There have been two trends in the firearms industry. The first is smaller and smaller guns specifically designed for concealed carry. The second is for bigger than average handguns. Concealed carry fuels the first and competition fuels the second. Competition shooting be it USPA, 3 Gun, or IPSC, etc often features shooters with larger than normal handguns. These guns go beyond full size. We’ve seen it from Glock, Walther, Smith and Wesson, and of course FN. The FNS 9L is the model we are looking at today.
The FNS line is a severely underrated series of firearms and their L or Long models are becoming a popular option for new competition shooters. The Long series extends the barrel of the FNS full sized model an inch. This gives the shooter a longer sight radius and adds an extra inch of barrel worth of velocity for the round fired.
FNS 9L specs.
Caliber: 9 mm
Sights: Fixed 3-Dot
Magazine Capacity: 17 rds.
Weight: 26.5 oz. (empty)
Barrel Length: 5.0″
Overall Length: 8.25″
The gun comes in a very nice fitted case. The case itself is quite large and slots are cut for the firearms and extra magazines. In fact, you get a total of three 17 round magazines. Three magazines is an excellent way to get my attention. You can also replace the backstrap to make it fit your hand a bit better.
In the hand you do notice the very aggressive checkering that just grips your hand. It’s certainly stiff and provides a very secure grip. This is a striker fired firearm that uses a partially cocked striker system that is basically double action. However, the term is relative because the trigger is lighter than a traditional double action and the firearm does not have a second strike capability. The weapon is also fitted with standard 3 dot sights. Of course, you get a nice full-length rail for any accessory you prefer.
The gun is actually very nice looking. That doesn’t always matter much when compared to performance. The FNS 9L has extremely sleek lines that just flow like water over the slide. You have slide serrations on the front and rear that are subdued, but easy to grip with or without gloves. Racking the weapon from the front is extremely easy due to the way the slide is cut.
The FNS 9L is a fine looking weapon that avoids looking simply mass produced. My biggest grip comes from a little insert on the side. These firearms come with or without a manual safety. Mine does not have a safety, but it appears the frames are all cut for safeties and then filled in for non-safety models.
One thing I really love is the American flag that is engraved onto the top of the slide. It can easily go unnoticed, but once noticed it’s gorgeously done. It’s far from gaudy, and very subdued. The pics really don’t do it justice.
The FNS 9L is a very lefty friendly firearm. Everything is ambidextrous on the non-safety model. This includes the magazine release and the slide release. These are really the only controls on the firearm. Both are easy to use and quite standard for handgun shooters.
On the Range
I got the gun the same morning I was heading to teach a concealed carry class. The first time I got to shoot it was during the class. I also had two young ladies who were sharing an old 38 snub nose that seemed to have light primer strike after light primer strike. When the weapon did fire they were having terrible trouble with actually hitting the target. The bad firing pin and the pitted barrel were junk. I allowed them to use the FNS 9L and both loved it. Not only did they love it, but they consistently hit the target with it. Over, and over, and over. They were inexperienced shooters who had very little trigger time. In less than two minutes they could load the magazines, rack the weapon with ease, and hit their target.
I found the large 3 dot sights and long sight radius made the weapon very shootable and it was quite accurate. On my own time I started the weapon at 10 yards and began moving backwards as I got used to it. Accuracy is exceptional. At 25 yards I set up half a dozen clay pigeons. These small targets disappear under the FNS 9L’s sights. Even so, it took me 8 rounds to hit 6 targets. I have no doubt my two flyers were all my fault.
The trigger is perfectly serviceable. There is a little take up before you hit the wall. At the wall, you meet about 5.5 pounds of resistance. Then the break is quite clean. The main problem with the trigger is the reset. It’s very audible, you can hear it easily when dry firing. However, once you throw on earmuffs and loud ammo you can’t really hear it. The tactile feedback is quite minimal, there is hardly any distinct feeling when the trigger resets. This would certainly be a point to train past.
Recoil in a full sized 9mm is as low as you’d expect. The aggressive texture of the grip makes it quite comfortable in the hand. The weapon doesn’t move or climb out of a standard grip. The ejection port is massive and ensures clear ejection.
Testing was done with SIG 9mm 115 grain full metal jacket ammunition, Winchester White Box, Federal, and a box of Sig 124 grain self-defense jacketed hollow points. I had zero malfunctions throughout testing, even when fired with one hand, or with a loose grip.
I found the FNS 9L to be an excellent weapon. It’s accurate, easy shooting, and quite capable. It is big, but the dedicated could conceal it. I feel it is better suited as a home defense firearm or a competitive shooter’s firearm. Its size gives it a distinct advantage in both categories. It’s also quite affordable, one of the more affordable long barrel pistols. If you want a good looking, easy shooting firearm I certainly suggest the FNS 9L.