August 23, 2023
FN Herstal has been a marquee brand in the military hardware world for many decades. From the FAL battle rifle to the M240 and M2 machine guns and even the M4A1—a full-auto version of our M4—FN has been a leader in putting quality firearms into the hands of our troops and their allies.
Meanwhile, FN America, the Belgian firm’s U.S. subsidiary, has been building its own brand on the civilian side. Its flagship 509 series of polymer-frame, striker-fired handguns has become an increasingly popular choice for defensive, competitive and recreational use. The company has consistently added new models with desirable features to its catalog. The latest is the 509 CC Edge, a subcompact handgun suitable for concealed carry but packed with design elements you’d expect to see on full-size pistols.
First, let’s take a step back and put this handgun into perspective. For as long as I’ve been a firearm enthusiast, there has been an ongoing hardware debate between competition-focused and defense-minded shooters. The most vocal have been the “combat” or “tactical” shooters. Some of these individuals are quick to dismiss any feature that gives a shooter an edge as impractical in the real world. Ironically, most of these folks have never actually seen a gunfight.
“I always thought it was really strange that ‘combat shooters’ would use it as an excuse for their lack of speed,” Green Beret combat veteran Tim Kennedy told me. “It’s strange when someone claims to be a ‘combat shooter’ but has never been shot at. Shooting is shooting.”
Our nation has been at war for more than 20 years now, and this painful experience has changed the way folks with real combat service view firearms. As Kennedy put it, “I never want to be in a fair gunfight.”
To keep that fight unfair, features that used to be considered competition-only are finding their way onto defensive firearms. This trend probably began with extended controls, checkering and trigger jobs but eventually evolved into things such as red dot optics, lightened slides and, even, compensators.
A few years ago, FN America decided to embrace this trend in a line of premium handguns. The result was the 509 Edge series. During its development, FN consulted heavily with world-class competitive shooter Dave Sevigny as well as Kennedy, who brought a fighting mindset to the equation. The combination of these two perspectives ensured the end result would be equally capable across the spectrum of users. Having spent significant time with the full-size 509 LS Edge, I’ve been impressed with the fruits of their labor. Now FN America is taking that process a step further with the release of the 509 CC Edge.
The 509 CC Edge is one of the first mainstream handguns on the market that brings true competition features into a package that is practical for daily carry. It is an optic-ready subcompact handgun with a flat trigger and built-in compensator.
It’s built on the same polymer frame as the 509 Compact but, thanks to its compensator, is 0.7 inch longer overall. It’s a small handgun, and although it is larger than some of the micro 9mms on the market, it is absolutely concealable. Empty, the 509 CC Edge weighs in at 25.5 ounces.
The frame on the CC Edge is the serialized component rather than merely a grip module. The grip is textured aggressively and cut below the trigger guard for a high grip on the gun. The handgun ships with two interchangeable backstraps that allow the shooter to customize the grip to their liking.
Two different magazine capacities—12 rounds and 15 rounds—are available. With the 12-round mag installed, I could comfortably get a full-finger grip. The 15-round version, with its extended base pad, makes the grip length even more generous.
From a control standpoint, the CC Edge is straightforward. There is an ambidextrous frame-mounted slide stop, a takedown lever and a magazine release. There is no manual safety. The flat trigger is another competition-inspired design element and breaks cleanly when it hits the vertical position, and there is very little of the creep that is so commonly found on striker-fired handguns. The trigger on my test sample broke at 5.25 pounds, and the reset was short and tactile.
The slide is machined from stainless steel and is PVD finished in a graphite shade of gray. The slide has six lightening cuts that show off the gold titanium nitride PVD-finished, 4.2-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel beneath. Titanium nitride coatings are common on machine tooling and are known for their wear resistance and lubricity. Yes, the color is a little flashy.
Like the 509 LS Edge, the 509 CC Edge is an optics-ready handgun and uses FN’s low-profile optics mounting system. The rear sight stays in place behind the mounting surface and provides a co-witness with most optics. The handgun ships with a cover plate in place that’s secured by two Torx screws.
The cover plate has integral “wings” that rise on either side of the rear sight, offering it protection from impacts. The CC Edge ships with a variety of adapter mounts and screws, ensuring that nearly any appropriate-size optic will be compatible.
The most notable feature on the CC Edge is the two-port compensator. This device adds a bit of length to the handgun but has positive effects when it comes to both recoil and muzzle rise. FN’s engineers tell me the compensator cuts muzzle rise by 25 percent, which sounds about right based on my trigger time with the gun.
