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FNS-9 pictured above in a PHLster OWB custom Kydex holster.

The FNS-9 is a full-size double-action striker-fired polymer pistol chambered in 9mm made by Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FNH) in their Columbia, SC manufacturing facility. When I first saw the FNS series of pistols announced at SHOT Show 2012, I was immediately interested. I have a fair amount of trigger time with the FNP and FNX pistols (both DA/SA) by FNH and like them, but not well enough to buy one.

The FNS, being striker-fired, got me off the ledge. Yes I tend to prefer striker-fired pistols (I don’t dislike DA/SA, I just generally prefer striker-fired).

The FNS-9 enters the market with some pretty stiff competition to say the least – Glock 17, Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield Armory XDm and Ruger SR9 just to name a few. So how does it stack up?


Caliber 9mm
Barrel 4″ Length, 1 in 10″ RH Twist Rate, Hammer forged stainless steel
Slide Stainless steel
Weight 25.2 oz empty
Overall Length 7.25″
Overall Height 5.5″
Width 1.55″


There’s nothing revolutionary about the FNS design, but it does have a few features that I found interesting and set it apart from the pack.


The first thing that stood out to me when I picked up the FNS-9 was the ergonomics, and in a good way. The gun feels great in hand, both with the flat backstrap and the rounded backstrap. After trying both options and liking the feel of the flat strap better, I instead ended up going with the rounded for a better length of pull fit.

The FNS pistols have one of the most aggressive factory grip textures I’ve ever felt. Initially, I wasn’t sure how well I would like the aggressive texture, say, 200 rounds into a range session, but I ended up liking it. However, if you’re sensitive to aggressive textures, you’ll need to do something to it make this gun work for you, like hit it with sandpaper to take it down a bit.


One of the things that made me want to give the FNS a try in the first place was the great reports about the trigger. Things like “the best striker fired trigger on the market.” While I did not find this to be true, it does have some good qualities.

The pull is rated by FNH at between 5.5 and 7.7 lbs. My FNS started off a bit on the stiff side, but after 1,000 rounds it’s right at a 6 lb pull. It has a very clean break with little or no over travel and a short reset that is easy to feel. Overall, a pretty darn good trigger once you get it broken in.

Manual Safety

I don’t like manual safeties, but I have been known to live with them if I like the gun. The manual safety on the FNS is small, but comes off safe easily. It takes a little more determination to put the safety back on, which is probably a good thing. You certainly wouldn’t want it going on safe on accident. If you like the 1911 safety, you may not like the FNS safety since it is so small. If you don’t mind or like small manual safeties, you’ll probably like this one. I think FNH would sell more guns if they had a no manual safety option.

Trijicon Night Sights

The FNS comes factory standard with Trijicon night sights, and is another feature that separates the FNS from the competition. The Deep-V 3-dot Trijicon night sights that come with the FNS are pretty nice.

Fully Ambidextrous

All controls on the FNS are fully ambidextrous – magazine release, slide stop and safety. So if you’re a lefty, there’s nothing that you need to swap or live with, it’s ready to go for you right out of the box.

Magazine Disconnect

Doesn’t have one. Thank you FNH.

Loaded Chamber Indicator

Yes, it has one, but it’s very low profile near the extractor and isn’t annoying like the Ruger SR9.

Shooting Impressions

I enjoyed shooting the FNS-9, and shot right at 1,000 rounds for this review. Recoil is soft as you would expect with a 9mm, the pistol points very naturally, and is very fast moving from target to target. The gun is extremely light at 25 ounces (though not as light as a Glock 17) and just handles really well.


Reliability was 100% over the course of 1,000 rounds fired. I shot a wide variety of ammunition through the FNS, from cheap reloads to Federal HST hollow points and many varieties in between.

I had one failure to extract with one of the cheap reloads, but upon examination of the round I found that it was not the fault of the gun. As you can see from the image, the extractor took a chunk out of the rim trying to extract. But because the casing split, it stuck part way into the chamber. Not a big deal, but since I had a photo I thought it was worth sharing.


Accuracy was just ok for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I shot the FNS quite a bit over the past month, but never got as proficient with it as I would have liked. I shot it next to my Smith & Wesson M&P, Glock 17, and Walther PPQ on several occasions, and I could never get the same groups with the FNS that I could with the M&P, Glock, and PPQ.

Over the course of my testing, 3″ groups shooting offhand at 7 yards were the norm, and the pistol almost always printed 1-2″ low at 7 yards. Again, not completely horrible, and the so-so accuracy could very well could have been me.

