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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Brief background: I was very lucky to win this FNS-40 from a Budsgunshop auction for a good price back in early June 2012, so this new procurement has inadvertently become my very first purchase from FNH. I have owned only striker-fired pistols due to my personal preference, and I am not brand-myopia whatsoever. In this review I will try to give you an objective analysis on what I think of FNH’s new striker design in comparison to Walther PPQ 9mm & .40 SW.
Ergonomics 4.5/5: Regardless of how the pistol performs, the No.1 factor in a good pistol design should be how well it fits the average users in their hands. The ergonomics of this FNS-40 to me feels extremely comfortable. I am 6ft tall and weigh 180 lbs. The overall size of the grip to me is simply perfect. One thing I do NOT like about the FNS is the type of polymer material they use on this FNS-40. Out of the box it just FEELS CHEAP compared to a Walther PPQ.
1) Grip angle & contour: This gun points naturally with an angle similar to the 1911s. The larger backstrap really gives you a firm grip on the weapon.
2) Grip thickness & texture: The texture of the grip is VERY aggressive, as it feels almost like industrial sand paper. I didn’t like it at first, but after a few days I have started appreciating the European’s design philosophy. Living in Wisconsin, I often had to shoot my pistols with winter gloves on, so the rough texture and the oversize trigger guard accommodate northern users very well in colder climate.
3) Bore axis: FNS-40 has a fairly low bore-axis, and the contour of the grip really allows you to acquire a high grip on the weapon, which is essential for controlling muzzle flip in subsequent shots. It has lower bore axis than Walther PPQ, but significantly higher bore axis compared to the wonderful newcomer Caracal 9mm and the trustworthy Glock 19.
4) Balance: Having a compact size slide yet a full size grip, this FNS-40 feels extremely balanced in your hand. Unlike the Walther PPQ, the weight of the FNS-40 is MUCH BETTER distributed due to its lighter top weight and heavier frame. As a matter of fact, my FNS-40 shot with MUCH LESS muzzle flip than my Walther PPQ, which I am considering selling.

Accuracy: here is where MY PISTOL ran into a big problem. Please beware that this problem may not apply to all FNS-40, but only a couple lemons from the manufactures. My pistol arrived at my FFL in sublime shape, but I failed to notice a MAJOR problem with its sight installation. There was a big gap between the bottom of my front sight and the top of the slide. The same gap could be observed with the backsight. At first I thought maybe that’s just a unique part with the FNS design, but when I took the gun to its first range test, my FNS-40 shot 6 inches low CONSISTENTLY at a range of 7 yards using Blazer aluminum 180gr FMJ and PMC 180 gr FMJ. I understand that FNH pistols demand operators to use the European dot-on style instead of the 6-o-clock hold. With this in mind I tried to compensate from the onset, but 6 inches at 7 yards is still way too much for even an European design. Deviation at that short range will translate into 21.4 inch below POA at 25 yards. If we consider the 180gr .40SW having muzzle velocity of 950fps, .164BC, that 21.4" should be somewhat reduced to about 19" below, which is still a lousy figure for a quality handgun made by such a reputable company like FNH. The lateral accuracy had apparently no problems, but the vertical accuracy was completely off that I had to stop the test after 100 rounds. I searched for every available picture online for the FNS, and I couldn't find a single one with such a conspicuous gap, which was about the same thickness of a penny. However, there ARE indeed some FNS owners reporting the existence of a paper-thin gap, as you will find on this very forum. If you are still in doubt, I would recommend FNH’s 2012 product catalog FNH USA - Catalog. To confirm my theory, I called the FNH technical service guy on August 14, Mike, about this possible gap, and he told me right away that there should NOT be any gaps in between, because sweat and moisture will soon creep in and weaken the joint. To double-check the validity of his words, I asked him very courteously to get a hold of at least two FNS right away while I was on the phone, and he told me right away that he did NOT see any gaps between the sight and slide on the two demo FNS. His reply confirmed my suspicion, hence I returned my FNS without further delay or waste of effort in trying to adjust my shooting technique beyond reasonable level. My honest advice for my comrade-in-arms is to check with the FNS customer service, instead of simply assuming the gap is part of the FNS novelty design. The group wisdom/ herd mentality in this case might not justify your consistent low shooting with the FNS-9/40, so you can stop blaming your own techniques for a while. Think about it using common sense, why would you ever want to have a gap under your sight? The stainless steel slide and metal component of Trijicon sight will not go through a temperature gradient big enough to cause any material expansion, unless you are shooting on the surface of Mars.

Needless to say, I am fairly disappointed with the quality control of FNH. All my other pistols arrived with out-of-box 2-4 inch accuracy at a range of 25 yards. After contacting FNH about the problem, their customer service promptly sent me a shipping label, and my pistol has been sent back for repairing since 16 Aug 2012. I will write another detailed range report when/if the problem has been fixed.

