FNH’s Newest Handgun – Look out Glock!!!
Lock-N-Load Blog is proud to announce the review for a wonderful new handgun produced by the famous FNH right here in the United States. This is Lock-N-Load Blog’s first actual review of a firearm, so this review will be a little different than most. Lock-N-Load Blog was lucky enough to get our hands on one of FNH’s newest designed pistols…the preproduction FNS40 with manual safety. There are only a couple hundred of these little puppies floating around out there and we were honored to test one out. I hope you have got a cup of Joe, because this review is a lengthy one!
This handgun was sent to me by Jack Ralph from OMB Guns out of Olathe, Kansas. Jack was looking for someone to give this pistol a thorough test and to provide an unbiased and truthful opinion about its overall worth as a handgun, both for the shooting enthusiasts and for law enforcement officers alike. Lucky enough for me, I am both of those things!
As I said earlier, I will start this review out a little differently than most by telling you a short little history about my experiences with handguns. I was introduced to shooting handguns at the age of 8 when my step-father Glenn took me to a local range. I remember holding his Beretta 92 for the first time and firing those wonderful first few shots. I will never forget it. As I grew through the years I was introduced to many different types of handguns, acquiring likes and dislikes about each of them. Then for the first time in the late 90’s, I finally held and shot a Glock, I fell in love. I liked the look and everything was just…so…simple. Easy to load, easy to shoot and easy to clean and maintain. Who could ask for a better pistol?
Well, when I turned 21 I began a career in law enforcement with a local Sheriff’s Office. I was issued a Glock 35 and began to receive the first real handgun training in my life. I caught on fast and found that I was pretty damn good with this little polymer pistol, so my love for the Glock grew even more.
I have owned several Glocks since then. I don’t tell many people this, but I even went as far as to get a Glock logo tattoo on my right bicep…I know, I’m an idiot (tattoo has since been laser removed). My family and friends still razz me about it to this day, but it just goes to show how fond I was of this pistol that protected my life on a daily basis. By this point, your probably wondering why your hearing so much about Glocks right? Keep reading, there’s a point…trust me.
Now that you are a little more familiar with my experiences, I will move to the present time. I am now 28 years old and currently working as a Deputy for a different agency here in the State of Florida…and guess what? Again I was issued another Glock for my service pistol. Although this time, I was issued a Glock 22C compensated with a TLR-1 Streamlight. Make a mental note that this is still this pistol I carry on duty, even as we speak.
OMB Guns is who my agency currently conducts all of its firearms business with. So trusting my agency, Jack sent over a pistol for some real life testing and evaluation. When my Lieutenant received it, he immediately thought of my blog and how I love to review anything related to firearms. So he called me up and said that he had received a new handgun from OMB Guns and would like to have me test it out and put it through the ringer. Well of course, I drove straight down to his office to see what he had in store for me.
As soon as I walked into his office, I noticed a black hard plastic pistol case marked with FNH’s famous symbol sitting on his desk. I think my exact words to him were “Ohhh an FN pistol?! Sweeeet”. I would be a liar if I said that I was paying any attention to what he was telling me as I began to fondle this new and very attractive handgun. He quickly went over the basics and explained to me exactly what OMB Guns was looking for in the review…a good honest opinion of everything, good or bad. So, I left his office with a new mission and a sh*t eating grin from ear to ear.
When I got home, I did what I always do…I opened the box, removed everything that was included and took several mental notes. The FNS40 model that I received was mono-toned version with the manual safety. It came with three metal 14 round magazines w/ polymer base plates, an owner’s manual, a warranty card (lifetime warranty), a cable style lock and two interchangeable back-straps.
I was immediately drawn to the interchangeable back-straps, as I had experience with Glock’s flimsy design on the new Gen 4 models. I hated Glock’s interchangeable straps and did not like the way they were installed or removed. So I immediately picked up the owner’s manual and began reading through it. I wanted to find out how they attached to the grip and hoped that it was easier and more solid than Glock’s Gen4 models. Boy was I happy when I got to the back-strap section in the owner’s manual. On the FNS models, there’s a very small hole in the center of each back strap. You simply take a small tool (like an Allen key or punch) and insert it into the hole, which disengages a catch. You then apply a small amount of pressure downward, releasing the back strap. It then slides of easily and without effort.
