Taking a Look at the FNP9 Pistol

FN, short for Fabrique Nationale, is and has been a producer of fine firearms for decades. Located in Belgium, it is well known among shooting enthusiast, but not so familiar to all that purchase firearms. Examples include firearms with the Browning name such as their older line of bolt-action rifles, automatic shotguns, and the Browning Hi Power pistol. Though mentioned in other articles, I think it's worth mentioning again that Browning Arms Company never manufactured these firearms; they imported them in the US. Thus, when FN competed with their FN-marked Hi Power against the "real" Browning Hi Power, their guns sold for considerably less. The FN name was just not as marketable in the US as Browning's name.

Well, the same sort of thing is happening again. FN makes the 9x19mm pistol this article focuses on in the US at a US facility. The slide is marked "Made in USA". Whether the parts are made here or in Belgium, I do not know. A firearm can be made in another country, but assembled in the US and said to be made in this country.

It probably doesn't matter anyway to most folks.

FN says that this is a new entry that is primarily aimed at the military and police markets. Though said to be available in single-action only as well as other variations, the only ones I've seen were the traditional DA/SA pistols. As I understand it, the FN-marked FNP9 pistols do not allow for cocked-and-locked carry while the Browning-marked Pro-9's do. I have not seen or handled one of the Browning guns so I cannot report on this first-hand. I've read that the Browning-marked Pro-9 has a magazine disconnect. My FN-marked gun does not.

Here is the left side of the FNP9. It sort of mimics the SIG-Sauer in my opinion but on the FN, the decocker is rearward of the slide stop lever. The lever in front of both is for field-stripping the pistol. The decocking lever on this pistol version is ambidextrous.


Trigger Pull: SA is rated at 3.96 to 5.06 pounds. DA is rated at 8.8 to 12.1 pounds.

Weight: 24.8 oz (according to the FN manual, but 25.2 oz according the FN USA's site, and 1lb. 14oz or 30oz according to the Browning site.) To find out, I weighed my empty FNP9 and got 25.5 oz, but my scale is not the most accurate. I think that the 25.2 oz weight is probably correct. I loaded 10 rounds w/115-gr. bullets into the magazine and got a total weight of 5 oz. I think this is where at least the major part of this discrepancy occurs. (The gun is available in the US with 10-rnd magazines in states restricting magazine capacity while the standard capacity magazine available in the rest is 16. FWIW, with 16 rounds, the total weight of the cartridges and magazine is 9 oz.)

Capacity: 16 + 1, (10 + 1 in some states)

Length: 7.40"

Height: 5.40"

Width: 1.55"

Barrel Length: 4" (rifled length: 3.15")

Pitch: 1:16, right-hand (The manual says "1:6" but comparing it to a BarSto Hi Power bbl, the twist does appear very similar and I believe it is 1 turn in 16" and that the manual's description is a misprint. A 1:6 twist would be very, very fast. In any event, it does not appear as fast as the 1:10 twist in the factory Hi Power bbl.)

Sights: Fixed, 3-dot with both front and rear dovetailed into the slide

Sight Radius: 6"

Magazine Safety: Not in this version, but reported present on others with Browning markings

Internal Firing Pin Safety: Yes

Frame: Polymer w/steel slide rail inserts

Slide: Stainless steel (Slides can be had in a "dark" finish, but the slide is of stainless steel. I do not know how well the dark finish does or does not wear.)

Extractor: External (protrudes when a round is in the chamber and serves as a loaded chamber indicator as well.)

Accessory Rail: Yes

Initial Observations: Though my preference in semiautomatic pistols remains the single-action and in 9mm, the Hi Power, this newer entry into the crowded field of DA/SA pistols seems to be pretty well thought out…at least in my opinion. It has features that I like and others that I do not but this is true of any and all handguns I've examined or owned and another example of failing to find the elusive perfect pistol!

