How the FNS Compact sizes up in this firearm review

The FNS is a polymer-framed, striker-fired, double-action trigger pistol with double-column magazines and solid ergonomics

In a market crowded with excellent (and some not-so-excellent, but well-marketed) handgun designs, it’s easy to overlook some real gems. One of these gems is the FNH USA FNS series of pistols, which are duty-sized, striker-fired pistols of excellent design and manufacture. For 2015, FNH USA has expanded their FNS line to include a compact version of this sleeper in both 9 mm and .40 S&W.

What are the common measurements?
The FNS series of pistols are FNH USA’s Glock equivalents. They’re polymer-framed, striker-fired, double-action trigger pistols with double-column magazines and solid ergonomics.

Using the 9mm Glock yardstick as a comparison, the new FNS Compact falls in between the compact Glock 19 and the subcompact Glock 26 in size.

The FNS 9 (left) and FNS 40 (right). Photo Courtesy FNH USA)
The FNS 9 (left) and FNS 40 (right). Photo Courtesy FNH USA)
  • Its overall length (at 6.7 inches) is almost six-tenths of an inch shorter than the 19, but three-tenths of an inch longer than the 26.
  • Its barrel (at 3.6 inches) is four-tenths of an inch shorter than the 19, but only two-tenths of an inch longer than the 26.
  • Its width (at 1.35 inches) is almost two-tenths of an inch wider than either Glock.
  • Its height (at 5.2 inches) is actually two-tenths of an inch taller than the 19, and a full inch taller than the 26.

Numbers are nice, but how does it feel?
Well, I have a relatively large hand with long and thin fingers, and I can only get my middle and ring finger on the grip of the Glock 26. Despite being an inch taller than the 26, I can only get the smallest bit of my pinky finger on the grip of the FNS Compact, so the extra height must be in the upper frame and in a taller slide.

What are its features?
Still using the 9 mm Glocks as a baseline comparison, the FNS compact offers some added features. The flush-mounted magazine has a standard capacity of 12 rounds (versus 10 for the Glock 26 and 15 for the Glock 19) and a MIL-STD 1913 accessory rail with three slots (versus none on the smaller Glock 26, and a proprietary, single slot rail on the larger Glock 19).

Like both Glocks, the FNS Compact offers a choice of interchangeable backstraps for a better fit. However, the FNS Compact offers both front and rear cocking serrations, fully ambidextrous slide stop levers and magazine releases and the option of a manual thumb safety lever.

The FNS Compact ships with three magazines — two 12-rounders and one 17-rounder, in the case of the 9 mm version, and two 10 rounders, and one 14 rounder in the.40 S&W version. 

One of the 12 round magazines has a flush baseplate, while the other has an angled baseplate that provides a shelf for the pinky finger to rest upon without adding length to the backstrap. This allows a full, three-finger grip on the pistol that is quite comfortable, without adding length to the part of the pistol that is most likely to print under cover garments. The 17-round magazine is a full size FNS magazine, with a special collar at the bottom to create a longer grip that approximates the feel of the larger duty gun.

The sights on the FNS Compact are the three dot style (love ‘em or hate ‘em), with a larger front dot that is designed to draw the eye’s attention. Night sights of the same configuration are available as an option, and the buyer also has the choice of a matte black finish on the stainless steel slide, or a matte silver finish.

Subjective evaluation
Like the majority of SHOT Show 2015 participants, I didn’t get to fire the FNS Compact, but in handling the pistol I found the trigger was very similar to its competitors (factory standard is 5.5 to 7.7 pounds) and the reset was positive.  With its longer snout, the FNS Compact felt a little more nose-heavy than the smaller Glock 26, and with its flush magazine in place, it was not as well balanced as the larger Glock 19. Balance was equal with the alternate baseplate or collared magazine installed, but it was still a very good handling pistol.

The bore axis appears to be higher than that of the Glocks, and I would be interested to see how (or if) that effects the muzzle flip during live fire.

The magazine release was easy to operate and I liked the feel of the grip, which I found quite comfortable with both of the optional backstrap designs. The hinged trigger lacks the paddle of the Glock’s trigger, which will make some folks happy, indeed.

I did not care for the version with the manual thumb safety, mostly because I grew up on DA revolvers and later transitioned to carrying semiauto pistols without this feature. Setting aside my personal prejudice, I found the thumb safety was on the small side and a little difficult to cleanly and reliably manipulate. In this sense, it was reminiscent of the FNS’ ancestral cousin, the FN/Browning P-35, which also had a tiny safety lever.

I think the FNS Compact has a lot going for it, and I look forward to putting some rounds through one in the future. I think it’s one of the standouts in the SHOT Show Class of 2015, and I’d highly encourage you to check it out for yourself.

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