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FN's New Reflex 9mm Pistol: Micro Size, Big Features

They say big things come in small packages. FN's Reflex micro-compact pistol sincerely concurs.

FN's New Reflex 9mm Pistol: Micro Size, Big Features
(Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

About a year and a half ago, the Los Angeles Police Department received the first shipments of its newly selected duty pistol, the FN 509 MRE-LE. LAPD gave FN the nod after extensive testing including a 20,000-round endurance test, according to FN. There was no shortage of major firearms manufacturers vying for the LAPD contract, and the fact that one of the largest police departments in the country chose FN is a testament to the company’s battle-proven performance. Conversely, FN’s latest pistol, the micro-compact Reflex 9mm, was designed with concealed carry in mind. It has everything you’d expect from a micro-compact pistol—and some things you might not. For starters, the Reflex is not a striker-fired pistol but rather an internal hammer-fired single action only. The lighter single-action pull is less likely to result in inadvertent movement when firing, which could send your round askew. As such, hammer-fired pistols tend to be easier to shoot accurately.

handcuffs and pistol grip
(Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

Best of Both Worlds?

But not everyone is a fan of hammers, especially on concealed carry guns. A hammer, or anything else for that matter, that protrudes from your gun can snag on a garment and foul your draw stroke. In a self-defense situation, this could cost you precious time as you fumble with your garment. Even worse, it could result in dropping your gun, which would be disastrous. An internal hammer provides the best of both worlds—a lighter trigger pull and snag free profile, as well as the additional benefit of a slide that’s easier to rack. This is a selling point for shooters with diminished hand strength, as striker-fired micro-compact 9mm pistols can be difficult to cycle manually. This problem could be exacerbated with sweat- or blood-soaked hands resulting from a deadly force encounter.

Of course, the envy of all single action-only trigger pulls is the 1911. The 1911’s sliding trigger enables it to move straight back, while the Reflex’s trigger pivots at a hinge point. While its trigger pull is nowhere near as smooth as a 1911’s, it is significantly better than most striker-fired pistols. There is roughly a quarter inch of take-up before the trigger reaches the wall. From there, a bit more pressure causes the trigger to break. The pull weight on my sample was about five pounds. The break itself is crisp. Reset is rather long, about half an inch, but it’s easy to recognize thanks to an audible click and perceivable bump. An overtravel stop at the top of the trigger causes it to break near 90 degrees.

pistol trigger and slide
While the trigger is a single action, unlike the 1911 the Reflex’s trigger is hinged and isn’t quite 1911 level. But it’s better than most striker-fired guns. (Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

Point and Shoot

The Reflex doesn’t have a grip or thumb safety to contend with (although the owner’s manual references a thumb safety, so that may be available on future models). For a concealed-carry pistol, there’s much to be said for “point and shoot” simplicity. There are two passive safeties. A firing-pin block prevents the tip of the firing pin from protruding into the breech unless the trigger is pulled. A hinged trigger safety stays engaged until the shooter’s finger is on the trigger. These safeties are designed to prevent the pistol from firing unless the slide and barrel are locked, and the trigger is pulled.

slide catch and safety
The Reflex doesn’t have a manual safety, but it does incorporate two passive safeties. The magazine release is reversible. (Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

With an overall length of just over six inches and a height just over four inches with a flush-fit magazine, and just an inch thick, the Reflex’s slim profile makes it easy to conceal. The pistol boasts a capacity of 11+1 with the flush-fit magazine or 15+1 with the extended magazine. At just 18.4 ounces, the Reflex won’t weigh you down. It fits right in with other popular pistols in its class including the SIG P365, the Springfield Hellcat, Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock 43.

reflex side footprint
The Reflex is available with or without an optics cut in the PVD-finished slide. Those with the cut take red dots on the Shield RMSc footprint. (Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

Subtle Refinement

The Reflex’s 3.3-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel has a target crown that protects the edge of the bore from damage. A polished feed ramp and chamber contribute to reliable feeding with a variety of ammunition, including hollow points. The polymer frame features a slight palm swell that melds with your hand. This, combined with in-mold stippled texturing—which is finer on the sides and coarser on the front and backstrap—ensures a solid purchase. A beavertail and undercut trigger guard facilitate a high grip, which helps mitigate recoil. Overall, the Reflex’s ergonomic design makes it easier to shoot than most pistols in its class. A reversible magazine release is a welcome addition for lefties. Its oblong design is wider toward the front, where thumb pressure is applied. The magazine release is easy to use but doesn’t protrude so far that you will accidentally eject a magazine from the pistol.