I was very favorably impressed with both the double and single-action trigger pulls. I estimate the first at around 10-lbs and the latter at close to four. It breaks cleanly though not so cleanly as a tuned 1911, but very, very little does. Neither the double or single-action on this pistol precludes its being used effectively in the defense scenario. At least in this example, it's good to go out of the plastic box. The trigger guard is large enough and designed such that my finger doesn't contact the bottom of it when firing the gun.

The polymer trigger has a trigger stop on the rear, but still allows a slight amount of overtravel. Take-up is there but not "bad" in my view.

The magazine release is not ambidextrous and on this gun it is set up for the right-handed shooter. It is also very easy to depress with the trigger finger for lefties. Its does not protrude far enough from the frame to encourage accidentally dropping the magazine and its spring feels plenty strong. Magazines drop freely when released whether loaded, partially loaded, or empty.

The decocking lever drops the hammer when depressed in the manner of the Walther PP-series of handguns. When used, the hammer falls to what might be likened to a half-cock position. When the hammer is lowered by hand, it rests against the rear of the firing pin. This pseudo-half-cock position is safe as the internal firing pin safety blocks the pin from striking the primer unless the trigger is fully rearward. When fired DA from the half-cock position, there is no noise until the gun discharges. When fired DA after the hammer has been fully lowered by hand w/o using the decocker, there is an audible click as it passes the half-cock position. I recommend using the decocker.

The polymer frame has a checkered front grip strap. The rear grip strap is removable via a screw and two choices are available: arched, which is the way the gun came, and flat. I like the arched version and have not considered trying the included flat one, but other folks might feel just the opposite.

I like that the trigger guard is rounded rather than "hooked." I am ambivalent about the "raised square" checkering on front of it.

The magazine well is cavernous! It makes speed reloads a snap, but it also requires that the magazine floorplate be a wide affair. This is of no importance for a gun worn by a soldier or policeman, but will come much closer to printing for the lawful concealed carrier wanting to carry extra magazines.

The magazine well is cavernous and allows for quick reloads. For me, a downside is the wide magazine floorplate. (There are guides farther in the magazine well that keeps the magazine from fitting loosely.) The magazine disassembles in the same manner as the familiar Hi Power magazines. The body is polished stainless steel while the floorplate and follower are polymer. The magazine offers plenty of "room" for cartridges of varying length. Even the longer-than-normal Remington Golden Sabers fit and functioned flawlessly in the gun's magazine.

The gun's extractor is a massive claw design and one that grips the cartridge rim firmly. It is flush with the side of the slide when the chamber is empty, but protrudes when a round is chambered. Its top is painted red. It is obviously intended as a loaded chamber indicator.

The FNP9 extractor is massive and grips the cartridge rim quite securely. Its claw reminds me of the Glock or CZ-75's extractor.

The recoil spring is coated with a reddish colored substance and has flat coils reminiscent of the factory Glock's. It is a captive affair on a full-length guide rod. The rear of the guide rod is of black polymer while the front is of polished aluminum.  This has been changed to steel.  I have not yet figured out how it comes apart or if the entire recoil spring/guide rod is replaced as an assembly. I much prefer "non-captive" recoil springs but see where this arrangement prevents the guide rod or spring from being lost…unless both are lost together! I detest the things.

The gun's internal firing pin safety appears to work in a manner similar to the Colt Series 80 line of 1911-pattern pistols and the firing pin itself is retained by a retaining plate. I liked this; I could easily remove the firing pin and spring for cleaning and inspection. Wrong! I cannot remove the retaining plate! It won't budge. I suspect that it might be held in place with a rear plunger that operates off of the spring used for the extractor, but I do not (yet) know this as I have not found an exploded diagram of the gun.

The slide's finish is nicely done in a fine matte and no tool marks are visible on the sides. Very fine ones are visible on the front but are not large or detracting. Besides, if a person is being shown that end of the gun in real life, they are likely not thinking about fine tool marks! Very few are visible inside the slide. The slide, barrel, and recoil spring assembly weigh approximately 15 ounces, making the "upper" by far the heaviest component of an empty FNP9.