Mechanics:
1) Trigger: after having owned Walther PPQ and Caracal, I must say the FNS-40 trigger is really nothing impressive. After pulling the trigger for the first time, my first impression was “oh oh, did I waste that $475?” Don’t get me wrong though, FNS-40 still has a way better trigger than my Glock 19 3rd Gen (even with 3.5lb Ghost trigger). It’s just that I have been so desensitized in using the near-perfect Walther PPQ and Caracal trigger that I developed this unrealistic expectation to all striker newcomers on the market. Out-of-the-box the FNS-40 trigger has a slight creep with the initial pull, and it feels springy in both firing and the reset out-of-the-box. The reset is audible and tactile, while the trigger-break is clean. So far so good.
2) Magazine release: VERY GOOD. I really appreciate how easy it is to access the big magazine release button, yet it is not overtly obtrusive. The magazine literally flies out when you press that smooth looking button.
3) Safety: VERY GOOD. FNS-40 has a VERY SMALL contoured frame-mounted manual safety that is ideally placed for easy disengagement with both thumbs. As a matter of fact, the location and the torque angle of the manual safety make it much easier to disengage it than engaging it! This is very thoughtful. Not only will an operator have the option of a manual safety, but also he or she may choose to easily ignore (not neglect) it due to its small size. Very thoughtful indeed.
4) Take-down: The take-down is just like a Sig or XDM with that rotating lever design. Compared to a two-second blindfolded take-down of a Glock/PPQ/Caracal, FNS generally takes me 5 seconds. Not a big deal, unless I have to clean my gun in the middle of a cross-fire.

Comparison with Walther PPQ:
FNS has a better balance in hand and lower bore axis. It comes with Trijicon Night Sight, which is really nice considering it sells for similar price as Walther PPQ. FNS also comes with 3 high-quality magazines. The muzzle flip of FNS-40 is noticeably less than Walther PPQ .40, and much less than an XDM40 with 3.8 inch barrel (which I sold promptly after getting one for $450). PPQ has a much smoother trigger with insanely short reset, which FNS simply cannot compete. The FNS polymer frame feels cheap in hand, and you can easily notice some rough finish on the bottom of the FNS rail from mediocre machining. The plastic trigger of FNS also has some observable rough finishes. What can I say, the Germans surely know how to make quality firearms. With the intrinsic German precision engineering quality and the extrinsic Smith & Wesson customer service, Walther PPQ 9mm beats FNS by a huge margin. However, due to the better balance of FNS, FNS-40 shoots much softer than PPQ .40. With a full size frame, the FNS is NOT the best conceal-carry option.

Overall conclusion: FNS-40 makes a very good alternative to your primary range/home defense pistol. It comes in with great value at a mid $500 price level. The design is simple and elegant, and at the same time, VERY comfortable in your hand. I especially enjoyed shooting it with such a minimal muzzle flip due to its low bore-axis and high grip frame. At a 28oz (loaded with 14 rounds of 180gr FMJ), this FNS-40 is highly comparable to a Glock 23 and Walther PPQ.40 in terms of carrying weight. But the full size frame and conspicuous magazine lip can leave a noticeable gun print on your tight-fit shirt/polo, if you like to wear them in summer like I do. Without actually shooting at least 1000 rounds through this pistol, I cannot assume anything with its accuracy, reliability and durability. A further range report will be on the way.

Ranking:
1) Trigger: Walther PPQ > Caracal = XDM > FNS >> >G19 > M&P9 (wiggles!)
2) Ergonomics: FNS= M&P9 = Walther PPQ = Caracal > XDM >>>G19 (Block 19)
3) Accuracy: Glock 19 = Walther PPQ > Caracal ? FNS-40 = XDM 3.8
4) Reliability: Glock 19 = Walther PPQ > XDM >> Caracal ? FNS-40
5) Cost-efficiency: Caracal ($399) > FNS-40 ($475 from auction) > G19($610 after modification) > Walther PPQ ($620 with Meprolight night sight)
6) Aesthetics: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Thanks for reading this short review.

Marcus Z from Wisconsin
 

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Nice write up, after reading that I want to go try out the Caracal more than the FNS.
 

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Anyone interested in this whole slew of unappreciated excellent handguns also owe it to themselves to get some trigger time behind a Stery M9-A1. Also a fantastic gun (same guy behind the Caracal design).
 

