ATI FX45 Fatboy LW Review

With the liberalization of concealed carry laws in many states, the demand for small, lightweight, concealable handguns has ballooned, and many people with CCW permits choose to carry a 1911 pistol, which has resulted in a number of manufacturers offering subcompact versions of this venerable design.

One of the newest to hit the market is the FX45 Fatboy LW. Built by the Philippine firm of Shooters Arms Manufacturing and imported by American Tactical Imports, the FX45 Fatboy LW (LW stands for lightweight) is an amalgam of traditional 1911 features with a number of refinements to produce a practical concealed-carry pistol.

With an overall length a tad under seven inches, 5.5 inches high and only 1.33 inches at its widest point, the FX45 is easy to conceal even under light clothing. But it's a true 1911 and has all of the excellent features John Moses Browning designed into his original pistol: single-action trigger, excellent ergonomics and well-placed controls that are easy to operate. And all true 1911 lovers will be happy to know that it's chambered for the iconic .45 ACP cartridge.

The machined steel slide has dual sets of grasping grooves, and the ejection port has been lowered and flared to ensure that spent cases get out of the way surely and quickly.

But the most modern feature is that it uses a bushing-less barrel with a flared muzzle section. Another departure from the original is a telescoping, dual-spring recoil system on a full-length guide rod. Both of these features ensure tight and consistent barrel/slide lockup for improved accuracy and functioning. It also greatly simplifies disassembly.

The low-profile rear sight has a large, easy-to-acquire square notch and is angled to prevent it from hanging up on clothing on the draw, and its rear face is serrated to reduce glare. The front is a square blade with a white dot insert although I would like to see a fiber-optic front sight as an option.

The alloy frame pares the Fatboy LW's unloaded weight to a mere 22 ounces, and the frame is undercut at the trigger guard to permit a high grip on the gun.

The ambidextrous thumb safety levers are smaller than normally seen on a 1911 but can still be operated positively. An extended beavertail grip safety with a palm swell provides superior handling while ameliorating recoil—a nice feature on a .45 pistol weighing so little. Aggressively checkered, polymer grip panels allow a secure grip.

As you may have ascertained from its Fatboy moniker, the FX45 is a high-capacity 1911. It uses a double-column magazine that holds a comforting 12 rounds of .45 ammo (10-rounders are available for states where capacity is limited).

Because it's a subcompact, test firing was performed from an MTK K-Zone rest at 15 yards. I tested four different brands of factory ammo, all of which shot close enough to point of aim to please me and produced groups in the three- to four-inch range with the fast-moving Federal Guard Dog load taking honors.

I also set up a combat target and ran the pistol through a series of offhand drills, firing it from five and seven yards with both two- and one-hand holds. The wide grip, checkered grip panels and beavertail safety provided a lot of control for such a lightweight .45 ACP. The sights came on target quickly, and the rounds went where I wanted them to go—well-centered groups in the nine and 10 rings of the target. All in all, I was impressed.

I experienced a few failures to feed with the Black Hills lead wadcutter loads, but other than that the pistol ran with an almost boring, albeit pleasing regularity.

The magazines were a bit difficult to load to capacity, and I think ATI should provide a magazine loading tool with the pistol. But the wide-mouthed magazine well made for fast, fumble-free reloads, and the pistol proved reliable with everything I could stuff into the magazines except as noted above.

My only complaint with the gun is that the rear of the magazine base pad has rather sharp corners that galled my hand quite a bit by the time I was done test firing. The manufacturer should bevel these so as to provide a more user-friendly pistol.

Other than that, I believe ATI's FX45 Fatboy LW is a viable choice for the licensed civilian, police officer or armed professional who is looking for a lightweight, compact, high-capacity 1911 pistol for concealed carry.

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