The CC Edge shoots noticeably flatter than other handguns in this size category. The sights stayed more or less on target during recoil. Not only was this apparent during rapid-fire drills, but also when bench testing the pistol. In short, the compensator does its job.
The traditional criticism of compensated or ported barrels on defensive firearms relates to gases venting upward. Muzzle flash could increase, but that has been mitigated to a great extent by modern powders. More importantly, when shooting from a retention position near the body, a compensator could direct gases upward and into the shooter’s face. To prevent this from being an issue, FN America designed the CC Edge with a V-port compensator that directs gases at a 45-degree angle on either side of the muzzle rather than straight up.
I fired the CC Edge from a wide variety of positions and never had any problems with the gases. Yes, the compensator makes the gun louder from the shooter’s perspective, which is something to consider.
Not only is it somewhat unique to find a compensator on a concealed-carry handgun, but also the way that FN engineers went about attaching the device is innovative. Compensators are directional by design, and they must always maintain the same position in order to be effective. From an engineering standpoint, this means timing or indexing the device, usually via threads and shims.
FN went a different route on the 509 CC Edge, using a spring-loaded, no-thread system to attach the comp. This means that attaching and removing the device is as simple as pressing it to the rear and turning it 90 degrees. It is fast, secure and repeatable.
Both the front and the rear sights are dovetailed into the slide. The front sight is steel with a green fiber-optic insert. The rear is black with a square notch that sits recessed inside the rear plane.
As I mentioned, they are sufficiently tall to co-witness with most red dots on the market when they are mounted to the slide. As someone who remains a bit of a skeptic when it comes to red dots on defensive handguns, this ability to use the sights even with the optic mounted is a must-have. I had a red dot sight fail during a drill with the original LS Edge, but since I could still see the sights, I was able to complete the exercise.
Magazines on the CC Edge are made using stamped steel bodies with a high-visibility orange follower. Both the 12- and 15-round versions use machined aluminum base pads that add enough weight to ensure empty magazines drop free of the gun when the release is depressed. This is another competition-inspired element that I think carries over well.
Disassembly of the CC Edge is straightforward but with a twist, pun intended. With the handgun unloaded, the slide is locked to the rear using the slide stop. The takedown lever is then articulated forward to its maximum position. The CC Edge must then be dry-fired in a safe direction, which allows the slide assembly to slide forward and off the frame. The dual captive spring recoil assembly can then be taken out by pulling it downward.
With the barrel free to move, the compensator is pushed toward the breech and rotated 90 degrees, which allows for its removal. At this point, the barrel can drop out of the slide. Reversing the steps reassembles the handgun.
When preparing a review of a new firearm, writers don’t always get the trigger time they would prefer due to deadlines. I was introduced to the CC Edge at a private event several months before its public release, so I was able to put a significant number of rounds through this particular handgun.
My example was 100 percent reliable throughout hundreds of rounds of testing using four different types of ammunition. All the other handguns used at the event were equally reliable, so we are talking about several thousand rounds with no malfunctions. From a reliability standpoint, I would not hesitate to carry the CC Edge for self-defense.
After using a CC Edge equipped with a red dot at the FN shoot, I ran the gun using iron sights back at my home range. Accuracy was above average for a handgun in this category, even without the benefit of an optic. Shootability was excellent, and rapid hits were possible thanks, in part, to the effective compensator. Shooting this gun made me a fan.
Not everyone is sold on optics, extended controls and compensators on defensive handguns, and that’s okay. We all have to make our own decisions, but the fact that companies like FN America are giving us options is a positive.
Plenty of more traditional models are available, but the Edge series of handguns is designed to push that envelope. An observer might say companies like FN are breaking the mold and working to reimagine the defensive handgun. And that’s not a bad thing. If you are looking for a concealed-carry pistol with all the bells and whistles, the new FN 509 CC Edge certainly checks all the boxes.
FN America 509 CC Edge Specifications
- Type: Striker-fired semiautomatic
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 12+1, 15+1
- Barrel: 4.2 in., cold hammer forged, gold titanium nitride PVD finish
- Weight: 1 lb., 9.5 oz.
- Construction: Gray PVD-finished steel slide, polymer frame
- Grips: Textured polymer, interchangeable backstraps
- Sights: Green fiber-optic front, black rear; optic ready
- Trigger: 5.25 lb. pull (measured)
- Safeties: Trigger
- Price: $1,569
- Manufacturer: FN America, FNamerica.com