After removing the current strap that was installed (curved), I took the extra strap (straight) and slid it on. No tools are necessary for the installation. Once it slides on, it will snap into place providing a very solid and sturdy grip. Nothing hangs over, no pins to deal with, no flimsy plastic…just solid, simple and easy. Just the way I like things! After installing both back-straps and holding the pistol in both hands, I decided on the curved strap. I have bigger hands and found that the curved strap fit into the palm of my hand better, providing a more comfortable grip.
After playing with the back-straps, I decided to take a look at the provided magazines. The magazines seemed to be solid and made very well. The body of the magazine is made with metal while the follower and base plate seem to be polymer like the frame of the pistol itself. Not necessarily my cup of tea, as I have always been used to Glock’s all polymer mags.
But regardless of what I prefer, they appeared to be built very well and were very easy to load/unload rounds. Each mag has several clear and numbered “round count holes” as I call them, providing you with an exact count of how many rounds are in the magazine. Inserting the mags into the mag-well couldn’t have been easier, especially with the beveled edges. Something you have to purchase extra and install yourself for a Glock. While the mag-well is not overly beveled, it is enough that I noticed a difference between that and my service pistol.
Changing magazines in a real life situation can mean living and dying, so I pride myself on my reloading times and how quickly I can insert and remove the magazine from a weapon. I conducted several magazine “dry” runs with both the FNS and my service pistol. Although slight, I did notice a difference with ease of insertion when removing a magazine from my mag-pouch and quickly placing it into the mag-well. A plus for me, but not so good for the bad guy! Although I would have liked to have had a 15 round magazine instead of a 14 rounder, I liked them. After all, every extra round I can squeeze in is a plus.
Removing the magazine was even easier than inserting one with the ambidextrous mag release buttons. The Mag release was way larger than a Glock’s and was super easy to manipulate. This turned out to be one of my favorite features with the FNS throughout my review. But with an oversized mag release, comes possible accidental releases by unintentionally hitting the button right? No sir, not with the FNS. Not once in all of my testing did I have a magazine drop out when I did not want it to. That’s in and out of a holster and with all of the gear I was wearing…NO ISSUES.
Speaking of the mag release, the FNS was designed with both right and left hand users in mind. So no more “special” training you lefties! In addition to the mag release, the manual safety and slide stop are also ambidextrous. Both the slide stop and safety are conveniently located on the pistol so that it is very easy to access with a proper grip. Both buttons are appropriately sized and are easy to operate. I think that the slide stop could have been a tad bit larger, but then again I have large hands. Either way both functioned flawlessly and was very easy to use.
The overall weight of the pistol was very nice and the balance was even better. It felt nice in my hands loaded or unloaded and was easily controllable, especially with the textured grip. Although I will say that this was my least favorite feature on the FNS. The grip texture is very stout and is a mix between the Glock RTF and Gen 4 models. I think that it could stand to be a little less pronounced, making it easier on the palms. Looking at it from both perspectives, the rough grip is excellent for the law enforcement officer which may need it during inclement weather or when the SHTF. No so much for the shooting enthusiast or the competitor though. A great grip, but it becomes uncomfortable very quickly when shooting a large amount of rounds. This is just my personal preference, so it may be okay for someone else.
The next thing I was impressed with was the factory sights that come standard with the FNS. The particular model I had was equipped with a set of Trijicon night sights. The front sight is square across the top as seen on most pistols. But the rear sight is what impressed me…instead of having a square shaped cut-out, it was actually rounded at the bottom which seemed to give me a better sight picture. I guess they are calling this a “deep v” cutout. For some reason and I don’t know why, my eyes seemed to focus on the rounded rear and square front sight easier. Way better than the standard sights on a Glock. The tritium in the sights were bright green and easy to acquire even in the pitch black. They were everything I have always come to expect from Trijicon.