I find the gun to be a comfortable one but fully admit that this is subjective. To me, the FNP9 feels sort of like a Hi Power combined with a XD-9. Trigger reach in double-action is not excessive for my hand.

The pistol's fixed sights are quite useable as they come and on this pistol they were well regulated out of the box. POA matched POI out to about 15 yards, the farthest distance I've yet shot the gun on paper. They are of the typical three-dot design though I figure night sights will be on the way if the pistol proves popular.

The feed ramp on the FNP9 is both wide and more smoothly polished than this picture indicates. There is also very good chamber support for the cartridge. None of the fired +P or +P+ cases showed any "belling" or excessive expansion at their six o'clock positions. I do not expect the FNP9 to suffer any of the "KB's" sometimes associated with some other handguns. From the rear, this barrel resembles the Kahr's.

Internally, the FNP9 must be more "complicated" than the single-action Hi Power or 1911 and its components seem to be almost "modular" but I cannot say this with certainty as I've not (yet) detail stripped the pistol. Its stainless rails on which the slide rides do not appear to be molded into the polymer frame. I think that they can be removed for replacement if necessary but I am not 100% sure of this.

Chronograph Results: In my experience, it is a mistake to assume anything about actual velocities from a given bbl length. Some barrels are "faster" than others are and not all barrels for the same caliber are of the same actual diameter. In any event, I chronographed several loads from the 115-gr. to 147-gr. bullets.

Average velocities as well as extreme spread and standard deviation are based on 10 shots fired 10' from the chronograph screen.

FNP9 Chronograph Results:


Average Velocity (ft/sec):

Extreme Spread (ft/sec):

Std. Deviation (ft/sec):

Federal 115-gr. JHP




Corbon 115-gr. DPX +P




Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P




Hornady 124-gr. TAP




Win. 124-gr. Partition Gold




Win. 127-gr. Ranger +P+




Win. 147-gr. STHP




Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot




Rem. 147-gr. Golden Saber




Chronograph results were pretty much in line with what I expected. In my view, they are respectable for bullets utilizing slightly over 3" of barrel length. None of the cartridges tested today had bullets that engaged the rifling. Manual ejection was no problem.

Shooting: In this initial range session with the FNP9, quite a few rounds were fired. They were:

100 Fiocchi 115-gr. FMJ

100 Sellier & Bellot 115-gr. FMJ

50 Federal 115-gr. JHP

20 Corbon 115-gr. DPX +P

20 Corbon 115-gr. JHP +P

20 Hornady 124-gr. TAP

25 Winchester 124-gr. Partition Gold

50 Winchester 127-gr. Ranger +P+

20 Winchester 147-gr. Silver Tip Hollow Point

20 Speer 147-gr. Gold Dot

25 Remington 147-gr. Golden Saber

I also fired several odds and ends that I had laying around in my range box, but the FNP9 fired in excess of 450 shots today.

Because this pistol is not intended as a target gun, I fired for groups only at 7, 10 and 15 yards. The bullseye targets were all fired single-action. The gun showed no strong preference for a particular load at least in my hands, but all grouped plenty well in my opinion. In fact, I was surprised at the mechanical accuracy present in the pistol. Perhaps there is something to the CNC machining! The gun's slide-to-frame fit showed less horizontal and vertical play than expected and there was no barrel-to-slide movement.

This 15-yard target (right) was fired from a seated position using two hands and with wrists braced. All shots were fired single-action.

Since this pistol is intended to save its user's hide, I also fired on a FBI Q target, which sort of resembles a large bowling pin. In this shooting, I fired the first shot double-action as one probably would in a serious situation where times are short and adrenaline high.

