The Hidden Subcompact Gem
IMPORTANT INFORMATION AT THE END OF REVIEW
My story with the FNS-9c is an interesting one. When I first got into firearms my first purchase was the CZ 75B…the runner up by a very close margin was the FN FNS-9 full size model. The balance was real nice and it felt good in the hand. Back in February while looking for a subcompact for possible summer carry, I toyed with a Glock 26, but ultimately didn’t like the size. As a bigger guy I can get by with concealing larger guns even for deep concealment. I checked out a few other subcompacts and I wasn’t really feeling them; I also wasn’t considering a single stack at that point.
I saw some comparison videos and saw that the FNS-9c was right between the Glock 19 and Glock 26, on top of that it had an accessory rail. With my previous infatuation for the FN FNS-9 I figured I couldn’t go wrong. The only major downside I could see at the point of purchase was that magazines can run $50…yikes!
Let’s go ahead and go over the general information for the FN FNS-9c. The pistol comes in a sturdy lockable hard-case, 2-12rd magazines, 1-17rd magazine, an additional back-strap, a branded lock, and your typical paperwork. The FNS-9c is an aggressive looking handgun that comes equipped with a dual steel guide rod and spring recoil assembly.
Frame Material: Polymer
Flush Capacity: 12
Overall Length: 6.7 inches
Barrel Length: 3.5 inches
Width: 1.35 inches
Height: 5.2 inches
Weight: 23.4 ounces
I bought the FNS-9c blindly, sort of. None of my local shops had one in for me to checkout, so I was buying it purely on what I had seen on the internet. Honestly, I was really surprised when I finally got it in my hands. We’ll hit on the trigger first, since a lot of people get turned off from looking at the specs on it.
According to FN’s website the trigger pull is between 5lbs and 7lbs. Without a trigger scale (which I’ll pick-up eventually) I can’t confirm nor deny. What I can confirm is it doesn’t feel heavy. You have minimal take-up with the trigger that’s smooth. After that take-up you hit a wall. Once you apply the required pressure you get a nearly immediate break. Reset on the FNS-9c is a little longer, as it resets all the way to where the take-up ends. Fortunately, the reset is very tactile and very audible.
Overall if you have shorter fingers, the length of reach and length of pull aren’t going to be an issue for you. There are a couple of things that you might have to take into consideration though. I will be going over these things in the “Side View”.
The FN FNS-9c is a surprisingly soft shooter for its size. It handles recoil like a compact and muzzle rise is minimal. If you don’t have weak hands, need something small, but are recoil sensitive; the FNS-9c is an option worth considering. Follow-up shots with the FNS-9c are easy to obtain, despite the trigger resetting the way it does, it isn’t hard to run the pistol fast.
The optional Trijicon night sights (I believe they’re HD’s from the design) are extremely easy to pick-up, at least when it’s light out. During the day the rear is almost like a blacked-out rear while the front has a nice bright white circle around the tritium vial. In darker environments they are still relatively easy to pick-up, but they are dim. Out of all the stock sight systems I’ve had the ability to try, these are definitely in the top ranking.
Ergonomically that aggressive appearance plays a role. The serrations on the front and rear of the slide are extremely well done, but they are ultra-aggressive. If you’re racking the slide constantly for dry-fire practice, expect your fingers to get a little sore. I might go as far as to say they might become a little raw. The scalloping on the front also aids in doing press checks if you desire to do them. The texturing on the grip is fortunately not as aggressive as the slide serrations.
The front strap of the grip has horizontal lines which keeps the gun from flipping up during recoil. Around the rest of the grip the dotted texturing clings to your hand real well. If you have a firm grip on the pistol for even a minute it will leave a deep-ish imprint in your hand. The back-strap though is something that needs to be considered.
With the pistol you get two back-strap options; flat or a slight bump. When you’re using the 17rd magazine with the grip sleeve the back-strap with a bump changes your grip angle. It isn’t a major change, but it’s enough of a change that can throw your shots off. I always run the smallest back—strap possible so it’s not a big concern for me, but it might be for you.
On the frame you will see the rail tracks for the slide, these are replaceable which is nice. In front of the locking lug of the barrel you will see “U P” stamped onto it; almost surely placed there from their lessons with the military.
The FNS-9c isn’t without fault though. The firing pin housing scrapes the top of every round in the magazine as it cycles. This causes a copper build-up on the firing pin housing, but it hasn’t caused any issues. If you’re a person that clears a gun every time you come home though, expect the round to get scrapped up quite a bit.
Another issue, for me, is weak ejection. I may be alone in this, but I have noticed that the casings don’t exactly…fly out. When the casing gets ejected it lands maybe 2-3 foot away from me. Typically, I’m accustomed to the casings going a little bit further. I am nearing a thousand rounds through the FNS-9c and I haven’t encountered any stove pipes, but I can see where they could happen.
The next issues are of an ergonomic nature…sort of. The pistol is completely ambidextrous. The slide release and magazine release are on both sides of the pistol. The off-hand controls for me have become stiffer in use. The magazine release is already stiff to begin with,but lessens after use for the strong hand. The same can be said for the slide release. Now I have fairly difficult time releasing the magazine with my off-hand and an even harder time dropping the slide release. Maybe this would work itself out if I used the off-hand controls more, but only time will tell.
I haven’t carried the FNS-9c as much as I thought I would, even over the summer months. The FNS-9c is a heavier subcompact pistol, but it does come with the benefit of an accessory rail. From my time carrying it, I can say that the grip texture is not aggressive on the skin.
There are some benefits to the FNS-9c for carry though. The grip length being closer to a Glock 26 makes it disappear easily. The barrel and slide length give you a better sight radius and better velocities. Velocity is extremely important for these smaller guns, without a high enough speed hollow points will not expand as reliably.
(You can kind of see what happens to the round that gets chambered in the picture above)
If you’re new to TacCat, side view is a section that I exclusively put on my website. Here I give a summary of what people thought about the firearm. The people that I have play with these guns range from novice shooters to intermediate/experts in terms of capability. They also have a variety of hand sizes ranging from small to XL, so hopefully this should help you gauge if the firearm will fit you.
The FNS-9c has gotten mixed results from my team of “testers”. Those with smaller hands don’t have an issue shooting them, but they have noted a couple of issues. The slide is difficult for them to rack being the first. The second is that the back-strap causes an awkward pain in the webbing between their thumb and index finger. We haven’t been able to figure out how or why it is causing the pain, but it’s an issue that has presented itself nonetheless.
Those with larger hands haven’t experienced this issue, but as with all subcompacts they hate the pinky hanging off. Unanimously everyone agrees though that the trigger is fantastic; potentially one of the best stock striker fired triggers on the market. They also agree that the pistols shoots real flat despite the minor discomfort.
The FN FNS-9c is really the hidden gem of the subcompact world. Sure, there isn’t a lot of aftermarket support, but it simply doesn’t need it. The trigger is phenomenal, the grip texturing is effective, and it even comes with a metal recoil assembly! Add in the 12rd flush fit capacity and you arguably have one of the best subcompacts on the market.
This pistol does indeed come with some pros and cons…but what subcompact pistol doesn’t? This is a pistol that needs to be taken into consideration whenever you’re looking at subcompact pistols. It has features that a lot of subcompacts simply doesn’t have and the price point isn’t terrible either.
1. 1/25/2019: FN has issued a recall on the entire line of FNS pistols. Click the link to learn more.