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Nice write up , I have the Caracal C , better than G19 , tied with the Steyr, not sure about the others , I have shot over 3000 rounds through my Caracal , it shoots flawless , its very comfortable as well , yes theres a recall , but It wont effect the shooting of the gun , its something about IF you happen to drop the gun on concrete and HIT the corner just right , it could fire a around , well Im not saying it couldnt happen , but Ive shott well over 50,000 rounds in my lifetime of all sorts of weapons and never dropped one ,so Im not too worried about it! The only flaw I see with the Caracal is the guide rod ! It is made out of cheap plastic , mine has already broke ,but I have bought a SS version , so Im not too woried about that either (I dont plan on returning my gun for the recall, even though Caracal will pay the free shipping to and from and throw in an extra magazine to boot)!
 

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Do you have any data like recorded splits, average draw times, reload times, 25-35 yard accuracy from a bench using these platforms?
 

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I too own a PPQ, FNS and FNX. I really like my FNX40. Out of the FNH line, the FNX gave a lot of pistol for the money and points like a 1911. It's a polymer gun or a 1911 fan.. Great capacity, light weight, full length steel guid rod. The FNS is like the FNX in its feel and pointing BUT I could never smooth out the awful gritty feel of the FNS. I polished out everything and it still was just o.k. I sold the FNS. The PPQ is a total game changer for a striker fire pistol.. It does every thing superlative with a great design. I own so many pistols now and have owned just about everything over the years that the PPQ is one of the first new pistols that surpasses all my expectation. I am sweet on this gun and am so greatfull there still is a new gun that can makes me as giddy as a 14yr old finding a stack of old Playboys.

The FNX is where it's at and I would recomend it to anyone looking for a good quality affordable double action pistol. The FNS isn't ready for prime time. If they ever get its trigger half as good as the PPQ, it will worry the Glock boys.


http://i272.photobucket.com/albums/jj182/TheMystro1971/Hunting%20Guns%20etc/df844d09.jpg
 

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Would love to try a FNS.

Ive fondled and shot the fnx. When I bought my Q the LGS guy was actually trying to get me to buy it. Lots love them.

However, nothing about me and that gun worked well together or felt right -- decocker, safety, mag release, etc. It was like a monkey f&%*ing a football.

If there was one thing I could change about the Q, it would be the bore axis, and it would then be perfect IMO.
 

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...The FNS is like the FNX in its feel and pointing BUT I could never smooth out the awful gritty feel of the FNS. I polished out everything and it still was just o.k. I sold the FNS...

I handled an FNS two times seriously and I loved the ergos, but as you stated, it has a trigger like a Lorcin. :(
 

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I am not a fan of the FNS, or FN's polymer pistols in general. All of the different models in their product line seem to have had strange issues at one point or another, and I think FN needs to test their pistols better before releasing them into the market.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You are very right about the trigger. FNS has returned my FNS-40 on Monday after over 2 months of repairing. The trigger is as gritty as before. The smoothness is just not there. It almost feels like you have to go through many mini-stages before you hit the last stage, then once discharged, the reset feels like spring loaded anti-tank PIAT -- my hand can literally feel the oscillating vibration of the trigger spring. I must say, if you want a PPQ with an equally good trigger and much lower bore-axis, take a look at the Caracals. This new comer has absorbed so many good elements from other excellent designs without their apparent flaws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Beckp----- I may have made the wrong assumption, but if you were referring to my review on FNS-40 vs. PPQ, thanks for the compliment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I am not a fan of the FNS, or FN's polymer pistols in general. All of the different models in their product line seem to have had strange issues at one point or another, and I think FN needs to test their pistols better before releasing them into the market.
That is why I wouldn't recommend a Walther PPQ for any beginners; it just brings their expectation too high for other designs ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Steyr is something I really want to give a try next. The gun looks so futuristic with its ergonomic design. Wilhelm Bubits certainly has a different mindset when it comes down to striker-fire polymer designs, especially the trigger and the bore-axis. Why can't Smith & Wesson borrow some of those ideas for their M&P9, which has a perfect ergo but shitty trigger with no re-set whatsoever.

Nice write up , I have the Caracal C , better than G19 , tied with the Steyr, not sure about the others , I have shot over 3000 rounds through my Caracal , it shoots flawless , its very comfortable as well , yes theres a recall , but It wont effect the shooting of the gun , its something about IF you happen to drop the gun on concrete and HIT the corner just right , it could fire a around
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I wasn't expecting an answer, anyway.:)
I wish I could offer those data, but I just don't have the time at the moment to turn a short review into a nutnfancy project. Thanks for bringing up the attention though, perhaps someone else will be able answer those valid questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hey I'm back. The reason why it took so long was because it took FNH over two months to fix a simple problem of my handgun, if fixed at all. I plan to visit the range this weekend, if weather permits. Will get some pictures and a range report. Needless to say, I am very disappointed with the FNH customer service. This is very likely to be my last FNH purchase, simply because there are many other good options on the market. Competition is a lovely thing.

Hmmm... seems like he posted his review and left.
 
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