The slide stop is on par for a micro-compact pistol. Although it rests close to the frame, it can be used to release the slide and chamber a round (more on this later). A single-slot accessory rail enables you to mount a subcompact light like the Streamlight TLR-7 sub or the Surefire XSC. The Reflex’s slide is PVD-finished steel with angled front and rear slide serrations, giving you gripping options. There are three front serrations, which are thicker and shorter than the rear serrations, and they run the entire height of the slide. Although I prefer to use the rear serrations to rack the slide, I like front serrations for conducting press checks. While not overly aggressive, the Reflex’s serrations make it easier to manipulate the slide. The Reflex comes with or without an optic cut in the slide. The optic cut version is denoted by the acronym MRD (Mini Red Dot), and it’s on the popular Shield RMSc footprint. While many users will mount an optic to their Reflex, the stock sights are certainly sufficient as a standalone option. The Reflex features standard-height, three-dot sights. The two white dots on the rear sight are useful in alignment without being distracting.

front end of pistol showing muzzle
Forward cocking serrations make press checks easy, and the single-slot accessory rail accommodates small lights and lasers. (Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued)

The tritium vial embedded in the front sight glows green in diminished light, while the orange circle around it directs your focus to the front sight. On the model I tested, there was a cosmetic blemish, as the front sight post’s finish was peeling. This did not, however, affect the functionality of the sight.

Takedown is easy. After ensuring the pistol is unloaded, lock the slide to the rear and rotate the takedown lever up. From there, depress the slide release and pull the slide assembly forward to remove it from the frame. As a safety feature, the trigger doesn’t need to be pressed to disassemble the pistol. Simply reverse the process to reassemble. The Reflex uses a captive, dual recoil spring with a plastic guide rod. The captive guide rod design encapsulates the spring, making it easier to fieldstrip and assemble the pistol. The dual-spring system is popular for shorter barreled firearms, for which a single spring might not be stiff enough to cycle the slide reliably.

Does it Shoot?

For accuracy testing, I opted to use the stock iron sights as opposed to an optic. The sights were easy to use thanks to their relative size and instinctual design that draws your focus to the front sight. Even on a micro-compact, you need sights that are big enough to pick up for initial sight alignment and subsequent shots. The Reflex’s narrow frame and grip design make it comfortable to shoot. Of course, micro-compact 9mm pistols can produce more felt recoil than larger pistols. The Reflex has a little kick to it, especially with the shorter 11-round magazine—but no more than similar-size 9mm pistols. The 11-round magazine has a pinky extension, but for me there still wasn’t much room. While the 15-round magazine makes concealment a bit more challenging, the extra room for your pinky makes a big difference with recoil control. With your pinky applying pressure up and toward you, the muzzle is forced down, mitigating muzzle flip. This allows for faster shot-to-shot recovery, which is an important characteristic of a concealed-carry pistol.

Fifteen-yard accuracy results are shown in the accompanying chart. The best groups of the day were 1.1 inches, turned in by both the Hornady Black and Black Hills jacketed hollowpoint loads.

accuracy results
(Results provided by Richard Nance)

While that’s certainly respectable, I have no doubt that the Reflex MRD equipped with a quality optic is capable of even greater accuracy. Red dot optics provide a more intuitive and refined aiming point. Instead of having to align the front sight blade within the rear sight notch and shift your focus from the target to the front sight, you just overlay the dot on the target and press the trigger. FN touts the Reflex for its reliability, and while I don’t disagree, there were a few hiccups during my testing. To be fair, these were all failures to feed when using the slide stop as a slide release, which is my preference for cycling the slide. Although using the slide stop to chamber a round is faster, it’s also less reliable because the slide does not benefit from full recoil spring tension, which helps it move completely forward, into battery. In addition to accuracy testing, I fired several strings of fire offhand at distances between five and 10 yards, including while moving. The Reflex was very shootable thanks in large part to its smooth, single-action trigger pull. The grip locked into my hands nicely and enabled me to deliver accurate hits about as fast as I could press the trigger.

Recommended


If you’re in the market for a micro-compact, red dot-ready 9mm pistol, the Reflex is a natural choice. Its slim profile and compact design make it easy to carry, while the relatively high capacity and smooth single action trigger make it well-suited for self-defense. Available in flat dark earth or black, the standard Reflex has a suggested retail price of $599. The optic-ready MRD retails for $659. Holsters and spare magazines for the Reflex are available at FNamerica.com. FN’s battle-proven performance ensures the Reflex is worthy of betting your life on, which is what you’re doing with any concealed-carry pistol. Thanks to FN, confident carry is all in the Reflex.

FN Reflex MRD Specs:

  • Type: internal hammer-fired semiauto
  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Capacity: 11+1, 15+1
  • Barrel: 3.3 in. cold-hammer-forged
  • OAL/Height/Width: 6.2/4.2 (flush mag)/1.0 in.
  • Weight: 18.4 oz.
  • Construction: PVD finished steel slide, polymer frame
  • Sights: white dot rear; tritium front with orange circle; optic cut for shield RMSc
  • Safeties: trigger, firing pin block
  • Trigger: single-action; 5 lb. pull (measured)
  • Price: $659
  • Manufacturer: FN America



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