FNH USA’s FNP pistols have been with us since 2003 and while the most recent member of the FNP family has gotten quite a bit of “ink” from the firearms press, probably due to its .45ACP caliber, we don’t know of anyone taking a good look at the FNP family as a whole.
The FNP was first developed in the ubiquitous 9mm caliber, but it was a only a matter of time before other calibers were offered, primarily because the basic 9mm platform can be adapted to .357 SIG and .40 ammunition with little modification in the basic handgun. In fact, the FNPs in 9mm, .357 SIG and .40 are virtually identical in size and weight. What sets them apart is caliber. Operation is the same for just about all, except the FNP-45, which is similar in operation, but built on a larger frame to accommodate the .45ACP cartridge plus a few other changes.
Characteristics common to all FNPs, they are full-size pistols with polymer frames, stainless slides and cold hammer forged stainless barrels. All are made right here in the United States at FNH USA’s Columbia, South Carolina facility. The 9mm and .40 caliber FNPs are available in traditional double-action (DA/SA) and double-action-only (DAO), reflecting a common law enforcement requirement that duty pistols be DAO. The .357 and .45 caliber FNPs are all DA/SA.
The 9mm, .40 and .45 FNPs are offered with flat dark earth polymer frames. Frames have steel rails pinned in place that mate with the stainless slide. All FNPs are equipped with ambidextrous safeties (only USG models have a manual safety) and the FNP-45 has an ambidextrous slide stop. All have a MIL-STD-1913 rail on the dust cover to accommodate accessories. This is just about mandatory on any serious combat handgun these days, primarily for white lights used for room and building clearing.
The smaller caliber FNP frames are molded with aggressive checkering on the front and backstraps, and “gritty” side panels for positive grip while the FNP-45 has aggressive checkering not only on the front and backstraps, but on the grip sides as well. Grip angle is classic 1911, which makes these pistols point like a natural extension of the shooter’s hand, just like pointing one’s finger. Each FNP has two interchangeable backstraps to accommodate different size hands. We preferred the standard “arched” backstrap, which fits our rather large hands, but shooters with smaller hands will probably go for the straight version. Changeover is accomplished in a matter of seconds by simply removing a small screw, sliding the old backstrap out, sliding in the replacement and then replacing the screw. If the user replaces the backstrap, we’d recommend putting a dab of Blue Loc-Tite (aka Gun-Tite) on the threads to make sure that the screw stays put. In fact, we’d probably Loc-Tite that screw regardless. Threaded components have a nasty habit of working loose under repeated recoil.
FNPs are available with slides in either matte black or stainless. The extractor serves as a visible and tactile loaded chamber indicator. Sights are low profile combat three-dot type, dovetailed into the slide with Trijicon tritium night sights optional. However, Trijicon does not make night sights for the FNP-45.
All FNPs come with three high-capacity magazines: 16 rounds for the 9mm, and 14 rounds for the .357 SIG, .40 and.45ACP. Kudos to FNH for providing three magazines. Most law enforcement officers carry one magazine in their handgun and two more on their belt. FNH USA doesn’t force purchasers to buy that third magazine. To sweeten the 9mm and .40 pot, FNH is offering a bonus until August 31, 2008, buy an FNP in either caliber and get a free Blade-Tech holster and magazine carrier.
As mentioned before, all FNPs are equipped with a MIL-STD-1913 rail on the dust cover. Although some may disagree, our duty handgun at the police department where we serve as a part-time officer has such a rail and we carry it specifically when we must respond to a intrusion alarm, unlocked door or any other situation that requires we enter with pistols drawn to clear a dim or dark area, we clip a high intensity white light onto the rail so suspect areas and potential targets are illuminated. True, the light is a beacon for “bad guys,” but so is any white light regardless of where it’s held and our personal preference is to have it on the pistol.
We evaluated two high-intensity white lights in the course of our test of the FNPs and can recommend either without reservation. One is Laser Devices’ Las-Tac II and the other is SureFire’s X300. Both use LEDs as a light source and deliver a bright 125 lumens of white light with an intense central “hot spot” and a less bright “corona” surrounding it that allows focusing on items of interest or possible targets while illuminating the surrounding area for continued clearing.
Not surprisingly, shooting the FNPs revealed that all have a similar feel. They point naturally, fit the hand comfortably and are easy to shoot well. Controls were easy to access without shifting our grip on the pistol, so the FNPs all get high marks for ergonomics. The decocking lever is ambidextrous, although the slide stop isn’t except on the FNP-45. The magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters (ambidextrous on the FNP-45) and the magazines all drop free when it is pressed. The magazine well is huge and in combination with the magazine that tapers from double stack to single feed, makes reloading a snap. Having a single round at the feed lips rather than two also enhances reliability. Cartridges sit high in the magazine, almost in a straight line with the chamber, which also enhances feeding reliability.
Trigger pull was almost identical on all four FNPs. Double-action pull was a remarkably consistent 10.25 pounds on each pistol and the long DA take-up was smooth and totally devoid of that “gritty” feel that some DA/SA pistols seem unable to avoid. Pull weight varied no more than 0.25 of a pound on each pistol. The two-stage single-action trigger ran 4.5 to 5 pounds on each pistol with a tiny bit of creep and a little overtravel, again not much difference. Felt recoil was easily manageable in all, and the smaller FNPs have virtually identical felt recoil and muzzle rise. The FNP-45 is wider and somewhat heavier to accommodate the .45ACP cartridge, but it is also easy to control and shoot well.
All FNPs functioned with 100 percent reliability and delivered the goods in terms of accuracy, although we didn’t conduct our testing with as many different brands of ammo as usual due to the fact that we were evaluating an entire family of handguns in four different calibers rather than one in a single caliber.
Disassembly for routine maintenance and cleaning is accomplished without tools and is intuitive. All that’s necessary is to first clear the pistol by locking the slide to the rear and removing the magazine. Unlike some pistols, the FNP requires that the slide be locked back in order to rotate the disassembly lever. This forces the user to clear the pistol, we consider it a major safety feature. Since the magazine engages the slide stop, it must also be removed prior to disassembly. Once the slide is locked back, the magazine removed and the disassembly lever rotated clockwise, the slide can be removed by just disengaging the slide stop and easing the slide forward off the frame. One note of caution, make sure the slide is under control when the slide stop is disengaged as it is under spring-tension and can jump off the front. After the slide is removed, the recoil spring and guide rod can be taken off and the barrel removed by pulling it back and down.
The bottom line is that we believe that FNH USA has hit a home run with its FNP family of pistols. Our test pistols were reliable, accurate, easy to shoot well and offer the user a handgun in every serious self-defense or law-enforcement caliber. Which do we prefer? By now every reader should know that we believe that any handgun cartridge for law enforcement or self defense use should begin with a “4” and preferably end with a “5,” but we also understand that not everyone is comfortable with a .45, plus many departments mandate other calibers, the most common being .40. Regardless of what chambering the potential FNP shooter chooses, he or she can count on getting a pistol that is reliable, accurate and comfortable to shoot. It doesn’t get much better!
FNH USA’s FNP pistols have been with us since 2003 and while the most…
by Paul Markel / Sep 26, 2008