New FNH FNP-45 .45ACP Handgun Review

Rugged, reliable, accurate, the FNH FNP-45 .45ACP pistol is READY FOR DUTY!

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SOME TIME BACK, the United States Armed Forces began casting around for a polymer-frame, double-stack .45 autoloading pistol for certain service members to take into battle. There was time, effort and money spent – quite a bit – by various manufacturers who each wanted to provide this new US military service pistol.

fnh-9.gifAfter getting past several hurdles, the Government made a decision: They weren’t going to buy any pistols. That left a number of tried and proven designs that had no military home. The manufacturers ramped up to make up the loss of development time and effort and we have a number of reliable, solid .45 pistols coming to market. One of these is the FNP-45.

Gun Details
FNH USA simply upsized their current FNP (FN Pistol) line and made it in .45ACP. Interestingly, it appears that the design could well have included a manual safety based on the frame depression where the decocker travels. The decocker is pressed down to safely lower the cocked hammer and return the pistol to trigger-cocking mode (always point the pistol in a safe direction, especially when lowering the hammer muzzle direction is obviously very important).

The decocker depression in the frame extends up to the top of the frame. I tried pushing the decocker up; it’s obvious the frame was made for this, but the decocker wouldn’t go up. I believe the military was interested in a manual safety. 

I’ve not tried the latest iteration of the FNP-45, but it may have the manual safety.

I got to shoot a couple of versions of the FNP-45 last year at a press gathering put on by FNH USA. The triggers were about standard for DA/SA-type pistols. The slides are big and blocky, but these are big pistols in a big caliber. The sights were good and they seemed to be accurate. They were reliable with the FMJ ammo we were shooting. I was promised a T&E model. It arrived a couple of weeks ago.

Housed in a large plastic luggage case, the biggest lockable pistol case I’ve ever seen a new pistol shipped in, the FNP-45 is supplied with three magazines, which is nice. A flat backstrap is included. The pistol is supplied with the arched backstrap in place.

Inside the hollow lid of the pistol case, there is a lock, an envelope with a fired case and the owner’s manual.

Staying with the DA/SA trigger system with a decocker, FNH USA has moved away from the current wisdom of a single trigger pull in length and weight. 

The organizations that stick with the double-single-action guns have reasons. The first issue raised is that the trigger pull with the hammer at rest is very long and heavy, which should minimize the chances of an accident. I’ve not run across a handgun trigger that’s so heavy one can’t accidentally fire a shot.

Another long-held excuse is the remaining rounds in the gun require a short, light trigger pull to fire. If we’ve been surprised by a close range threat, that first long pull should still be precise enough to hit the threat. The single-action trigger is handy if a criminal offender steps behind cover or a hostage. The precise shot so enabled will end festivities, if the officer will take the shot. 

The arguments aren’t invalid. I think they run contrary to what I often see on the range. I’ve recently had a few people out to train who have shown up with the DA/SA setup and they’ve done fine. I’m not the final arbiter of what’s good and what isn’t. And, if there wasn’t a market for that trigger system, FNH wouldn’t make them. 

The FNP-45 is neither the thickest nor the biggest double-stack .45 we’ve handled. The long reach to the double-action trigger keeps it from being truly comfortable in my hands. It’s not bad for many others.

The new gun has interesting aspects as well. There is a slide release lever on both sides of the new gun. I could take or leave them. The decocking lever is likewise on both sides of the gun. That is a handy device to have in mirror image. I don’t want southpaws shifting their grips or, worse yet, lowering the hammer by holding it steady with a thumb while pulling the trigger. That’s no way to get the hammer down.

The magazine release button is ambidextrous. I can already hear some yawns out there. For right-handed shooters, the magazine release button on the right side of the frame makes it accessible to the right index finger. It can’t be on the trigger during a magazine change and it has to be somewhere, why not using it to dump the old magazine?