The next thing I began to experiment with was the trigger. Although it did not look like a Glock or XD type trigger, the concept is still the same. It looked more like an S&W 99 trigger to me, so I was afraid I would not like it at all. Surprisingly, the trigger was VERY clean and smooth. It broke very crisp and trigger reset was super short. This is really important to me, because I was taught to shoot by only resetting the trigger after firing each shot. The shorter the reset, the better. Even taking up the slack when dry firing was a pleasure and I found that the trigger weight was very similar to that of my service pistol. Although not impressed by its appearance, I was definitely impressed with the functionality. Good job FNH!
Moving on, I really liked the slide of the FNS. It is designed very well and is easy on the eyes. Everything flows very well and it has slide cocking serrations at both the front and rear of the slide. This has always been a feature that I liked, especially on the Springfield XD’s. It slides effortlessly to the rear and is very easy to manipulate with either hand, even if they are sweaty or damp. Everything flows very well and the slide is definitely the icing on the cake.
The polymer frame also flows well with the slide and has several nice features designed right into the mold. One feature that I really liked was that the FNS has a little larger beaver tail than most pistols in its class. It feels nice with a good tight grip and keeps you from getting injured by a fast moving slide. The frame includes a MIL-STD 1913 rail underneath the front portion, which is great for laser/light combos or maybe a pistol bayonet…if that is your thing, lol!
I had to test the rail out and removed the TRL-1 from my service pistol and placed it on the FNS. It attached very easily and fit the rail very snug. The rail on the FNS is a lot more aggressive looking than the rail on the Glocks and I really like it! As with most similar designed pistols, the serial number is located at the same spot as a Glock and is easy to locate and read. Overall, the entire pistol appeared to be made very well and looked very attractive to me. Definitely a pistol I could see myself owning.
After going over most of the features, I decided it was time to take the test. The test of disassembly. In my honest opinion, this is one Glock’s best attributes. They are easy to take apart and clean, so I was hopeful that the FNS wouldn’t let me down. After reading the manual, the FNS breaks down very easily and are very similar to the Springfield Armory XDs. Of course I made sure the chamber was clear and the pistol unloaded before proceeding any further. Holding the FNS level, locate the disassembly lever which is found on the left hand side of the pistol. You take the lever and manipulate it downwards, pointing it towards the ground. You then depressed the trigger and gently pulled the slide forward, removing it from the frame. Not as smooth as a Glock, but definitely easier that trying to manipulate those tiny buttons! Once the slide has been removed, it takes apart like most modern day handguns. Remove the full length stainless steel recoil spring and out comes the 4” barrel…which I should mention is a hammer forged barrel
The disassembly process was very easy with the FNS and it seemed like even though I wanted it to fail when comparing to my beloved Glock, it didn’t. It just continued to impress me. Damn you FNH! For the last few features, I didn’t spend too much time with because they were simple and self-explanatory. The new FNS pistols are striker fired just like a Glock and XD pistol. There’s not really much to explain here except that there are no hammers to snag on anything and the pistol is truly double action. The last feature I will mention is the loaded chamber indicator…when it sticks out, it is loaded. It’s that simple and so there is no reason to go into great detail about it. After familiarizing myself with the entire pistol and all of the cool new features, it was time to take this baby to the range and send some lead flying.
With work, the family and general everyday rigors of life, it wasn’t until about a week later I was finally able to get it out and begin the testing. I met up with a few great guys at our local range for a few hours of fun. We set up several IDPA style targets on the action range and begin doing close quarter drills. At first, I just brought the case along with the pistol inside and set it down on the firing line next to me. Of course, I was wearing my Safariland thigh holster with my agency issued weapon, so after a few minutes of just holding the FNS40 in my hand, I got the bright idea to see if it would fit in my holster. To my amazement, it fit perfectly and all locks engaged! GAME ON!
