September 24, 2010
Traditional, yet very modern
The full-size FNP 9, top; the compact FNP 9M, bottom. All the controls--takedown lever, slide stop and ambidextrous decocker--are recessed into the frame.
For this report, I received two FNP pistols, the full size and the compact, in 9mm caliber. While the FNP is not actually new, in as much as it was introduced in 2003, the FNP has not received much attention from the gun press. I think this is because, kindly put, the FNP does not have the sizzle of other handguns introduced in the same time period. It's an instance of a plain Jane being overlooked in favor of others seen to be more tactical or cutting edge.
The FNP does have a lot going for it if some thought is given to its intended use and ability to fulfill this need. Let's do just that here, as well as note that the same gun is also being sold by Browning Arms as the PRO-9.
The FNP is an amalgam of time-tested features and quite suitable for self-defense or as a mili-tary/police sidearm. The well-proven and now-traditional SIG- Sauer locking system is in place, as is a SIG-type double-action-to-single-action trigger setup supporting an exposed-round hammer. The FNP gets modern in that it has a polymer frame on which the lower portion of the backstrap is able to be altered with an additional and smaller backstrap insert, which is supplied.
Internally, the FNP has the almost obligatory passive firing-pin safety and external ambidextrous, easy-to-operate, spring-loaded de-cocking levers. The fire control system is contained in a unit that is then pinned into the polymer frame, removable for service and in-depth cleaning. This should be done only by someone who is a trained FN armorer, of course.
The FNP, disassembled. Arched and flat backstrap inserts are secured via dovetail and a screw.
Fabrique National FNP 9 and FNP 9M
|MANUFACTURER: ||FNH USA |
|CALIBERS: ||9x19mm |
|BARREL LENGTH: ||Four inches (FNP 9), 3.79 (FNP 9M) |
|OVERALL LENGTH: ||7.09 inches |
|WEIGHT: ||25.2 ounces (FNP 9), 24.8 ounces (FNP 9M) |
|CAPACITY: ||16+1 (FNP 9), 24.8 ounces (FNP 9m) |
|TRIGGER PULL: ||DA: 12 pounds; SA: four to six pounds |
|WIDTH: || |
|GRIPS: ||Checkered walnut |
|ACTION TYPE: ||Recoil-operated with DA/SA trigger and decocking lever |
|SIGHTS: ||Fixed three white dot |
|PRICE: ||$575 |
Forward of this is, using Glock armorer terms, the locking block. Unfortunately, FN does not supply a schematic in its instruction book, so let's call this a "module." Also, there's a half-circle metal ring, apparently removable, inside the frame in front of this module that appears to support or cradle the barrel. The trigger return spring on these samples has a yellow coating, leading me to believe that trigger-pull weights are changeable by using other springs, whose strength would be indicated by a different color.
When picking them up from my FFL dealer, King Shooters Supply in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the owner Roger Burris and I both thought I had been sent two of the same model. With a quick glance at them in their cases, we were both puzzled as to why one had a 16-round magazine and the other a 15-round mag. (Two are supplied with each pistol. They have a metal body with a removable polymer baseplate. The rear of the body has numbered cartridge witness holes.)
Well, it turns out that one is the FNP 9M (according to the FNH USA website), which is the compact model. The other is the FNP 9, the full-size gun, but examination shows the distinction between them to be slight. The FNP 9 measures 7.09 inches in overall length with a four-inch barrel, while the FNP 9M is also 7.09 inches long but has a 3.791-inch barrel and one less round in its magazine.
What we see here then is, in effect, two full-size duty guns with the one being slightly reduced in size. Now, if we add to this the fact that both have the feature of a changeable backstrap, both pistols can now be utilized to fit a much wider range of hand sizes and body dimensions.
Starting with the polymer frame, the takedown lever is on the forward left side of the frame. Disassembly is simple. Clear the pistol, remove the magazine, lock the slide back, push the lever down 45 degrees, and ease off the slide. Then remove the dual and captive recoil-spring system. The barrel drops down and out to the rear.
The compact 15-round and full-size 16-round magazines are easy to load.
The single-sided, longitudinally grooved slide catch stop is to
the rear of this lever, with ambidextrous and similarly grooved decocking levers trailing at the top rear of the frame. All three are recessed into the frame to one degree or another, forestalling inadvertent operation while still permitting efficient use. The dustcover has 1913-type rail grooves, but at this time ITI's X-2 is the only light that will fit the pistols.
Both front- and backstraps have molded checkering, and on either side of the frame a very bashful thumb swell is delineated with grooving, which also serves to outline the frame stippling. The triggerguard is rounded, with slightly molded checkering on its face. The curved trigger is smooth-faced and has a molded-in trigger-overtravel bump (effective only in single-action mode).
The grooved magazine catch is at the bottom rear of the triggerguard. Neither the instruction book nor the FNH USA website indicates that it's reversible. The catch is held by a curved spring accessible through the magazine well. A rounded external hammer is used with both.
The ITI Model X-2 fits the FNP pistols' rails.
The previously mentioned changeable backstraps are flat and arched and are installed via tongue-and-groove mating of backstrap to frame and secured in place by a single slotted screw. (They're a snug fit, so use more caution than mallet.) Users of 1911s can easily make the leap here and see that the FN inserts achieve the same effects as do the flat and arched mainspring housings of the 1911--the grip circumference is decreased (or not) and the grip angle changed as well.
The tastefully sculpted slide has white-dot-bearing front and rear sights. Both are low mounted but still large enough and snag-free, riding in dovetail cuts for windage adjustment or sight replacement.
Bob George, left, and Bill Cassidy, center, enjoyed shooting both FNP pistols, while John Lysak observed the pistols' functioning.
The external extractor, at the right rear of the large ejection port, also serves as a loaded-chamber indicator. Eleven diagonal grasping grooves are at the rear of the slide. Trigger-pull weight on both guns ran in the acceptable-for-government-work range of just over 12 pounds double action and slightly over five pounds single action. Neither were what anyone would call target-grade triggers, but then these pistols are not directed to be used against paper targets.
John Lysak, Bob George, Bill Cassidy and I put a few hundred rounds of assorted 9mm ammo into the backstop. Not having or wanting to shoot poor-quality 9mm, the best I could do to try and stump the FNP design was to fire a wide range of standard and Plus-P JRN and JHP loads. I could have skipped this exercise, though, as the guns shot everything without fail. John and I did the table-top target work, with our five-shot groups averaging three to five inches.
Target results ranged from three to five inches.
In the beginning here, I said the FNP 9 and the FNP 9M are both traditional and yet modern, and I think the review bears this out. I also don't see them as wall-mounted displays or "safe queens." No, these two pistols will spend their lives in holsters, glove or tackle boxes and drawers (of the wooden sort)--simple, inexpensive and effective tools for self-defense.