I have to shift the pistol in my grip to get at the magazine release button with my right thumb. Not so when using the right index finger. This clears the huge magazine well for the tapered top end of the replacement magazine. It’s a fast-reloading sidearm. And it should take a long string of shooting to be forced to reload; the magazine capacity is fourteen .45ACP cartridges! That’s a lot of weight in that polymer grip frame. With three magazines, there are 43 rounds of ammunition available before we’re reduced to fisticuffs. 

The magazines have numbered witness holes at the rear instead of the sides of the magazine.

The frame’s dustcover has an integrally molded M1913 rail for various flashlights and laser aimers. I put an Insight Tech-Gear M3X light on the gun. The gun’s serial number plate is embedded in the dustcover. On the serial plate, the serial number is engraved below the bar code depicting that number. 

The left side of the frame has the disassembly lever in front of the slide release lever and decocking lever. The gripping part of the frame has raised lines on the front- and back-straps. The sides of the grip frame have sharp checkering. There are no front cocking serrations. This doesn’t bother me as I don’t use them. 

The sights are black, low profile and are fitted into dovetails in the stainless steel slide. White dots are painted on the rear sight on either side of the rear sight notch. The front sight has a corresponding front sight.

Another plus for the FNP-45 is the easy disassembly for cleaning. To field strip the new FN, remove the magazine and stow it. Lock the slide to the rear, checking for ammunition in the chamber. If it’s clear, rotate the disassembly lever 90° clockwise. Pull the slide to the rear, freeing it from the slide release levers. Let the slide forward slowly, controlling its travel. Continue moving the slide forward until it clears the frame. Put the frame aside and turn the slide upside down. Compress the recoil spring and lift it from the gun. Lift the barrel clear from the slide. That’s all there is to it.

How It Shoots
I was suitably impressed with the FNP-45. It doesn’t beat the shooter up. The rear of the gun is wide enough to minimize any discomfort to the hand. It’s a treat to load 14 rounds into those new magazines, but that’s common with any double stack pistol magazine.

The trigger is stout in double-action. It’s supposed to be. Chuck Haggard and I found out that it wasn’t so onerous that it prevented good quick hits up close. At distance, that could be another issue. Single-action was light and short with quite a bit of take-up and some creep.

The FNP-45 easily handled all types of .45ACP including some hard-shooting +P stuff. I found my best work was with hardball, which is pretty common for me these days. Harder shooting stuff tends to rattle me. 

One string from a hard supported barricade position yielded a 50-yard, vertical stringing pattern of about 4.75 inches in length. This was fired all single-action, using Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ. The remainder of accuracy work was done at fifty feet hand-held, supported. The single-action trigger was easy enough to work with that groups stayed under three inches.

Attempting to do a handling exercise was hampered by the fact I didn’t have a holster to fit the large slide. That said, making pairs was no problem. We had no stoppages with any ammo we tried.

Chuck Haggard got behind the FNP-45 and gave it a workout. He’d fired one before at a law enforcement vendors’ soiree and came away impressed. The accuracy and fit stood out for him. He noted that the flat backstrap fit his hand even better than the arched that was affixed to the gun in shipping.

On another range day, the FNP-45 was given an accuracy workout. The distance was 50 feet, not our normal 25 yards. Federal American Eagle ball put five rounds in-to 2 inches. With Winchester USA 185-grain FMJ, I was able to shoot a 1.5-inch group. CorBon’s 185-grain DPX +P was good for 1.63 inches and their 230-grain JHP +P load yielded a 2.5-inch result. Hornady’s excellent 200-grain XTP put five bullets into 1.5 inches.

That performance, taken along with the best 50-yard effort, tells me the FNH FNP-45 performs with somewhat better than service accuracy. We also found that the FNP-45 was reliable with a range of readily available .45ACP ammunition. I also fired a few vastly outdated .45 specialty loads, not all known for their ease of feeding. The FNP-45 fed them all and asked for more.

Service .45
The FNH USA FNP-45 is a large, robust and reliable service-size .45ACP with greater than average service accuracy. Chuck Haggard said that the FNP-45 has the best ambidextrous magazine release he’s used. 