Wrapping Up

I really like the FNS-9, and I expect the FNS series to be pretty popular in the striker-fired market. It’s a good shooting, reliable pistol with features that you don’t get on other guns – fully ambidextrous controls, Trijicon night sights and a super aggressive frame texture.

Had I been able to shoot better with it, I would have kept it. As it stands, my preference would be a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P or a Glock 17.


19 Responses to FNH FNS-9

  1. TK July 3, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    If this didn’t have a manual safety, I might give up my G17. Awesome review brother, best I’ve seen on the FNS yet.

    • Brandon July 3, 2012 at 9:22 am #

      Thanks TK – I’m with you on the manual safety, not a fan.

    • jimtimdim February 28, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      You can get these without the safety. I just picked on up and love it!

    • Taw Jackson September 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      I just bought one, these do come w/o a manual safety now, can you explain to me why you are stating they do not come with one ? Maybe 2 or 3 years ago, when they first came out, but my pair I ordered from “Cheaper Than Dirt, and you can order both of these, with, or w/o a manual safety… Just asking ….thanks..

      • Brandon September 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

        Glad you got one without a manual safety. Please stop shopping at Cheaper Than Dirt.

  2. Rudman Miller July 4, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Let me see: Manual Safety / not as accurate as the M&P or PPQ with 3″ groups are the best you achieved at 7 yds. / stiff trigger that has to be ‘broken in’ / not as light as a G17….Hmmm. Why bother with this thing. I’ll just stick to my tried and true G17. It works great all the time and with the 3 lb. trigger I put it, is a joy.

    • Brandon July 4, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      That sounds like a fair assessment to me. One small note – 3″ groups were the norm shooting offhand at 7 yards (some better, some worse). But yeah, I wouldn’t trade a G17 for the FNS-9, personally.

  3. Larry March 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    For you guys that are not happy about having the manual safety I have a FNS9 I bought 3-15-2013 that does NOT have the safety.. My daughter is shooting it and I’m concerned about it not having one. I’d trade it for one that has a safety or straight sell it. I’m in Georgia and my cell is (770) 307-6063.

    • Taw Jackson September 16, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Larry, I just posted a comment on this as well, w/o seeing that FN began making these some time ago, but not initially.

  4. Brian February 4, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    I know its been a while, but…

    I’m curious about the 1″-2″ low printing. How were you aiming? I’ve read this gun has a “European” style sighting system which allegedly means you put dot on top of the target instead of just below, which makes sense based on you review if you were aiming with the target just below the dot.


    • Brandon February 4, 2014 at 9:12 am #

      Well I wasn’t aiming low if that’s what you’re asking. The sights are 3-dot.

      • Brian February 4, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

        No…I was asking if you were covering your target with the front sight or aiming so that your front sight is just below the target. i.e. on an FBI-Q target, (if you are familiar with these) would you be covering the Q or aiming so the Q is “sitting” on the front sight? Apparently there is a small difference in some pistol sights in relation to the barrel where point of aim is slightly different. For example in my agency we typically teach officers to aim so that the Q sits just on top of the front sight as opposed to covering the Q with the front sight. This “European” sighting is something new to me. I’m just curious.

        • Brandon February 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

          Ah gotcha – I was putting the dot on the center of the target. It was probably just me, I haven’t heard anyone else complain about it shooting low.

  5. Taw Jackson February 4, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    I just saw your post on telling me to stop shopping at CTD, Why ? Did you have a bad experience ? I have bought many a gun from Dirt, and nothing but top customer service and the best prices I have been able to find. They also give mote info on there guns than Bud’s. Way more. I see that for my pair of FNS9″s, I bought them for a total of around $1120.00. I have seen these sell used in 3 diff. shops around Chicago’s suburbs for around $690.00 or more. What is up with your bad feelings on Dirt ? Have a good one…

  6. Taw Jackson February 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Brandon, thanks fro the heads up. But I have found out, either way, for me that is, the gun stores in my area are usually up to 30-40% more in price, so CTD still is more affordable. Just cannot win. People will always have greed in them.
    Thank you B….

  7. Mike April 25, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Just picked one up today to get back into 9mm. At 15 yards, mine shot dead on target and grouped well. I don’t care about having the safety, but the small size makes it easy to ignore but it is there if training someone on the use of a safety. The trigger is smooth, but maybe a little stiffer than my XDM .40 compact. I think I’m going to be very happy with this gun.

    • Brandon April 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback Mike.

  8. Joel Widman July 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    The gun shoots low because the front dot is too high so if you line up the 3 dots you are going to be shooting low. Also, the rear sights on my gun were misaligned to the left. I dropped the gun off at a gunsmith today for range testing and installation of new sight. Shouldn’t have to do that.