"Longer, lower, wider, the '49 Hudson is the car for you." That advert predates me, but growing up in the motor city, it had to have been aired again sometime after 1949, because it is burned into my memory.
Post-World War II, the Hudson Motor Car Company was in competition with the big three auto names. Hudson produced lightweight, high-horsepower cars, and even dominated the then-new racing sport called NASCAR, winning more than their fair share of races from 1951 through 1954.
Well, there's a new Hudson, and they make pistols. Like the car company, they are making something the big guys are not: an all-steel 9mm with a striker system. You may think, Ho-hum, move along. Well, think again.
Aside from its all-metal construction, the new Hudson H9 9mm striker system is activated by a 1911-style trigger. The trigger moves straight back when it's pressed. It has a short take-up, short travel, a clean break and short overtravel. Clearly, getting a clean, crisp trigger press built into a striker-fired pistol is not like going to the moon. But, it has a built-in trigger safety, as well as a drop safety. There is also an optional thumb safety for those desiring it.
The H9 has a very low bore axis (the distance of the barrel centerline above your hand), meaning the pistol has less leverage to rotate up in the cycling stroke and during recoil. There's a fixed tang that overhangs the web of the hand, providing substantial leverage to counter the forces at work. Due to the H9's non-standard design, the recoil spring rides lower in the frame than other pistols. Physicists and competition shooters will tell you that when it comes to dealing with recoil and shooting fast, a low bore axis beats a high one every day of the week. G&A's editorial staff were reminded of this with each round we fired.
The H9's slide stop is ambidextrous, while the magazine catch is not. Lefties actually have an advantage here, as it is quick and safe to use the left hand's trigger finger to drop the magazine.
The lower backstrap is a Hogue G10 and grips are G10s shaped by VZ Grips. The magazine well opening has a proportioned bevel making reloads with the 15-shot magazines smooth and fast. There's also an accessory rail out front to attach a light, laser or combo unit.
Cocking serrations are fore and aft on the slide, and the top of the slide is grooved. The sights sit in transverse dovetails, with the front being a Trijicon HD night sight, featuring a big orange ring. At the rear is a low-profile fixed sight with a square front face for one-hand manipulations and a rounded notch. The ejection port is large, and the extractor is a sturdy hook that looks like it could be used to pull a stuck pickup truck.
All the edges of the H9 are dehorned. Except for the deliberately sharp edges of the sights (sights have to be sharp, or they aren't much use), the rest of the H9 has been worked over to remove any sharp edges. The only fine area is the rear upper corner of the slide stop, and really, you aren't going to get your hands there even in an emergency.
Proportionally, the H9 is a fraction of an inch larger than those of the current standard for concealed carry — the Glock 19. The barrel and slide lengths, and the height, are each a quarter-inch more, but that also gains us an extra quarter-inch of sight radius.
Takedown is simple. Unload the pistol, lock the slide back and push in on the takedown lever pin from the right side. Once the left plate clears the frame, rotate it down. Then ease the slide forward. Once it stops, dry-fire the pistol, and the slide assembly will now come off of the frame.
As an all-steel pistol, the H9 tips the scales at 34 ounces, empty. However, that only seems like a lot when you consider that many a single-stack 1911, holding half as many rounds, weighs that much. In a proper holster, the extra ounces of the H9 over its polymer competitors won't mean much on your belt. When it comes time to ignite the primer on the back end of a +P or +P+ cartridge, you'll find the weight a lot more comforting.
And that brings me to the interesting design aspects. The sights are set up for speed and close-range defensive work. Were I using the H9 as a carry gun, I'd leave them exactly as-is. Were I using it as a competition pistol, I'd either go with a narrow-steel black blade or put a fiber-optic blade out front. With a big orange circle to aim with, the H9 still punched impressive groups for a carry gun, but I think that it is capable of greater accuracy with a more precise sighting system.
An all-steel 9mm pistol is not going to kick much, but when I tested the H9 side-by-side with other 9mms of a similar weight, it did, indeed, have less muzzle rise. So, the unique recoil system is doing its part.
The magazine springs are enthusiastic. I talked to Hudson's CEO Cy Hudson about this. "We wanted to make sure the magazine is not just keeping up with the slide, but ahead of it," explained Hudson. "The spring will ease up after a bit of use."
So, if you purchase the new Hudson H9, you should also pick up a Maglula pistol mag loader and keep it in your range bag.
This is a thought-provoking pistol that G&A will continue to evaluate in the coming months. I'll be shooting it a bunch in the next several weeks because I really like the feel of the gun. The unique trigger is refined, and I have an idea that it will prove to be a match-winning pistol.
Thus far, the Hudson H9 looks to be a high-performance pistol. I like the feel, I like the heft and soft recoil is always a good thing.