Over the course of the next hour, we probably fired well over 1-200 rounds of ammo. At this point, I wasn’t really worried about starting the review, because I simply wanted to familiarize myself with the FNS and all of the features while live firing. I found that couldn’t help myself and loaded mag after mag after mag. What a pleasure this pistol was to shoot!
The recoil was comparable to my compensated service pistol which says a lot…especially for a .40 caliber! Acquiring the targets with the ramp style night sights was easy as pie and worked great, even when shooting distances of 25 yards or more. Point of impact and point of aim were the same…wherever the sights were pointed was where that hot piece of lead was headed…EVERYTIME. I was really surprised with the accuracy and did not have to adjust the sights at all. After all, what in the hell is the sense in owning a pistol if it suffers from poor accuracy? None!
Over the next few weeks, I found myself traveling to the range with the FNS in hand. It seemed like I was always shooting the FNS and was seriously neglecting my Glock. I felt bad, so I also shot the Glock quite a bit during the testing phase. But I am glad that I did because this really gave me a base to compare the FNS to. After shooting several hundred rounds through each pistol, I came to find that I was noticing even the most subtle differences between the two. I am ashamed to admit it, but I preferred the FNS every time. It really is too difficult to explain how well the pistol actually performed without shooting it yourself and I wasn’t the only one that noticed.
Several of the guys I go to the range with also had a chance to fire the new FNS and marvel in the new design. These are no ordinary Sunday shooters. These fellas are 2 and 3 gun competitors, so I really looked forward to their feedback on the FNS. After each shooter had the opportunity to fire the FNS, I got nothing but positive feedback from them. Even though it was something I thought could be toned down, all of them seemed to like the rough grip the best. After shooting, we talked and shot the breeze about how well we like the FNS. Okay, so at this point I knew it wasn’t just me.
But my testing was definitely not over. For some odd reason I really wanted the FNS to fail at something, so I could go right back to my Glock with no remorse. So I came up with a devious plan and decided to set up a nice steel course a few days later. Due to a few time constraints, this would be my last day at the range and the last opportunity to really give the FNS a good run. I called up my buddy Scott Vedder, who is also part of the Lock-N-Load Blog team.
Up to this point, I really hadn’t had an opportunity to take any pictures or videos of the FNS in action. I needed a camera man and Scott eagerly agreed. He met me at a private 700 yard range that we are lucky enough to use for just this sort of testing. Upon arrival, I showed him the FNS for the first time and asked what his thoughts were on it. I quickly went over several of the features with him and he was very impressed to say the least. After some short chatter, I broke out my ammo can full of .40 and we began loading mags. Scott works for the same agency I as do, so he also had his Glock 22C with him and was ready to start the comparison between the two.
We quickly set up a simple steel course with a few barriers and parked one of our patrol cars on the range to simulate a real life situation. We started by sitting in the car, hands on the ceiling and FNS in holster. Whoever was taking photos or video would yell “Threat!” and we would quickly exit the car, take cover behind the door jam and start sending rounds down range at the steel targets. I had already fired several hundred rounds through the FNS, so I knew what to expect. Scott however, had not fired it at all and after the first run he said was very impressed to say the least.
Because I still had one last devious test for the FNS, we stopped using it and I began to dig a nice little hole in the dirt. Scott immediately walked over and asked what the hell I was doing. When I told him I was going to bury it in the dirt and leave it there for the rest of the day, his face became very puzzled. I explained to him that we had already done about as much live fire exercises as we could to test the FNS, so I wanted to do this one last thing. I wanted to “torture test” the pistol and decided that this was a good way to do it. I closed the slide, inserted a loaded magazine and threw it in the hole. As I began to cover it up with that rich black soil, a sickening feeling came over me. I am firm believer in a clean weapon and burying this pistol in the dirt was tough to do…even if it was the FNS. Was I being a little extreme? Maybe, but I really wanted to see this thing fail.
After covering the pistol with the dirt, I packed it down nice and tight (as you can see by the photo). We left it there in the cold black soil for a few hours while we played with our AR-15’s. I couldn’t help but wonder if this thing would persevere once we unearthed it and took it to the firing line. Finally, the last test for the FNS.
