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Hard Duty: FNX-40 Review

by Patrick Sweeney   |  January 24th, 2011 8

The other was the good old cocked-and-locked, known in the 1911 and Browning P-35 pistols. With a few exceptions (the CZ 75 being one), you had to choose between those two or, in the last few decades, the striker-fired designs. Police departments had to choose something, and having chosen, their officers were locked out of other options. Non-sworn CPL holders had more choices, but often opted for what the local PD used.

A good idea never goes away, and in this instance we have FNH-USA to thank. The FNX-40 is not just a traditional double action, it combines that with a cocked-and-locked option, capacity, polymer and the highest of high-tech manufacture. An upgrade of, and derived from, the FNP series, it takes advantage of the extra work FNH-USA did on its .45 pistols for the U.S. Army.

First up, the trigger system. The FNX-40 has a TDA trigger system in which when you press the trigger, the hammer cocks and at the end releases the exposed hammer on the first shot, with the cycling slide cocking it for subsequent shots. If you wish to load it and leave it cocked, simply push the safety lever upward, just as you would on a 1911-type pistol. If you prefer not to have the hammer back, press the safety lever down and it decocks the hammer, and the lever pops up when you let go. You now have a double-action trigger pull ahead of you, the TDA.

But wait, it gets better. If, having decocked the hammer, you then press the lever up, the pistol is now double action and locked on Safe. If that is what you want, the option is yours. I can see that as a viable option for on-duty uniform carry and, once you train yourself to swipe the safety lever down, the best of both worlds. And as a DA-stroke trigger, it is smooth, clean and not a problem to deal with. Sure, it is longer and heavier than a single-action or striker-fired pistol, but not everyone is comfortable with SA or strikers.

The issue is important enough to repeat for those considering the FNX-40 as a carry gun: You can have a TDA, a locked TDA or a 1911-type cocked-and-locked action—all in one and without changing parts. Whatever your preference, pick one, learn it and live it. And as a boon to southpaws, both the safety and slide release are ambidextrous.

The frame of the FNX-40 is polymer, and the replaceable backstraps come both in flat and arched, as well as serrated and grooved. Four options await you. With four backstraps in the box, you can even experiment with applied epoxy, a soldering iron and some epoxy dye to modify a backstrap to your own design. The backstraps also incorporate a lanyard loop, the latest must-have item. (Those of us in the know have had lanyard loops on our handguns for decades.)

As an upgrade from the FNP-40 (with which magazines are not compatible), the FNX-40 frame has a new, ambidextrous set of buttons to release the mags. No need to swap a button from one side to the other for you left-handed shooters. The frame is also sculpted higher in the tang than it was on the FNP-40 to allow your hand a higher hold in order to deal with recoil more ably than with the FNP-40.

And finally, the locking block and barrel seat in the frame of the FNX-40 is lower to the slide rails than it was on the FNP, getting the axis of the bore lower and closer to your hand.

So before we even get to capacity, we have a midsize pistol that gives you almost too many options in size and trigger control. (Is it possible to have too many options? I think not.)

The magazines are stout and capacious. They hold 14 rounds of .40 S&W, with another in the chamber. The baseplates are big and easy to grab out of a mag pouch, and that makes the tubes easy to disassemble and clean. The slide and barrel are stainless steel, with the FNH logo and caliber laser-burned on the exterior. I recently used the FNX-9 to compete in the FNH-USA 3-Gun match in Missouri and found it accurate, reliable and soft-shooting.

However, for the .40 I was tasked not with competing, but with abusing. The plan was simple: to stack up as much ammo as possible and blast it through the FNX-40 in a short a period of time to see how it stood up.

To that end, I put out a call for ammo, and Black Hills came through. Even a short time ago it was possible to acquire many thousands of rounds for such a test, but these days it isn’t so easy. Every time it looks like the ammo companies will catch up with demand, interest in buying ammo surges and the shelves are stripped clean.

Despite that, Black Hills was able to send me nearly 2,000 rounds. I dove into my own stash and bumped that up with more Black Hills, as well as a mixture of other brands and loads.

I rounded up the count to 2,500 rounds by cleaning out some of the odds and ends from my reloading in the years past. I figured that once I got the FNX-40 hot and dirty, I would really test it by tossing in some powderpuff lead-bullet reloads and the like. Alas, my efforts were for naught, as even those failed to bring the test to an end.

The main constituent of the ammo Black Hills sent was a new load, the 140-grain Barnes TAC-XP. The bullets are all-copper hollowpoints with a huge opening. At 140 grains they might seem on the light side, and the velocity isn’t hypersonic, but they fed with complete reliability and shot accurately. A quick ballistic-gelatin test proved that, despite being easy-recoiling on the shooters’ end, they perform brilliantly downrange.

The test was simple. First, check the pistol for point of impact and grouping. To no great surprise, the ammo all struck to the sights, except for the Barnes, which hit just a smidgen low, but not enough to be a problem. Also not surprisingly, the FNX-40 shot accurately.

With the preliminaries out of the way, it came down to blasting through ammo. FNH-USA was kind enough to send me a clutch of spare magazines, so I could load up nearly 150 rounds at a time and crunch through them.

The empties went to the right, not far, and a little bit forward, so they were easy to find. They also were not abused, so when you shoot your FNX-40 your brass will be well suited for reloading.

Sluicing just over 2,000 rounds through a handgun in an afternoon teaches you a few things. For one, if you shoot 150 rounds nonstop, the pistol will get hot. If you promptly load the magazines again and repeat, it doesn’t have time to cool down, and as a result, it gets to the point that you can’t touch the slide. By then you might as well stop, pick up the brass, take a water break and then load the magazines again. Also, if you have 10 magazines to load, you’ll find one for which that last round is tough to get in.

