FNH USA’s big bore packs more wallop than its competition.
The FN FNX 45 ACP Pistol
By: Steve Tracy
Cocked and locked, double-action, and striker-fired semi-automatic pistols all have their advantages and disadvantages. Personal preference, department general orders, intended use, and training all affect the decision-making process when it comes to choosing a law enforcement sidearm. For some, that choice is made for them by department regulation or weapon issuance, but for others, the choice is ours to make.
The FNX from Fabrique Nationale Herstal USA is a double-action pistol that is also capable of being carried cocked and locked like a 1911. However, unlike some other pistols with a similar double-functioning trigger system, the FNX’s thumb safety is a dual-action mechanism that also works as a de-cocking lever. It’s really two guns in one with its hammer-fired action.
Big Grip Holds 15 Rounds
FNH USA’s FNX pistol lineup is available in 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. The big bore is exceptional compared to other .45-caliber pistols by way of the FNX’s high-capacity magazine. It packs 15 rounds of ammo, compared to its competition’s maximum of 12 or 13 rounds. One might expect a gargantuan size grip girth to accommodate all those rounds, but the impressive thing is that the handle doesn’t feel too big at all, even though it measures 1.6 inches in width. FNH’s trick is a longer grip.
The FNX is 6.3 inches tall compared to a Glock 21’s 5.5-inch height. It weighs 33 ounces (empty) and frankly feels a bit top heavy when unloaded. That changes fast when its magazine is packed with 230-grain 45 ACP ammo. When loaded, the pistol’s balance is just fine.
The FNX’s grip angle causes it to point very naturally as it is drawn out of a holster and aimed on target. The molded checkering provides an excellent gripping surface under all conditions. The pistol includes both a flat and arched back strap (with integral lanyard hole). The circumference of the frame is definitely beefy and may not work well for officers with small hands, but for those with medium to large hands, the FNX was just fine. The round hammer is serrated for thumb cocking and, despite the short grip tang area, the hammer and slide cannot bite your shooting hand because the slide sits high in your grip.
Fully Ambidextrous Controls
Our test pistol’s polymer frame was finished in Flat Dark Earth, but Black is standard. Its Picatinny rail accommodates lights and lasers. The magazine release, slide release, and safety/decocking lever are mirror-imaged on both sides of the pistol for completely ambidextrous use. The slide release does not act solely as a slide stop, but will let the slide go forward easily and chamber a round when pressed downward from either side.
The stainless-steel slide is available in your choice of Matte Black or non-reflective Silver. A loaded chamber indicator consists of a red dot painted on the extractor that extends slightly to the right when a round is chambered. It’s not the easiest to see or feel, so the forward slide serrations are there for those who prefer a press check that utilizes them.
The pear-shaped magazine release kicks empty mags out forcibly when the slide is locked back and the button is pressed. Due to the long grip, large hands do not interfere with the magazine dropping free.
Classic Browning Action
The semi-automatic action is the classic Browning tilt-style. However, the slide can still be pulled to the rear with the manual thumb safety on. The 1911-pattern pistols lock the slide from moving, which means that to clear the chamber, the safety must be taken off. With the FNX, a round can be ejected while leaving the safety on, which is a desirable safety feature.
Sights are dovetailed into the slide and the snag free. The slanted steel rear sight has horizontal non-glare serrations. Low-light white dots match up to a steel front sight with its own white dot. The front sight is comparatively thin and was found to stand out more than wider versions in the rear sight’s notch. They hit dead on at 15 and 25 yards and a bit low at 7 yards, typical of combat fixed sights.
Disassembly is quick and simple. Lock the slide to the rear, and remove the magazine. Once the takedown lever on the left side of the frame is rotated down, the slide may then be released and moved slowly forward off the frame. The captive recoil spring and cold-hammer forged, 4.5-inch stainless-steel barrel are lifted out to complete the field stripping process.
Shooting the FNX .45 was a pleasure at the range. No failures of any kind were experienced with Speer and Remington 230-grain FMJ ammo. Hollowpoint rounds (Hornady 185-grain XTP and Z-Max; Speer 230-grain Gold Dot; Winchester 230-grain SZX JHP; and 185-grain Silvertip) fed right up the FNX’s factory-polished feed ramp and into the polished chamber without a hitch.
Recoil was mild in the big pistol, even with the Speer 230-grain +P cartridges. The double-action pull measured a full 10 pounds, 9 ounces from the hammer’s half cock notch, but it felt a little heavier than that. The single-action pull was virtually perfect for a combat sidearm at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. An internal firing pin safety will not let the FNX fire if dropped by accident. There is a small amount of take-up to deactivate this safety, but it’s barely perceptible.
The bump stop molded into the polymer trigger’s rear causes zero over travel once the gun is fired. Trigger reset is about average—not too long and not too short. The inside of the trigger guard is very generous for cold weather use while wearing gloves. There is a bit of texturing on the front of the guard for those who like to use counter pressure with their offhand index finger.
Muscle memory needs to be built up for manipulating the polymer manual thumb safety on the FNX. Sweeping the safety down and off, like a 1911-pattern pistol, was natural. However, a little extra pressure can cause the safety to continue the downward, spring-loaded stroke and de-cock the hammer unintentionally. It’s a minor concern and nothing that can’t be cured with a bit of practice.
The FNX .45 struck center mass at 25 yards offhand consistently due to its excellent sights, trigger pull and ergonomics. A tight group at 7 yards was effortless and other shooters found the pistol easy to shoot well.
A model equipped with a threaded barrel, higher front and rear sights to clear a suppressor, and a sight base toward the slide’s rear for an electronic red dot sight is available as the FNX .45 Tactical.
FNX Levels the 45 ACP Field
For officers who favor the 45 ACP cartridge, the FNX is a “Made in the USA” platform that offers just about every feature one could think of. With a cartridge in the chamber and two extra magazines on your duty belt, the FNX carries 46 rounds. The FNX was found to fit in Safariland duty holsters made for the Glock 21. Holsters with tactical lights need to be checked to make sure a particular brand of light will fit in conjunction with the FNX.
The FNX levels the playing field by being a double-stack, .45-caliber pistol with a high-round count. It is also an accurate, ergonomic and reliable sidearm. For those looking for a traditional double action pistol, the FNX fits the bill and can be safely carried with the safety either on or off.
As a high-capacity sidearm that can also carry similarly to a 1911-pattern pistol with its hammer cocked and locked, the FNX is a dual-purpose handgun. The MSRP is $809, but actual selling prices seem to be about $100 less than that.