FNH USA FNP45 USG No. 47938 45 ACP, $780
Not all 45 ACP pistols are built to feed from a single-column magazine or be ignited by a full-time single-action trigger. Gun Tests magazine evaluated a pistol that feeds from a double-column magazine and a trigger system that can alternate between offering a double-action first shot and single-action-only operation FNH USAs $780 FNP USG pistol.
In the case of guns that feature both double- and single-action operation the task of charting accuracy is more complex. GTs accuracy data reflects firing from support single-action only, but they also wanted to know how quickly and accurately the gun could be fired from the hammer-down position. Were they limited to cocked-and-locked carry? In addition they asked how safe and secure was the decocking process, and how safe and secure was the manual safety? Would hammer-down first-shot double action prove to be a realistic carry option? Or would such condition be relegated to "off duty" administrative handling, such as when placing the gun in a night stand or desk drawer?
With rain in the forecast they chose to test indoors at the famous Top Gun Handgun Training Center in Houston (www.TopGunRange.com). With a corporate event scheduled for late afternoon they were able to set up their shooting bench for the balance of the day.
The test ammunition consisted of 230-grain Hornady TAP hollowpoints, Black Hills remanufactured 185-grain jacketed hollowpoints and handloaded rounds featuring Sierras 230-grain FMJ bullet number 8815. They drove the Sierra bullet with a moderate load of Winchester 231 powder and Winchester primers. Accuracy data was collected firing single action only from a distance of 15 yards. Support was supplied by a Caldwell Rock Jr. pistol rest, and they aimed at Caldwells 3-inch Orange Peel circles (www.BattenfeldTechnologies.com).
The next test was to determine how quickly and easily each gun could be fired beginning with the first shot double action. Standing 7 yards from a Hoffners ABC16 Action Target (www.Hoffners.com), they began with hammer down. Upon an audible start signal they engaged the center mass A-zone with a first shot double action followed by a second shot to this same point of aim fired single action. The third shot of continuous fire was fired single action at the cranial pocket, or B-zone. This test was repeated for a total of 10 separate strings of fire. They recorded elapsed time, accuracy and took careful note of each guns handling and response. They experienced no malfunctions during the tests, so when it came to grading the pistol on the Report Card, the job was that much more difficult. Here is what they learned.
The FNP45 USG was the highest-capacity gun in the test. Two 14-round magazines with flat basepads arrived with the USG plus an additional magazine with rounded basepad set to hold 15 rounds. Each magazine body was buffed for fast handling and added resistance to collecting grime. Despite its 4.5-inch barrel and full-size stature, the USG made 15+1 rounds of 45 disappear. Unloaded weight was 29 ounces, and they really liked the military green frame that FNH refers to as Flat Dark Earth. The slide was black as were complements of the trigger, the ambidextrous magazine release buttons, and the ambidextrous safeties, which doubled as decocking levers. So were the slide latch on the left side and the slide release latches available from either side.
The frame offered a four-slot accessory rail on the dust cover, and beveled edges were molded into the magazine well. They found molded checkering on each side of the grip to be effective, as were the horizontal lines in the front strap. The backstrap was interchangeable with one alternate panel. Both panels offered horizontal lines. One panel was flat in profile, while the other provided a mild palm swell. The staff was unanimous in choosing the flatter profile for their tests.
The gun was beefy and wide, but in the hand the USG felt smaller than its square profile and 1.56-inch maximum width. The slide was topped with snagfree sights that carried three white dots. The dots were boldly countersunk to keep them clean, but the excess depth made them appear as though they were night sights, but that was not the case. The rear unit had no sharp edges and a narrow taper. Its rear face was lined to reduce glare.
Removing the top end required the least work of tested pistols. Lock back the slide, rotate the slide latch and slide the top end from the frame. Changing out the backstrap was even less demanding. A 1/16-inch punch was supplied to press into a small hole in the backstrap and release the locking tab. The panel slid off without effort.
Operating the FNH USA USG pistol brought them quickly to several conclusions. First, whenever the slide was locked back, it was more efficient to pull the slide to the rear and let it forward than it was to try to press down on the tiny release levers. Second, there was no fear whatsoever of accidentally decocking this pistol. The thumb of the strong hand, be it the left or right hand, had immediate access to the safety/decocker lever. The USG sat deeply into the grip, so the edge of the hand outside of the first knuckle fit neatly beneath the safety-decocker lever on the opposite side of the pistol. There was plenty of room to move the lever to the down off-safe position, but there was no danger that it would be moved further downward and decock the pistol accidentally.
Next, they found that the slide could be worked with the thumb safeties activated and held in the upward position. This meant that mechanically, the safeties were deactivating the trigger but not locking the action of the slide as it did in the CZ pistol. The HK 45C also allowed the slide to move freely with the safety on, but the trigger was locked. The FN pistol not only left the slide free to move but also the trigger was able to swing freely all the way back to the frame. Advantages to this design may be the ability to load the chamber or perform a press check more safely.
Firing the pistol in transition from double to single action was smooth but sluggish, in their view. The circumference of the grip limited the ability of most of the staff from getting a really strong purchase of the trigger when it was resting in its double-action mode. This was reflected in several 3-second elapsed times during the transition drill. Larger hands would have little trouble, in their view, but they found the safety to be so accessible and efficient they thought this gun will most likely be carried cocked and locked, hammer back ready for single-action only fire.
From the bench the USG delivered 2.2-inch-wide groups with whatever ammunition they tried. This was not as tight as the other pistols but the gun seemed to thrive best on heavy ammunition. It soaked up recoil, and they enjoyed shooting the Hornady 230-grain TAP +P high-pressure loads in the FN more than they did from other pistols.
They found the FNH FNP45 USG to be a formidable high-capacity weapon. They said it did a great job of hiding a big pile of ammunition, delivered it comfortably and offered a true mechanical safety. Simplified field-stripping and low maintenance add currency to their recommendation.
Gun Tests Report Card: They found the thumb safeties and the single-action trigger to be so efficient that they said they would prefer to carry this gun cocked and locked. They said the USG soaked up the recoil of their heaviest loaded ammunition better than other pistols. And they said its 15+1 round capacity rivaled the highest capacity 9mm pistols theyve tested.