And at the end of the day, your hands will be a bit sore, but not much, as the polymer frame soaks up recoil, but it’s enough to notice. I also had a go at trying accuracy testing every 500 rounds. I’m not sure the results tell us anything, as the work of shooting probably tired me enough to mask any changes in accuracy. What I can say is this: I didn’t notice any changes in the excellent accuracy during the test, nor in shooting the PNX-40 afterward. Again, no great surprise there—2,500 rounds is barely a warm-up, not enough to wear on anything so stoutly made.

Now, in the world of high-cap, striker-fired pistols, does the FNX-40 have a place? I think so. Obviously, it won’t melt under hard use. The trigger offers you different starting options, and once you’ve selected one and spent some time with it in practice, you’ll be set. Given its weight and the corrosion-resistant materials it’s made of, you could carry it a long time without having to worry about your own personal microclimate causing rust. Just clean out the dust bunnies on a more or less regular schedule. With its 14+1 capacity and the vast array of .40 S&W ammo available, you can have your defensive arm stoked from mild to hypersonic. And with a spare magazine (or two) on the other side, you’ve got plenty of ammo on tap.

The four-inch barrel makes it easy to carry concealed, as it is unlikely to “jab and pivot” on you and end up wedged against your kidney. The polymer frame makes it the same weight as any other midsize pistol, so ballast isn’t a problem. The accessory rail on the frame gives you a place to mount a light/laser combo.

I really like the single-action/double-action option. That way, if I want to pack it as if it were a high-cap 1911, I can. But if needed, it can be carried and used as if it were just a TDA-driven pistol. I can see it doing very well as a law enforcement sidearm. Patrol officers could carry it hammer down and safety on, detectives could carry it hammer down, and SWAT could carry it cocked-and-locked.

While the rest of the world seems content to follow the striker-driven design paradigm, FNH-USA has been busy perfecting the traditional double action.

The FNX-40 consumed all the ammo the author had on hand without a stutter and was soft in recoil.

  • tonyidaho

    That is good to hear since I just bought one as my one and only weapon, I just applied for my concealed permit out here in Idaho and am happy to hear the FNX 40 is reliable. Does anyone know of a good concealed carry holster for this model? Kind of sketchy on the internet.

    • http://twitter.com/jim_shoe Jim Cheatham

      Check Crossbreed holsters. Also, all my Sig P250 holsters fit my FNX-9.

      • Jeremy Sylvester

        Jim ~ I have a P250 chambered in .40….do you think an FNX 40 would also fit inside my Sig P250 holster? Also, not to hijack this thread…but I love my DAO P250!

  • CMA508

    I purchased an FNX40 in May that was manufactured in March, fired 120 rounds through it and the extractor came out. The man I contacted at FN was one of the rudest persons I have ever dealt with and more or less told me breakage is common in firearms. I carried this as a protection piece, not as an ornament, breakage is not an option.
    I was told I am obviously “young and have not shot much.” I am retired Army, an Air Force and police veteran. I also shoot every month and shoot IDPA. This is the first firearm I have ever have fail in such a manner. I have dealt with other firearm manufacturers for other reasons and always had great response. The person I spoke with suggested he send me an extractor and I replace it myself. He also said he was in a hurry and did not have time to talk. When I tried to explain the malfunction he told me to “shut [my] mouth.” Great customer service.
    I am not a hater of any brand but do not believe I will have another FN when mine comes back. It will become a Sig or HK quite soon afterwards. Just my two cents on my one and only experience with FN.

    • Sanityfree

      The chamber lock included with my FNX 40 was defective. I called and must have gotten the same guy you did. He “wasn’t sure he could replace it, since they’re only in there because the law requires it.” I told him I understand that but the law specifically states it must be a functional locking mechanism, and after shelling out this much money, everything in that box is gonna work!

      New chamber lock arrived via UPS the next day.

      You gotta understand, their biggest customer is the DoD, which does everything by contract. With a contract, customer service doesn’t matter. With a DoD contract, one civilian consumer like you or me, no matter how much military (Hoo-ah!) or LEO experience we have, doesn’t matter.

      My $600 is a drop in the ocean to them. They really don’t need to be concerned with my satisfaction, because even if everyone I know never buys from them again, they still have those multi-million dollar contracts.

      Coporate ‘murica.

      • CMA508

        You are right but I would sure hate my fellow military friends to get into a CQB and have the same malfunction happen. The few seconds it takes to realize what has happened could mean they are dead. The same goes for anyone who carries it for defense.
        I refused for them to send me the part; I figure if I spent that much and it broke that soon they need to find out why. I actually got the handgun back today, so it was less than two weeks to turn it around, the thing is I don’t have confidence in it now and plan on trading it for a Sig 226 or an HK. I have several Sigs and scored high military in an IDPA with two of them recently. Never a glitch. The FNX may be okay and may never have another problem but I just can’t trust it now.
        After my initial post I got a call from Val at FN and he said he would ensure the problem with the employee was handled and new training would be put in place to prevent these incidents. Too late for me.
        I wish all luck and my experience may not be typical, just my experience. Good luck all and be safe.

    • Jimmyboy

      I was going to buy one but after hearing your review, I think I will buy a Glock instead. There is no place in this competitive world for rude customer service!

  • Walter Powell

    My FNX 4 is my carry weapon . I have had no problems with it at all . I have a SIG 226 9mm and find my FNX-40 to be just as reliable have not had to deal with rude customer service and hope I do not get the pleasure anytime soon

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