Category Archives: Firearms

FNH FNX-9 — A Shooting Review


FNH FNX-9

FNH FNX-9

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 storeCollector’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 FNX-9 complete kit

FNH FNX-9 complete kit

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.

Three magazines and four back straps included

Three magazines and four back straps included

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.

FNH FNX-9 disassembled view

FNH FNX-9 disassembled view

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.

FNX FNX9-003

FNH FNX-9 ambidextrous controls

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.

FNH FNX-9 disassembled view

FNH FNX-9 disassembled view

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).

Don Hume H721 Holsters for Walther PPK or PPK/S and Walther P99c AS

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout First Impressions — A Shooting Review


Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

First, a word to those following our 10-day Sea of Cortez adventure last fall aboard the Grand Princess. Sorry to leave you hanging in Loreto, Mexico, but I had to get out a timely review of Ruger’s new Mini-14 Tactical 300 AAC Blackout. Wednesday I’ll be reviewing another firearm — the FNH FNX-9 — and this week’s Fun Photo Friday I’ll be presenting some spring-related desert flora shots. I’ll be continuing my series on Loreto and beyond Monday next week, so please excuse this interruption.

In the past several weeks Ruger has released the latest version of their venerable, reliable Mini-14. No, it’s not another variation of the classic Ranch Rifle. It’s also not an addition to Ruger’s highly accurate Target models. Instead, there’s a new entry into the Mini-14 Tactical line, and this addition has me very excited because Ruger has never before offered a Mini-14 in this caliber — the incredibly versatile, suppressor-friendly 300 AAC Blackout.

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

What is 300 AAC Blackout ammunition? First, a little history. In 1962 the U.S. Army began deploying as their primary weapon the M16 chambered in NATO 5.56x45mm, which is for all practical purposes an extremely hyped-up .22 caliber round (.223 to be exact) that packs a lot of punch out of the M16’s original 20-inch/508mm barrel. When the Army found that most engagements were inside of 100 yards/92 meters, and many modern battlefield engagements are in an urban setting, the Army opted to reduce the M16’s barrel length to something more suitable to what they were encountering. The result is the M4, a descendant of the M16 with a shorter 14.5inch/370mm barrel.

Problem is that loss of 5.5 inches/128mm adversely impacts the effectiveness of the 5.56 round. Not a lot, but enough. Then there’s the inability to properly suppress a supersonic round, which is something our Special Forces like to do on occasion.

This limitation and others led Advanced Armament Corporation to look at the existing M4 and see if they could come up with something a bit better. What AAC came up with is probably the most versatile round ever produced — the 300 AAC Blackout. The 300 BLK, as it is more commonly known, comes in everything from a 110-grain/7.13-gram supersonic round to a 220-grain/14.26-gram subsonic round with perhaps dozens of intermediate loads available in between these two extremes.

But the advantages don’t stop there. The 300 BLK can use the existing M16/M4 lower and M16/M4 magazines with only a simple swap out of the upper. Additionally, the 300 BLK offers better performance out of a 9-inch/229mm barrel than the 5.56 can achieve out of the M4’s 14.5-inch/370mm barrel.

How does all this translate to the civilian world? It means you have a weapon that is suitable for everything from medium game hunting, to plinking, to serious target practice at intermediate distances, to home defense with suppressor capability all in one convenient package. That’s pretty versatile indeed.

All this versatility also means that U.S. forces can switch from longer-range supersonic rounds to suppressed subsonic rounds merely by attaching a suppressor to the end of the barrel and swapping out the ammunition in their magazines.

Threaded Barrel and Flash Suppressor

Threaded Barrel and Flash Suppressor

Beyond military applications and up until the release of this new Mini-14 the 300 AAC Blackout has been mostly aimed at the existing civilian AR market (civilian semiautomatic versions of the M16/M4 platform). Not anymore. Now for the first time it can be used in the proven and arguably more reliable Garand-style action of the Mini-14. But if you’re looking for reliability, read on for my review of the worst ammunition I have ever encountered — Remington’s UMC 120-gr OTFB (Open-Tip, Flat-Based) 300 AAC Blackout supersonic ammunition.

Just some of what’s in the box:

  • Two 20-round 300 AAC BLK magazines (Unlike the AR market, Ruger has chosen to make their Mini-14 300 AAC BLK incompatible with existing Ruger .223/5.56mm magazines to prevent potentially catastrophic cross-loading of ammunition)
  • Scope rings
  • Picatinny rail
  • Suppressor-ready threaded barrel with flash suppressor installed
  • Hex wench for iron sight adjustments
  • Lubricant
  • Safety lock
What's in the Box

What’s in the Box

Close-up of Accessories

Close-up of Accessories

How does it shoot? When the ammunition works, pretty darned good. Out of the box and with no adjustment of the sights. I was able to score fairly tight groupings within around six to eight inches of the intended point of impact at an estimated range of about 60 feet/18 meters. Recoil is surprisingly light. Recovery and reacquisition of the target was quick and effortless. The trigger is good, but somewhat shy of great. The trigger is definitely better than on a Beretta CX4 9mm carbine, but this is a longer range weapon so that should be a given. The manual safety is easy to reach and to manipulate with the trigger finger, but deactivation does require insertion of the trigger finger into the trigger guard — make certain the weapon is pointed in a safe direction and on target before deactivating it. The installed iron sights have protective ears for both the front blade and the rear aperture. Sight adjustments are available for both windage and elevation using the included hex wrench.

