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Whenever I hear the words “FN” and “pistol” mentioned in the same sentence, the image that immediately comes to mind is the iconic Hi-Power pistol. Developed by John Moses Browning in the early 1920s, and perfected by FN engineer Dieudonne Saive (who also designed the legendary FN FAL rifle) over the next decade, it was the first successful high-capacity pistol. In the post-WWII years, it became the most popular military pistol outside of the Soviet Bloc, a position it held until the turn of the 20th century, and many credit it with inspiring the 9mm cartridge’s worldwide popularity.

While FN no longer offers the Hi-Power, time and technology have marched on. The 1980s saw the introduction of polymer-framed pistols, a trend that took the handgun world by storm. Just about every handgun maker of note now offers polymer-framed handguns, which have become the overwhelming choice with police agencies and armies around the world. Needless to say, a firm with the reputation of FN was not to be left behind in this sector of the market.

In 1977, FN opened a plant in Columbia, South Carolina,  to manufacture M240 and M249 machine guns and eventually the M4 and M16 rifle for the U.S. armed forces. In 2007, FN developed the FNP-45, a larger-caliber, polymer-framed pistol with a double-action/single-action trigger mechanism that was entered in the U.S. Joint Combat Pistol Program. Two years later, FN introduced its FNX line of hammer-fired 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP pistols, which have proven to be very popular among law enforcement and civilian shooters around the U.S.

But while the FNX pistols are hammer-fired designs, the majority of polymer-framed pistols on the market today are striker fired, and so, in 2011, FN introduced its FNS line of pistols. As the more observant of the readers have probably ascertained, the “S” stands for “striker” fired. Today, the FNS series includes six models: the service-sized FNS-9 and FNS-40, the FNS-9 Compact and FNS-40 Compact, and the FNS-9 Longslide and FNS-40 Longslide. The latter are the subject of this report, specifically the FNS-9 Longslide.

Going Long

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight, FNS-9 longslide barrel
The FNS-9 features a bushingless barrel, and the front of the triggerguard is textured for those who prefer to grip the pistol in that position.

Polymer-framed pistols have taken the action pistol sports by storm. Today, in certain divisions of USPSA, IDPA and 3-Gun, competitors using steel-framed pistols are definitely in the minority. This popularity has resulted in a number of firearms manufacturers offering “competition ready” versions of their polymer-framed handguns.

RELATED STORY: First Look – FNS-40 Compact Pistol

All of these feature longer barrels and slides, whose increased weight helps to reduce felt recoil and muzzle flip while providing a longer sight radius. Some come with adjustable sights while others are fitted with lighter/shorter trigger pulls, and most offer interchangeable grip backstraps.

As its moniker denotes, the slide on the FNS-9 Longslide has been lengthened to accommodate a barrel 1 inch longer than the standard FNS pistols—making it 5 inches to be exact. The slide and barrel are both made from stainless steel, and the former has square-cut grasping grooves fore and aft, which allow retracting the slide with a variety of grips and from a variety of angles, even with wet or oily hands.

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight, FNS-9 longslide spring guide rod
The gun’s full-length recoil spring guide rod is made of steel, and the frame has a Picatinny rail for tactical accessories.

An external extractor and a generously sized ejection port ensure that spent cases are removed reliably, and the former has a lip on its forward edge that extends past the slide when a round is chambered. The top of the lip is colored red and provides a tactile indication of the pistol’s condition and acts as loaded-chamber indicator.

RELATED STORY: FNH FNX-45 Tactical – A Ready-For-Anything Big Bore

Sighting equipment consists of a square blade up front and a unique rear sight whose deep notch had a shallow V-shaped bottom. The sights contain the usual three white dots and both can be drifted for windage adjustments.

The slide reciprocates on two sets of steel rails, two on the steel locking block in the center of the frame and another pair integral to the sear/ejector unit at the rear of the frame; both sets are replaceable. Function and ease of disassembly are enhanced by a captive recoil spring on a full-length, metal guide rod.

Competitive Nine

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight, FNS-9 longslide magazines
The FNS-9 Longslide comes with three 17-round magazines and interchangeable backstraps. Note the ambidextrous mag and slide releases.

