When no other company would serve the needs of J. M. Browning Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal stepped up into position in 1897. The Browning FN relationship lasted until his death, when Dieudonné Saive took JMB’s position and finished many of his projects and added many of his own, including the first staggered extended capacity pistol magazine we all use in most full sized pistols to this day.
Many years ago my first introduction to an auto-loading pistol was the JM Browning 1911a1 pistol, later I would start to favor the Dieudonné Saive P35 – the Browning HiPower pistol. Not until this newest FN pistol, the subject of this article, have I come across a real replacement for the HiPower, something with the features that would satisfy my particular requirements.
I now think that FN has actually produced the best combination of the best features of the HiPower, the Walther P38, the modern polymer pistols, and dare I say it… the 1911 (insert the correct genuflection to JM Browning as needed). The FNX is truly the lighter, faster, tougher, grandson of the HiPower. The FNX was originally the .45 acp caliber evolution of the FNP pistol containing all of the new military demands including surviving the +P 25,000 round torture test. the FNX is the further expansion of this evolution into .40 and 9mm caliber versions.
The FNX has an external serrated burr eyelet ring hammer, is double action/single action, wears a positive safety, contains a blocked hammer drop, a “half cocked” notch, and a tactile loaded chamber indicator, all wrapped with a polymer exterior over it’s skeleton like internal replaceable frame.
I did a mountain of research before I purchased my M Series pistol, I did as much or more before I dropped the cash on this new FNX pistol. I have been searching for a replacement worthy of the HiPower and more suitable and desirable than a striker-fired pistol for daily open carry. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that this pistol is everything – and then some – that any 1911 or HiPower fan could ever ask for.
Personal – For my main open cary pistol I have a few simple demands:
- Long service life against abuse
- Staggered magazine of 10 or more rounds
- Thicker grip for a larger hand
- Simple operation and take-down
- Manual Safety
- Double Action/Single Action
- External hammer
- Reasonable trigger and reasonable accuracy
- Capable of shooting hand-loaded ammunition and lead bullets
This pistol is in 9mm with a fully supported chamber that should prevent a glock style KB (kaboom, not all that common with 9mm to begin with) the pistol also has an integrated out of battery prevention feature. The trigger is a true DA/SA similar to a P38. All of the controls are similar to 1911, HiPower, and PPKS pistols but are better placed, larger and easy to manipulate, more comfortable, and completely ambidextrous. Take-down for cleaning is simple and fast with just a simple release lever.
The manual safety is larger and easier to use than even extended 1911 or HiPower options and in addition the gun can be loaded and unloaded and cocked while in the “safe” position and the magazine does not have to be inserted or removed to function or for take-down. The hammer drop feature (de-cocker) drops the hammer into it’s “half cock” position. When the manual safety is in position the trigger literally goes “dead” becoming just a moveable appendage with no connection to the sear disconnect.
Because of the external hammer and the manual safety/de-cocker this pistol can be carried “cocked and locked”, half-cock safety down in a retention holster, or half-cock safety up according to the users desires.
Lock the slide to the rear.
Design flaws – The double action trigger is long and requires some force similar to a P1 or P38 but the release at the end is crisp. I think that the single action trigger is more than a bit “mushy” there is a lot of slack to be taken up and the release, while crisp, has three distinct pressures and travel distances to break while not stiff or hard it requires a lot of finger travel. On an additional note I will be writing later about a carry holster for this pistol, currently there are only two manufactures making holsters for this pistol finding a fit seems almost impossible, I found a retaining positive-lock holster, but had to make some significant modifications to make it fit correctly. The original shiny magazines of stainless steel are now blackened to a strange midnight purple/black and now have a quick secure positive lock into the well – both are features that FN changed regarding customer requests. I have seen some complaints about the polymer safety/de-cocker but it seems that the polymer is actually hiding an imbedded stainless steel support.
Quality – Fabrique Nationale Herstal of Belgium (and now South Carolina) is an old established weapons maker that cut it’s teeth manufacturing products for Browning, has supplied militaries in both world wars (even under occupation), and is known for the most widespread military pistol in the world along with the “rifle of the west” the FNFAL. This pistol is an example of quality first world “state of the art” manufacturing.
Caliber/Ammunition – Available in 9×19, .40 S&W, and .45 acp (as the FNP-45) the glaring missing caliber is .357 Sig but because FN is positioning this gun for military contracts we may not ever see other offerings, all you big-bore shooters will love the .45 version. (Ed. note, several die-hard 1911 fans I know have now switched to the FNP45USG it is a true contender for the .45 lovers.)
Use – The FNX is a full size pistol it is large and subsequently heavy and bulky for concealed carry. I believe with some excessive effort it could work as a concealed pistol, but I would never recommend it for this use. Open-carry was my intended purpose for this gun, as a daily carry on a duty belt the weight and bulk is more than reasonable. The FNX unloaded is 21.5 oz, a relative lightweight for a full size pistol. The FNX and FNP-45 are positioned as the new military pistol, rumor is circulating that FNH is gearing up to enter possible contests to unseat the 92 as a standard issue pistol. (Ed. note this is now old news and while the military continues to love the mediocre we as civilians now have a few additional choices on the market.)
Ergonomics – Ergonomic design is likely the most excellent for large hands like mine that I have ever tried in the 9mm caliber, only the FNP-45 is slightly better. The FNX has a set of four slide-in rear palm inserts with thick and thin profile and two textures. This handgun points naturally and is intended as combat-ready for quick target leveling and fulfilling military requirements.
Current production – Production of the FNX is centered at the FNH factory in South Carolina. The US factory produces all of the models from US made parts, current production is in full swing but because of the relative newness of the design used examples are not common. Accessories like holsters are few an far except the standard mount attachments that are universal.