I’m an unabashed fan of FN pistols. It started with the FNS-9 model. FN made the pistols available to NRA Pistol Instructors at a deep discount when they were new in 2011. Then came the FNX pistols and more recently the FN 509. I just knew in my heart that the FN Reflex would be a winner. For sure, I knew I was anxious to get my hands on one, so I could review it for our readers.
The day I picked it up, my first impression surprised me. I made the immediate assumption the gun was too small for my taste. But when I got it home, my initial observation fell by the wayside. First, it is almost the same size as the SIG P365 (one of my favorite carry pistols).
Second, with the extended magazine, the Reflex has that same feel that endeared the other FN guns to me. Something about the angle of the grip, texture on the sides, and the ribbed front and rear strap of FN’s pistols makes me want to hold them for the sheer pleasure of holding them. Shooting them just adds to that pleasure.
The Reflex does have a much smaller grip than the FN 509, but it still feels natural. For me to get that natural feel, I need the extended mag in the gun (which, admittedly, complicates the concealed carry formula but not by much). Let me back up and describe the gun to you, then we’ll get into the different magazine sizes.
FN Reflex Features
The FN Reflex falls into the category dubbed “Micro 9s.” I personally don’t think they’re really micros, but more like minis. However, the name has been around long enough that it’s going to stick. These are small pistols, with 3- to 3.5-inch barrels and double-stack magazines.
The Reflex is 6.17 inches long, 4.27 inches high, and 1.08 inches wide. The barrel length is 3.3 inches, and the weight with an empty magazine is 18.4 ounces. Where legal, the gun ships with an 11-round magazine and extended 15-round magazine.
The 11-round magazine can be fitted with either a flat base plate or a pinky-catching base plate. I’m okay with the pinky catcher, but the 15-round magazine feels the best to me, which is well and good because of the extra four rounds it provides. For folks who live in the not-so-Second Amendment-friendly states, the gun comes with two 10-round magazines.
FN offers a compact version of the FN 509 that is similar in size but has a longer barrel. I’d recommend handling each and weighing the concealability of the longer barrel before deciding between the two.
You can get a Reflex in either black or FDE. Mine is equipped with three-dot sights with the front sight being one of those popular tritium surrounded by a bright orange ring. The slide has cocking serrations (front and rear) and a loaded-chamber indicator at the top rear of the loading port. All my other FN pistols are ambidextrous, but this one isn’t for some reason. Another difference between the Reflex and the FNS, FNX, and 509 pistols is that this one is hammer-fired, which seems to be the norm for micro-sized pistols.
Having an internal hammer, versus a striker, allows the designers to create the gun with a lighter-racking slide. The Reflex is quite easy for me to manipulate with my arthritic hands which is a real plus in my book. The slide lock/release is small, but it’s set at an angle that makes it easy to access and easy to operate.
The front of the slide has angled edges which aid in holstering. There is a one-slot Picatinny rail, which will allow for the mounting of a small light or laser. The trigger guard is undercut where it joins the frame at the grip, allowing for a reasonably-high grip when shooting the gun. The trigger has a flat face that is slightly curved and angles forward. It has about a half-inch take up before it breaks cleanly at around 5 pounds.
This pistol does not have a blade safety in the trigger, but it is equipped with two passive safety systems. The firing pin block prevents the tip of the firing pin from protruding from the breech face unless the trigger has been pulled to the rear. The hinged trigger safety remains engaged unless the shooter’s finger is on the trigger and blocks the rearward movement of the trigger. This prevents the trigger from moving rearward under inertia, should the pistol be dropped. A manual safety is an option. The pistol I have does not have that option.
Takedown for cleaning is pretty standard. Lock the slide back, and remove the magazine. Then, check the chamber to ensure the gun is unloaded. There is a small lever on the left side of the frame that must be rotated clockwise. The slide will then come off the front of the gun, after the slide lock is released. No trigger pull is required. The recoil spring is captive on the guide rod, and it compresses quite easily. Lift it out, and the barrel can be removed from the frame for cleaning.
I can hear you wondering now, “What about a red dot sight?” The answer doesn’t exist in the pistol I have on hand to review. However, for a few dollars more, I could have purchased the FN Reflex MRD model. As for which mini red dot sight I would want, the Reflex MRD’s slide is cut for Shield RMSc and Holosun K series. Included screws make it easy to mount many MRDs.
As far as carrying the FN Reflex, it would work for me as a pocket-carry gun with the 11-round magazine — even with the pinky extension. I rarely pocket carry (unless I need to leave home in a hurry) preferring strong side IWB carry. For that, the same holsters I use for carrying the SIG P365 work fine.
One is a DeSantis Vanquisher IWB holster, and the other is an N8 Tactical OT2 – G2 holster. With either of these holsters I can easily carry the FN Reflex with the 15-round magazine concealed under the tail of a polo-type shirt. The Reflex is light enough you can easily forget it’s there.
I don’t know about you, but I like my guns to be attractive, and the FN Reflex passes muster with the 11-round magazine. It looks a little off-balance with the 15-rounder, but that’s the one I’ll want to have most of the time.
In the ‘how does it shoot’ department, my first outing with it was to a country range setup kind of like Hickock45’s (YouTube) range. There were no targets where I could check for accuracy on paper. Instead, I banged away at steel plates placed at various ranges. I hit some and missed others. Then, I passed the gun around and asked for feedback.
The general consensus, me included, is that it’s a little rough from a recoil perspective. It’s a small gun, and the 9mm recoil is substantial. It just didn’t seem to any of us there was anything about the gun that seemed to mitigate recoil.
Later, I shot the gun where I could set my targets at around 5 yards. The results there were satisfactory, as I could repeatedly put my shots in a 4-inch target with the widest spread being 2.5 inches (offhand). That’s not bad for a micro 9 and well within my expectations for a FN pistol. MSRP on these guns is running around $600 for the base model and $659 for the one with the optics adapter. I’m not sure why, but the FN 509 Compact model is roughly $150 more. I imagine it must be the striker. With either gun, you’re getting one of the finest pistols made by a company that excels on all fronts.
In a world of striker-fired semi-autos, the FN Reflex stands apart. Some would go so far as to say it stands above with plenty of accuracy and an easily-racked slide. Do you agree? Share your answer or review in the Comment section.