walther P99c AS and the PPK/S).
Still, the FNX-9 is somewhat larger than what I would classify as a compact firearm. It’s closer to a full-size concealable carry weapon. Dimensions are:
- Length 7.4″/188mm
- Height 5.43″/138mm
- Width 1.55″/39mm
- Barrel length 4.02″/102mm
- Weight is an incredibly light (unloaded) 21.9 oz/621 grams
- Capacity 17+1 of 9mm ammunition
In comparison here are the dimensions of what is in my opinion the single best concealed carry pistol currently on the market, the Walther P99c AS:
- Length 6.61″/168mm
- Height 4.33″/110mm
- Width 1.26″/32mm (1.34″/34mm if you can find the ambidextrous model)
- Barrel length 3.5″/89mm
- Weight (unloaded) 19.0 oz/540 grams
- Capacity 10+1 of 9mm ammunition
So, in comparison to a truly compact 9mm, the FNX-9 comes in .79″/20mm longer, 1.1″/28mm taller, 0.3″/7mm wider, and weighs 2.9 oz./81 grams more. On the plus side, you get an added half-inch/13mm of barrel performance, and the FNX-9 gives you seven more rounds for that additional inch of height.
The FNX-9 is just as much a winner as is its larger FNX-45 brother. If you’re looking for an affordable, concealable, high-capacity 9mm, you could certainly do a lot worse than this offering from FNH.