As we move down to the polymer frame, we find a large triggerguard, which makes for easy shooting if you’re wearing gloves or you are of the ham-fisted type. Controls consist of ambidextrous magazine releases and slide stop levers, both of which are properly located for positive manipulation whether you are a right-hander or a Southpaw. The all-metal, 17-round magazines dropped free loaded or empty, whether the slide was forward or locked back.

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The grip frame features aggressive patterning for a secure purchase, and two interchangeable backstraps are provided so the shooter can fit the pistol to their particular hand size. A lanyard attachment point is located on the heel of the grip and an accessory rail on the frame’s dust cover allows mounting of tactical accessories. While neither of these features are germane to competitive shooting, but seeing as this pistol is equally adaptable to law enforcement, these two features might come in handy.

Disassembly is very easy. Just remove the magazine, retract the slide to verify the chamber is empty and use the slide stop lever to lock it open. Rotate the takedown lever on the left side of the frame downwards 90 degrees, then pull the slide to the rear slightly and pull the trigger, which allows the slide to run forward off the frame. With the slide held upside down, you push the recoil spring unit forward slightly and then lift it out of the frame. The barrel is removed in the same manner.

Reliable Striker

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight, FNS-9 longslide grip

As was mentioned above, the FNS pistols are striker fired. As the slide runs forward, the tail of the striker is engaged by the sear and held in a semi-cocked position. Pulling the trigger through a complete stroke pulls the striker back to full cock before rotating the sear to release the striker, which then moves forward to fire the cartridge.

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The FNS-9 Longslide I received had four separate safeties: the bottom section of the trigger has an articulating section that must be fully depressed before the trigger can be pulled; a firing pin block that is only disengaged by a full stroke of the trigger; a drop safety that prevents the sear from rotating and releasing the striker if the pistol is dropped; and an out-of-battery safety that prevents the sear from rotating if the slide is not completely forward. FNS pistols are also available from FNH USA with an ambidextrous, external thumb safety mounted on the frame.

The quality of materials and assembly on the FNS-9 Longslide I received were all excellent. I was especially taken with the ergonomics of the grip, which, after I fitted the large backstrap, reminded me of the FN Hi-Power pistol. And that’s about as high an accolade as you can bestow upon any handgun!

Run & Gun

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight, FNS-9 longslide target

As was to be expected from any out-of-the-box pistol, the trigger had quite a bit of “new gun” stiffness and it took 5.7 pounds of pressure to trip the sear. On the positive side it had a reset that could be both felt and heard, a nice feature for slow, accurate shooting.

RELATED STORY: FN’tastic FNS-40

Test firing the Longslide with five types of 9mm ammo likely to be used by action pistol shooters showed that its accuracy matched its looks, and it proved capable of producing satisfying groups (with a little bit of assistance from yours truly).

Running off-hand drills revealed my only “must change”—the sights. Fiber-optic front sights are more or less de rigueur in the action pistol sports today and many manufacturers now fit them as standard equipment on their handguns intended for competitive shooting. I would like to see FN do the same or at least offer them as an option. And because I prefer a plain black rear sight mated to a red fiber optic up front, before I ventured forth to shoot the FNS-9 Longslide in a match, I used a black marker pen to blacken the white dots in the rear sight and applied a drop of Day-Glo orange paint to blot out the white dot in the front blade.

FNS-9 Longslide, FNS-9, FN, FNH USA, FNS-9 longslide pistol, FNS-9 longslide front sight
The author put a drop of Day-Glo orange paint over the white dot on the front sight.

The following weekend I used the Longslide to compete in the Production division at a local USPSA match. This expenditure of ammo (and effort) brought to the fore the pistol’s positive features. It functioned 100-percent reliably during the six-stage match. I did not experience a single failure to feed, fire or eject out of the 140-plus rounds sent downrange. Ergonomics were first rate (remember what I said above about the Hi-Power?). It had
excellent balance and pointed so naturally that I was able to engage close targets without using the sights. Recoil was very controllable. The magazine releases and slide stops were well positioned and could be manipulated positively. Lastly, the FNS-9’s generously sized magazine well allowed for fast, fumble-free reloads.

Aside from my personal preferences on how the sights are set up, I can attest that the FNS-9 Longslide is an accurate and utterly reliable pistol.

For more information, visit http://www.fnhusa.com or call 703-288-3500.

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