“I like the aggressive checkering, too,” he said. He’s been known to grace his working iron with skateboard tape and other “hard grip” materials. I noted that you wouldn’t lose your hold on the FNP-45 in a rainstorm.

I asked about his perception of the 45’s size. “It fits me,” he said. While noting all the things he likes about the FNP-45, his only gripe was the trigger. “I’d have to get used to that trigger,” he said.

I agree. With a modular design given to a short and easy armorer’s school, it’d be a good choice for agencies and users who require a double-to-single-action design pistol.

Load Comments
  • Dan Fowley

    Had a Taurus 24/7 G2 in .45 acp as my hi-cap 45. Very disappointed in the trigger. Sold it and bought the FNP .45. What a difference. Love the gun. Put night sights on it and found left handed holsters in stock at holsterama.com. single action trigger settled in a 3.5 lbs with no creep. I’ve shot nothing but reloads (1000+) and had no problems. It doesn’t really like really lite loads though. No problem with +p+ however. I highly recommend this gun.

  • Joe

    The FNP .45 is also my favorite pistol ever. I have shot most all pistols commonly available or a variant there of and nothing compares. I choose to carry mine condition 1, cocked and locked therefore avoiding the double/single transition problem. The FNS 9 and 40 just came out. They are virtually identical to the FNX but are striker fired. The feel of the FNS trigger is tops among stock striker guns in my opinion and makes my mouth water waiting for the FNS .45.

  • Mine shot quite a bit to the left from the factory but I wanted Ameriglow red fiber sites anyway. Remington hollow point did not feed reliably but the Remington ball works great. The sites cannot be drifted with any kind of punch. It takes a special gunsmith $600 site tool to drift.

  • RJ

    Took my new FNH-FNP 45 to the range today. I was very impressed with the weapon out of the case. Accuracy was dead on. Thought I was dreaming. Excellent handling pistol. Picked up my S&W 9mm between reloads. Have had it since 94. Didn’t compare. Am extremely happy I made the decision on this weapon. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Jose A Catedral

    Is the FNH FNP-45 .45ACP also good for left handed people

  • Kevin Wilkins

    sorry….”weigh”. The shooter’s pack with the holster and mag pouch is also available for the .45, but remember to specify right or left hand for the holster, they do make both I learned. I contacted customer service about the holster (im a South-paw) and they advised they would have it to me in less than a week and they followed through. They were very polite and extremely helpful, unlike some companies who “hate you”. Being a lefty has always been a pain when it comes to firearms, but the FNP .45 has everything ambidextrous. The mag release is the best I have used thus far, not too big and not too small. I have yet to have a mag pop out on me because I bumped it accidentally. I think so highly of this pistol that I actually took the time to fill this out, which I have never done before…..keep up the good work FN!

  • Kevin Wilkins

    I purchased my FNP .45 USG (has the manual safety and decocker) in the tan frame shortly after that model came out. I carry it in a Safariland duty holster (apparently the only one available so far)after installing night sights on it. I have to say this is the best pistol I have ever owned (and I have quite a few!). I previously carried a Glock 22 RTF and a Para LDA Ltd. This .45 will shoot almost as good as the Para will, and fits my hand like a glove, plus it doesnt way a ton like the Para…good news when you carry it on patrol for at least 12 hrs per shift. I have had no complaints with this gun, and I know that once more LE personnel are exposed to this weapon system they will have no complaints either (other than holster options). Its a good buy, you cant go wrong with this one!

  • CaptainKC

    I was patiently waiting for FN USA to launch their new FNX Series 9mm and 40 cal pistols. I finally found the FNX-9 at one of the new Shoot Straight stores in Lakeland, FL. The FNX-9 has all of the features that FN incorporated into the FNP-45.