This target was fired a 7 yards. I started with a two-hand hold in a low ready position and loaded the pistol with 16 rounds. Three shots were fired in the usual "Failure to Stop" drill, i.e., two to the body and one to the head. Shots were fired as quickly as I could get a flash sight picture. The first shot was fired double-action with the subsequent two shots being fired single-action. This allowed 5 complete FTS shootings. I marked each string's first DA shot with a number. The "6" was the last shot and was fired DA. The first shot hit the "Q" but that was the only one of the entire 16 that did! I felt the second DA shot being "pushed" but it was "gone" before I could correct it. The ammunition used was Winchester's 127-gr. Ranger +P+.

My main double-action shooting is done with the revolver. The vast majority of my semiautomatic shooting is with single-action pistols, but with some more practice, I believe that this little gun can be easily managed for defensive purposes.

Observations: To me the gun's felt recoil was considerably less than expected. Muzzle flip was present but was in no way "bad." Ejection and extraction were consistent with standard pressure loads landing about 4 feet to my right. Hotter loads landed a couple of feet farther out. I found the gun easy to handle and user friendly. In other words, there was not the slightest indication of hammer or slide bite.

To try and see if ignition was positive or just "on the edge" I fired 100 rounds of Sellier & Bellot ball. This ammunition has harder primers than most. Each and every round fired fine.

There were exactly zero malfunctions. Feeding was "slick" and without hesitation regardless of whether it was FMJ or any of the several JHP's used in today's initial shooting. The gun was not cleaned during the session and it did not get sluggish. I doubt that I'll run a test to see just how many shots can be fired between cleanings, but I'm satisfied that the pistol is capable of very fine reliability, something that is absolutely essential in a defensive arm.

Primer strikes were reasonably well centered and positive as is seen on this fired Fiocchi primer. See the small raised area at the 9 o'clock position? I wonder if the folks at FN copied the SIG-Sauer handguns such that the firing pin doesn't retract quite as quickly as it might in an effort to keep debris from the firing pin channel? Whether this is true or not, there were no problems with any cartridge ignition, regardless of manufacturer.

Though not my favorite genre of semiautomatic, I do think that the FNP9 a.k.a. Browning Pro-9 is a very good example of the breed. The double-action pull is smooth and not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination…at least in this one example I've tried. The single-action is very good and better than quite a few DA/SA pistols I've tried in the past. I probably won't change anything on this handgun.

I was pleased at the quality of the gun for the money spent. I think it was well worth the $409.99 paid at a nearby retail store. The FNP9 came with two extra 16-shot magazines not counting the one in the pistol. I am told that the Browning version only has one extra magazine but I have not seen one for sale, so again I have no first-hand observation of this.

Will the pistol hold up to lots of shooting? Probably and I've read of them going over 2500 problem-free shots so far. Still, for shooters this is not that many. Time will tell on that, but close examination after today's session showed almost no wear and FN is a rather well respected arms maker. Again, time and lots of rounds down range will tell the tale, but so far I am very favorably impressed with the little thing's performance.

Though not perfect, I think that this FN pistol is a very good example of a DA/SA autopistol. I believe that it either is or will be available in SAO as well as DAO as well as the more usual DA/SA. Whether this pans out is unknown to me, but I find the gun a viable performer as is.

This pistol is available in a slightly more compact version but I have neither seen nor shot one. I wish that the FNP9 had an extra inch of bbl and slide though. The gun is quite compact and I would prefer a bit more sight radius on the "full size" pistol. This is probably a minority view.

Will the FNP9, even in a long slide version replace my Hi Powers or 1911's? Not a chance! I do not find the FNP9 (or Glock, XD, S&W MP, etc) nearly so appealing as the classic "wood and steel" guns I grew up with. Some of these I see almost as elegant as works of art.

That emphatically does not mean that I don't respect these latter day shooters…for I do.

If you are interested in such a pistol, you might check at:

www.fnhusa.com and at www.browning.com to see more on this pistol.

The gun is available now in .40 S&W and .45 ACP version but I believe that the series has evolved into the FNX line of DA/SA autopistols.



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