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout with Nikon P300 BLK

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout with Nikon P300 BLK

Disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly is fairly straightforward.  It’s certainly much simpler than, say, an M1911A1, but not as simple as most modern handguns.  All you need is a ¼-inch punch to break down the rifle, and Ruger has put up videos on YouTube to walk you through it all.

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout disassembled

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout disassembled

Mini-14 Trigger Group

Mini-14 Trigger Group

Mini-14 Receiver Group

Mini-14 Receiver Group

A quick word about the Garand-style gas operating system of the Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout: This system has been carefully tuned at the factory to handle unsuppressed supersonic loads and suppressed subsonic loads. Further adjustments not possible at home, and unnecessary at any rate as long as you remember to run suppressed with subsonic ammunition or unsuppressed with supersonic loads. Failure to follow this basic advice may result in unreliable ammunition feeds into the rifle. As I don’t (yet) have a suppressor, I cannot validate for you the reliability of the Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout using subsonic loads.

Rotating Bolt

Rotating Bolt

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

Ruger Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout

Now for the ammunition. The first box of supersonic Remington UMC 120-gr OTFB 300 AAC Blackout ran without drama when inserted ten rounds at a time into one of the included 20-round magazines. After my good friend David Williams and I fired ten rounds each I then loaded up the same magazine with a full twenty rounds.

Result: Repeated blown primers resulting in jamming of the weapon. Never in my entire shooting life have I ever had so much as even one blown primer, so it took me a while to realize what was going on, but in twenty rounds I had somewhere in the vicinity of five primers blow out of their respective casings. Later disassembly of the rifle for cleaning and inspection revealed no damage to the rotating block and firing pin, but Remington definitely got an earful on their ammunition and the remaining two boxes will be returned for evaluation. The lot number, for anyone interested, was A333-7 0360-1, but from my experience I’m not going to trust any Remington 300 AAC Blackout ammunition regardless of lot number.

Unfortunately my Nikon P-300 BLK rifle scope did not arrive in time to make this first outing. This is a 2-7x32mm scope with a BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticle optimized for both supersonic and subsonic BLK 300 rounds. Nikon supplies online a nifty Spot-On Ballistics Match Technology that allows you to select the scope magnification (2x to 7x for the P-300) ammunition brand and load, and then supply you with the bullet drop compensation figures for each point contained in the scope reticle. Once you’ve established these parameters, you can then make a print-out to take with you into the field. Here’s the reticle sighting data for Remington 125-gr Premier Match OTM 300 AAC Blackout ammunition at a range of 25 yards, zero-in range of 75 yards, with the P-300 set to 7x (you’ll note that 450 yards is entirely within range of this load, and 600 yards is not out of the question):

Nikon Spot-On BDC Technology

Nikon Spot-On BDC Technology

Installation of the P-300 BLK using the scope rings included with the Mini-14 was fairly simple and straight forward. I did figure out one nifty trick, however. First attach only the front scope ring to the P-300, but don’t tighten the top of the ring just yet. Next place the scope ring on a flat surface. Use a small level and check for level by placing it horizontally across the windage adjustment turret, turn the scope until level is achieved, and tighten down the top ring. Now install the rear scope ring onto the Mini-14, then position the front ring/scope assembly. Place the rear top scope ring in place and tighten down. This was much easier than following the Ruger instructions for scope mounting, and it assured that the reticle would be perfectly level once the scope was installed.

Nikon P300 BLK

Nikon P300 BLK

Nikon P300 BLK

Nikon P300 BLK

I will evaluate this Mini-14/Nikon P-300 combination at some point in the future, probably after I’ve found a good ammunition for the rifle. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this first look at the Mini-14 300 AAC Blackout.

3 Comments

Filed under Firearms, R. Doug Wicker

Outrageously Funny Video — “Glock Engineer Interview”


Readers of my firearms posts may have discerned by now my less than enthusiastic response to all things Glock.  So, when I stumbled across this “Interview” video with a “Glock Engineer” concerning the “Glock 43,” I just couldn’t help but laugh out loud.  It is, of course, one of those bogus “Translation” videos, this time from Spanish and which in reality has absolutely nothing to do with Glocks.  There’s another on the Glock 43 using that often-used Hitler Rant scene from the movie Der Untergang (The Downfall), but the language in that is pretty graphic.

I

Comments Off on Outrageously Funny Video — “Glock Engineer Interview”

Filed under Firearms, Humor, Social Networking