    After some serious thought I opted to add a Burris FastFire II Red Dot Sight to my Beretta PX4 Storm 9mm, and add the FN FNP-45 USG to my gun cabinet. The gun fit well into my hand, and the interchangeable back strap made the fit even better. I prefer the flat back strap, but that may change with a few trips to the range.

    Some people seem a little frustrated trying to find a holster for the FNP-45. I found a few different holsters listed, but it does take a little time to the research.I saw some holsters listed in Safariland. One allowed the tactical light to be installed on the rail while holstered. I think the model was a 6287-18201.

    You may also want to check Fobus. I did check Blade-Tech, but I could not find the holster listed for the FNP-45. Blade-Tech produced the “Shooter Pack” as a promotion for FN. The “Shooter Pack” is still listed in the FN 2010 Catalog, but may not be available for the FNP-45.

    I will submit an additional post if I can find the holster manufacturer links on my computer.

    Shoot Straight and Shoot Often. Join the NRA if you are not a member. Attend the NRA Meeting in Charlotte, NC in May if you can. The FN Factory is only a little more than an hour south of Charlotte in Columbia, SC. Plant tours may be available.

  • Richard

    There is only one prolem I am having with my FNP-45 that is trying to find a duty holster for me FNP-45. I tell you one thing the FNP-45 is the best pistol out there todate. I have used all different types of pistols from berretta to Taurus, HNK, Glock, you name it I have shoot it. The thing I love the most about my FNP-45 is that my girlfriend can pick this gun up and shoot it with out a problem. It just has a littel kick to it for her to want one but she can still hit what she needs to with the FNP-45.

  • This is the best pistol I have ever owned…including the Browning Hi power I bought new back in 1985. I have put close to 10,000 rounds through the Hi Power since then and the slide is not loose ,but well worn in. This is not a problem on the new FNP.45ACP. The slide rails as well as the trigger group can simply be pulled out and replaced on this pistol. It grips back at your hand when you pick it up or pull it from the holster. The diamond cut grip surface shakes your hand and seems to become part of you. Recoil is light for a big bore handgun. The balance is worked out for a weapon that is part polymer. As a matter of fact long hours have obviously been put in on the design of this weapon. I have fired a little over 1000 rounds through it in the last two months I have owned it. There have beeen no FTF or FTEs in any of those rounds. This pistol feeds everything I have put in the magazines with no problems whatsoever.One can run in to some odd brands of ammunition out there with the buy up program that is going on the last few months.This gun fires it all and wants more. The package I bought came with one 15 rd, and two 14 rd. mags. I have since bought two more factory 15 rd. mags at a gun show.
    The accuracy of this pistol is astounding. I believe it could fire all 16 rds. through the same hole when I load it up with the first mag. I kept looking at the target and then the pistol the first time I fired on the 25 yd. target at my indoor gun range here in town. The sights were dead on the money when I took it out of the carrying case. Two models of the case come with something called a shooter’s pack. This has a BLADETECH holster ,magazine holder that holds two magazines and a practice barrel made of yellow plastic for training with your own pistol in acadamy type classes. The holster and mag holders are perfect fits with the FN logo emblazoned on the holster. It has an extra fatter strap that can be changed out on the back of the grip by just depressing a locking mechanism with a paperclip or small screwdriver.I kept the thin strap in place because I have short fingers. It has an attachment that can be screwed in place that makes the holster a pancake style holster. The other models of the cases or kits have 10 rd. magazines for sale in areas that have laws against high capacity magazines. I bought the model that has the black coating on the slide. The other models can be had with just the bare stainless steel slide on top. It has a rail system on the bottom of the front barrel for mounting lasers,lights ,or any other thing that can be mounted on barrel type rails. If you have wanted to step up from 9mm. or ,40 cal. to the 45 ACP rd. handguns you owe it to yourself and your family to try this new FN pistol out. I doubt if you will be disappointed. It’s all made and assembled in the USA too…here in my hometown Columbia,SC. If you think these country people can’t build a great machine these days….stop and try out a new BMW sports car on the way to the gun store. They build those here too.