As with most torture tests of this type, we decided to knock off all of the excess dirt and grime after digging it up. I gave it a few light taps and made sure the barrel was clear from any obstructions. After all, I did not want this thing blowing up in my hands. I walked down to a paper target, disengaged the manual safety and looked at Scott.
This was the moment of truth. I pointed the pistol at the target and began to squeeze the trigger…BANG, BANG, BANG. Three rounds fired flawlessly and when I attempted to squeeze the trigger for the fourth time, I did not feel the trigger reset…nothing. Did I finally manage to make this pistol fail? Not quite, keep reading.
Even though it would not fire the fourth round, the pistol still chambered the next live round from the magazine and the slide was fully locked forward. So obviously the trigger was the problem. Once I realized this, I simply manually reset the trigger and fired the rest of the rounds in the magazine. As I reset the trigger I could feel that there was still some dirt lodged inside the trigger assembly. So we took the pistol and gave it a few more hard taps to the side. When I did I noticed a large glob of dirt that fell out from the frame, right where the trigger protrudes through.
When then took three fully loaded magazines and began to fire. It was funny, because even though I wanted it to fail so bad, now I was hopeful it would work flawlessly. The FNS did not disappoint. It fired three magazines for a total of 42 rounds without a hiccup. Granted we did have some issues with the first firing after it was unearthed, but I honestly blame myself for that. It seemed that there was still some dirt lodged inside the trigger assembly and I failed to knock it all out when cleaning the dirt off of the weapon. After it was removed the pistol function flawlessly and without any further malfunctions.
After the torture test we fired a few more rounds through the FNS without cleaning it. At this point the total round count for the FNS was approximately 800 rounds of premium Federal ammunition. Other than the torture test we did not have any problems with the FNS and it was a pleasure to shoot. I am glad that I had the opportunity to even see the FNS, not to mention testing it. FNH continues to impress me and there are only a few weapons in the world that deserve to bear the famous FNH symbol. Overall all I was very pleased with the FNS40 and I found myself wishing I had it back after I returned it to my Lieutenant.
When I arrived at his office he looked at me and asked what I thought. I briefed him on the entire testing process with the FNS. After I explained to him what all I did, he asked me if I would feel confident enough to use it in on the job. I had to think for a minute because I did love my Glock, but after everything I tested and evaluated the FNS proved to be more than ready for any law enforcement officer. I think FNH hit the nail on the head with the FNS and I wouldn’t doubt it if many agencies across the country begin to change over to the FNS model. It is reliable, user friendly and easy to shoot. I will say out of everything that I tested, I still did not like the rough grip and thought that the slide stop could stand to be a little bigger.
Although I am not a fan of manual safeties, especially on duty weapons, it still served its purpose and functioned exactly as it was designed. I have already spoke with the wife and told her when the FNS comes available for purchase, that I would be buying one for the collection. Although I will chose the model without the manual safety. I know that this is a pre-production pistol and many things can still be changed. Hopefully the voice of the handful of men and women out there lucky enough to test the FNS will be heard and FNH will make a few minor changes.
I do not believe that ANY pistol will be taking the place of the Glock anytime soon. This is because Glock is so deeply engrained in the law enforcement community and because of its simplicity. But I do believe that the FNS will be a tough competitor and in my honest opinion, is the BEST handgun on the market to date. It is hard to admit it, but I would take the FNS over my Glock if ever asked to choose between the two.
I know that the FNS will be there and ready if that time ever comes to save my life or the lives of others. I know that I could rely on this pistol when I need it most. I hope that this review will help you decide on the FNS when your staring into that glass case with so many other options.
I would like to give a special thanks to OMB Guns and to my Lieutenant for making this all possible. Understand that this review is of my own opinions and my experiences with the FNS. You may agree or disagree with much of my post, but know I did my best when testing this weapon. I may have left some things out, but this was my honest review of Fabrique Nationale Hertsal’s FNS40. Have fun, be safe and shoot on!
LOCK-N-LOAD BLOG’S RATING:
5 OUT OF 5
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